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
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.
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 quite a bit of money to upgrade them.
McDougalls Bay Holiday Resort?
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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 there are now just 2 that still operate.
- 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.
- A cave that is accessible to the public.
- 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.
- An old radar tower and barracks just below the cave.
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 restaurant and has been operating for over 23 years.
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 looked delicious.
Although I did not stay at Elands Bay Caravan Park I did take a drive through to go and have a look and am going to include it in this post as I have found out that both parks have the same contact person and telephone numbers and are therefore connected.
Lets start with the Lamberts Bay park. I had been warned by quite a few fellow caravanner’s to avoid this park as it is not good and judged on value for money has to rank up there with the worst I have stayed at thus far. They charged me R100.00 per night and to be honest if it had not been that I wanted to spend a few days exploring Lamberts Bay itself I would have moved on after 1 night.
- The entrance to the park. Not exactly inspiring.
- The office area. All bars and no information brochures. Very unfriendly.
- Some of the more than 268 sites. It is a huge park and I would hate to stay there in season.
- More sites and that is my set-up. I did not even bother putting up the tent.
- They have 40 sites with private ablutions which cost even more.
- Shower in the general ablution block. I would love to know when those shower curtains were last changed. I felt unclean even after a shower.
Old unkempt crazy golf course. It just looks so messy.
So close yet so far.
One of the major selling points is that the park is right next to the sea but as you can see there is no way you can get to it!! Surely there must be keys, that they could take a deposit for, so that patrons could go for a walk on the beach?
Overall I thought the park was pretty poor considering what they were charging. If I had been paying R60.00 a night I would not have felt so ripped off.
Elands Bay Caravan Park.
Onto Elands Bay Caravan Park. As I said both parks fall under the same management and it shows. I did not stay here and personally never would but I did read some comments on the internet by someone who did. “Terrible camp-site – neglected – poor maintenance” and from what I saw he was spot on. The writer did also say that the site had great potential and I felt the same about the whole of Elands Bay.
A not exactly inspiring sight?!(pun intended}
Everything just looked so neglected.
The ablution block. To be honest I could not force myself to go inside.
View of the beach from near the park.
I agree that there is huge potential both for the caravan park and for Elands Bay in general and from some of the things I was told there will hopefully be some major changes in the near future. Just by the way I found another small caravan park about 4 km’s from Elands Bay that is great and charges the same price per night, R100.00, with a private ablution block. I will write a post on that soon.