Posts Tagged ‘caravan park’

Gansbaai & Caravan Park

To get to Gansbaai from Hermanus one travels along the R43 which runs between the mountain and the Klein River Vlei via Stanford, which has a well preserved core of historical buildings, antique shops and art galleries, and onto De Kelders and Gansbaai.

Gansbaai (Goose Bay), named after the Egyptian geese that frequented a freshwater spring at the beach, started in the 1880’s as a few fishermen’s cottages on the dunes overlooking the harbour. A school was established in 1906 and in 1926 the land above the beach was divided into 205 plots. Commercial fisheries were started and by the 1950’s  Gansbaai was a bustling town which has now grown into a commercial centre.

Welcom to Gansbaai
Welcome to Gansbaai

Shark diving.
Shark diving information centre and booking office seen as one arrives in Gansbaai.

The main reason for the growth of  tourism round Gansbaai over the past 10 years or so has been the establishment of the whale and shark industries at nearby  Kleinbaai which attracts thrill seekers and nature lovers from all over the world who all want to see and interact with the big 2 – Great White Sharks and Southern Right Whales.

Map of the area.
Map of the area.

The old harbour and fish factories.
The old harbour and fish factories.

Some of the commercial fishing boats ready to put to sea.
Some of the commercial fishing boats ready to put to sea.

I went on  a walk about and took a few photos of things that interested or intrigued me. The folks of Gansbaai are really friendly and I even managed to meet up with the crew of a fishing boat that I became friendly with  when I was staying in Yzerfontein last year. It was through them that I managed to get myself onto one of the shark boats at Kleinbaai and spend a morning taking pix of the operation. More of that in my next post.

You have got to love this!!!
You have got to love this!!!

Pity I am off red meat!
Pity I am off red meat!

Saturday morning market.
Saturday morning market.

There are lots of restaurants and pubs in Gansbaai and of course the fish is really good.
There are lots of restaurants and pubs in Gansbaai and of course the fish is really good.

GANSBAAI  CARAVAN  PARK

There are 3 caravan parks in the area but to be honest  from what I saw and heard I would only stay at the park in Gansbaai above the harbour area. It was also a bit cheaper than the others and I enjoyed my stay there. The only complaint I had was that the lights  at night were really bright and it was like sleeping in broad daylight. ( I was parked directly under one of the lights so it was pretty bright.) They have done that for security and also have a watchman patrolling 24 hours a day.

A shot of the park taken from the harbour.

A shot of the park taken from the harbour.

My set-up at Gaansbaai. Nicely grassed and even stands.
My set-up at Gansbaai. Nicely grassed and even stands.

The view from my caravan!!
The view from my caravan!!

The ablutions were okay and kept clean and tidy.

The ablutions were okay and kept clean and tidy.

All in all I enjoyed my stay at Gansbaai Caravan Park. There is much to see explore in the area and Gansbaai is perfect as a base to the interesting places that are close by.

Hermanus 1

Hermanus was originally named Hermanuspieterfontein after an itinerant teacher from the 1830’s who grazed sheep near a fresh water spring in what is now Westcliff. Fishermen from Hawston started to settle here more than 150 years ago but the town gradually became known as a holiday resort and grew into the main coastal centre of the Overberg.

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I am going to do 2 posts on Hermanus as there is a lot to see and do there and I have taken a lot of photos which I hope you find interesting.

I first started going to Hermanus about 45 years ago and boy has it changed over the years in comparison to a place such as Arniston which is further east along the coast . In those days Hermanus and Arniston had the same kind of feel – holiday, fishing village, sea side places, although Hermanus was even then quite a bit larger than Arniston. Now days Hermanus is a bustling, much larger and more modern town and for me has lost much of the charm that still exists at Arniston.

View of the old harbour from Gearing Point.
View of the old harbour from Gearing’s Point.

Monument housing the roll of honour for those from the area who perished in the 1st and 2nd World wars.

Monument housing the roll of honour for those from the area who perished in the 1st and 2nd World wars.

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Plaque for the Old Harbour which was for many years the centre of a thriving fishing industry.

