It’s flower season! It’s at this time of year – August and September every year – that the west coast of South Africa puts on the biggest psychedelic visual display on earth. My ma and I went up to the West Coast National Park – just an hour’s drive from Cape Town – to take some photos and research an article for Getaway Magazine.
I was in the West Coast NP last year, when I started Year in the Wild, but it was before flower season. So I missed the flowers. But WOW!, this year they are especially brilliant. Be sure to get up there before the end of September to see them for yourselves. It’s one of the wonders of the world, and something that must be seen at least once!
But the West Coast NP is not only about the flowers – in fact, it’s generally one of the most beautiful parks in the country, mainly because of the azure waters of the Langebaan Lagoon. This salt water lagoon is several kilometres long and wide, and is protected from the pounding Atlantic Ocean and northwesterly swells by a narrow peninsula. It’s at the end of this peninsula, at Postberg, that the best flower displays can be seen.
The lagoon is home to 35% of SA’s salt marsh habitat, and is the summer home of thousands of water birds that fly from Siberia in Russia to fatten up, before heading back north. The lagoon is one of the few places in the southern hemisphere where they can find food and enjoy the southern summer.
Back to the flowers: to be seen among the flowers are large herds of eland (Africa’s largest antelope) as well as the endangered bontebok and Cape mountain zebra, as well as springbok and hartebeest. It’s radical to see these herbivores grazing among the vast tapestries of orange, white, yellow and purple, and so different from the bushveld and savannah of Kruger and other typical parks.
We stayed at the pretty Duinepos chalets, which is well situated in the middle of the park, and gives visitors good access to all the different areas. The chalets are comfortable and well-equipped, if a bit cold during winter (after all, for most of the year the temperatures are generally hot, so the chalets are designed to be cool.) But there are plenty of blankets to keep you warm at night.
Other cool things to do is to go for lunch and tea at the beautifully-restored homestead of Geelbek at the southern-end of the lagoon, where there are also two very good bird hides. (The lagoon is a mecca for birders – not only waders, but also raptors, including the Black Harrier, the largest single population in Africa is found here).
There are a variety of day walks, and mountain bike trails. And the lagoon is world famous in summer for yachting, kayaking, windsurfing or kitesurfing – the reliable south-easterly wind and relatively calm waters makes it a destination for wind-chasers from around the world.
For more, go to vh275.dev-ls.co.uk and www.facebook.com/yearinthewild. Thanks again to my sponsors for making it all possible. CapeNature, South African National Parks, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Eastern Cape Parks, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Ford, Total, Evosat, Conqueror Trailers, Vodacom, Digicape, Lacie, Frontrunner, Safari Centre Cape Town, K-Way, EeziAwn, National Luna, Nokia , Garmin, Goodyear, Global Fleet Sales, Hetzner, Clearstream Consulting, Escape Gear and Trailcam Adventures.