Flower season on the West Coast

2012-08-01 08:50
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Photos: West Coast flowers in bloom

Take a look at the colourful carpet covering the West Coast National Park for flower season this year.

Imagine this scene: it's Monday, July 30th, a bright and beautiful day in the West Coast National Park, as the azure sky contrasts delightfully with the carpet of green, orange, yellow, white and purple underfoot. Overhead a Fish Eagle soars and performs its call of and to freedom, while a bunch of Bat-eared foxes forage for insects, and maybe a tiny rodent or two, among the flowers. From a bouldered hilltop, we admire the glittering ocean reflecting the sky, and watch as Dassen Island seems to be set afloat.

Rereading what I just wrote, sitting at a jumbled desk as a grey Cape Town day plays itself out outside, it seems like nothing more than an indulgent flight of fantasy. But fortunately photos prove otherwise. 

Yup, flower season arrived early this year, and we were lucky enough to get a little foretaste of what is to come over the next two months. 

Flower season on the West Coast

Every Spring the West Coast National Park undergoes something of a softening as the normally harsh and scrubby Strandveld vegetation gives way to masses of multi-coloured flowers, drawing thousands of nature-lovers to bask in the understated beauty. 

During this vibrant season the park opens the privately-owned 1800 hectare Postberg region to visitors for a period of two months (1 August to 30 September), as the floral display is particularly verdant in this area. 

According to section ranger, Carmen Gagiano, Postberg's blossoming beauty comes down to the fact that the area was once covered in farmland - canola fields and the like - and that the ground disturbance caused by tilling has made the soil perfectly fertile for flowers. 

Because the entire Postberg region is fenced in, it's also the best part of the park for game viewing. On a drive you can expect to see Eland, Kudu, Bontebok, Mountain Zebra and if you're really lucky, also Bat-eared foxes and caracal. 

There are two picturesque picnic spots overlooking both flower fields and the crashing Atlantic, where visitors can disembark, unpack a few snacks, take a few snaps and even empty an overeager bladder, as both are equipped with clean and pleasant restrooms. 

While practicalities pale in comparison to the fantasy-like landscape, Carmen warns visitors to make sure that their vehicles are satisfactorily fueled before entering the park, as bailing petrol-less patrons out of trouble is not a favourite ranger task. 

The best time to visit this year will be during August, as the early blooming could lead to an early wilting sometime in mid-September.

If you're going to pay the park (or any part of the West Coast) a spontaneous visit, you may want to check in with the local Flower line to make sure the Gouwsblomme (orange), Surings (yellow), White rain daisies and Blouflaks have turned their pretty little heads to the sun. The number to call is: 071 320 7146.

Geelbek restaurant 

After a full day of floral frolicking, visitors are encouraged to visit the Geelbek Restaurant where they can experience real laid-back, wholesome and homely West Coast cuisine. The restaurant is located within the main section of the park, but is also privately-owned and open to guests every day of the week from 9am to 5pm. 

Owner and manager, Elmarie Leonard, has decided to move away from the more tight-lipped approach Geelbek's restaurant once had, instead creating a relaxed and lazy atmosphere synonymous with this part of the coast. 

"We've decided to create loads of space for people to dine as they see most fit. If they want to sit at tables and chairs they're welcome, but they're just as welcome to sit, lie and roll on the grass while dining," she explained. 

During flower season, Geelbek Restaurant will be preparing picnic baskets for people to take along on their drives that will include hearty farmhouse-type dishes - ‘huiskos,' as she calls it - like roast lamb, pates and breads. They will be made to order and cost roughly R120 per person. 

For more information visit the Geelbek website or give them a call at 022 772 2134

Getting to the park:

The park is located just off the R27 (also known as the West Coast road), about 120km from Cape Town. The closes town is Langebaan located about 10km away from the main gate. 

Entry fees (for flower season):

R44 per person (South African)
R88 per person for international tourists
R64 per person for SADC



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