Archive for the west coast Category

The West Coast National Park.

On the other side of the lagoon at Langebaan is the West Coast National Park. The Park was established in 1985 with the aim of conserving the Langebaan Lagoon and surrounding landscapes, which also includes the islands in Saldanha Bay and the area from Yzerfontein to Langebaan.

The West Coast National Park.
The West Coast National Park.

The habitats in the park are unique and varied and its salt marshes and wetlands together with the granite islands in Saldanha Bay, cover an area of over 32,000ha and are ideal for the large breeding population of sea birds and also the growth of lowland fynbos.

One of two entrances to the park.
One of two entrances to the park.

This is the entrance from the Langebaan side and there is another entrance from the R27 to Velddrif. Entrance costs R26.00 per adult or you can get in for free if you have a SAN Parks Wild card.

Why did the tortoise cross the road?
Why did the tortoise cross the road?

I must have seen at least 30 tortoises on the road as I drove to and through the park. Some were not lucky and had been hit by motorcars.

Shame this Puff Adder (Bitis arietans)was not to lucky.
Shame! This Puff Adder (Bitis arietans) was also not so lucky.
Geelbek Visitor Centre.
Geelbek Visitor Centre.

I recommend that  the first place you stop in at is Geelbek Visitor Centre. There is a very good information centre, great restaurant and an interesting curio shop.

Cast of "Eves Footprint".
Cast of “Eve’s Footprint”.
Close-up of "Eve's Footprint".
Close-up of “Eve’s Footprint”.

The footprint, which is believed to be over 120,000 years old, was discovered at Kraalbaai in 1995 by  geologist Dr. Dave Roberts. To find out more please go to link

Good sign posting in the park.
Good sign posting in the park

There are many sign boards in the park as to all the different spots but just be aware that not all are open to the public. One of these is the Postberg section which is only open in the spring flower season of August and September. Another not open, all year round, is Churchhaven.

Houseboats at Kraalbaai
Houseboats at Kraalbaai

Some of these houseboats, one being the Nirvana, are available for accommodation and there are also quite a few self catering chalets at a place called Duinepos.

Another view of Kraalbaai.

Another view of Kraalbaai.

Preekstoel which is close to Kraalbaai.

Preekstoel which is close to Kraalbaai.

Both Kraalbaai and Preekstoel are very sheltered from the prevailing south-east wind which was howling across the lagoon at Langebaan

Seaward (Atlantic) side of the park.
Vondeling Island on the seaward (Atlantic) side of the park.

View of Vondeling Island (21ha) taken from Tsaarsbank. The island was last inhabited in 1962 and the old buildings are now used by penguins and other birds.

As with much of the west coast - rough seas and rocky shoreline.

As with much of the west coast - rough seas and rocky shoreline.

Wreck of the Pantalis a Lemos

Wreck of the Pantalis A Lemos

In the distance the Pantalis A Lemos, an ore-carrier, which went aground in 1978. It is about a 4 km hike along the beach, in soft sea sand, to get to the wreck and my time was running out so just took a telephoto shot from the beach.

Abrahamskraal bird hide.

Abrahamskraal bird hide.

Self catering cottage near the Abrahamskraal bird hide.

Self catering cottage near the Abrahamskraal bird hide.

Electricity in the house is provided by solar power and the stove, geyser and fridge are gas operated.

The weather, on the day of my visit to the park, was not great so maybe that was why I did not see much wild life apart from the tortoises, a few snakes and a couple of wild ostriches although I was told that a lot of game can be seen in Postberg when it is open in Spring.

There are 4 different options for both hiking and cycling trails and Kraalbaai and Preekstoel are  great for just relaxing on the beach and having a family braai. There is also kayaking, windsurfing, kite-boarding and if you are lucky whale watching at Tsaarsbank from August to November.

Leentjiesklip Caravan Park

Langebaan has 3 caravan parks – one right in the centre of the town and two next to the lagoon. I had a look at the one in town on a couple of occasions and have never actually seen anyone staying there which is quite surprising as it is very sheltered, the sites are grassed and the ablutions did not look too bad. Of the two on the lagoon I would definitely choose Leentjiesklip.

