Tag Archives: West Coast National Park

Spring Flowers Trip 2022 – West Coast National Park

This is the last of my series of posts on the Spring flowers trip we undertook in 2022

The Background

With wonderful memories of our Spring Flowers trip through parts of the Western Cape in September 2021 still fresh in our minds, we decided to do a similar, but different, trip in September 2022. Our planned route was to take us to Tulbagh for one night, then three nights each in Clanwilliam and Paternoster. To round off the trip we treated ourselves to a three-night stay in Cape Town’s Vineyard Hotel, in celebration of our birthdays which “book-ended” the trip,

Decision Time

Our trip had met all of our expectations and we felt more than satisfied with what we had seen and done during our trip so far. Day 7 of our trip was to take us from Paternoster to Cape Town and we debated whether or not to visit the West Coast National Park on the way there or to skip it this year, having ‘done’ it just a year ago.

Fortunately, as it turned out, we decided to head to the Langebaan gate of the Park after our last breakfast at Paternoster Dunes Guest House, and ‘play it by ear’ as to how much of the Park we would have time to explore, bearing in mind the distances involved in getting to the Postberg section of the park, which is only open during the flower season months, and the numbers of other flower viewers we were likely to encounter.

On the way to Langebaan a roadside Jackal Buzzard on a utility pole had me braking for a quick photo

Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus Rooiborsjakkalsvoël, Paternoster

Langebaan Gate to Postberg

After finding our way through the residential areas of Langebaan, we arrived at the gate into the Park where 12 cars were waiting to enter. The queue moved quickly and we were soon in the Park and making good progress to the T-junction where we turned right towards Postberg

West Coast NP

We like to stop at every interesting bush to have a closer look at its flowers – the following two images are an example of a bush appearing fairly nondescript, but once you get up close and personal the flowers are quite striking

West Coast NP
West Coast NP

And so our journey went, all the way to Postberg section, stopping frequently, hopping in and out of the car to get a closer look and a photo from the right angle.

A few others seemed to be doing the same, but the majority passed by with hardly a glance, eager to get to Postberg for the massed displays of flowers – to each his own, but we prefer to take in everything we see

Now if only I knew the names of some of these beauties – it took me a few years to build up a reasonable knowledge of birds, now it seems to be taking even longer to learn more about the flowers and I still feel like a raw beginner

West Coast NP
West Coast NP
West Coast NP
West Coast NP
West Coast NP
West Coast NP

Once into the Postberg section of the Park, we joined the many vehicles driving the gravel roads and admiring the incredible displays of multi-coloured flowers – irresistible for more photos!

West Coast NP
West Coast NP
Cape Spurfowl among flowers, West Coast NP
West Coast NP

At one point on the return journey to the gate, the sky was filled with Gulls, wheeling above the flower-bedecked flats – quite a sight to see!

West Coast NP
West Coast NP

Edible Flowers too!

And on a lighter note – did you know that some of the flowers in the park are edible? Well, I can confirm this is so, as you will see from the following photos of a cookieata sweetieae that we came across as we drove to Postberg – it is well known in the Biedouw Valley

Cookieata sweetieae, West Coast NP
Mmmmm, rather nice

And that, dear readers, is how the cookie crumbles

West Coast National Park – a Feast of Spring Flowers

Top of our list of things to do during our visit to Paternoster in September this year was the trip to West Coast National Park and specifically the Postberg section which is only open during August and September each year and which has a reputation for producing spectacular displays of wild flowers at Spring time.

West Coast National Park

It was our first full day in Paternoster, having arrived the previous afternoon and we had already tasted some of the culinary delights that this small town has to offer – a beautifully prepared Kabeljou with rice and veg at De See Kat restaurant.

West Coast National Park (WCNP) is around 120 kms from Cape Town – the map shows its position relative to Cape Town and Paternoster –

After a superb breakfast at our Paternoster guesthouse, we set off for the West Coast National Park via Vredenburg and the R27, a distance of just over 60 kms to the gate. As we approached the turnoff to the gate, we were amazed to find a queue – two abreast – of cars waiting to enter the Park and joined the back of it. I was very glad we had chosen a weekday for our visit as, judging from the popularity of this park during the wild flower season, the weekend was bound to be a lot more crowded.

West Coast National Park

Fortunately the queue moved along nicely and a half hour later we were into the park and heading in the direction of the Postberg section, along with a string of cars all heading the same way.

