Velddrif is a small fishing village found along the West Coast of South Africa. It is located on an estuary, where the Berg River meets the sea at St Helena Bay. Having been considered a 'forgotten about' seaside town, it has, in recent years, become a popular holiday destination for those seeking refuge from the hubbub of Cape Town. While the area is predominantly rural, boasting very few shopping centres and business complexes, it is one of the few places in the country where time comes to a standstill and is seemingly irrelevant. Without the hustle and busy of commercial living, visitors are able to unwind and relax, paying attention to only the sounds of the crashing waves, the seascape and the howling wind.
The name of the village came into being after Theunis Smit; a local farmer took his stock through a drift in the veld in order to find grazing areas across the river. Cattle and other farm animals were expected to swim across the river, an inconvenience which resulted in unnecessary drownings. A 'pont' was constructed in 1899 as a preventative measure, and at the time, acted as the only crossing point. Today, the Carinus Bridge now grants the residents of Velddrif access to various areas in the Cape and vice versa.
Fishing, tourism and salt production are central to the village's economy. Two large salt deposits, which can be found nearby, produce much of the salt in the Western Cape. It is also home to a thriving fishing industry where species of galjoen, West Coast steenbras, shad and snoek are found in abundance.
Laaiplek, seemingly indistinguishable from Velddrif, lies on the outskirts of the village. It derives its name from the function it serves; it is a harbour where fishermen offload their daily catches. The heart of Laaiplek is a hum of activity, where fishermen dock their trawlers to have their stock weighed before it is sold to various markets and fish shops. Visitors can sample a taste of 'Bokkem', a salted, dried-out fish that is a delicacy of the West Coast Region.
Birdwatchers flock to Veldriff to spot many varietals that are indigenous to the area. Found midway between Laaiplek and Veldrif lies the Berg River Estuary. It is here where as many as many 200 species of bird are found, including the chestnut-banded plover, little stint, and the curlew sandpiper. While a bird-lovers haven, visitors will also be amazed at the biodiversity, with the estuary harbouring an array of diverse habitats.
Velddrif makes for a tranquil breakaway, where you're able to sample the local cuisine while enjoying the natural scenery. Scattered around the quaint village are several holiday accommodation establishments - from luxury hotels that provide you with all the pampering you need to self-catering units.
Travel further afield and you'll reach the West Coast National Park. While especially known for its bird life, visitors will be privy to the sights of numerous game and seasonal spring flowers. Wildlife includes large antelope such eland, bontebok, kudu and gemsbok. Furthermore, game-viewers are encouraged to keep their eyes' peeled for the shy away bat-eared fox. Between the months of August to October, the park will be transformed into a flower wonderland, where carpets upon carpets of vibrant Cape wildflowers can be seen from miles away.
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