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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Trail Maps & Itineraries

Check out the five posts below this to see the map and itinerary for each of the trails. Just click on a map if you want to enlarge it.



Take a mountain bike ride through time as you explore the secondary roads of the West Coast. This ride is not aimed at adrenalin junkies or Absa Cape Epic trainees, but rather recreational cyclists who are keen to experience the back roads and beauty of the West Coast, from the seat of a bicycle. Destinations and overnight stops vary greatly and the journey in between is filled with some awesome scenery, and fun riding. A support vehicle provides you with food and refreshments en route and you can hop aboard anytime if you feel like taking it easy.


Day 1: Atlantis – Darling (45km)

Rise and shine with the birds for an early rendezvous with your guide and support vehicle at the Atlantis Environmental Co-operative and Tourism Information Centre. Choose your bike and kit and head out. Following the wheels of time the first “Mission to Modern” leg of your journey takes you from Atlantis, along “Blue Gum Avenue” to the Moravian Mission Station at Mamre, across historic farmsteads to Darling, home of eclectic artists, wine, olives and flowers. A welcome dinner and guesthouse of your choice await you in Darling.

Day 2: Darling – Elandsfontein (35km)

An early breakfast and your’e back on the road. The second leg of your journey takes you along the gravel roads of the Eastern Darling Hills past the Hildebrandt Monument, onto a cyclable but rather soft, sandy road to Elandsfontein Game Farm. Elandsfontein dunes are the resting place of three-toed horse and short necked giraffe fossils that are millions of years old. The farm entrance brings an end to the days cycle. At the entrance you will be met by an off road vehicle and driven to the lodge, where a warm welcome awaits. After settling in, take a short drive to pick up your quad bike. A quick lesson and its off to the dunes to search for fossils. A sunset game drive returns you to the lodge in time for pre-dinner drinks and a well earned dinner.

Day 3: Elandsfontein – Duinepos, West Coast National Park (30km)

After breakfast, grab a lift to Elandsfontein’s western gate, where your support vehicle will meet you as you embark on the “Fossil to Footprint” leg of your journey. Cycle down to the R27 and across into Gate 2 of the West Coast National Park. Enjoy a beautiful cycle past Soutpan Farm, Mooimaak Farm to Seeberg and finally Duinepos, where your days cycle comes to an end. After lunch and a rest, take a walk to the nearby dunes to look for plant fossils from an ancient marsh, or get a lift to Kraalbaai, the site where ancestral Eve’s footprint were found and also a great spot for swimming in the tranquil waters of Langebaan lagoon. Of course if you are feeling fit, it’s a lovely cycle to Kraalbaai. What ever you choose, end the day with a fish braai and good company around the pool at Duinepos Chalets, where you spend the night.

Day 4: Duinepos - !Kwha Ttu San Cultural Centre (36 km)

After breakfast, embark on the final leg of your journey that takes you forward in time from Eve to the San. Head south through the West Coast National Park, keeping an eye out for wild ostrich, snakes and tortoises. Exit the Park, where you turn right to Yzerfontein. Make your way through Yzerfontein to a sandy track running parallel to the beach all the way to Tygerfontein Farm. From the homestead follow the track inland, crossing the R27 to head up to !Kwha Ttu, where your cycle comes to an end. Explore the San Cultural Centre at your leisure, especially the great photographic museum. After a lovely lunch at the restaurant, join a guided tour at 2pm to experience how San live and track game, or if you prefer, your support vehicle will transport you straight back to Atlantis and your car.


The trail has not yet been developed but the itinerary described above is 70% of the way there and already a great experience. If you have a group of people interested in doing the trail as it currently is, we can arrange for you to do a Trial Run at cost and according to your tailor-made choice of itinerary, accommodation and catering. Interested? Contact Janette du Toit at



It’s great to see South Africans finally picking up on what the Italians have known for centuries; that this is the way life is meant to be lived – slowly and simply, with good food and wine and good company, in a natural, outdoor setting. This is a trail for those who know how to experience the good things in life.

This 2.5 day, 25km trail begins in Darling. Tucked away between hills of vineyards and golden wheat fields, the trail winds through olive groves and wine farms up to the highest point in Darling where you will take your time sampling local fruits of the vine direct from the farmer. The trail then meanders through renosterveld and fynbos full of flowers, game and birds, en route to !Khwa Ttu where you spend the first night at the unique San Cultural Centre. After a leisurely breakfast, we continue downhill through the strandveld to Tygerfontein Farm along the coast to Yzerfontein, sampling local seafood along the way.


