Posts Tagged ‘Kleinzee’

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.

Back to Basics – Backpackers

I met Bruce Wessels when he accompanied his father, Dudley, and I on the 4×4 Ship Wreck trail between Kleinzee and Koingnaas on my recent visit to Kleinzee. He has just recently, December 2008,  opened a Backpackers a few km’s from Koingnaas aimed at budget travellers who are looking for good surfing, crayfish diving – in season and with a permit – walking trails and back to nature experiences. They charge R100 per person per night and there is a rather cool surf spot on the doorstep called Workshop or The Workshop.

At the end of the 4×4 trail we dropped Bruce off and I had time for a quick look round and to take a few photographs.

Bruce Wessels infront of Back to Basics Backpackers
Bruce Wessels infront of Back to Basics Backpackers

Originally there were 2 groups of diamond divers huts in this area and both have now been renovated into very pleasant accommodation establishments. The first to be renovated was at Noup and is owned and managed by Bruce’s Mom and Dad. These are more upmarket self catering units with bathrooms en suite and epitomise the “on the beach” accommodation experience.

Back to Basic Backpackers was the second group of huts to be renovated, basic but comfortable,  self-catering huts just north of Noup. Communal bathrooms, kitchens and social areas make it ideal for small groups. Limited electricity supply in the evenings, 7pm – 10pm, warm water, gas stoves and braai facilities.

One of the larger huts which can sllep 4.
One of the larger huts which can sleep 4.
Communal lounge area
Communal lounge area

One of the bathrooms.

One of the bathrooms.

Some of the original decor.

Some of the original decor.

A reminder of the past?

A reminder of the past?

The lapa type braai area with the sea as your backdrop.

The lapa type braai area with the sea as your backdrop, ideal for sundowners.

All in all I think this would be a great place to stay for more than just a couple of nights. Because they are situated between Koingnaas and Kleinzee one needs to obtain clearance before being able to stay over night, therefore one must please contact Bruce at least 3 or 4 days before arriving so he can organize the relevant permits. (no charge)

Bruce Wessels -  Back to Basics Backpackers – 084-964-5856

Kleinzee – part 2

For the second part of my day in Kleinzee I was introduced to Dudley Wessels and his son Bruce. They were helping find suitable sites to erect camps for a new 4 day hiking trail that will hopefully be open to the public by the end of 2009. I was fortunate enough to be taken out by them on one of the great 4×4 routes along the coast for a couple of hours.

The area of land between Kleinzee and a place called Koingnaas 65 km to the south, is being utilised  for many projects to provide meaningful and sustainable input into the economy of the region. As mentioned the latest of these projects is a 4 day 80 km hiking trail which includes various habitats – strandveld, dunes and pristine coastal stretches.

Discussing the suitability of this area as a camp-site

Discussing the suitability of an area as a camp-site.

One of the beautiful bays.

One of the beautiful bays.

If I remember correctly this is the view one would have from one of the hiking camps.

Another beautiful beach.

Another stunning beach.

Reject ostrich eggs some of whichthat are possibly 15 years old.

Reject ostrich eggs some of which are possibly 15 years old.

Spot me if you can.

Spot me if you can.

How on earth one of the guys spotted this chameleon I have no idea.

One of the many flowering daisy bushes along the way.

One of the many flowering daisy bushes along the way.

Apart from the hiking trail there are 2 guided 4×4 trails. One is a 27 km dune drive, The Strandveld 4×4 Trail, which follows a sometimes almost invisible route through a 30,000ha private game reserve, two different dune systems and alternating veld. Ostriches, gemsbok, springbok and smaller antelope are common sights along the route. Unfortunately my time was limited so I did not go on this trail.

The other 4×4 trail, The Shipwreck 4×4 Trail, was the one I was taken on and it was spectacular. The trail is pretty rough  has a difficulty rating of 2-4, so it was a good thing I was not driving, and lasts about 5 hours.

Over many years the stormy Atlantic Ocean has sent a number of ships to a chilly grave along the coast between Kleinzee and Koingnaas.

The Border

The Border

On Tuesday 1 April 1947 the 285 ton British motor coaster, The Border, ran aground in dense fog at high tide, just south of Namanas Point, between Kleinzee and Koingnaas. All on board reached safety by means of a lifeline to the beach

The Piratiny

The Piratiny

In June 1943 the 5000 ton Brazilian steamer Piratiny was wrecked at Schulp Point, about 80km south of Port Nolloth, while on a voyage from Brazil to Cape Town.  Again no lives were lost and in fact they were able to salvage most of the cargo.

The trail is not just all about shipwrecks and you travel past pristine beaches, archaeological sites dating as far back as the late Stone Age and historical sites such as the Agenbags stone house.

