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Published: September 21st 2015
Not long after we first arrived in Cape Town we took a drive up the West Coast to Saldanha and Darling. At the time we were too early for the flowers to be out and we decided not to visit the national park. Today we went back to see the flowers with Alison and Nathan. Claire, Grant and Lucy went too and we would meet them later.
Nathan drove this time so I just sat in the back and relaxed, taking in the scenery. Most of the landscape was still sandy dunes covered in stunted bushes but the palette of dull browns and greens had been augmented with bright yellow on some of the bushes. Whilst the bushes themselves were pretty, it didn't do much to improve the whole landscape which still felt quite bleak.
The traffic was much worse this time as it was a weekend in flower season but it didn't take that long to get there. We queued to get in to the park and then paid our R60 each in conservation fees. Once we were in we stayed in a queue of traffic - the flowers are a popular attraction!
For about 30km we
drove through the park and all we could see were the same stunted bushes we'd seen from the main road. Occasionally there was a bright flash of colour from a flower but they were few and far between. The journey through this wilderness was only interrupted by the occasional pause as a car stopped to pick a tortoise up from the road.
Then, quite suddenly, the veld opened up and there in front of us was a carpet of orange, yellow and purple flowers. Standing amongst the flowers in the distance were four gemsbok. At this point all of the cars decided to stop to take their photo and we followed their example. It was quite annoying as there were wardens around to ensure that no one walked on the veld. This meant that we could only view the flowers from a distance. It would have been lovely to get up close.
We drove on but soon stopped again as more bok had been sighted. These were more distant but standing in a more vibrant carpet of the same flowers. We took more photos and then moved on. A little bit further on we came to a car
park near an outcrop of rocks. This was our first opportunity to get out and explore a little. It was a relief to leave the car but by this point the day was very hot. We clambered over rocks, amongst giant lizards and more brightly coloured flowers. From the outcrop we were treated to a view of the Langebaan Lagoon in the valley below; the water was a bright shade of aquamarine and gleamed in the sun.
We moved on and drove through the park until we came to the lagoon where we were stopping for lunch. We met Claire, Grant and Lucy already sitting on the sparkling white sand next to the turquoise waters. The sun was hot and they'd obviously not been out of the water for long. We had a picnic lunch with them and spent an hour catching up. We then all left and, deciding we had had enough, all went home. Unusually I slept in the car and woke on the outskirts of Cape Town.
Overall, I felt that the West Coast National Park was pretty but I wasn't 'wowed' and didn't find it met the hype - if you're in the area
I'd recommend a visit in season but I'm not convinced it's worth a long drive to get there. We had a pleasant day together as a family though and that was what really mattered.
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