Day 1: The Mini Stagger

Time your arrival in Darling for mid afternoon. A warm welcome awaits you at the guesthouse of your choice. After settling in, join your guide for a stroll up to Ormonde Wine Farm to sample the local fare. Meander at leisure through Darling, check out some of the local art and eclectic spots. Shout if you’d like to see the orchid nursery and local nature reserves, which should not be missed in the flower season. Stop off at the local book shop to catch up on the town gossip over a glass of Darling’s finest, before heading to your guesthouse for a delicious meal,

Day 2: Darling - !Kwha Ttu (15km)

Wake early for a great cup of coffee and, accompanied by your guide, work up an appetite with a pre-breakfast stroll up into the vineyards and olive groves of Alexanderfontein and Ormonde. Breakfast on a hilltop European style, enjoying local olives, breads, cheeses, with a bit of light wine to wash it down (just in case you’d like some of course, there will be juice too). Stagger on up hill and down dale, enjoying beautiful views of Table Mountain, Dassen Island and the Atlantic Ocean, Down through a forest glade, along a well worn track, and you arrive at !Kwha Ttu San Culture Centre & Farm, the end of your days walk and your overnight stop. Spend the rest of the afternoon lazing and exploring the Centre, especially the photographic museum. Watch the sunset from the boma, while your guide does the traditional braai, and a San guide tells you stories around the fire.

Day 3: !Kwha Ttu – Yzerfontein (10km)

Head off on a guided cultural tour, experiencing how the San live, how they track game and care for the land. Follow a gravel road down to the coast through pristine West Coast vegetation to the farm of Tygerfontein. When you reach the homestead overlooking the beach, follow the farm track running parallel to the sea, trundling over the dunes and coastal vegetation. In true stagger style stop off for a local seafood picnic and a bracing dip before continuing your journey to Yzerfontein, where the trail ends.


The trail has not been developed yet, but the itinerary described above is 70% of the way there and already a great experience. If you have a group of people interested in doing the trail as it currently is, we can arrange for you to do a Trial Run at cost and according to your tailor-made choice of itinerary, accommodation and catering. Interested? Contact Janette du Toit at



One thing is for sure, no rapids! This 2.5 day, 40km trail is a very relaxing river kayak along the Berg River suitable for the entire family. River kayaking opens up a whole world of exploration, and it’s an exciting way to enjoy the scenic beauty and incredible birdlife of the West Coast. The Berg River is host to thousands of waterfowl every spring and the veld abounds in countless wild flowers during the late winter months. Many believe that in summer the mudflats and river edges support the highest diversity of waders along the Atlantic seaboard.

The trail starts with an overnight stay at the historic Kersefontein Farm near Hopefield, a working wheat and cattle farm in the rugged Sandveld. The Melck family has owned Kersefontein since 1770, and the sense of history is palpable.

After a hearty breakfast, paddlers follow the Berg, past reed beds, trees, and pastoral landscapes to Cloeteskraal Farm for the second overnight in riverside chalets.

The trail ends at the famous “Bokkomlaan” in Velddrif, where boats lie moored while pelicans the size of Merino Sheep laze on the far bank of the estuary.


Day 1: Kersefontein

Time your arrival at Kersefontein for mid afternoon. Meet your guide, explore the working farm, laze on the grass next to the river banks or go for a short paddle to warm up for tomorrow. For the energetic we can organize to drop you and your river guide upstream for a few hours paddle down to Kersefontein. Pre-dinner drinks in the farm bar are followed by a hearty supper in the Victorian dining room with your charismatic host.

Day 2: Kersefontein – Cloeteskraal (20.5km, 2-3 hours)

Enjoy an early farm breakfast before joining your guide for your morning paddle to Cloeteskraal. If the river is flowing fast after the rains you can virtually float down the river, if there is not much water and the tide is coming in you’ll have to work a bit harder, but there is no rush and you can rest as often as you like. Tall blue gum trees line the first stretch. Watch out for the fish eagles and the kingfishers perched in the branches over the water. The second stretch opens up to cultivated farmlands stretching out on either side, with beautiful mountains, sometimes snowcapped, in the background. If the rivers in flood you can even canoe across the fields! A pleasant paddle it may be but the riverside chalets at Cloeteskraal are a welcome site. Even better is the late lunch snoek braai waiting for you, not to mention the afternoon snooze. Fortified against mosquitos take a late afternoon stroll, go bird watching or just laze the day away. An array of tasty local dishes for dinner and its time to flop into bed for a sound nights sleep.

