Jewels Along The West Coast
Go! Camp & Drive|October 2019
Between the Hardeveld’s wildflowers and an icy Atlantic Ocean – with the Olifants River to the south and the Spoeg River to the north – lies a beautiful coastal region, and you’ll need an off-road vehicle to experience the best of it.
Cyril Klopper
The trail starts next to the Olifants River in the small West Coast town of Koekenaap and ends 235 km farther in Hondeklip Bay. When driving up from Cape Town, you’ll arrive in this town shortly before noon, and there’ll only be enough time to complete a quarter of the route on your first day.

Koekenaap has a general dealer where you can buy basic supplies; if you need fresh bread and vegetables, there are larger shops in Vredendal, 30 km back the way you came. (By the way, if a guy with ginger hair, a two-tone shirt and a pair of jean shorts in Vredendal tries to convince you that the correct pronunciation is “Koek en aaaap” – yes, the “aap” must be drawn out – don’t believe him! The lady at the general dealer will give you the evil eye if you pronounce her town’s name in this way.)

Less than a kilometer north of Koekenaap, you’ll come across a signpost for the MSR Tormin mine. Here you turn left and follow an excellent dirt road for exactly 23 km, past an Eskom wind farm, to where the road forks (S31.49390 E18.06061). The superb dirt road veers to the left toward the Tormin mine and to the right runs a smaller sandy track. This track follows the coast and will eventually deliver you in Hondeklip Bay. Remember your camera, because over the next two days you will drive along a picturesque coastline with white beaches and numerous sheltered bays – and, if you time it right, beautiful wildflowers too.

SHORTLY AFTER YOU turn right at the fork, the first of many farm gates awaits. A notice on the gate informs you that you are now entering private property. However, the stern message does not forbid you to enter, as the road is a servitude that serves several farms along the coastline.

After closing the gate behind you, the dirt road takes a long, leisurely curve to the coast. You can manage the dirt road with a family sedan, but there are occasional patches of loose sand and it is advisable to lower your Toyota Corolla’s tyre pressure to about 1,8 bar, just in case.

There are several twin tracks that turn off to the beach, and for these, you will need a proper four-wheel-drive vehicle as the sand is deep and loose. This is why it makes little sense to come here in a sedan since the hard gravel road never comes nearer than 200 m to the beach. If you want to dip your toes in the sea and pitch a tent next to the beach, you’ll absolutely have to bring a 4x4 vehicle.

Reduce the tyre pressure to 1 bar and take the first sandy twin-track (S31.47817 E18.01859) to the beach. The first bay where you are allowed to wild camp is called Gert du Toit-se-baai. Here you’ll encounter an old Jurgens Fleetline with its wheels removed, one of the many to come. Considering the remarkable view, a caravan could hardly retire at a finer place.

Gert du Toit-se-baai is popular with West Coasters, and you’ll see braai places and wind-breaks built by local campers over many years using scree. If you’re planning to travel here over the Easter weekend or December, you’ll probably have a hard time claiming your own private beach at Gert du Toit-se-baai, because everyone will have the same idea as you. The good news is that there is more than 200 km of the coast ahead and you will definitely find an unoccupied spot. However, if you travel out of season as we did, the entire coastline is yours for the taking.

The velt is verdant and you’ll occasionally see the wooly black-and-white bodies of Dorper sheep nibbling on bushes and skipping through the flowers.

Two farm gates further down the road is a fenced-off diamond mining concession where you are not allowed to camp; keep going along the main gravel road to where the fence ends and then aim for the beach again using a twin-track. There are dozens of coves where you can pitch your tent or light a fire for an afternoon braai.

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