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West Coast National Park

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This page displays all information relevant to this park/camp, except the following:

Availability | Reservations |

Introduction

Just inland from the secluded harbour of Saldanha Bay, and only 1,5 hour's drive from Cape Town's City Centre, one finds the azure waters of the Langebaan Lagoon, focal point of the West Coast National Park.

Thousands of seabirds roost on sheltered islands, pristine golden beaches stretch endlessly into the early morning mist and brooding salt marshes are home to vast concentrations of migrant waders from the northern hemisphere. During the spring the strandveld is embroidered with a tapestry of multi-hued flowers, while in the Postberg section many antelope are to be seen in a setting that is as unique as it is idyllic.

Main Attractions

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Accommodation

West Coast National Park boasts a number of beautiful and serene accommodation facilities within the park. Some are privately owned and managed and need to be booked through the managing company.

For full details of accommodation offerings, please click on each of the below:

Abrahamskraal Cottage

This self catering cottage is situated near the Abrahamskraal waterhole.

The Unit is a fully equipped 6 Bed Cottage (2 en suite bedrooms, 1 bedroom with a double bed and the second bedroom has 2 single beds and 2 pull-out beds), with an open plan living area and kitchen. There is a fireplace in the living area to utilize as a braai or fireplace. Guests should bring their own braai wood.

The fridge-freezer combination, geysers and stove are all gas operated. Electricity in the house is provided by solar energy. There are no points or plugs for electric equipment and guests are requested to use the lights sparingly. Tap water comes from a well-point and is safe to drink, however guests may not be accustomed to the taste so they are welcome to provide their own drinking water. No pets, loud music or portable generators are allowed in the West Coast National Park.

Please note:

  • On arrival, guests can collect keys at the Geelbek Information Centre, and after working hours they can collect either at Langebaan or R27 gate and hand them in at Geelbek Information Centre on departure.
  • Accommodation is available from 14:00 on the day of your arrival and time of departure is 10:00.
  • No after-hours access will be permitted.
  • Conservation fees are payable when making the booking or in advance unless clients have a valid Wild Card.
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Please note:

Accommodation images may differ from the actual units as refurbishment of various accommodation types occur on an on-going basis.

Duinepos Chalets

"Recharge your spirit, waking up with the sounds of birds, experience a beautiful sunrise, being surrounded by the silence of nature itself. A peaceful, private haven of tranquility. It is affordable! It is beautiful!"

Duinepos Chalets are situated inside the West Coast National Park. Each Chalet is situated to ensure privacy, peace and tranquility, as you take in the fresh sea breeze, azure waters, and all that the park has to offer over the various seasons...from spectacular birdlife, to the tapestry of spring flowers that cover the strandveld during August and September each year.

The Duinepos Story:

Duinepos Chalets is a community-based project brought to life in 2005 as part of the sustainable livelihoods programme of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

During the first phase 8 old houses previously occupied by staff of the West Coast National Park were restored; the service infrastructure was upgraded, the area landscaped and locals were recruited to manage the project.

The second phase of the project saw the addition of a swimming pool, boma (out-door recreational area), and 3 additional chalets to the facilities. For this phase an eco-friendly approach was taken; a local crew was empowered to build using the sandbag method.

More than 3 years later the success story provides a 3-star accommodation that blends in with West Coast fynbos. It is here where nature lovers from all over the world come to recharge their spirits.

Chalet features:

  • A total of 11 self-catering chalets each sleeping 4 people comfortably and allowing for a maximum of 6 people.
  • 2 chalets are disabled-friendly.
  • Each chalet offers 2 bedrooms, an open plan kitchen, lounge, fire place, shower, toilet and an outdoor braai area.
  • Other facilities include: swimming pool, communal braai and boma area.

For bookings and more information, contact:

Duinepos Chalets
Tel: +27 (0) 22 707 9900
Visit their website.

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Geelbek Stables (for school and community groups)

The Geelbek Stables are specifically designed to accommodate school and community groups. The units are dormitory-style and can take up to 62 people and more by arrangement.

  • Ablution facilities are available and have both hot and cold water.
  • The kitchen is equipped with a microwave, gas stove, fridge and freezer, however groups must bring their own cutlery and crockery.
  • Braai facilities - wood can be bought at the information office on arrival.
  • Groups must bring their own bedding.

All groups can check-in at the Geelbek Information Centre from 14:00 to 16:00. After office hours they can check in either at the Langebaan or R27 gates and have to vacate the accommodation at 10:00am on the date of departure and hand keys in at the Geelbek Information Centre.

View the different educational programmes that are offered by the park.

Jo Anne's Beach Cottages

This exclusive self-catering cottage is situated near Churchaven, within walking distance of the lagoon. It is a fully equipped self-catering (3 en-suite bedrooms-sleeping 8 persons in total) cottage, with an open plan living area and kitchen. There are braai facilities on the front stoep and in the back yard.

It has three bedrooms, each with toilet and shower. The main bedroom has a double bed, the second has two single beds and the third is a 'children's' room with two pullout beds (sleeps four). The kitchen has a gas fridge and stove, fitted cupboards, utensils, serving/eating counter with stools.

The lounge has four lounge chairs, table and with jetmaster. The stoep looks out on the lagoon and has a braai.

Important information:

  • Guests should bring their own fire wood.
  • The fridge-freezer combination, geysers and stove are all gas operated.
  • Electricity in the house is provided by solar energy. Please use lights sparingly - there are no points or plugs for electronic equipment.
  • Tap water comes from a well-point and is safe to drink, however you may not be accustomed to the taste. You are welcome to provide your own drinking water. Please use water sparingly.
  • In order to preserve the peace and tranquility of the area and not to disturb other residents, no loud music or portable generators are allowed.
  • No pets are allowed within the West Coast National Park.
  • No fires permitted on the beach.
  • No alcohol is permitted in public areas.

