Take a walk on the West Coast side

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iol travel aug 16 West Coast National Park

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EVE'S TRAIL: A 30km wilderness hike through the unique vegetation, deserted beaches and tranquil lagoon of the West Coast National Park. Picture: Ian Landsberg

Cape Town - Expecting to generate direct local spend of R21-million and create fifteen full-time jobs over five years, the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve launched its five new visitor-ready, responsible tourism trails at the historic Kersefontein Guest Farm near Hopefield.

The anticipated income represents a return of R18 for every R1 invested by the Development Bank of South Africa and National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

A textbook case study of balancing development and conservation to preserve the area’s rich heritage, the more than 200km of hiking, cycling and canoe trails all have Environmental Management Plans, while the hiking trails are Green Flag accredited. The trails will be marketed and operated in line with responsible tourism principles.

Delivering the keynote address at the launch, Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, said: “The Western Cape Government is a signatory to the South African National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism and we are fully aligned to the national strategy that encourages responsible tourism principles.

“A number of responsible tourism initiatives are currently being run in the Western Cape, including the City of Cape Town’s Responsible Tourism pilot project. It is important that all tourism operators in the province ensure that they operate responsibly. I commend the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve for this initiative that will not only augment the local economy and create job opportunities, but also ensure that they do so responsibly.”

Addressing a current gap in the market for shorter trails, the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve’s three hiking trails, cycling trail and canoe trail are designed to be two-and-a-half-day ‘power breaks’, without the schlep. All trails are guided, catered, comfortable and safe. Hikers carry only a small daypack, while lifts and luggage are organised and local folk prepare meals in traditional West Coast style.

The trails are:

DARLING STAGGER: An Italian style slow-paced, mouth-watering 25km trail from Yzerfontein on the coast up into the hills and through wine and olive farms to Darling

EVE’S TRAIL: A 30km wilderness hike through the unique vegetation, deserted beaches and tranquil lagoon of the West Coast National Park

FIVE BAY TRAIL: A gentle 28km coast-hugging hike between the fishing villages of Paternoster and Jacobsbaai

WHEELS OF TIME: A 106km ride through time for recreational cyclists keen to experience the back roads and beauty of the West Coast from the seat of a bicycle

ERG RIVER CANOOZE: A 30km downstream kayak from Hopefield to Velddrift with farm stays en route

Accommodating from die-hard mountain lovers, twitchers and botanists, to family groups and modern-day strandlopers, the trails are the ultimate slack-packing getaway, enabling participants to sample true West Coast hospitality, cuisine and the characteristic tales and humour of the area’s folk.

The starting point of all the trails is less than an-hour-and-a-half’s drive from Cape Town.

For more info or to book visit www.capebiosphere.co.za/trails

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