Day 3: Cloeteskraal – Bokkomlaan, Velddrif (18.5km, 2-3hours)

Breakfast and a good cup of coffee finds you back in your river kayak. Today the river gets a little narrower and the reed beds seem taller, enough to give you a sense of pleasant isolation but not enough to block out the lovely homes and farms on the rising banks. As you get closer to Velddrif it gets busier, houses are more frequent, you can hear the trucks as they roar past on the R27 and you catch sight of the rail bridge. The river begins to braid as you near your destination, just keep right and you can’t get lost. Perhaps one of the most beautiful scenic sights on this stretch are the high, lush banks and homes overlooking the river as you enter Velddrif. Before you enter the town itself you reach Bokkomlaan and the end of your days paddle. When the ‘harders’ are running this is where the locals hang their fish to dry and the ‘laan’ is filled with the hustle and bustle of fisherman. When the fish aren’t running its jetties are quiet and tranquil, but the quirky signs and latent energy hint at what will come. If you are interested in birds, ask your driver to stop off at the mudflats in front of the hotel or visit the saltpans to see the flamingos before heading back to Kersefontein and your car.


The trail has not yet been developed, but the itinerary described above is 70% of the way there and already a great experience. If you have a group of people interested in doing the trail as it is currently is, we can arrange for you to do a Trial Run at cost and according to your tailor-made itinerary, accommodation and catering choice. Interested? Contact Janette du Toit at



The 5-Bay Trail takes guests on a timeless journey through breathtaking landscape, tracing human harvesting of the sea. Enriched by the ancient and contemporary West Coast fishing culture, this 2.5 day, 28km easy walk explores the five scenic bays between the fishing villages of Paternoster and Jacobsbaai. Operating out of Paternoster, where there is a choice of outstanding sleeping and eating establishments, the trail offers a gentle outdoor challenge by day, delicious food and memorable interactions with West Coast folk as the sun sets.

Moving leisurely along the shoreline, walkers will see artifacts dating back to San hunter-gatherers, later Khoi herders and modern day fishing communities. A central theme is the history and heritage of fishing and seafood gathering through the ages. Within the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve stone tools, bones, shells and pottery tell of successive waves of hunter- gatherers and then pastoralists who came to the coast to gather seafood. The trail culminates in stories of contemporary fishing communities, who like those before them have a respect and admiration for the coast they call home.


Day 1: Tweede Mosselbank – Paternoster (Leg 1, Walking Time 1-2 hours)

Time your arrival in Paternoster for mid afternoon. A warm welcome awaits you at your guesthouse. After checking in hop into your guide’s off road vehicle and set off along the back of the dunes to “Tweede Mosselbank”, named by the local fishermen. Tales of fishing lore set against a sunset stroll, take you back along the beach to your guesthouse, dinner and a comfortable nights sleep.

Day 2: Paternoster – Trekoskraal (15km)

Carrying only a daypack, work up an appetite with a pre-breakfast stroll. Accompanied by your guide, walk along the beach and through the fishing village of Paternoster to Cape Columbine Nature Reserve and Tietiesbaai (Leg 2, 2.5 hours), which is quiet and wild in winter, whilst in the summer months, campers and crayfisher’s create a festive atmosphere. The Beach Camp Bar is an interesting rest spot with icy drinks and colourful characters. Enjoy a hearty breakfast on the rocks, a swim in tranquil tide pools and in spring, take time to smell the flowers, as you make your way to Varswaterbaai, the source of fresh water for Paternoster in days gone by (end of leg 3 - 1.5 hours). Stroll along the beach with the ocean roaring at your side or explore the tranquil tracks behind the vegetated dunes, as you make your way to Noordwesbaai and Trekoskraa and the days walk (end of leg 4 - 2 hours. Refreshing drinks, a local snack and a lift back to Paternoster are most welcome. Relax around the fire feasting on local delicacies, before heading for bed and a sound nights sleep.

Day 3: Trekoskraal – Jacobsbaai (13km)

Wake to the aroma of coffee; grab your daypack and a lift back to Trekoskraal where you start your pre-breakfast stroll. Follow the tracks around the headland, where netted holiday shelters give you a sense of the way of life in this part of the world (Leg 5, 1.5 hours). After breakfast, explore the limestone cliffs, dunes and wave scoured beaches of Wesbaai (Leg 6, 1.5 hours). A short hop around tiny Hospitaalbaai, where ships of old stopped to drop off the sick before they reached quarantined Cape Town, brings to you to the village of Jacobsbaai where your trail ends with a picnic on its tranquil shores.(Leg 7, 1.5 hours).


