Once we (The Nitty Gritty Nomads) had completed all the necessary upkeep to our bikes in Cape Town, we departed toward Langebaan on South Africa’s West Coast. We spent the night at an old Pilots house (Noel whom Mike and Tom sailed with during their stay in Cape Town) and departed early the following morning.
Travelling north on the R45 I found a remarkably intact Caracal that had recently been hit by a car, I turned around and collected the feline which would turn out to be a winning move in the day ahead.
We followed the signs to the West Coast Fossil Park where we met one of the scientists that run the site, instantly she noticed my new Caracal backrest and enlightened me that they were departing to go and collect the same Caracal for their scientific comparative collection. Thus, I was obligated to relinquish my newly acquired pet for the sake of science, not without negotiating our reduced entrance fee to get the full tour.
West Coast Fossil park is a unique site, where the orange river used to flow into the Atlantic Ocean. Due to a natural disaster some 5 million years ago the site has a huge amount of fossils from thousands of animals that were washed onto and deposited into this old river bank. The site itself was discovered by in 1943 during phosphate mining operations in the Langebaanweg area and is now world famous for it’s amazing state of preservation and sheer size of the fossil deposit. There is a small museum and lab at the entrance, showing some of the amazing animals discovered.
This includes the African Bear! A previously unknown species of bear and the only one discovered in Africa over this period. We then moved on to the actual site of the excavations.
Our very informed guide showed us epic species of animals that used to roam the plains of modern day Southern Africa. These include the African bear, giraffe with short necks, elephants with four tusks and saber toothed tigers.
We asked a healthy amount of questions and got to interact with the excavated site.
The fossil park is in the process of making the site a World Heritage site, an accolade this area richly deserves. We left the park with a healthy knowledge of the monumental creatures of this bygone era and a new friend.
Trent Seiler &
The Nitty Gritty Nomads