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Langebaan is the perfect base for exploring the exciting West Coast with its many attractions. These include the natural beauty and rugged coastline, whale watching in midyear, the spectacular wild flower display from August to October, beautiful sandy beaches and many other outdoor attractions. For those water sport enthusiasts summer conditions are ideal for sailing, kite boarding and wind surfing. The Flower Celebration takes place from July right through to October and covers the town of Langebaan!
The most intriguing display of flowers awaits in the West Coast National Park, just an hour north of Cape Town. The West Coast National Park is situated on the banks of the Langebaan Lagoon and is a very popular flower viewing destination. The official park flower season is from 1 August until 30 September when the protected area of Postberg within the Park is open to the public.
Saldanha or Saldanha Bay occupies the northern corner of South Africa‘s largest natural bay, and is home to the most beautiful and secluded coastline and sandy beaches. Formally Known as Hoedjies Bay, it is a tourist mecca and home to some of the most luxurious lodges as well as budget accommodation where there is something special for everyone. Discovered by the Portuguese over 500 years ago it is still connected with Portuguese culinary culture and where the popular lobster and prawn dishes can still be enjoyed today.
For centuries, geographic isolation and the lack of water prevented large-scale urban and industrial development. This has meant that much of the area is still in pristine condition, despite changes commencing during World War II.
Water sport enthusiasts will find it a paradise: Langebaan is a resort town where the blue Langebaan Lagoon stretches for 17km parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. The lagoon plays host to activities varying from water skiing to spear fishing and birdwatchers join the queue: flamingos, sandpipers and plovers are some of the feathered friends who like to feed on the shrimp and prawn living in the mud banks.
The Saldanha Basin also offers an ideal location for a variety of water sports, in the form of marinas, moorings and waterfront developments. Apart from the obvious sea and water activities like fishing, diving, surfing, yachting, water-skiing, sailboarding and what have you, there are also numerous historical and eco-attractions, as well as hiking trails, mountain biking and 4×4 trails.
Saldanha’s local economy is strongly dependent on fishing, mussels, seafood processing, the steel industry and the harbour. Due to having a sheltered harbour the Sishen-Saldanha iron ore project is secured by having the ability to export the iron ore enabling and management of ships up to 200 K tons. Saldanha is also host to a Naval training base and the South African Military Academy due to its strong historic military links.
Wildflowers display themselves during late winter and spring at the SAS Saldanha Nature Reserve and Southern Right Whales visit the waters in and around the nature reserve. Saldanha also has a second reserve called The Postberg Private Nature Reserve (open August and September) and is not only home to spectacular wild flowers, but also hosts several antelope and game species, including zebra, kudu, gemsbok, blue and black wildebeest and eland. The current population of the town is estimated at 72,000.
Table Bay was originally called Saldanha after Antonio de Saldanha, a Portuguese admiral who had anchored his fleet there in 1503. By some navigational error the name was delegated to this wonderful natural harbour on the West Coast. Here it was that the French Huguenots were forced to land in 1688, and for a time, French sealers made a fortune from pelt hunts on the islands of Vondeling, Jutten, Malgas and Marcus, around the entrance to the bay.
The same four islands were also found to be rich in guano and ships began to crowd into the bay, their crews fighting over the guano deposits. The body of a French sailor was discovered beneath the guano, perfectly preserved by chemicals, dug up and shipped to Europe, where it was exhibited at side-shows.
St Helena bay which was named by Vasco da Gama when he landed there on the 7th day of November in 1497. The town is laid out on the western shore of this great bay. The bay was named after Saint Helena the religious mother of Caesar Constantine the great 313 A.D.
Paternoster is a picturesque fishing village on the Atlantic Ocean, 16km north-west of Vredenburg. The name Paternoster is associated with the shipwreck of a Portuguese vessel, when the distressed seaman said there prayers.
Hopefield which used to be called Lange Kuil and Zoute river was named after Messrs Field and Hope in 1853. There are several historic homes of interest. Langrietvlei was granted to Eksteen by the Governor of the Cape in 1715. The homestead was built in 1789. Yellowwood, cedar wood and pink coloured glass in the small paned sash windows make this unique.
The fishing villages of Velddrif and Laaiplek are situated at the mouth of the Berg River, which flows into St Helena Bay on the Atlantic seaboard. Velddrif, which lies upstream, acquired its name because the farmers of old, such as Theunis Smit, used to drive their stock through the drift in the veld across the river to graze on the Baaivelde (grazing lands at Saldanha).
Laaiplek, the loading place, originally known as Rooibaai, was established at the river mouth in order to load all the local fish and farm produce. One of the first Europeans at Laaiplek, Carl Stephan, together with his brothers, founded an empire comprising shipping, trading, fishing and farming. Many of his employee’s descendants are now the inhabitants of Laaiplek. Today Carl Stephans old house forms part of the Laaiplek hotel.
Since 1740 the Vredenburg area of the “Agterbaai” has been a grain producing one. The region being a very dry and arid zone, the original two farmers were ever in dispute about water rights, and litigation was often resorted to. The names “Twisfontein’ and “Prosesfontein” tell their own story. The church was often called upon to settle the disputes and when the church building was completed in 1875 it was decided to name the town Vredenburg, “the town of peace”. After WW2 the fishing industry began to boom and the coastal villages of Stompneus, Vlooi, St Helena and slippers Bay sprang up.