Please note:

  • On arrival guests can collect keys at the Geelbek Information Centre, and after working hours they can collect either at the Langebaan or R27 gates and hand them in at the Geelbek Information Centre on departure.
  • Accommodation is available from 14:00 on the day of your arrival and time of departure is 10:00.
  • No after-hours access at the gates will be permitted.
  • Conservation fees are payable in advance when making the booking, unless clients have a valid Wild Card.
  • Familiarise yourself with the zonation of the lagoon as described in the information brochure provided. Jo Anne's falls is in the B zone and therefore no fishing or motorised crafts are allowed in the area.
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Please note:

Accommodation images may differ from the actual units as refurbishment of various accommodation types occur on an on-going basis.

Houseboats - permanently moored floating chalets

The Kraalbaai Houseboats are permanently moored on the tranquil waters of the Langebaan Lagoon in the West Coast National Park, where Preekstoel (the Pulpit) watches over the serene surroundings.

The Larus Houseboat has a well-equipped open plan kitchen and dining area with a braai facility. The main cabin has a queen size bed (sleeps two) and the second cabin comfortable bunk beds (sleeps two). The third cabin has floor-mattresses and sleeps two to four. It can accommodate 15 people comfortably during the day and the spacious open deck is complimented by a large floating jetty. Rate: R2 100.00 per night (minimum of two nights).

The Nirvana Houseboat has an upper and lower deck. It is luxuriously finished and ideally suited for use by corporate groups, family holidays, special occasions, fashion shoots, filming and functions. It sleeps 22 people with 14 on the lower and eight on the upper deck but can accommodate up to 50 people during the day. Each deck is a unit on its own with full facilities and may be enjoyed separately or as a single unit. Both decks have extensive open deck space and the lower one, a floating jetty which serves both. Rate: R10 125.00 per night (minimum of two nights) - Exclusive: Upper and Lower decks and floating jetty - sleeps 22).

The rates for the Upper and Lower Decks respectively, are R4 050.00 and R6 750.00 per night (minimum two nights - subject to confirmation).

Kraalbaai is where Eve's Footprint was discovered on the nearby shore - thought to be from 117 000 years ago, the oldest known footprint of modern mankind; where naturalist, sailor and writer Frank Wightman seeked quiet refuge for many years on his yacht Wylo, described by the famous author Lawrence Green as a giant in hiding; where local traditional fishermen still ply their trade and fresh harders (mullet) on the coals are a delicacy; where crayfish, oysters, perlemoen (abalone), black mussels and fish are in abundance; where tourists visit during spring to enjoy the beauty of one of the great floral kingdoms of the world; where activities such as water skiing, fishing, sailing, mountain biking, hiking, picnicking etc are enjoyed in nature; and where fine dining experiences (on board by arrangement) or outings to Mykonos Resort and Casino, restaurants in Saldanha Bay and Langebaan or a visit to the Yacht Club are arranged with pleasure. You are invited to embrace the heritage and these activities from your quiescent houseboat-base in Kraalbaai, within the surrounds of the unique biodiversity of the West Coast National Park and surrounds.

For more information:

Website: Please visit www.kraalbaaihouseboats.co.za for more information and tariffs or to make a booking using our online reservation system.
Tel: +27 (0)21 526 0432
Fax: +27 (0)21 526 0311
Email: bookings@kraalbaaihouseboats.co.za

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To view the accommodation prices, refer to our Tariffs.

General Information:

For bookings for Abrahamskraal Cottage and Jo-Annes beach Cottage contact Central Reservations / Geelbek information centre: +27 (0) 022 707 9902/ +27 (0) 022 772 2145.

  • All accommodation is serviced and fully equipped with crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils, bedding, towels and soap.
  • Check in time for accommodation is 14:00 on the day of arrival at Geelbek Information Centre between 14:00 to 16:00. After office hours, clients can check in at the Langebaan Gate / R27 Gate. Check out time on the day of departure is 10:00 at the Geelbek Information Centre.
  • All units are self-catering.
  • Sheets and towels will be changed every 3 days.
  • Guests should bring their own wood.
  • The fridge-freezer combination, geysers and stove are all gas operated.
  • Electricity in the house is provided by solar energy. There are no points or plugs for electric equipment and guests are requested to use lights sparingly.
  • Tap water comes from a well-point and is safe to drink.

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Wild Card Purchases

Park Activities

Walks and Trails

Geelbek Short Day Walks:

  • 9km: Beginning at the Geelbek Information Centre, the 9km is a circular walk to the dunes and back.
  • 7km: Also beginning at the Geelbek Information Centre, the well sign-posted 7km includes part of the 16mile beach, and is a circular walk.

Bakoor Trail

This is a short walk from the Langebaan gate to the Seeberg View Point, which is 4,6km long. Along this route bat eared foxes, Ostriches, Eland and many other animals can be spotted, as well as the beautiful view of the Langebaan lagoon.

Strandveld Trail Two-Day Hike

Day 1 of this trail will take you through about 14km of Strandveld unique to the West Coast of South Africa. Learn to identify plants such as the wild asparagus, sedge-stemmed love grass and many more while walking on this trail.

Day 2 of this trail is 14km long and will take you through Strandveld to the Sixteen Mile Beach before heading back to Geelbek.

Postberg Two Day Hiking Trails (Only during August and September)

NB! This trail must be booked in advance (bookings open in June). For booking and tariff information, contact the Geelbek Information Centre on 022 707 9902/3.

