Serenity on foot

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Walk, eat and sleep à la West Coast on a panoramic 61-km trail.

The theatrical scenery and varied landscape of the West Coast makes for a bucketlist-worthy hiking trail. And on the Crayfish Trail, there are options for all levels of fitness on mostly flat terrain – some hikers even strut their stuff in flip-flops.

For the full 61-km trail, set aside six days, but if you only want a sample, the 25-km trail takes only three days. Hikers can choose between the Recreational Package which offers 3-star accommodation and cuisine, or the Subsistence Package with casual meals and backpacker accommodation.

The icing on the cake is you don’t have to lug a heavy backpack around. Just hike as you are and your luggage will await you at the overnight stops. But it’s not just about notching up the miles, this also is an educational trip. Enthusiastic local guides Johnny and Chester provide a wealth of information on plants, birds, communities and history along the way.

SIX-DAY TRAIL
This premier option is on diverse terrain – from sandy beaches, fynbos paths and jeep tracks to walking along river banks and a bit of cliff-scrambling. Check in at Rocherpan 14h00 sharp for a meet-and-greet and orientation, followed by an excellent meal. Day 2 covers 17 km of beaches with a sprinkling of cave visits, ending at Vensterklip. The day 3 walk covers 18 km along jeep tracks and beaches to Steenbokfontein. Although only 9 km to Lamberts Bay is covered on day 4, it’s a busy day with visits to Bird Island and wine tasting. Overnight at Arendzicht. On day 5 a shuttle service takes you to Doring Bay and then you start a 9-km light scramble along a single track to Papendorp, with accommodation at Leonie’s. Sadly, at 11h00 the following day, you have to wave goodbye to the splendid West Coast.

THREE-DAY TRAILS
Choose either the northern or southern trail. For the latter, arrival is at Vensterklip, 14h00, for an orientation, walkabout and dinner. The following day you may either do the 7.5-km or 16-km routes to Elands Bay where you’ll overnight. After a short shuttle trip to Steenbokfontein, expect to cover 9 km to Lamberts Bay on day 3.

On the northern trail, arrive at 14h00 in Lamberts Bay and spend the day at Bird Island or continue to Doring Bay for a tour around the abalone farm. After overnighting in Doring Bay, day 2 starts with either an invigorating 16-km Renosterveld hike to Papendorp, or a leisurely 9-km beach hike to Strandfontein. A driver will meet you here and take you back to Lamberts Bay for a rest or exploration of the town, followed by a good repast. The next morning you’ll be shuttled to Steenbokfontein to start a 12-km trundle to Lamberts Bay. After a seafood lunch, it’s adieu West Coast.

Supporting sustainable tourism, The Crayfish Trail Company has made provision for substantial local community shareholding in the company. All guides and refreshments are local and both the accommodation and restaurants chosen are owned by West Coast natives.

There’s a reason why the hashtag #localislekker exists: this region’s inhabitants know that the best way to experience the West Coast’s grand landscapes is to foot it.

Rates are from R3 600 pp for the 3-day trail and R9 000 pp for the 6-day trail – provided the minimum group size is 6 people. Included: accommodation, all meals, luggage transport, a local guide, daily activities and reserve entrance. Book at info@crayfishtrail.co.za or 083 5539107.