Hopefield

Hopefield's claim to fame is that it is the oldest town on the West Coast. Not only does it lie in the heart of the Sandveld but it serves as the wheat and sheep farming centre of the region. It is also well known for its honey, not least because over 500 different species of fynbos grow here, and attract bees by the dozen. In 1853 Hopefield began its life on a farm called Langkuil, which lay on the Zoute River.

Despite the town's commercial value - it serves as the commercial centre for Voorbaai, the area east of Saldanha Bay - there are guest farms and little cottages just outside town, on the banks of the Berg River that offer visitors place to stay and unwind, particularly during the wild flower season after the winter rains, usually around August, September.

Attractions include the archeological site on the farm Elandsfontein where fossil bones and human artifacts date back to the early Stone Age, the beautiful Hopefield Dutch Reformed Church built in 1879 (the organ still plays on Sundays) and examples of the Hartebeeshuisie or reed house, traditional homes of the area.

But it is the beauty of the Berg River, its accompanying vleis, cracked pans, big sky, veld, fynbos and old buildings that make the place so attractive. That and the fact that the sea is just down the road.