Discover Your Weskus Heritage – a Life-changing Experience
As you travel up the Weskus, renowned for its spectacular floral beauty that burst forth from the rocks and sand for a moment during early spring. You might find yourself wondering how the earliest humans thrived in this unique environment? In their art and artefacts, the San people preserved our human heritage so that we can look back in time and get a glimpse of what life was like thousands of years before takeaways, online shopping and instant gratification became the norm. Here we get to fulfil our longing to teach our kids the ancient ways, with a helping hand from the direct descendants of the first people to tread the African sands.
Walking in the footsteps of the San
Take the children to discover the spirit of the San at !Khwa ttu, a San Cultural Educational Centre. A local San guide will teach you first-hand about both their history, and their day-to-day lives. You will learn about the plants they used, how to make fire using only sticks, and how to track the spoor of an eland in the red sand. Finish the tour with an organic meal, and an herbal tea tasting, a local delicacy.
!Khwa ttu | (0)22 492 2998 | email@example.com
If you love the mysteries of rock art, then the paintings found at the natural overhang at Kasteelberg in the Riebeek Valley is a real treat. Depictions of eland and other fauna that was endemic before agriculture and settlement substantially altered the landscape, are well preserved here.
Follow the steps of these ancient Weskus people to Diepkloof Rock Shelter, where some of the earliest decorated materials created by humans were found. These marked ostrich eggshell fragments are part of the reason why this Provincial Heritage Site was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a vital component on The Artist’s Journey, part of the Cradle of Human Culture Route on the Weskus.
The Pakhuis Pass located in the Cederberg was originally constructed by Thomas Bain and completed in 1877. Here traces of San rock art are still visible. The placing here is of significance because of his deep love and association with the terrain of the Cederberg.
Finally, the Stadsaal Caves serves an ancient gallery for Elephant rock art, estimated to be at least 1 000 years old (the San began the practice of painting on rocks and in caves around 5 000 years ago). Red, orange, and yellow paint, made from ochre rock, remain clearly visible in the paintings, while the black and white paint, from charcoal and white clay, have faded over the years. Still, the rock art paintings in this area remain remarkably well preserved.
Stadsaal Caves & Truitjieskraal | Algeria Office | 027 482 2403 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Three Historical Tours
One of the best ways to discover and learn is by joining local tour guides as they take you on a historical tour in the Weskus. Allow them to give you more insight into the history of the area and the people that once lived here.
With the Silent Steps initiative, you will start your journey at Steenbokfontein on a tractor ride to one of the caves in the Elands Bay area, visit rock art sites and visit a historical site on the same farm literary around the corner from the rock art and handprints. The tractor ride is followed by a visit to a private beach close to Steenbokfontein Farm where one of the biggest middens in South Africa is found. Learn about these shell heaps/ancient domestic waste sites which consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, mollusc shells, and other artefacts associated with past human occupation.
From the midden, you will start your own mini foraging journey on the shores. A majestic journey into the past where kids are shown not only how to, but also what to forage while at the same time explaining how our forefathers only ever took what they needed from nature, nothing more.
Silent Steps Initiative | email@example.com (at least 3 days in advance please)
Rooibos Tea Tours
In the Cederberg, you will find Rooibos tea farm tours. What makes this experience unique is that the Cederberg is the only place in the world that Rooibos can be grown.
Rooibos Fields, Factory Visit, Tea Tasting and Video Screening Carmién Tea | firstname.lastname@example.org
The West Coast fossil park is world-renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved fossil faunal remains that date to 5.2 million years ago. They offer educational tours that will keep the kids fascinated by the era of the sabre tooth tiger.
West Coast Fossil Park | +27 (0)22 766 1606 | email@example.com
Ancient art of Story Telling
The Weskus is a region of wild beauty and natural finery. It is unspoiled and authentic, renowned for its soulful people and unpretentious way of life. The great tales told by the locals transport you on many a historical journey, unlocking the history and background of each town in the area.
Witness the Rieldans with your kids. The riel is the oldest entertainment form, used as a social, cultural and educational tool by the Khoisan people. The riel tradition is kept alive by people from Namaqua Weskus and Cederberg.
Visit the Wheat Industry Museum in Moorreesburg, one of only two in the world, dedicated to the history and stories of the people that once dominated the wheat industry.
Wheat Industry Museum in Moorreesburg | 022 433 1093 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fisheries Museum in Velddrift tell of the fishermen that lived hundreds of years ago, through the shipwreck remains and history of the fishing industry.
SA Fisheries Museum Velddrif | 082 849 9251 | email@example.com
In Bokkomlaan, a 200-year-old fishing tradition continues. There are 12 “vishuise”, or fish houses, along Bokkomlaan in Velddrif, some of which are still used for their original purpose while others have been converted into places of business. A strong sense of heritage remains along this stretch of road.
Bokkomlaan Extreme West Coast Boat Tours | 073 832 2923
Taste: Eat from the sea, like ancient people who once walked the earth
Support local buy fresh snoek right out of the sea. Combine this with the opportunity to enjoy the local woman’s sleight of hands as they “vlek snoek” in the harbour. It’s fascinating to watch as you listen to the old fisherman’s stories passed down from generation to generation. Nothing tastes better than a freshly caught snoek on the fire with melting garlic butter.
Along the Weskus, you can also find restaurants like Wolfgat, which offers a unique dining experience showcasing a selection of homegrown ingredients specific to our Weskus. The restaurant building dates back 130 years and it has the Wolfgat cave on the premises - a site of immense archaeological and geological significance.
Wolfgat | wolfgat.co.za
You can also visit Tannie Kitta, the owner of Steenbokfontein Farm Kitchen. She will assist in the preparation of food in the form of light snacks served in muscle shells. The children will find Tannie Kitta’s knowledge on the nutritional value as well as the medicinal value of the plants most interesting and will love her sense of humour.
Get to know the modern Weskus People
Book a homestay in the Weskus that allows you to reside in another person's home. What makes a homestay so unique is the people. Each homestay has a host to welcome guests into their home and offer guidance and assistance during the stay.
Imagine waking up to the sound of a rooster in a small Weskus town or sitting around a kitchen table with a family to enjoy a homemade traditional meal and experience the local culture of the people of the Weskus. Homestays can offer an intimate glimpse of what life is truly like in another household with different cultural values and experiencing its customs, cuisine and way of life first-hand. From storytelling around a fire to great grandma’s family recipe that has been there for generations. You can find homestays in Darling, Goedverwacht and Wupperthal.
“We want to give visitors more than 'the usual'... we want them to discover the true heart of the Weskus - our people!”
For more info on the Weskus, contact:
Tel: 022 433 8505