By Delani de Waal
The West Coast is well known for a great many things: beautiful spring flowers, delicious seafood, spectacular long white beaches, quaint fishing villages, abundant birdlife and all kinds of water sports. Yet, there is much more” it is a haven for wild animals, and although lions do not roam freely here anymore, and many larger mammals have gone, several game farms and nature reserves have reintroduced all kinds of species back into the area in recent years. There are a number of these less than 2 hours’ drive north of Cape Town along the R27.
The most well-known is the West Coast National Park, including Postberg Nature Reserve. Here eland (our largest antelope), red hartebeest and bontebok can be seen, along with some of the smaller species such as springbok, steenbok, duiker, grey rhebok and grysbok. The honey badger, mongoose, porcupine and dassie represent some of the smaller mammals in the park. The park is also home to caracal, the African wildcat, the bat-eared fox and the endemic Cape fox. Most of these small mammals also occur on the adjoining farmlands and other game farms are reserves further up in the West Coast region.
Kwha ttu San Cultural Village offer open-vehicle rides, with guides demonstrating the San’s tracking skills and vast knowledge of game. Zebra, small antelope and other small mammals roam freely and there are numerous bird species, including raptors such as the yellow-billed kite and steppe buzzard. There are overnight facilities in the form of self-catering cottages and a unique tented bush camp.
Buffelsfontein Game and Nature Reserve offers daily game drives in the morning and afternoon and guests can view lion, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and many more species of wildlife. They also offer a special day trip from Cape Town that includes transportation, breakfast on arrival, game drive with refreshments and a lunch. For those interested in staying overnight, there is also a bush camp, with tents and bedding supplied, running water and hot showers but no electricity.
The latest addition on the West Coast game farm list is Thali-Thali Game Lodge. This old cattle farm next to the R27 is now transformed and home to an abundance of wildlife and birdlife. Eland, oryx, red hartebeese, black wildebeest, giraffe, kudu, and Burchell’s zebra, along with all other usual smaller mammals can be seen. Among the numerous bird species that occur within the boundaries of Thali-Tali are blue crane, secretary bird, barn owl, Cape eagle owl, black-shouldered kite, ostrich and crowned lapwing. Thali-Thali offers self-catering accommodation in the form of 3 fully equipped West Coast-style cottages and 5 luxury tents. Game viewing safaris can be done either on foot or by vehicle, which can be either a customized open Landrover or rented quad-bike.