Posts Tagged ‘nature reserve’

Betty’s Bay.

Just a few km’s down the R44 from Pringle Bay is the village of Betty’s Bay which also lies in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Only an hour’s drive from Cape Town, Betty’s Bay is a picturesque seaside village situated along the scenic Clarence Drive Route (R44).  The pretty town is positioned in a narrow strip of land between the Kogelberg Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, and bordered by fresh water lakes and the Palmiet River.

This part of the world is considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom due to the exceptional examples of fynbos and has largely remained unspoilt and isolated. Although the Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest of the world’s six plant kingdoms, it nevertheless has the 2nd largest diversity. The reserve stretches along the coast from Gordon’s Bay through to the town of Kleinmond and inland from the farms of the Elgin Basin through to Grabouw – a total of some 100,000 ha.

Harold
Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens.

Harold Porter Gardens.
Harold Porter Gardens.

The botanical garden of Harold Porter, which stretches from the mountain-top down to the sea, is known as ‘little Kirstenbosch’ and contains some of the best examples of local fynbos, including proteas, restios and over 50 species of ericas.

Because I was trying to cover so much in 1 day I did not have a chance to go in to the gardens and have a walk around. I have been there on 3 or 4 other occasions and it is really worth the time and effort to spend a few hours there and if fit enough take a hike up to the waterfall and pool. Truly beautiful.

My next visit was to take a drive down to Stony Point and have a look at the African Penguin  colony which I had not seen before.

Info on Stony Point Penguins.
Info on Stony Point Penguins.

The penguin colony at Stony Point is one of four mainland colonies in South Africa and declared a municipal nature reserve in July 2002.The best time of day to view them is in the late afternoon, when the penguins return from fishing.

Stony Point.
Stony Point.

They have built a viewing walk way to make it easier to view the penguins.
They have built a viewing walk way to make it easier to view the penguins.
A few of the over 4,000 African Pnguins at Stony Point.
A few of the over 4,000 African Penguins at Stony Point.

It was a hot day so some were taking advantage of the the water showers provided for them to keep cool.
It was a hot day so some were taking advantage of the the water showers provided for them to keep cool.

The old concrete tower that housed the light to guide the boats into Stony Pint Harbour.
The old concrete tower that housed the light to guide the boats into Stony Point Harbour.

All that is left of the "Una" which was built in 1890 and was scuttled here to form part of the jetty.
All that is left of the “Una” which was built in 1890 and was scuttled here to form part of the jetty.

There is also a Cafe come restaurant come meuseum come art gallery at Stoney Point and well worth a visit.
There is also a café come restaurant come museum come art gallery at Stony Point and well worth a visit.

Fritz Von Wustenhoff who owns the Southern Cross Cafe is a mine of information about the area.

Fritz Von Wustenhoff who owns the Southern Cross Café is a mine of information about the area.

ccccccc

There are some pretty sizeable houses along the road at Betty's Bay

One of quite a few galleries that I spotted.

One of quite a few gallery's that I spotted.

As I said of Pringle Bay I just wish I had had more time to explore  as I know that there are some beautiful beaches and many guest houses in the area.

Silver Sands and Hangklip dunes lie to the west of Stony Point offering a beach of over four kilometres and great kite surfing opportunities. The beach is also good for picnics, swimming and surfing. Jock’s Bay and Shelly Beach, close to the Harold Porter garden, offer the younger generation better paddling and shell collecting opportunities

Pringle Bay.

The first village from Rooi Els on the R44, in the Cape Hangklip area, is Pringle Bay. ( From what I was told Hangklip is not a place but an area and there is Groot Hangklip and Klein Hangklip.)

The villages of Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond share a common history from the ancient heritage of the early Bushmen and Hottentots, to a safe haven for smugglers in the 1800s, whalers in the early part of the 1900s before developing as holiday and retirement villages. There are now quite a lot of people that live and work there permanently (lucky people at that) as shop and restaurant owners, artists and of course estate agents. (I always marvel at the number of estate agents there are in all the small villages that I have been to.) The area is part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve which is an internationally acclaimed conservancy because of the incredible variety of plants found here: an estimated 1650 species of mainly fynbos. In 1998 it became the first UNESCO declared Biosphere Reserve in Southern Africa.

Welcome to Pringle Bay.
Welcome to Pringle Bay.

A copy of an airial photograph of Pringle Bay.

