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Road tripping the West Coast

South Africa has some of the most scenic routes and roads in which to travel on in the world and the Western Cape’s West Coast is a must for anyone who loves a good old fashioned road trip.

All you need is a reliable car, good company and a fully charged camera to capture all the memorable moments. Hiring a car in South Africa is a breeze, so whether you own one or not, there is no excuse to deny yourself from experiencing this great part of the Western Cape of South Africa.

Surf the West Coast at Eland’s Bay

A surfer rides one of the epic waves at Elands Bay photo taken from www.youtube.com. 

Cape Town to Eland’s Bay: 2 h 21 min (221 km) via N7 and R366 2 h 11 min without traffic.

Once you leave Cape Town and head west a host of surf spots await including the famous Eland’s Bay, which has been featured in many films and magazines, being dubbed by Wavescape as the J-bay of the west coast.

Langebaan lagoon at the West Coast National Park

Breathtaking flowers at the West Coast National Park - By Pipples91 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. 

Cape Town to West Coast National Park: 1 h 5 min (87.7 km) via R27 59 min without traffic.

Under two hours’ drive from Cape Town and you’ll find yourself at the West Coast National Park which boasts the breathtaking Langebaan Lagoon. Hordes of birds make homes of the various protected islands and in certain times of year the landscape becomes a mosaic of colorful flowers, which blanket the countryside.

Wine tasting through the Darling wine route

Welcome to Darling - Col André Kritzinger [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Cape Town to Darling: 1 h 4 min (76.9 km) via N7 and R307 59 min without traffic.

If the frantic energy of a music festival is a little much for you to handle, you can take a scenic meander through the Darling wine route. Just make sure you draw straws for who is going to be the designated driver.

Take a break in Paternoster

A typical Paternoster scene - By Mike Lomax (Wikimedia OTRS) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

This charming fishing village is the perfect place for a weekend break or longer stay, during certain times of year it can become quite busy with holiday makers during the winter months it's quiet and tranquil and chilly but clear and beautiful. The town has many accommodation facilities, mainly small hotels, guest houses and beach houses open to being rented.

Cape Town to Paternoster: 1 h 44 min (159 km) via R27 1 h 34 min without traffic.

Take a fishing road trip to Saldanha Bay

 Another picturesque day at  Saldanha Bay image taken from - http://www.southafrica.net/za/en/articles/entry/article-saldanha

Cape Town to Saldanha Bay: 2 h 5 min (132 km) via R27 2 h without traffic.

Fishing is a way of life on the West Coast and who doesn’t love a good old fishing road trip. Saldanha Bay has the biggest natural bay in the country making it a prime destination for the fishing industry in South Africa.

Visit the West Coast Fossil Park

One of the many fossils found at this educational West Coast destination - http://www.fossilpark.org.za/gallery/gallery.php.

Cape Town to West Coast Fossil Park: 1 h 33 min (146 km) via R27 1 h 26 min without traffic.

It is believed that the West Coast is a destination where time seems to stand still and the West Coast Fossil Park takes this idea to another level. Rest your weary travelling bones and see fossils which are said to be over 5 million years old. Visit their website for more information.

Whale watching, whilst stopping to smell the flowers

A typical scene from a whale watching paradise West Coast South Africa - By Jolene Bertoldi (Flickr: Bryde's whale) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. 

If you plan your West Coast road trip adventure correctly you could get the opportunity to see amazing giant ocean creatures in the flesh as well as driving past fields and fields of blooming flowers (that’s if you decide to visit during spring). Best areas for whale watching on the West Coast are Melkbosstrand, Bok Point, Yzerfontein, and the Rocherpan Nature Reserve near Dwarskersbos, Lambert's Bay and Saldanha Bay.

Vasco Da Gama statue St Helena Bay

A sunny summers day at St Helena Bay - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sandy_Point_St_Helena_Bay.jpg.

Cape Town to St Helena Bay: 1 h 45 min (161 km) via R27 1 h 38 min without traffic.

No real road trip is complete without a bit of a history lesson. When iconic Portuguese explorer arrived for the first time in South Africa and washed up on the shores of St Helena Bay, there is a monument there to remember this significant piece of explorer history.

Visit the 16-mile beach at Yzerfontein

A typical scene from Yzerfontein - By Zaian (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. 

Cape Town to Yzerfontein: 1 h 7 min (96.7 km) via R27 1 h 3 min without traffic.

Yzerfontein the self-proclaimed ‘jewel of the west coast’ has many wonderful attractions one of them being the iconic and highly spoken of 16-mile beach.

Take a break from your long road trip and sit on the longest stretch of continuous beach in South Africa. The beach runs north from Yzerfontein and travels all the way to the West Coast National Park.

Spend a night or two at !Khwa ttu

Learn more about this fascinating culture at  !Khwa ttu- Isewell [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Cape Town to !Khwa ttu: 1 h 1 min (84.2 km) via R27 57 min without traffic.

Warning: Certain routes have restricted or private roads on this particular journey.

Get a real cultural experience and learn more about one of the oldest recorded civilizations on the planet. !Khwa ttu (according to their website) “is a centre of San culture and heritage that provides tailor-made training for young San women and men of Southern Africa”.
They offer tours of various cultural areas on the west coast and also have various accommodation facilities available.

Getting to the West Coast

From Cape Town

Distance: 3 h 49 min (382 km) via N7 and N7 3 h 37 min without traffic.

You will more than likely be flying into the Cape Town International Airport where once there you will have many options for hiring a car. Cape Town is by far the best-located city to road trip to the West Coast.

From Johannesburg

Distance: 13 h 25 min (1,303 km) via R59 12 h 49 min without traffic. (Toll route)

If you fly into Johannesburg and decide to road trip from the financial capital of the country you will have to put extra days travel into account, however there is an adventure waiting to be had in this cross country excursion. Bear in mind it's over 1000 km from Johannesburg, so flying to Cape Town might be a more viable option if you don’t have the time.

From Durban

Distance: 16 h 11 min (1,603 km) via N3 15 h 5 min without traffic (Toll route)

This is also a long distance to travel, however; it also presents itself with a lot of amazing scenery and quaint and picturesque destinations to stop at. You’ll also have an opportunity to experience the Garden Route of South Africa as well as the vastness of the Eastern Cape. If you are limited on time your best option is still to fly to Cape Town and hire a car from there. However, this certainly is a scenic route to the West Coast if you’re willing to take it slow and enjoy the ride.


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