Get ready to enjoy Flower Power on the West Coast
Traditionally the flower season runs from July- October each year. There are however peak times when flowers are at their best, and rain and wind influence when and where your best sightings may be.
There is a Flower Hotline which might assist you in planning your trips. For the West coast it is 063 724 6203 and I spoke with a very enthusiastic lady this morning who says the flowers have started and areas around the R27 are boasting the best at the moment. The perfect excuse to head up the West Coast this weekend!
If you’re keen to head further north (Up to Sprinkbok area) then the Namakwa Hotline will guide you to best flower areas. The number is 072 760 6019.
There are also 2 shows to consider during the flower season, both are well organised, have excellent flower displays and plenty to offer in food and entertainment for all age groups.
The first in the calendar is the Hopefield Flower show, 30 August – 2 September 2018. See www.hopefieldfynbos.co.za and then second is the annual Darling flower show, see www.darlingwildflowers.co.za which takes place 14-16 September 2018.
With the wonderful rains we’ve had to date we’re hoping for wonderful viewing this season! Come and join us on the West Coast!
The Pixie and Fairy Village, on the West coast in Jacobs Bay
Don’t have doubts about visiting this little bit of magic in Jacobs Bay. It is only about 12 km from Gultyde guesthouse in Saldanha Bay. We took a group of children one cloudy afternoon and got a good dose of magic. The garden totally captured their imaginations (and mine!).
The attention to detail is fantastic and although the area is small there is so much creativity, art and water features to enjoy and we went around several times discovering more each time.
The Village is part of the Jacobsbaybackpackers facility and is the first building on your left as you enter Jacobs Bay.
Thank you to ‘Pixie’ Maritz who brought this bit of magic to the West Coast.
A little taster in the picture ….
West Coast National Park – Birding Hotspots
Bring your Wild card and binoculours along for a visit to the West Coast National Park, which was established in 1985. Even if birding is not your thing, come anyway, just to be immersed in nature and the sheer beauty of this beautiful lagoon. It is magical and only 150 km Cape Town. But … If birding is your thing, then there are 5 hides in the National Park to choose from. The West Coast Bird Club (see their Facebook page) have put together a comprehensive brochure called ‘Guide to West Coast Birding Hotspots’ which is available at local tourist offices and gives tips on best viewing times in relation to tide times.
Hide A Seeberg hide
Hide B & C Geelbek hides
Hide D Abrahamskraal hide
Hide E Tsaarbank hide
For all other information about the West Coast National Park please see Sanparks – West Coast
Lighthouses on the West Coast – The Saldanha twins
NORTH HEAD Lighthouse, Saldanha Bay
5 Lighthouses appear within a 100 kilometeres of each other on the West Coast (between Yzerfontein and St Helena Bay), all serving an important role considering the treacherous rocks on the coastline and busy shipping routes. They also make for spectacular viewing. My favourite ones are the Twins. The North and South Head lighthouses that mark the entrance to Saldanha Bay.
North Head (on northern side to bay entrance) was originally built in 1939 and upgraded in 1969, it is situated within the SAS Saldanha Nature Reserve which, unfortunately is now closed to the public. This is a recent development (hopefully temporary) and the existing walking trail takes you along the coastline, through unique vegetation and right to the lighthouse. See the picture below for its spiral black and white markings.
SOUTH HEAD Lighthouse, Saldanha Bay
From North head Lighthouse you can also see South Head Lighthouse in the distance and its markings are completely different. Probably a good idea considering the importance of entering the Bay right between these two points. It is also not possible to visit this lighthouse because it falls within an area controlled by the National Defence Force, it dates to 1969.
Both these lighthouses can be seen from the artificial Breakwater (another must see in Saldanha Bay) which was created in 1976 to transform the Bay into the harbour of industry today. This viewing can be done by car as you can drive along this breakwater. (See blog on Breakwater)
The final three lighthouses in our area are:
Cape Columbine near Paternoster
Cape St. Martin in St. Helena Bay
Dassen Island lighthouse near Yzerfontein
Saldanha Bay Breakwater
Saldanha Bay Breakwater – wonderful views of land and sea – a must Walk!!
This aerial view gives you some sense of the size of Saldanha Bay (you’re looking right into it, approximately 4 kms of beach) and on the left the breakwater curving into the open sea protecting the Bay.
Right at the tip of the breakwater is Marcus island and the breakwater joins it to the mainland spanning a distance of about 1,8 km. This breakwater was completed in 1976. You can drive right/walk to the end of the breakwater and experience marine traffic (large tankers coming in to the bay), carefully being manoeuvred onto the Ore Jetty (right side of picture) by powerful tug boats. The sheer size of these tankers are amazing. I love this walk because it can be done on a calm or blustery day alike and not tide dependent as beach walking in Saldanha bay is. You’re also right next to the sea where you can smell, hear and feel the power of the waves. It falls within Transnet controlled area making it safe to walk but does mean moving through a barrier check point.
2 Lighthouses can be seen from the breakwater ….. more on this next time.
Please share your breakwater photos with us on Facebook
Tumbleweed in flower
Although the West Coast is looking grey and dry at the moment, keep your eyes open for round balls of pink flowers currently in bloom amongst the Fynbos. This spherical collections of flowers are commonly known as Tumble weed (Brunsvigia Bosmaniae). Whilst in bloom it is especially fragrant at night and pollinated by moths. The round ball is attached to a bulb (underground) and this burst of colour is the fruiting head which will eventually dry out, loose colour and detach from the plant. The dried out ball is blown away by the wind and efficiently disperse its seed. Really clever! And this is what it looks like.