Hermanus now has a vibrant tourism industry, boasts a large number of art galleries and restaurants and is, amongst others, home to an annual whale festival in September. From June to November, especially the area around the Old Harbour and Gearing’s Point offers excellent opportunities for watching whales which often come to within meters of the rocks.

Gearing's Point which is ideal for whale watching.
Gearing’s Point which is ideal spot for whale watching in season.

Unfortuneatly I was there at the wrong time of the year so this statue had to make do.
Unfortunately I was there at the wrong time of the year so this statue had to make do.

One of the stalls at the thriving open air market.
One of the stalls at the thriving open air market.

There are 3 museums in the Old Harbour area and 1 ticket gets you into all 3.
There are 3 museums in the Old Harbour area and 1 ticket gets you into all 3.

Another of the 3 museums.
Another of the 3 museums.

Part of a whale skeleton at the entrance to the Whale Museum.
Part of a whale skeleton at the entrance to the Whale Museum.

You can hire this guy to give you a guided tour. It was a really hot day and business was slow so he was having a break.
You can hire this guy to give you a guided tour. It was a really hot day and business was slow so he was having a break.

Most of the action takes place around the Old Harbour area and that is where you find all the great restaurants, art galleries and curio shops that Hermanus is well known for.

Some great restaurants.
Some great restaurants.

Part of the main tourist area.
Part of the main tourist area.

There are also many hotels and B&B's in the Old Harbour Area and many more in the older part of Hermanus.
There are also many hotels and B&B’s in the Old Harbour Area and many more in the older part of Hermanus.

As I said at the beginning of this post Hermanus is a really interesting place to visit and there is much to show and comment on. For this first part of my visit I have tried to cover what the average tourist would  get to see if they came for a 1 day visit and will show more in my next post.

Paradise & Onrus Caravan Parks.

In the Hermanus area there are 2 caravan parks, the one at Onrus and the one I stayed at Paradise Park  in Vermont. There was a great camping and caravan park in Hermanus,  I camped there many years ago, but it is no longer open to the public as it has been earmarked for a major development .

The main reason I ended up staying at Paradise Park was price. When I phoned around to check prices I discovered that Onrus Caravan Park, like Kleinmond & Palmiet, who all fall under the same municipality, wanted to charge me R240 per night which is just way over what I am prepared to pay. Fortunately Paradise said that they would charge R130 per night, which I think is still a bit high for 1 person per night. The highest price I paid on the West Coast was at Strandfontein, where I had a private ablution block and fabulous view of the sea, who charged me R85 p/n during the week and R125 p/n over weekends.

The biggest factor against Paradise Park is that it is close to the high way and is therefore a bit noisy at night but not unbearably so. It is, compared to the Onrus park, also quite far away from the beach area which did not bother me as they have a great pool there to cool off in.

Paradise Park just off the R43 in Vermont about 10 km's from Hermanus
Paradise Park just off the R43 in Vermont about 10 km’s from Hermanus. No security at gate.

My set-up. Nice shaded area and the grass was fine.
My set-up. Nice shaded area and the grass was fine.

Had some great companionship as these two decided that my front stoep was the best place in the park durring the day.

Had some great companionship as these two decided that my front stoep was the best place in the park .

The main ablution block which was pretty good. There was also a smaller block nearer to where I was parked but there was something wrong with the hot water in the showers.
The main ablution block which was pretty good. There was also a smaller block nearer to where I was parked but there was something wrong with the hot water in the showers.

The ablutions were kept clean and tidy. You also have your own key to get in and out for which you pay R50 which is refunded when you leave.
The ablutions were kept clean and tidy. You also have your own key to get in and out for which you pay R50 which is refunded when you leave.

The pool and right next to it was a childrens play area.
The pool and right next to it was a children’s play area.

There are quite a number of full time residence in the park who have built there own cottages and pay a monthly levy. There was one very nice one up for sale for R350k and I was tempted but worried about the road noise.
There are quite a number of full time residence in the park who have built there own cottages and pay a monthly levy. There was one very nice one up for sale for R350k and I was tempted but worried about the road noise.

