Sedgefield - an idyllic African getaway
If you're planning a holiday to South Africa, the town of Sedgefield in the Western Cape is a must visit; bordering a tidal lagoon, great for fishing, swimming, water sports and of course catching some sun! This article will give you some ideas of what to do, and where to go!
- The scenery
- What to do: for the adventurous
- What to do: for those who want a slightly more relaxed holiday
Sedgefield lies on the Garden Route, and has incredible lengthy beaches; stretching for miles away from the town. On the lagoon there is a nature reserve, adding to the natural beauty of the area, unspoilt by humans, it is the perfect place to stop off and do some relaxing on the beach; but on a point of caution, suncream (as mentioned in my Tanzania article) is always an essential item when travelling around Africa, and staying in Sedgefield bears no exception! If you're prepared to extend your scope slightly further outside Sedgefield, within an hour's drive there are milkwood forests and several forestry reserves. Much of the landscape is unblemished so it's important to respect the environment (not trying to sound like an environmentalist) because it does affect future tourists who visit the area.
What to do: for the adventurous
Well, I'd start with the paragliding. The main paragliding spot is located 20 minutes drive up the back of the hill behind the town, which gives you some breathtaking views as you go! If possible, grab a brochure off the town's information centre and that way you can phone up the paragliding people beforehand to make sure the wind's right for gliding (this as I was to find, saves the hassle of having to schlep up to the takeoff zone only to find that the wind's too strong to glide). The rates are fairly competitive, because there are so many paragliding enthusiasts who are all too willing to take a tourist up in tandem with them! Now, at this point I'm going to admit to being a bit scared of heights. I still absolutely adored paragliding! The moment you take off feels quite magical, as you soar over the town on the air currents, an experience that you will treasure even if you don't try it again. The groups of gliders will occasionally move further up the coast depending on the wind, so as aforementioned, always check that the gliding's taking place at Sedgefield before setting off. If paragliding seems to be your thing, ask if there are any training courses offered. I was given the chance to have a go, and the process involved a week training between the sand dunes, the hills and finally the Sedgefield takeoff zone, you'll be aided throughout by experienced and well qualified professionals.
After paragliding, there is a sharkdiving group that goes out from a neighbouring area if you want to have some extreme underwater close encounters! The best way to get information on this is the leaflets available at the information centre, which any local will be happy to direct you towards.
For those of you who aren't quite THAT crazy, the ziplining that goes on in the forests around Sedgefield is exhilarating but safe, exciting but controlled by experts. There are a variety of courses, Tsitsikamma Forest is the most popular, which involves whizzing over trees and canyons, having a great time!
Further afield, there are a few elephant reserves and safari zones that can be accessed; according to the season. The rates also alter on a seasonal basis according to tourist numbers, but there is an incredible chance offered to ride and feed elephants - worthwhile if you're up for doing a bit of exploring outside of the town.
And now, one of the most exhilarating and easiest to access possibilites of Sedgefield is powerboating and watersports. You can spend a few days in Knysna (just up the coast) getting a powerboat licence, but afterwards the time spent away will seem worth the wait! I spent many a happy hour bombing around the lagoon on an inflatable tied to the back of a powerboat. The most important aspect of this is to be aware of others, and respect the speed limits, but you can gun it down some of the zones, whipping the breath from your lungs and certainly making for an eventful, exciting time! Water skiing is also great fun; I only learnt how to do it by the end of my stay, but the earlier you start the better! It's all about finding a friend or family member who's controlled with the speed of a boat, or else you'll be falling face flat in the water frequently before you get the hang of it! For those who already know how to water ski - have fun! I probably spent about half my time on the water in a powerboat; it never gets boring!
The nightlife in the town can be a bit sleepy, but if you hook up with fellow tourists someone always knows a place to go; nights of swerving around whilst singing on a beach buggy to get home are always fondly remembered... as long as you can remember your way back!! If you don't want to be constrained by a car, there are a few clubs in town that are within easy walking distance. However, if you are going into town, being in groups of three or more is never a bad plan - the crime rate in Sedgefield is low but precautions should sometimes be taken.
What to do: for those who want a slightly more relaxed holiday
Sedgefield offers all of the activities and resources needed to not have to warrant travelling far. One of the most common things to see people doing is fishing, which can be enjoyed in a leisurely manner along the banks of the lagoon; my personal preference is to always accompany this with a lazy picnic lunch before stumbling back up to the house, bloated and content! All of the necessary gear can be rented in the town, or bought for modest prices if you're a more serious angler. Fishing on the tidal beach is (my) luckiest spot for catches (tidal based on whether the lagoon mouth is open or not), but if the lagoon mouth is open, do watch the time - it's all too easy to drift off to sleep and then have to swim back to shore, if I judge by my own personal experience! This site offers specifics on the best pure fishing areas to stay in and the best prices to find them at(http://www.essentialtravelinfo.com/accommodation/fishing/southern_africa/south_africa/western_cape/sedgefield/index.html), but as a casual fisherman I'd say that the town's lagoon provides sufficient variety to have some fun fishing without making it the focus of the holiday!
For the holidayers who simply like to stroll, the beaches are long enough to offer some quite serious walks (bring water and sunscreen!) in a fantastic seaside environment. Simply heading out leftwards from the town (if you're facing the sea) will give you a continuous beach which extends for ages! The best time for walking is either the morning (6-10am) or slightly later on (4-7pm) if you don't want to get roasted by the heat of the midday sun (11an-3pm)! As I mentioned earlier, forests abound around Sedgiefield, and if ziplining isn't your thing you can spend some time exploring the forests around Sedgefield, a real eyeopener in terms of biodiversity and weird and wonderful species of plants and animals!
And of course, simply sunbathing is another option. The nature reserve's beaches are easily accessible with a kayak (rentable from the town) and offer sun for the majority of the day. Bringing across a towel, some reading material and possibly a lunch will let you fritter hours away just relaxing on these sun stroked sands.
A further option is kayaking along the lagoon, occasionally stopping off at the title beaches en-route. As someone who likes to speed around on a power boat (brutish I know) my advice is to hug the shore, as some parts of the lagoon are designated power boat zones, whilst others give you free reign of the waterways. However, if you don't know which is which, you may have a problem when someone speeds towards you doing a speed of possibly triple figure horsepower! Kayaking is extremely relaxing to do in the early morning, when none of the oafs on powerboats have yet risen (largely due to hangovers and sunburn) and you can potter up and down the lagoon, exploring.
This is only a brief overview of what to do, but should give you some idea of the amazing beachside, lagoon joining resort of Sedgefield. If you do decide upon going, the best place to look for accommodation is here: http://kingfisherproperty.garden-route.biz/rent_search.php (they're updating the site but if you can't get through try phoning). I managed to find a lovely bungalow, 3 minutes from the beach, with beautiful views of the lagoon mouth! If you ask nicely, Kingfisher Estate Agents will even give you some further tips on where to go and what to do during your stay! Hope I've inspired some people to consider Sedgefield as a holiday destination!