A copy of an aerial photograph of Pringle Bay. Not sure how long ago it was taken.

You ether build as close to the sea as you can or up the side of the mountain to experiance views like this one.
You ether build as close to the sea as you can or up the side of the mountain to experience views like this.
House with a view.
House with a view. It almost looks suspended from this angle.

If you drive through Pringle Bay and take the dirt road that used to go directly to Betty’s Bay you come to a T junction where the road has now been blocked off. There is a short but bad road that leads down to a spectacular beach. ( I am not kidding about the road as I saw 2 cars get stuck and have to be towed out.)

End of the road - turn right to the beach.
End of the road – turn right to the beach.
Stunning beach.
Stunning beach. There had been massive seas so there was a lot of kelp on all the beaches.

A short distance away, as one drives back to Pringle Bay, is the Hangklip Lighthouse which is about a 15 minute walk,  and the small harbour /  launching area for all the various types of recreational boats. The fishing, crayfishing, snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming at Pringle Bay is excellent and I saw many fish and crayfish being brought in on the boats.

Hangklip Lighthouse which is now 50 years old.
Hangklip Lighthouse which is now 50 years old.

An old reminder, near the harbour, to always respect the sea.
An old reminder, near the harbour, to always respect the sea.

Somebody was going to be dining well.
Somebody was going to be dining well.

After a hard days fishing always good to stop in for a cold one at the famous / infamous Hangklip Hotel.
After a hard days fishing always good to stop in for a cold one at the famous / infamous Hangklip Hotel.

The beautiful main beach at Pringle Bay. Unfortunately as stated previously there had been massive seas that week and the beach was covered with kelp.
The beautiful main beach at Pringle Bay. Unfortunately as stated previously there had been massive seas that week and the beach was covered with kelp.
As you can see there are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore as well.
As you can see there are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore.

When I did a post for McDougals Bay last year I took a photo of quite a strange looking house and mentioned I had seen something similar in Pringle Bay. Well here it is!
When I did a post for McDougals Bay last year I took a photo of quite a strange looking house and mentioned I had seen something similar in Pringle Bay. Well here it is!

I think Pringle Bay is a great place and would love to have spent more time there and at Betty’s Bay exploring. Unfortunately they, together with Kleinmond, fall under the Overstrand Municipality who have increased prices at the 2 local caravan parks to such an extent that I could not afford to stop over for even one night. At Palmiet Rivier Park and Kleinmond the price of a stand last year was R75 and now this year they have pushed it up to R240 plus you pay an extra R30 for electricity. (R900 pm for a 10 amp plug.)  Not only that but they have extended their High Season to now be 1st November to end of April.  Most places have December, January and Easter weekend as High Season. Maybe they don’t want campers and caravaners at their parks. Sure looked like it when I went to have a look – a combined total of about 400 sites and 5 people staying there.

Ou Skip Caravan Park

When I left Yzerfontein I was still unsure as where my next stop would be. I had driven down and had a look at Ganzekraal and found it to be not to bad but that there was very little shelter or shade from the wind and sun. By the time I was at the turn off to the park the day was really hot and a strong South Easter was blowing so I decided to give it a miss and go straight to Ou Skip in Melkbosstrand.

Ou Skip Caravan Park in Melkbosstrand.
Ou Skip Caravan Park in Melkbosstrand.

Ou Skip is graded by the SA Grading Council as a 3 star resort and is one of the largest caravan parks in the Western Cape. Situated 30 km’s from Cape Town in Melkbosstrand it is adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean – out the front gate, cross a road and a short stroll and you are on the beach.

One of the big differences with this park is that there are about 300 people that stay there on a semi permanent basis and yet there are still over 200 caravan and camping sites, all of which are grassed or have wood shavings and have electrical points, that are available to the public.There are also 12 fully equipped, self catering two bedroom chalets for hire.

24hour manned security entrance to the park.
24 hour manned security entrance to the park.
Check in and Information Centre.
Check in and Information Centre.
Inside the check in centre.
Inside the check in centre.

All the people that work in the centre stay in the park and are extremely efficient and helpful.  The park is really run as a business and there are strict rules as to what is allowed and what is not.

Layout of the park.
Layout of the park.

I took a drive round the area where the semi-permanents stay and some have obviously gone to a great deal of trouble to not only to make themselves comfortable but also to make their sites attractive.

