Wild contributors Lynn and Shaheen Robinson took an unconventional approach to exploring the West Coast National Park – while most traverse endless beaches and hilly surrounds by car or on foot, this couple took to the water. Their story and photos prove why a trip to this stunning park should be top priority for your autumn to-do list!
Cape Town natives since birth, Lynn and Shaheen have long had a trip to the West Coast on their bucket list. When they finally had the time to get away from kids, work and other commitments, the Robinsons made sure they’d have the perfect blend of relaxation and fun. What was on their two-day itinerary? A first-time sea kayak with Gravity Adventure Tours, delectable West Coast cuisine, birding and game viewing in the national park, and time to kick back at their cosy beach cottage. Pure heaven.
“We drove up to Langebaan at the end of February, excited for the mini getaway we’d planned with Gravity. Cape Town traffic was hectic so we arrived later than expected but when we got there it was so serene that we were able to forget our worries. Our guide Antony had us immediately hop into kayaks to experience the West Coast from the water.
“The kayaking was relaxing and not too strenuous. Our first journey was a 2km paddle to Schaapen Island, a protected breeding ground for birds. There are about 300 species in the area!
More than 70 species of marine algae have been recorded in the lagoon, according to BirdLife South Africa, and its coastlines brim with salt-marsh succulents and dense stands of bulrushes, reeds and freshwater vegetation. The lagoon serves as a nursery ground for juvenile fish. Gobies, pipefish, skates, rays and small sharks are also common.
“Our guide Antony was so accommodating – he had a wealth of knowledge to answer our questions about the birdlife, marine life, flora and animals we saw, and was happy to stop for a rest when we needed breaks from paddling. He made us feel welcome and we loved that the tour was all at our own pace!
Fine Dining at Geelbek
“After our first paddle, we regained our land legs and set off for Geelbek Restaurant in the heart of West Coast National Park. We were able to spot some wildlife on the drive there, incuding a Cape cobra, ostrich, eland and countless birds. We also drove past several hiking and mountain biking trails we want to return to try out. We were kicking ourselves for not bringing our bikes.
“The restaurant itself was stunning, like a lush oasis in the middle of the national park. It seems great for weddings and parties.
“What we loved about Geelbek was that it’s also kid friendly with a massive play area that overlooks the lagoon. The food was delicious with signature dishes and the staff was incredibly friendly. Definitely somewhere we’ll come back to. We were so conflicted – on one hand, we wanted to leave the kids at home because the West Coast has a honeymoon vibe, but then again, there’s also this great play area for children and incredible nature experiences for them to appreciate.”
After lunch, the Robinsons spent more time in the park before heading back to their picturesque beach cottage to relax until supper.
“For dinner our guide made us traditional West Coast fare on the braai – garlic bread, sweet potatoes cooked on the coals, smoked fish and a tossed salad. It made us feel so spoiled.”
“The next day, the guide made us a big breakfast and packed a picnic basket for us to have lunch along the coast. We went out on a 5km paddle this time and the water was a bit choppy so we stayed close to the shoreline.
“We stopped off to do some birding – a highlight were the huge flamingos. You can tell they’re well fed. The area seems abundant and there’s no shortage of food for the animals.