Archive for August, 2009

Strandfontein & Caravan Park.

The thing to understand about Strandfontein is that it is not a town but a holiday resort. I found it quite a strange place as a result of this. Nothing was quite real, it all seemed a bit false,  too perfect. Maybe the 2 photos below will illustrate my point.

Everything looks perfect...
Everything looks perfect…
Untill one looks closley.
Until one looks closely.

Is this to make money or keep certain people out?

Is this to make money or keep certain people out?

It is a gated community – pay to  get in as a day tripper and there is even a boom at the entrance to the resort  which to be honest was up all the time I was there but I bet in season they make use of it. Maybe its just me and everyone else loves the place but I found it bland with no soul or spirit. My feelings were confirmed when I had a chat to people who live just down the road at Doringbaai as they had heard others  say similar things. As I said I am sure most love it!

Living on the edge?
Living on the edge?

Some of the rock formations were fascinating.
Some of the rock formations were fascinating.
Looking accross the beach.
Looking across the beach. as you can see most of the houses are pretty modern.
Looking accross the beach from the othr side.
Looking across the beach from the other side.

Being from Cape Town I got quite homesick when I saw these name. I actually live in a suburb called Noordhoek. This is about the only shop in the resort.

Being from Cape Town I got quite homesick when I saw these names. I actually live near Kommetjie. This is the only shop I saw in the resort.

The caravan park is laid out in 2 sections. On the beach front is block “A” which is the most expensive and then further back is what is call “Perdeskoen” (Horseshoe).

The section of the park I stayed in.

The section of the park I stayed in.

The park is laid out at different levels in the shape of a horeshoe.

The park is laid out at different levels in the shape of a horseshoe.

My set-up.

My set-up.

As you can see nice green grassed site and the little white building on the right was my own private ablution block. The prices over weekends are pretty steep for someone like me travelling on my own at R125.00 per night but reasonable during the week at R75.00. I worked out later that the only reason I got  private ablutions was that otherwise they would have had to open the main block just for one person. One complaint is that they spent quite a bit of money setting this up and then go and use the cheapest, nastiest plastic toilet seats they could find. Also, if you do end up at Strandfontein, make sure to check the ablutions before you set-up as a few annoyed caravanner’s  had to move when they found they had no hot water.

View from the sea front "A" block of the park.

View from the sea front "A" block of the park.

Not so safe bathing?

Not so safe bathing? There is however a tidal pool.

There are also some nice looking chalets for hire.

There are some nice looking chalets for hire.

So would I go back to Strandfontein, if after reading this they would let me back in, yes if I was travelling with 2 or 3 others who were paying there own way. I am really starting to get annoyed at the inconsistency of pricing in the caravan park industry. For me 2 of the nicest parks I have stayed in, Springbok and Kamieskroon, have charged me R60.00 and R45.00 per night respectively as they have concessions for people on there own and also if you are over 60 years old. I stopped in at Clanwilliam on my way through to Lamberts Bay and was told I would have to pay R150.00 per night and no concessions. Something is not right!!

Doringbaai

8km’s south of where I am staying at the moment, Strandfontein, lies the little fishing village of Doringbaai or as it was originally know Thornbay. Dooringbaai is well know as an area for whale watching. Southern Right whales enter the bay to calve from May to November and can be seen breaching and swimming  with their calves in the protected waters. There are also wonderful hiking trails on both sides of the village offering excellent whale viewing opportunities. Unfortunately for the 2 days I was in Dooringbaai there was a massive sea running and no chance of any whale spotting.

There is not really a whole lot to write about Doringbaai so hopefully the photographs and captions will give you an idea of the village.

Central to Dooringbaai is the Light House and Harbour area so I spent quite a lot of time there having fun looking for different things to photograph.

The harbour and lighthouse.
The harbour and lighthouse.
The lighthouse was commisioned in 1965.
The lighthouse was established  in 1963.

