You have heard people talk about the West Coast National Park or the West Coast Flower Park or maybe have seen pictures of an inviting turquoise lagoon and its houseboats, but have you wondered if there are other things to do in West Coast National Park?
The West Coast National Park is situated approximately 90km north of Cape Town just off R27 coastal road. The park is popularly known for its birdlife and for the wild spring flowers that blossom annually between the months of August and September in the Postberg flower reserve section of the park.
This park is a perfect place for a weekend away from the city or a day trip. The magical Langebaan Lagoon, rare fynbos, white sandy dunes, internationally acclaimed wetlands and incredible birdlife are only some of the delights West Coast National Park has to offer. With so much to see and do it is hard to decide where to begin, so I have decided to share 13 of my favourite things to do in West Coast National Park.
1. SWIM AND TAKE PICTURES NEXT TO PREEKSTOEL
Preekstoel, meaning Preacher’s pulpit in Afrikaans, is the big popular rock you might have seen on Instagram. This is probably one of my favourite spots inside the park – this rock makes you feel like you are somewhere on an exotic Island. The rock is fully exposed during low tides and almost half-covered with water during high tides.
It looks different but still amazing on both low and high tides. Just make sure the water doesn’t rise while you are still on that side.
2. SLEEP AT KRAALBAAI LUXURY HOUSEBOATS
If you are planning to spend a night or weekend inside the West Coast National Park, I highly recommend sleeping at Kraalbaai Luxury House Boats. They have four (currently building the 5th one) houseboats permanently moored in the middle of Langebaan lagoon and can accommodate 4 – 24 guests.
Bring your own pool inflatable or enjoy some of the water activities offered by Gravity Adventures and other suppliers inside the park. Water activities include kayaking, kitesurfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, snorkelling, SUP (Stand Up Paddle), water-skiing and of course, swimming.
For Jet Ski rides and large boat cruises, you will have to go to Club Mykonos side in Langebaan.
4. EAT AT GEELBEK RESTAURANT
Situated inside the West Coast National Park, Geelbek Restaurant is National Monument surrounded by flamboyance of flamingos, other birdlife and variety of wildlife.
This Cape Dutch building converted into a restaurant, is known world-wide for its distinctive local Cape meals and dishes such as Cape Malay chicken curry, Geelbek mussels, crab cakes, bobotie, pumpkin pie, venison pie, lamb potjie, vegetable quiche, ostrich Mediterranean open-roti burger and other more all-time local favourites.
The West Coast National Park is seasonally (August – October) visited by pods of southern right whales. The Atlantic Lookout Point is a great area to spot these sea gently giants on the Atlantic coastline.
There is also an opportunity to spot small game such as herds of gemsbok, zebra and bontebok inside the park. Be on the lookout for small tortoises and snakes too.
6. ENJOY A BRAAI OR PICNIC
There are two dedicated braai and picnic spots with braai stands inside the park. The first one you will pass on the right hand side on your way to Kraalbaai Luxury Boat Houses. This is the perfect spot if you want to braai and still have easy access to the lagoon. On the more weather-exposed, you will find Tsaarbank Braai Area, a rougher side of the West Coast National Park. This side is not the prettiest around the park but perfect for shell collecting, whale spotting (in season) and braai with Atlantic Ocean views.
7. VISIT GEELBEK VISITOR’S CENTRE
If you love nature and would like to learn more about the park’s fauna, flora, and cultural history, head to Geelbek Visitor’s Centre. For it is here that you will be able to witness replicas of Eve’s footprints, which were discovered in 1995 at Kraalbaai. The original prints, discovered in the rock are believed to have belonged to a woman (Eve) who lived about 117 000 years ago.
8. HIKE EVE’S TRAIL
Trace back time with this wonderfully scenic two-and-a-half-day hiking trail that follows in the footsteps of Eve – a young woman who lived 117 000 years ago and who it is said all human life descended from. The trail covers 30km of the park’s beautiful terrain, starting from Duinepos and ending at Seeberg – the park’s highest point.
The first leg on Day 1 is a gentle walk from Duinepos to the Fossil Dunes. The second leg on Day 2 is a 16km circular route from Geelbek toward 16 mile beach via Abrahamskraal. The third and final leg on Day 3 is a 13km hike along the eastern shore of Langebaan Lagoon and up to Seeberg, the highest point in the Park.
The map provides an overview of the trail but is not 100% accurate so, I would highly recommend booking through a registered local guide.
9. EXPERIENCE THE WEST COAST WILDFLOWER SEASON
Experience the magical wildflower season – This magical and unique experience only happens annually between August and September on the Postberg flower reserve inside the park.
This part of the park is only open during these months. During this period, colour patterns change from one week to the next, as some varieties fade, and others pop up in their place.
10. CYCLE THROUGH THE PARK’S TRAILS
Bring your mountain bike to enjoy a leisurely cycle or an exhilarating mountain-bike ride through the park’s beautiful surroundings. All trails start at Langebaan gate, with the first trail taking you on a 30km round route to Geelbek and back. The second trail goes to Kraalbaai and back, covering 70km of terrain.
There are four hides inside the park, which provide excellent hiding viewing points. Ostriches, Flamingos and Black Harriers can be seen in the area, along with curlew sandpipers, sanderlings and knots, which journey some 15 000 kilometers from Russia to breed at the park each year.
12. ENJOY VIEWS FROM SEEBERG VIEWING POINT
On a clear day, Table Mountain, the Cederberg Mountains and the southern part of the Langebaan Lagoon can be viewed from the Seeberg viewpoint in Seeberg Information Centre.
The Seeberg info centre is situated not far from Langebaan Gate and is housed in a restored stone hut perched on a huge rock overlooking the lagoon – Views are amazing from here.
13. EXPLORE THE SHIPWRECK
If you are an adventurer individual, then the possibility of seeing a real-life shipwreck will excite you. Just beyond Tsaarsbank Braai Area, you may spot the rusted remains of the once-74 000-ton bulk Croatian carrier, Pantelis A Lemos, shipwrecked here in 1978.
WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK ENTRY FEES AND OPERATING TIMES:
Free to valid Wild Card holders. R66 (adults, SA citizens and residents with ID) R33 (children), R100 (SADC adults with a valid passport) R50 (SADC children with a valid passport), R100 (international adults) R50 (international children).
(During flower season, August – September) R94 (adults, SA citizens and residents with ID) R47 (children), R144 (SADC adults with a valid passport) R72 (SADC children with a valid passport), R210 (international adults) R105 (international children)
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