Situated just outside Langebaan on the Cape’s west coast is the picturesque and tranquil West Coast National Park. A weekend break further north in the quaint fishing village of Paternoster gave us a perfect excuse to detour through the park on our route back to Cape Town.
There are two gates into the park – one on the R27, the West Coast Gate and the other accessed from Langebaan itself, the Langebaan Gate. A quick diversion through the town and we were on the downhill approach to the gate. The view from Park Street across the lagoon is spectacular and the stormy skies just added to the drama of the landscape.
Our first stop was at the Seeberg bird hide on the eastern shore, one of four in the park. Unfortunately the weekend’s rain meant that it was too damp inside the hide for us to hang around for long. The lagoon is a hotspot for birdlife, attracting thousands of flamingoes and waders each year. If you are a keen birder then a full-day in the park may be better suited so that you can do justice to each of the hides.
Directly behind the bird hide is the Seeberg viewpoint, you can either hike up or take the gravel road to the top and the view is definitely worth it! A quick scan of the surrounding landscape through the binos and we spotted red hartebeest, steenbok and a dassie catching a few rays between clouds.
The West Coast National Park may be a birder’s idea of heaven but there is plenty of other wildlife here too. Our drive towards the Geelbek Visitor Centre and Restaurant was pretty busy with sightings. A common duiker that was quite relaxed by the side of the road, even posing for a couple of photographs! Then a couple of eland lunching on their choice of foliage and a mama ostrich and her four chicks!
Onward to the Geelbek Restaurant, which is about 13km from the Langebaan Gate and a good stop-off for some homely Cape Malay inspired cuisine. There is a play area for kids and it is perfectly situated on the edge of the lagoon for an enjoyable vista. There are also plenty of great spots to picnic if you have your own supplies. Somehow two hours had gone past since we had entered the park and our time had run out. With so much still left to explore we knew we would definitely be back! So, next time you find yourself driving up or down the west coast, try and find an hour or two to meander through the park. A decision you won’t regret for the array of birds, wildlife and Kodak moments are plentiful!