We arrived at Bontebok National Park near Swellendam at the foot of the Langeberg in the grip of a heatwave. The veld was dry, the sun was on the boil and hundreds of miggies were elbowing each other to get up our noses. But the tiny park makes a good stopover between Cape Town and the Garden Route, offering a raft of activities. Here are 10 things to do at the Bontebok National Park.
2. Get into the saddle
Bring your mountain bike and you’ll be able to ride any of the dirt roads in the park or the 9.2km mountain bike trail laid out southeast of reception. It takes you to the Skilpad dam, a perennial waterhole where you might see bontebok or red hartebeest.
3. Go for a nature walk
4. Spend the day at Die Stroom
4. Go fishing
Take your fishing tackle, buy a fishing licence from reception if you don’t already have one, and spend a peaceful few hours fishing for carp or barbel in the river. All local species must be released.
5. Go in search of plants
6. Go kayaking
Bring along your canoe or kayak and spend some time on the river. It’s a quiet and peaceful way to move close to water birds or get a good upper body workout (if that’s your thing).
7. Watch the birds
Bontebok National Park has some 200 species of birds, including specials like Denham’s bustard, our national bird the blue crane, southern black korhaan, malachite and lesser doublecollared sunbird, and Klaas’s cuckoo (in summer). If you explore the bush along the riverbanks you might also find swee waxbill and water thick-knee. We heard some lyrical but very insistent fiery-necked nightjars at the campsite in the evenings.
8. Spend the night with Lang Elsie
9. Go camping
10. Go to town
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