As mentioned there was a massive sea running while I was there so took these to try and illustrate.

The noise when the waves smashed into the rocks was like thunder.
The noise when the waves smashed into the rocks was like thunder.
I would hate to have been hit by one of the waves.
I would hate to have been hit by one of the waves.
As the wave dissapated it left this fine mist.
As the wave dissipated it left this fine mist.
Would not have liked to be on the old jetty.
Would not have liked to be on the old jetty.
How that building was still standing I have no idea.
How that building was still standing I have no idea.

In amongst all the mayhem of crashing waves I found this succulent near the lighthouse.
In amongst all the mayhem of crashing waves I found this near the lighthouse.
Staying with the nauticle theme is the local restaurant and pub.
Staying with the nautical theme is the local sea food restaurant and pub.

As I was wandering around I met up with Peter and Michelle who run the very interesting looking self catering establishment called Thornbay Accommodation. Peter is an ex diamond diver who also ran and managed the local concessions. He and Shirley arrived in the area from Durban about 30 years ago and were first based in a caravan at a place called Die Punt just on the north side of he Olifants River. He knows my friend George from McDougalls Bay and in fact it was in Dooringbaai that George  started as a diamond diver. What a small world.

Thornbay Accomodation.

Thornbay Accomodation.

Welcome to Thornbay!!The octopus was created by Lachlan, also an ex diamond diver, from Lamberts Bay.

Welcome to Thornbay!!The octopus was created by Lachlan, also an ex diamond diver, from Lamberts Bay.

I had a look round inside and was very impressed with all that was offered to make one’s stay  comfortable and  enjoyable . Just loved some of the pieces hanging on the wall.

Anyone for crayfish?
Anyone for crayfish?
Fish?
Fish?

Sail away!

Sail away!

All in all I really enjoyed Dooringbaai even though the weather was not great. As it is only about 350 km’s from Cape Town it would be a great spot to just get away from all the hustle and bustle of  of city life and just relax. The area boasts many activities such as swimming, fishing, quad bike and 4×4 trails, wineries and restaurants.

Verbé Caravan Park – Kamieskroon

While in Springbok I heard a lot of talk about the wonderful Verbé caravan park in  Kamieskroon and was told I must stay there. There are 2 caravan parks in Kamieskroon but was told by everyone I must go to the Verbé as it was great. By the way the other park is called the Kamieskroon Hotel and Caravan Park and when I had a quick scout round it looked fine to me.

Entrance to Verbé Caravan Park.
Entrance to Verbé Caravan Park.

When I arrived at the park I was actually disappointed as it did not look like anything special, in fact the stands and ground were pretty awful as they were uneven and not a blade of grass in site.

Some of the sites.

Some of the sites.

That building on the left is a Lapa but I did not see anyone using it.

I also found out when I tried to hammer some pegs into the ground that it was incredibly hard. It took me 3 times longer than normal to set up and my hands were really sore at the end of it.

My set-up. I kid you not that ground is like rock.
My set-up. I kid you not that ground is like rock.

It was only after I had taken a stroll, quite a long stroll actually, up to the ablution block that I understood why everyone had spoken so highly of Verbé. I have been on and on about the terrible, sometimes shocking, ablution blocks I have had to use and how caravan park owners/managers just have no idea how important good, clean ablutions are to caravanner’s.

The ablution block.
The ablution block.
Inside the gents section. Spotless!
Inside the gents section. Spotless!

Just goes to show that even an average park will get really good revues if the ablutions are half way decent.

Dina the park manager.

Dina the park manager.

Another reason why people like coming here is the very helpful and charming Dina the manager at the front office. What a nice lady! Nothing was too much trouble and she made sure that all ran smoothly.

Saw this old bell holder at the top of the park.

Saw this old bell holder at the top of the park.

The park and surrounds from the old bell holder.

The park and surrounds from the old bell holder.

