The sound of seagulls saying goodbye to their friends while the sun set and boats docked is how Langebaan, a town on the West Coast, welcomed me. I had always heard about this beautiful town, but never had the opportunity to visit. Langebaan is 122km away from Cape Town via the R27 and only an hour-and-a-half’s drive away. This means visiting the small town is effortless and is far enough to be secluded. This picturesque town developed quickly from a quiet fishing village into a holiday-maker’s paradise and today it is one of the most popular resorts on the West Coast. People flock to Langebaan for kite surfing, its lovely turquoise beaches and lagoon.
Not much credit is given to the West Coast as a holiday destination and more emphasis is placed on Cape Town’s iconic attractions like Table Mountain, Robben Island and Lion’s Head. However, a little drive along the West Coast will definitely add some sparkle to your holiday. Langebaan is one of South Africa’s oldest towns. Its modern history stretches back more than four centuries and its palaeontological and archaeological history goes back several million years. Once a meeting place of Khoi leaders, Langebaan is on the shores of a lagoon – one of South Africa’s greatest natural wonders. The bright blue, sheltered stretch of water stretches south for 17km from Saldanha Bay in the north, past Langebaan village to Geelbek at the southern end. The sailing conditions here are among the best in the Western Cape.
Langebaan has attracted many visitors over the years. One was a runaway sailor called Lynch, who arrived in the last century. His name has been immortalised in Lynch Point, which lies on the northern border of the town. After a long road trip, I settled in at Club Mykonos Resort, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. As I sat on my patio, I found out what you can do in Langebaan. Among the highlights were boat cruises at the harbour, kayaking, birdwatching or tranquil views of the lagoon. On my short two-day stay, I decided I would explore attractions that mixed culture, leisure and the wilderness. My hope of taking a boat cruise for one afternoon was dashed by the wind, but the range of other activities satisfied my curiosity, convincing me to visit the town sometime in the future.
A little piece of Greece
Who needs to fly thousands of kilometres to Greece when you could visit Club Mykonos Resort, which promises “a little piece of Greece on the West Coast”. The property has four- and three-star self-catering accommodation to suit everyone’s pocket. Club Mykonos has been in operation for the past 27 years. I stayed in a four-star kaliva that was way too big for me, but I enjoyed having the place all to myself. At the resort there were many couples and families who had decided to break away from the world to get a taste of “Greek” living. The kalivas are beautiful, displaying nautical elements mixed with sea living. They are a burst of colour outside and in. My room had a king-size bed open-plan room with the lounge area, with two single beds in the private bedroom. These units come equipped with a private bathroom with a shower and a fully equipped kitchen including stove and oven. They include a bottle of Tabasco sauce and salt just in case you forget to pack them. The balcony view was amazing and you can spend much of your time out there, reading a book or having some cocktails while the sun sets. As much as I loved staying in my kaliva in between all the tours in Langebaan, you can easily just stay at the resort with all the activities and eateries on offer. There is a handful of restaurants, a supermarket, beach and sports shop, outdoor braai area and swimming pool, gym and the Mykonos Casino. At night the venue turns into a wonderland as guests grab drinks at the marina or take leisurely strolls around the area amid the chill of the Cape weather. I will definitely be back to Club Mykonos and maybe the next time I will get to put my cooking skills to the test or make it a family holiday.
Safari on the West Coast
No visit to Langebaan is complete without a visit to Thali Thali Game Lodge. Thali Thali is a 1 460 hectare Cape West Coast game and fynbos reserve situated just off the R27 near Langebaan, bordering the West Coast National Park. The three-star lodge can welcome up to 28 guests and is quite popular with its in-house restaurant. Thali Thali has eight units made up of three West Coast-style self-catering chalets and five B&B luxury en-suite tents. The big old farmhouse with four bedrooms is the latest addition to the line-up and is separate from all the others and ideal for families and large groups. What I enjoyed the most were the close interactions with the wildlife, including a range of game like kudu, oryx, giraffe, red hartebeest, eland, zebra, springbok, black wildebeest, duiker, bontebok, steenbok, ostrich, dromedary camel and emu. Our game drive started promptly at 10am, with me, two Canadians, a Cape Town couple and a South African expat, now living in the UK, in the vehicle. Our tour guide was Charlie Hamman, who enlightened us about the different species and their roles in the area. Not only did Hamman tell us about the game, he also gave us insight into the area and painted a picture of what it had been like decades ago. A memory I will treasure most is the close interaction we had with a giraffe family. Seeing a baby giraffe, born just a few weeks before, up close was a treat. The man next to me tried everything to get a snap of me behind the giraffes, but failed due to the sun. After the drive, Hamman brought back a young black wildebeest to camp which had been disowned by his mother. Attempts to reconcile it with his mother had proved futile. He is now being housed at the main camp until he is older. The game lodge also offers 45 minute archery lessons at R150. The owner, Thenus, started it as a hobby in 2009, and his skills are put to good use as he helps others. After our lesson, I was able to hit the target despite my terrible hand-eye coordination.
Khoi San culture
If you want to indulge your cultural senses, !Kwattu offers a unique experience of the Khoi San people and the lives they lived. Besides hosting San-inspired tours which educate international and local tourists on San living, the organisation also provides training to the San in life skills, entrepreneurship, tourism, health, community development and gender issues. They seek to restore and protect the cultural heritage of the San as contained in their history, folklore, visual arts, cosmology and language as well as promote the long-term financial sustainability of San development in southern Africa. The tours takes place at 10am and 2pm. They last an hour and are conducted either on foot or on a bicycle. Our guide, Kerson Jackson, gave me and three overseas visitors from G Adventures a run-down on San living, how they hunted, what they ate and strategies on how the men wooed the women. I had heard about San living, but never as intricate as this tour. Soon there will be a Dream Museum project, expected to be completed next year, which will show off some of the artefacts and historical items that the San people used centuries ago. If you’re feeling peckish after a tour, the restaurant has great food and wine. When visiting, ask about the story of the jackal, it will leave you spellbound.