Just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town you'll find the West Coast National Park hugging the Langebaan lagoon. It's a perfect place for a weekend break from the city or even a day trip. Here’s my pick of 12 things to do in West Coast National Park.
There are four bird hides in the West Coast National Park. Two are near the Geelbek restaurant, one at Abrahamskraal near the West Coast Gate and one at Seeberg near the Langebaan Gate. At the Geelbek and Seeberg hides we saw avocets, sanderlings, whimbrels, kelp gulls, black oystercatchers and Kittlitz plovers strutting around as if they owned the place. A large flock of about 400 flamingo were panning for gold in the shallow water and it was a joy to watch about 50 take to the skies in an explosion of pink.
2. Take a game drive
3. Eat in style
Take a walk around the huge Cape Dutch farmhouse that houses the restaurant and soak in the atmosphere of a bygone age. Talk to the staff and you’ll discover some interesting snippets. For instance, in the 1920s Geelbek had the biggest wine cellar in the country and the owner, Henry de Villiers Steytler, used to throw wild parties that went on for days. He even had the lagoon dredged to allow boats to get closer for his parties.
4. Go back in time
5. Go hiking
The 2.5-day guided slack-packing Eve’s Trail, is a three-stage 30km hike across Strandveld and deserted beaches, with views of the lagoon as you trace Eve’s footsteps. All you carry is a small daypack; lifts and luggage are organised and local people prepare your meals in traditional West Coast style.
The two-day, 27km Postberg Trail is open only in August and September each year during the spring flower season (see no. 6 below). The trail starts and ends at Tsaarsbank and you overnight at Plankiesbaai. It’s not for sissies – you need to be fairly fit and to carry your own tent and camping equipment. Bookings through the Geelbek info centre open in June each year, tel 022 707-9902/3.
The one-day 13.9km Steenberg Trail starts and ends at Tsaarsbank. It’s also only open in August and September. Make sure you carry enough water with you.
Shorter walks for the less committed are the Bakoor Trail (4.6km from the Langebaan Gate to the Seeberg viewpoint), and two short walks that begin at the Geelbek Information Centre – a 9km circular walk to the dunes and back, and a 7km circular walk that includes part of 16-Mile Beach. Get more info from the Geelbek Information Centre, tel 022 707-9902/3, next to Geelbek restaurant.
7. Go mountain biking
Bring your bike and tackle a couple of the trails in the park: 30km from Langebaan Gate to Geelbek on tar; 70km return trip from Langebaan Gate to Kraalbaai on tar; 13km circular trail on gravel around Seeberg view point not far from Langebaan Gate; 30km circular trail on gravel around Seeberg viewpoint and Mooimaak.
8. Enjoy a braai or picnic
9. Go whale watching
From the Tsaarsbank section of the park you might be lucky enough to see southern right whales play and swim in the Atlantic Ocean. The best months for whale watching are August to October.
10. Stay at Duinepos Chalets
11. Stay on a houseboat
12. Knock yourself out with watersports
If watersport is your thing, you have plenty choices in the area, from kitsesurfing, waterskiing and kayaking to snorkeling, diving, or fishing. The best place to seek out these adventures is in the little town of Langebaan just outside the park.
Whether you’re looking for a patch of peace where you can relax into some birding or simply stroll on the beach, or you prefer to fill every day with action and exercise, West Coast National Park has got you covered.
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Walking at Langebaan Lagoon on the West Coast
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