West Coast National Park

flowers in west coast national park
flowers in west coast national park

The gorgeous Langebaan Lagoon is the centre of West Coast National Park and is full of warm turquoise waters perfect for swimming. In Flower Season (Aug & Sep), the colourful blooms fill the park and it’s very popular.

Langebaan Lagoon

Location

West Coast National Park is in Western Cape, 1hr 30 from Cape Town along the R27. It is a few minutes south of the small town of Langebaan, on the West Coast. There are two entrance gates – the Southern Gate just off the R27, and the Langebaan Gate at the northern edge of the park. The former is most convenient for those coming from Cape Town, while the latter is useful for those coming from Langebaan or the north. If you don’t have a car, check out the options for car hire* from Cape Town.

Tips

  • Entrance fees (increase in flower season, Aug & Sep): South Africans R66 (R94), International R100 (R210), both half-price for children
  • Gate times for the park are Sep-Mar 07:00 – 19:00, Apr-Aug 07:00 – 18:00.
  • The Postberg Section is only open in flower season (Aug & Sep), with gate times of 09:00-16:00 (last entry 15:00).
  • There is a restaurant at Geelbek and a shop selling curios.
  • Find nearby accommodation here*.
  • There are no ATMs or fuel stations in the park itself.
  • Read more about our Postberg Flower Hike, the best hike in the park (Aug & Sep only).

West Coast National Park is perfect for either a day trip or weekend from Cape Town, or as part of a longer stay on the beautiful West Coast.

Things to do in West Coast National Park

  1. See the flowers in flower season
  2. Geelbek Visitor Centre and Restaurant
  3. Swim in the Lagoon
  4. Go Hiking in West Coast National Park
  5. Cycle around the park on the quiet trails
  6. Have a Picnic or Braai
  7. Birdwatching
  8. Wildlife Viewing
  9. Take in the Scenery at Seeberg Viewpoint
  10. Visit the Ocean Beach at Tsaarsbank

1. Flower Season in West Coast National Park

Flower season in West Coast National Park is in August and September. Prices for entry and accommodation go up, and it is much busier than normal. The Postberg Section of the park is only open in these months. Gate times for the Postberg Section are 09:00 – 16:00, with the last entry at 15:00. Flowers can be seen in many places within the park, though the best areas are Postberg and around Seeberg View Point are the best places to see flowers in the park, though they can be seen all around the park,

Tip: It can get busy, especially at the weekend and on sunny days. Arrive early, and try to visit on weekdays to avoid the queues.

Flowers in the West Coast National Park, South Africa
Flowers in the Postberg section of West Coast National Park, South Africa

2. Geelbek Visitor Centre and Restaurant

The Visitor Centre and Restaurant at Geelbek are located in a lovely old Cape Dutch building overlooking the nearby lagoon. Apart from information about the park and a replica of Eve’s Footprints, the Visitor Centre has a little shop that sells curios. The Restaurant (website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is open Mon-Fri 09:00 – 16:00, Sat 09:00 – 17:00 and Sun 08:30 – 17:00. Cards are accepted. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, and cards are accepted. The Restaurant focuses on South African cuisine such as bobotie, Cape Malay curry and ostrich steaks. You can also just pop in for a drink.

Eve’s Footprints

“Eve’s Footprints” were discovered here on the edge of Langebaan Lagoon in 1995. They are a fossilized set of footprints, dated to 117,000 years ago, which means they are the oldest anatomically human footprints to ever be discovered. And the footprints apparently belonged to a woman. The time she lived coincides with the ‘mitochondrial Eve’ – from our DNA you can tell that the human species passed through a bottleneck when they were only a very few ancestral humans living. So potentially, we are all related to this woman who left her footprints here many, many years ago.

Don’t forget to visit the two bird hides nearby to see many waterbirds, including flamingoes.

3. Visit the Lagoon

Langebaan Lagoon, West Coast
The Lagoon

Langebaan Lagoon is the focal point of West Coast National Park and one of the park’s main draws. With its turquoise waters and warm temperature, it’s the perfect place for a swim or just relax on the beach. Kraalbaai is the best place to swim in the lagoon, and you can also visit the strangely shaped Preekstoel Rock. There is a car park just above the beach here, filled with signboards about the park. Also just next to the car park is a braai area with great views – arrive early on weekends to secure a spot.

Preekstoel Rock in West Coast National Park
At the beach of Langebaan Lagoon

4. Hiking in West Coast National Park

There are both short hikes and multiday hikes in West Coast National Park. The Postberg and Steenberg Flower hikes are only available in August and September and must be booked in advance. Bookings open in early June and due to the limitation on numbers, weekends sell out almost immediately. For more information about booking, call the Geelbek Visitor Centre on 022 707 9902/3. The 2.5-day Eve’s Trail is guided.