Postberg Trail in a Nutshell:

  • Hikers start and finish at Tsaarsbank and overnight at Plankiesbaai(tents are required)
  • Duration: 2 days one night
  • Day 1: 15.5 km (6 Hours)
  • Day 2: 11.8 km (3,5 Hours)
  • Maximum number of people on the trail: 12

General Information for the Postberg Trail:

  • Hikers must arrive at the Tsaarsbank gate at 09:00am to start the Trail. Cars can be parked at the Tsaarsbank gate. Please show your permit to the gate guard on duty before beginning your hike.
  • Stick to the designated and marked trail and do not take any short cuts.
  • The overnight point is situated at the southern end of Plankiesbaai. Hikers are required to bring their own tents and camping equipment. Tents should be erected on the level close to the ablutions and not on the dunes.
  • Ablution facilities include toilets, basins and drinking water. There are no showers, hot water or cooking utensils.
  • Braai facilities and wood are available at the overnight stop.
  • In the event of any injury or similar emergency, contact Park personnel on 022 772 2144.
  • Water is only available at the Tsaarsbank gate and overnight point at Plankiesbaai. No water is otherwise available along the rest of the trail.
  • This trail has been completed by both young and old alike, but it is strenuous and should not be undertaken unless you are reasonably fit.
  • Under no circumstances will vehicles be allowed to overnight, pick up or drop off people or equipment at Plankiesbaai.
  • Hikers with medical problems are advised not to start this hike. Remember to bring the map with you and enjoy the hike!

Steenbok One Day Trail (Only during August and September)

Steenbok Trail in a Nutshell:

  • Hike starts and finishes in Tsaarsbank.
  • Duration: One day hike.
  • Distance: 13.9 km (5 hours excluding breaks).
  • Maximum number of people on trail: 20

NB! This trail must be booked in advance (bookings open in June). For booking and tariff information, contact the Geelbek Information Centre on 022 707 9902/3.

General Information for the Steenbok Trail:

  • Be sure to stick to the demarcated paths - the first section (+/-2 km) of the Steenbok Day Trail follows the route of the 2 day trail up to Konstabelkop. The 2-day trail is marked with flower sign boards. Where the Steenbok trail deviates from this trail, it is marked with Steenbok signboards.
  • Water is only available at Tsaarsbank and Plankiesbaai; therefore ensure that you start the trail with sufficient water.
  • The trail starts and ends at the Tsaarsbank gate. Once you are ready to begin, check in with the gate guard at Tsaarsbank. You are advised not to start later than 09:00. The Postberg section closes at 17:00, so please aim to complete the trail before closing.
  • In the event of any injury or similar emergency, contact Park personnel at 022 722 2144.
  • It is unavoidable that some sections of the trail are on the roads used by the general public. For your own safety please be aware of vehicles.

Eve's Trail

Eve's Trail is a 2,5 day 30km guided trail, traversing the ancient steps of "Eve" - the being from whom it is thought that all human life descended.

Eve's footprint was discovered in rock (formerly sea sand) at Kraalbaai in 1995 and are said to belong to a young woman who lived 117 000 years ago. The original prints are housed at the Iziko Museums' South African Museum in Cape Town. The replica of the footprint can be seen at the Geelbek Visitor's Centre.

The trail is fully guided, catered and portered.
For more information and booking, visit www.capebiospheretrails.co.za

General Trail Regulations

The above trails are situated within a national park and are therefore subject to the National Parks Act. The most applicable regulations are:

  • No pets allowed.
  • No picking of flowers.
  • No removal of any material, plant or animal.
  • Speed limit 50km/h.
  • Do not litter.
  • No fires on the beach.
  • Please remain in your vehicle, for your own safety.
  • Please do not pick up tortoises.

Cycling and Mountain Biking Trails

Cycling route information

  • All routes start from the Langebaan Gate.

***All cyclist are expected to pay normal conservation fees at the gate or buy a Wild Card.***

Cycling routes:

  • Langebaan gate - Geelbek & return 30km on tarred road.
  • Langebaan gate - Kraalbaai & return 70km on tarred road.

Mountain biking routes:

  • The 13km Green Trail (follow Green signs) starts at the Langebaan gate and traverses up to the Seeberg Bird Hide before heading back to the gate.
  • The 17km Red Trail (follow Red signs) uses a similar route to the Green route, but heads up instead to the Seeberg Lookout and thereafter to Mooimaak before heading back to the Langebaan gate.

Code of Conduct for Cycling and Mountain Biking:

  • Respect the National Park and do not damage anything.
  • Beware of and do not scare the animals.
  • Leave no trace except tyre spoors on the route.
  • Ride on marked trails only and heed no-entry signs.
  • Be alert to other riders and cars.
  • Normal road rules apply on the tar.
  • No helmet - no ride.
  • Except for the deviations described above, no bike may use any other trail or dirt road in the Park.

Download the West Coast National Park cycling routes map.

Bird Watching

West Coast National Park is home is over 250 bird species, over a quarter of South Africa's total. Some of these, such as the Curlow Sandpiper, Sanderling and Knot, journey 15 000km from Russia every year to their breeding grounds inside this beautiful National Park on the West Coast of South Africa.

The four bird hides inside the Park give you the opportunity of viewing some of the many bird species found in this area, such as Flamingo, Ostrich and Black Harriers. Bird hides can be found at Geelbek (two), the Abrahamskraal Waterhole and below the Seeberg Lookout Point.

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View more information on Birding in the park.

Picnic and Braai Sites

Enjoy a relaxing day at the beach with family and friends. Kraalbaai's beach provides the perfect peaceful setting for having a picnic or braai with the whole family.

If you fancy the beach as against the banks of the lagoon, take a drive further north to the Tsaarsbank section of the park and picnic or braai while looking out for whales swimming along the coastline (during August and September).