The building on the right, with the mast, is the police station. We had a black out for a few hours the one night and they run a massive, very noisy generator, for the duration.

Saw this beautiful flower at the entrance to the park. (Specially for Michael)

Saw this beautiful flower at the entrance to the park. (Specially for Michael)

The town of Kamieskroon is situated 67km south of Springbok and is set in the granite rock formations of the Kamiesberg range. The towns origins lie in the 1860’s, 7km north of the towns present location and was called Bowesville (later Bowesdorp). But in 1924, because there was no room to expand, the church council decided to demolish the church and rebuild it at its present site in Kamieskroon.

The Kamieskroon NG Church

The Kamieskroon Church

Commemorating the fallen in the Anglo Boer ar of 1899 - 1902.

Commemorating the fallen in the Anglo Boer War of 1899 - 1902.

Kamieskroon is essentially a town that services the surrounding farming community. There are quite a few B&B’s that come into their own in the flower season and there are also some wonderful hiking trails. In fact you can hire a guide steeped in Namakwa knowledge who offers hikes along uncharted trails, but, Kamieskroon is synonymous with spring flowers and extends the season with brilliant shows of  Bulbinella latifolia and many other species.

Hondeklipbaai – Part 2

To be honest I wish I could have spent a few days in this quaint little fishing village. The people are so friendly and willing to chat that I got caught up, and ended up not having enough time to meet half the characters I wanted to.

On going into the village itself  the first person I met was one of the local constabulary standing in a very pretty garden in front of his neat house. What a nice guy. He told me about which roads I should take and which to avoid when he heard that I wanted to visit Koingnaas on my my back to Kamieskroon.

A very colourfull flower bush in the policemans garden.

A colourful flower bush in the policeman's garden. The bee loved it!

About a hundred meters  from the policeman’s house I came to the little harbour which has been used for many different purposes over the years – shipping copper ore, as a base for the diamond diving boats and for the fishing and crayfishing boats.

The harbour area

The harbour area

The fish and chips shop right at the edge of the beach.

The fish and chips shop right at the edge of the beach.

The four in picture placing their orders, all residents of Hondeklipbaai,  were very friendly and invited me to sit down and have lunch with them. The guy on left of picture and his wife, 3rd from left, have had a plot in Hondeklipbaai for 10 years and over time built a house and moved in  permanently just over 9 months ago. The guy 2nd from the left, Stanley Cierenberg, is an artist and also runs a small art gallery from his home.

The Cierenberg Gallery.

The Cierenberg Gallery.

Inside the gallery.

Inside the gallery.

Stanley sitting at his favourite spot for tea and breakfast.

Stanley sitting at his favourite spot for tea and breakfast.

One of the artists on display at the gallery is local photographer “Roberto”. Roberto and his wife Dawn also run a restaurant, and offer tented self-catering accommodation called Skulpieskrall.

Sheltered tenting accomodation.

Sheltered tented accommodation.

Skulpieskraal tented camp comprises six comfortable tents with two single beds and bedding in each. The tents are pitched on timber decks under A–frame structures which are covered with shade netting where one can relax and enjoy a late afternoon sundowner.

Die Rooi Spinnekop Restaurant run by Roberto & wife Dawn.

Die Rooi Spinnekop Restaurant run by Roberto & wife Dawn.

This old sailing boat, I think it might be a Dabchick, is used as a serving table.

This sail boat is used as a serving table.

Unfortunately Roberto was not available to have a chat so my friendly guide, Stanley and I moved on as I was a bit worried about what I still wanted to see and do and it was getting late.

The Outside Gallery run by Villain.

The Outside Gallery run by Villain.

A wreck in the harbour area.

A wreck in the harbour area.

While I was sitting at the Fish and Chips shop having a bite to eat I spotted this wreck on the other side of the bay. I have no idea what, how or when but thought it looked quite dramatic and I also wanted to a view shot of Hondeklipbaai from the same angle.

