West Coast National Park
The West Coast National Park wraps around the Langebaan Lagoon which is included in its boundaries. The lagoon is considered a Ramsar wetland site of global importance.
The park offers excellent birding opportunities. Seawater feeds our lagoon, unlike most other local lagoons that are fed by rivers.
This natural oasis provides important habitat for thousands of migratory birds that travel to the local salt marshes and mud plains. The lagoon, which is about 16 km long, also supports rich marine life thanks to water from the Benguela upwelling. This nutrient rich ‘soup’ attracts rich bird life to the area.
Besides more than 250 bird species the park also has many places of archaeological and cultural interest. Several of the species are included on the Red List of endangered species.
During spring the park is transformed into a remarkable floral landscape. The Postberg Nature Reserve (private owned property that borders the Park and managed by its conservation authorities) opens its gates during spring for two months for visitors.
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The Langebaan Lagoon, a Ramsar wetland of global conservation importance, supports a rich list of species.
The lagoon is seen as an important wetland for waders from the northern hemisphere visiting our shoreline. In some years, wader numbers can increase from 4,000 in winter to 50,000 in summer. Besides the lagoon area that is a haven for birds, the Park’s endemic strandveld fynbos (comprising of small bushes and succulents) also supports abundant birdlife.
Over 250 different bird species have been observed in the park. Many are local endemics, meaning they can only be found here.
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The Park offers habitat to many mammals, although it is sometimes difficult to see them in the thick strandveld vegetation.
Two small antelope, the common duiker and steenbok, are however often spotted at the road edge. Striped mouse, bush karoo rat, small grey mongoose, steenbok, Cape grysbok, scrub hare, bontebok and caracal are amongst those animals that you might see during your visit.
The largest concentration of mammals is in the Postberg Reserve, but this is only open to the public during flower season.
Visitors should also keep an eye on the Atlantic Ocean for passing whales (mostly southern right whales) and dolphins.
When driving, be on the look out for angulated tortoises that cross the road. Besides the common mole snake, there are healthy populations of Cape cobra and puffadder in the park.
The West Coast National Park contains mostly Strandveld fynbos, which is a unique feature of South Africa’s West Coast.
This is one of the many vegetation types that forms part of the the Cape floristic region. This floral kingdom – one of six in the world and the only one within the borders of one country – is considered a biodiversity ‘hotspot’ of global importance.
The fynbos biome, in which the park is situated, is extremely rich in biodiversity. Fynbos has the most abundant species diversity of all the biomes in South Africa proportionally.
The Park’s vegetation includes many kinds of shrubs, succulents and indigenous grasses. Be on the lookout for vygies, kapokbos, bobbejaankool and geophytes like bobbejaantjies.
The Postberg Nature Reserve, a privately owned reserve that is managed by Park’s authorities, offers a display of exceptional indigenous flowers. The public can visit this area during August and September.
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