Please do note that alcohol is not permitted at public areas such as the picnic and braai sites, beaches and the banks and shores of the Langebaan Lagoon.

High Season!

During the peak summer and holiday months of December and January, West Coast National Park is a very popular spot amongst both local and international tourists - so be sure to come early to avoid queues and to find a braai-spot, as these are first-come, first-serve and cannot be reserved.

Whale Watching

During the months of August and September, visitors to the park are treated to magnificent displays by Southern Right whales passing our shores - these beautiful creatures can be viewed as they swim along the coastline in the Tsaarsbank section of the park.

Flower Season

During August and September, West Coast National Park bursts into a vast array of colour as Spring brings with it a landscape of flowering fynbos and veld.

Particularly prominent in the Postberg section of the park (which is only open to the public during Flower Season), the beautifully bright colour-scapes are unmatched along the West Coast of South Africa.

Take a drive or hike through the Postberg section during flower season and you are guaranteed to capture picturesque scenes of Game in amongst the colourful flowers.

Flower Season Popularity:

Flower Season at West Coast National Park has become increasingly popular in the last few years, and visitors are encouraged to come early to avoid long queues at park gates, which on sunshine days, can be very long.

Tips to make the most of Flower Season:

  • Download the Gate Registration Form and fill it out before you come to the park. This will speed up time at the gate and shorten the waiting period for everybody.
  • Weekends are particularly busy, so if you can, come through on a week-day.
  • Plan to spend the whole day (or even overnight at one of the accommodation facilities in the park), as experiencing the Flower Season is best done at a slow, relaxed pace.
  • Pack a picnic basket, or enjoy breakfast or lunch at Geelbek Restaurant in the park, which always brings Flower Season to life with new menu's and specials.
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Facilities

Information Centres are situated at Preekstoel and Geelbek.
The are no ATM facilities available inside the Park.

Geelbek Information Centre:

  • Purchase a Wild Card.
  • View images/posters of fauna and flora that can be found at the Park.
  • View the replica of Eve's Footprint.
  • Book accommodation.
  • Info on birds and bird hides.

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Park Map

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Guide to West Coast National Park

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Tariffs

Daily Conservation Fees for 1 November 2014 to 31 October 2015

Outside Flower Season

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID) R42 per adult, per day
R21 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport) R64 per adult, per day
R32 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee R64 per adult, per day
R32 per child, per day

In Flower Season (August & September)

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID) R60 per adult, per day
R30 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport) R84 per adult, per day
R42 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee R128 per adult, per day
R64 per child, per day

                      

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Essential Information

Climate

Rain occurs mainly from May to August. Summers are dry with early morning mists with southeasterly or southwesterly winds. A temperate coastal climate prevails.

Day Visitors

Day visitors are welcome, and form the bulk of all visitors to the park. They can obtain food and refreshments at Geelbek and when Postberg is open during Flower Season (August - September) there is a kiosk.

Note to Day Visitors

Download our Gate Registration & Indemnity document and complete before your visit in order to save time when entering the park.

Fuel Stations: Petrol/ Diesel

Vehicle fuel is not available in the park .  The nearest fuel station is in the Langebaan Village (approx. 5km from the park).
South African legislation stipulates that fuel stations will accept legitimatepetrol/fuel/garage/credit/debit cards or cash as a form of payment for any fuel purchase.

Gate Times / Office Hours

September to March:

07:00 - 19:00
Last vehicle entry at 18:30

April to August:

07:00 - 18:00
Last vehicle entry at 17:30

Postberg opens during August & September:

(Flower season) 09:00 - 17:00
Last entry to Postberg at 16:30

Check-In times

Accommodation check-in & check-out times

Check-in at 14:00

Check-out at 10:00

 

*** No late arrivals will be allowed. ***

Emergency Numbers

For emergencies within the park, contact Reception during office hours (08:00-16:00 Monday to Friday) on +27 (0) 22 707 9902/ 022 772 2145 or the Manager on duty at any time (including after hours) on 072 873 6453.

Useful Emergency Contacts:

  • The nearest hospital is at Vredenberg, 30km from the park.
  • Provincial Hospital Tel (after hours): +27 (0) 22 709 7200
  • Life west Coast Private Hospital: +27 (0) 719 1030
  • Doctor Marie Human (office hours): + 27 (0) 22 772 2758
  • Doctor Joos Bester(office office) : +27 (0) 22 772 1606
  • The nearest police station is at Langebaan: +27 22 707 5140
  • Ambulance contact details: 10177
  • Provincial Ambulance call centre: 086122 5599

Tips & Hints

  • Remember to bring along bathing suit, angling equipment, hat, sun block, walking shoes, camera, binoculars, bird and mammal reference books.
  • Beware of strong and changeable currents on both sides of Schaapen Island.
  • Water sport enthusiasts should acquaint themselves with local conditions and boating and angling regulations.
  • Saldanha Bay (including the Langebaan Lagoon) is a crayfish (rock lobster) and abalone (perlemoen) reserve. Removal of these organisms from this area is a punishable offence.
  • Due to the recreational zoning of the park some water sports are restricted to certain areas. Please adhere to regulations.
  • Pets are not allowed in a national park.
  • As outdoor lighting in camps is limited, a torch/headlamp is required when walking outside at night.
  • Motorcycles are allowed in the park, except in the Postberg section during the flower season.
  • Medical, pharmaceutical, vehicle repair post office and police services in Langebaan Village.
  • Nearest hospital: Vredenburg 30km)
  • Fuel available in Langebaan Village (outside of park) or Ysterfontein.
  • No wood is available inside the park
  • No alcohol is permitted in any of the public areas such as picnic and braai sites as well as on beaches and around the lagoon.

