Things to do in South Africa’s West Coast National Park
Just as you reach Langebaan and the harbour of Saldanha Bay, you’ll see the sign beckoning you inside the West Coast National Park. There is an activity and adventure within its gates for every kind of visitor. Whether you’re with the family or going solo, popping into the park during any season will be well worth it. Over the last few years, this has become one of my favourite places to visit in South Africa. Here are some things to do that will show you why…
On the opposite from the tranquil lagoon, lies the rough Atlantic with its towering waves which crash on the rocks and provide the most dramatic landscape. On the Tsaarsbank side, you can sit on the rocks or the beach and look out for whales between the months of August and November.
The sheltered lagoon with its azure waters is not just surreal to look at from the sand. You can take a boat out for cruise, go stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or fish in the top end below Saldanha Bay, use sailboats (no power boats) in Zone B or book a few nights on one of the houseboats moored in the bay. You will feel like you’ve landed in a tropical paradise, so I don’t blame you if all you’d like to do is tan on Kraalbaai’s semi-deserted beach. Aside from wind, the weather is hot between the months of December and March and thus makes a great time for visiting the beach.
For those who can’t sit still, there are a number of trails to take inside the park. Cyclists can enjoy circular routes through the reserve as well as mountain biking trails. There are one day and two day hikes for those wishing to take all the fynbos and wildlife in their stride. The Steenbok trail is one day long and only available during the Spring months of August to September.
If you’re not too keen on legging it through the reserve, jump in your car and drive along the gravel roads to see what you can spot. Make sure you take binoculars with, as there is an abundance of wildlife such as eland, bontebok, and ostriches amongst others. Game Viewing is best during the months of August until September. You’ll get even more than what you bargained for, as Spring in the Postberg region yields the blooming of the most brightly coloured flowers. Fields of yellow, orange and purple will open up before you and give you the best opportunities to capture idyllic daisy field photographs.
The Geelbek, Seeburg and Abrahamskraal bird hides are the places to find if you’re in search of birds. Hold thumbs, stay still and hopefully you’ll see some flamingos, waders and Black Harriers.
Stay the night
If one day is not enough for you, rent a house in the tiny, white-washed village of Churchhaven. The houses stand atop a hill overlooking the blue waters beside a 100 year old church. When the sun sets at the end of the today, this fishermen’s town will be the last to catch it.