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Bontebok National Park

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This page displays all information relevant to this park/camp, except the following:

Introduction

  • The Aloe trail will be closed until further notice, due to flooding.
  • Late arrivals will be subject to a R200.00 escort fine from the main gate to the rest camp. Please advise reception in time if you will be late so that Escort is arranged in time.
  • Construction at Lang Elsies Kraal Rest Camp:
    Bontebok National Park is currently busy with the construction of four new family chalets in the Lang Elsies Rest Camp. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused during your stay in the park. The forecasted completion date of construction is the end of July 2014.

Bontebok National Park is a place of simplistic beauty and peaceful charm. The majestic Langeberg Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for this Park of colorful riches.

Explore the smallest national park of the South African National Parks' stable - on the banks of the Breede River, just 5km from the town of Swellendam in the Western Cape. Part of the Cape Floral Kingdom (a World Heritage Site), Bontebok National Park is always boasting something in bloom. Discover the beauty of the park through a day visit or overnight stay - watch the Bontebok grazing from your chalet window, or spy on the many birds home to the park from the viewing deck at the picnic and braai area.

Main attractions:

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Accommodation

Lang Elsie's Kraal Rest Camp

The Lang Elsie's Kraal restcamp, situated on the banks of the Breede River, is the first rest camp in South African National Parks to be built according to a "Touching the Earth Lightly" design. Named after a Khoe-Khoe Chieftain who lived there with her clan in the 18th century, the camp of 10 units provides pristine scenery of the park, Breede River and Langeberg Mountains - a perfect rest stop for visitors.

Chalets

Each unit of the Lang Elsies Kraal rest camp boasts majestic views of the Breede River valley and Langeberg mountains, from private sun-decks. There are 10 units accommodating up to four people with two single beds (double bed on request) and a double sleeper couch.

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Universal Access Chalets

Universal access is a key principle applied in the planning of the camp. All 10 units have ramps throughout and are accessible to wheelchairs. Two of the 10 units are designed with bathrooms and living spaces specially adapted to special-needs requirements.

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Camping

41 Camping and Caravan sites are located close to the Breede River - the perfect location to enjoy a little downtime with family or friends. Some sites are equipped with electricity while others are not.

A maximum of six persons per site is allowed. Not all sites are equipped with electrical outlets and no private generators are permitted. Sites can be arranged in either of the following ways (additional vehicles will pay extra):

  • One caravan with a side tent and one vehicle;
  • One tent and one vehicle;
  • One autovilla or motorised caravan.
Please note:

Accommodation images may differ from the actual units as refurbishment of various accommodation types occur on an on-going basis.

To view the accommodation prices, refer to Tariffs

General Information

  • All accommodation is serviced and fully equipped with crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils, bedding, towels and soap.
  • Check-in time for accommodation is 14:00 on the day of arrival at Bontebok National Park's Reception between 14:00 to 16:00. Check-out time on the day of departure is 10:00 at the park reception. No after-hours check-ins are permitted.
  • All units are self-catering.
  • Sheets and towels will be changed every three days.
  • Guests should bring their own wood.
  • The fridge-freezer combination, geysers and stove are all gas operated.
  • Electricity in the house is provided by solar energy. There are no points or plugs for electric equipment and guests are requested to use lights sparingly.
  • Tap water comes from a well-point and is safe to drink.

Ready to Book?

After a once-off registration, you can: Book New Reservations, Review Existing Reservations (amend or cancel, download PDF letters, pay outstanding amounts), Update Your Profile, etc.

Book & Pay Directly Online   or   Contact Reservations


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Activities

Birding

Home to around 200 species of bird, Bontebok National Park is a bird-watcher's paradise and is known as an excellent place to view Denham's (Stanley's) Bustard. View birds from the deck of your chalet, from a self-drive through the park, or while relaxing on the banks of the Breede River. There are no formalised bird hides within the park, but the open skies and landscapes make an easy spot.

Game viewing from own vehicle

Bontebok National Park is home to Bontebok, Grey Rhebuck, Red Hartebeest as well as many smaller mammals - take yourself and/or your family on a drive around the park and spot as many animals as you can. Be careful to adhere to the speedlimit so as not to threaten, scare or endanger the wildlife.

Trails

Three nature-hiking trails, starting and ending in the rest camp area for overnighters and old pump house for day visitors.
Download the trail map.

Bathing in the Breede River - in the Rest Camp Area and at Die Stroom

Take a dive into the Breede River from either of the above access points - on hot days in the park, this can be a more than welcomed relief.

