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Kleinbaai & Danger Point Lighthouse.

Kleinbaai is a picturesque little village situated on the Eastern side of Gansbaai and is the ideal launching site for the local fishermen to fish in the Dyer Island area. Stories about the Big White Sharks led to the establishment of the now very popular shark-diving expeditions which has resulted in Gansbaai being known as the Great White Shark capital of the world.

Old shark diving cage.

Old shark diving cage. Don't think you want to leave your arm hanging out quite like that.

You want to make darn sure you  no the rules before you try cage diving if you want to keep all your limbs.

You want to make darn sure you know the rules before you try cage diving if you want to keep all your limbs.

I was lucky enough to go out on one of the boats and  I am going to be doing a post about the cage diving at a later date so won’t go into much detail now.

One of the seven shark boats operating out of Kleinbaai most days of the week.

One of the seven shark boats operating out of Kleinbaai most days of the week.

It's not only about sharks and this boat, "The Whale Whisperer" tkes people out to view the whales which are also plentiful in the area.

It's not only about sharks and this boat, "The Whale Whisperer" takes people out to view the whales which are also plentiful in the area.

If you are not really into going out to see there is also a very nice restaurant which overlooks the harbor.

If you are not really into going out to sea there is also a very nice restaurant which overlooks the harbor.

Or you could pop in here and buy some goodies here and tell all your friends how you went diving with the Great Whites.

Or you could pop in and buy some souvenirs here and tell all your friends how you went diving with the Great Whites.

I was fortunate that I bumped into my fishing friends, who I had met while at .... and it was through one of them that I got to go out on on of the shark boats and take some photos.

I was fortunate that I bumped into my fishing friends, who I had met while at Yzerfontein, and it was through one of them that I got to go out on one of the shark boats and take some photos.

Kleinbaai is not only about the shark and whale watching but there is also a golf course,  squash courts, tidal pool for safe swimming and some great hiking trails one of which is along the peninsula of Danger Point which extends about 8 kilometers into the sea.

The rocky Danger Point shore line looking back towards Kleinbaai.

The rocky Danger Point shore line looking back towards Kleinbaai.

The many reefs and unchartered rocks along the shoreline make it one of the most dangerous places in the world for ships sailing too close inshore.  A hidden rock lurks just below the surface off the Point and it was on this rock that the legendary HMS Birkenhead met her doom in 1852. This rock can be seen at low tide just a few kilometers off  Danger Point. Seven shipwrecks surround Danger Point and 140 wrecks are dotted along the shores between Danger Point and Cape Infanta.

Danger Point Lighthouse which was erected in 1895 which was too late to for the troop ship Birkenhead which floundered in 1852 with only 193 out of 636 survivors.

Danger Point Lighthouse, erected in 1895, which was too late to for the troop ship Birkenhead which floundered on the 26th of February 1852 with only 193 survivors out of the 636 souls on board.

The Birkenhead floundering off Danger Point.

An etching of the Birkenhead floundering off Danger Point.

Birkenhead Memorial at Danger Point Lighthouse.

Birkenhead Memorial at Danger Point Lighthouse.

Display inside the lighthouse.

Display inside the lighthouse.

Artifacts from the Birkenhead.

Artifacts from the Birkenhead.

All in all I found this a very interesting area to explore and in my next post I am going to follow a group who decided to to go shark cage diving with one of the operators, Marine Dynamics, just off  nearby Dyer Island.

Gansbaai & Caravan Park

To get to Gansbaai from Hermanus one travels along the R43 which runs between the mountain and the Klein River Vlei via Stanford, which has a well preserved core of historical buildings, antique shops and art galleries, and onto De Kelders and Gansbaai.

Gansbaai (Goose Bay), named after the Egyptian geese that frequented a freshwater spring at the beach, started in the 1880′s as a few fishermen’s cottages on the dunes overlooking the harbour. A school was established in 1906 and in 1926 the land above the beach was divided into 205 plots. Commercial fisheries were started and by the 1950′s  Gansbaai was a bustling town which has now grown into a commercial centre.

Welcom to Gansbaai
Welcome to Gansbaai

Shark diving.
Shark diving information centre and booking office seen as one arrives in Gansbaai.

The main reason for the growth of  tourism round Gansbaai over the past 10 years or so has been the establishment of the whale and shark industries at nearby  Kleinbaai which attracts thrill seekers and nature lovers from all over the world who all want to see and interact with the big 2 – Great White Sharks and Southern Right Whales.

Map of the area.
Map of the area.

The old harbour and fish factories.
The old harbour and fish factories.

Some of the commercial fishing boats ready to put to sea.
Some of the commercial fishing boats ready to put to sea.

I went on  a walk about and took a few photos of things that interested or intrigued me. The folks of Gansbaai are really friendly and I even managed to meet up with the crew of a fishing boat that I became friendly with  when I was staying in Yzerfontein last year. It was through them that I managed to get myself onto one of the shark boats at Kleinbaai and spend a morning taking pix of the operation. More of that in my next post.

You have got to love this!!!
You have got to love this!!!

Pity I am off red meat!
Pity I am off red meat!

Saturday morning market.
Saturday morning market.

There are lots of restaurants and pubs in Gansbaai and of course the fish is really good.
There are lots of restaurants and pubs in Gansbaai and of course the fish is really good.

GANSBAAI  CARAVAN  PARK

There are 3 caravan parks in the area but to be honest  from what I saw and heard I would only stay at the park in Gansbaai above the harbour area. It was also a bit cheaper than the others and I enjoyed my stay there. The only complaint I had was that the lights  at night were really bright and it was like sleeping in broad daylight. ( I was parked directly under one of the lights so it was pretty bright.) They have done that for security and also have a watchman patrolling 24 hours a day.

A shot of the park taken from the harbour.

A shot of the park taken from the harbour.

My set-up at Gaansbaai. Nicely grassed and even stands.
My set-up at Gansbaai. Nicely grassed and even stands.

The view from my caravan!!
The view from my caravan!!

The ablutions were okay and kept clean and tidy.

The ablutions were okay and kept clean and tidy.

All in all I enjoyed my stay at Gansbaai Caravan Park. There is much to see explore in the area and Gansbaai is perfect as a base to the interesting places that are close by.

Hermanus 2

If you have just come across this post then I would suggest that you first have a look at the post called Hermanus 1 as it gives a bit of background to the town and covers most of the touristy places situated round the Old Harbour – sort of what you would see if you only had a few hours to explore Hermanus. This latest post carries on from there.

View of Hermanus looking toward the centre of town.
View of Hermanus looking toward the centre of town.

Looking east towards the lagoon.
Looking east towards the lagoon.

Both the above photographs are taken from the mountains overlooking Hermanus. When the right winds are blowing these mountains provide the launch pad for some of the best para and hang-gliding in the Cape. Rotary Drive provides easy access to the launching site which is more or less in line with the golf course and high school grounds.

The famous Grotto Beach.
The famous Grotto Beach.

Grotto Beach.
Grotto Beach.

Hermanus is recognised as having some of the most beautiful beaches in South Africa. A section Of Grotto now boasts Blue Flag status offering visitors facilities that include lifesavers, security guards and spotless cloakrooms. The beach stretches all the way to the little town of De Kelders  – a solid 5 hour walk.

There is also a great sea-food restaurant right at the beach.
There is also a great sea-food restaurant right at the beach.

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Just to give you an idea of the menu.

Voelklip Beach
Voelklip Beach

About a kilometre from Grotto towards town is the grassed and terraced Voelklip Beach which is the in place for the younger set with some good waves for surfing.

Fernkloof Nature Reserve.
Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

There are many walks for those keen on hiking and you can choose from beach, coast or mountain routes. Fernkloof offers several different grades of walk and the area is covered in spectacular fynbos.

The unique Cliff Paths.
The unique Cliff Paths.

This path is about 10 kilometres long and basically runs the full length of Hermanus from the New Harbour to the lagoon. The section from Fick’s Pool to Tamatiebank has recently been upgraded to accommodate wheelchairs and during the season is a wonderful walk to take and spot the whales in Walker Bay.

Looking across from near the Old Harbour towards the New Harbour.
Looking across from near the Old Harbour towards the New Harbour.

Not difficult to tell what the main touist attraction is in Hermanus.
Not difficult to tell what the main tourist attraction is in Hermanus.

One of the two very popular restaurants situated in the New Harbour.
One of the two very popular restaurants situated in the New Harbour.

As a working harbour fishing trawlers are often moored along side the quay.
As a working harbour fishing trawlers are often moored along side the quay.

Divers training school in the New Harbour.
Divers training school in the New Harbour.

Bombs away. The water here is pretty deep.
Bombs away. The water here is pretty deep.

There are really a huge amount of things to do in Hermanus and I am sure I have just scratched the surface. Apart from everything I have mentioned there is an excellent golf course, bowls, fishing, surfing, birding – which is  becoming  the fastest growing eco-tourist commodity in the world – arts and crafts,  whale festival, kaliefees, wine tasting, sailing and boating, fly fishing and diving just to mention some.

Hermanus 1

Hermanus was originally named Hermanuspieterfontein after an itinerant teacher from the 1830′s who grazed sheep near a fresh water spring in what is now Westcliff. Fishermen from Hawston started to settle here more than 150 years ago but the town gradually became known as a holiday resort and grew into the main coastal centre of the Overberg.

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I am going to do 2 posts on Hermanus as there is a lot to see and do there and I have taken a lot of photos which I hope you find interesting.

I first started going to Hermanus about 45 years ago and boy has it changed over the years in comparison to a place such as Arniston which is further east along the coast . In those days Hermanus and Arniston had the same kind of feel – holiday, fishing village, sea side places, although Hermanus was even then quite a bit larger than Arniston. Now days Hermanus is a bustling, much larger and more modern town and for me has lost much of the charm that still exists at Arniston.

View of the old harbour from Gearing Point.
View of the old harbour from Gearing’s Point.

Monument housing the roll of honour for those from the area who perished in the 1st and 2nd World wars.

Monument housing the roll of honour for those from the area who perished in the 1st and 2nd World wars.

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Plaque for the Old Harbour which was for many years the centre of a thriving fishing industry.

Hermanus now has a vibrant tourism industry, boasts a large number of art galleries and restaurants and is, amongst others, home to an annual whale festival in September. From June to November, especially the area around the Old Harbour and Gearing’s Point offers excellent opportunities for watching whales which often come to within meters of the rocks.

Gearing's Point which is ideal for whale watching.
Gearing’s Point which is ideal spot for whale watching in season.

Unfortuneatly I was there at the wrong time of the year so this statue had to make do.
Unfortunately I was there at the wrong time of the year so this statue had to make do.

One of the stalls at the thriving open air market.
One of the stalls at the thriving open air market.

There are 3 museums in the Old Harbour area and 1 ticket gets you into all 3.
There are 3 museums in the Old Harbour area and 1 ticket gets you into all 3.

Another of the 3 museums.
Another of the 3 museums.

Part of a whale skeleton at the entrance to the Whale Museum.
Part of a whale skeleton at the entrance to the Whale Museum.

You can hire this guy to give you a guided tour. It was a really hot day and business was slow so he was having a break.
You can hire this guy to give you a guided tour. It was a really hot day and business was slow so he was having a break.

Most of the action takes place around the Old Harbour area and that is where you find all the great restaurants, art galleries and curio shops that Hermanus is well known for.

Some great restaurants.
Some great restaurants.

Part of the main tourist area.
Part of the main tourist area.

There are also many hotels and B&B's in the Old Harbour Area and many more in the older part of Hermanus.
There are also many hotels and B&B’s in the Old Harbour Area and many more in the older part of Hermanus.

As I said at the beginning of this post Hermanus is a really interesting place to visit and there is much to show and comment on. For this first part of my visit I have tried to cover what the average tourist would  get to see if they came for a 1 day visit and will show more in my next post.

Paradise & Onrus Caravan Parks.

In the Hermanus area there are 2 caravan parks, the one at Onrus and the one I stayed at Paradise Park  in Vermont. There was a great camping and caravan park in Hermanus,  I camped there many years ago, but it is no longer open to the public as it has been earmarked for a major development .

The main reason I ended up staying at Paradise Park was price. When I phoned around to check prices I discovered that Onrus Caravan Park, like Kleinmond & Palmiet, who all fall under the same municipality, wanted to charge me R240 per night which is just way over what I am prepared to pay. Fortunately Paradise said that they would charge R130 per night, which I think is still a bit high for 1 person per night. The highest price I paid on the West Coast was at Strandfontein, where I had a private ablution block and fabulous view of the sea, who charged me R85 p/n during the week and R125 p/n over weekends.

The biggest factor against Paradise Park is that it is close to the high way and is therefore a bit noisy at night but not unbearably so. It is, compared to the Onrus park, also quite far away from the beach area which did not bother me as they have a great pool there to cool off in.

Paradise Park just off the R43 in Vermont about 10 km's from Hermanus
Paradise Park just off the R43 in Vermont about 10 km’s from Hermanus. No security at gate.

My set-up. Nice shaded area and the grass was fine.
My set-up. Nice shaded area and the grass was fine.

Had some great companionship as these two decided that my front stoep was the best place in the park durring the day.

Had some great companionship as these two decided that my front stoep was the best place in the park .

The main ablution block which was pretty good. There was also a smaller block nearer to where I was parked but there was something wrong with the hot water in the showers.
The main ablution block which was pretty good. There was also a smaller block nearer to where I was parked but there was something wrong with the hot water in the showers.

The ablutions were kept clean and tidy. You also have your own key to get in and out for which you pay R50 which is refunded when you leave.
The ablutions were kept clean and tidy. You also have your own key to get in and out for which you pay R50 which is refunded when you leave.

The pool and right next to it was a childrens play area.
The pool and right next to it was a children’s play area.

There are quite a number of full time residence in the park who have built there own cottages and pay a monthly levy. There was one very nice one up for sale for R350k and I was tempted but worried about the road noise.
There are quite a number of full time residence in the park who have built there own cottages and pay a monthly levy. There was one very nice one up for sale for R350k and I was tempted but worried about the road noise.

There is also a shop which stocks all the basics and next to it a hall which was used for a wedding reception while I was there.
There is also a shop which stocks all the basics and next to it a hall which was used for a wedding reception while I was there.

All in all I enjoyed my stay at Paradise Park and would definitely stay there again as it gives you a great base from which to go and explore the area.

Onrus Caravan Park.
Onrus Caravan Park. Good security entrance.

To be honest, apart from the price and also the now extended high season to end of April (which is crazy) there was not much wrong with the park and it is right on the shore line so maybe for a family of 4 to pay R240 p/n is not too bad. I still believe that the pricing structures of most parks are wrong in that they have a blanket charge for the site and don’t work on a charge per person p/n as  they do at Chapman’s Peak Caravan Park which works very well.

The ablution block looked clean and tidy.
One of the ablution blocks.

Clean and tidy.
Clean and tidy. I sometimes wonder who designs these things!!

The most popular sites with a sea view were looking a bit the worse for wear.
The most popular sites with a sea view were looking a bit the worse for wear which is understandable.

Davies Pool which is directly in front of the park and is accesable via a gate.
Davies Pool which is directly in front of the park and is accessible via a gate.

I had a long chat to the manager who says that they realise that they have made a mistake with the pricing and extending the high season and that he hopes that by June this year the prices will have come down. For the mean time if you are only going for a weekend and feeling flush this looked a nice park to stay.