Cape West Coast

Cape West Coast

The region known as the Cape West Coast stretches from just North of Cape Town as far as the border with the Northern Cape and inland following the Northern Cape border to Touws River, and including the Cederberg Range of mountains.

The main coastal town of the Cape West Coast is Saldanha which, together with the Bay of the same name, gets its name from the Portuguese admiral Antonio de Saldanha who anchored his fleet in what is now known as Table Bay in the year 1503, naming it after himself. It was not until 1601 that the name was transferred to its present location. Saldanha Bay played a very important role during the second World War as an assembly point for convoys because of its strategic position and safe anchorage. Today Saldanha Bay is an important iron ore export harbour as well as being an important fishing port. A brand new steel mill has recently been built in Saldanha and the bay houses the South African Military Academy and a naval training base.

Immediately to the South of Saldanha on the Cape West Coast lies the Langebaan Lagoon, home to the West Coast National Park. Here the still waters of the lagoon with its early morning mists shelter thousands of seabirds and vast concentrations of migrant waders that have flown here from the cold northern hemisphere winter. This 20000 hectare National Park includes the offshore islands of Schaapen, Malgas, Marcus and Jutten and the salt marsh and mud flats are home to tens of thousands of birds. Over one third of the world's population of Cape Gannet breed on Malgas Island.

To the East of the Cape West Coast and halfway to the Northern Cape border lie the Cederberg range of mountains along with the Cederberg Wilderness Area. This 71000 hectare area runs from the Pakhuis Pass and the Middleberg Pass. Visitors will need a permit to enter this area and these are issued by a forester at the Algeria Forest Station. These mountains were once covered with the rare Clanwilliam Cedar trees but many of these were either burnt or felled by early pioneers. The Cederberg are home to many natural rock formations, including a Maltese Cross, the Wolfberg Arch, Cathedral Rock and the Pulpit and Finger Rocks. The flora of the Cederberg are quite unique - the snow protea is found nowhere else on Earth.

The town of Wellington is in the extreme South of the Cape West Coast region lying in a valley known as Val du Charron, or Valley of the Wagon Makers after the trade of many of the early French Huguenots who settled in the area at the end of the 17th Century. There are several excellent wine cellars in the Wellington area where the visitor can enjoy wine tasting. Wellington offers the visitor a magical and captivating atmosphere and friendly people.

The town of Malmesbury, named after the first Earl of Malmesbury, is a few kilometers to the northwest of Wellington. Originally developed around a hot spring and drawing a huge number of visitors to its baths, these have fallen into disuse and are now part of a large shopping complex. The surrounding areas draw crowds of visitors from all over the world in Springtime to view the breathtaking sight of millions of wildflowers.

Think of fresh seafood, combine it with the Cape West Coast and you will be drawn to Lambert's Bay, a seafood mecca just a couple of hours' drive to the North of Cape Town. Lambert's Bay is a holiday venue set among some of the most breathtaking scenery of South Africa. Just off the coast here is Bird Island, home to seals, penguins and cormorants and bird watchers from all over the world.

Cape West Coast accommodation, activities, restaurants and information. Cape West Coast, Western Cape.