Steadfastly simple

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Atlantic Gull West Coast Papendorp

Simplicity of West Coast life in its purest form prevails in Papendorp.

An unerring sense of calm surrounds this fishing hamlet where life is simple and visitors are welcomed with a friendly wave. Blissfully unspoiled despite its scenic location, Papendorp lies 50 km west of Vredendal at the mouth of the Olifants River.

As has been the case for ages, the locals are dependent on fishing in the estuary and their understanding of the fragility of the eco-system has helped preserve this natural environment. They also still process their salt in the nearby salt pans, making use of traditional salt gathering methods. Both natural salt and bath salts are for sale to visitors.

Remnants of the old reed-and-mud houses where the fishermen dwelled in the past can still be seen, as well as the rustic little church overlooking the river mouth. At the community needlework project, beautiful hand-embroidered linen can be bought.

With breathtaking views over the wetlands and river where 183 bird species are to be seen, one can only hope that with the possible future recognition of the estuary wetlands as a RAMSAR site, the idyll of Papendorp won’t change.

From Papendorp, a hiking trial follows the Olifants River inland to Ebenhaeser and at high tide one can navigate to Lutzville in a flat-bottomed boat, about 30 km upstream.

Originally known as Viswater, the name is a mystery, but it could have been named after Pieter van Papendorp who settled in the Woodstock area during the mid-eighteenth century.

With its cultural landscape of fishing boats, fishing nets and bokkoms, everyone here loves living small. And that’s the appeal of Papendorp.