After a restful night, we awaken surrounded by the bright and breezy décor in our comfortable 3 bedroom accommodation, raring to set off on the next stage of our Cape Town to Windhoek road trip. We begin the day at the outside tables of the Paternoster Hotel, munching on omelettes, freshly squeezed juice and fragrant coffee, debating over where to start exploring our quaint, quiet surroundings. It is hard to believe we are only 160km from the hubbub of Cape Town.
Where We Walk and Discover
We set off on foot to explore our surroundings, stopping in at the Stone Fish Gallery to admire the work of internationally acclaimed Dianne Heesom-Green, whose unusual sculptures and pottery are created and displayed here. The building itself is a work of art, its rough white walls typical of the seaside architecture so evident in this town. Built in 1863 originally as a mill, it was then converted to a bioscope and a fish store, until finally becoming the Stone Fish Gallery.
Next we amble into Die Winkel, it’s rustic West Coast façade, complete with straw broom, hides a treasure trove of trendy goods including designer gear, regional wines, enamelware and even veldskoene. My eyes are drawn immediately to the jams, preserves, pickles and artisan breads lining the shelves of the deli section, and I load my basket with goodies for our self-catering overnight stopover.
Replenish and Drive
Suitably laden, we head back to Timeless Coffee, where silky cappuccinos, pillow-soft scones and milkshakes, are savoured while soaking up the ambience. The local rag, Weslander, informs us that we could have enjoyed a fun tour of the town in a beach buggy, if we had planned a little better. It’s time to hit the road though, and taking the seaside route, we leave Paternoster via St Helena Bay heading for the equally charming village of Velddrif, 39 km away.
Crossing the ‘berg River, we head for the waterfront to hook up with Tollie and Madeleine, who run Tollie’s Boat Trips, for a cruise up the river. We couldn’t have chosen a better introduction to this little town – the couple entertained us with a wealth of knowledge on the area, its wetland ecology, fishing history and amazing birdlife, during our 90 minute trip.
Lunchtime and Tea with the Birds
The ‘Build a combo’ selection of fish, seafood, steak and chicken, appeals to our appetites on the patio of Die Vishuis, which overlooks all the birding, fishing and boating action of the Berg River. What a treat!
Still sticking to the coast we head for Elands Bay, on what can only be described as a road less travelled, past the tranquil attractions of the Rocherpan Reserve. Elands Bay seems to be a town inhabited mainly by birds, on the banks of Verlorenvlei which is filled with pelicans, flamingos and 238 other species of avians. Here, the Tin Kitchen, located in a 300-year-old barn, serves as a relaxing spot to break our trip while enjoying a cool drink in a beautiful shaded area surrounded by manicured lawns.
At this point we bid the ocean goodbye and turn inland along the R366 towards the pastoral surroundings of Citrusdal. As we move further inland the landscape slowly turns from rock-strewn strandveld to verdant flat plains, dotted with small interestingly named hamlets such as Eendekuil and Het Kruis.
After a mandatory stop at De Tol Farmstall to indulge my fascination with farm produce, we settle in to our accommodation at Wolfkop Camping Villages, about 20km out of Citrusdal. An evening spent relaxing alongside the Olifants River before a braai and an early night sets the scene for tomorrow’s exploration of the area.
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