Pick of the Pix.

As some of you know I am a professional photographer working out of Cape Town, South Africa and hope that the photographs in my posts have been fairly interesting. The professional  work  has been connected to theatre  and dance so this type of photography was pretty new to me. After having a look through all the photos from the trip I decided to do this post of a few that I think stand out from the rest.

Interesting to note that only 2 of the photos were taken with a high-end camera – actually a not so high-end Canon 20D with an 80-200 2.8f lens – and all the rest with a point and shoot type Canon G7 camera. I was truly amazed at the quality of the G7 and it was only for the photos of  birds that I switched to the 20D.

Sunrise at Brandkaros near Alexander Bay.
Sunrise at Brandkaros near Alexander Bay.

This is one of my favourites and I am using it as the desk top of my computer.

Beach at Alexander Bay.
Beach at Alexander Bay.

The feeling of desolation in this photo sums up the story of Alexander Bay itself.

Hazy sunset at McDougalls Bay.
Hazy sunset at McDougalls Bay.

Golden Sunset at McDougalls Bay.
Golden Sunset at McDougalls Bay.

Every sunset at McDougalls Bay seemed to produce  different tonal qualities.

Ship wreck at Port Nolloth.
Shipwreck at Port Nolloth.

This happened fairly recently and they were  hoping to re-float her.

Shipwreck just south of Kleinzee.
Shipwreck just south of Kleinzee.

Not much chance of re-floating this wreck!

Spot me if you can.
Spot me if you can.

Photo of very well camouflaged chameleon taken near Kleinzee.

Dragline taken at Kleinzee.
Dragline taken at Kleinzee.

Namaqualand flowers just outside Nababeep.

Namaqualand flowers just outside Nababeep.

Flowers near Springbok.

Flowers near Springbok.

According to most of the locals I spoke to 2009 has not been a great year for flowers.

Seal on the edge.

Seal on the edge at Hondeklipbaai.

About 10 seconds after I took this shot the seal took a headlong dive into that churning white water.

Still standing!

Still standing! (Dooringbaai)

Talk about the power of the sea – the noise when that wave hit that wall was like thunder.

Bird Island at Lamberts Bay.

Bird Island at Lamberts Bay.

The noise, and to be honest the smell, when you went down wind of these thousands of Gannets was quite something.

Bird on the wing.

Bird on the wing.

Toutch down at Verlorenvlei

Touch down at Verlorenvlei

Both bird shots above were taken at Vensterklip using a Canon 20D camera.

Well I hope you have enjoyed looking at the photographs as much as I did taking them. Hopefully there will be plenty more, at new locations, in the coming months.

Alexander Bay to Elands Bay – The Highs

Overall I enjoyed my 2 month journey from the Richtersveld through Namaqualand and down the West Coast and although there were some lows there were  many more highs. The highs include places, sights and people that I met along the way. Overall it was the people that I met and chatted to that really made the trip worth while for me.

Koos and Letia
Koos and Lieta Prince

Met up with Koos and Lieta at Brandkaros and I am sure that it was the 2 days that we shared that spurred me on to continue my journey in spite of all the set backs  I had suffered. They have been caravanning around SA for years and taught me a lot. Wonderful couple.

Pieter van Wyk
Pieter van Wyk.

Meeting up with and spending a morning with this young man was definitely one of the highlights of my journey. I am not going to try and recap all about this remarkable 21 year old so if you want to read more about him go to this link. I hope that one day, soon, he will have his book published, be awarded a bursary and given the opportunity to further his education at University.

Annemarie and Saome Reck.
Annemarie and Saome Reck.

I spent a wonderful morning with this mother and daughter team who manage a B&B right on the banks of the Orange River. Talk about making the most of very little.

Alta
Alta Kotze.

I enjoyed Port Nolloth and also received one of my biggest surprises in a long time when the lady above broke into song so that I could hear her voice and one of her own compositions. Truly amazing. I hope she gets the opportunity to further her ambitions and become a full time singer/composer.

George Moyses.
George Moyses.

Although I was not too happy with the caravan park at McDougalls Bay I did love the setting and also got to meet a real character who lives there in diamond diver George.

Dragline at Kleinzee.
Dragline at Kleinzee.
Ship wreck just south of Kleinzee.
Ship wreck just south of Kleinzee.

The 2 photographs above represent one of the the most pleasant days of my journey and I have to thank Gert Klopper of De Beers for showing me round Kleinzee and Dudley Wessels for taking me on the 4×4 trail along the coast. I thought Kleinzee was great and was amazed at what is being done there to make sure that the town does not go the way of places such as Alexander Bay. I see a big future for Kleinzee and if I had some spare cash I would buy property in the area as an investment or as a retirement option.

I enjoyed Springbok,  the Springbok Caravan Park and exploring places like Nababeep and Okiep as I had travelled there 40 years ago and it was interesting to see how much things had changed –  for the good and  the bad.

Fields of flowers at Skilpad.
Fields of flowers at Skilpad.

Kamieskroon, because of the good caravan park was great and I also enjoyed my visit to Skilpad in the Namaqua Park where I spent a day looking at the beautiful Spring flowers.

Hondeklip Baai

Hondeklip Baai

Friendly people.

Friendly people.

Loved Hondeklip Baai and the people. If you love the sea I think it would be a great place to have a holiday house or even to retire.

Strandfontein

My set-up at Strandfontein

Although I found Strandfontein a bit of a strange place I did enjoy my caravan site with its private ablution block.

Doring Baai and the power of the sea.

Doringbaai and the power of the sea.

The last part of my journey included Lamberts Bay and Elands Bay. Lamberts Bay was interesting and I enjoyed exploring and meeting some of the locals. To be honest the best thing about Elands Bay was that it was only 5 km’s from my final caravan park call Vensterklip.

Set-up at Vensterklip.

Set-up at Vensterklip with Verlorenvlei in the background.

Vensterklip was great as, again, I had a private ablution block and it was really quiet and peaceful. It also provided me with an opportunity to try my hand at photographing birds.

On the wing?

On the wing?

If you read my previous post you will see that the highs far out way the lows of my journey.  As to the question will I carry on with my voyage of discovery the answer is YES. There are still so many more interesting places to see and people to meet that, God willing, I would like to carry on until I have covered the whole of the South African coast line.

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.

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.