Leentjiesklip Caravan Park.
Leentjiesklip Caravan Park.
Good security at the entrance.
Good security at the entrance.

There is no security from the beach at the front but I did not see anyone who was not supposed to be there. It would be a real shame if they did have to  put up a security fence.

Park office.
Park office.

The manager of the park was very friendly and helpful. After chatting to him and other mangers of municipal caravan parks it sounds as if they have an extremely frustrating job trying to get funding and approval for general maintenance and staff.

My set-up which was as close to the lagoon as I could get.
My set-up which was as close to the lagoon as I could get.
Typical area of the park.
Typical area of the park.

As you can see some of the top stands have level concrete areas but all the stands below the road are grass. It does blow pretty hard and there is not much shelter on offer.

One of two ablution blocks.
One of two ablution blocks.

The ablution blocks are not bad and I know that they are busy improving them for the upcoming season.

There are also sites that have their own private ablutions but are quite expensive.
There are also sites that have their own private ablutions but are quite expensive.

Childrens play ground.

Children's play ground.

Permanent residents?

Permanent residents?

There are a number of permanent residents who live in mobile homes within the park boundaries. I put the question mark there as there is talk  that in the not too distant future the municipality is going to sell out to developers. To be honest I think that this area is better than many of the areas that have already been developed and has the best beach frontage to the lagoon. It will be very sad but I think inevitable.

The beach area i front of Leentjiesklip.

The beach area i front of Leentjiesklip.

Tried fishing off those rocks a couple of times with no luck.

Came across this diver on one of my evening walks who had just speared a 2kg Blacktail fish.

Came across this diver on one of my evening walks who had just speared a 2kg Blacktail fish.

This is the way to go camping - pure luxury.

This is the way to go camping - pure luxury.

Also a great way to catch up on some work!!

Also a great way to catch up on some work!!

Met up with Deon, closest to the camera, and Hannes catching up on some work. Deon is Managing director of a company called Omnilog in Krugersdorp and bought the motor home as he has to travel a lot to see clients and feels it more cost effective to flying and having to stay in hotels. Besides that he loves camping.

Sunset over the lagoon.

Sunset over the lagoon.

This is a photograph I took the last time I was at Leentjiesklip a few months ago.

All in all I have enjoyed my two stays at Leentjiesklip Caravan Park and it will be a sad day when they close the park. Maybe sense will prevail and it will survive but I seriously doubt it.

Langebaan 2.

As one drives out of Langebaan town centre, on the road towards Saldahna Bay, there are a number of (newer) developments along side the lagoon starting with one called “The Cove” which is next to Leentjiesklip Caravan Park.

Map of the area I am covering.

Map of the area.

The Cove.
The Cove.
As with all the developments there are houses right on the edge of the lagoon.
As with most of the developments there are houses right on the edge of the lagoon.

The next one along the road is.
The next one along the road is called Waterfront.

It is a security gated area and they were not keen to let me in to take photographs.

The next turn of takes you to the developments of Blue Lagoon and Calypso Beach.
The next turn of takes you to the developments of Blue Lagoon and Calypso Beach.

Strangely enough Blue Lagoon has no lagoon side housing but Calypso Beach does. Both are gated security estates but there is access to the lagoon on foot.

In spite of the financial situation in SA at the moment there are still some pretty big houses going up at Calypso Beach.
In spite of the financial situation in SA at the moment there are still some pretty big houses going up at Calypso Beach.
Houses at Calypso that are not right next to the lagoon but have stunning views.
Houses at Calypso that are not right next to the lagoon but have stunning views.
The next turn of takes one down to the well known Club Mykonos.
The next turn off takes one down to Club Mykonos.
If you are tired of all the water sports and lazing in the sun you can always pop in at Mykonos and try your hand at a bit of gambling!
If you are tired of all the water sports and lazing in the sun you can always pop in at Mykonos and try your hand at a bit of gambling!

The folks at the Club Mykonos information centre were friendly and informative and also gave me a pass to drive and park anywhere I wanted in the development. I am just going to show a few of the photographs I took so if you want more info please go to this link.

Came accross these two looking for some kids to take on a donkey ride.
Came across these two looking for some kids to take on a donkey ride.

There is a really good entertainment programme laid on every day of the week for the youngsters, teenagers  and adults. I don’t think one could ever be bored here.

