There’s no better time to vist the colourful flower-powered West Coast than right now. The spring flowers are at their best, and the whales are around the coast too.
We’ve just stayed at Abalone House in the lovely little fishermans-village of Paternoster. What a find that was! It’s an utterly superb boutique-style guesthouse, where everything is comfy-chic, warm and rosy, including the welcome you get from wonderfully friendly staff. Nothing’s too much trouble, they’ll even whip you up a designer hot toddy before bed if you’re out of sorts! It’s the kind of place where you feel at home right away, and you get spoiled rotten to boot.
It’s small, plush and intimate, with ten suites positioned around a gorgeous pool-courtyard. Alive with mood, Tretchikoff prints add splashes of style and colour throughout the guesthouse, where carefully chosen antiques and modern pieces meet one another without any effort at all. A number of suites are positioned upstairs and have sea views. So does the rooftop Jacuzzi. Everything you need is on hand. The suites are equipped with flat- screen televisions, cappuccino/espresso machines, mini-bars, ipod docking stations, CD and DVD players.
At the Saffron in-house restaurant – grand-but-very-cosy – divinely exquisite food is conjured up by Welsh-born chef Darren Stewart. The West Coast’s seafood and local dishes feature on his always-changing menus.
Paternoster – 145 km from Cape Town and 20 km north-west of Vredenburg – is a charming little village that owes its life to small-scale fishing and crayfish-netting. Distinctive whitewashed houses are clustered along a sealine dotted with brightly coloured fishing boats. Just 3 km to the west of Paternoster is the beautiful Cape Columbine Nature Reserve. Tieties Bay in the reserve has a wonderfully secluded little beach set between great granite boulders. From here you can take a scenic path that rambles over rocks and dunes. The Columbine Lighthouse, incidentally, is usually the first to be seen by ships rounding Africa from Europe. The Cape Columbine area is also known as a place where whales may be seen year-round.
The West Coast is aburst with options. A must-see is the West Coast National Park (free for Wild Card holders), now looking spectacular in its floral spring drapes. A drive through this majestic reserve yields stretches of flower-bedecked sandveld, salt marshes and the top-of-the-world views of the exquisite turquoise Langebaan Lagoon. Exceptionally scenic viewing points make great tea/picnic stops. Travelling up the West Coast from Cape Town, you enter the park about 10km north of the Yzerfontein turnoff, and you exit south of Langebaan. At this time of year the park’s open from 7am – 7pm.
Within the reserve the Postberg area is an additional attraction during flower season. On Friday we were lucky enough to see an entire herd of gemsbok hurriedly crossing the road just in front of our car. We also saw eland, springbuck and ostriches. Tortoises were out in force along the side of the road in the late afternoon, so do drive carefully!
Another place to visit is the West Coast Fossil Park on the R45 about 10km south-east of Vredenburg. Also, an easy drive away from Paternoster is Velddrif, a fishing town that basks beside extensive wetlands at the place where the Berg River comes into the sea. It’s the end point of the famous Berg River Canoe Marathon. Be sure to buy some bokkoms (a local dried fish delicacy) at Velddrif!
There’s stacks to see on the West Coast. Yzerfontein, Langebaan and Saldanha Bay all have their own appeal, and further up the coast beyond Paternoster and Velddrif there’s Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay.
Our pick along the West Coast this year is definitely Paternoster, with a fine five-star stay at Abalone House. It’s a great weekend getaway for Capetonians, it’s a superb base for West Coast flower-seekers, and it also has a very snazzy little boardroom for executives who want a first-class coastal getaway within easy travelling distance of Cape Town.
Mail our Getaway Consultants for more information, or call us on 0860 102 907 (local) or +27 21 797-7122 (international).