A walk in the park … with rewards

Langebaan hikes in the West Coast National Park
West Coast National Park, Langebaan Lagoon, Western Cape, South Africa

There’s more to Langebaan than kitesurfing and beach activities. Maybe it’s time to consider the delightful walks nearby?

The light on the lagoon, that blue-green distance, shimmering sand, wildlife and flora all feature in our roundup of the West Coast National Park’s hikes.

Strandveld Trail

Moderately challenging, this 7-km well-marked loop needs 3 hours 20 minutes to complete and can be done year-round. But you might want to schedule the walk for late-August to October when the daisies put on their party dresses.

Start at Geelbek Information Centre and proceed to 16 Mile Beach for a beach walk and then head back towards Geelbek. Fingers crossed that spectators would include eland, bontebok, gemsbok and tortoises. Birdlife is a given though. The area is populated by 250 bird species, accounting for more than a quarter of South Africa’s total. Among the park’s notable migrants are the Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling and Knot. They all fly a whopping 15 000 km from Russia to their WCNP breeding ground every year.

Bakoor Trail

For birding, flora and fauna, the 6.5-km Seeberg circular hiking trail has it all. It’s moderate and requires 3 hours max.

Make your way to the WCNP Langebaan entrance gate and follow the Green route for 2.4 km to Seeberg viewpoint with its historical cottage. This is a good stop for morning coffee. On a clear day, you can even see Table Mountain. Proceed down towards the lagoon along the Yellow Route for 2 km. Here it connects with the 2.1-km Blue route that’ll take you to the Seeberg bird hide and back to the entrance gate.

Shark Bay Shuffle

Kick off this 8.4-km out-and-back urban route at the WCNP Langebaan entrance gate. Stroll along Sunbird Drive towards the ocean. At the end, turn left into Stompneus Drive, continue past Shark Bay Hotel. At Shark Bay Shack, head back by taking the right-hand split. Turn right at Sporrie Close and right again to continue along Sunbird Drive.

Postberg Trail

This 19.2-km backpacking loop is open only from 1 Aug – 30 Sept and what a floral marvel it is then. Set aside two days with overnight camping at Plankiesbaai.

Depart from the WCNP’s Tsaarsbank Gate. All along the way you’ll be rewarded with grand mountain and sea views. You can even dip your toes into Langebaan lagoon. Leopard tortoises, snakes, ostriches, gemsbok, springbok and bontebok might surprise you too. Book in advance from 1 June: 022 7079902/3.

Eve’s Trail

Step into the ancient footsteps of Eve, who lived more than 117 000 years ago in the West Coast Biosphere Reserve. On the two-and-a-half-day guided, portered and catered slackpacker trek, you’ll cover 30 km surrounded by astonishing landscapes.

Day one includes a sunset walk to the dunes overlooking Langebaan Lagoon. The second day starts at the park’s southern end, heading north along 16 Mile Beach. From here, trek to Abrahamskraal. End on a high with a drive to Kraalbaai to check out Eve’s footprints.

After breakfast on day three, you’ll tramp towards Geelbek following the salt marsh track past the old Bottelry Farmstead. Continue to the lagoon edge and then along the banks with views of Churchhaven. The walk ends at Seeberg Cottage. Book: 0861 872457 or 022 7722144/5.

Photo: westend.de