Langebaan is situated 120 km north of Cape Town, just off the R27. It was founded in 1922 and used as a whaling station until the 1960’s. The white Caribbean like beaches surrounding the crystal clear waters of the Langebaan Lagoon are one of the main attractions of Langebaan. The town has turned into a mecca for water sports enthusiasts. Langebaan offers numerous excellent holiday facilities for the water sport enthusiasts who favour a weekend visit or holiday in Langebaan to enjoy the host of water sport and fishing opportunities this vibrant holiday resort town offers. With it’s protected lagoon it’s the perfect place for sailing, kayaking and kitesurfing.
Flora and Fauna
The West Coast National Park and Langebaan lagoon has much to offer the visitor whether he/she is interested in archaeology, flora and fauna, bird watching, fossils, history of the area or just wonderful sites and views. Many visitors describe the display of wild flowers in the Park as breathtaking. Areas of the Park are blanketed with flowers of many different shades and hues. The wild flower display can be seen anytime between July and October and the best time is very much dependent upon the weather. The time of year when the flowers are usually at their best is during the months of August and September. It is interesting to note that the colour patterns change from week to week as flowers fade and other varieties come into bloom.
Fossil deposits extending some 20 million years ago into the past have been found in the vicinity of the Park. The oldest human remains south of the Orange River have been found on the Farm Elandsfontein. More recently, some 117 000 years ago a lone female trudged down a steep dune to the lagoon leaving her footprints in the wet sand. Within a few hours the dune dried out and the wind filled in the footprints with sand encasing them. Over those thousands of years more layers of sand were deposited over the footprints. The sandstone cliff collapsed and exposed those footprints. They were discovered in 1995 and were named Eves’ Footprints – Eve because she may have been the ancestor of modern woman. The site where the footprints were discovered may be seen today. Konstabel Kop, one of the highest points in the Park, was very recently discovered to be an extinct volcano, which blew its top over 500 million years ago.
The area is rich in historical events from thefirst inhabitants, the Khoikhoi and San to the arrival of the Europeans. The first European to set foot on land was Vasco da Gama at St Helena Bay on the West Coast Peninsula in 1497. Antonia de Saldanha, after whom the bay is named, did not enter those waters at all. Juris van Spilbergen mistakenly named it in 1601 as Saldanha Bay; he thought that he had reached Cape Town – originally named Agoada de Saldanha. Although the Dutch were the first to claim ownership of the area, the French were frequent visitors. Countries would claim ownership by planting a post in the ground and formally declaring ownership. One of these ‘posts’ may be seen today near Geelbek claiming the land on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. European settlement was very limited because of the lack of water for 8 months of the year. However, many stirring events have occurred in the region over the centuries including two sea battles and a visit by the Confederate States of America’s, Alabama, in 1863, the most feared warship of its day. Even the 5 islands in the area, which are administered by the Park have a history of their own, including battles for ownership, use as smallpox quarantine hospitals, exploits for guano, sealing centres and other activities.