View from harbour wall.
View from harbour wall.

Looking toward the main waterfront area where there are plenty of restaurants, shops, conference centre, boat trip offices and more.
Looking toward the main waterfront area where there are plenty of restaurants, shops, conference centre, boat trip offices and more.

Club Mykonos yachting harbour.

Club Mykonos harbour.

This shot was taking from the north side where new developments taking place at Mykonos called Apollo Ridge and Aegean Heights.

Some of the house in the new development at Mykonos.

Some of the house in the new development at Mykonos.

Saw this structure high up on Apollo Ridge only to find out it is a cell phone base station.

Saw this structure high up on Apollo Ridge only to find out it is just a cell phone base station.

Also up this way is another new development call Paradise Beach which I could not look at as security were not keen for me to go in and take photographs

Looking back, with Mykonos in the foreground, at all the developments we have just had a look at.

Looking back, with Mykonos in the foreground, at all the developments we have just had a look at.

Right at the turn off down to Club Mykonos they have now built a pretty big shopping centre so don’t worry too much if you forget something at home.

Lagoona Shopping Centre.

Shopping Centre.

As with all places along the west coast there are some grat sea-food restaurants.

As with all places along the west coast there are some great sea-food restaurants.

As you can see there is a huge amount happening in and around Langebaan and, from some of the things I have heard, I believe that once the financial situation improves in SA there is going to be massive new development. More about that when I do my next post on Leentjiesklip Caravan Park.

Langebaan

I have decided to do four posts on Langebaan as there is much to see and do and it would be difficult to squeeze it all in to just one post. I am going to divide it into  older Langebaan, newer Langebaan, Leentjiesklip Caravan Park and the West Coast National Park – starting with older Langebaan.

Founded in 1922 and known as “the jewel of the West Coast”  this historical town was once a whaling station but has now transformed into one of the busiest holiday destinations on the West Coast. Langebaan is just over 100km’s from Cape Town, off the R27 to Velddrif, and is situated alongside the Langebaan Lagoon. Just before you get to Langebaan town centre you will see, on the left side of the linking road, Langebaan Country Estate.

Langebaan Country Esate.
Entrance to Langebaan Country Estate.

The estate is 450 hectares and is a gated, secure golf type estate, and has an 18 hole Gary Player redesigned course. The club house, which overlooks a splendid water feature, is perfect for conferences and wedding receptions. Tennis courts, a bowling green and residents swimming pool are also available. To find out more please go to link.

Restaurants at the main beach area
Restaurants at the main beach area

As one drives through the town you take a right turn at the 5th stop street and come to the beach area of Langebaan where all the sports action takes place and there are also some great sea food restaurants.

There are also  some interesting looking shops.
There are also some interesting looking shops.

Look ma no hands.
Look ma no hands.

Langebaan is internationally known for it’s ideal conditions for kite surfing, wind surfing and sailing during the summer months and the white beaches, surrounding the crystal clear waters, are one of the main attractions.

Apartment development on the beach front.
Apartment development on the beach front.

Many years ago this section used to have lease hold timber beach house that were regularly flooded and damaged at  spring high tides. I must be honest and say that I would love to have one of these lock-up and go apartments as a holiday house.

Some of the original houses at Langebaan.
Some of the original houses on the southern side of Langebaan.

Reverse view of that same section of the lagoon.
Reverse view of that same section of the lagoon.

This was the part of Langebaan, the southern section, that was first developed and still has a special atmosphere.

Fishing in the lagoon.
Fishing in the lagoon.

If you know what you are doing, have the right bait etc, there is some great fishing in the lagoon. These guys were catching mostly Stompneus.

There is no more space for new houses along the edge of the lagoon in this section of Langebaan so all the  newer development has taken place on the hills that overlook the lagoon.

One of the newer houses overlooking the lagoon.
One of the newer houses overlooking the lagoon.
One of the older original cottages.

One of the older original cottages.

As one goes back out of the town centre you can take a left turn that takes you to Saldanha Bay via many of the new housing developments, which I am going to post about next time, and also past one of the most famous restaurants in the area – Die (The) Strandloper.

Signpost to The Strandlooper.

