Bontebok National Park is a species-specific national park in South Africa. It was established in 1931 to ensure the preservation of the Bontebok.
It is the smallest of South Africa’s 18 National Parks, covering an area of 27.86 km² The Park is part of the Cape Floristic Region, which is a World Heritage Site.
Situated about 6km south of Bredasdorp near the N2 highway between George and Cape Town, the Park is the smallest and one of the oldest national parks in South Africa.
You may not find anything spectacular on your visit to the Park, yet you will be touched by its own unique beauty. It is a lovely and beautiful nature reserve with a delightful tranquil atmosphere against the backdrop of the picturesque Langeberg mountain range on the one side and the Breede River on the other side
The first inhabitants known to have lived in the Park area was the Hessequa clan of the Khoi people. They were a clan of herders, farming fat tailed sheep and long horn cattle.
Every Khoi settlement was controlled by a captain and at times up to 17 captains would set up camp with their nomadic dwellings at the settlement of the most powerful Hessequa chief.
The Park’s rest camp, “Lang Elsie’s Kraal”, is named after one of them, a female chief by the name of “Lang Elsie”, who lived with her clan at the southern part of the Park between 1734 and 1800.
The vegetation in the Park consists of “fynbos” and “coastal renoster veld”, with many plant species that are found nowhere else in the world.
Both are part of the Cape Floral Kingdom which is unique to South Africa and recognized as one of the most biologically diverse of the world’s six floral kingdoms.
There is something in bloom year round with the peak flower season in the spring. In total, the park has nearly 500 grasses and other plant species.
Large herds of Bonteboks used to roam the wide coastal plain of the south Western Cape. Today the world’s bontebok population totals a mere 3000 animals, of which about 200 are to be found in the National Park.
Here, they are joined by the Grey Rhebok, Cape Grysbok, Red Hartebeest, Jackal, Mongoose and other species of antelope as well as a rich diversity of birdlife. In addition there is a small number of the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra that visitors can see.
The Park houses over 200 bird species and is noteworthy as an excellent place to see “Denham’s (Stanley’s) Bustard”. Other large and visible species include “Blue Crane”, “Spur-wing Goose”, “Secretary-bird” and “Southern Black Korhaan”.
“Malachite” and “Southern (Lesser) Double Collared Sunbird” should be seen at the reception building. The campsite itself attracts quite a number of species, amongst them are the “Fiscal Flycatcher”, “Klaas’s Cuckoo (summer)”, “Acacia-Pied Barbet” and “Red-faced Mousebird”.
The Bontebok National Park is a great one day visitor location and a perfect stopover when you are en route between Cape Town and the “Garden Route”.
The Park can easily be accessed from the N2. Because of its fairly small size, visitors can drive around the whole park in a matter of hours and enjoy a picnic, swim, or a small hike to stretch the legs. It also offers passers-by and local residents a great “braai” (barbecue) location or a place to take the kids to.
The Park also serves as a useful base from where one can explore wine routes and historical buildings in and around nearby towns such as Swellendam, Robertson, Montagu, Ashton and Bonnievale.
The hot springs for which Montagu has become famous for instance, will be a great experience. Another example is the Drostdy Museum at Swellendam with its rich historical content showing life at the Cape since the founding of the town in 1745.
Other exciting activities that can be enjoyed in the Bontebok Park are;
- Firstly of course the beautifully colorful Bonteboks that can be seen roaming the park in their droves.
- Unusual antelope sightings, including the above-mentioned Bontebok, Grey Rheebok, Red Hartebeest and Cape Grysbok.
- For Birders to spot the Stanley’s Bustard and over 200 other species of birds that inhabit the park.
- The Breede river, providing the ideal setting for bird watching, fishing and swimming, between exploratory outings into the park.
- Enjoying a 6-day hiking trail that winds through the Langeberg Mountains and starts in Swellendam.
- Two short nature-hiking trails, starting and ending in the rest camp area.
- Bathing in the Breede River in the Rest Camp Area and soon at Die Stroom.
- Angling in the Breede River, anglers must be in possession of a valid angling permit, available for purchase at Park Reception.
- Canoeing/Kayaking in the Breede River, with own equipment.
- The Biking opportunities that are available, regular and mountain biking.
- Connecting to the people of the past and learn about how the Khoisan lived and changed through local history.
Where to stay
Bontebok National Park Rest-camp
The upgraded and renovated facilities at the Bontebok National Park include the following;
- Picnic and “braai” (barbecue) sites with ablution facilities are available for day and overnight visitors.
- A shop at the park entrance supplying basic commodities such as meat, beer, wine and curios.
- Fresh produce and other groceries have to be bought in the town of Swellendam, which is 6km away.