During August and September parts of the West Coast gets painted in bright yellow, pink, orange and white flowers. This indicates the start of the Flower Season when nature lovers, photographers or anybody appreciating fresh air and beautiful scenry floods the West Coast.
This is also the only time when the Postberg Nature Reserve opens it’s gates to the public. Come and enjoy this unique few weeks during the year, pack a picknick basket and soak up nature!
Vasco Da Gama Monument, St Helena Bay
This statue next to the beach at Stompneusbaai commemorates the Portuguese explorer who discovered St Helena Bay in 1497.
Voorstandt (19th Century Zink Building)
This historic tin building is an old fisherman’s cottage built on the edge of a pristine white sand beach. Today the 19th century construction also houses Paternoster’s favorite spot to eat out. Tourists often venture from the surrounding towns to come and feast on this simple but superb cuisine.
Cape Columbine Nature Reserve
The Cape Columbine Nature Reserve in Paternoster is more commonly know to locals as “Tietiesbaai”, after the shape of the rocks that stick out of the water here. While this reserve is host to an array of fascinating Fynbos and Karoo succulents all year round, it is from August to October that the West Coast wildflowers bloom in their most magnificent splendor. Banks of tiny flower, some to small to see unless you are on your knees, light up the landscape into a thousand hues.
The Cape Columbine Lighthouse in the reserve is also a popular attraction. It was the last manned lighthouse to be built in South Africa.
Phone: 022 752 2718
Fossil Park Vredenburg
The fossil site of Langebaanweg is located in the West Coast Fossil Park, approximately 150 km north of Cape Town (a 11/2 hour drive), and is world-renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved fossil faunal remains that date to the terminal Miocene/early Pliocene (circa 5.2 million years ago).
A national and international team of researchers are currently unraveling the fascinating and unique history of fossils from the West Coast Fossil Park and attempting to recreate the environment and climate of the west coast some 5 million years ago. At this time many animals that are now extinct, such as saber-toothed cats, short-necked giraffes, hunting hyenas and African bears roamed the west coast which then had a more subtropical climate with lush, riverine forests and open grasslands.
The deeply buried fossil deposits were uncovered during phosphate mining in the Langebaanweg area. The mining started in 1943, initially at Baard’s Quarry on Langeberg Farm, close to where the airforce training base is today. Here solid phosphate rock was mined for fertilizer and it is thought that many tons of fossils were crushed up along with the rock before scientists were made aware of their existence.
The phosphates come from the Varswater Formation. In the early 1960’s, the mining moved from Baard’s Quarry to the nearby Varswater ”C” and ‘E’ Quarries. Mining ceased altogether in 1993 when Samancor made a decision to close down their Chemfos operations at Langebaanweg as it was no longer economically viable.
Postberg Nature Reserve 44km from Goblin’s Creek
The Postberg Nature Reserve is situated within the West Coast National Park in Langebaan in the Western Cape. It is closed for most of the year, but is opened to the public during spring (August – September) where one can view the exceptional carpet of spring flowers in the reserve.
As the reserve is only open at a certain time of year, there are often queues to get into the reserve. Going during the week is definitely recommending and even if you don’t, the carpet of flowers will more than reward you for your patience. Whenever you do decide to go, make sure you go early as the Postberg section is limited to a certain amount of visitors per day.
Another positive aspect of the limited opening times is that there is game here that hasn’t quite learned to shy away from humans. Keep an eye out for zebra, wildebeest, antelope, ostrich, mongoose, rock hyrax, snakes, birds, and tortoises. The picnic and braai spots along the coast are fantastic for whale watching.
The West Coast National Park lies along the aquamarine waters of the Langebaan Lagoon, just inland from the secluded harbour of Saldanha Bay, roughly 90 minutes from Cape Town. A popular attraction for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, the West Coast National Park has a number of hiking, cycling, and mountain biking trails. For those who prefer to enjoy the slower side of life, the endless stretch of quiet beaches invite a languid stroll in the morning mist.
The West Coast National Park is home to thousands of seabirds who roost on the sheltered islands. The brooding salt marshes attract large populations of migrant waders such as the Curlow Sandpiper, Sanderling, and Knot, which journey 15 000km from Russia to these breeding grounds every year. A variety of antelope can be spotted in the idyllic landscape of the Postberg section of the park; while in the spring time, the standveld is adorned by a blaze of colourful wildflowers. Please note that, as this is a conservation area, no pets are allowed and flowers may NOT be picked.
• Eve’s Footprint and Trail. Discovered in 1995 at Kraalbaai, these human footfalls in rock (formerly sea sand) are said to have belonged to a young woman who lived 117 000 years ago. The original prints are housed at the Iziko Museums’ South African National Museum in Cape Town, but the replica can be viewed at the Geelbek Information Centre inside West Coast National Park. Eve’s Trail is a 2.5 day, 30km, fully portered and catered hike tracing the footsteps of Eve.
• Walks and hikes. Trails include the Geelbek Walks (7km and 9km), Bakoor Trail (4,6km), Strandveld 2-day hike (28km), Postberg 2-day hiking trail (27,3km) only accessible during August and September, and the Steenbok Trail (13,9km) only accessible during August and September.
• Cycling and mountain biking. All routes start from the Langebaan Gate. These include the Geelbek (30km) and Kraalbaai (70km) cycling routes and the Green (13km) and Red (17km) mountain biking trails.
• Kayaking and kite boarding.
• Bird watching of over 250 bird species. The 4 bird hides can be found at Geelbek (2 hides), the Abrahamskraal Waterhole, and below the Seeberg Lookout Point.
• Whale watching in August and September from the Tsaarsbank section of the park
• Self-drive game viewing.
• Picnic and braai sites at Kraalbaai’s beach and at the Tsaarsbank section of the park.