Archive for August, 2009

Trip to Elands Bay.

I had heard such bad reports about the camp-site at Elands Bay, which proved to be true, that I decided it would be best to take a day trip, look around and come back to Lamberts Bay for the night.

Welcome to Elands Bay.
Welcome to Elands Bay.

To be honest I think that out of all the places I have visited on this trip, with the exception of Kleinzee, Elands Bay has the most potential to become a great place to live and a great place as a holiday destination. At the moment there are only 20 permanent residents in the town itself and close to a thousand non white residents who stray 1km from town at a place referred to as the camp.

My previous post included the caravan park and unfortunately the village does not fare much better. There is a hotel, which did not look too bad, and I saw one restaurant and two small general dealers and that’s about it.

The Elands Bay Hotel.
The Elands Bay Hotel.
The      Restaurant.
The Talm Langer Restaurant.

I stopped for a bite to eat at the restaurant and had a chat to the new owner, Frans, about what was going on in Elands Bay and why it is so run down. He told me that they have now established a committee to try and get things moving and to upgrade the town. They had a meeting and most of the role players in the area are pro doing something positive but there are one or two who are more than happy to keep things as they are. They just want their own little bit of paradise and to hell with everyone else. It is tailor made for them??

There were 7 working fish factories but now there are just 2 that still operate.
There were 7 working fish factories but there are now just 2 that still operate.
There are some pretty good looking holiday homes.
There are some pretty good looking holiday homes.

Elands Bay is renowned as a paradise for surfers – unfortunately there was not much happening on the surfing front that day – seafood, and birdwatching in the nearby Verlorenvlei which boasts over 180 bird species. Caves in the vicinity of the town have produced valuable archaeological finds from the different inhabitants over time.

Footprints in the sand.
Footprints in the sand.
One of the caves acessable to the public.
A cave that is accessible to the public.
Ancient hand prints visable on the cave wall.
Ancient hand prints visible on the cave wall.

Frans told me that there are other caves that are far better and they want to appoint an official tour guide to take people up to have a look.

Just below the cave is an old radar tower and barracks from World War 2.
An old radar tower and barracks just below the cave.

One of the pritine beaches just south of the town,

One of the pristine beaches just south of the town.

That was about all there was to see at Elands Bay so I headed back to Lamberts Bay on a different road and about 6 km’s from Lamberts came across this.

This is the original open air sea food resaurant and has been operating for over 23 years.

This is the original open air sea food restaurant and has been operating for over 23 years.

It was nearly 3pm by the time I got there but there were still plenty of people finishing off their lunch and it look delicious,

Eat as much as you want!!

It was nearly 3pm by the time I got there but there were still plenty of people finishing off their lunch and it look delicious,

It was nearly 3pm by the time I got there but there were still plenty of people finishing off their lunch and it looked delicious.

Lamberts Bay Caravan Park

Although I did not stay at Elands Bay Caravan Park I did take a drive through to go and have a look and am  going to include it in this post as I have found out that both parks have the same contact person and telephone numbers and are therefore connected.

Lets start with the Lamberts Bay park. I had been warned by quite a few fellow caravanner’s to avoid this park as it is not good and judged on value for money has to rank up there with the worst I have stayed at thus far. They charged me R100.00 per night and to be honest if it had not been that I wanted to spend a few days exploring Lamberts Bay itself I would have moved on after 1 night.

The entrance to the park.
The entrance to the park. Not exactly inspiring.
The office area. All bars and no information brochures. Very unfriendly.
The office area. All bars and no information brochures. Very unfriendly.

Some of the more than 268 sites.
Some of the more than 268 sites. It is a huge park and I would hate to stay there in season.
Some more sites and that is my set-up. Did not bother putting up the tent. More sites and that is my set-up. I did not even bother putting up the tent.
They have 40 sites with private ablutions which cost even more.
They have 40 sites with private ablutions which cost even more.
Shower in the general ablution block. I would love to know when those shower curtains were last changed. I felt unclean even after a shower.
Shower in the general ablution block. I would love to know when those shower curtains were last changed. I felt unclean even after a shower.

Old unkempt crazy golf course.

Old unkempt crazy golf course. It just looks so messy.

So close yet so far.

So close yet so far.

One of the major selling points is that the park is right next to the sea but as you can see there is no way you can get to it!! Surely there must be keys, that they could take a deposit for, so that patrons could go for a walk on the beach?

Overall I thought the park was pretty poor considering what they were charging. If I had been paying R60.00 a night I would not have felt so ripped off.

Elands Bay Caravan Park.

Elands Bay Caravan Park.

Onto Elands Bay Caravan Park. As I said both parks fall under the same management and it shows. I did not stay here and personally never would but I did read some comments on the internet by someone who did. “Terrible camp-site – neglected – poor maintenance” and from what I saw he was spot on. The writer did also say that the site had great potential and I felt the same about the whole of Elands Bay.

A not exactly inspiring site!

A not exactly inspiring sight?!(pun intended}

Everything just looked so neglected.