Shorter Hikes from Geelbek

There are two short, or half-day hikes starting from Geelbek. These are both shorter versions of ‘Day 1’ and ‘Day 2’ hikes of the Strandveld Trail (see below). The first hike is a 9 km loop through the dunes and back. The second hike is a 7 km loop through strandveld and fynbos vegetation. Both of these walks are fairly flat, and while pleasant, they don’t have the most dramatic scenery.

Strandveld Trail, 28 km, 1-2 days

The Strandveld Trail is advertised as a two-day hike, but both the first and second days are 14 km loops from Geelbek Visitor Centre. There is very little elevation gain so the trails are not too strenuous, so could in fact be both hiked in one day. ‘Day 1’ takes you through fynbos and sand dunes, while ‘Day 2’ leads to Sixteen Mile Beach.

Bakoor Trail, 4.8 km, 1hr30

This short trail goes from the Langebaan Gate up to the Seeberg View Point and back the same way. If you start early enough in the day, maybe you’ll glimpse a bat-eared fox.

Postberg Flower Hike, 37 km, two days

Probably the best hike in the park. This is a two-day trail only available in August and September and must be booked in advance. You need to carry all your own camping gear and food. To find out more, read our Postberg Flower Hike Report.

Flowers in west coast national park, South Africa
Postberg Flower hike, South Africa

Steenberg Flower Hike, 14 km, one day

This is a one-day trail only available in August and September and must be booked in advance. The flowers are very beautiful and it’s a great alternative to the Postberg Hike if you either don’t have enough time or don’t want to camp out overnight.

Eve’s Trail, guided, 33 km, 2.5 days

Eve’s trail is a guided 2.5 day, 33 km hike in West Coast National Park. Cape West Coast Biosphere organises the hike. You walk in the day and stay in accommodation wihtin and on the border of the park. The guides are very knowledgeable and you’ll find out a lot about the plants, animals and history of the park.

5. Cycling Routes

There are several cycling routes within the park.

Road Cycling

The roads are generally not busy outside of Flower Season (Aug & Sep) when there is a significant increase in traffic. Langebaan Gate to Geelbek Visitor Centre is 30 km return, while Langebaan Gate to Kraalbaai is 70 km return.

Mountain Biking

There are two designated mountain biking routes within the park, 13 and 17 km. They both start from the Langebaan Gate and go around (and up) Seeberg View Point. There is only a moderate amount of climb on either route and they are on the road and on old vehicle tracks so they are not too challenging.

6. Have a Picnic or Braai

The park contains two dedicated braai and picnic spots. These are on the lagoon at Kraalbaai or on the open ocean at Tsaarsbank (where you can watch for whales in August and September). Braai spots are first-come, first-serve, so in busy periods (flower season – Aug/Sep, and the summer holidays – Dec/Jan ) come early to guarantee a spot.

7. Birdwatching

Flamingoes in West Coast National Park, South Africa

There are four bird hides in the park. Two are by the lagoon near Geelbek Visitor Centre, one is at Abrahamskraal Waterhole and one is on the edge of the lagoon below the Seeberg View Point. If you just visit one, I would recommend one of those by Geelbek for the interesting landscape and abundance of birds.

The two hides near Geelbek are a 500 m and 1 km walk away. When we visited these hides we saw many flamingoes – both pink adults and white young birds. The swampy, grassy, muddy area that you walk across (on a boardwalk) to get to the hides is just as interesting as the birds.

Lagoon from the bird hide near Geelbek, South Africa
Birds and lagoon from the bird hide near Geelbek, South Africa
From the bird hide near Geelbek

Abrahamskraal Waterhole is a 15-20 minute drive from Geelbek, not far off the road leading to the Southern Entrance Gate. It contains freshwater, so you get different birds here to at the lagoon, though when we visited there were no birds at all.

The bird hide below Seeberg View Point is a 400 m walk from the parking at the end of a road near Langebaan Gate. It is at the beach looking out on the open lagoon. The surroundings are less interesting than the hides near Geelbek and there tend to be fewer birds nearby.

8. Wildlife Viewing

Zebra in West Coast National Park, South Africa
Bontebok, South Africa

The park contains antelopes, zebras and other smaller animals. Make sure to watch out for turtles on the road! The density of wildlife is not that high, and wildlife shouldn’t be your primary reason for visiting the park, just an added bonus if you are lucky.

If you visit the Tsaarsbank (the entrance to the Postberg section of the park) in August or September you might see whales swimming along the coastline!

Tortoise and a flower in West Coast National Park

9. Take in the Scenery at Seeberg Viewpoint

A drive or cycle to Seeberg viewpoint rewards you with great views over the lagoon and surrounding countryside. It’s a 20-minute drive or ~1-hour cycle from Geelbek Visitor Centre, on the way to Langebaan. At the viewpoint, there is a little hut with information about the history of the area. It’s built on an exposed blob of granite rock – read the Geology box to discover more about the granite.