Lost and Found

For lost items, please contact Reception on +27 (0)22 707 9902/3 or email us.

Contact Information

For enquiries email West Coast National Park or phone us on the following numbers:

  • Tel: +27 22 772-2144/5
  • Fax: +27 22 772-2607

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Birding in West Coast National Park

The park surrounds the Langebaan Lagoon, which is a world Ramsar site (site’s deemed to be of global significance to wetland bird species).

Many of the wader species are Palearctic migrants, so summer is the best time to visit the lagoon, particularly in September as species return fatigued from their transcontinental travel, and March when they congregate in large numbers to feed heavily prior to undertaking the reverse journey. In such times, the birds are often changing into or out of their Northern Hemisphere breeding plumage.

The best time to observe the lagoon waders is to visit the Geelbek hide from low tide as the tide is coming in. As the water level rises the waders are forced closer to the hide until eventually they must fly off until the tide has receded once more. The smaller species depart first, with the more long-legged godwits, whimbrels and curlews the last to leave. Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Ruff, Marsh, Terek and Curlew Sandpiper, Turnstone, Ringed and Grey Plover, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit are present on most occasions, while there is always the possibility of seeing rarer species. Little Egret and South African Shelduck may be seen alongside the waders. Flamingoes and White Pelican frequent deeper water, and there is chance of seeing Osprey. Another isolated hide west of the Geelbek educational centre overlooks a salt pan that is an excellent place to see Chestnut-banded Plover.

The reserve’s fynbos surrounding the lagoon hosts Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Spurfowl and Grey-winged Francolin, Southern Grey and Cape Penduline Tit, Ant-eating Chat, White-throated and Yellow Canary, Karoo Lark, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Bokmakierie and Cape Bunting are all easily seen. African Marsh and Black Harrier can often be seen quartering the ground.

The coastal islands at the mouth of the lagoon are breeding havens for a number of species such as Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gull, Cape Gannet , and African Penguin. Cormorants and terns are present too.

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Mammals

The largest concentration of mammals in the West Coast National Park can be found  the Postberg section, but this is only open to the public during the annual flower season (August and September). However, mammals are found throughout the rest of the reserve. Eland, red hartebeest, Cape grysbok, caracal and rock hyrax are some of the terrestrial species to search for. Visitors should also keep an eye on the Atlantic Ocean for passing whales and dolphins.

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Photography by Carmen Gagiano.

Order Carnivora - Carnivores

Family Canidae - true dogs

Bat Eared For (Otocyon megalatos)

Traits: A sizeable grizzled gray fox. Huge, cupped ears with black backs and a dark brown or black face mask. Lower limbs and upper tail are black. Forefeet equipped with 20-cm claws for efficient digging.
Ecology: Prefer arid regions. Eighty percent of food is insects with a prefer-ence for termites and succulent subterra-nean beetle larvae. Locate prey by lowering their heads, keeping ears close to the ground and listening above ground and underground. Also eat small rodents, reptiles and fruit.
Social structure: Monogamous (remain with one partner for life). Pairs forage and raise pups (2 to 5) together. Pairs live in burrows, which they dig themselves or adapt springhare or aardvark holes.

Cape Fox (Vulpes chama)

Traits: The only true fox and the smallest canid found in South Africa. It is silver-grey in colour with large pointed ears and a dark colouring around the mouth. Adults measure 350 mm at the shoulder and have a weight of 2.5 to3 kg. They are remarkably agile, espe-cially since the bushy tail serves as a counter-balance when dodging and weaving.
Ecology: The Cape fox is endemic to the Cape region and surrounding areas. These animals are active hunters and prey on insects, mice and other small animals. They occasionally feed on wild fruit. Excess food is cached in holes and covered with ground. Most of their activity is at night.
Social structure: The Cape fox appears to be monogamous. They are solitary animals (except females with cubs) and live in dens.

Family Mustelidae - badgers, otters, polecat and weasel

Honeybadger or Ratel (Mellivora capensis)

Traits: Broadly and powerfully built carnivore with stout legs and broad feet, foreclaws like curved knifes with sharp edges, conspicuous white or grey upper parts and black lower parts. It has an almost impenetrable, thick, loose skin, which enables the animal to turn in its skin to attack an enemy that got hold of it.
Ecology: It tolerates a wide range of conditions. It would eat almost any arthropods and small vertebrates, including rodents, reptiles, birds and bees' honey and larvae.
Social structure: They are usually solitary, but occasionally pairs or fam-ily groups can be seen.

Family Viverridae - genets, civet and mongooses

Small Grey Mongoose (Galerella pulverulenta)

Traits: A small grey mongoose.
Ecology: They have a diet of in-vertebrates, reptiles, mice and small birds. Hunting by sound, sight and scent, they poke into vegetation and scratch in debris.
Social structure: Diurnal with peaks of activity during the mornings and afternoons. Solitary animals except during the mating season, when male-female pairs can be seen.

Family Felidae - true cats

Caracal (Rooikat) (Felis caracal)

Traits: Long legs with hindquarters higher and more developed than forequarters. Strongly built with big feet, a short face and powerful jaws. A distinctive feature is their high upstanding ears with tassels of long hair on the top. Lips, the back of the ears and the tufts are black and there are dark facial markings on the cheeks and over the eyes, bordered with white fur.
Ecology: Most caracals live in arid bush country. They take a wide range of food from insects to small antelope but feed mostly on rodents. They catch prey by stalking, chasing and pouncing.
Social structure: They are nocturnal, solitary and secretive. Litters of up to four kittens are born.

