Have you ever been to South Africa's West Coast? It is a surprising coastline... desolated, deserted, undeveloped.. and beautiful in all of these. It is known for its spring flowers, but when I traveled it this last week (with my amazing boyfriend) the landscape was an autumn one, awaiting this colourful carpet with anticipation.
We began in Clanwilliam, a town that gains its lifeblood from the alongside dam, and the contrast between the water and its desert surroundings is sharp and powerful. The town certainly has a spirited soul, and it was revitalizing to be there.
We traveled to Lambert's Bay to begin our meander down the coast, and here the town was almost held hostage by the sea. The place itself was scattered, with tiny restaurants amongst fish factories, and a sense of strangeness hovered over the place. The sea beside it was raging, and we found a more natural energy as we walked and climbed on the rocky outcrops, with crashing waves pounding around us. It certainly was the coast at its most real and alive- refreshing after coming from Cape Town, with its more designed and developed seasides.
This same combination of desolation and energy continued down the coast, with some places looking almost like ghost towns. St Helena Bay had a certain warmth to it. However we continued towards our destination of Paternoster, which was worth waiting for. Like a little island oasis, Greek-style house huddle on the coastline, in white and blue sweetness. Little streets, houses without fences or walls, made us feel that we were on a Greek island, or somewhere in Europe. The magical atmosphere of the village was added to by empty fishing boats dotting a desolate beach, ethereal and enchanting.
We continued to Jacobsbaai, Langebaan (one of the more developed areas, in a suffocating kind of way) and into the West Coast Nature Reserve, which surrounds a turquoise lagoon. Green fynbos against blue water brought life back into the landscape, but at the same time the reserve maintained the same loyalty to nature, seasons and sea that the rest of the coastline had offered.
Living in South Africa's cities we feel that people and place have collided at full force, with space and nature being rare and precious. Yet our West Coast remains empty, desolate, undeveloped and deserted- uneasy yet captivating at the same time. So to enjoy some space, stillness and solitude, immerse yourself between the Cederberg and the sea, and beyond.
West Coast Nature Reserve