Avoiding the horrible, cliché “Spring has Sprung” post, the Vernal Equinox only takes place on the 22nd of September in the Southern Hemisphere, but this isn’t about that.
The West Coast is AMAZING; the West Cost National Park is only just over an hour from the hustle of over-priced coffee and the plethora of bagel shops of the City Bowl in Cape Town. Even for a day trip, skip out on one night’s partying and tequila shots at Yours Truly, have an early night and head out as the sun starts to dissipate the mist along the R27 coastal route.
The spring flower season along the West Coast and Namaqualand is spectacular!
The park is inexpensive, the prices are seasonal and being a South African citizen comes with a slightly reduced rate.
In the park there is only a single restaurant/shop where you can buy the basic necessities for a day trip. Although, the restaurant “Geelbek” has a nice offering of a range of light meals, and more importantly tea/coffee, and some fairly legit West Coast baked goods. It can get rather busy and the laid back attitude of the West Coast can get rather annoying when it comes to service, but what’s the rush anyway.
The wild flowers along the coast have a really limited life span, so the best time for viewing is from August – September where the Postberg section of the park is opened up to the public. During the rest of the year this part of the park is off-limits to the general public as it’s an active military base.
It does take a little ducking and diving to find a spot to view the flowers without 15 Land Rovers who have driven off the road and parked off in the middle of a field ruining all photo opportunities, but it’s worth it. Although you’re not actually supposed to walk through the flowers- let alone drive through them- but I’ll write that off to those few being Johannesburg drivers.
Not that I ever need a reason to visit a National Park, but seeing the West Coast bursts of colour compared to when I last visited in March was quite a stark contrast. After a few hours taking photos of flowers and suffering intense pollen inhalation, it was about time to go find some of the lesser known creatures of the park.
First up was this little Angulate tortoise; they’re common throughout the park and often can be seen crossing the roads. Sadly a lot of them end up as road kill due to people simply not looking where they are driving, or speeding in the park.
Something I’m pretty sure regular visitors of the park wouldn’t even know even existed are these fascinating little Gronovi’s dwarf burrowing skinks. They are several species of Dwarf burrowing skinks in the park and can commonly be found on cool days just beneath the surface in loose, fine soil. They’re currently listed as a near-threatened species due to habitat loss and development of property on the West Coast.
After walking through flowers for most of the day I was itching to find some snakes to photograph among the flowers. Then things seemed to pop up all at once: found a few of these Herald Snakes in quick succession under a few small stones.
Herald snake in typical defensive posture, these snakes are rear fanged by their venom is weak and has virtually no effect on humans.
Another Herald snake this one quite unusual with a totally black head, I’ve not seen this before in the species.
It didn’t take all that long when we came across this Cape Whip Snake which I’d never seen before so that’s a bonus. Sadly this species is listed as vulnerable sharing the same sentiments as the Dwarf Burrowing Skinks as human development being their major enemy.
The photo is one thing but the photos behind the photo are what I always find interesting.
Things are better on the West Coast: