Verlorenvlei, Western Cape
Verlorenvlei is a long estuary stretching between the villages of Elands Bay and Redelinghuys, some 25 kilometres south of Lamberts Bay. It is not only one of the largest lakes but one of the few coastal freshwater lakes that is at once one of the most important estuarine systems in the Western Cape, and one of the largest natural wetlands on the Cape west coast.
It is a significant coastal lake, in other words, supporting over a thousand wading birds, and providing a nest and a rest of over 75 species of water birds. It supports over 5 000 birds most of the time, and occasionally as many as 20 000. For bird watchers, Verlorenvlei is a delight. It connects to the sea via a narrow channel, although the system is virtually closed because of the sand-covered bar at its mouth and other artificial manmade obstacles that disturb the natural flow and sensitive ecology of the area, particularly the illegal causeway near the mouth of Verlorenvlei.
Elands Bay is a popular seaside village that, despite having managed to retain its laidback atmosphere, has felt the added squeeze for development from weekend and holiday visitors that adds a level of menace to Verlorenvlei. The pretty town, known locally as Elandsbaai, offers a delightful combination of surfing, swimming and seafood; it is regarded as the lobster larder of the West Coast. Elands Bay is only two and a half hours drive from Cape Town, and the Bobbejaan Mountains above the town offer walks and a wealth of San paintings in various accessible caves.