DRAAIHOEK LODGE – UNIQUE BEACH AND BUSH LIVING EXPERIENCE
There is a sense of unexplainable excitement that I feel when I think about packing my bags and driving to a small secluded town or village. I have visited many small towns and villages around South Africa majority of which are around the Western Cape and I still haven’t figured out exactly what draws me to them. Could it be my love for local delicious traditional food? Could it be the warm hospitality? I wonder if it could be the rich history that locals always eager to share with me? The unspoiled landscapes, vegetation, beaches, and free-roaming wild animals? Or could it simply be my way of escaping the busy city buzz to recharge and connect with my inner self?
I honestly think it’s all of the above – If you ask me which Western Cape small town or village I like the most, I wouldn’t be able to answer because each one offers different things and caters to different markets. I visit each town or village depending on my mood and what I am looking for when I leave my home.
This past week I needed some quiet time to relax, appreciate what I have, reflect on my life, check if my 2021 plans are still on track, and I just wanted to indulge in delicious traditional West Coast food. I packed my bags and headed to Draaihoek Lodge on the Cape West Coast. Their accommodation is currently closed for their annual repairs and maintenance, and the restaurant is closed due to COVID-19 level 4 lockdown restrictions. The owner, Maritjie Basson, was generous enough to let me use one of the completed lodge suites.
Draaihoek Lodge is a 4-star lodge and a-la-carte restaurant situated inside the private nature reserve on the Cape West Coast between the towns Dwarskersbos and Elandsbay, about 190km from Cape Town. The lodge is perfectly located along the West Coast wildflowers route making it an ideal location for those wishing to be closer to the action during the wildflowers season.
If you are not aware, the West Coast wildflowers season is a magical time along the pristine West Coast when almost every coastal town and inland village, mountains, and fields are ablaze as an endless kaleidoscope of wildflowers burst, almost simultaneously, into full bloom. The natural phenomenon of wildflowers season along the Cape West Coast in the Western Cape draws thousands of visitors from around the country and from around the world, between the months of August and September each year.
Draaihoek Lodge offers accommodation in their eight thatched-roof suites, each fronting the scenic and unspoiled strandveld (beach field) and dunes of the Atlantic Ocean, and guests-only easy access to the beach via a wooden boardwalk from the property. Because there are no other properties in the area, this makes the beach feel private and secluded. Each of the eight suites is double (or twin) with a private patio overlooking the Reserve with the calming sound of the ocean waves in the background. We had the pleasure of sleeping in one of their thatched-roof suites instead of the Manor House.
They also have the Manor House with its 3 modern decorated bedrooms overlooking the vlei with its unique flora and birdlife available on the property.
ALL ROOMS OFFER THE FOLLOWING:
Tea and coffee station
Private label Rooibos toiletries
Custom designed dressing room
Sandstone fireplace in the lounge area
Kind size bed with luxury bed linen (two 3/4 beds)
En suite bathroom with shower and heated towel rails
No self-catering (There is a restaurant on the property)
Draaihoek Lodge is situated in the private nature reserve that reaches from the Atlantic Ocean inland to Sandveld’s mountain range and across to the Verlorenvlei, a RAMSAR classified site, south of Elands Bay. The coastal border of the Reserve stretches along an undisturbed sandy beach, hugged by rugged dunes and favoured by flocks of birds typical to the West Coast.
During the winter season, the uninhabited bay area of the Reserve is frequented by whales, seals, and a rare species of dolphins, Heaviside. The wildlife reintroduction programme undertaken in the reserve has seen the return of the magnificent Eland, Bontebok, Red Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest, Kudu, Gemsbok, Impala, Cape Mountain Zebra, and Ostrich. A huge diversity of birdlife is thriving in the Reserve, both in the unspoiled, deserted veld and beach as well as closer to the Lodge. If you are a keen birder, you can make use of the Bird Hide erected at one of the dams close to the Lodge.
FACILITIES AT THE LODGE
1. SOLAR HEATED OUTDOOR SWIMMING POOL
There is a solar-heated guest-only swimming pool and lapa on the property if you don’t feel like going to the beach. We could not use the pool because the lodge is currently closed for annual repairs.
