Although the West Coast is famous for its sunshine, March signals the arrival of equally idyllic autumn weather. Summer’s intense heat subsides to balmy days, the wind gentles and Autumn casts her mantle over veld and vlei.
It is the time of year when one looks away from the beaches (however wistfully) and focus on all those good things in the West Coast area and surrounds that makes one appreciate being on the West Coast.
Pull on those Hiking Boots and head for the Cederberg
The majestic Cederberg mountain range, bordering the West Coast, is known for its characteristic orange coloured jagged sandstone, and its curious rock formations.
The southern Cederberg Wilderness area has spectacular accessible rock formations such as the Maltese Cross, the Stadsaal caves and Lot’s Wife. Rivers and streams provide great picnic spots with waterfalls and deep rock pools for swimming.
The northern Cederberg Wilderness offers equally rewarding hikes to Krakadouw and Boontjieskloof. Donkey cart excursions to pretty unspoilt mission villages, riverside picnic spots and world-class rock climbing and bouldering makes for a worthwhile excursion.
Hikers need to purchase a permit to walk, picnic or swim in this conservation area. Permits are obtainable from the Cape Nature Conservation office at Algeria Forest Station, Dwarsrivier Farm (for Maltese Cross, Wolfberg Cracks & Arch & Stadsaal Caves) and from Clanwilliam Tourism Office, Main Street Clanwilliam.
Try Cycling along the Coast
The temperate and relatively windless autumn months make for extremely pleasant cycling. A multitude of both relaxed and more challenging mountain bike trails are available on the Cape West Coast.
Trails in the Salhanha Bay area are more leisurely and ideal for riders looking for a scenic, interesting and fun ride. The fitter expert riders will find other more challenging trail options in the Koringberg, Piketberg, and Cederberg mountains.
Festivals, Festivals, Festivals
South Africa has a celebration for every event, place, art form, food, drink and agricultural commodity. The South African festival and market circuit sweeps through the country from autumn through to spring every year – and the West Coast and surrounds is no exception.
Easter Weekend Farmers Market @ Vyge Valley Farm Stall, Darling
On Thursday 01 April, from 11 am until 15h00, a Fresh Produce Market will be held at Vyge Valley Farm stall near Darling.
Shoppers can look forward to homemade cheeses, fresh breads, preserves, home cured bacon, homemade butter and a host of other delicious foods.
There will also be lots of activities for the little ones to enjoy, including sand art, jumping castles and all the farm animals to view.
Contact June on 083 336 8305 or 022 492 2586 or visit www.darlingtourism.co.za for more info.
Riebeek Valley Olive Festival
If you like outdoor festivals, where you wander from place to place, sampling as you go, this one is for you.
The now famous Olive Festival takes place on 30 April – 2 May in the pretty Riebeek Valley which is lined with vineyards and olive groves. And, because it’s autumn, the display of colour can be quite spectacular.
Then there’s the olives, of course – of which there will be plenty, in all shapes and sizes – as well as wine-tastings from local wine farms, live entertainment and a variety of traditional South African food offerings.
It’s only about an hour’s drive out of the city, so definitely worth making a day-trip. Visit www.riebeekvalley.info to gather more information on the goings on in the Valley.
Cederberg Arts Festival
Held in the Cederberg village of Clanwilliam from 30 April – 2 May, a variety of South African music productions, plays, art exhibitions and literary discussions are staged in this idyllic country town.
With a strong focus on regional culture and cuisine you’ll come across street vendors selling curried tripe, freshly baked breads with real butter and homemade jams, hearty stews – to name but a few of the regional offerings.
Apart from the scheduled arts programme, an open air communal entertainment area with live music and storytelling provides all day entertainment. Sip on a glass of Cederberg wine while savouring the entertainment and surrounds.
Have a look at the festival programme at www.cederbergfees.co.za
Lambert’s Bay Kreeffees (Crayfish Festival)
“ Kreef” is Afrikaans for crayfish, and this “fees” is both festival and feast. At the Kreeffees, held in the West Coast town of Lambert’s Bay, you’ll feast on fresh crayfish and other West Coast delicacies and get festive at rock concerts by some of South Africa’s favourite musicians.
Comprehensive information on the festival programme and happenings at www.kreeffees.com.