African wildcat ( Vaalboskat) (Felis silvestris lybica)

Traits: Legs and tail are striped, sometimes pale stripes on body, black garters on legs and rufous ears. Longer legs than the domes-tic cat with exceptionally long front legs, which result in a more upright seated posture.
Ecology: The African wildcat occurs in virtually all places where rats and mice are plentiful. It feeds mainly on rodents but also on small birds, lizards, snakes, frogs and large insects.
Social structure: Although they are noctur-nal, there is a good chance of spotting them during early mornings and afternoons. They are solitary animals (except a female with her kittens).

Order Artiodactyla - Even-toed ungulates

Family Bovidae - buffalo and antelopes

Cape Grysbok / Kaapse Grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis)

Traits: Shoulder height is 54 cm, mass between 10 and 12 kg. Although reddish brown, the white hairs on the back and upper parts give the grysbok a grizzled effect. The coat appears quite rough. Ears are large, buff white inside and greyish on the back. Only the males have horns rising vertically from the head.
Ecology: Found along the eastern coastal belt of South Africa as well as the south-eastern Cape, westwards to the Cape Peninsula. They graze and browse and go without water for long periods.
Social structure: They begin their nocturnal activities at dusk. Most of the time they live alone, the females in overlapping home ranges and the males in territories. Mating occurs on the move and a single offspring is born usually in September or October. Both sexes urinate and defecate in middens. If alarmed they dash away, then suddenly drop and freeze.

Grey Rhebok / Vaalribbok (Pelea capreolus)

Traits: Shoulder height 70-76 cm, mass between 18 and 23 kg. They have good eyesight, hearing and sense of smell. When they run they show a distinctive white tail.
Ecology: Occur throughout the Cape, Lesotho, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland and southern Mpumalanga. They are brows-ers, able to survive without drinking.
Social structure: They live in groups of one adult male with up to a dozen females and their offspring. Each group has a home range and the male defends it against other males. Territorial males are aggressive and their straight horns are deadly weapons. Occupied areas are marked with secretions from the pedal glands. Their alarm signal is a snort.

Common Duiker / Duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia)

Traits: Shoulder height 60 cm, mass between 12 and 16 kg. A uniform brown to reddish-brown with pale to white underparts. Ears are long and broad. Only males have horns, which are about 11 cm long. Tail fairly short, black above and white below. They are mainly browsers but also take a large range of other vegetable food including fruits, bark, flowers, gum, and roots but rarely grass. They rarely drink.
Ecology: This is a common species found throughout southern Africa.
Social structure: They are active in the early morning and from late afternoon until very late in the evening. The rest of the time they lie in the shade of dense vegetation. The com-mon duiker is solitary except when mating or a female with a lamb. They give birth to a single offspring at any time of the year. The female will drop her lamb in heavy cover and leave it there, returning two or three times a day to clean and suckle it. If the baby is disturbed it gives an alarm bleat, which brings its mother rushing to protect it.

Steenbok (Raphicerus campestris)

Traits: Shoulder height 50 to 56 cm, mass between 12 and14 kg. A small, graceful antelope with long slender legs and a slim body. The upper parts of the body vary in colour from rufous brown to reddish while the underparts are pure white. The tail is also white underneath. Only males have horns, which rise vertically with a slight forward curve near the tips. The ears are outstandingly large, with the same colour as the body on the outside and light insides with black fringes at the centre. They are mainly browsers and prefer forbs to woody plants. They can live without water by eating melons and digging up juicy roots.
Ecology: Found throughout southern Africa in both arid and temperate regions. They are both grazers and browsers.
Social structure: They are solitary and territorial except for mating pairs and females with young. Mainly diurnal, they are most active in the cool of the early morning and in the late afternoon and evening. Near their territorial boundaries they defecate and urinate in middens, but elsewhere they have the unusual habit of digging a hole with their fore-feet and burying their excrement. The lambs are born in dense vegeta-tion, where they stay hidden while the mother feeds.

Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis)

Traits: Shoulder height 78 to 84 cm, mass between 36 and 50 kg. Both sexes have horns, which are lyre-shaped and heavily ridged; the males' horns are heavier and longer than the females'. They are both browsers and grazers. Independent of water, but will drink regularly if water is available. When startled the members of a herd dash in all direc-tions with leaps that can take them 2 metres of the ground and cover 6 metres. They can sprint away at 88 km/h.
Ecology: Springbok live in habitats ranging from dry areas of the Kala-hari to the barren regions of Namibia.
Social structure: Springbok form herds of a few dozen animals but congregate in much larger groups in areas of good feeding. When fe-males drop their lambs the lambs stay hidden in long grass under bushes. Within a week they can sprint away, but it takes them a month to stay with the herd.

Bontebok (Damaliscus dorcas dorcas)

Traits: Shoulder height between 83 and 99 cm, mass between 59 and 95 kg. Both sexes have horns, but the females' are more slender than those of the males. Striking in appearance, showing a distinctive blaze on the face. Most active early in the morning and late in the after-noon. They are grazers, preferring short grass, and drink at least once a day.
Ecology: Bontebok are confined to the south-western Cape.
Social structure: Adult males establish stable territories, through which female herds move. The territorial male often stands on a patch of higher ground with a proud stature.

Red Hartebeest / Rooihartbees (Alcelaphus buselaphus)

Traits: Medium-sized antelope. Shoulder height between 1.20 and 1.37m, mass be-tween 150 and 159 kg. Horns in both sexes, which are ringed and complexly recurved. Coat short, glossy, plain tan to chestnut. As grazers and browsers they feed selectively, preferring freshly sprouted grass. Will drink regularly, although capable of going for long periods without water while deriving moisture from shrubs, succulents and melons.
Ecology: Prefer plains and transition zones between savanna and arid biomes.
Social structure: Live in herds up to about 30.

