The Forgotten Western Cape

21 September 16

Jacqui 'Jax' Cooks
A thirty-something year old global gypsy, travel junkie & foodie
The forgotten Western Cape, is the region most people often overlook when they think of the Western Cape in Southern Africa.

This article was originally written by Jacqui Cooks - theJaxBlog
If I say Western Cape, immediately one’s mind wanders off to the beaches of Camps Bay, the vibrant city of Cape Town or any one of the fabulous vineyards in the Stellenbosch region, am I right?
The Western Cape, in fact, extends all the way up the coast to Mossel Bay. A small seaside town which I grew up in and recently had the privilege to revisit thanks to Visit Mossel Bay Tourism.
It is roughly located halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

Mossel Bay was discovered on 3 February 1488 by Portuguese Sailor Bartolomeus Dias en route to India, as he stopped for refreshments for his crew.
A replica of his vessel, The Caravel, is on display at the Maritime Museum as well as a replica of the cross he erected during his visit.

Long before the Jan Van Riebeek set foot in the Cape in 1652, the Portuguese founded Southern Africa. I can safely say that this city is one of the most significant places because this is where our ancestors originated.
Just outside the museum is another great piece of South african history, the first post office
In 1501 Pedro D’taida left a letter in a sailor’s boot up in a tree by the fountain, warning Calicut had been taken by the Borneans so the Portuguese were no longer safe. From then onwards mail was regularly left in a shoe or pot under the tree.

Keeping tradition alive, the South African Postal Service has a replica stone boot letterbox stands under the tree where one can actually send mail from.
If you love road trips then you will love this approximately 4 hour drive from Cape Town.
Along the way, is a hidden Alcare Aloe factory with a giant Aloe sculpture outside. Aloe is indigenous to South Africa and has many healing properties, from detoxing your system to calming sunburn. 

For the naturopaths among us, I would definitely recommend a stop here for a brief educational tour and to pick up some handy herbal products.

The Garden Route Game Lodge is where we lunched and took in a game drive. If you are lucky, you may just spot Africa’s ‘Big 5’ (Lion, Cheetah, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo).  

We were fortunate to spot some wild game, giraffes, buffalo, elephants, rhino and even some lions.

Too tired to drive further for the rest of the day? No problem, the game lodge also has several chalets fully equipped with the comfort of home for a stayover.

A communal dining hall and public swimming pool.

The Chalets at Garden Route Game Lodge
We did not stop here for the night but pressed on to Mossel Bay and the Strand Diaz Hotel is where I laid my head for the next few nights.

The view from my room at Strand Diaz Hotel
The Diaz Hotel is situated right on the most gorgeous stretch of beach, I simply could not resist taking a beach stroll on our morning of departure (making me horrendously late for the trip)
The design of the building is in such a way that every room appears to have a sea view. Now that is something worth waking up for!

Should you tire of the sea, as if, there are many historical monuments to discover such as The Janine Iron and Washing Museum.

This museum displays more than 640 rare laundry irons, washing machines and mangles dating back to the 1800s. Some are claimed to be the only remaining examples in the world.
However, if you prefer an outdoor game drive or bush experience, but you are not inclined to roughing it and prefer glamping, much like myself, then Botlierskop Private Game Reserve is for you.

The original farm Manor House from the 1800s has been renovated with 4 air-conditioned rooms, a spacious lounge and pool (children over age 6 are welcome).

Enveloped by the luscious green flora, overlooking the Moordkuil River lie seventeen elegantly decorated luxury tented suites.

Lavishly fitted out with all the modern amenities you would find in the city including deep oval baths, outdoor showers, telephones, mini bars, air-conditioners, heated towel rails, private deck with a personal splash pool even electric blankets and hairdryers. The only this this romantic, colonial luxurious tent does not have is a television set. With views like these and so many activities ranging from game drives, elephant back safaris, horse safaris to fantastic spa treatments, who needs a television?

There are so many scenic little towns to discover a mere stone’s throw away from Mossel Bay. One in particular I would like to mention is the Great Brak Region.

Delicious Fynbos (another plant indigenous to South Africa) tea tasting was had as well as a good old traditional South African lunch at Transkaroo.

What is unique about this restaurant is that it’s situated right next to the old railway station where the former Transkaroo Express train used to stop at. 
I may be biased when I say that I am in love with the Western Cape, but after a visit you will be too!
Need to know:
Tel: +27 (0)44 691 2202
Getting There:
Best way is to take a nice long drive,
400 Kms from Cape Town
400 Kms from PE
Weather: Mild
Activities: Historical & Cultural; watersports, restaurants, hiking trails

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