Discover the spirit of the San on the West Coast at !Khwa ttu

Published Sep 11, 2018


On the slopes above Yzerfontein, just an hour from Cape Town’s CBD lies !Khwa ttu. Run by and for the San, it is primarily a place where San youth receive training in a variety of fields, and a repository for their culture.

!Khwa ttu - San Spirit Shared 

!Khwa ttu is a place where the San are happy to share their culture with guests, and it has become a popular place for all South Africans to discover and celebrate their heritage. 

Visitors to !Khwa ttu can enjoy meals at the restaurant, browse the gift shop or stay overnight at the guest cottages or rustic-luxury tented camp.

!Khwa ttu also offers biking, hiking and running trails.

There are fascinating exhibitions and evocative art, and lessons on offer from the San (including how to stalk the resident eland, zebra and springbok etc with San trackers). 

Heritage Festival 2018

This year the San living and training at !Khwa ttu invite you to join them for a Heritage Festival, from Saturday, 22 September, to Monday, 24 September, from 10am-4pm.

There’ll also be activities for the whole family to enjoy, including a traditional South African braai, bar, herbal tea tastings, San storytelling and tracking, traditional dancing, singing and tractor rides – for this weekend only all activities are free of charge. 


!Khwa ttu Heritage Centre 

The launch of !Khwa ttu’s new San Heritage Centre is imminent and will feature interactive, audio-visual as well as static displays and presentations that depict the lives of the San. 

It will incorporate several of the old farm buildings as well as an innovative, architect-designed building that follows the natural contours of the land, with a curved, planted roof.

In keeping with the San way of life, the centre will use sustainable lighting, heating and cooling.

!Khwa ttu is only 70km from Cape Town located on the West Coast Way Culture Route and is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm.

For more information:

Website: ! Khwa ttu

Tel: 022 492 2998

West Coast National Park

The West Coast National Park can be easily accessed via the West Coast Way Culture Route and Foodie Routes either via the R27 gate or via Park Street, on the Langebaan side of the Park, where the second gate is situated.

The Park was established in 1985 with the aim of conserving the Langebaan Lagoon, a Ramsar site, and surrounding landscapes, including the islands in Saldanha Bay. 

The habitats in the park are varied, and the whole area is of international and national importance in respect of both terrestrial and marine life.

Avid birdwatchers can spot over 200 species of land and sea birds just around the lagoon. Other birds from farther afield also make an appearance, such as the curlew sandpiper which makes a pilgrimage to the West Coast National Park all the way from the Arctic every year.

Mammals also abound and, apart from eland, you could also see springbok, kudu, gemsbok and the rare mountain zebra. 

In summer hundreds of tortoises patrol the flowering land. 

The area is also extremely rich in fossils and reported remains of human occupation in the park date back to the Holocene Age.

Enjoy a relaxing day at the beach in Kraalbaai which offers ample picnic and braai facilities. Visit Postberg during the spring flowering season (only open to the public from August to September).

Eve’s Footprint

Eve’s footprint is the popular name for a set of fossilized footprints discovered on the shore of Langebaan Lagoon in 1995.

Eve's Footprint

The footprint, which is believed to be over 120,000 years old, was discovered at Kraalbaai in 1995 by geologist Dr Dave Roberts.

They are thought to be those of a female human and have been dated to approximately 117,000 years ago - making them the oldest known footprints of an anatomically modern human.

Cape West Coast Fossil Park

The Fossil Park lies in an area that is thought to have been the estuary of the ancient Berg River 5 million years ago. At that time the remains of over 280 species of animals that lived around the estuary were buried and preserved in the channel and floodplain sediments.

Over time they became fossilized. Eventually, the sea level dropped to present levels and the coastline migrated seaward leaving the site of the ancient estuary about 10 km inland, in the area now known as Langebaanweg.

The West Coast Fossil Park

In 1958 scientists were alerted to the first fossil remains when phosphate mining at Langebaanweg was underway. The expansion of the mining activities in the 1960’s exposed huge deposits of fossils and the South African Museum, under the leadership of Dr Brett Hendey, started an intensive research project on these deposits. 

Besides the main fossil assemblages from 5 million years ago, there were marine fossil deposits below that going back to about 10 million years ago.

Dr Hendey’s research has been continued by both local and international scientists and what this research has revealed is truly remarkable: 

100 species of mammals including:

-  A bear

-  3 Species of elephants

-  A giant pig

-  Short-necked giraffes

-  At least 87 species of birds, including 4 species of penguin, 3 species of parrots, 4 species of owl, a woodpecker and a mousebird

-  6 Frog families with 19 identified taxa

-  8 Species of reptiles

- 16 Species of shark (identified from teeth)

-  3 Species of bony fish

- 60 Species of marine invertebrates.

Many of the species described are known only from Langebaanweg.

Visitors to the West Coast Fossil Park can enjoy a self-guided tour through the amphitheatre with its recreated subtropical environment, the museum, the interpretive centre, the environmental discovery centre and the diverse exhibitions, including a life-sized family of short-necked giraffes. 

There is also a guided tour to the working dig site, which in addition to allowing a first-hand experience of the fossils themselves, allows a glimpse into the lives of the palaeontologists who have toiled to unearth the secret of the distant past.

There are also specially designed modern and light classroom facilities at the new Fossil Park visitors centre to host school children or students, and which can also be used for conferences.

Details on the West Coast Fossil Park Museum & Interpretive Centre:

• Tel: +27 (0)22 766 1606

• Email:  [email protected]

• Visit:

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