Eland (Taurotragus oryx)

Traits: Largest antelope. Shoulder height 1,5 to 1,75 m, mass up to 900 kg. Both sexes have horns, which have one to two tight spirals. The males' horns are thicker but shorter than the females'. Small ears. Cow-like tail with black tuft. Tawny colour - darkening with age to reddish brown. Independent of water; they derive their moisture intake from plants. Mainly browsers but will also graze. Eat leaves, wild fruits, bulbs and the bark of certain trees.
Ecology: They are nomadic, inhabiting savannas and open plains, light woodland and grassland.
Sociastruture: Gregarious and non-territorial, they form small herds, whose copostion changes seasonally. During the winter bulls and cows herd sepa-rately but in the spring they form breading herds. Cooperative defence of young against predators.

Order Perissodactyla - Odd-toed ungulates

Family: Equidae

Mountain Zebra / Kaapse Bergsebra (Equus zebra zebra)

Traits: Shoulder height 1.2 to 1.4 m, mass between 227 and 272 kg. It has a short mane and a well-developed dewlap below the throat. It is capable of going without water for up to three days. When in search of water, it will dig down up to three meters. Its call is a low, plaintive neigh. As a grazer, it feeds on tufted grass. Active during the day.
Ecology: Lives in arid stony regions. Its black stripes are broader than those of Hartman's moun-tain zebra.
Social structure: Herds up to 6 mares and their foals are controlled by a dominant stallion. These herds are formed by stallions herding unattached females. Stallions are unable to breed until they have gained control over a herd. There is a dominance hierarchy among a herds' females, which is established through fighting. A mare with a foal is very possessive of the foal and very aggressive towards outsiders. A foal can run beside its mother within hours of its birth.

References:

  • Apps, Peter. Wild Ways: Field Guide to the Behaviour of South African Mammals. 2000. Struik Publishers, Cornelis Struik House, 80 McKenzie Street, Cape Town 8001.
  • Carnaby, Trevor. Beat About the Bush, Mammals. 2006. Jacana Media, PO Box 2004, Houghton 2041, Johannesburg.
  • Estes, Richard. The Behaviour Guide to African Mammals. 1997. Russel Friedman Books CC, PO Box 73, Halfway House 1685.
  • Walker, Clive. Signs of the Wild. 1996. Struik Publishers, Cornelis Struik House, 80 McKenzie Street, Cape Town 8001.

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Vegetation

Though the thousands of migrating birds is one the main reasons for the conservation of the West Coast National Park, the showy plants of the area, usually growing on granite or limestone rocks, especially during spring time, are what attracts most of its visitors to this fascinating park.

WCNP contains mostly strandveld vegetation (24,025 ha), which was previously classified as West Coast Strandveld and Langebaan Fynbos /Thicket Mosaic. In recent years the park has expanded incorporating substantial areas (6,382 ha) of an additional vegetation type /broad habitat unit i.e. Hopefield Sand Plain Fynbos, previously called Coastal Fynbos. Both these habitat units were given a 50 % irreplaceability rating, however, sand plain fynbos is regarded to be of higher conservation value than strandveld, due to very little being formally conserved and it being more threatened by alien plant invasion.

The strandveld vegetation of WCNP occurs on the Langebaan peninsula and east of the Langebaan lagoon on deep calcareous sands of the Langebaan formation. Sand plain fynbos occurs inland of the strandveld on deep acidic light-grey to pale-red sands of the Springfontyn formation. Extensive marshes, dominated by Sarcocornia, Salicornia, Spartina, Limonium, Phragmites, Typha, Juncus, and Scirpus species, occur on the fringes of the Langebaan lagoon.

The vegetation of the park, excluding the newly acquired properties such as Van Niekerks Hoop, Kalkklipfontein, Langefontein and Elandsfontein, may be divided into 36 associations (or communities), having some 482 plant species (including salt marsh species), of which 21 are Red Data Book species. A further 14 Red Data species have been recorded, or are likely to occur on the newly acquired sections of land.

Flowers that can be seen during the year (not just flower season):

Candelabra flower (Brunsvigia orientalis)

Candelabra

Flowers: February to April (When it flowers, the leaves die and are not visible)
Where to find: Sandy, mainly coastal flats.

Rooinaeltjie (Lachenalia bulbifera)

Flowers: April to September
Where to find: Sandy slopes and flat along coast.

Chinkerinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides)

Chinkerinchee

Flowers: October to December
Where to find: Sandy flats, lower slopes, often in vleis.

Bruinsalie / strandsalie (Salvia Africana-lutea)

Strandsalie

Flowers: June to December
Where to find: Most likely to see while driving on road (road shoulders).

Rooimalva (Pelargonium fulgidum)

Rooimalva

Flowers: June to November
Where to find: Rocky slopes (often coastal granite) - Clusters of flowers.

Leonotis leonurus

Flowers: November to July
Where to find: Roadsides in park.

Flower Season

Flower season in the West Coast National Park is at its peak from August to September annually. During these two months visitors to the park will see a wide variety of flowers on display, from daisies, to bulbs etc. Large areas of flowers can be seen in the Seeberg\Mooimaak and Postberg areas.

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Photography by Carmen Gagiano.

During a visit to the park in flower season, visitors can expect to see the following species on display:

Suurvy (Carpobrotus edulis)

Flowers: August to October
Where to find: Coastal and inland slopes all over park.

Elandsvy (Carpobrotus acinaciformis)

Elandsvy

Flowers: August to December
Where to find: Coastal sands all over park.