The trail has not been developed yet but the itinerary described above is 70% of the way there and already a great experience. If you have a group of people interested in doing the trail as it currently is, we can arrange for you to do a Trial Run at cost and according to your tailor-made itinerary, accommodation and catering options. Interested? Contact Janette du Toit on



This 2.5 day, 30km trail begins on the dunes of Elandsfontein Farm resting place of the three-toed horse and short-necked giraffe fossils that are millions of years old. From here, you explore the white endless beach south of the West Coast National Park as you make your way onto the narrow peninsula that separates it from the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, you will walk amidst breathtaking scenery in the footsteps of Eve, from who it is suggested that all human life - well before the emergence of Homo sapiens – is thought to have descended. In 1995, the oldest human footprints ever discovered, thought to have belonged to Eve, were found in the West Coast National Park. The area where Eve lived still looks more or less the same as it did 117 000 years ago. What was life like for Eve as she gathered food near the Langebaan Lagoon with its clear azure water, pristine white beaches and rolling hills covered in fynbos? Stand on the white dunes overlooking the lagoon and feel a link with the ancestors of humankind. Did Eve marvel at the thousands of seabirds who roost on sheltered beaches, and the vast concentrations of migrant waders from the northern hemisphere that take shelter in the salt marshes? Was Eve mesmerised by the bright colour of the bokbaai vygies, babianas, tritonias and nemesias as they are seen against the granite hills in spring, and in the summer by the pink everlasting flowers of the Peregrinus species, their long stems rising above the surrounding bush. Did Eve immerse her body quietly in the warm waters of the lagoon so as not to disturb the flamingos filter feeding in the shallows?
Experience what it was like to be governed by the sun, the stars, and the tides of the sea? Spend three days without your watch and live life at natures pace to replenish your soul.


Day 1: Elandsfontein Fossil & Game Farm

Time your arrival at Elandsfontein for mid-afternoon. Leave your car in safety at the entrance gate and hop aboard an off road vehicle for a short transfer to the lodge where you will receive a warm welcome from your hosts. After settling in, take a short drive to collect your quad bike. A quick quad bike lesson and it’s off to explore the dunes and look for fossils. A sunset game drive takes you back to the lodge for pre-dinner drinks and a sumptuous meal.

Day 2: Yzerfontein – Duinepos in the West Coast National Park (16km)

Wake with the birds for an early breakfast before setting off for Yzerfontein, where you will meet your local guide and begin your days walk. Explore the endless 16-Mile beach and swim in the icy Atlantic if you dare (Leg 1, 2 hours). Head up over the dunes for a fantastic view of the West Coast National Park wilderness. Make your way along a sandy but firm track towards Abrahamskraal, taking the time to absorb the small plants and animals that make the coastal plains so fascinating. Emerging from the vegetation out onto a road overlooking the azure waters of the Langebaan lagoon, your days walk has come to an end (Leg 2, 2 hours). Refreshing drinks, a snack and its time for a short ride to Kraalbaai to the spot where Eve’s footprints were found. Spend an hour lazing and swimming in the tranquil lagoon. Duinepos Chalets, your overnight spot tucked away in the sheltered renosterveld is the destination for your mouth watering fish braai.

Day 3: Duinepos – Seeberg in the West Coast National Park (14km)

Greet the day early with a cup of coffee and a pre-breakfast walk to explore the beautiful, nearby dunes, resting place of plant fossils from an ancient marsh (Leg 3, 1.5 hours). Then make your way to the historic homestead of Geelbek for an excellent breakfast. From Geelbek follow the road to the salt marsh, a wonderland for wading birds. Follow the track past the salt marsh and the old Bottlery Farmstead before making your way down to the lagoon (Leg 4, 1 hour). Stroll along the banks of the lagoon with views across to Churchaven. Keep a look out for fossilized oyster shells and other mysterious creatures embedded in rocks temporarily exposed by the outgoing tide (Leg 5, 1 hour). At the Flaming Jo car park, turn inland, crossing over the road to climb up towards the highest point in the West Coast National Park (Leg 6, 0.5-1 hour). Emerge triumphant on the hill top where you end your trail with a picnic lunch and spectacular views across the lagoon from the historic Seeberg Cottage.


