Bontebok National Park

Bontebok National Park is just outside Swellendam in the Western Cape. It is the smallest of South Africa’s National Parks, and was established to protect the Bontebok population which at one stage had dwindled to only 17 animals!

Getting there: drive on the N2 from Cape Town. The Park entrance is on the right shortly after you pass Swellendam
GPS Coordinates: -34.02347, 20.46545

There is a shop at Reception selling sweets, ice creams, beer, ice and souvenirs.

There is a conference center in the Park.

Booking

I booked via SANParks Central Reservations (021 5520008). The process was fairly smooth. Please note (as you they will not tell you this, and can’t answer if you ask) that the Park has gate hours: 07h00 to 19h00 in Summer (1 October to 30 April), and 07h00 to 18h00 in Winter (1 May to 30 September), as you need to arrive before they close the gates.

Accommodation

Chalet at Bontebok National Park
Chalet at Bontebok National Park

I booked a campsite at Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp. I felt the R145.00 for one person for one night (with power-point: R180.00), gate fee excluded (free entry with a Wild Card) was fairly pricey considering 2 nights at Beaverlac for one person and a car is only R90.00.

Having said this, the campsites were well maintained, and the ablution facilities were modern, well equipped and serviced more than once a day.

There are also 10 chalets. I took a peek into one of them after checkout on the Sunday. They are beautiful little open plan log cabins, with twin or double beds, bathroom, and kitchenette. A large veranda with comfy deck chairs and an undercover braai place. The front row have magnificent views over the Breede River.

You can also stay in nearby Swellendam and visit for the day.

What to see

Sunset on the Breede River
Breede River sunset

The Park naturally features a number of Bontebok antelope. It’s quite amazing to think that the in recent history the population dwindled to 17 animals bringing the species to the brink of extinction. A testament to the forward thinking conservationists of South Africa and the success of such efforts.

I also saw Grey Rhebok, Cape Mountain Zebra, Red Hartebeest, and one distant Ostrich. You should see plenty of tortoises, too.

The Park also forms an island of endangered coastal Renosterveld surrounded by a sea of agricultural farmland. The eastern side of the park is covered in protea bushes, whilst the south-western side is closer to the river, and is covered with Acacia trees and aloes. I got some awesome photos of March Lilies and Parasol Lilies.

The Breede River itself is quite beautiful, and you can spend some time soaking up its tranquillity either on the big lawn area next Lang Elsie’s Rest Camp, or at the picnicking area further upstream where there are facilities including braai areas and a jungle gym for the kids.

Hiking

As the Park is really small, there are no hikes as such, but there are four easy to follow walks which allow you to see the flora and fauna from close-up.

  • the Acacia Trail
  • the Bushbuck Trail
  • the Aloe Hill Trail
  • the Blue Crane Trail

Things to do

  • Mountain biking
  • Swimming, paddling and fishing in the Breede River

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