This is one of my favourite places, indeed I love all of the West Coast that I've seen. Invariably when I first head north out of Cape Town, I can't resist taking every turning towards the sea, lingering at each of the viewpoint beaches. However, I was shocked at the extent of development along the coast since I was last there in 2000. Makes me even more thankful for the WCNP
, so at least that expanse of coastal fynbos will be preserved.
Many people only visit WCNP
when the Postberg section is open during wildflower season, since in addition to the flowers, most of the park's antelope are in that section. I was lucky to be able to include Postberg on my 2000 visit, but enjoy the park just as much without visiting that section. If you're interested in fynbos and birds, the park has plenty to offer. And there's always the chance that you'll see something special.
Again thanks to the Wild Card, I was able to visit this park twice, as with all my detours en route, I didn't get there on my first visit on 3 April until mid-afternoon, which left me only a few hours in the park. After a brief stop at the fairly disappointing Geelbek visitor centre, which also houses a shop and a popular restaurant, I headed north towards Postberg and the rocky beach at Tsarsbank. By then a storm was clearly brewing, so after enjoying the surf breaking over the rocks, I started back.
Just before the turnoff for Churchaven something sped across the road ahead of me — unmistakably a golden cat with tufted ears! Literally only a split-second glimpse, but most definitely caracal! I certainly had no chance for a photo, but it was a magic moment. I was later told, by frequent visitors whom I met on my second visit, that I was indeed fortunate, as in all the years that they have been visiting this park, they had never had even a glimpse of a caracal.
By then (just before 18:00) it was beginning to rain, but I also spotted some bontebok in the dunes, and later, at the turnoff to Abrahamskraal, a pair of steenbok. And the showers were followed by a rainbow.
I paid my second visit to the WCNP
on 9 April, mistakenly thinking that it was enough off the beaten path that it would be quiet even on a Sunday. I first visited the very interesting West Coast Fossil Park, so this time approached WCNP
from the north, via Langebaan. I was shocked at the amount of traffic that sped down the park's road from the Langebaan entrance, clearly heading to the popular Geelbek Restaurant for Sunday dinner, and with absolutely no consideration for either the park wildlife or anyone who was there in the hopes of seeing some. The speed limit in the park is 50km/hr, but I saw few cars travelling at anything even close to that, more like 70-90km/hr or more. I went to Geelbek specifically to speak to someone about this matter, because I was extremely upset about this excessive speeding, but there was no one from SANParks on duty on a Sunday, only the shop and restaurant management and they really weren't interested.
I calmed down while watching birds in the Geelbek garden and found a path leading over the flats down to the shore, a very pleasant walk.
I then decided to drive out to Tsarsbank again, in the hope that that road would have less traffic. Tsarsbank was quite different on this bright and sunny afternoon, and I enjoyed watching and photographing African oystercatchers, cormorants, and smaller birds that I've not yet managed to identify.
I saw a lot of very skittish ostriches along the Langebaan road and a few francolin elsewhere, but little else — and no wonder, given the speeding traffic. But I enjoyed my visit despite (although I very much hope that SANParks institutes speed traps here) and lingered as late as possible (the park's exit time in April is 19:30), watching a dramatic sunset as I made my way to the exit.