The Diamond Coast, wild, rugged and untouched, winds its way along the shoreline of the Northern Cape Province and until recently had evaded my personal travel itinerary.
The water is cold and shipwrecks haunt the jagged outcrops of rocks which stand guard over one of South Africa’s richest diamond deposit regions. A sense of eeriness embodies the dirt roads, barbed wire fences and lookout towers that appear to be protecting nothing but deserted ghostlands. Yet, it is just this intrigue that draws us to explore a coastline with so many the untold stories and hidden treasures.
“Follow the road along the beach, turn right at the windmill, twist the digits on a combination lock and… don’t forget to lock the gate behind you.” The last instructions we received before losing cell phone reception – directions that gave a real sense of the remoteness of this location which is tucked between the mining towns of Kleinzee and Koingnaas.
However, it is the simplicity of the eight coastal-camouflaged huts and colourful window frames that grab our attention as we are welcomed to Noup.
Formerly, these huts were reserved for hardened diamond divers – employed to scour the ocean floor when conditions allowed or simply roll over and head back to bed when the howling monster of the west wind tormented the seas.
Whilst the original design of these huts has not been lost, with an elevated double bed, positioned for the perfect view over the ocean for divers to plan their days, the recent renovations have tastefully transformed these huts into self-catering cabins which culminate in a relaxed atmosphere and set the scene for total relaxation.
If it were not for the warm welcome and gift of firewood and firelighters from the friendly staff at Noup, it would have been easy to believe we were the only people enjoying the serenity of the setting sun and silences broken only by the waves crashing into rocks just a short walk away.
Perhaps it was the sea breeze or the weariness from a long day in the car that put us to bed early, but with the door to the ocean open it was not long before those sounds were incorporated into our dreams.
Noup prides itself on being a place where ‘you can do as little as possible’. In fact, not even last night’s dinner dishes needed to be cleaned. Before we had woken those had been collected, washed and returned without us noticing. This only added to the mysterious laziness that had crept upon us as we enjoyed days which seemed longer than those we had become accustomed to in the corporate jungle.
Electricity is supplied to the huts between 7 and 10 in the morning and evening. This is enough to charge up the camera each day and hopefully not enough to enable work of any kind to be done. Part of the allure of this place is the complete ‘cut off’ from the rest of the world and the ability to embrace the solitude of these shores.
For those seeking a little more adventure, the coastline, now on our doorstep, offers some breath-taking scenery, intricate rock pools for those keen to swim or snorkel and a look into nature at its most raw. Just two kilometres into our coastal stroll, on what should have been a deserted stretch of beach, was a hive of activity. The waters glistened, the skies flocked and the sand crawled with every living thing. Then we saw it. A whale carcass was bobbing aimlessly – caught in a tug-of-war between land and sea.
It was obvious this feast had been around for some time as parts of the skeleton had been completely stripped of all its flesh. The lingering smell was a reminder of the harsh conditions the west coast can serve up. Further along, 4×4 signboards mark enthralling trails which explore dune systems, beaches, shipwrecks, archaeological ruins, historical sites and fauna and flora.
If all that exploration builds a bit of a hunger, the rocks are littered with mussels. A permit bought from the Post Office will allow visitors to harvest mussels from the rocks to enjoy a seafood feast upon their return.
The magic of Noup was really captured in those last few golden hours at sunset each evening. Sitting down to a glass of wine we looked out over the ocean while the aromas from the braai filter the fresh air and stories from the day salt our conversations.
It is a place that will be forever etched in our memories, less for the things we had done but more for the time to recharge and a chance to experience that feeling of total relaxation. Whilst this mysterious coastline might still deposit diamonds across its ocean floors, the real gems are harder to find but exist in places like these.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Accommodation: two, four and six sleeper units are available
Guided Tours: Rodville Adams hosts guided tours along shipwreck or dune trails for R250 per person. To book call +27 76 642 0868
Amenities: A communal kitchen area provides a fridge-freezer to store perishables and a mini-shop provides the basics required for a comfortable stay.