There is something so effortlessly tranquil about a nature reserve. Whether it’s beside the sea or inland, they are the last few places you can visit to really and truly experience wide, open spaces of green vegetation, low bushveld, wild flowers in all their brilliance and animals of every variation going about as usual uninterrupted by human’s idea of civilisation.
Within these borders, humans have to adhere to the animal’s rules; stop for a tortoise crossing the dirt road, drive slowly enough not to disturb the basking lizard on the hot rock and stay within the car and not walk through their natural habitat. For a day you get to enjoy all this beauty and leave as little of your footprints behind.
The West Coast National Park is one of my favourite places in the world. It won’t take you long to discover why. Once you enter the gates during the spring season and make your way to Postberg, the wild flowers all seem to greet you as you move by. Provided the sun is out, they are all more than happy to open and face the light and do so for two months of every year. This is such a magical time. Around every bend, you’ll spot yet another bloom you haven’t seen before. Hills of bright yellow make you blink repeatedly as your eyes adjust to this brilliance. Tortoises, snakes, birds and eland seem totally unaware that you are even there. Occasionally a bontebok nearby would give us the eye and proceed to stand proudly erect. Eland graze on vast fields of land throughout this section of the reserve and ostriches are dotted all over too.
Uitkyk (lookout) was a popular place for people to picnic on the rocks overlooking the ocean and Langebaan on the other side. Purple, orange and red blossoms were scattered all amongst the rocks and it took me a little longer than I imagined identifying them all in my flower guide which we purchased at the entrance. We ate our lunch, my boyfriend was bitten by a fly resembling a bee with two, large blue eyes and next it was onto Plankiesbaai.
This was another area where you were able to get out your car, put up umbrellas and rest awhile. Seagulls stood on the signboards waiting to get leftovers, families sat on the grass and my parents walked along the rough water’s edge. My boyfriend and I made our way up something that look like a rocky hill, but ended up to be more of little mountain.
Orange flowers (goudblomme) resiliently sprung up in the sandy soil on the cliff. Far below I could see my parents along the path. The view from here made the unexpected climb worth it and the tumultuous ocean continuously brought in rolls of new swell. We seemed to have started a trend. More people showed up with their cameras to take in these mountain flowers and view from the hill.
We exited Postberg and swung right to Tsaarsbank where the Atlantic performed spectacularly and sent its white water surging high in the air as it hit the smooth boulders. I held my breath as each wave sent fireworks of saltwater up and down like a waterfall through the crevices. Once again, you are left feeling totally in awe and powerless in the face of nature and creation. The sign on the Honorary Ranger’s stall warned of ticks in the long grass which sent my mother into a panic about checking our clothes afterward.
The last stop is my very best. Kraalbaai’s quiet, turquoise waters are where no one makes any noise at all other than boats zooming by occasionally. The cool breeze on the jetty signalled that the day’s heat was slowly fading away taking the sun with it. Kids were happy to wade in the water and the houseboats bobbed atop the water’s surface. I love the colour of this water like nothing else. I took one last look at the red and orange berries growing along the beach and the bird all too happy to live in this beautiful bay and then all too soon it was back to ‘civilisation’.
|Eland roaming the reserve.
|Orange flowers atop the mountain.
|Wild Atlantic Ocean