Angling in the Breede River

Anglers must be in possession of a valid angling permit, available for purchase at Park Reception.
Own equipment is necessary.

Canoeing/Kayaking in the Breede River

Own equipment is necessary.
No power boats are allowed on the river.

Mountain Biking opportunities available

Take a cycle or mountain bike ride in the park - route info is available at the park reception office.

Picnicing and Braai spots

Whether you're staying the night visiting for the day - enjoy some time out on the banks of the Breede River with friends and family and use the designated braai and picnic areas. Full ablution facilities are available at these sites.

Swimming

Take a dip in the Breede River for a welcomed relief from the summer heat. No life guards on duty so swimming is at one's own risk.

A community levy of 1% will be added to the cost of all accommodation and activity reservations arriving on or after the 1st of June 2012.

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Park history

Bontebok National Park’s Journey:

Bontebok National Park was originally established to conserve a species – its namesake, the Bontebok.

When the species was approaching extinction in the early 1800s (approximately 17 Bontebok left) some land owners set aside portions of their properties to form temporary reserves for the Bontebok. Mr. P. V. van der Byl, his son, Mr. A. van der Byl, and the van Breda and Albertyn families recognised the perilous situation of the species – without these families’ efforts the Bontebok might well have become extinct.

In 1931 the first Bontebok National Park was proclaimed on an area near Bredasdorp. The Park was later moved to the area it is in now, to suit the habitat requirements of the Bontebok. By 1969 it was estimated that the numbers had grown to around 800 globally.

Today, the smallest national park in the South African National Park stable, Bontebok is proud to boast of its achievements in biodiversity conservation, from the endangered fynbos veld type, coastal Renosterveld, to the bontebok! The conservation story of this species is one of heart-warming success, bringing the numbers world-wide from a mere 17 bontebok, to a current global total of approximately 3000, 200 of which call Bontebok National Park their home (the maximum this park can support taking into consideration biodiversity conservation as a whole). The Park today offers much more for nature lovers, from a diversity of indigenous animal life to over 200 remarkable bird species.

Cultural History of the Area

Southern Africa has one of the longest records of human activity anywhere in the world. The Swellendam region in the Overberg is rich in historic sites dating from over 1 million years ago to more recent colonial settlements. The later Stone Age can be linked to the Khoe Khoe who, in the Swellendam region were known as the Hessequa. This name translates to mean “people of the trees”.

The Hessequa Khoe Khoe entered the Overberg region some 2,000 years ago. They were a clan of herders; farming fat tailed sheep and long horn cattle. The Hessequa’s moved freely across the western area of the Overberg and lived on the banks of the Breede River where they grazed their large herds. Every Khoe Khoe settlement was controlled by a captain and at times up to 17 captains would set up camp with their nomadic dwellings at the settlement of the most powerful Hessequa chief.

European settlers landed at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 and the first contact with the Hessequa Khoe Khoe was in 1660. Lourens Visser, a representative of the Dutch East India Company established a trading post in the area in 1667. To protect the company interests, Drostdy was built in 1745 as the official headquarters and residence for the magistrate. The town of Swellendam developed in 1747 in honour of the Cape Governor, Hendrik Swellengrebel. Land was cleared of fynbos as extensive wheat and sheep farming ensued.

The arrival of settlers in the Overberg was catastrophic for the indigenous inhabitants. Smallpox, land competition, alcohol and tobacco decimated the clans of the Hessequa’s living in this region. Two Hessequa captains and their followers lived in the area where the Bontebok National Park is now situated. The Park’s rest camp is named after the first of them, a remarkable female captain by the name of Lang Elsie. Between 1734 and 1800 she lived with her followers at the southern part of the Park, grazing their stock all the way to the Buffeljags River.

Visitors to the park can still see the open werf area where Lang Elsie’s kraal of woven reed huts was situated. Next to this open space are the ruins of a small stone house where Captain Lang Elsie lived, according to the author of Geskiedkundige Swellendam (Tomlinson, 1934).
Nouga Saree, a contemporary of Lang Elsie, lived with his followers in the western part of the Park, at what came to be called the Ou Tuin. Here too an open werf area is evidence of their settlement. Their sheep and cattle grazed in the area that is now the old Resies Baan (Race Track), so named as this area was used by the Swellendam Turf Club for their race meetings. It is said that these races were so popular that on one occasion the Kadie, a steam ship, was chartered to transport race goers from Cape Town to Swellendam. Jockeys were drawn from the now servile Hessequa and so dangerous was the track, that many would be killed.

