Posts Tagged ‘Brandkaros’

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.

A last look at Brandkaros.

Today is my last day at Brandkaros camp-site. I leave for Port Nolloth tomorrow morning and will be setting up camp at nearby McDougalls Bay. I have now been here for 16 days and to be honest have really enjoyed my stay as it has given me the time to catch up with myself and also to get this blog started. Oh and it has also given me the opportunity to improve my Afrikaans which has gone from very poor to just poor.

The entrance to Brandkaros

The entrance to Brandkaros

Apart from going into Alexander Bay a few times to look around and meet some interesting people, I have spent most of my time walking,  fishing and just chilling out. (Not so sure “chilling” is the correct word to use as it has been sunny and hot most days.) The walks have been great and even though I only caught one small fish the fishing has been relaxing as well.

The people here, manager Analine and here husband Apie Du Toit,  have been incredibly friendly, kind and supportive. I have had bread baked, apples left at my door and my washing and ironing done by Analine and delivered by Apie to my door. They wont let me pay for any of that either.

The actual camp-site is difficult to show photographically as it is really spread out, has different sections and is shaded by lots of trees. I believe there are plans to spend quite a bit of money to upgrade the camp in the near future and personally I would recommend they start with the ablution facilities.

The area I was camped in.

The area I was camped in.

The camp-sites are not marked out so it’s first come first served.

The larger site

The larger site

Brandkaros is more of a transient rather than holiday camp-site. Convoys that have been to or are coming back from the Richtersveld Reserve pull in late afternoon and are gone again early next morning.

The rondawels

The rondawels

Some of the convoys coming through stay in the self contained rondawels rather than set up camp.

I supposed the thing that irked and annoyed me the most were the monkeys. A troop of about 30 come through the camp at least once a day and cause chaos, jumping all over the caravan and tent, overturning and scattering rubbish from the bins and just being a pain in the butt.

Catch me if you can.

Catch me if you can.

I am surprised he is not showing me the finger. They know you have not got a hope of doing anything to them.

The other thing that is annoying is that over weekends they allow day trippers to come in and braai. They make a lot of noise with their loud music and shouting and cause a major disturbance. Most camp-sites don’t allow this and now I understand why.

The ablution block

The ablution block

The ablution block is not great (still looking for a good one) but there is plenty of hot water.

The swimming pool is not bad and really nice in the hot weather.

The swimming pool is not bad and really nice in the hot weather.

As mentioned earlier I did do quite a bit of walking so will end off this post with a few pix that I took on my excursions in and around the camp.

Old and rusting farm equipment

Old and rusting farm equipment

Sad to see as not too many years ago this used to be a thriving citrus farm and has now gone to ruin.

View of Brandkaros from a nearby koppie.

Early morning view of Brandkaros from a nearby koppie.

As you can see an oasis in the desert. That large white building in the foreground used to house 45 full time employees on the farm and is now just falling apart. It had full ablutions, cooking facilities and dinning room.

Plant coming to life after the recent rains.

Plants coming to life after the recent rains.

I believe the flowers here and in the Namaqualand  are going to be spectacular this Spring

I will end off this post with my favourite shot taken on one of my early morning walks and have posted all photographs taken at Brankaros here.

Sunrise in the Richtersveld.

Sunrise in the Richtersveld.

Speak to you again from my next port of call Port Nolloth. First going to have to pull my poor old caravan over that 30 odd k’s of gravel road into Alexander Bay. Not looking forward to that.

The remotest B&B in S.A.?

Each time I have travelled from Brandkaros to Alexander Bay and back I have been intrigued by a sign at the side of the road, about 20 k’s from Alexander Bay, that advertises a B&B. On my way back from Alexander Bay on Wednesday I determined to stop and have a look around.

B&B in the desert

B&B in the desert

You can’t really miss it because of the brightly painted bits of scrap metal.

The B&B is managed by a mother and daughter team, Annemarie and Saome Reck, and is owned by someone living in Hong Kong. Annemarie started the B&B about 18 years ago and has managed it ever since under various owners. She is from the area as she and her husband used to farm nearby until he passed away.

Salome and Annemarie Reck

Salome and Annemarie Reck

There are 5 rooms, 3 inside and 2 outside, and also an extra house about a 100 meters away for when things get really get busy. Unfortunately it has not been too great recently as the pont at Sendelingsdrift is not working and people from Namibia can’t cross over there and as a result they have had many cancellations. ( The same thing has happened at Brandkaros and I have been the only one staying there for days now.)

Mother and daughter are very friendly and were more than happy to show me around and for me to take photographs. Again I will let the pix speak and just offer a few comments. All I can say is that Annemarie has tried to be as creative as possible, without much to work with, and in fact many passers-by stop and ask if the place is also a museum.

The main house

The main house

One of the rooms inside the house

One of the rooms inside the house

The 2 wendy house type rooms and ablutions.

The 2 wendy house type rooms and ablutions.

View from the front of the house.

View from the front of the house.

It really is a bit like an oasis in the middle of a desert. That is the Orange River in the distance and the dark area between the road and the river used to be an olive plantation.

The dinning area

The dinning area

The bath garden

The bath garden (My name for it)

The charge per person  per night is R250.00 and breakfast (R60.00) and dinner (R75.00) are extra. I reckon if one is passing through the area it would be a great and unique place to spend a night or two.

If you wish to see more photographs of the B&B please click on B&B photos

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