There is also a shop which stocks all the basics and next to it a hall which was used for a wedding reception while I was there.
There is also a shop which stocks all the basics and next to it a hall which was used for a wedding reception while I was there.

All in all I enjoyed my stay at Paradise Park and would definitely stay there again as it gives you a great base from which to go and explore the area.

Onrus Caravan Park.
Onrus Caravan Park. Good security entrance.

To be honest, apart from the price and also the now extended high season to end of April (which is crazy) there was not much wrong with the park and it is right on the shore line so maybe for a family of 4 to pay R240 p/n is not too bad. I still believe that the pricing structures of most parks are wrong in that they have a blanket charge for the site and don’t work on a charge per person p/n as  they do at Chapman’s Peak Caravan Park which works very well.

The ablution block looked clean and tidy.
One of the ablution blocks.

Clean and tidy.
Clean and tidy. I sometimes wonder who designs these things!!

The most popular sites with a sea view were looking a bit the worse for wear.
The most popular sites with a sea view were looking a bit the worse for wear which is understandable.

Davies Pool which is directly in front of the park and is accesable via a gate.
Davies Pool which is directly in front of the park and is accessible via a gate.

I had a long chat to the manager who says that they realise that they have made a mistake with the pricing and extending the high season and that he hopes that by June this year the prices will have come down. For the mean time if you are only going for a weekend and feeling flush this looked a nice park to stay.

Vermont, Onrus & Sandbaai.

As one gets to the end of the R44 you get to a T-junction with the Bot River to Hermanus road the R43. You pass the fishing  villages of Church Haven and Hawston , which has long been the home of abalone fishermen. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to explore these two places and went straight on to Vermont.

Basically Vermont, Onrus and Sandbaai are upmarket suburbs of the major town in the area, Hermanus. Each place has its own character and I found Vermont to be best of the three. They all have one thing in common and that is they are all situated in Walker Bay and are great places, at the right time of year, for whale spotting and viewing.

Great coastal hiking trail that links the three places.
Great coastal hiking trail that links the three places.

Davies pool with Onrus in the background. The pool is dirctly in front of the Onrus Caravan Park.
Davies pool with Onrus in the background. The pool is directly in front of the Onrus Caravan Park.

A view of Vermont from the highest point I could find.
A view of Vermont from the highest point I could find.

Vermont is not only a residential town but is becoming increasingly popular for retirees.
Vermont is not only a residential town but is becoming increasingly popular as a retirement village with many security type estates.

Even though Hermanus is just 10 minutes away they also have a modern shopping centre.
Even though Hermanus is just 10 minutes away they also have a modern shopping centre.

The next place you come to as you head down the R43 towards Hermanus is Onrus. Actually the tree villages are linked and it is difficult to tell where one ends and the next one starts.

The Onrus River and lagoon are accesable next to the beach.
The Onrus River and lagoon are accessible next to the beach.

The beach at Onrus.
The beach at Onrus.

The safe lagoon area which is nex to the beach.
The safe lagoon area which is next to the beach. To be honest the swimming here was the best of the three areas.

The nnn at the beach.
The Beach Kiosk Bistro at the beach. Good place to stop for breakfast.

One of the good looking "sea side cottages".
One of the good looking “sea side cottages”.

I saw quite a few art galleries in Onrus.
The “Mission’s House Gallery. I saw quite a few art galleries in Onrus.

Te next place you get to just before you reach Hermanus is Sandbaai.
The last place you get to just before you reach Hermanus is Sandbaai.

Unfortuneatly there had been a massive sea so the beach was not looking it's best.
Unfortunately there had been a massive sea so the beach was not looking it’s best.

As with most sea side places I have visited there are some pretty big houses.
As with most sea side places I have visited there are some pretty big houses.

The bottom section of one of the older houses has been turned into a restaurant.
The bottom section of one of the older houses has been turned into a restaurant called Bamboo Beach.

Also discovered that Sandbaai has it's own private college calle Northcliff House.
Also discovered that Sandbaai has it’s own private college called Northcliff House.

