An ideal weekend to Velddrift

There are a few towns that make a huge impact. I experienced it twice throughout my journeys. However, it’s the fishing village of Velddrift who left an incredible, lasting mark.

Since my small town adventures, I opt to make my travel list as diverse as possible. By this, I mean, not visiting one region consecutively. Yet, I keep finding that I pick towns along the West Coast; over and over.

The West Coast is a firm favourite of mine with its old-world rustic charms and breathtaking salt-scented cold Atlantic ocean. Heading up the West Coast just before the R27 turn, you immediately spot Cerebos salt works on your left; mesmerised by the salt pans that have been there for decades.

Another unique characteristic of Velddrift is the aroma. The smells of freshly processed fish. The odour fills the air of the fishing factories in the area as fishing remains a major industry in Velddrif.

Velddrif is not as developed and touristy as other West Coast towns like Paternoster, Saldanha, and Langebaan. There’s no mall. No large-scale construction sites or overcrowding which is ideal for anyone looking to simply unwind.

There’s a number of attractions we wanted to explore but after checking in at our accommodation, Rivertides Guest House situated right along the banks of the Berg River, that list disappeared.

We had the entire Berg River Estuary (one of three top estuaries in South Africa) at our doorstep. It supports 210 species of bird, 25 of which are nationally important, whilst up to 80% of the fish in the estuary use it as a nursery.

Sitting on one of the porch benches; staring out over the estuary with a beverage in hand and listening to the sounds of nature while the sun went down in the distance was a surreal moment – A feeling I can’t quite comprehend. It almost felt like we belonged.

The neighbours were an extra treat. Much older in age, we spoke like we were old friends as the fire crackled; cooking our supper for the evening. It’s so rare that we engage with other travellers at our accommodations. Often it’s because you minding your own business and other times, you don’t want to interrupt their vacation. I think moving forward, I’m changing this one-minded perspective of mine.

Mornings are something else. Every bird wants to be heard; whether it be a little grebe or a Cape shoveler. The boats sway in tiny strides on the river while the fish factory is on full steam ahead with boats coming in and out from the ocean.

As much as it will be ideal to lounge at the accommodation the entire weekend, it also great to explore the town for a bit. A trip to Bokkomlaan on the Berg River is a must-visit when in Velddrift.

What is bokkom?

Bokkom is dried fish. After its washed and packed with layers of coarse salt for 24 hours, it dries outside in the sun for 14 to 21 days. After this drying process, the bokkoms are ready to be eaten.

This tourist attraction is ideal for a leisurely stroll. We grabbed a takeaway coffee and walked the entire laan flat. There are places to eat and you should be able to find bokkoms to buy as we did. Look out for the resident pelicans and geese who love listening to the sound of their own voices and scan the floodplain for flamingos.

We stumbled upon a nursery and cafe called Lavender and Lime for lunch. While I call myself a plant mom, this nursery had an array of beautiful plants that we ended up purchasing succulents to bring back home.

The small cafe is tucked in the back with a few tables. The menu has an array of breakfast and light meal options for a quick bite. The chicken pie and side chips are a great selection to fill your appetite.

Afternoon naps are a must while on holiday but an afternoon stroll along the bank of the river while the slanting rays of the setting sun gave a warm orange tinge to the sky. You can’t help but bathe in the afternoon and enjoy the gentle breeze.

While we prepare the food on the open fire, I sat on a lounge chair; soaking in the last of the sun, reading with a glass of wine. It was great to relax for a change.

As loadshedding crept in, we had a romantic dinner out on the patio overlooking the estuary. The lights twinkled over the horizon from our neighbours in St Helena Bay made the evening that more special.

As we pack our bags the following day, having our morning coffee out on the pier and chatting about how surreal this little getaway was, it came to mind that for the first time of 5 years of traveling this piece of heaven will be a once in a lifetime treat we’ll come back to every year.


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Till the next small town

Stephanie Marthinus Blog