The beautiful West Coast
When I visited the West Coast National Park I was stunned to realise just how close it is to Cape Town. A short 40-minute drive will get you to this park that can only be described as paradise.
The park was established in 1985, with its main purpose to conserve the Langebaan Lagoon and its surrounding landscapes – and I’m so glad they did.
The breathtaking lagoon stretches across almost the entire width of the park. It is divided into zones A, B and C, with each zone suited to different activities, so be sure to check out what to do where. A fee of R26.00 gets you in for the day and there is free entry with a Wild Card.
The park is perfect for an overnight stay with affordable chalets at Duinepos and cottages at Abramskraal and Churchhaven. But whether you’re there for a day or a week, here are some of the must-do’s:
Atlantic viewpoint is close to the R27 entrance of the park and is an excellent spot to do whale watching in season. If you miss the whales, get out of your car and take a deep breath – the air is wonderfully fresh. It’s bound to leave you feeling invigorated.
Kraalbaai is situated in zone B of the park and is equipped with great braai areas. It has an amazing view of the lagoon and a tiny beach – which, if you’re lucky, will have no wind.
At Tsaarsbank you can do whale watching from August to November. If it’s out of season you can still enjoy this rocky beach spot for picnics or braais. You can also take a short walk along the beach to the Patelis Alemos Shipwreck from 1978.
The Postberg Section is only open during flower season in August and September – a time when the entrance fee is also R36.00 unless you have a Wild Card, of course. Take advantage of access to this pristine part of the park by doing a hiking trail of one or two days.
There are many other hiking trails you can follow throughout the year, like the Bakoor trail where you can see bat-eared foxes and eland. Four cycling routes are also available, the longest being 70 km. The park’s nifty brochure will explain all these in more detail. You have to love a SANParks brochure, it makes any trip extremely easy. I always get excited for my day when I get mine at the gate!
There are a couple of bird hides in the park at Abramskraal, Geelbek and Flaming Jo’s. Both Abramskraal and Geelbek are short and rewarding walks. The isolation of these spots makes them a bird-watcher’s dream. Sit in the silence of nature and enjoy.
Seeberg viewpoint near Langebaan Gate is an excellent spot for taking pictures as you’ll enjoy a view of the entire lagoon and most of the park. If the wind blows it can be a bit of a struggle, but still definitely worthwhile. On the drive to Seeberg you might be rewarded with eland, ostriches and other wildlife. Just keep an eye out for tortoises – they’re often spotted on the tar roads.
At Geelbek there’s an information centre that can help you with hiking trails, accommodation and even double as a history lesson. Check out the interesting displays. The Cape Dutch building, dating from 1744, is the Geelbek Restaurant. Here you can expect wonderful traditional meals like lambshank and bobotie – all prepared by West Coast women at affordable prices. But remember, the kitchen staff warns: here they work on “West Coast Time”, so sit back and relax in the afternoon sunlight.
All that’s left to do for you now is to go to this lovely park – so choose a sunny day and drive to West Coast National Park and enjoy!