2. WELLNESS SPA
A massage session can also be arranged for guests in their Spa. Booking is essential and currently can only have one massage session per person at a time.
3. CONFERENCES AND EVENTS AT DRAAIHOEK LODGE
Draaihoek Lodge’s secluded setting and specialised conference facilities offer the ideal environment to facilitate board meetings, strategy and planning sessions, workshops, and team-building seminars. Their venue can also be used for a wedding ceremony and reception with full catering, florist, décor, and coordination services on offer to customise your special event.
ACTIVITIES AT DRAAIHOEK AND SURROUNDING AREAS
Draaihoek Lodge offers visitors a unique beach and bush living experience. The unspoiled private nature reserve is home to a variety of buck species such as Eland, Bontebok, Red Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest, Kudu, Gemsbok, Impala, and Cape Mountain Zebra. The uninterrupted coastline also brings an abundance of marine wildlife and birds such as dolphins, whales, seals, and various bird species.
Here are a few exciting things you can do at Draaihoek Lodge and surrounding areas:
1. EXPLORE THE LOCAL VEGETATION
The vegetation Draaihoek Lodge is particularly specie rich, with the reserve being situated in a vegetative transition area – between the Cape Peninsula and the Namaqua floral kingdoms. Untouched stretches of veld and vlei are home to a huge variety of flowering plants and bulbs, providing an annual spring spectacle exclusive to the Cape West Coast from August to October.
2. CAPE WEST COAST WILDFLOWERS SEASON
There is a magical time along the pristine West Coast when every coastal town and inland village, mountains, and fields are ablaze as an endless, kaleidoscope of wildflowers burst, almost simultaneously, into full bloom. The natural phenomenon of wildflowers season along the Cape West Coast in the Western Cape draws thousands of visitors from around the country and from around the world, between the months of August and September each year.
3. ENJOY 4X4 TRAILS
The mountainous regions and coastal areas of the Western Cape especially, offer the most diverse and challenging 4×4 choices – from beginner trails to overnight expeditions for experts. Draaihoek Lodge is fortunate to have 2 highly regarded 4×4 trails in the immediate vicinity – Jakkalskloof, near Redelinghuys, and Klein Tafelberg near Aurora.
4. WEST COAST TRADITIONAL FOOD
Traditional South African cuisine borrows from the kitchens of many different cultures. Immigrants from Europe, convicts from China, slaves from Mozambique, and prisoners from Java brought with them their unique cookery skills. Curries and spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric from the East, Malay magic with hints of spice and other seasonings especially oriental recipes handed down for generations.
Many of the local traditional fisherman’s dishes from the West Coast borrows from this rich culinary heritage. Some of the recipes are very old and were born out of hardship and ingenuity often occasioned by the challenge of the sea. Fortunately, these culinary gems have been preserved by mothers and grandmothers hailing from the fishing communities dotted along the coast and The Restaurant at Draaihoek Lodge affords you the opportunity to sample some of these authentic West Coast treats. Hint – Coffee, fish, fruit, and vegetables taste different around the West Coast. This is one of the reasons why I keep going back to the West Coast.
5. ENJOY SAND, SEA, AND CLEAR SKY
For many, the West Coast is an acquired taste. Kilometers of empty, often windswept beaches and hardy coastal scrub, low horizons and big skies, lonely dirt roads, and distant mountains make this a truly off-the-beaten-track experience – no crowds, no rush, and plenty to discover.
There are more gems to uncover on the West Coast. This region is unbelievably rich in history and natural resources, and communities with a warm and hospitable trait. The harvest from the sea, isolated, pristine beaches, the unrivalled fauna (especially the world-renowned fields of spring flowers), migrating birds from as far as Siberia, ancient rock art dotted across the mountain ranges – are just the beginnings of what you’ll find in and around coastal towns and inland villages in this region.
