West Coast Scenic Drive (Part 1)

This week we took a drive up the West Coast. We first stopped at the riverside town of  Velddrif, and then the seaside town of Laaiplek. Laaiplek is a few minutes drive away from Velddrif and is also a harbour for huge fishing trawlers.

Both of these towns are firm favourites for my family and I. They are both the perfect destination for a much needed weekend breakaway. At Velddrif there is the Riviera Hotel as well as B&B’s for accomodation, while Laaiplek offers the Laaiplek Hotel and a Caravan camping spot named “Stywe lyne” – which is afrikaans for taut fishing lines.

This area is a paradise for bird watchers, and people come here from all over the world for this particular activity.

The Berg River runs past these towns and into the sea at Laaiplek. The annual Canoe Marathon usually ends at Velddrif.

In Velddrif there is a piece of dirt road alongside the river which is quite picturesque. Essentially being a fisherman’s “village”, it is along this road, at the right time of year, that one can see “bokkoms” hanging from wooden structures. Bokkoms are fish, locally called “Harders”, otherwise also known as “Southern Mullet”, which are dried and salted – in much the same way as Biltong, or the American Cowboy’s Beef Jerky.

Apparently the word Bokkom, originates from the Dutch word “bokkem” a variant of the middle dutch word “bokking” which is derived from the word for Goat – “Bok”. The reason for this is that the smell of the dried salted fish is similar to the smell of a goat’s scent glands which apparently are behind the horns…(eeew dodgy!)

Although “bokkoms” is considered a delicacy by many, I am afraid I can do without it.  For me, it falls in the same category of food as snails and dried Grasshoppers.

Bokkom road, as it is named, also boasts some spectacular views of the river. There is a tearoom / restaurant as well. I can recommend that for a teastop or a meal – the meals are well prepared and it is lovely to sit on their porch with a cup of tea and watch avian and human traffic on the river.

In Laaiplek we have, on two occasions in the past, spent a weekend at the Laaiplek hotel. This is highly recommended and something we will be doing again. The Hotel is nicely situated between two sections of the quays where the Fishing Trawlers are berthed. Facing the river, turn your head to the right and you see the River mouth and the entrance to the harbour. Looking straight ahead and in the middle of the river there is an island where thousands of birds are to be seen.

These are sea birds. In the mornings they file out to the sea through the harbour entrance in their thousands. A daily seaward migration. In the late afternoon they all file back. This procession is not measured in minutes but hours.

Then in the evening one can witness the most spectacular sunsets from the hotel porch.

This weeks photos feature some of the views in Velddrif and Laaiplek.

Part 2 will deal with the West Coast Flowers and pictures of Clanwilliam Dam.

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