Everything just looked so neglected.

The ablution block. To be honest I could not force myself to go inside.

The ablution block. To be honest I could not force myself to go inside.

View of the beach from near the park.

View of the beach from near the park.

I agree that there is huge potential both for the caravan park and for Elands Bay in general and from some of the things I was told there will hopefully be some major changes in the near future.  Just by the way I found another small caravan park about 4 km’s from Elands Bay that is great and charges the same price per night, R100.00, with a private ablution block. I will write a post on that soon.

Lamberts Bay Attractions.

Apart from the normal attractions of most seaside villages – great beaches, surf and wind surfing, hikes etc – Lamberts Bay offers a few special attractions that are well worth spending some time exploring. The first of these is called Bird Island and is situated in the harbour area.

Welcome to Bird Island.

Welcome to Bird Island.

There is an entrance fee of R20.00 but that does also allow one to walk to the end of the pier and get some great views of Lamberts Bay, the beaches and the boats in the harbour.

The wonderful beaches.

The wonderful beaches.

One of Lamberts Bays jewels is the sea-bird breeding colonies on the internationally famous Bird Island which has the most accessible Cape Gannet colony in the world.

Cape Gannets.

Cape Gannets.

Gannets packed together like sardines?

Gannets packed together like sardines?

There are thousands of these birds packed together on quite a small area of the island and I was told they do this as a form of protection from their main enemy, the seals on nearby Seal Island.

Whale bones on one of the walkways.

Whale bones on one of the walkways.

Not sure if this sign was for the tourists or the birds.

Not sure if this sign was for the tourists or the birds.

I am always amazed how these beautiful flowers manage to grow just about anywhere.

I am always amazed how these beautiful flowers manage to grow just about anywhere.

Another of Lamberts Bay’s main attractions is to take a boat trip to go have a look at Seal Island and hopefully to spot some dolphins on the way.

Seal Island boat trip.

Seal Island boat trip.

All aboard for Seal Island.

All aboard for Seal Island.

The round trip costs R150.00 per person and if you are lucky one normally sees quite a lot of dolphins as they have become  used to the boat and come up really close. I was not that lucky as they just streaked around the boat and did not do any jumping. As a result I only managed 1 or 2 photographs and they were not great.

This is a Heaviside Dolphin and are quite rare.

This is a Heaviside Dolphin and is quite rare.

Seal Island.

Seal Island.

I had heard about a shipwreck, about 5 km’s from Lamberts Bay, that happened in 1901. The ship was HMS Sybille, a twin screw 3,400 ton second class cruiser. The ship was sent to Lamberts Bay as a patrol boat during the Anglo Boer war (1899 – 1902). On the morning of 16 January 1901 she struck a reef near the farm Steenboksfontein. The crew were all saved and guns and torpedoes salvaged.

Unfortunately, because of the exposed reef that she ran aground on, there is nothing of the wreck left to see but there are some wonderful artefacts at the Sandveld Museum in Lamberts Bay.

Write up about the Sybille.

Write up about the Sybille.

A displsy of artifacts from the Sybille.

A display of artefacts from the Sybille.

One of the propellers from the Sybille.

One of the propellers from the Sybille.

There were  other really interesting displays in the museum, which was opened in 1980, and is at present run by the the Friends of the Museum. The day I went there it was officially closed but the friends were having a meeting and kindly let me browse around.

Number please!!

Number please!!

Ex rugby flank and Springbok Jan "Boland" Coetzee was born in Lamberts Bay

Ex rugby flank and Springbok Jan Boland Coetzee was born in Lamberts Bay

Mountain or Leopard Tortoises.

Mountain or Leopard Tortoises.

While outside the museum photographing the Sybille’s propeller I came across many  of these tortoises,  from tiny babies to pretty large adults. They can grow up to 50 cm in length and have a mass of over 13 kilograms. Come rain or shine one of the Friends of the Museum comes in everyday to feed them.

I still have one more post to do on Lamberts Bay and that is going to be a short one on the Caravan Park.

Lamberts Bay walk about.

Lamberts Bay is situated 260km’s north of Cape Town on the West Coast. It is well known for its sea food and  is in the heart of crayfish country.  It attracts holiday makers, week-enders and day trippers almost all year round. Crayfish season is from November to April and every year in April the masses descend on Lamberts Bay for the  Crayfish Festival. There are plenty of things to do and see in Lamberts Bay. Apart from  white beaches and blue waters there is  a 9 hole golf course, 4×4 and hiking trails, fishing, surfing, bird watching and, in season, there are good whale watching opportunities.

I decided the best way to get a feel of the place was to go walk about and talk to some of the locals.

Lamberts Bay Harbour.
Lamberts Bay Harbour.

There is no doubt that central to Lamberts Bay is the harbour area. The fish factories, Bird Island, diamond divers boats and the well known Dolphin and Seal Island boat trips launch from here.