We made a couple of stops along the way to Postberg section, which lies in the northernmost part of the park, mainly to break out of the stream of cars, but also to have a closer look at some of the roadside flowers. One of these stops was at a parking spot overlooking the lagoon.

West Coast National Park

All along the road were patches of flowers which just begged closer inspection and of course a few images

A turn-off from the main road through the park took us towards the sea, the road bordered by masses of flowers

West Coast National Park

At Tsaarbank picnic spot we lunched on – wait for it – Provita with cheese spread and the tea we’d brought along (talk about fine dining!) and watched wild waves crashing into the rocky shoreline.

Tsaarbank, West Coast National Park
Tsaarbank, West Coast National Park

Then we entered Postberg proper and found ourselves surrounded at times by multi-coloured flowers spreading across fields and hills – what a display!

West Coast National Park

Fortunately the many cars had by now dispersed in different directions, giving us and others the freedom to stop and admire the many varieties of flowers and just take it all in.

The road took us on a circular route, eventually joining the exit road, which took us past more magnificent displays of flowers, until we found ourselves back at the entrance to Postberg.

All that remained was to make our way slowly back to the main entrance gate where we had entered earlier and head back to Paternoster along the R27 road, reflecting on a truly memorable day.

West Coast National Park – Day Visit

During a recent visit to the Cape Town area we took the opportunity to spend a day out with Johan and Rosa (Gerda’s sister) during which we travelled firstly to Bloubergstrand, then further west to the West Coast National Park.

Blouberg proved to be a good choice for an alfresco mid-morning tea accompanied by scones (rather dry ones) with a view of the beautiful bay and beyond to Table Mountain in the distance. We had fortunately chosen a perfect day for it – sunny but not too hot with a slight breeze. So nice to see the bay after many years.

Bloubergstrand on a perfect day

Leaving Bloubergstrand behind, we proceeded at a gentle pace to the entrance gate to the West Coast National Park, an hour or so up the coast. The drive from the gate to the restaurant at Geelbek was punctuated by some stops for light birding.

Roberts Birding app describes the reserve’s habitat as follows – “The reserve comprises large areas of coastal strandveld and a large tidal lagoon, with extensive tidal mudflats, saltmarsh and reedbeds.”

After a lazy lunch at an outside table, I took a walk to the nearby bird hide, with its views across the mudflats and the vast lagoon, while the others sat in the car under a shady tree and chatted. Also chatting loudly was a Yellow-billed Kite in the tree above the car, with a bevy of smaller birds responding in kind.

Yellow-billed Kite (Milvus parasitus / Geelbekwou)

I didn’t want to leave them for too long, so I spent about 40 minutes walking to the hide and back along the raised boardwalk – hardly enough time to do justice to this exceptional birding spot but I managed to see and photograph a surprising number of wader and other species in this short time.

West Coast NP – the boardwalk to the Geelbek hide

Flamingoes were plentiful, with both Greater and Lesser species being well represented.

Other prominent waders included Black-winged Stilt, the beautifully delicate Pied Avocet, Kittlitz’s Plover, Little Stint, Ruff, Grey Plover, Common Greenshank, Whimbrel and Curlew Sandpiper. Those I managed to photograph are the following –

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus / Rooipootelsie), West Coast NP
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta / Bontelsie), West Coast NP
Kittlitz’s Plover (Charadrius pecuarius / Geelborsstrandkiewiet), West Coast NP
Little Stint (Calidris minuta / Kleinstrandloper), West Coast NP
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola / Grysstrandkiewiet), West Coast NP
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea / Krombekstrandloper), West Coast NP

A pair of Cape Teals with their dark pink bills huddled at the edge of the marshes.

Cape Teal (Anas capensis / Teeleend)

At the hide itself, many more flamingoes were visible along with some of the same waders, while a couple of Greater Crested Terns flew past low and slow in their customary manner.

West Coast NP – the view from the hide
Greater Crested (Swift) Tern (Thalasseus bergii / Geelbeksterretjie)

With my birding itch satsified by this quick fix, we headed slowly to the secondary gate on the Langebaan side, hoping for a sighting of some game, which had eluded us so far. Not far from the exit gate we came across a herd of handsome Eland

Eland, West Coast NP

All in all a day well enjoyed!