The trail has not been developed yet, but the itinerary described above is 70% of the way there and already a great experience. If you have a group of people who would like to do the trail as it currently is, we can arrange for you to do a Trial Run at cost and according to your tailor-made itinerary, accommodation and catering options. Interested? Contact Janette du Toit (

Addendum: What is so exciting about the footprints? Theory suggests that all human life - well before the emergence of Homo sapiens - is descended from one common female ancestor, known as "Genetic Eve". We do not know absolutely whether the prints are hers (the chances of that are incalculably small). But experts say they were made at the right time and place to fit her profile.
Rick Gore, the senior assistant editor of National Geographic, who wrote up the story of the finding of these footprints, ended the article with the following words:"We cover the prints with sand and head back down the beach. I turn and conjure a parting image of that lone figure standing atop the dune, hair blowing in the breeze, dark skin aglow in the sunset. In my mind she will forever be Eve. I know that's romantic, but I'm a modern human, and I need my symbols and stories to make sense of this world. I imagine her taking that first step down the dune. It's a small and tentative step, latent with curiosity and 117 000 years later we still don't know where it will ultimately lead."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Stakeholder Workshops & Trial Runs

Hi there.

Thanks to all those who participated in the stakeholder workshops on the 13th & 14th March 2009. I'm glad to report the business plan was well received and the feedback positive.

We received various requests from stakeholders for copies of the business plan, workshop presentation and trail maps. We are working on posting these rather large documents on the CWCBR website - so watch this space for the relevant links.
I'll shortly post a map and itinerary for each of the five trails to be developed.

Please note that while the trails still need to be developed to get them exactly as we'd like them to be, they are aleady 70% of the way there and doing any one of the trails is already a fantastic experience. If you have a group of people who would like to do one of the trails as is at the moment, please contact Janette du Toit ( and we will arrange for you to do a Trial Run at cost and according to your tailor-made choice of itinerary, accommodation and catering. Trial Runs will help a great deal with developing the trails to the desired experience - so please get involved.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Warm Regards Tracey.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

CWCBR Trails Stakeholder Workshops 12 & 13 March 2009

It would be great if we could get as many people as possible to the CWCBR Trails Stakeholder Workshops. You will recall that four workshops (Atlantis, Paternoster, Saldanha and Darling) were held in 2008 during which the idea of the CWCBR trails was discussed. We have come a long way since then, and now have confirmed dates for the second round of workshops, where the people of the West Coast will receive detailed information about the planned 5 CWCBR Trails. We promise an entertaining presentation, and good snacks, so please let all your friends and colleagues know:

Thursday 12 March 2009: 09h30 - 13h00, West Coast Environmental Cooperative, Atlantis
Friday 13 March 2009: 09h30 - 13h00, West Coast Fossil Park

Just so that we can prepare copies of the documents and enough snacks, please RSVP to or call 083 628 3426.

Look forward to welcoming you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trails Tested & Business Plan Produced

Its been an intensive few months since July 2008. We have walked and cycled each of the proposed trails, with fantastic support from interested local service providers - thank you. Even in their undeveloped state, doing each trail was a unique and truly enjoyable experience.

We also examined the competition, analyzed feasibility from social environmental and economic perspectives, looked at management and implementation from every angle and finally integrated all of this information into a Business Plan.

The Business Plan describes the development over five years of a Trails Division within the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve Section 21 Company, a non-profit company with a globally recognized mandate (UNESCO) to care for people and the environment in the CWCBR. The Trails Division will be operated as a profit centre within the CWCBR S21 Company, with profits directed towards achieving their goals. Finances will be ring-fenced to make it easy to split off the profit-centre as a seperate business later on, bring in partners, encourage investment, etc. Projections are that the Trails Division will bring significant and meaningful social, environmental and economic benefits to the CWCBR.

The results of each of the five phases leading up to phase 6 and the development of the Business Plan, were presented at monthly Board meetings which allowed us to ensure the Board was "on board" so to speak with what we proposed. The Business Plan was presented to the CWCBR Board at their year end function in December 2008.

We are now in phase 7 of the feasibility study, namely the wrap up and hand over phase. As part of this phase we will, as promised, hold two stakeholder workshops to provide feedback. The CWCBR is keen to move rapidly ahead with implementation and are already embarking upon a fund raising effort to raise the necessary capital.

  • Watch this space for information on the stakeholder workshops to be held in February 2009.
  • If you are interested in helping to develop the trails by participating in trial runs please contact us, so we can keep you posted on developments.
  • If you would like to see the reports on each of the phases, the business plan or any other information - please contact Sheryl Ozinsky (Feasibility Study Project Manager; or Janette du Toit (CWCBR Manager;