When the West Coast was Wild
The West Coast Fossil Park, close to Langebaan and Saldanha, is a working Museum and attracts scientists from all over the world to study the bones of the extinct creatures whose bones lie here.
The West Coast looked exotically different eons ago, green and lush. There were some strange creatures roaming the land back then, four-tusked elephants called gomphotheres and short necked giraffe known as Sivatheres. It would not have been unusual to see three-toed horses, saber tooth cats and even large African bears and we know this because in the late 1950’s phosphate mining operations in Langebaan uncovered one of the richest fossil sites in the world.
In 1993 the phosphate mine was closed and in 1998 the West Coast Fossil Park opened. The Park became a National Heritage site in 2014 and is home to more than 200 animal species that have been uncovered in the area. The highlight for any visitor to the Park is the “live” exhibit of an ongoing excavation of fossils from about five million years ago, the Pliocene era. At this Musuem, the exhibits are not just bones behind glass, here you feel part of the discovery!
Things to do and see
- Guided Fossil Tour to the Dig Site (booking is recommended)
- New Visitors Centre to open soon.
- Activities for children eg. Mock Digs (additional charges per child)
- The Sivatherium Coffee Shop
- Gift Shop
- School groups
- Exciting Morning and Evening talks hosted at the park
- Guided Tours are as follows:
- Monday to Friday: 9h00 till 15h00 - 8 tours
- Weekends and Public holidays: 10h00 till 13h00 - 4 tours
Please contact the Fossil Park directly to confirm all prices and to confirm Fossil Tours as times can vary especially during holiday season.
Please note we are closed on Good Friday, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
From Cape Town:
- The West Coast Fossil Park is situated 120 km north of Cape Town, an easy one and a half hour's drive from Cape Town along the R27.
- Take theN1out of Cape Town, after some 5 km, on your left, you will see the turn off onto the R27. Drive the R27 for roughly 110 km until, on your left, you will see a large Engen 1 Stop Garage.
- Just past the garage take the first turning to your right, which is sign-posted Langebaanweg Airforce Base.
- Continue down the road for approximately 8 km until the road meets a T-junction. Turn left onto the R45.
- Some 3 km down the road on your left, you will see the entrance to the West Coast Fossil Park.
- You can also drive past the Engen 1 Stop garage till you see the 4 way crossing that turns to Vredenburg and Hopefield. Take the Hopefield turn off to the right. carry on for 5km till you see the Entrance to the Fossil Park on your Right.