View of Hondeklipbaai across the bay.

View of Hondeklipbaai across the bay.

It was getting quite late, and I still had a long way to drive, so I reluctantly left and started the rest of my journey for the day. I also wanted to make sure that I did not have to drive on the gravel roads in the dark.

Entrance to Koingnaas.

Entrance to Koingnaas.

I should probably have stayed longer in Hondeklip than try and rush through to Koingnaas as there was just not enough time to get signed in at security and get to have a look round the town. So once again I was on my way and hoping to see  flowers on my way to Soebatsfontein. I don’t know if it was to late in the day but I saw very little in the way of flowers. What I did get was the worst road I have travelled on so far in my journey and thought the old Pajero was going to get shaken to pieces.

Soebatsfontein rugby field.

Soebatsfontein rugby field.

I did find something interesting at Soebatsfontein and that was the Wallabies (Australian Rugby Team) having a secret scrummaging practice in preparation for the rest of the Tri Nations Rugby Competition.

All in all a good day but I do wish I could have spent a least 3 or 4 days exploring Hondeklipbaai and its interesting, friendly inhabitants. There is such a great attmosphere there and all seem to live in peace and harmony.

Hondeklipbaai – Part 1

Woke up to a beautiful day on Saturday 15th – sun shinning and no wind – so decided that this was the day to take a drive down to the coast and visit Hondeklipbaai.

The road from Kamieskroon to Hondeklip, about 85km’s, is gravel and you travel over 2 small passes. All in all it was not too bad but there were a few really bad patches so one had to concentrate all the way or risk some major damage to the vehicle. No way would I tow a normal caravan on that road.

On arrival at Hondeklipbaai I  got the feeling that it was going to be a special place and that’s the way it turned out for me.

Entrance to Hondeklip Baai.

Entrance to Hondeklipbaai.

This little village was once the main harbour from which the copper ore of Namaqualand was exported in the 1800’s. It is now a settlement of about 750 people and for the 4×4 enthusiast it offers a vast, unspoilt, coastline to explore. One of the major attractions is the wreck of the Aristea that ran aground in 1945 and is situated about 5 km’s south of the village.

Info about the Aristea.

Info about the Aristea.

The wreck of the Aristea.

The wreck of the Aristea.

Amazing to think that this wreck has been lying exposed to the element s for over 64 years.

Amazing to think that this wreck has been lying exposed to the element s for over 64 years.

Braai (barbacue) set-up.

Braai (barbecue) set-up.

Obviously a popular spot as they have braai facilities at the site.

Also met up here with 4 students from Cape Town who are studying at the African Film and Drama Academy. They were in the area for the weekend location scouting for a student film. Two of them were very lucky to have escaped virtually unscathed after rolling their car on the road to Hondeklipbaai.

Spotted tis guy sunning himself on the rocks.

Spotted this guy sunning himself on the rocks.

I was not really a flower photographing person, before this trip, but now love the challenge to show them off as best I can, so took these pix right at the beach.

Taken in amongst the rocks at the shoreline.
Taken in amongst the rocks at the shoreline.

Taken in amongst the rocks at the shoreline.

Info on The Dog Stone.

Info on The Dog Stone.

The Dog Stone.

The Dog Stone.

Info on crayfish/rocklobster.

Info on crayfish/rock lobster.

This old structure, in the harbour, was used in the old days for unloading and processing the crayfish.

This old structure, in the harbour, was used in the old days for unloading and processing the crayfish.

Hondeklipbaai is renowned for it’s crayfish but the income from crayfish can be very erratic as it is seasonal and sometimes the weather does not play ball. They have now started a pilot abalone mariculture project that is looking very positive. Unfortunately it being a Saturday I could not get in to have a look around.

Abalone piolet project.

Abalone pilot project.

I was originally going to cover Hondeklipbaai in 1 post but it would  really be too much as I have not even started on the people and the village itself so – to be continued.

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