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Mar 28 2013

West Coast National Park

A Western Cape gem

When we prepared for our trip we tapped into the Overland Community. There were many people who helped us with information, but particularly patient were Langebaan Sunset. So, after collecting Brodie in Cape Town we invited ourselves to visit Langebaan Sunset in – yes you guessed it – Langebaan.

Confirming directions we discovered that it is possible to follow the R27 up the coast and enter Langebaan via the West Coast National Park. Armed with our camera, a pair of old binos and the Wild Card we set out.

The West Coast Gate to the park, which we used as our entry point, is located just off the R27 and is well signposted from both directions. At the gate we were met by a friendly warden who took our details. As he opened the gate for us he also handed us a very useful map of the park where all the bird hides and look-out points were marked. Such a contrast to the map-less parks we had visited in Senegal…

Western Cape NP stretches along the west coast of South Africa just south of Langebaan. It is mainly low shrubland based on sand. The park also incorporates the Langebaan Lagoon which adds a marshland area. The Langebaan Lagoon was recognised as a Ramsar wetland area in 1975 with the Park being formally established in 1985. The Park comprises a total of 32,000ha. In the flower season an additional area is open to the public. The area has also had some Norwegian influence in a whaling station that was in operation between 1909 and 1930.

After a quick look at our map to decide our route (there aren’t really that many options) we headed for the first bird hide. Here we spotted the Sacred Ibis, the African Spoonbill, and the Yellow Canary amongst others. The hide is a lovely place overlooking a watering hole, with informative posters of the main birds that can be seen there. The hide is also next to one of the accommodation options that are available in the park, Abrahamskraal Cottage. This cottage is built in true Cape Dutch style which makes it blend in nicely in the terrain, even though it is bright white. From the hide we continued on the road past Johanne’s Beach Cottage, ending up at the braai area at Preekstoel (probably some Norwegian influence in that name).

We had already had our lunch before entering the park, but decided to try out the acclaimed restaurant at Geelbek. On our way there we spotted both Kudu and Eland, and added the Cape Spurfowl and the Hartlaub’s Gull to our list. At the restaurant we bumped into a family of Swedes (they are never far away), as we ordered our very decadent and gigantous pieces of Chocolate and Red Velvet cake. A short walk from the restaurant there are two bird hides on wooden walkways stretching into the lagoon. These are perfect places to watch the wading birds, especially the Lesser and Greater Flamingos, the Common Greenshank, and the Little Stints. Overhead, it is also easy to spot the White Throated Swallows as they circle around looking for insects.

Leaving the restaurant we headed towards the Langebaan Gate, meandering our way above the east side of the lagoon. Although the Park also promises Zebra and Caracal they were very camouflaged when we were there. We did, however, spot the Rock Kestrel and quite a few Ostriches on the way out.

Facts:

  • situated along the R27 approximately 120km north of Cape Town
  • access via the West Gate off the R27 or via the Langebaan Gate on the south side of Langebaan
  • entry is free with the Wild Card. Without the card it is R34pp in off season and R48 in high season (flower season). Vehicles from 2-5t is charged at R230 and above 5t even more, but we were not charged this (I think because we had the Wild Card).
  • there accommodation in Cottages, Chalets and Houseboats, but there is no camping.
  • there are also dedicated hiking routes (1 and 2 day) and MTB routes in the Park. The roads are also perfect for road cycling.

5 comments

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  1. Margaret (gemini)

    You have just brought back some wonderful memories from a previous trip and especially of the cakes at Geelbek. We were fortunate enough to be there in the flower season and the park aswell as the roadsides leading to it were a superb rash of colour.

    Hope you continue to enjoy yourselves and send us some more beautiful memories.

    Cheers,
    Margaret & Mike

  2. Margaret (gemini)

    Forgot to ask – do the birds still steal the sugar from the restaurant tables? We wondered why the sugar pot was brought with the coffee and cleared away when we were finished. We soon found out !!!!!
    Margaret

    1. African GirlChild

      Oooh – not sure. We sat ont he front side in the sun. I did see some very interested bulbuls and weavers picking at food left behind by other guests in the courtyard ;)

  3. Vic

    Another must-do. The cakes are almost a reason to visit just by themselves!!

    1. African GirlChild

      Vic – this little gem was a real find. It is certainly worth a visit if you are in the area.

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