Geelbeck Restuarant
Geelbeck Restuarant
Path to the Bird hide.
Path to the Bird hide.
Kraalbaai beach.
Kraalbaai beach.
Hiking up the dunes.
Hiking up the dunes.
Accomodation at Churchaven infront of the Lagoon.
Accomodation at Churchaven infront of the Lagoon.
I reckon the West Coast National Park is one of the best kept secrets in South Africa. Just an hour and about 15 minutes drive from Cape Town’s airport, you could be forgiven for thinking you were out of the country.

Neatly tucked against the Azure lagoon near Langebaan, I soon realised that this park gives you a unique package. A little bit of island living with the turquoise blue water and palm trees, some desert living with white sand dunes and a serene wilderness for that perfect escape into the bush.

Our hostess, Moipone Thathane from SANParks, who received us at the gate, kept on saying we had visited the park at the wrong time of the year. She wanted us to experience the blankets of brightly coloured flowers for which the park is famous, in August and September.

I was not bothered at all. I could see that the place is a paradise for hikers, cyclists and mountain bikers, birders and nature lovers alike, at any time of year. And I am one of them.

The rare brownish fynbos and bush growing on granite and limestone rocks made the scenery appealing to the eye. I tried to picture how beautiful it would look when that wilderness burst into a vast array of colour as spring brought with it a landscape of flowering fynbos and veld. This beauty is particularly prominent in the Postberg section of the park (which is only open to the public during the flower season).

We stayed at the famous Joanne’s Cottage, an exclusive self-catering cottage situated in Churchhaven, in front of the bluest lagoon.

The cottage is fully equipped with three bedrooms, a lounge with a cosy fireplace and a braai outside overlooking the lagoon.

If you can’t get accommodation at Joanne’s, there is plenty more at the eco-friendly and charming Duinepos self-catering chalets.

Even more charming are the three ladies who own and manage the 11 self-catering chalets at Duinepos.

We were welcomed by Hildegarde Valentyn at reception, and Jenine Fortein took us around the facility, while Agusta Pretorius made sure the rooms had been cleaned. Their energy makes the place special.

From Duinepos you can explore the richness of the West Coast’s unique biodiversity, especially the abundant bird life associated with Langebaan lagoon and surrounds.

We took on a 5km hiking package. It’s a quick walk and then a long climb on wooden stairs. We stood in silence, sucked in by wave after wave of dunes.

Next on our itinerary was bird watching. Flamingos lined the meandering pathway to one of the four bird hides.

West Coast National Park is home to more than 250 bird species, over a quarter of South Africa’s total.

If, like me, you can only handle cooking in small doses when on holiday, you will love the Geelbek Restaurant. It is housed in a beautifully restored Cape Dutch homestead. They serve a range of delicious, traditional dishes.

While at Geelbek you might as well pop into the visitors’ centre where you can see Eve’s Footprint and Trail. Discovered in 1995 at Kraalbaai, these prints are human footfalls in rock (formerly sea sand) said to have been made by a young woman who lived thousands of years ago.

Eve’s Trail is a 2½-day, fully portered and catered hike through the park, retracing Eve’s footsteps.

We drove out of the park to Langebaan for a boat ride to see the Boathouse accommodation at the lagoon, and then on to Saldana Bay.

After a refreshing swim in the cool lagoon at our cottage, we decided to have a braai on the stoep. We heard a pitter-patter in the water, and it was a whale playing about 60m from our cottage.

I call that mother nature showing off.

West Coast National Park, South African National Parks

Tel: 022 707 9902

Duinepos: Tel: 022 707 9900 Cell: 083 704 7067

Here are some snippets of Kim Jayde, social media influencer, stay at the West Coast National Park: