Archive for the Fishing Category

Velddrif.

I initially found it a bit confusing trying to work out where Velddrif started and ended as there are no boundary boards or markers. You cross the bridge over the Berg River, about 170km’s from Cape Town and you are in Velddrif, turn left and follow the road, east to west,  and within the next 2 km’s you get to Port Owen and Laaiplek. The central feature of all three places is the Berg River.

A graphic representation of the area.
A graphic representation of the area.

Just to try and give you an idea of where the 3 places are situated.
Just to try and give you an idea of where the 3 places are situated.

Velddrif has been a popular holiday destination for many years and, as with Dwarskersbos 12kms  up the R27,  also originally belonged to the Smit family who farmed cattle in the area. However it was not cattle farming that put Velddrif on the map but the harvest from the sea that has always drawn people to the area. The first large fish factory was opened in 1944 and to this day tons of pilchards, snoek and harders are harvested from the cold Atlantic Ocean.

The Berg River from the eastern side of Velddrif.
The Berg River from the eastern side of Velddrif.

"Bokkom Lane"
“Bokkom” country.

You can’t spend time in the area without trying the local delicacy called bokkoms. It is here that large schools of harders are netted and hung out to dry in the sun and turned into fish biltong (jerky).

A fresh harder before being hung up to dry.
A fresh harder before being hung up to dry.
Bokkoms drying in the sun.
Bokkoms drying in the sun.
Spotted this Pelican waiting to feed on some of the throw aways.
Spotted this Pelican close inshore waiting to feed on some of the throw aways.

The birding at Velddrif is outstanding with over 180 bird species having been recorded there. I wanted to go on the birding boat trip which is normally R80.00 for an hour and a half  but, because I was the only customer, it was just too expensive as I would have had to pay R200.00.

The studio of Marina Clunie right at the rivers edge.
The studio of Marina Clunie right on the rivers edge. She is one of many local artists.

Wish I could paint.
Wish I could paint.
Velddrif also has salt pans and a processing factory right on the river.
Velddrif also has salt pans and a processing factory right on the river.

Cerebos salt processing plant.
Cerebos salt processing plant.

Tours to the salt factory are available on Thursdays and are by appointment only.

Moving westwards through Velddrif this is a shot taken from the bridge.
Moving westwards through Velddrif toward the sea this is a shot taken from the bridge.
There are some great restaurants and if you enjoy fish this is the place for you.
There are some great restaurants and if you enjoy fish this is the place for you.

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A good place to buy some bokkoms if you want to give them a try.
The river front craft market.
The river front Pelican Harbour.

A number of tourism related businesses operate from Pelican Harbour creating an interesting stop for those exploring the attractions of Velddrif.

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Artful Things. The wall mural on the left was a collaboration between 4 of the local artists.

Overall I enjoyed exploring Velddrif and found the people  friendly and helpful. I was originally going to include Laaiplek and Port Owen in this post but there was more than enough for Velddrif to stand on its own.

Yzerfontein 2

I spent about a week in Yzerfontein and stayed at the caravan park which is situated on the northern side of the village. This was one of the better sites I have stayed at and is also  next to the main beach.

My set-up and some of the local cats.
My set-up and some of the local cats.

Most days I walked across the beach, through the village, and down to the fishing harbour and spent time chatting to and taking photographs of the fishermen and their boats. They were all professional fishermen and from what I saw and heard they live pretty tough lives as there are many days they can not go out or times when the fish are just not biting.

A view across the bay to the harbour.
A view across the bay to the harbour.

The one crew I met up with were camping at the caravan park and  were all from Gaansbaai on the south east coast near Hermanus. They ranged in age from early 20’s to the skipper and owner of their boat, Rosalie, who was 63. They had come through to Yzerfontein as they had heard that the snoek were running big time and the fishing in Gansbaai was poor.

The crew of Rosalie with some of their catch.
The crew of Rosalie with some of their catch.

They went out at about 6 every morning and would would come back at about 2 in the afternoon.

Once back at the harbour it was hitch the boat abd then find a buyer for the catch.
Once back at the harbour it was hitch the boat and then off to find a buyer for the catch.
They were catching upwards of 200 snoek everyday and found a buyer who was also from Gansbaai.
They were catching upwards of 200 snoek everyday and found a buyer who was also from Gansbaai.
They were fortunate in that the buyer would take the full catch everyday.
They were fortunate in that the buyer would take the full catch everyday.
Even after the catch was off loaded they were not finished for the day as the boat had to be cleaned.
Even after the catch was off loaded they were not finished for the day as the boat had to be cleaned.

At the end of the day.

At the end of the day.

One thing I can tell you is that these guys known how to cook snoek on an open fire as they kindly gave me a piece to sample. It was delicious.

Have a close look at the person closest to the camera.

Have a close look at the person nearest to the camera.

Yep that is a woman and one of the very few that go out and catch snoek.

Yep that is a woman and one of very few that go out on the boats and catch snoek.