The best set up that I spotted.
The best set up that I spotted.

Probable the same area as a 3 roomed flat.
Probably about the same area as a 3 roomed flat.

The whole park is serviced by 5 ablution blocks with hot and cold water, baths, showers and chemical toilets. Scullery, laundry and ironing facilities are also available. There is also a propane gas refill and exchange station in the park.

My set up at Ou Skip. To be honest most of the other sites had a better grass covering than mine.
My set up at Ou Skip. To be honest most of the other sites had a better grass covering than mine.
One of five ablution blocks.
One of five ablution blocks.

I found the ablution block that I used to be clean and well maintained.

Laundry area.
Laundry area. Clean and in good working order.

The shop which operates over week-ends and durring the holidays.

The shop which operates over week-ends and durring the holidays.

The swimming pool area.

The swimming pool area.

The half size Olympic swimming pool, with kiddies pool, is quite something.

There is also a playground, badminton, volley ball, table tennis, darts, trampolines, DSTV, pool table, putt-putt,  an entertainment hall as well as a small conference centre – max 25 people.

Close by to the park there is  para-sailing, windsurfing, 4×4 trails, angling, hiking, paint ball and bird watching. Just a few km’s to the north is the Koeberg Nature Reserve  where there are 2 great hiking trails – the Grysbok Trail and the Dikkop Trail. They are also only a street away from the fabulous Atlantic Beach Golf Club.

The West Coast National Park.

On the other side of the lagoon at Langebaan is the West Coast National Park. The Park was established in 1985 with the aim of conserving the Langebaan Lagoon and surrounding landscapes, which also includes the islands in Saldanha Bay and the area from Yzerfontein to Langebaan.

The West Coast National Park.
The West Coast National Park.

The habitats in the park are unique and varied and its salt marshes and wetlands together with the granite islands in Saldanha Bay, cover an area of over 32,000ha and are ideal for the large breeding population of sea birds and also the growth of lowland fynbos.

One of two entrances to the park.
One of two entrances to the park.

This is the entrance from the Langebaan side and there is another entrance from the R27 to Velddrif. Entrance costs R26.00 per adult or you can get in for free if you have a SAN Parks Wild card.

Why did the tortoise cross the road?
Why did the tortoise cross the road?

I must have seen at least 30 tortoises on the road as I drove to and through the park. Some were not lucky and had been hit by motorcars.

Shame this Puff Adder (Bitis arietans)was not to lucky.
Shame! This Puff Adder (Bitis arietans) was also not so lucky.
Geelbek Visitor Centre.
Geelbek Visitor Centre.

I recommend that  the first place you stop in at is Geelbek Visitor Centre. There is a very good information centre, great restaurant and an interesting curio shop.

Cast of "Eves Footprint".
Cast of “Eve’s Footprint”.
Close-up of "Eve's Footprint".
Close-up of “Eve’s Footprint”.

The footprint, which is believed to be over 120,000 years old, was discovered at Kraalbaai in 1995 by  geologist Dr. Dave Roberts. To find out more please go to link

Good sign posting in the park.
Good sign posting in the park

There are many sign boards in the park as to all the different spots but just be aware that not all are open to the public. One of these is the Postberg section which is only open in the spring flower season of August and September. Another not open, all year round, is Churchhaven.

Houseboats at Kraalbaai
Houseboats at Kraalbaai

Some of these houseboats, one being the Nirvana, are available for accommodation and there are also quite a few self catering chalets at a place called Duinepos.

Another view of Kraalbaai.

Another view of Kraalbaai.

Preekstoel which is close to Kraalbaai.

Preekstoel which is close to Kraalbaai.

Both Kraalbaai and Preekstoel are very sheltered from the prevailing south-east wind which was howling across the lagoon at Langebaan

Seaward (Atlantic) side of the park.
Vondeling Island on the seaward (Atlantic) side of the park.

View of Vondeling Island (21ha) taken from Tsaarsbank. The island was last inhabited in 1962 and the old buildings are now used by penguins and other birds.

As with much of the west coast - rough seas and rocky shoreline.

As with much of the west coast - rough seas and rocky shoreline.

Wreck of the Pantalis a Lemos

Wreck of the Pantalis A Lemos

In the distance the Pantalis A Lemos, an ore-carrier, which went aground in 1978. It is about a 4 km hike along the beach, in soft sea sand, to get to the wreck and my time was running out so just took a telephoto shot from the beach.

