Things to do at Langebaan

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There are so many exiting things to do, and places in and around Langebaan to photograph. Just to mention a few; there is the Postberg Nature Reserve, the Fossil Park, Bokkom Bedryf at Veldrift, Sea Scapes, and the Spring Flowers. Just remember the dates for the congress were chosen because it is in the middle of the flower season and the Canola fields are also spectacular to photograph.

 

Gannet1Bird Island

The world’s most accessible Cape Gannet colony can be found on an island, linked to Lamberts Bay via a breakwater wall. Bird Island also gives shelter to thousands of cormorants and penguins whilst Cape fur seals can still be found on the rocks on the sea side of the island. The three hectare Bird Island Nature Reserve is an important breeding and roosting site for this cacophonous and, on the face of it, unruly bunch of birds that serves as both an environmental educational opportunity, and a tourist attraction of note. Bird Island is one of only six sites where Cape gannets breed in the world. It is also the only breeding site that the public can so easily access, although, on the downside, the breakwater has also given domestic cats access to ripe pickings, particularly the chicks and eggs. One can also reach the island by ferry.

Bird Island has a fantastic modern bird hide that has transformed the island into something of an educational classroom on the life of these birds. One can unobtrusively witness unique mating dances of the gannet, between April and September, and the incredible vocalising of thousands of these birds on their nests.

Visiting Hours:Visiting hours are from 07h00 to 19h00 in summer, and until 17h00 in winter. Entrance may be prohibited if rough seas make it too dangerous to cross the breakwater. Visitors are however warned to be very careful at all times.

 

West Coast National ParkWest Coast National Park Flowers

Contact Details

Tel: +27 (0)22 772 2144

West Coast National Park, Western Cape, South Africa surrounds the Langebaan Lagoon, a Ramsar site (wetland of international importance). The pristine wetlands and landscapes offer exceptional birdlife, spring flowers and white beaches edging azure waters, that stretch into the early morning mist. Thousands of seabirds roost on sheltered islands and brooding salt marshes host vast concentrations of migrant waders from the northern hemisphere.

Just inland from the secluded harbour of Saldanha Bay one finds the azure waters of the Langebaan Lagoon, focal point of the 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.

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.

Areas of Special Interest

• Bird watching in Geelbek, Seeburg and Abrahamskraal bird hide
• Mountain bike & Cycling Route Trail
• Strandveld hiking trails starting from Geelbek Visitors Centre
• Picnic sites in Kraalbaai&Tsaarsbank
• Whale watching – August to November in Tsaarsbak
• Flower & Game viewing from own vehicle – August and September in Postberg
• Kite boarding, Kayaking and other water sports can be done in Kraalbaai

5 Things to Seek

• Flamingo’s
• Waders
• Black Harrier
• Spring flowers
• Eve’s foot print

 

darlingWest Coast Biosphere Trails

Contact Details

Tel: Tel: +27 (0)22 492-2750

The Cape Westcoast Biosphere reserve is a recognised UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, one of only 6 in South Africa and just over 600 world-wide. It extends from Diep River in Milnerton in the south, to the Berg River of Velddrif in the north, Malmesbury / Moreesberg in the east, and the Atlantic Ocean in the west.At the heart of the reserve lie attractions like the West Coast National Park, the town of Darling and the West Coast Fossil Park, fishing villages (like Paternoster), lagoons, rivers, flora and birdlife in amongst the obvious marks of development and a growing population (biosphere reserves are there esssentially to protect plant and animal species whilst also dealing with a growing population and its resource needs).One of the aims of the CWCBR is to improve the socio-economic well-being of communities that fall within the biosphere. In line with this there there is now a network of five trails (supported by the Development Bank of SA and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund) that start, end and pass through eight of these communities – Atlantis, Mamre, Darling, Velddrif, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Langebaan and Yzerfontein.The slackpacker trails are guided and catered for, comfortable and safe. Hikers need carry only a small daypack. All lifts and luggage are organised, with meals prepared locally in West CoastThe Darling Stagger (2.5 days, 10 km cycle and 15 km walk) is a slow-paced combination of hiking and cycling from the coast to !Khwa Ttu San Cultural Centre, through the hills, via wine and olive farms, to Darling.Eve’s Trail (2.5 day 30 km hike) is a wilderness hiking trail from Yzerfontein along 16 Mile Beach, veering into the West Coast National Park and along the restful Langebaan Lagoon.Five Bay Trail (2.5 days 28 km hike) is a gentle coast-hugging trail between the fishing villages of Paternoster and Jacobsbaai.Wheels of Time (4 days 146 km cycle) is a recreational, supported back road cycling trail from mamre to Darling, Elandsfontein Farm, the West Coast National Park and !Khwa Ttu.Berg River Canooze (2.5 days 28 km) is an effortless downstream kayak from Hopefield to Velddrif with farm stays en route.Groups are no larger than 12 people with special rates for groups of 6 or more.