Nine months ago Alida had been working as a pharmacist in the Gauteng area but was now working full time as a professional fisherman and from what I was told  was darn good and held her own against any of the men on the boat which was named after the TV series.

One that didn't get away.

Alida with one that didn't get away.

As I said in my previous post Yzerfontein it is definitely one of my favourite spots and I am going to go back there to complete my journey down the west coast of South Africa and am hoping that I might be lucky and get some good photographs of whales to share with you.

Yzerfontein walk about

In June, after I had refurbished my little Sprite caravan and before setting off on the first part of my west coast journey, I spent a week at Yzerfontein to make sure that I could cope on my own and that I would enjoy doing it.

Yzerfontein is about 80 km’s from Cape Town and  over the years I had probably driven past at least 10 times and not turned off the high way to have a look round. I had been there once before with my parents as a child and did not remember it at all.

On a clear day you can see forever.
On a clear day you can see forever.

This is a shot of Cape Town’s Table Mountain taken from Yzerfontein.

This  seaside village is renowned for its unspoilt beaches, including the pristine 16-Mile Beach which stretches north to Postberg Nature reserve near Langebaan and  the main beach has been awarded  blue flag status.

Yzerfontein main beach.
Yzerfontein main beach.

Laid out and developed in 1936 by a gentleman by the name of Abraham Katz, Yzerfontein is a popular week-end and holiday resort and has quite a few retired folk living there permanently. There is plenty to do apart from the swimming, surfing, boating and just lazing in the sun.

Father and son enjoying some rock fishing.
Father and son enjoying some rock fishing.

Whales
Whales

In spring the bay is the  destination for not only dolphins but also Southern Right and Humpbacked whales as they arrive to calve and one can watch from various elevated vantage points when they come close inshore. There are some spectacular displays of wild flowers, bird watching, hiking and Yzerfontein is renowned for its sea food. Snoek, crayfish and perlemoen are available, in season, at some of the restaurants in the village.

Snoek fishermen hitching up in the harbour after a long day on the water.
Snoek fishermen hitching up in the harbour after a long day on the water.

What  struck me as I wondered round the village was the amount of really posh looking houses that have been built as holiday homes and some that, in spite of the economy, were still being built.

Some of the houses accross the bay in the older part of Yzerfontein.
Some of the houses across the bay in the older part of Yzerfontein.

If this is the holiday home I would love to see the residential home.

If this is the holiday home I would love to see the residential home.

A house in the newer section to the south up for sale for R5,000.000
A house in the newer section to the south up for sale at R5,000.000

Walking trail along the coast.
Walking trail along the coast.
You can run into some interesting animals as you walk. I am pretty sure that is a Dassie.
You can run into some interesting animals as you walk. I am pretty sure that is a Dassie.
The beach at the newer part of Yzerfontein.
The beach at the newer part of Yzerfontein.

Cute hey!

Cute hey!

All in all I loved Yzerfontein and if I was asked to pick a place where I would like to stay on the west coast this would be it. I loved Kleinzee and Hondeklipbaai but for me they are just too far from Cape Town whereas from here you can be in central Cape Town within an hour.

I am going to do another post about Yzerfontein as I met some  interesting people involved in the snoek fishing industry and got some really good  photos.

Alexander Bay to Elands Bay – The Lows

I have been back in Cape Town for a week and had some time to think about my trip through the Richtersveld, Namaqualand and the West Coast. There are still so many more places that I want to visit on my voyage of discovery as my original aim was to travel the whole of the SA coast over a 3 year period. So after 2 months of my journey is this still what I want to do?

I am going to start with the lows as most of these occurred  at the beginning of my trip and, apart from one or two problems later on, the majority of my journey was great.

The biggest low for me was the problem of my new deep freeze which just did not do the job. I had bought a lot of frozen food before I left Cape Town as I was not sure what would be available, and at what cost, in some of the small towns I was going to. Having to throw away over R500.00 worth of food was a real downer. This  happened at Brandkaros which is 27 km’s from Alexander Bay. The drive to Brandkaros was also a low as the road was terrible for towing a standard caravan and caused some pretty heavy damage.

My site at Brandkaros

My site at Brandkaros

One of the worst problems I had at Brandkaros was the troop of about 30 monkeys that came into the park everyday and caused chaos by over turning the rubbish  bins  and jumping on the caravan and tent. The first time it happened I just wanted to pack up and leave.

Not one of my favourite animals.

Not one of my favourite animals.

I did find out, after a day or two, that they did not like the crackling sound of the shock-stick that I had with me.

I found that some of the caravan parks were badly run down and poorly maintained with the worst part being the ablution blocks. Some of them are appalling and here I think of Brandkaros, McDougalls Bay, Lamberts Bay and Elands Bay. If only the managers or owners of these parks knew how much caravanner’s talk amongst themselves about the parks and basically judge them on the ablution facilities. A prime example of this was Kamieskroon that everyone raved about, which had very average sites but fantastic ablutions.

Brandkaros ablutions. Really bad but I was told just before I left that they were budgeting on spending quite a bit of money to upgrade them.