Gousblom (Arctotis hirsuta)

Gousblom

Flowers: August to October
Where to find: Easily seen in the Postberg area on old lands and Seeberg\Mooimaak area - on sandy slopes and flats.

Bokbaai vygie (Dorotheanthus bellidiformis)

Bokbaai Vygie

Flowers: August to September
Where to find: Sandy flats in the Postberg area.

White rain daisy (Dimorphotheca pluvialis)

White Rain Daisy

Flowers: August to October
Where to find: On sandy flats, widespread in the Postberg area on old lands and Seeberg\Mooimaak area.

Sporrie (Heliophila coronopifolia)

Sporrie

Flowers: August to October (only blue flower in the WCNP)
Where to find: Most frequently seen in Uitkyk area of Postberg.

Magriet (Ursinia anthemoides)

Magriet

Flowers: August to October
Where to find: Seen in Postberg (old lands) on sandy gravel slopes and flats.

Soetuintjie (Moraea fugax)

Soet Uintjie

Flowers: August to November
Where to find: Deep sand, rocky sandstone, and granitic soils in the Postberg area as well as rocky areas in Uitkyk area.

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People with disabilities

Wheelchair Access

Accommodation:

Duinepos Chalets:

Chalet

Two chalets are disabled-friendly. Each chalet offers 2 bedrooms, an open plan kitchen, lounge, fire place, shower, toilet and an outdoor braai area. Other facilities include: swimming pool, communal braai and boma area.

For bookings and more information, contact:
Duinepos Chalets
Tel: +27 (0) 22 707 9900
Visit www.duinepos.co.za

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Accessible Activities & Facilities

The major attractions of the reserve are the marine and lagoon fauna and flora, fossil deposits, flower displays, wading birds and the use of houseboats. There are a variety of visitor destinations within WCNP all with varying access potential. Some of the more noteworthy ones include:

  • Geelbek Hide
    Accessed via a long wooden boardwalk, a person in a wheelchair can easily enter the hide (although with weathering the boardwalk is a bit creaky in parts). Depending on the tides, a person can have marvellous viewing of aquatic wading birds.
  • Postberg Flower Reserve
    Flower season is August and September, but there is also the presence of some large herbivores. Most of the viewing of the flowers is done from the confines of a motor vehicle. There are a couple of picnic sites and a viewing site overlooking the lagoon. The pathway to this latter facility becomes too narrow for passage in a wheelchair. There are toilet facilities that are spacious and can be easily accessed. However no assisting rails are present.
  • Lagoon jetties and beaches
    There are several jetties leading people onto the lagoon. These have steps and a wheelchair user will require assistance. Mobile toilets that service these jetties or the pathways that lead down to lagoon beach pockets are not appropriate for people in wheelchairs.

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People and Conservation

The goal of People & Conservation (P&C) is to build constituencies among people in support of the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage efforts of SANParks. P&C ensures that a broad base of South Africans participate and get involved in biodiversity initiatives and further that all its operations have a synergistic existence with neighbouring or surrounding communities for their socio-economic benefit. We do this through:

  1. Community Relations - to establish an effective community relations environment with stakeholders in the proximity of the parks.
  2. Cultural Resource Management & Indigenous Knowledge - to manage our protected areas, in a manner that will uphold the rights of all people, as well as protecting and restoring places of cultural and spiritual significance.
  3. Environmental Education awareness, Interpretation & Training - to implement comprehensive environmental interpretation, awareness and education programmes particularly targeting children and previously excluded sectors.
  4. Youth Outreach - to coordinate and integrate portfolios of youth conservation awareness projects and tasks.

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Educational Programmes

Environmental education is important in educating young people about our ecosystems, sustaining both plant and animal life. Through environmental education we are able to teach learners about the environment and link this to their school curriculum.

As a means of achieving this, a variety of programmes are offered at the West Coast National Park by the People and Conservation Department. Educational activities are as follows:

Orientation

As a means of welcoming guests to the park a welcome presentation is done by the People and Conservation Department. The aim of the presentation is to introduce SANParks but more specifically the West Coast National Park to the visitors.

Dune Hike

This excursion entails a dune walk of 700m on the Dawid Bester Hiking Trail. On route the different medicinal plants and its uses are explained as well as the dune ecology on arrival at the dunes.

Birds, lagoon and saltmarsh ecology

This entails an excursion to either 1 of the 4 bird hides in the park to spot and identify the birds in the park. This talk can be supplemented with a talk regarding the Langebaan Lagoon system as well as the salt marsh ecology.

Game Drive

A game drive into Postberg Nature Reserve that includes game identification and viewing and discussion on the importance if eco- system balance as well as animal adaptations and eating habits etc. Environmental issues that are discussed include the over population of game in Postberg Nature Reserve and how we manage game.

Rocky and sandy shore ecology

This is a hands on activity where the various forms of life and rocks are explored. An explanation on what causes the tides is also done coupled with interesting facts about red tides as well as the search and identification of sea organisms under rocks, seaweed and kelp. This activity is usually done at Tsaarsbank and on the 16 Mile Beach.

Adopt-a-beach project

This involves a beach clean-up, analysing of garbage and a discussion on marine pollution.

Kayaking

Kayaking on the Langebaan lagoon is offered but is subject to weather conditions and the tides.

Educational Hike

The Geelbek Environmental education office offer 2 hikes which is the Strandveld Hiking trail which is14 km hike as well as a circular Dune hike which is also 14km. (Link must be inserted here).

Environmental Calendar Days

Except the fixed list of programmes offered, the People and Conservation Department also celebrates most of the special days listed on the Environmental Calendar e.g. Arbor Week, Heritage Day, etc.

Youth Facilities

For more information and to book educational activities and facilities, contact the People & Conservation Department on 022 707 9902/3.

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