This past week I spent some time on the West Coast by invitation of the owners of Wamakersvlei Beach Farm to establish a photographic workshop at their amazing seaside establishment. The West Coast is well known for popular tourist stays such as Paternoster, Langebaan, Lambert’s Bay and more. Wamakersvlei Beach Farm is a rare find on the Cape West Coast’s Sandveld. This picturesque destination is your authentic private haven of tranquillity where you will reconnect with nature and each other.
Wamakersvlei directly translated means “wagonmaker’s wetland”. This unique name was given due to the location which was en route to Velddrif. About 300 years ago, early settlers or trekboere settled down in the area. The deep sandy soil was a challenge for farmers to transport their crop to Velddrif from where it was shipped to Cape Town. The farmers struggled with their heavy loaded ox wagons through the two-track sandy road until they reached the pans where they unharnessed the oxen and repaired their wagons. The pans at Wamakersvlei is adjacent to salt pans which forms an approximately 20km strip to Velddrif. It was much easier for the farmers to move from here with their products to the sailboats at Laaiplek, at the mouth of the Berg River. Later on, Wamakersvlei also became the home of “veewagters” who looked after the cattle and goats of the more wealthy farmers.
The so-called “bywoners” or farm labourers’s however discovered the rich fishing fields of the area where you will find Galjoen, Harders as well as Wit Steenbras. The farm is still unspoiled with a 400ha wilderness area of approximately 7 km coastline which borders the Rocher Pans. The 400ha of unspoiled Weskus Fynbos habitats various types of animals and birds. The owners recently restored the original veewagter cottages. It’s not just a place to stay; it’s also an educational experience.
Skilpadkos is a lovingly restored enchanting fisherman’s cottage. Original doors and frames were given a second chance and relive as stunning bespoke handmade furniture. The cottage is tucked in behind the dunes overlooking the saltpans with their rich birdlife. The sound of waves washing up onto the beach constantly reminds one of the ocean, a mere 500m away. The distant mountains of Aurora and Piketberg form the perfect backdrop to the scenery. Skilpadkos cottage is a popular summer and winter retreat.
What is still an almost undiscovered treasure trove of unspoiled beaches, incredible mountain ranges, rich geographical diversity, and the most astounding carpet of wildflowers in spring, has evolved into a major holiday route out of Cape Town along Route 27. The Cape West Coast stretches from Cape Town as far as the border with the Northern Cape at Touws River, including within its parameters the indescribably beautiful Cederberg Mountains, famous for centuries-old rock art.
The beautiful West Coast region is a necklace of loosely strung quaint historic towns and fishing villages that hug the rough coastline north-west of Cape Town, with names like Dwarskersbos, Velddrif, Laaiplek, Lambert’s Bay, Paternoster, Saldanha and Langebaan that today roll with ease off the tongue, but until fairly recently was left to languor in relative obscurity.
Up along the Cape West Coast (stretching towards the Northern Cape), the beaches are more rugged but no less appealing. The only natural harbour in the Western Cape is at Saldanha Bay, near the unbelievable hues of Langebaan Lagoon. The alluring white sandy beaches and bays against the colourful Atlantic ocean are always a winner along the West Coast.
Dwarskersbos is a sleepy fishing village popular with holidaymakers, located on the West Coast Way Berg Route with pristine beaches which are dotted with fishing boats. It is located some 11 km north of Laaiplek. The name is said to be derived from Afrikaans; kersbos (candle bush) is a type of plant, Euclea polyandra, or Sarcocaulon species. The beach stretches from Velddrif and Dwarskerbos to Elands Bay, making it the longest uninterrupted sandy beach in South Africa. The hamlet of Dwarskesbos famously suffered an onslaught from a 6m tidal wave on 27 August 1969 that broke through the dunes. Thankfully, the wave didn’t leave any permanent damage to the coastline with the town’s long-stretching beaches still intact.
This particular stretch of the Cape West Coast is renowned for whale watching and one of the few places where the rare Heaviside’s dolphin can be spotted. Rocherpan is a coastal nature reserve teeming with birds and colourful wildflowers, best visited in late winter or spring. This little reserve borders Wamakersvlei Beach Farm boundary line and has two well-maintained bird hides.
You can clearly see that there are many variables and locations to photograph, such is the unique nature of this coastline.
Due to the size of the video and limitations imposed by my ISP I am unable to upload it here. Please click on the button and let your senses awaken to the sights and sounds of the West Coast and Wamakersvlei.
Come and learn seascape, landscape, astrophotography, and film photography while exploring some of South Africa’s premier coastline photography destinations. Early bird bookings are essential, the date is 14-16 May 2021.
If you have seen these images and ever wondered how to capture them with your own camera, you will learn to master camera settings, photo editing in Photoshop, and advanced planning techniques allowing you to easily find the best compositions for a specific location. I also offer film photography in 35mm black and white, where I provide the cameras, you load the film, shoot your images and then develop your own film on the weekend. I provide the developing tanks as well as the chemistry. Don’t miss out on this unique experience to fine-tune your skills and to try your hand at film.
Should you be a seasoned and experienced photographer, the South African premier coastline destinations offers you the best of the best seascape imagery under crispy, cold, warm, stormy and clear skies imaginable, the weather being the deciding factor of course. This area is also known as the Cape of Storms for good reason!
Group sizes are small and exclusive of 1-5, not usually more than 6, depending on the duration of the workshop, allowing for a more personal one-on-one experience.
As a photographer, some geographic regions beckon your return, they simply speak to you. Year after year, through changing seasons, conditions, weather patterns, there is that calling to return to capture something that you may have missed on your previous visit or to try a new concept that you had in mind, that would be appropriate for that location. These special places become part of you, and they are reflected in the work or images that you produce. They call you back, for more backpacking adventures, for more solo journeys through the wilderness, for more road trips through the roads sometimes less travelled with your friends.
For me, these quiet, still places are where I find my inspiration from Nature and are refreshed when I need to take a deep breath. They have become part of who I am as a person and taught me more than any textbook or class ever will. I travel to these destinations because these places call me back year after year.
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