Brandkaros ablutions. Really bad but I was told, just before I left, that they were budgeting quite a bit of money to upgrade them.

McDougalls Bay Holiday Resort.

McDougalls Bay Holiday Resort?

McDougalls Bay ablution block.

McDougalls Bay ablution block.

What a place of contrasts. The site was the most run-down and yet was the most expensive  on the first night that I stayed there as it was “in season” and cost me R123.00. You can not leave anything outside as people just walk up off the beach and steal. They also have a big problem with beggars. Even when I went back there after Brandkaros they wanted to over charge me. McDougalls Bay itself is stunning and it is such a pity that they do not do more with the caravan park.

Lamberts Bay Caravan Park.

Lamberts Bay Caravan Park.

Elands Bay Caravan Park.

Elands Bay Caravan Park.

I stayed at Lamberts Bay but not at Elands Bay and have put them together as they both fall under the same name and telephone number for information and management. Lamberts Bay is bad but from what I saw Elands Bay is shocking. Sadly both have been badly neglected. I say sadly because with good management and an injection of funds by the municipality both have the potential to attract a lot of people into the area all year round.

Lamberts Bay Harbour

Lamberts Bay Harbour

I enjoyed the town of Lamberts Bay but found the street sellers and beggars to be very aggressive and make life very unpleasant.

Something that I can not understand is the inconsistency of  pricing at the  parks. I paid from a low of R45.00 per night at Kamieskroon to R123.00 per night at McDougalls Bay. As I said Kamieskroon was great McDougalls Bay not!! One thing I did pick up on was that where there was competition  the better and less expensive the sites were.

Overall not too many lows and I know that when I post the highs they will be strongly in the majority.

Vensterklip

While I was in Elands Bay I was told about a place called Vensterklip.  It is  5 km’s from Elands Bay and has a small caravan park so thought I would go and check it out. I am so glad I did as, after having a scout round and chatting to some people who were camping there, I thought it would be a great place to spoil myself for the last 4 days of this part of my journey.

Vensterklip.
Vensterklip.

Vensterklip is situated on the banks of the Verlorenvlei, which is one of the largest natural wetlands along the west coast of South Africa. It is also a designated Ramsar site of national importance and is home to more than 200 species of birds.

Vensterklip offers a choice of immaculately restored cottages for hire and luxury camp-sites each with private ablutions and braai area. There is a large modern Lapa with stunning views over the vlei, an open braai area and swimming pool.

New restaurant.
New Tin Kitchen Restaurant.

300 year old barn that houses the restaurant.
300 year old barn that houses the restaurant.

Yellow wood bar.
Yellow wood bar.

The have recently opened the Tin Kitchen restaurant which serves local organic meat and fish dishes in and around a 300 year old barn. Shaded seating areas add to the relaxed rustic atmosphere and there is a cosy yellow wood bar to enjoy a drink or cappuccino.

They have also built a bird hide right on the vlei and I had a great time trying to get some decent photographs of the birds. This was a first for me and I was quite pleased with some of the shots.

I think this might be a Heron but I am not sure.
I am not sure what kind of bird this is..

I believe this is a Heron?
I believe this is a Heron?

I have posted more bird photographs on Flickr so if you would like to have a look you can click here.

One can hire these craft to have a good look round the vlei.
One can hire kayaks to have a good look round the vlei.

My site with private ablutions in the back ground. Really great.
My site with private ablutions in the back ground. Really great.

This is one site where I scored as they charge R100.00 per person per night which was fine for me but, I think, works out pretty expensive for 2 or 3 people. There was only one couple staying there for the first 2 nights and then I was on my own.

Late evening view from my camp-site.
Late evening view from my camp-site.
Thought about my mother when I found this enourwmous catterpillar. She absolutely hated catterpillars.
Thought about my mother when I found this enormous caterpillar. She absolutely hated caterpillars.

There was a building near the entrance to Vensterklip that I kept meaning to ask about as I could not figure out what it was used for. It was only on the day of my departure that I found out that it is used by a local artist as a studio.

"Wild Studio"
“Wild Studio”
Artist Mel Burger.
Artist Mel Burger.

Mel has worked in the area for a number of years and works on commissions from the locals. He is multi talented and paints, sculpts and and works in steel.

All in all I had a fabulous stay at Vensterklip. I even tried a bit of fishing at a farm called Nuwerus about 3 km’s down the road. They have 2 cottages for hire also right on the banks of the vlei and the one can sleep up to 10 people at R600.00 per night.

One of the Nuwerus cottages for hire.
One of the Nuwerus cottages for hire.
I Did not catch any fish but was lucky enough to get this photo of a Springbok.

I did not catch any fish but was lucky enough to get this photo of a Springbok.

Well that is about it for this part of my journey round the coast of South Africa. I am now back in Cape Town to  work and earn some money in order to carry on, hopefully in October. I am going to do a post later this week on the highs and some of the lows of my journey from Alexander Bay to Elands Bay. After that I am going to keep my hand in by photographing and  writing about places around Cape Town such as Noordhoek, Kommetjie, Simonstown etc.

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