Seeberg Viewpoint, West Coast, South Africa

Geology of Postberg Nature Reserve

Postberg hill from the hiking trail
Granite hill
Preekstoel by Langebaan Lagoon
The Preekstoel on the beach

Granite blobs form the main hills in the Postberg section of the peninsular. About 500-550 million years ago, blobs of magma rose up through sedimentary rocks below, and solidified underground, near the surface of the earth, forming granite. It is a similar age to the granite you can see on the lower slopes of Table Mountain and Lions Head. Granite is harder and less easy to erode than sedimentary rocks, so the granite blobs remain higher than the surrounding, softer rocks.

Fossilized sand dunes make up the Preekstoel and nearby rocks. The surfaces of sand dunes are slanted, and these are recorded by the lines you can see in the Preekstoel. These sand dunes existed a few million years ago, then became ‘fossilized’ when they were buried by overlying sediments, and calcium-rich water flowed within them, turning the sand into stone. The Langebaan Formation is the name of these old sand dunes beds, which are roughly 2 million years old.

10. Visit the Ocean Beach at Tsaarsbank

Tsaarsbank beach in West Coast National Park

In the furthest corner of the park lies Tsaarsbank. This is just before the entrance to the Postberg section of the park, but unlike Postberg it’s open all year round. There is a car park, a braai area and toilets. It’s on the edge of the cold, open ocean at the northern end of 16 Mile Beach. Unlike the lagoon area, it is often deserted, so it’s a good place to relax in solitude on the beautiful, endless beach. There’s interesting sandveld vegetation and in August and September the chance to see whales swimming along the coastline.

Accommodation in West Coast National Park

SANParks runs most of the accommodation within West Coast National Park, though there are many more options nearby*. There is no camping. Check-in is at the Geelbek Information Centre between 14:00 to 16:00. After hours, you can check-in at the gates but must arrive before they close. Gate times are Sep-Mar 07:00 – 19:00, Apr-Aug 07:00 – 18:00.

Cottages

There are 5 cottages in the park with space for 2-6 people. Rates vary slightly by dates with the most expensive being in flower season (Aug & Sep) and over the Christmas holidays. Prices are roughly R500-800 per person if the accommodation is full, with the 2-person cottage being the most expensive per person.

  • Steytler Cottage (1-2 people): A small, recently renovated, fully-equipped cottage.
  • Joannes Beach Cottage A (1-6 people) and B (1-4 people): Fully-equipped cottages (electricity for lights only, no plugs) within walking distance of the lagoon. The front stoep of Cottage A has lovely views of the lagoon.
  • Abrahamskraal Cottage (1-6 people): A cute cottage by a waterhole with a kitchen, fireplace and electricity only for lights (no plugs).
  • Van Breda Cottage (1-6 people): A former homestead on Geelbek Farm with electricity, a kitchen and braai.

Duinpos Chalets

There are 11 chalets at Duinpos, close to the Geelbek Visitor Centre and Restaurant. It is a community-run project that can’t be booked through the SANParks website. To book phone: +27 (0) 22 707 9900.

Luxury Houseboats

Langebaan Lagoon in the West Coast National Park, South Africa
Luxury houseboats moored on the lagoon

There are several Kraalbaai Luxury Houseboats permanently moored on the lagoon within the West Coast National Park. These are run by a private company with a license to operate within the park. Check out their Website or Tripadvisor Reviews*.

Private Rental Accommodation within the Park

Unlike most SANParks, there is private accommodation available to rent within the Park near Chuchhaven. Check out the Perfect Hideways Website for more information. These are relatively expensive, but beautifully designed and with a perfect position very close to the lagoon.

Outside the Park

The nearby coastal town of Langebaan has many options*, from BnBs to luxury beach villas.

Route from Cape Town to West Coast National Park

View of Table Mountain and ocean from Table Bay
View from Table Bay

If you have time on the drive back to Cape Town, it’s a short detour to stop off in Table View to get a view across the ocean to Table Mountain. We stopped at Eden on the Bay to admire this view. To get there you have to drive through a car park to get to the beach car park which is a bit weird.


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FAQS: West Coast National Park

What are the opening hours of West Coast National Park?

The gates of West Coast National Park are open Sep-Mar 07:00 – 19:00, Apr-Aug 07:00 – 18:00.

Where is West Coast National Park?

The West Coast National Park is a 1hr30mins drive north of Cape Town along the R27. It’s just south of Langebaan, a small town on the West Coast.

How much does it cost to enter West Coast National Park?

Entrance fees for West Coast National Park (higher price in flower season, Aug & Sep): South Africans R66 (R94), International R100 (R210), both half-price for children.

Are dogs allowed into West Coast National Park?

Pets are not allowed in West Coast National Park.

Where can you see flowers in the West Coast National Park?

The best place to see flowers in the West Coast National Park is the Postberg section and the area around Seeberg Viewpoint.

What time does the Postberg Section of west Coast National Park open?

The Postberg Section is only open in August and September. It is open 09:00 – 16:00, with the last entry at 15:00. These are different hours to the West Coast National Park, which has gate times Sep-Mar 07:00 – 19:00, Apr-Aug 07:00 – 18:00.

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