West Coast National Park


Between August and September almost every flower on the Cape’s west coast blooms! In the spring thousands of Capetonians visit Darling, Langebaan, and other west coast towns to view this spectacular color display. The Western Cape is about a 90 minute drive from Cape Town. Unlike a drive to the east coast on the Indian Ocean side the terrain is mostly flat and there are no mountains. To get there you follow the R27 highway northwest toward Bloubergstrand (blue mountain beach) and pass Koeberg Nuclear Power Station.

Along the route the town of Melkbosstrand (milkwood beach) is known as one of the best places for taking photos of the “tablecloth” over Table Mountain. The tablecloth only appears when wind and humidity conditions create a white cloud that perfectly covers the flat top of Table Mountain. One variation is when some clouds drap over the top edge of the mountain and look like a cascading waterfall. Once you see this phenomenon, you never forget it!

Established in 1985, the park covers 32,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of land set aside to conserve the Langebaan lagoon. Habitat includes marshes, wetlands, and granitic islands with seabirds, fynbos, and sand dunes. There are hundreds of birds in the park including a large ostrich population, albatross, pelicans, herons, storks, falcons, sandpipers, kingfishers, doves, larks, swallows, geese, eagles, and many other species.

In addition to the birds, wildlife, beaches, and other attractions phosphate mining in the 1950s unearthed some interesting fossils. Scientists determined that the area has the “greatest diversity of 5-million-year-old fossils in the world”. The following fossils are available to view at the West Coast Fossil Park:

• The first bear found in Africa south of the Sahara
• Extinct seals and penguins
An amazing long-horned, short-necked giraffe

Postberg Nature Reserve is part of West Coast National Park. It’s closed most of the year and opens only in the spring (August and September) when the grounds become “a spectacular diversity of brightly colored flowers”! Although there were many flowers in bloom today another visit in September is on the agenda. I actually noticed more flowers along the road on the drive back to Cape Town.

I fell in love with Paternoster’s gorgeous long beaches. It’s the oldest historic fishing village on the west coast. The village successfully preserves its heritage and the atmosphere of a past era.

I stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Vissermans Kimbuis which is in an old general-dealer store that dates back to the early 1900s. Forgot to ask what the name means in Afrikaans… While waiting for lunch I sat outside under an old tree and fed the birds – it was a perfect day!

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