Winter wandering along the West Coast: Paternoster

At the beginning of June, Guillaume and I set out on a little road trip up the West Coast.

We’d been looking forward to it for a while, as it marked an important milestone for us: the end of our long distance relationship.

After living and working in Riversdale for almost two years, Guillaume was back in Cape Town for good and we wanted to celebrate with a bit of adventure.

Itinerary

Apart from the fact that we’d set our sights on the West Coast, there were very few other plans in place for the journey. We stocked up on food and drinks, dusted off the ammo boxes containing our camping gear and packed our beloved green dome tent in the back of his bakkie.

Embracing spontaneity, we identified Paternoster, Lambert’s Bay and the Cederberg Wilderness Area as preferred overnight destinations, optimistically planning to camp as we went. Considering the mid-winter weather, however, we agreed that it wouldn’t be completely terrible if we were forced to check into cosy accommodation here and there.

Paternoster

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Setting out on a chilly Friday morning, we took the R27 along the coast, past Yzerfontein, Langebaan and Saldanha; through Vredenburg and all the way to Paternoster – an enjoyable 140km drive all in all.

Disembarking for a beer at the local hotel, we were met with a bite in the air that suggested an evening of camping on the Atlantic Ocean’s doorstep at Tietiesbaai would be no fun at all. Our waitress directed us to the tourism information office near the harbour to find out about accommodation, saying she’d put our beers on ice so long, as the bureau would be closing in the next 15 minutes or so.

The friendly and efficient tourism officer on duty made a phone call or two and quickly found us a spot in a charming self-catering complex called Die Opstal.  Since most places aren’t that keen on allowing one-night bookings over a weekend, we considered ourselves very lucky indeed.

Die Opstal

Unfortunately I didn’t take any pics of my own here, so these are from Paternoster.co.za

Once we’d finished off those beers waiting at the hotel, we headed on to our overnight spot where the cryptic instructions we’d received for the location of the key had us doing a bit of a treasure hunt.We finally found it and stepped into the sweet Studio Cottage, complete with indoor fireplace, fully equipped kitchen, a plush couch and warm bedding.

Die Opstal looks like a large Greek villa and comprises five ‘cottages’ or suites similar to the one we stayed in. The front stoep has a a fig tree, a picnic bench and a sliver of sea view, while the back courtyard has a clear blue swimming pool and a couple of braai places. Located just 60m from the beach, it definitely seems like a great vibe for the summer months too.

While we didn’t make use of it, so can’t vouch for its usability, they do offer Wi-Fi which you can access by purchasing a coupon upon log-in. It’s also pet-friendly (with conditions), so if you’re lucky enough to have a pup, bring him/her too!

Safety concerns

In recent years there’s been a rise in crime in Paternoster – break-ins and such – which has made even regular holidaymakers somewhat hesitant to visit. Fortunately we didn’t experience anything remotely like this and felt quite safe in our overnight accommodation. We did, however, unpack everything from the bakkie, so there wouldn’t be any temptation.

One thing that did worry me a little was the prevalence of hawkers trying to sell bulging bags fresh mussels and even way undersize crayfish tails. With strict regulations for the harvesting of both these species, I strongly doubt that these entrepreneurs are operating legally.

Apart from this, the town is absolutely lovely at this time of year – quiet and fresh and hazy. Perfect for a break from the demands of everyday city life. The locals we encountered were also all friendly and helpful, and really went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

On the road again

We hit the road again pretty early the next morning and planned to take a slow drive up the coast to Lamberts Bay, with a few stops in between.

I’ll be telling a bit more about this in next week’s installment of ‘Winter wandering along the West Coast Part’, featuring lunch in Elands Bay’s cave and a quick peek at Rocherpan Nature Reserve.

Also, head on over to Slow Drive and check out Beyond a Dream, a little video Guillaume put together of our trip.

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