Die Klip Huis

Die Kliphuisie

“Die Kliphuisie” was built by a farmer on the farm “Zwart Duinen” in 1928, but he disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1931. The next inhabitants were the Agenbag family.  This quaint little farmhouse from a bygone era has been vacant since the Agenbags retired in 1976.

There are numerous places that one can stay at in the area, self catering guest houses, a backpacker and 2 caravan and camping parksone at Kleinzee and the other at Koingnaas. If I was looking for a good place to just chill out, go surfing, walking, cycling etc. this would be it.

Please be aware that the area is under the control of the De Beers – Namaqualand Mines and if you wish to spend more than just a day you must apply for permission at least 5 days in advance as security clearance is necessary. Your full names and ID numbers will be required and a permit will be issued free of charge at the entrance gates. For more information contact Diamond Coast – Forever Namaqualand +27278770028

Kleinzee – part 1

On Monday the 3rd, at the invitation of Gert Klopper – Public and Corporate Affairs Manager, De Beers, Namaqualand, I  spent the the day at the diamond mining town of Kleinzee on  the West Coast.

I am doing 2 posts, this one about the town itself and part 2 about some of the exciting new tourism ventures that are being developed.

Situated about 50 kilometres south of Port Nolloth, Kleinzee was established as a town in 1942. Diamonds had been discovered on the farm Kleyne Zee in about 1927 and in 1930 the first recovery plant was built. Diamond mining went through many ups and downs because of diamond market crashes and also due to the start of World War 2. It was only toward the end of the war that mining started again.

The well maintained Kleinzee Museum

The well maintained Kleinzee Museum

Boulder Heritage Route

Boulder Heritage Route

This is where the mining at Kleinzee began in the late 1920s. The neatly stacked mounds of rocks are kept intact to remind us of days gone by when mining diamonds was hard manual labour. In the foreground  is one of the boulders with the pick and shovel that marks this site as part of the “Boulder Heritage Route” – an easy 5 km walk down the rich history of diamond mining at Kleinzee

Early pick and shovel mining.

Early pick and shovel mining

The Golf Course.

The Golf Course.

The first thing that one notices while driving through the town is how clean and neat everything is. The population of the town has dropped from a high of about 7000 inhabitants to less than 1000 today because of the closing down of much of the mining operation. As Gert explained  diamonds are a finite resource and once an area is mined then that’s it. But the difference that I saw and heard here is that there are plans in operation to keep the town not only going but to increase the population with the establishment of new types of sustainable businesses to take over from the diamonds in the near future.

An area between the beach and town that is being restored.

An area between the beach and town that is being restored.

Abundant birdlife at the Buffels River estuary at Kleinzee.

Abundant bird life at the Buffels River estuary at Kleinzee.

The seal colony.

The seal colony.

The Kleinzee Cape Fur Seal colony just north of Kleinzee is, with its 300 000 to 400 000 animals, the largest on-land colony in South Africa.

The local Angling Club

The local Angling Club

There are many sporting facilities, fishing , golf, rugby, cricket, netball, bowls, squash etc. and from what I saw all the fields and courts are in tip top condition.

The oyster farm of Kleinzee Mariculture

The oyster farm of Kleinzee Mariculture

The current dam is used to grow out oysters to specific sizes before they are passed on to other farmers for growing to market size. This will change in the future when the dam is extended,  see below, and full size oysters will be grown and exported from Kleinzee.

A basketful of the “big ones that got away”.

A basketful of the “big ones that got away”

Looking down from the recently constructed platform of the abalone farm

Looking down from the recently constructed platform of the abalone farm

These dams came about as a more productive way of using mined-out areas to create an industry that has the potential of sustaining itself – and the economy of the region – for a very long time to come. Apart from the Mariculture there are plans to establish wind farms for the generation of electricity.

Bucyrus Erie dragline machine which is powered by electicity.

Bucyrus Erie dragline machine which is powered by electicity.

In previous years, De Beers Namaqualand Mines used this Bucyrus Erie dragline as a cost-effective means of removing millions of tons of overburden to expose diamond bearing gravels. Today, this 3500 ton monster is being used to rehabilitate the disturbed land and move the soil back into the pits it created – ready for reprofiling and restoration.

The Final Recovery plant.

The Final Recovery plant..

The checkpoint building and security offices at the entrance to the Buffels Marine Mining Complex north of Kleinzee.

The checkpoint building and security offices at the entrance to the Buffels Marine Mining Complex north of Kleinzee.

All in all I found Kleinzee to be a great little town and I believe that with all the planning and hard work that is going on that it has a really bright future. If I am still around in 5 years from now I would love to go back and see all the progress that would have been made.

If you want to have a look around Kleinzee make sure you have your ID Book with you. If you plan to spend a night or two there then you must get security clearance at least 5 days prior to arrival. There are caravan parks, guest houses and a backpackers in the town and surrounding area.