There is something very special about the West Coast. Actually, there is something special about every destination in South Africa. I guess it’s just the nature of living in such a diverse and beautiful country. Just over an hour outside the Cape Town city centre is where you can find a slower, simpler kind of life. A place where people still live off the land (or sea). A place that is drenched in history.
We took a road trip up the West Coast recently and chose to turn it into a weekend away. When you consider the distance and the length of time to get to West Coast Fossil Park and Thali Thali Game Lodge, it just made sense. Although it is 100% possible to do our itinerary within a single day, it is exhausting. Especially when that day happens to be one of the hottest we’ve had all year. It makes far more sense to slow down…take your time and not rush from one place to the next.
Our day started very early. We left the house just before 7am so that we could reach West Coast Fossil Park by 9:30am. When you leave Cape Town on a weekday morning, you are bound to find yourself in traffic for at least a portion of your journey. There is simply no real way around it. After a Big Bear breakfast for the adults and a Baby Bear breakfast for the kids, we headed over to the dig site where teams of experts had been uncovering fossils that were millions of years old. The draw card of this particular dig site is the fact that you find marine, fresh water and terrestrial bones lying side by side. This proves that this site, which is currently over 20 kilometres inland from where the sea is now, used to be part of the ocean. In fact, our guide told us that if we could continue digging, there is a strong possibility that we will find the ocean under our feet. Mind boggling!
After lots of information and even more questions, we moved away from the site to visit the lab. This is where we got to feel the difference between a skeleton bone and a fossil. What qualifies as a fossil, you might want to know? A fossil is when bone, turns to stone.
West Coast Fossil Park is on the brink of opening there new education centre where schools can visit to learn everything they need to know about nature. Qualified teachers are on hand to teach everything from ecology to biology and everything in between. Our kids had the amazing opportunity to dissect an oil pellet. It went from gross to engrossing in a very short time.
We barely had time to catch our breath before we had to say goodbye and head to Thali Thali for lunch. And what a lunch it was. Wow! They really know how to cook over there. We were glad that we had time to really relax and explore Thali Thali before our game drive at 3:30pm it was just SO HOT. The kids quickly made their shoes disappear and had their feet in the pool before we had even ordered our drinks.
After learning about the short necked giraffe, The Sivathere, at West Coast Fossil Park earlier that day, it was great to spend some time with their long necked counter parts at Thali Thali. The kids could have spent hours just watching them interact with one another if I hadn’t forgotten to pack water for the game drive and we all were distracted at how thirsty we were.
Suffice to say, the children were exhausted by the time we arrived at our accommodation in Paternoster. We had absolutely no trouble getting them to go to sleep and, if that’s not a sign of a productive day, then I don’t know what is.
With the Easter holidays coming up, this would be a great way to spend a day or weekend away with your family. You can be assured that everyone will learn something new while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the West Coast. Of course, if you really want to make it worth your while, you could always schedule your visit to fall later on in the year so that you can take advantage of the West Coast flowers in Spring…but that is just a suggestion.
Disclaimer: This post was created in collaboration @westcoastwaySA. All thoughts, words and images are our own.