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West Coast

- Magnificent floral kingdom -

The South African West Coast is a very special area. Here you'll find windswept beaches stretching for kilometres, a low horizon with sweeping sky and distant mountain ranges where lush vineyards are spreading out.
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The West Coast is a region with strong contrasts and great beauty and it offers a lot of different destinations and experiences. Here's the beautiful, sometimes desolate, coastal region with its magnificent lagoons and small fishing villages and the fields and vineyards in the Swartland. There are citrus groves, Rooibos fields and vineyards in Olifantsrivier Valley and the magnificent splendour of the Cederberg and Groot Winterhoek Mountain and, not but certainly not least, Namaqualand's rugged beauty.

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The main reason why many people travel to this area is to see the amazing exhibit that's on display every year when the first rains of the spring falls and transforms this dry and rather barren landscape into a fireworks display of bright colours when the ground is covered with flowers of thousands of species.

It's impossible to say when this annual floral parade will occur, but the safest bet is probably August to September. The key is of course the rain, but the temperature is also important and the flowers will not open up until later in the morning and hardly at all on cloudy days. Just so you don't travel in vain to the area to see the flowers, there is a "Flower Line" to call so you can find out where the best show is!

Apart from this miracle, there are a few gems to discover. Eating dinner at one of the West Coast restaurants on the beach is an unforgettable experience. You sit on the beach under a sun shade, taking in the sea air and the smell of fish and seafood on the grill, enjoying the sun and the seagulls screaming, licking your fingers clean and all you need worry about is how on earth you are going to eat one more dish…

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These restaurants are very informal, but if you like simple surroundings they're certainly worth a visit. The food that is prepared over an open fire on the beach is excellent and often consists of fish cooked in different ways, bokkoms (salted, dried small fish), mussels, calamari, waterblommitjie bredie (a stew made of water lilies), paella and crayfish. There are also steaming hot freshly baked white bread served with fresh butter straight from the farm and a variety of jams. On average such a meal consist of ten dishes and will not cost you an arm and a leg! One of these restaurants is Die Strandloper just outside Langebaan.

The west coast is also an area that has an incredibly rich heritage. All along the coast there are traces of the different cultures that lived here, such as the Khoi people whose well detailed rock art, all between 300 and 6 000 years old, are still in the area. There are also traces of the European missionaries who established as many as seven missionary stations in this region.

There are also beautifully restored buildings, museums, and places where the British and the Boers clashed during the Anglo-Boer War.
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