The Cape West Coast (Weskus) is a place so awe-inspiring, so jaw-droppingly beautiful, and so magical, you would need weeks to take it all in. Stretching from Malmesbury, just outside of Cape Town, to the border of the Northern Cape at Touws River, the Cape West Coast may be best known for its beautiful beaches and the quaint, seaside towns that populate the region, but it’s also home to notable flora and fauna.
Rocherpan Nature Reserve^
Nearest town: Velddrif
Rocherpan and the nearby section of the Atlantic Ocean combine to form over 1000 hectares of nature conservation for birdlife and wildflowers.
Flora and fauna: Originally established to conserve the seasonal vlei and birdlife, the reserve also supports several other species in terms of conservation. Most notably, this is one of two only locations the critically endangered aquatic plant, the Cape horned pondweed, can be found.
What to expect: Amongst the various outdoor activities on offer, the reserve also provides whale watching and angling opportunities.
Lambert’s Bay Bird Island Nature Reserve^
Location: Lambert’s Bay
The ultimate bird-lover’s paradise, this reserve is also an important breeding site for Cape gannets and crowned cormorants. There are only six sites world-wide where Cape gannets breed, and this site is one easily accessible to the public.
What to expect: Cape gannets!
Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve^
Nearest town: Citrusdal
Previously a working farm, this area was proclaimed as a nature reserve in 2000. Currently, the reserve aims to conserve the genetic diversity and heritage of the area.
Flora and Fauna: Serving as an ecotone between the Fynbos and Succulent Karoo biomes, there is a naturally increased diversity in plant an animal life.
What to expect: Experience historical and archaeological heritage, with a wildflower season with a chance to spot purple vygies and yellow daisies until October. There are also a breeding pair of Black eagles.
Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area^
Nearest town: Porterville
Exceptional rock formations, created by the weathering Table Mountain sandstone, are a special feature of the area. The greater Groot Winterhoek conservation area is particularly important for protecting mountain fynbos and wildlife. It’s also one of Cape Town’s sources of fresh, clean water
Flora and Fauna: The area is home to about 100 bird species, including the endemic Cape rockjumper and numerous raptors like the black eagle, goshawk and jackal buzzard.
What to expect: Crystal-clear mountain pools, extraordinary rock formations, and popular hiking routes.
West Coast National Park
Considered a jewel of the Western Cape, the West Coast National Park is just a 90-minute drive from Cape Town and just inland from the secluded harbour of Saldanha Bay. There is plenty to do, ranging from various hikes and mountain biking to kayaking and whale watching, while a picnic or lunch at the Geelbek restaurant are favourite pastimes in the park. There are also a number of fantastic accommodation facilities if you would like to spend some time exploring.
Nature reserves managed by public entities are indicated above with the ^ symbol.