According to authors and residents of Swellendam, the graves of Nouga Saree and some of his people were found at the foot of the small ridge above Ou Tuin when the Bontebok National Park was established. People recalled that the graves were covered with ‘blue mountain stones’. Although there are several references to the Khoi graves in the Ou Tuin, these graves are not to be found today. The park is committed to preserving these cultural heritage sites and plans are in place for further research and interpretation of Lang Elsie’s Kraal and the gravesite of Nouga Saree.

Acknowledgements:

  • Skinner, J.D. (1980). The Mammals of the South African Sub region.
  • Tomlinson, L.L. (1943) Geskiedkundige Swellendam
  • Van Hemert, M. and Meffert, P. (1991) Die Khoisan van die Overberg. Drostdy Museum, Swellendam
  • Van Rensburg, A.P.J. (1975) Die geskiedenis van die Bontebok Park, Swellendam Koedoe, Vol. 18, 165-190

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How to get there

Air

The Swellengrebel Airfield is adjacent to the park, suitable for light aircraft.

Car/Coaches

Bontebok National Park is situated 6km from the picturesque and historic town of Swellendam, 240km from Cape Town and 540km from Port Elizabeth. The park's current entrance is about five kilometres off the N2.

Gate opening and closing times

  • 1 October to 30 April: 07:00 - 19:00
  • 1 May to 30 September: 07:00 - 18:00

GPS waypoints

  • S 34° 04’ 33.7”
    E 20° 27’ 19.3”

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Park Map

GPS waypoints

  • S 34 04’ 33.7”
    E 20 27’ 19.3”
Click on the map to enlargen


Park Map

Click on the map to enlargen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tariffs

Daily Conservation Fees for 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2014

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID)

R30 per adult, per day
R15 per child, per day

SADC Nationals (with passport)

R40 per adult, per day
R20 per child, per day

Standard Conservation Fee

R80 per adult, per day
R40 per child, per day



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Essential Information

Climate

The region has a temperate climate with an average rainfall of ± 500mm per annum, occurring mainly during early summer and winter.

Day visitors

Bontebok National Park is a great day-visit location. Recently upgraded day-visitor facilities include a rest camp and recreational braai facility called "Die Stroom".

The park is easily accessible from the N2 and because of its small size; visitors can drive around the whole park in a few hours. It is a great stopping point between Cape Town and the Garden Route, for a picnic, swim, or small hike to stretch the legs. It also offers passers-by and local residents a great braai location or a place to bring the kids.

Check-in and check-out times

  • Check-in time: 14:00 p.m.
    Check-out time: 09:00 a.m.

Office Hours

  • 1 October to 30 April: 07:00 - 19:00
    1 May to 30 September: 07:00 - 18:00

Internal Road Network

The park's internal roads and entry road from the N2 are gravel roads. The present road network provides two major game drive loops that can be completed in 1-2 hours respectively, depending on game viewing stops.

Vehicle Restrictions

Powerboats and quad bikes are not allowed.
Motorcycles are allowed in the park.
The driving speed limit in the park is 40km/hr and in certain sections, 20km/hr. Visitors should adhere to these restrictions in order to safeguard the wildlife (big and small) in the park.

Handy Tips & Hints

  • Pets are not allowed in a national park.
  • Vehicle fuel is available in all parks (or is available on the park periphery) - South African legislation stipulates that fuel stations will accept legitimate petrol/fuel/garage/credit/debit cards or cash as a form of payment for any fuel purchase.
  • As outdoor lighting in camps is limited, a torch/headlamp is required when walking outside at night.
  • Firearms must be declared at reception where they will be sealed. The seal will be broken upon departure.
  • No power boats on the river.
  • No private generators allowed at caravan or campsites.
  • Doctors, pharmacies, vehicle repair, fuel and police services are available in Swellendam.

Facilities

  • Picnic and braai/barbecue sites with ablution facilities are available for day and overnight visitors.
  • A shop at the park entrance supplies basic commodities like beer, snacks and soft drinks and curios. Fresh produce and other groceries are available in Swellendam.
  • No ATM facility available in the park. An ATM is available in Swellendam (5km from the park).
  • The nearest fuel supply is in the town of Swellendam.

What visitors need to take (preparation for the trip)

  • Remember to bring along a flashlight, grill, firewood, angling equipment, bathing suit, walking shoes, camera, binoculars and wildlife reference books.
  • Consult the Swellendam Publicity Association or Tourism Office for places of interest and activities in and around the area.

Contact Information

For enquiries email Bontebok National Park or phone us on the following numbers:

  • Tel: +27 28 514 2735
  • Fax: +27 28 514 2646

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Birding in Bontebok National Park

The park is noteworthy as an excellent place to see Denham’s (Stanley’s) Bustard.

Other large and visible species include Blue Crane, Spur-wing Goose, Secretarybird and SouthernBlack Korhaan. Malachite and Southern (Lesser) Double Collared Sunbird should be seen at the reception building, while the campsite attracts a number of species. Prominent amongst these are Fiscal Flycatcher, Klaas’s Cuckoo (summer), AcaciaPied Barbet and Red-faced Mousebird. Pearl-breasted Swallow are regularly seen. Swee Waxbill frequents the dense riverine bush adjacent the Bree River, while Water Thick-knee are regular along the river’s

(For more birding information and park bird checklist, go to Information for Birders)

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Fauna and Flora

Birds

Bontebok National Park is an excellent place for birding - with vast open landscapes and plenty of natural viewing spots.

The park is noteworthy as an excellent place to see Denham's (Stanley's) Bustard.
Other species commonly viewed in Bontebok National Park include:

From the park reception area:

  • Blue Crane
  • Spur-wing Goose
  • Secretarybird
  • Southern Black Korhaan
  • Malachite
  • Southern (Lesser) Double Collared Sunbird

From the campsites:

  • Fiscal Flycatcher
  • Klaas's Cuckoo
  • AcaciaPied Barbet
  • Red-faced Mousebird.
  • Pearl-breasted Swallow

From the dense riverine bush adjacent the Breede River or along the river's edge:

  • Swee Waxbill
  • Water Thick-knee

For more birding information and park bird checklist, go to Information for Birders.

Mammals

There are a variety of mammals that visitors can find throughout Bontebok National Park. There are about 158 bontebok that traverse the fynbos plain and guests are certain to see this colourful conservation success story. Red Hartebeest, Grey Rhebok, Steenbok, and Grysbok are also about, commonly amidst the Park’s founding species. In addition, there are 8 of the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra that visitors can see.

The Park has various carnivore species including Caracal, Bat-Eared Fox, Cape Fox, and Aardwolf. Although these species are mostly nocturnal there have been day sightings of Bat Eared Foxes and Aardwolf. There are various Mongoose Species and the Breede River provides a perfect setting for Cape Clawless Otter.

Vegetation

The Cape Floral Kingdom, recognized as one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth, is exemplified here. There is something in bloom year round with the peak flower season in the spring. The vegetation is fynbos and characterized by four major plant types: restioids, ericoids, proteoids, and geophytes. Coastal Renosterveld is a part of this vegetation biome and is found in limited areas. It usually grows in highly fertile soils.

This high fertility has meant that most of the area has been converted to agriculture, with other Renosterveld types also heavily ploughed or used as augmented pasture. It is a vegetation type in need of conservation.


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Vegetation

The Cape Floral Kingdom, recognized as one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth, is exemplified here.

There is something in bloom year round with the peak flower season in the spring. The vegetation is fynbos and characterized by four major plant types: restioids, ericoids, proteoids, and geophytes. Coastal Renosterveld is a part of this vegetation biome and is found in limited areas. It usually grows in highly fertile soils.

This high fertility has meant that most of the area has been converted to agriculture, with other Renosterveld types also heavily ploughed or used as augmented pasture. It is a vegetation type in need of conservation.


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People with disabilities

Wheelchair Access

Accommodation

Universal access is a key principle applied in the planning of the Lang Elsie's Kraal camp. Two of the 10 units are special-needs adapted with bathrooms and living spaces which meet current best practice for use by people with special needs. The communal camping ablutions have no adaptations to facilitate use by person with mobility impairments.

Chalet (CH2/4Z)

The unit is accessible to the mobility challenged. The open-plan chalet features two single beds and a double sleeper couch (suitable for one adult or two children). The unit also includes a kitchenette, bathroom with shower, fan, under-roof braai facility and viewing deck.

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Please note:

Accommodation images may differ from the actual units as refurbishment of various accommodation types occur on an on-going basis.

Accessible Activities & Facilities

  • The new facilities have ramps throughout and are totally accessible to wheelchairs.
  • The information building is also accessible.

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