A West Coast gem - Vensterklip Guest farm Eilands Bay
The area around Eilands Bay is known for its archaeological significance with Khoi san art and rock formations dating back thousands of years, stunning white sandy beaches, great surfing and fresh seafood.
Vensterklip Guest farm is located just outside Eilands bay, overlooking the world-renowned Verlorenvlei wetland, home to over 240 bird species, including flamingos, pelicans, herons and fish eagles. Being a few kilometres inland it is sheltered from the chilly sea breezes, making it a far more pleasant option for those visitors who like to relax outdoors without having to endure the west coast wind.
We arrived at Vensterklip on Friday evening just before sunset and we watched as the sky changed to hues of orange and tangerine against silhouettes of birds over the vlei. The mauve of the sky intensified as the day came to an end and the dark night sky dazzled from thousands of stars.
The restaurant at Vensterklip is the Tin Kitchen, a 330-year-old barn which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They serve wholesome home-made food with locally sourced ingredients.
Friday evening is homemade pizza night with stone-base pizzas which is clearly popular with the locals as the restaurant was fully booked.
Outside the restaurant, there is a large outdoor kids play area and lawn with a jumping castle - brilliant for parents as it keeps the kids entertained for hours.
The kitchen is run by Linda Koli - who creates brilliant freshly prepared wholesome meals throughout the day.
There are various options available for accommodation on Vensterklip - manorhouses and cottages as well as private campsites and caravan sites, many with views of Verlorenvlei.l Due to the drought, the water level in the lagoon is much lower and a line of white-gold sandy beaches was visible around the entire edge the lagoon.
We stayed in Louw’s Manor - a fully beautifully restored historic farmhouse with a large stoep overlooking Verlorenvlei.
Being one of the larger properties, Louw’s Manor has a massive farm kitchen, large living-dining room, with a 10-seater family dining room table.
Although the accommodation is self-catering, what I appreciated is that on arrival the kitchen is stocked with milk, tea, coffee, home-made rusks, a basket of fresh fruit and an array of cheese and biscuits. It is little touches like these that we enjoyed throughout our stay.
With 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, Louw’s Manor can accommodate 8 adults and children- making it perfect for larger groups.
The back stoep runs the width of the house and is the perfect place to relax and immerse oneself in a good book or spend time with the family around the massive yellowwood table, overlooking Verlorenvlei.
On Saturday afternoon we joined local guide Riaan on a guided walk through the private nature reserve to the discover the “real Vensterklip”- an amazing rock formation situated high up on a hill with 360 degrees views of the entire area. The area contains incredible well preserved San rock art.
Riaan led us up mountain paths that were rocky in a chaotic way, but easy enough for our 4-year-old twins to enjoy clambering on until we reached the top to enjoy stupendous views of the entire valley.
Once at the bottom we reached a clearing where a gourmet picnic table was set amongst a carpet of west coast flowers - the ideal place to take a break and rest.
We then went onto Eilands Bay, a 10-minute drive from Vensterklip, where we viewed some of the best examples of San rock art open to the public at Baboon Point. Archaeological excavations have discovered human habitation dating back 15 000 years. The rock paintings show eland, sheep and hundreds of small ochre hand prints.
The views of the coastline below from Baboon Point were brilliant in the afternoon sun, with white sandy beaches, rocky outcrops and the ocean as the background. The crashing of the waves in the distance and cry of seagulls were the only audible sounds.
On Saturday evening we chose to have a braai on the back stoep overlooking Verlorenvlei. As the sunset and the light of the day drained away we were surrounded by the sounds of crickets chirping as the shrubbery and trees were silhouetted against the muted sky.
We woke the next morning to the sounds of birdsong again. The surrounding mountains were silhouetted against the morning sky and the air smelled of salt from the ocean. There was no drone of cars or sounds of the city - a perfect way to rise on our last day at Vensterklip.
Later that day as we prepared for our journey home, I realised that I had no thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow - it’s a place where it’s okay to do absolutely nothing and just be in the moment- a very special place.