Signpost to Die (The) Strandloper.

If you enjoy seafood then this is a must go to but just be aware of two things – you have to book well in advance, and I am talking weeks maybe even months, and you must allow at least 4 hours for the experience.

The open air restaurant.

The open air restaurant right at the edge of the lagoon.

I could only get there when it was closed but have eaten there on quite a few occasions and it was an amazing experience. I was sad to see that much of the beach area in the front has been washed away as we used to go for a swim between courses.

Just loved this sign so had to put it in.

Just loved this sign so had to put it in.

To find out more info about Die Strandloper please follow this link.

The next place along the road toward Saldanha is call Leentjiesklip Caravan Park, where I am staying, and then starts all the new developments around Langebaan which is what I will show you in my next post.


Saldanha Bay.

Situated on the west coast, about 140 km’s from Cape Town, is the picturesque sea side town of Saldanha Bay. It is also positioned  on the northern corner of the largest natural bay in South Africa. The natural deep, sheltered harbour played an important part in the long and colourful history of the area and today still plays a central role in the export and import for the industries of the region.

Saldanha, due to its sheltered harbour, provides excellent conditions for water sport and fishing enthusiasts. During the Second World War it was also extremely important because of its strategic location and safe anchorage as a convoy assembly point. Even today Saldanha is host to a training naval base and the SA Military Academy.

View of Saldanha Bay.
View of Saldanha Bay.
Another view looking more toward the fishing harbour area.
Another view looking more toward the fishing harbour area.

The rock formation seen on the right side of the photograph is known as “Adam & Eve”.

Closer view of the town centre and harbour area.
Closer view of the town centre and harbour area.

The local economy is strongly dependent on fishing, mariculture , mussels, seafood and the harbour trade as well as the established steel industry. The popular SAS Saldanha Nature Reserve, which I unfortunately did not have time to visit, has displays of wild flowers in late winter & early spring and Southern Right whales also visit the safe waters in and around the reserve.

Still a strong military presense.

Still a strong military presence.

Fishing trawler in the harbour.
Fishing trawlers in the harbour.
More fishing boats.
More fishing boats.

Took a stroll to the end of this wharf,  where you can just see that white car,  to see what was going on and found this.

Yes there are fish in the water and some are even catching them!
Yes there are fish in the water and some fishermen are even catching them! The fish is a Stompneus and of legal size.
Came accross 3 young guys practising on their skate boards and managed to get this shot with my trusty Canon G7.
Came across 3 young guys practising on their skate boards and managed to get this shot with my trusty Canon G7.
Nice looking sea food restaurant in the harbour area.
Nice looking sea food restaurant in the harbour area.
Looks like quite a large and active yaucht club.
Looks like quite a large and active yacht club.
Flowers and boats - not your normal mix.
Flowers and boats – not your normal mix.

Saldanha Bay has the normal mix of shops, restaurants and 2 hotels. I would imagine that some of the local shops are really going to battle as there are now 2 big shopping centres that have opened nearby.

The Protea Hotel, Saldanha Bay.
The Protea Hotel, Saldanha Bay.

I had been quite keen to stay at the local caravan park but to be honest had heard some not very nice things said about the park so gave it a miss. I decided to go and have a look and see for myself.

Entrance to caravan park.
Entrance to caravan park. Good securit, friendly manager and the price was good.
Some of the well grassed stands.
Some of the well grassed stands.
The ablution block was pretty well maintained and looked clean.
The ablution block was pretty well maintained and looked clean.

I don’t know if things have maybe changed dramatically recently but I thought the park looked pretty good and I would not hesitate to stay there if I was in the area again. They also have cottages ranging in price from R160.00 (small 4  bed)out of season to the largest (6 bed) at R574.00 in season.

On my way back to Langebaan I saw these iron ore railway trucks waiting to be off loaded.
On my way back to Langebaan I saw these iron ore railway trucks waiting to be off loaded.

The Sishen-Saldanha Project, constructed during the early 1970’s, is the only dedicated iron ore export facility in South Africa. The dedicated railway line runs from the Sishen mine in the Northern Cape directly to the off loading facility in Saldanha Bay harbour. These trains are kilometres in length and if you get stack at a level crossing can take more that 10 minutes to pass.

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