About West Coast National Park

Just inland from the secluded harbour of Saldanha, a scenic hour and a half from Cape Town along the West Coast road, one finds the azure waters of the Langebaan Lagoon, focal point of the West Coast National Park.

Did you know? Head to Postberg where you can do the Postberg Flower Trail – a wonderful walk through a section of the park open only for a couple of months every year (August and September) during the flower season.

To describe the allure of the West Coast National Park is to celebrate how incredibly multifaceted it is. The cyan-coloured water of the vast lagoon meets the postcard-perfect white of the sand, rugged scrub erupts into a mosaic of colourful wild flowers every spring, and the wildlife that calls this home ranges from antelope and predators on land to the magnificent fish, mammals and sharks of the Atlantic Ocean. This is a place of contrast and magic – a place where colour, scale and variety all challenge your imagination.

The West Coast National Park is situated just inland of Saldanha Bay and its secluded harbour. The exquisite Langebaan Lagoon is, undoubtedly, the jewel of this treasure trove, thanks to its breath-taking beauty and the variety of watersports that it offers. The Atlantic Ocean is only a few kilometres from the powerful ebb and flow of the Atlantic Ocean, which crashes against rocks that glitter with enormous mussel shells, or laps lazily onto the sandy shores.

Wild Flowers

The West Coast is known for the magnificent colours of its wild flowers during August and September (depending on the rains). The Postberg Flower Reserve section of the national park is the ideal place to see the vibrant colours of the blooms as they spring out of the ground in a quilt of yellows, oranges, purples, pinks, reds and whites. To explore Postberg is to immerse yourself in a wonderland of flora; where colours and textures all but overwhelm the senses and where the raw, untainted splendour of Africa cannot be ignored. To keep this area as beautiful as possible, the flower reserve is only open during this magical time, leaving it to recover for the remaining months of the year.

The Wildlife

The rest of the park is traversed by a variety of wildlife. These include the elegant eland and red hartebeest, the cunning caracal, cute rock hyraxes that sun themselves lazily, mountain zebra, steenbok, Cape grysbok, gemsbok, African wild cat, and bontebok.

Little Cape gray mongoose frequently dash across the road in their daily scurry, while the elusive bat-eared fox is a real treat to see in its natural environment. Self-driven tours are easy, thanks to the well-maintained roads and clear map provided at the entrance to the park. Because of the short, scrubby vegetation, the animals can often be seen quite easily.

Marine Animals

Heading to the shore, visitors may see a selection of wildlife that is entirely different to their terrestrial counterparts. Dolphins often leap from the water playfully, or glide through it as if on ice. The most commonly spotted dolphin species here is the Heaviside’s dolphin. Gentle giants also make their appearance between about August and January. These are usually the southern right whales, but humpbacks and killer whales may also skirt this coastline.

The Birdlife

The beaches and lagoon are constantly abuzz with the swooping and diving antics of thousands of sea birds. So, it is not surprising that the Langebaan Lagoon is a Ramsar site, testifying to the incredible variety of wetland and migrant wader bird species to be found on and around it. Keen bird-watchers should look out for the little egret, South African shelduck, flamingo, Karoo lark, sandpipers, bokmakierie, plover, godwit, osprey, Cape gannet, African penguin, and white pelican.

For some excellent opportunities to see stunning birds, visit the Geelbek hide as the tide is coming in. The summer months are the most abundant for avian enthusiasts.

Watersports

The Langebaan Lagoon is a Mecca for kite surfers and wind surfers, thanks to the glassy water and perfect winds. Boating and waterskiing are also popular here. This lagoon is excellent for fishing too, and anglers can expect to catch the likes of white Steenbras, elf (also known as shad), cob, and white stumpnose. Even on days when the pickings are few, the breath-taking scenery makes the effort of sitting on the banks or boat well worth the while. Head into the deep ocean waters for an exciting day of fishing, and come back with geelbek, skates, yellowtail, dorado and tuna (big-eye, yellowfin, and longfin).

Trails

Discover a replica of the prehistoric footprints (dubbed Eve’s footprints) that have been indelibly imprinted into what was once sea sand but has now formed rock at the Geelbek Information Centre. The main trail retraces “Eve’s” footsteps across 30 kilometres of West Coast wilderness and takes 2.5 days to complete. It is fully portered and catered, and invites visitors into a world in which sleeping, eating and travelling are governed only by the movement of the sun across the sky and the tide as it comes and goes on the shore.

There are three legs to this trail:
1. Day One – an easy three-kilometre walk from Duinepos to the Fossil Dunes.
2. Day Two – a scenic circular route (16 kilometres long) from Geelbek to 16 Mile Beach.
3. Day Three – a 13-kilometre hike along the Langebaan Lagoon shores and up to the highest point in the park, Seeberg.

There are also cycling trails in the park, some of which are for road bikes and others for mountain bikes.

The West Coast National Park

The West Coast National Park is one of those South African attractions that have the very special ability to continue to surprise its visitors. There is drama in its landscapes, but there is also beauty in its subtleties.

Need to Know

WhereWest Coast National Park, Langebaan, Cape West Coast, Western Cape, South Africa

WhenDaylight hours.

Telephone+27 (0)22 772-2144 or +27 (0)22 772-2145

OvernightStay in Cape West Coast Accommodation, Western Cape

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