Magic island in the sun

Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! (Luke 12:24)

This text from the scriptures made more sense to me last week when I visited Malgas Island in the West Coast National Park, a bird island near Cape Town.

My visit to this beautiful island, with its endless golden beaches and brooding salt marshes, was something of a spiritual expedition for me.

Seeing birds having an organised life on their own island without us made me appreciate the wonders of God.

Malgas Island enjoys an enviable spot in the West Coast National Park, a 20000ha piece of unspoilt land about 122km north of Cape Town.

It's one of the very few untouched, beautiful and magical places left in South Africa.

I was privileged to witness the wonders of life in a place that can only be reached by boat.

I was visiting the park, courtesy of South African National Parks, to celebrate National Parks Week.

The island is home to thousands of Cape gannet, jackass penguin, flamingo, waders and black harriers. More than one third of the world's population of Cape gannet breed here. These feathered friends rule the roost.

They scuttle around all over the place, doing their own thing, digging holes and performing for the tourists as if to say, "Hey, take our snap!" They almost seem to want to make friends.

Other attractions in the park include Geelbek Hide. Depending on the tide, guests can go there for a marvellous viewing of aquatic wading birds.

Access is via a long wooden boardwalk that allows even a person in a wheelchair to get there without difficulty.

This part of the world is a truly magnificent sight at this time of the year.

We were, for instance, welcomed by the glorious sight of a bright carpet of flowers on the Postberg Peninsula.

The Postberg Flower Reserve flower season is August and September and there is also the presence of some large herbivores.

Most viewing of the flowers is done from a vehicle. Guests can also enjoy a picnic in secluded havens while viewing the lagoon.

The only accommodation available at West Coast National Park is a six-bed houseboat that can be reserved through the central reservation system.

Guests can choose from a variety of privately run accommodation in the vicinity of the park.

Hostels and camping facilities within close proximity of the park are available for tour and youth groups.

The Geelbek Goldfields Environmental Centre consists of dormitory-type accommodation for 110 people attending environmental courses.

I was accommodated at the Mykonos Club, a holiday resort in Langebaan, a few kilometers from Malgas Island. The resort also has a casino.

In and around Langebaan there is a good variety of restaurants.

Though the hotel is superb, the reception was stone cold. When will racism leave Cape Town?

Serving black people proved to be a very tall order for the white receptionists on duty.

In unfriendly tones they asked us if we were sure we were the ones booked into the hotel.

When they finally found our names we were issued keys and maps without being told where exactly to go.

On a pitch black night we looked for our rooms, asking for directions from equally annoyed white patrons.

About an hour later we received phone calls from the receptionist informing us when the breakfast was served. She dropped the phone without even asking if I had any other questions.

The buffet-style breakfast was fantastic, beautifully cooked and presented.