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Travel: Wild and untamed Tietiesbaai

Words and pictures by Colette Olivier.

We recently decided to go camping for a weekend at Tietiesbaai, but we ended up staying for almost a month! I wanted to share the rich history and indescribable experience with those of your readers who has never been there.

The name might catch you off guard if you understand the regional meaning which literally translates to “Breast Bay” from Afrikaans. One might wonder why particularly it was titled with such a name – but it is best explained by the late, famous South African writer, Pieter Pieterse. Pieter chose to spend two years of his life living in this unspoiled piece of paradise found on the West coast of South Africa.

Pieter explains, ‘If you look to the North in the direction of the Cape Columbine Lighthouse, there’s a very prominent rock above the long slope on the highest point of the dunes and against the skyline you will see the firm curve without even possessing a rich imagination… I have no doubt where “Tieties” Bay gets its name from.’

This is the story the locals like to tell, as it creates an informal and warm atmosphere for all who visit Tietiesbaai. However, according to researchers the bay was named after a Hottentot Captain, named Titus, who drowned there. Nonetheless, the locals with their unique colloquially and perception of the image that the natural rock provides, changed it from Titus to “Tieties”.

Tietiesbaai is only a two-hour drive from Cape Town. It is not only the place itself, but also the stunning scenery on the way there, that will remain engraved in any adventurer and nature-lover’s heart and mind. You will be graced with wonderful wheat fields, sheep roaming about, and ostriches scattered in a few places. There are a variety of sights on your journey to Tietiesbaai, and when you finally reach your destination, you will find your breath stolen by the tranquil and amazing bays and outstretched beaches. These are sure to exceed your wildest imagination.

On your journey, you will most likely reach Paternoster and think that you have reached your destination; you might be tempted to linger on in this fishermen village, strolling through its unique little shops, or settling in on the “stoep” of the Paternoster Hotel with its rich history, tradition, “panty bar” and olden charm.

Nevertheless, you will not regret taking the drive out of Paternoster in the southern direction, where you will find Tietiesbaai, situated in the Cape Columbine Nature reserve, named after the ship Columbine that was wrecked at this coast on 31 March 1829.

A reserve that is wild and untamed, with only the lighthouse as monumental beacon for its inhabitants; it is sure to bring out the adventurer in anyone! Do not fret, you might feel like you are the ultimate camper, but dear old wife or husband who might want some sort of civilization will find that there are a few distributed and very well-maintained ablution blocks for them.

Tietiesbaai Images

Yet, my personal advice to you is to absorb every part of the wildling experience that you can – you will not regret it and you will feel yourself liberated in a way that is missing in today’s society. Nothing can replace the experience of a series of coves and headlands of breathtaking beauty; the sea, wild and crashing beside you and the stars laying wake and watchfully over you.

The magnificent west coast does not disappoint! Wonder around in the sun on outstretched, explore the rocks, climb the hills or the 92 steps of the pristine lighthouse, from where the view is absolutely spectacular. Be still to appreciate the wonderful bird life in this fabulous piece of paradise. Eagles soaring high up over the hilltops, hanging; watching and then descending with utter speed to catch a cape cobra. Seagulls fighting over scattered food on the rocks or diving deep into the ocean for their catch of the day!

The absolute unhindered beauty and peacefulness of the area is something to experience. Settle on the rocks for a few minutes; you might be lucky enough to see whales swimming past the rugged coastline, seals playing far beneath the rocks while the seabirds provide music in the background.

Park your caravan or pitch a tent, open a beer or bottle of good wine and enjoy the sea and beautiful sunset. The fynbos and wide variety of wildflowers will enchant you with their kaleidoscope of color and the smells of fish braai and crayfish on the coals will tickle your appetite. Get your crayfish license and you can even dive out your own supper or quickly grab supplies at the close enough Paternoster to keep your vacation really relaxed, rustic and natural.

It is the drive to Tietiesbaai as much as the place itself that makes the journey over dusty roads an experience of a lifetime. Travelling there one sees the ruggedness of the West Coast. In spring, flowers cover the landscape in carpets of orange, pink and white. Upon arrival you are overwhelmed by a secluded, tranquil cove, where the sea laps gently against the shore – a far cry from the crashing waves on either side of the bay.

This reserve is a hidden gem and a must-see if you are in the area.


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