Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more

West Coast Fossil Park and National Park Half Day Trip


Activity Description

R1100.00 (The total cost per trip per person / Minimum of 2 guests and maximum of 4 guests)

West Coast Fossil Park
The fossil site of Langebaanweg is world-renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved fossil faunal remains that date to the terminal Miocene/early Pliocene (circa 5.2 million years ago). A national and international team of researchers are currently unravelling the fascinating and unique history of fossils from the West Coast Fossil Park and attempting to recreate the environment and climate of the west coast some 5 million years ago. At this time many animals that are now extinct, such as saber-toothed cats, short-necked giraffes, hunting hyenas and African bears roamed the west coast which then had a more subtropical climate with lush, riverine forests and open grasslands.

A new Visitor Centre has been constructed using funds from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) and now hosts a brand-new exhibition hall, restaurant, shop, amphitheatre, conference, meeting and office facilities in addition to the open dig site that many past visitors are familiar with.

Dig site
The West Coast Fossil Park preserves fossil evidence from approximately 5 million years ago. In 1998 a team of professional archaeologists and palaeontologists began excavating the current dig site that is open to the public. The site was chosen based on the fossils that were collected in this area by Dr Brett Hendey in 1975 and 1976 whilst the phosphate mine was in full operation. Dr Roger Smith heads up the current “public” excavation site which is dominated by numerous sivathere remains. The particular species of sivathere found here is named after Brett Hendey, Sivatherium hendeyi. Fully mature adults are estimated to have weighed up to 2000kg. A number of the fossils were removed and are now housed at the Iziko National Museum in Cape Town. However, some of the excavation has been preserved in situ (in their original place) so that members of the public can learn about this site and the amazing animals that have been discovered here.

Natural & Cultural History
The key conservation areas of West Coast National Park are the Langebaan Lagoon and the offshore islands in Saldanha Bay, which together form the Langebaan Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance. The lagoon has a rich diversity of marine invertebrates and seaweeds and supports approximately 10% of the coastal wader population in South Africa. The offshore islands provide important nesting areas for several red-listed seabird species.

The Langebaan Lagoon was proclaimed as a marine reserve in terms of the Sea Fisheries Act in 1973 and later in 1985, was proclaimed Langebaan National Park with the name later being changed to West Coast National Park. It was on 25 April 1988 that the Langebaan Ramsar site was declared.

The initial purpose of the park area was to protect the key conservation areas of the Langebaan Lagoon and associated wetlands as well as the offshore islands in Saldanha Bay. The management focus has since broadened to include the terrestrial surroundings as representative sites of the ecosystem of the West Coast Region.

In 1987, the first expansion of the park occurred, including a dune reclamation scheme, Geelbek and portions of the farms Bottelery, Schrywershoek and Abrahamskraal. In the same year, some 1 800ha of land around Postberg was included on a contractual basis and a hotel site in Langebaan was also included into the park. Today the park, including the lagoon, islands, contractual areas and MPAs, covers some 40 000ha.

About the West Coast National Park
In the South African Context, the saltmarshes of Langebaan are unique in that no river feeds into the lagoon. These salt marshes constitute approximately 32% of the entire saltmarsh habitat in the country, the largest in South Africa. The lagoon is entirely marine with a relatively stable salinity and supports dense populations of molluscs and crustaceans as well as 71 species of different marine algae.

The lagoon also serves as a nursery for the development of juvenile fish; the extensive intertidal areas of the lagoon support up to 55 000 water birds in summer, most of which are waders (23 species), including 15 regular Palaearctic migrants. The five islands of Saldanha Bay to the north of the Lagoon provide a home for nearly a quarter of a million sea birds, many of which are endemic to the nearshore regions of South Africa and Namibia.

Cape Gannets (Monis capensis) and Cape cormorants (Phalocrocorax capensis) are abundant and the largest known colony of Kelp Gulls (Larus doninicanus) in Southern Africa is found on Schaapen Island.

WCNP mostly contains strandveld vegetation; with the expansion of the park it also included the Hopefield sand plain fynbos. Both these habitat units are given a 50% irreplaceability rating, however, sand plain fynbos is regarded to be of higher conservation value than strandveld, due to very little being formally conserved and it being more threatened by alien plant invasion.


Duration6 hours
WhenSubject to availability
WherePick up and drop off at your place of residence in the West Coast. Please view and add extra cost for pick up and drop off for the following West Coast towns: Langebaan, Jacobs Bay, Velddrif, Hopefield, Saldanha, Yzerfontein, Paternoster, Brittania Bay, Dwarskesbos and St Helena Bay
Weather Not weather dependent
What to WearComfortable clothing and shoes / Camera
Things to BringMoney for food or extra refreshments
Guests or SpectatorsNo guest


Minimum Age6 years
Minimum Height0.0 m
Maximum Height0.0 m
Fitness LevelNo Fitness Requirement
QualificationsNot Applicable
Maximum Weight0.0 kg
CertificationNone Required
Experience LevelNo Experience Requirement

Inclusions and Exclusions

InclusionsGuide, vehicle
ExclusionsMeals and refreshments


R1100.00 (The total cost per trip per person / Minimum of 2 guests and maximum of 4)
Tours: 08h00 – 14h00
More information:

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews of this service will be posted soon.

© 2024 Tornado Tour Systems (Pty) Ltd ta Activitar.

Help & Support