Quay West - Self Catering

Go back in time to the surrounding towns on your West Coast Holiday

Saldanha is the first destination on your South African holiday along the West Coast. It has a long, interesting maritime history dating back to 1601 when Dutch sailor Joris van Spilenberg sailed past the bay. Mistaking it for Aguada de Saldanha (‘the watering place of Saldanha’, after the Portuguese admiral António de Saldanha) – the early Portuguese name for Table Bay – he recorded the name Saldanha in his logbook, while the bay originally named Aguada de Saldanha was renamed Table Bay.

The history of Langebaan is closely related to that of nearby Saldanha. Founded around 1870, the name Langebaan is translated as ‘long track’ or ‘long course’. The origin of the name is somewhat obscure, with no fewer than four explanations. In 1909 a whaling operation was established at Donkergat, northwest of Langebaan, across Saldanha Bay. Today Langebaan is well-known for its lagoon and the West Coast National Park.

Centred around the Langebaan Lagoon, the West Coast National Park covers 30 000 ha of wetlands, strandveld and unspoilt coastline. The 5 600 ha lagoon ranks as a wetland of international importance and supports up to 50 000 waterbirds at times – regularly, there may be as many as 30 000 migrant waders present. For birding enthusiasts, there are two bird hides overlooking the lagoon and one in the salt marshes.

The Fossil Park explains the fossil-rich area of Langebaanweg which is internationally known for its wealth of fossils of extinct animals, dating back between seven and five million years. At this time, the shoreline extended to Langebaanweg which was situated at the mouth of an early Berg River, and the prevailing warm and moist climatic conditions supported lush vegetation.

Situated about 6 km upstream from the mouth of the Berg River, Velddrif has been an important fishing centre for over a century. The town is especially known for its bokkoms, a typical West Coast delicacy. Harders (mullet) caught in nets in the Berg River estuary are salted and then dried in bunches, an activity that can be seen at the drying sites upstream from the town.

The lower Berg River is an important wetland for waterbirds, which constitute just over half of the 250 bird species recorded to date. At times, over 20 000 birds are attracted to the estuary and its floodplains.

ST Helena Bay was named after the mother of Roman emperor Constantine the Great by the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, who landed here on 7 November 1497. A monument was erected just East of Stompneus Bay in 1969 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Da Gama’s birth, while the Vasco da Gama Nautical Museum at Shelley Point depicts his voyage around the Cape of Good Hope in search of a sea route to India. St Helena Bay is the centre of the country’s fishing industry and is also noted for its catches of rock lobster and snoek.

Paternoster is a typical West Coast seaside village with small whitewashed fisherman’s cottages and it is known for its crayfish. The Latin name means ‘Our Father’, and it is generally assumed that the village was named after the prayers said by shipwrecked Catholic sailors. The earlier name, St Martin’s Paternoster, was used on maps until 1693.

The last leg of your South African holiday on the West Coast leads to Vredenburg, located in the centre of a prosperous wheat and wool farming area. It was laid out in 1883 near the site of a freshwater spring that gave rise to constant quarrels between two neighbouring farmers. In 1875 a church was built, and, as the church often had to settle disputes, it was decided to rename the village Vredenburg (‘town of peace’).

Holiday accommodation West Coast

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