IT’S BLOOMING WONDERFUL!
August 26, 2022
By Pendra Dissell
There is poetry amongst the wildflowers.”
Kahlil Gibran, Poet
Every year, after the Cape winter has warmed the cockles of our hearts around crackling fires, nature announces its new season by throwing down a vivid carpet of blooming wildflowers that peep out the promise of sunny spring days.
In a short-lived but spectacular outdoor show, the proudly South African protea applauds as cheeky white rain daisies dance alongside sporries, soetuinties and their other pretty flower friends. As the warm earth responds to the sound of summer, red-bellied tortoises comb the rich undergrowth, butterflies float softly, and brave birds romance bright blue skies. To partake in this celebration of new life, footsteps flock in to collect vibrant posies.
It’s a perfect time to go road-tripping. Set your sights on the verdant open fields of the WestCoast National Park area, the Overberg or the Klein Karoo and spend the day soaking up a 360-degree kaleidoscope of clashing colours. They personify pure beauty.
Back home, pop vibrant bunches of purple, pink and canary yellow blooms into deserving vases and let the whisper of summer’s scent shout out loud.
The Most Beautiful Place
Seasoned travellers will easily acquaint the Cape West Coast with the little fishing village Churchhaven, which is so easy to love, and particularly affectionate on summer days. Like the flowers, its layered colour palette pulls you into a living picture that combines the old and new. Even today, you will encounter weathered fishermen working with tenacious nets that must stoically bear the plentiful or scant offerings of unpredictable tides.
Imagine. Smoke streams out of a chimney attached to a soot-coloured concrete kitchen hearth where a grill iron is standing to attention. It awaits the flames that will fire up the ocean’s bounty, then humble bellies will have their fill at blessed tables. These low-slung non-descript cottages are sturdy and solid; such a contrast when compared to the flashy 21st Century sky-rise glass and steel structures that speak of prowess and power. Instead, they depict the nature of a charming place on the ocean-side of a world gone wild, where life still leans into the land, and unspoiled beaches invite sandy feet to walk on their waterline.
Shhh…It’s A Secret
The ebb and flow of the tides dictate the pace here. Well, at least a bit. Signs of Churchhaven time include a streaked summer-blue wooden rowboat placed on pause on a grassy patch, locals screeching out in their lingo and family washing flapping on a windy line. By contrast, across the road, commerce resounds as confident white apron-clad waiters serve day-trippers darn good food. Fresh fish is the order of the day, of course! Just add ice-cold beer.
Though secreted away in the West Coast National Park near an azure lagoon, Churchaven is sooo perfectly positioned. To bring some story to its glory, perhaps ponder that the Sandpiper bird selects this place as its breeding spot and migrates a mere 15000km yearly from Russia to reach its royal nest. I say that’s a worthy endorsement, one way more powerful than the best TripAdvisor review.
Flamingos & The Foxtrot
The textured landscape of the West Coast National Park celebrates a spectacular marriage of wetland and coastal climes. An incredible 80km stretch of drive-through paths with stop-offs secure visitors five-star seats around the waters edge, where birdlife abounds. As witness to what really matters, slip into one of the wooden lookout hides with other hushed viewers and raise your binoculars to the eyes of your heart.
Like high society debutantes, flamingos sway through shallow reaches on nimble stilts, their feathery pink skirts moving in the breeze, a picture of pride. But, whilst they rise above, marvellous scores of secretive and nocturnal creatures deserve equal attention. Sporting picturesque names, the bat-eared fox, honey-badgers and black-backed jackals co-exist harmoniously with swift and buck Red Hartebeest, Steenbok, the happy Duiker and Grysbok. Underground, a brilliant and complex marine ecosystem flourishes whilst whales and dolphins belly flop in the deep.
This dreamy visual feast is just an hour and a half from Cape Town, and it’s a join-in affair. Beaching (including at Kraal Baai), boating, picnics, hiking, and walks are all popular activities. Little towns nearby serve ice cream.
Life Takes Grit & Grace
For more flowers, head toward Danger Point in the Overberg area. What an exciting name! The back story is that in 1895 the Danger Point Lighthouse was erected to forewarn novice seafarers of the perils they faced. In other words, these are at-your-own-risk frisky waters that call for great skill and much grit. I’d say add a large portion of Grace too. It recalls the 1852 tragedy, when the HMS Birkenhead, carrying troops to the Cape Frontier war, came crashing into this rugged and merciless coastline that is known to take no prisoners.
Some coveted suburbs sit under the Overberg umbrella. Great names like Greyton and Arniston keep company with Betty’s Bay, the fertile pear & apple Elgin Valley (with its lively Railway Market), and Hermanus, which hits the top of the pops for Whale Season. Let’s not forget Bot Rivier and Kleinmond. Special too.
These out-of-towns are friendly getaway places where you can dive into nature’s arms and embrace an outdoorsy life, eat al fresco, and stroll in the natural spaces that still exist. The Overberg deservedly gains cred because it leads to the Garden Route, but that’s alternative trip to anticipate another time.
This area expresses itself through beautiful beaches, magnificent mountains, and the hot springs of Caledon. Noteworthy here, too, are the Agulhas and Bontebok National Parks.
Electric Beams & Lemon Twist
Agulhas is the (true) southern tip of Africa, also known as the Cape of Storms, and its signature 1848 27m high red and white striped lighthouse still sends out a 56km range of light power or 7 500 000 CD with a revolving electric beam that flashes every five seconds. How Impressive! Why? Because the Aghulas bank is a geographical formation referred to as the ‘Graveyard of Ships.’ These are menacing facts to ponder whilst you walk in the park.
You can hit some good hiking trails or settle in to view extraordinary birdlife. If luck has it, you might spot the rare African Black Oystercatcher who puts his money where his mouth is. He’s a connoisseur of ocean cuisine! I add black pepper and a twist of lemon, while others are known to knock back these shucked treasures with a nip of chilled vodka.
If you are a camper, pitch your tent and set out to adventure the area. Then, come sundown, prepare a braai to light up the night and dare yourselves to slow dance to jazzy music under the stars.
P.S. The Whale season is from June to November, and the Walker Bay Nature Reserve just east of Hermanus is an excellent location to sight the Big Marine 5, or Whales, Dolphins, Seals, Penguins and Marine Birds.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
Audrey Hepburn, Actress
As pilgrims on this journey called life, we have soooo much to be thankful for. Nature, science, life, friendship, and the creatures that co-habit with us on planet earth. Not to mention that we can ride the tides on surfboards, kayak on friendly waters and jump off mountain tops attached to technicolour skysails that carry us over fields, flowers, oceans and the summit heights of great lands.
In all these places, we are privileged to dig down into rich soil, establish our foundations, leave a footprint, and make our homes in spaces where love prevails. Or, so we should.
We share prime land and property in each area that offers you a sound investment primed with promise.
Live Life Beautifully.
To invest, contact [email protected] or call +27 (0)76 393 9839
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Photo credits : Henrique Wilding, Adriaan Louw, Mark Williams, Jacques Stander, Greg Cox, Jess Snoek, Jaco Lloyd, Alexander Aitkenhead, Mike Eloff, Andriene Fourie, Romansbaai Beach & Fynbos Estate