A national and natural treasure on our doorstep
Recently I enjoyed a weekend at The West Coast National Park. After living in Cape Town for over a year, this is the first time I got to explore this wonderful park that lies 120 km north of Cape Town.
I got a chance to meet up with the oldest ranger in the park, one Eddie Papier, who grew up in the West Coast on the National Park, long before it became a National Park. He grew up in nature and knows the area very well, but because of very little education, he had to go out and look for other ways to make a living as youngster.
He worked as a whaler man on whaling boats and then worked as a seaman and fisherman after the whaling ended. When the Langebaan lagoon was declared a national park, he started working as a ranger after his wife motivated him to take the job, because they were looking for someone who knew the area. It was a difficult adjustment after all the years on sea, but because of his love for nature he decided to make a whole change in his life.
Eddy’s fondest memory of working as a ranger was one evening when they had to go out and catch ostriches to move them to another camp.
So while the ostriches were sleeping, he had to walk over, put a sock on their heads to catch them then put them on the bakkie and transport them. However, one night one of the ostriches ran over him with the bag over his head. He laughed fondly at this great memory. It is only one of the many memories of his adventures at this phenomenal park.
Eddy is just one of the many gems to be found when exploring this fantastic park. The West Coast National park is particularly well known for its bird life and for the spring flowers that bloom in the months from August to October. Wildlife in the park includes large antelope such as eland and hartebeest, ostriches, a flamingo population in the salt marshes of the Langebaan lagoon, African penguins, and many species of sea birds.
This park is right on our door step and the perfect place to unwind over a weekend.
* Visit www.sanparks.org for more information.