6. FISHING PARADISE
If you love fishing, then you will fall in love with the Cape West Coast. The West Coast’s picturesque coastline is undoubtedly one of the world’s finest fishing grounds, offering a multitude of West Coast fishing spots. Anglers have a choice of open beaches, rocky bays, gullies, river mouths, estuaries, piers, and harbours as well as deep water points.
7. BEST REGION TO FIND CRAYFISH
West Coast crayfish takes pride in the top place of South Africa’s most desirable seafood list. A far cry from the previous century when fishermen regarded them as pests to be tossed overboard when caught in their nets, only useful to be sold in wagon loads to farmers as fertilizer. The lucrative West Coast rock lobster fishery is one of the country’s oldest fisheries, dating back to at least 1875 when the first commercial processing plant was established. Today crayfish factories are found all along the West Coast, especially in Saldanha, St Helena Bay, Elands Bay, Doring Bay, and Lamberts Bay.
WHERE TO FIND DRAAIHOEK LODGE
Draaihoek Lodge is situated in a private nature reserve on the Cape West Coast between the towns Dwarskersbos and Elandsbay, about 190km from Cape Town. Follow the R27 main route to Velddrif, pass the town Dwarskersbos, and you will find Draaihoek Lodge on your left-hand side. You will not miss the signage.
CURRENT PACKAGE DEAL
Please note the following:
Check-in time is 14:00 and check-out time is 11:00.
Prices quoted are VAT (15%) inclusive and include breakfast.
Group bookings and extended stay discounts apply. Please contact me or Draaihoek directly.
Rates are per person and per night – Don’t worry! Prices are actually affordable when you book a package*
LOW SEASON (1 MAY – 31 JULY)
My package included accommodation, welcome drink, breakfast, lunch, sunset drink, and dinner (excluding crayfish and seafood platter)*
SINGLE ADULT R1600
ADULTS SHARING R1300pp
CHILDREN (3–6yrs) R250
CHILDREN (7–12yrs) R375
HIGH SEASON (1 AUGUST – 30 APRIL)
SINGLE ADULT R1750
ADULTS SHARING R1500pp
CHILDREN (3–6yrs) R300
CHILDREN (7–12yrs) R455
* Please note that there are other packages and normal rates. I just highlighted the package that I found to be very appealing to me.
MORE ABOUT THE WEST COAST WILDFLOWERS SEASON
West Coast wildflowers season can be fully enjoyed by combining one or more destinations. The spectacular Cederberg, Groot Winterhoek- and Matzikamma mountains, and the arid beauty of the Knersvlakte and Hardeveld, become covered in carpets of daisies, yellow gansogies, felicias, nemesias, and vygies in between. Sheltering between the taller plants are gems like winecups, sparaxis, lachenalias, and babianas.
Here are some of the other places where you can experience the most remarkable displays of the West Coast wildflowers season.
Experience the spring wildflowers at Draaihoek Lodge. This is when the area is ablaze as an endless kaleidoscope of wildflowers burst, almost simultaneously, into full bloom.
Visit Postberg within the West Coast National Park where 80 species of flowering plants are endemic to the region and found nowhere else in the world.
Velddrif and surrounding towns Aurora, Elands Bay, and Redelinghuys are year-round destinations with special highlights being the wildflower season. Meander along the various country roads for surprise wildflower finds.
Visit the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve in Paternoster, the private reserves around Darling and Hopefield, and attend annual local wildflower shows in Clanwilliam, Hopefield, or Darling.
ANNUAL WILDFLOWERS SEASON SHOWS AND EVENTS (EVENT DATES MAY CHANGE)
Maps of the coastal and inland flower routes are available from tourism information offices in the various towns. Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about private guided tours during the wildflower season.
This article contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation if you make a booking through the links on this blog post but it won’t cost you anything extra.
Some businesses may revise their operating hours and menus due to the season and COVID-19 pandemic. Other businesses may close, either temporarily or permanently without notice. Please check their websites for updates and book well in advance.
BLOG POST UPDATES
I update my blog posts regularly to make sure that links are up to date and spelling is correct. Let me know if you notice anything that needs to be updated in this blog post.