At the junction of the R43 where one turns right to go down to Sandbaai there is an intriguing shopping village on the left which is well worth exploring. There are art galleries, restaurants, an interior design studio and a wine village shop where all of the local wines can be purchased .

Hemel en Aarde

Hemel en Aarde Shopping Village.

Intersting use of old wine barrels.
Interesting use of old wine barrels.

There are a few wine shops here and you can also go for tastings at the

There are a quite few wine shops here and you can also go for tastings at the Whalehaven Winery.

There really is a lot to see and experience in the three villages  so try and make a day of it – have breakfast, go swimming, look through the art galleries, have lunch,  taste and buy a few bottles of the local wines (some of them are excellent) and just have a wonderfully relaxing day.

Gordons Bay to Rooi Els

I can remember, years ago, when friends and I would take a Sunday drive out to Gordon’s Bay and drive the 20km stretch of road to Rooi Els and then along past Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay and have a braai (BBQ) along the way. It was beautiful then and remains beautiful today.

The first place to go to, as you leave Gordon’s Bay, is up the road to the Steenbras Dam Water Treatment Plant just for the incredible view one gets of False Bay. In the old days one could also drive to the dam itself but that is no longer permitted.

View of Gordon's Bay and surrounds from the Steenbras road.
View of Gordon’s Bay and surrounds from the Steenbras road.
Clarence Drive.
Clarence Drive.

I have travelled this road (R44) to Rooi Els many times but never new it was officially called Clarence Drive. I must  say that along with Chapmans Peak drive in Cape Town I rate this as one of the most beautiful drives I have been on in the Cape Province.

Stunning views.
Stunning views.

This coastline is very popular with rock anglers but is notorious  for the number of fishermen that have been washed off the rocks and drowned over the years.

One of the markers from 1901.
One of the markers from 1901.

“Die see het hom geneem”  (The sea took him)

One of the first places you come to on the drive is The Sundird Restaurant at the mouth of the Steendras River.
The Sunbird

One of the first places you come to on the drive is The Sunbird Restaurant and Pub at the mouth of the Steenbras River. There is also a guest lodge and self catering B&B.

Mouth of the Steenbras River.
Mouth of the Steenbras River.

I remember my folks telling me stories about  camping here when they were both students. There are also  challenging hiking trails in the area.

A view of Kogel Bay where there is a caravan park.
A view of Kogel Bay where there is a caravan park.

Kogel Bay Resort.

Kogel Bay Resort.

Is that not amazing?
Is that not amazing?

Just be aware that the Kogel Bay Park is pretty rough and ready. There is no electricity and the ablution blocks are not great. Also you can not just arrive on a Friday and book in. That all, including payment, has to be done in advance via fax or at the Strand Municipality. I am beginning to wonder if the Overberg and Overstrand Municipalities are trying to make it as difficult and as expensive as possible  to try and stop people camping? Very strange!

On of the ablution blocks.
One of the ablution blocks.

The hot water is heated by gas and as you can see there is a solar panel for some lighting.  I was told that unfortunately the light was not working.

Just a bit futher down the road is the Kogel Bay Day camp which has a great tidal pool.

Just a bit futher down the road is the Kogel Bay Day camp which has a great tidal pool.

There are 2 other day camps such as the one above, Sharks Bay and Klippis Baai, which are very popular for Sunday picnics and braai’s for the family.

The view from the R44 across the beach to Rooi Els.

The view from the R44 across the beach to Rooi Els.

Rooi Els.

Rooi Els.

I have friends who have a holiday house at Rooi Els where I stayed on a few occasions and it became one of my favourite places to go to for a break. It has not changed that much over the years – a few new shops – and there are only a certain number of houses that can be built there. If I remember correctly there are about 180 houses and only about 60 more that can be built there.

View of Rooi Els from the mountain side where some house have been built.

View of Rooi Els from the mountain side where some house have been built.

Clarence Drive (R44) is only about 20km’s long but it has some of the most beautiful views and scenery in the Cape Province and it is truly worth taking some time out and exploring all the stops along the way.

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