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April 18, 2012

My Wild West Coast Adventure

Explore and experience the West Coast National Park, just an hour's drive from Cape Town.

I am a city girl at heart, a slave to the pulsating rhythm of my Cape Town, so the idea of exploring the Cape West Coast wasn’t initially all that appealing.

However, having just spent a weekend immersing myself in the historic, natural, gourmet and adventurous culture of the West Coast National Park and its quaint surrounding towns, including Langebaan and Lambert’s Bay, I’m inclined to believe that I can be a country loving girl too.

The West Coast, which stretches from Blaauwberg to Namaqualand, consists of 44 small towns and everything from lagoons to bird sanctuaries, and kayaking to whale watching. There's so much more to this part of the Cape than meets the eye.

These are a few of my top West Coast experiences and activities:

Must-see wildlife

West Coast National Park is home to various wildlife species, fynbos and birds.

West Coast National Park

Floral enthusiasts may know the park for its incredibly beautiful spring flowers, but this heritage site is stunning all year round and it's just an hour’s drive from Cape Town.

Home to fynbos and various wildlife species, the park also serves as a sanctuary for hundreds of seabirds. Experience it on foot or by bike via its many hiking trails and cycle routes, or relax and take in the scenic vistas of the salt water Langebaan Lagoon.

Keep your eyes peeled for: rare sightings of the Cape grysbok, and the multi-tentacled octopus in the lagoon.

Location: West Coast National Park, Langebaan
Contact: +27 (0)22 772 2144
Website: www.sansparks.org

Luxury park accommodation

The three-star Duinepos Chalets are a community-based tourism initative.

Duinepos Chalets

This is the ideal place for some R&R in the middle of a national park. Where else could you awake to the sounds of indigenous birds or enjoy a morning stroll with a herd of eland and ostriches?

A community-based tourism initative sees local workers as chalet owners who reap the benefits of chalet-letting. This renovated three-star accommodation spot offers comfy lodging with all the modern necessities for up to six people per chalet, and there's a pool and children’s activity centre for the kids.

Top tip: For the ultimate social, gather your mates for a braai and chat around the boma, an outdoor recreational area.

Location: Duinepos Chalets, West Coast National Park
Contact: +27 (0)22 707 9900
Website: www.duinepos.co.za

Adrenaline-inducing activities

A guided quad bike tour is just one of the exhilarating activities to enjoy on the West Coast.

West Coast Safaris and Quads

Get your hearts racing with quad biking and sand boarding on the snow-white dunes of Lambert’s Bay. These are high-energy activities in hot conditions so be sure to stay hydrated.

Fun fact: The dunes of Lambert’s Bay form the world’s smallest desert.

Location: Lambert’s Bay
Contact:+27 (0)83 306 6684

The lip-smacking gourmet

Geelbek Restuarant's pumpkin pie is a must-taste!

Geelbek Restaurant

Historical significance meets culinary excellence at the Geelbek Restaurant on the outskirts of the West Coast National Park.

Tuck into the aromatic chicken curry, the delectable green bean and lamb potjiekos, traditional bobotie and more for a taste sensation like no other.

Then pop over to the Information Centre for an overview of the mammal population in the park and a sneak peek at the cast of Eve’s Footprint, the oldest known footprint of modern man.

A must-taste: The pumpkin pie – simply to die for!

Location: Geelbek Restaurant, West Coast National Park
Contact: +27 (0)22 2134
Website: www.geelbek.co.za

Die Strandloper

In preparation for the tantalising 10-course seafood meal at the impressive Strandloper on the shores of Langebaan, it’s best to go hungry.

Then gorge yourself on mussels, baked bread and jam, smoked angel fish, snoek, stompneus and, best of all, garlic-infused crayfish.

Have a cuppa: don’t miss the authentically brewed moerkoffie with super-sweet traditional koeksusters.

Location:  Die Strandloper, Langebaan
Contact: +27 (0) 22 772 2490
Website: www.strandloper.com

The Organic Pit-stop

The Farmyard Farmstall

The perfect place to get a few provisions (or locally produced souvenirs), the Farmyard Farmstall has something for the entire family.
The little ones will love the free-roaming animals while the adults can while away their time indulging in delicious home-made goods.

The ultimate wholesome takeaway: Farm bread and fig jam.

Location: R27 West Coast Road, Melkbosstrand, Blaauwberg
Contact: +27 (0)22 553 2563.


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