 

Rocherpan Nature Reserverocher pan

Rocherpan enthusiasts who head off along the West Coast to visit this nature reserve near Velddrif will possibly mention to you that the bird life is incredible, but what they will not reveal is that it is also a wonderful setting in which to spot whales.

The Rocherpan Nature Reserve is set a mere 25 kilometres north of Velddrif, near Dwarskersbos. Most of the 914 hectare ROCHERPAN NATURE RESERVE is part of a seasonal vlei, which dries up between March and June. But what gives it an additional beauty, as well as allure, is that the adjoining section of the Atlantic Ocean is also a marine reserve, stretching 500 metres seawards for the length of the Rocherpan nature reserve. The combination of the two gives rise to a collection of 183 species of birds, including 70 water birds.

The Rocherpan Nature Reserve is the place to spot Cape shovellers; in fact it is one of the most important breeding and moulting sites of the species. But you’re also likely to see pelicans, lesser flamingos (in the Red Data book for endangered bird species), as well as the African black oystercatcher, the country’s second rarest coastal bird. And, of course, the Southern Right whale puts in an appearance in the marine reserve from June to September, or sometimes even later. And there are ostriches on the surrounding vlei

To add further impetus to a visit, spring ushers in a mass of wild flowers that turn the reserve into a burst of colour, and one can spot numerous small mammals like the water mongoose and the odd duiker. Two bird hides and a number of picnic sites make heading here for the better part of a day a thoroughly good idea.

 

fossils01West Coast Fossil Park, Langebaan

Contrary to the way the West Coast looks today, millions of years ago the area was dominated by riverine forests and wooded savanna, and animals that today are long extinct wandered the land. We know this because phosphate mining operations at Langebaan during the late 1950s exposed one of the richest fossil sites the world has ever seen, and since then the bones of some 200 different kinds of animals, some of them hitherto unknown to the world of science, have been recovered.

In 1993 mining operations stopped, and a 14 hectare area within the former mine property was declared a national heritage site, run today by the Iziko Museums of Cape Town. The West Coast Fossil Park lies on the R45 close to the Langebaanweg Air force base, roughly 120 kilometres north of Cape Town. Today the heritage site is recognised as containing the deposit of possibly the greatest diversity of five million year old fossils in the world, and over 70 scientific papers have been published about the fossils.

For the visitor, the highlight of the West Coast Fossil Park is the ‘live’ exhibit of an ongoing excavation of early Pliocene fossils (fossils from 5 million years ago). There are daily guided tours that give a background to the fossils and the climatic changes that happened in the region. But the park is not about fossils alone. There are also several mountain bike trails in the park that include rides for the whole family. Four different trails cover varying distances, and there are some tricky sections for those intent on adventure. It is a great way to appreciate both the prehistoric aspects of the park, and the views from the northern end over Saldanha and Vredenburg.

OPENING TIMES:

Monday to Friday from 08h00 to 16h00

Saturday and Sunday from 09h00 to 12h00

CONTACT DETAILS:

Telephone: +27 (0)22 766-1606

 

Elandsfontein Private Reserveelandsfontein

One is not even aware that there is a private game reserve on the far side of the West Coast National Park (to the right, roughly speaking, of the R27, 30 kilometres past the Yzerfontein turnoff, as opposed to the park on the right) from Cape Town. But this is indeed the case. Elandsfontein is a private nature reserve of some 6 000 hectares, only an hour’s drive from the Mother City.

It also lays claim to what it calls the ‘largest inward relocation of game’ in the history of the Western Cape. The reserve is home to buffalo, eland, springbok, kudu, zebra, an abundant bird life – particularly kites, eagle owls and raptors – and tortoises. Its sand dunes reveal a history of not only elephants but also sabre-tooth tigers, who obviously roamed this region in years gone by.

The fossils are what makes this reserve pretty special, and they have a fossil bank on the estate, which houses what is considered the most important middle Pleistocene (200 000 – 800 000 years back) fossil deposit in Southern Africa. But they’re not all contained under glass. Fossils of buffalo, huge hyenas, and short-necked giraffe actually lie around on the ground waiting for you to stumble across them.