One of the many resaurants in Lamberts Bay.
One of the many restaurants in Lamberts Bay.
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Another.
And another. This one was in the harbour area so really nice atmosphere.
And another. This one was in the harbour area so had a really great atmosphere.

Diamond diver Jakes Viljoen.
Diamond diver Jakes Viljoen.

Bumped into Jakes taking his dogs for a walk – the black dog on the left is called “Thandi” and Jakes jokingly refers to her as a Khoisan Hunting Hound, and the other,  a very beautiful Golden Retriever, is called Rupert. Jakes knows George from McDougalls Bay and we had a long chat about the future of diamond divers on the West Coast.  Jakes seemed a bit more positive about it all compared to others I have spoken to.

TJ Gifts.
RT Gifts.

Jakes and his wife Adele have just recently taken over RT Gifts so I popped in to have a look around.

Some of the good for sale at RT Gifts.
Some of the good for sale at RT Gifts.
Sandveld Winkel.
Sandveld Winkel.
The lady in the shp described the goods for sale as "iets van alles" - a bit of everything.
The owner of the shop described the goods for sale as “iets van alles” – a bit of everything.

Room to rent.
Room to rent.

One thing for sure is that if you wanted to stay overnight or longer you would have no problem finding accommodation. Apart from the Lamberts Bay Hotel and many self service flats available it looked as if every second house had accommodation available.

Found this on th beach front but have no idea what it is. I just liked the shape.
Found this on th beach front but have no idea what it is. I just liked the shape.

Well maintained baai and picknik area.

Well maintained braai (barbecue) area at the beach front.

Thought of my daughter when I saw this as I know it's her dream is to have a place right on the sea front.

Thought of my daughter when I saw this as I know it's her dream to have a place right on the sea front.

The one negative thing  about Lamberts Bay are the number of street sellers and beggars that are allowed to hassle and badger one in quite an aggressive way. I find it very off putting and am sure that something could be done about it.

There is plenty more to see and do in Lamberts Bay so I am going to do a second post showing  the attractions such as Bird Island, Seal Island, a boat trip to see the dolphins and the museum which had some really interesting displays.

Papendorp plus.

I left Strandfontein on Friday morning as I had decided that R125.00 per night over weekends was a bit steep for me and to rather head for Lamberts Bay further south along the west coast. I had heard from numerous other campers that Lamberts Bay and Elands Bay caravan parks were not too great and quite expensive but thought there must be some interesting photographs to be had in the area so would take the chance.

About 7 km’s from Strandfontein I came across the  small settlement of Papendorp situated overlooking the Olifants River Estuary. With future recognition as a RAMSAR site the wetlands of the estuary are an important habitat for migratory birds.

Entrance to Papendorp.

Entrance to Papendorp.

The Olifants River Estuary earmaked to become a RAMSAR site.

The Olifants River Estuary earmarked to become a RAMSAR site.

This old building used to serve as church, school and community hall.

This old building used to serve as church, school and community hall.

Grave yard overlooking the estuary.

Graveyard overlooking the estuary.

Fishing boat.

Fishing boat.

Residents of Papendorp derive their livelihood from fishing.

With its own unique character Papendorp makes you wonder if time has stood still since the first people who came to live here. Fishing nets are still made by hand and visitors can experience the salty taste of home made “bokkoms” – salted and dried by the locals. Things might change quite a lot in the future when Papendorp officially is declared a RAMSAR site and already a guest house has been built and they are now busy building 6 or 7 chalets.

More vineyards. Vineyards.
Wine Route.

Wine Route.

I was amazed as I drove towards Lutzville  and Vredendal to see  mile after mile of vineyards. I had had no idea that quality wine was produced in such vast quantities in the area. In fact Vredendal is home to the largest wine cellar in South Africa and has a number of boutique wineries and a dried fruit depot.

Sishen Saldanha railway bridge between Lutzville and Vredendal

Sishen Saldanha railway bridge between Lutzville and Vredendal

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Giekwa Ratelgat Conference Centre.

This shot is a bit of a sneaky one as I took it on my way down from Kamieskroon to Strandfontein and just love the shape of the building. It is situated a couple of km’s north of Vanrhyansdorp.

Developement just north of Clanwilliam.

Development just north of Clanwilliam.

My turn off to get to Lamberts Bay was at Clanwilliam so I thought to have a quick look round and that was a huge mistake. The town was  busy and I have never seen a worse main road in  my life. It was incredibly narrow and had a really bad surface with many, many potholes. It was a nightmare!!. I also took a wrong turn trying to get to one of the caravan parks and had to try and execute a 3 point type turn with the caravan behind me. I am not the most expert at reversing and turning so it took me a while to extricate myself from that mess. When I did find the park I was given a price of R150.00 with no concessions.

The drive from Clanwilliam down to Lamberts Bay via Graafwater went off with out any problems and I arrived at Lamberts Bay just before lunch.

Lamberts Bay Harbour.

Lamberts Bay Harbour.

Lamberts Bay looks really interesting and I want to write a few posts in the next couple of days and also show you around the caravan park. The stories I had heard about it were spot on.

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