National parks in the Western Cape May 16th, 2013
Agulhas National Park
The southernmost tip of Africa, official meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, is a place of rugged beauty with rich cultural and natural heritage. Many national monuments are found in the area, such as the historic Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, which has been in operation since 1849.
Here are some ideas of what to see and do in Agulhas National Park:-
- Unwind amidst the sound of crashing waves, the scent of fynbos and sheer magic of the location.
- Visit the Lighthouse Museum inside the second oldest working lighthouse in South Africa and climb the seventy one steps to enjoy the view from the top.
- Stand at the southernmost tip of Africa and take your picture beside the monument marking this unique location.
- Take a hike. The Park has numerous hiking trails taking you along the sea and through the fynbos.
- Swim in the lagoon. Stay overnight in the rest camp and enjoy incredible sea views and languid swims in the peaceful lagoon.
- Check out the shipwrecks dotting the coastline.
- Spend the night at one of the beautifully positioned chalets by the sea or inland in a restored 18th century farm cottage.
Tel: 028 435 6078
Website: www.sanparks.org/parks/agulhas or www.sanparks.mobi/parks/agulhas
Coordinates: S 34° 49’58” E 20° 00’12”
Bontebok National Park
Bontebok National Park, just outside the historic town of Swellendam, lies at the foot of the majestic Langeberg Mountains and is bordered by the winding Breede River. The Park is home to over 200 Bontebok and many other animals including the Red Hartebees and Grey Rhebok. Although the smallest of SA’s 22 National Parks, it is by no means less diverse. Here are some ideas of what to see and do in Bontebok National Park:-
- Go bird watching – Bontebok is a twitcher’s delight with over 200 bird species, including the Blue Crane and African Fish Eagle.
- Have a special celebration at ‘Die Stroom.’ The function facility caters for 50 people and has a built-in braai area on a spacious deck overlooking the Breede River.
- Go walking alongside the Breede River and through hills of Aloe.
- Take a drive around the park and spot some game.
- Get active – ride your mountain bike or go kayaking/canoeing. Bikes, kayaks and canoes can be rented in Swellendam.
- Braai next to the Breede. Wood can be bought at Bontebok National Park’s reception area, but don’t forget your grill and meat.
- Spend the night in a chalet in Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp, arrive by caravan or pitch a tent on one of the many campsites.
Tel: 028 514 2735
Website: www.sanparks.org/parks/bontebok or www.sanparks.mobi/parks/bontebok
Coordinates: S 34 04’ 33.7” E 20 27’ 19.3”
Tankwa National Park
Nestled within the succulent Karoo Biome, Tankwa National Park is home to rare and endangered plant species, rich endemic birdlife and diverse landscapes that are bound to take your breath away. Tankwa’s tranquillity is one that must be experienced first-hand, as words simply do not suffice. Here are some ideas of what to see and do in Tankwa National Park:-
- Unwind body, mind and soul in the indescribable silence as luminous dust clouds swirl through this ancient landscape.
- Star Gaze at nightfall below a myriad stars dotting the blackened sky and listen to the claps of thunder of a Karoo thunderstorm dancing across the horizon.
- Take a drive through the park, with sedan, 4x2 and 4x4 tracks perfect for bird and game viewing.
- View the park from Gannaga Pass – take a drive up the pass to the lookout point and view the entire park from there.
- Bird watch – Tankwa is home to 187 recorded species of birdlife.
- Spend the night at one of the quaint farmsteads; in a beautifully designed cottage; or bring along your tent and make use of the camping areas with or without amenities.
Tel: 027 341 1927
Coordinates: S32°14’27.9” E20°05’44.5”
West Coast National Park
The unique and diverse habitats of the Langebaan Lagoon and its salt marshes and wetlands, the granitic islands of Saldanha Bay with its large breeding populations of seabirds, the varied rocky and sandy shores of the coastal strip, the parabolic coastal dune fields and the terrestrial lowland fynbos communities on calcareous soils form the current extent – some 32 000 ha – of the West Coast National Park.Here are some ideas of what to see and do in West CoastNational Park:-
- Enjoy wholesome traditional food in an exquisite setting at Geelbek Restaurant – also a popular wedding venue.
- Go mountain biking along one of the four dedicated scenic routes.
- Take a hike. There are a number of trails ranging from the easy 4.6kms Bakoor Trail to the guided, catered and portaged 30km Eve’s Trail.
- Do some bird watching from one of the Park’s many well-positioned bird hides.
- Visit during August and September and be amazed at the carpets of colourful flowers.
- Pack a picnic and relax on the shore of the lagoon or by the sea.
- Kite board in one of the world’s most popular spots.
- Spend the night at Duinepos Chalets – great for groups; at one of the beautifully restored cottages or on one of the houseboats.
Tel: 022 772 2144
Coordinates: S 33 11' 37.9"E 18 07' 33.1"
Boulders Penguin Colony, Table Mountain National Park
Nestled in a sheltered cove between Simon’s Town and Cape Point, Boulders has become world famous for its thriving colony of African Penguins and magnificent wind sheltered, safe beaches.
- The African Penguin is listed in the Red Data Book as an endangered species
- Of the 1.5 million African Penguin population estimated in 1910, only some 10% remained at the end of the 20th century.
- Their diet consists mainly of squid and shoal fish such as pilchards and anchovy.
- They can swim at an average speed of seven kilometres an hour, and can stay submerged for up to two minutes.
Tel: 021 786 2329
Coordinates: S 18.44801 E -34.13193
Cape of Good Hope & Cape Point, Table Mountain National Park
Situated at the junction of two of earth’s most contrasting water masses – the cold Benguela current on the West Coast and the warm Agulhas current on the East Coast – the Cape of Good Hope is popularly perceived as the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Geographically, however, the Indian Ocean joins the Atlantic Ocean at Agulhas National Park.
- Most south-westerly point of Africa
- Cape Point Lighthouse
- Flying Dutchman Funicular
- The Two Oceans Restaurant
- A range of short walks and a 2-day hiking trail
- Tidal pools, braai and picnic sites at Bordjiesdrif and Buffels Bay
- Shipwrecks and historical monuments
- Game, bird and whale watching
- Accommodation – Olifantsbos Cottage (right on the beach); Eland and Duiker Cottages (further inland.)
Tel: 021 780 9204
Coordinates: S 18.49654 E -34.35611
Silvermine, Table Mountain National Park
Silvermine, centrally situated within Table Mountain National Park, offers spectacular scenery, an abundance of fynbos and is a popular spot for a range of high-energy activities including hiking, rock-climbing and mountain biking. It also has a number of demarcated pathways for leisurely walks; more challenging trails for hikes; a picturesque picnic/ braai area and a wheelchair-friendly boardwalk around the dam. The Hoerikwaggo Tented Camp at Silvermine sleeps 12 and offers secure parking, hot water, comfy beds (own linen required), and a fully equipped communal dining area/kitchen and bathroom.
Tel: 021 7122 337
Coordinates: S 18.42105 E -34.09813
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, Table Mountain National Park
The five-minute ascent to the top of Table Mountain offers a 360° view of Cape Town, the ocean and the neighbouring peaks. Once at the top visitors enjoy spectacular views and the peaceful feeling of being over one thousand metres above the city below. The area at the top of the mountain is surprisingly large so leave enough time to stroll along the paths, enjoy the viewing platforms and soak up the vistas. There is also a restaurant and curio shop at the top.
Tel: 021 424 0015
Coordinates: -33.9482° 18.4031°