08 December 2011

Cape Columbine Nature Reserve - Beach Camping

The West Coast of South Africa is full of unusual surprises - where time sometimes seems to stand still and the lure of yesteryear beckons. Tietiesbaai, situated within the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, just past Paternoster, is one such place. Cape Columbine was declared a Nature Reserve in 1973 and covers approx 263ha along this stretch of coast.

The last manually controlled lighthouse is within this reserve and it was built in 1936. Today it is surrounded by houses available for those week-enders who prefer the modern comforts! The lighthouse beam is visible for about 50 km.

The purists will love the camping at Tietiesbaai - any closer to the sea and you will get wet! The camp sites are spread out around the bay (above) and are truly in a "back to nature" spot. With no electricity and very basic ablutions, it remains extremely popular. Day Visitors are allowed into the Reserve and there is an entrance fee.

There are amazing rock formations in this area which just beg to be scrambled, great fishing spots, time to catch your own West Coast Lobster, or harvest fresh mussels off the rocks, sun-tanning or just sitting round the fire chatting to friends or family. It's a relaxing spot where time can stand still. There are also hiking trails within this region for those in need of more exercise!
Dolphins and whales can be seen along the coast at various times of the year and wild flowers are out during July - August.
Within the reserve there is also accommodation for those who don't have their own camping gear. It's called "The Beach Camp" and woe betide those who enter without a booking or out of plain curiosity! We did not dare to put it to the test given the stern warning at the entrance! Accommodation is in A-Frame huts or tents and it would be best to check out their rules before booking.

The "Seekombuis" is situated near the entrance gate to the reserve and is the brainchild of the owners who have done all the building work and design themselves with the assistance of 2 labourers. Very rustic and innovative - do pop in for a drink or pre-book a meal. They were very welcoming and showed us around with smiles! Not like "The Beach Camp" were one does not dare even enter!

One idea that we thought was very innovative is their use of old rowing boats as restaurant tables - what could be better than sitting in an old boat, enjoying the sea breezes and some cold beer? They will have umbrellas up on hot days! The shell work adorning the area has been painstakingly done and truly reflects the spirit of the sea and beach. There are numerous other tables scattered around, all with views of the sea. So it is fittingly called the Seekombuis = The Sea Kitchen. With a lovely beach just below for the kids to work off their energy, moms and dads can enjoy a leisurely break.  
Cape Columbine Lighthouse in the far distance (Above)

The roads within the reserve are untarred but can be managed by a normal car, albeit sometimes a rather bumpy ride!

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