South Africa is full of semi-discovered pieces of paradise. And a road trip is always the best way to uncover these little hidden gems. With plenty of time to discover the surrounding scenery, it is always fun finding new places. Here are a few of them. More to come soon.
This post is by Sergio Henriques, a new contributor to our blog. Here is a bit more about him: I’m a keen writer and blogger, but have recently taken up writing as a freelance journalist and copywriter. Some of my clients include New Media Publishing, John Brown Media and Biz-Genie.com. I find this line of work to be very interesting as I’m constantly learning new things with every piece of content I am requested to write and enjoy creating guides in the fields of technology, health, travel and the environment.
FIVE SECRET SPOTS
1. KRAAL BAAI
Nestled within the West Coast Nature Reserve which is located approximately 100 kilometres north of Cape Town, this little bay is becoming popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts in the summer. The protected cove is found further up in the Langebaan estuary and is reachable either by boat or the nature reserve road which runs all the way around from Langebaan, passing the popular Geelbek restaurant, various bird-hides and the lagoon-side village of Churchhaven. Kraalbaai, protected from the prevailing winds is, notable for its houseboats and its crystal clear azure warm waters, is a popular spot for water skiing and hanging out on the beach. Langebaan lagoon is also a favourite amongst kite-surfers, as it offers large expanses of water exposed to the south-easterly wind. Kraailbaai is also known for the discovery of a 117,000 year old set of foot prints of “Eve” who stood at 1.2 metres tall and said to be one of the earliest inhabitants of the area.
Just around the corner is Donkergat which offers an unspoilt ocean view, along with braai and toilet facilities. In spring (August – October) the Postberg area of the park is well-known for its great wildflower viewing and panoramic view of the towns of Langebaan, Saldanha, the Langebaan estuary and the coast leading south towards Yzerfontein.
2. JACOBS BAAI
Jacobsbaai is a coastal village situated between Saldanha Bay and Vredenburg. Consisting of only a few houses and guesthouses, this tranquil stretch of prime ocean view is relatively untouched and is a great place to kick back and enjoy the peaceful crashing of ocean waves on its rugged shores. There are only gravel roads leading into and around the village which keeps noise of vehicles to a minimum and the surrounding towns are out of sight which gives a great feeling of being totally remote. Activities available in this area include fishing, diving and boating.
3. DIE HEL
If you have ever seen one of those scary movies such as Wrong Turn or The Hill Has Eyes, then this area will appeal to you. Despite many stories being only a myth as to the presence of an isolated community of flesh-eating hillbillies, this area in not without its share of tales which include a dark history of many apparent deaths which marked the treacherous route into the town.
Also known as Gamkaskoof, which lies between the Swartberg Mountains (approximately 100km from Oudtshoorn), this area was inadvertently discovered by a farmer who was in search of his stray livestock in the 1800’s and due to the fertility of the region, decided to settle in the valley. The population slowly grew into a community of around 120 people who lived in complete isolation for over 100 years as the surrounding land allowed them to be self-sustaining and the journey in and out was simply too arduous.
It was not until 1960 that a safer gravel road was constructed to reach this area and prior to that there was only a rugged gravel road which saw many a man’s death in its construction, or so they say. Some of the original homesteads which were abandoned and fell into ruin have since been restored and now serve as guesthouses to the brave who don’t mind the soft whispers of ghosts in the eerie silence of the night.
This area is a great place for nature-lovers and adventurers who are looking for terrain which is completely remote and unspoilt.
Sutherland is a remote town in the heart of the Karoo. Known as the “Gateway to the Universe” because of its ultra-clear night skies which seem to open up to the heavens. This town is also home to the South African Large Telescope (SALT) Observatory which is the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.
Sutherland is one of the coldest villages in South Africa, where snowy winters are certainly not uncommon, and is home to a mere 2800 inhabitants which is great if you want a really peaceful getaway.
Originally established in 1858 by the Dutch, this town was originally used for farming sheep and has to-date become popular with tourists. One can expect to find many B&B’s to make your stay comfortable while you enjoy the breath-taking scenery and small village charm of the Karoo.
Bavianskloof (“The Valley of Baboons”) is a protected World Heritage Site located approximately 120km west of Port Elizabeth. Covering an area of around 500,000 hectares, it is one of the largest conservation areas in the country and features a diverse variety of landscapes, fauna and flora.
From dense forests to rugged mountain passes and open lush plains, there are many scenic views which will take your breath away as you stand in awe of the beautiful surroundings. There are a number of hiking trails and guided safari drives in the large conservation area and visitors are advised to travel in 4×4 vehicles as some of the stretches of roads are unsuitable for regular sedan vehicles. There are a number of accommodation options available throughout the wilderness area which will suit varying budgets.
For most travelers in and out of South Africa, Cape Town is a must-see. So in between visiting the above secret spots, the Rockwell Hotel is a superb option, conveniently placed close to the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, and the Promenade. Plus it is right across the road from the Cape Quarter. So for those looking for a great place to be based during their visit to this cosmopolitan city, check it out.