Abrahamskraal bird hide.

Abrahamskraal bird hide.

Self catering cottage near the Abrahamskraal bird hide.

Self catering cottage near the Abrahamskraal bird hide.

Electricity in the house is provided by solar power and the stove, geyser and fridge are gas operated.

The weather, on the day of my visit to the park, was not great so maybe that was why I did not see much wild life apart from the tortoises, a few snakes and a couple of wild ostriches although I was told that a lot of game can be seen in Postberg when it is open in Spring.

There are 4 different options for both hiking and cycling trails and Kraalbaai and Preekstoel are  great for just relaxing on the beach and having a family braai. There is also kayaking, windsurfing, kite-boarding and if you are lucky whale watching at Tsaarsbank from August to November.

Saldanha Bay.

Situated on the west coast, about 140 km’s from Cape Town, is the picturesque sea side town of Saldanha Bay. It is also positioned  on the northern corner of the largest natural bay in South Africa. The natural deep, sheltered harbour played an important part in the long and colourful history of the area and today still plays a central role in the export and import for the industries of the region.

Saldanha, due to its sheltered harbour, provides excellent conditions for water sport and fishing enthusiasts. During the Second World War it was also extremely important because of its strategic location and safe anchorage as a convoy assembly point. Even today Saldanha is host to a training naval base and the SA Military Academy.

View of Saldanha Bay.
View of Saldanha Bay.
Another view looking more toward the fishing harbour area.
Another view looking more toward the fishing harbour area.

The rock formation seen on the right side of the photograph is known as “Adam & Eve”.

Closer view of the town centre and harbour area.
Closer view of the town centre and harbour area.

The local economy is strongly dependent on fishing, mariculture , mussels, seafood and the harbour trade as well as the established steel industry. The popular SAS Saldanha Nature Reserve, which I unfortunately did not have time to visit, has displays of wild flowers in late winter & early spring and Southern Right whales also visit the safe waters in and around the reserve.

Still a strong military presense.

Still a strong military presence.

Fishing trawler in the harbour.
Fishing trawlers in the harbour.
More fishing boats.
More fishing boats.

Took a stroll to the end of this wharf,  where you can just see that white car,  to see what was going on and found this.

Yes there are fish in the water and some are even catching them!
Yes there are fish in the water and some fishermen are even catching them! The fish is a Stompneus and of legal size.
Came accross 3 young guys practising on their skate boards and managed to get this shot with my trusty Canon G7.
Came across 3 young guys practising on their skate boards and managed to get this shot with my trusty Canon G7.
Nice looking sea food restaurant in the harbour area.
Nice looking sea food restaurant in the harbour area.
Looks like quite a large and active yaucht club.
Looks like quite a large and active yacht club.
Flowers and boats - not your normal mix.
Flowers and boats – not your normal mix.

Saldanha Bay has the normal mix of shops, restaurants and 2 hotels. I would imagine that some of the local shops are really going to battle as there are now 2 big shopping centres that have opened nearby.

The Protea Hotel, Saldanha Bay.
The Protea Hotel, Saldanha Bay.

I had been quite keen to stay at the local caravan park but to be honest had heard some not very nice things said about the park so gave it a miss. I decided to go and have a look and see for myself.

Entrance to caravan park.
Entrance to caravan park. Good securit, friendly manager and the price was good.
Some of the well grassed stands.
Some of the well grassed stands.
The ablution block was pretty well maintained and looked clean.
The ablution block was pretty well maintained and looked clean.

I don’t know if things have maybe changed dramatically recently but I thought the park looked pretty good and I would not hesitate to stay there if I was in the area again. They also have cottages ranging in price from R160.00 (small 4  bed)out of season to the largest (6 bed) at R574.00 in season.

On my way back to Langebaan I saw these iron ore railway trucks waiting to be off loaded.
On my way back to Langebaan I saw these iron ore railway trucks waiting to be off loaded.

The Sishen-Saldanha Project, constructed during the early 1970’s, is the only dedicated iron ore export facility in South Africa. The dedicated railway line runs from the Sishen mine in the Northern Cape directly to the off loading facility in Saldanha Bay harbour. These trains are kilometres in length and if you get stack at a level crossing can take more that 10 minutes to pass.

Older Posts »