Posts Tagged ‘Ramsar site’

Vensterklip

While I was in Elands Bay I was told about a place called Vensterklip.  It is  5 km’s from Elands Bay and has a small caravan park so thought I would go and check it out. I am so glad I did as, after having a scout round and chatting to some people who were camping there, I thought it would be a great place to spoil myself for the last 4 days of this part of my journey.

Vensterklip.
Vensterklip.

Vensterklip is situated on the banks of the Verlorenvlei, which is one of the largest natural wetlands along the west coast of South Africa. It is also a designated Ramsar site of national importance and is home to more than 200 species of birds.

Vensterklip offers a choice of immaculately restored cottages for hire and luxury camp-sites each with private ablutions and braai area. There is a large modern Lapa with stunning views over the vlei, an open braai area and swimming pool.

New restaurant.
New Tin Kitchen Restaurant.

300 year old barn that houses the restaurant.
300 year old barn that houses the restaurant.

Yellow wood bar.
Yellow wood bar.

The have recently opened the Tin Kitchen restaurant which serves local organic meat and fish dishes in and around a 300 year old barn. Shaded seating areas add to the relaxed rustic atmosphere and there is a cosy yellow wood bar to enjoy a drink or cappuccino.

They have also built a bird hide right on the vlei and I had a great time trying to get some decent photographs of the birds. This was a first for me and I was quite pleased with some of the shots.

I think this might be a Heron but I am not sure.
I am not sure what kind of bird this is..

I believe this is a Heron?
I believe this is a Heron?

I have posted more bird photographs on Flickr so if you would like to have a look you can click here.

One can hire these craft to have a good look round the vlei.
One can hire kayaks to have a good look round the vlei.

My site with private ablutions in the back ground. Really great.
My site with private ablutions in the back ground. Really great.

This is one site where I scored as they charge R100.00 per person per night which was fine for me but, I think, works out pretty expensive for 2 or 3 people. There was only one couple staying there for the first 2 nights and then I was on my own.

Late evening view from my camp-site.
Late evening view from my camp-site.
Thought about my mother when I found this enourwmous catterpillar. She absolutely hated catterpillars.
Thought about my mother when I found this enormous caterpillar. She absolutely hated caterpillars.

There was a building near the entrance to Vensterklip that I kept meaning to ask about as I could not figure out what it was used for. It was only on the day of my departure that I found out that it is used by a local artist as a studio.

"Wild Studio"
“Wild Studio”
Artist Mel Burger.
Artist Mel Burger.

Mel has worked in the area for a number of years and works on commissions from the locals. He is multi talented and paints, sculpts and and works in steel.

All in all I had a fabulous stay at Vensterklip. I even tried a bit of fishing at a farm called Nuwerus about 3 km’s down the road. They have 2 cottages for hire also right on the banks of the vlei and the one can sleep up to 10 people at R600.00 per night.

One of the Nuwerus cottages for hire.
One of the Nuwerus cottages for hire.
I Did not catch any fish but was lucky enough to get this photo of a Springbok.

I did not catch any fish but was lucky enough to get this photo of a Springbok.

Well that is about it for this part of my journey round the coast of South Africa. I am now back in Cape Town to  work and earn some money in order to carry on, hopefully in October. I am going to do a post later this week on the highs and some of the lows of my journey from Alexander Bay to Elands Bay. After that I am going to keep my hand in by photographing and  writing about places around Cape Town such as Noordhoek, Kommetjie, Simonstown etc.

Papendorp plus.

I left Strandfontein on Friday morning as I had decided that R125.00 per night over weekends was a bit steep for me and to rather head for Lamberts Bay further south along the west coast. I had heard from numerous other campers that Lamberts Bay and Elands Bay caravan parks were not too great and quite expensive but thought there must be some interesting photographs to be had in the area so would take the chance.

About 7 km’s from Strandfontein I came across the  small settlement of Papendorp situated overlooking the Olifants River Estuary. With future recognition as a RAMSAR site the wetlands of the estuary are an important habitat for migratory birds.

Entrance to Papendorp.

Entrance to Papendorp.

The Olifants River Estuary earmaked to become a RAMSAR site.

The Olifants River Estuary earmarked to become a RAMSAR site.

This old building used to serve as church, school and community hall.

This old building used to serve as church, school and community hall.

Grave yard overlooking the estuary.

Graveyard overlooking the estuary.

Fishing boat.

Fishing boat.

Residents of Papendorp derive their livelihood from fishing.

With its own unique character Papendorp makes you wonder if time has stood still since the first people who came to live here. Fishing nets are still made by hand and visitors can experience the salty taste of home made “bokkoms” – salted and dried by the locals. Things might change quite a lot in the future when Papendorp officially is declared a RAMSAR site and already a guest house has been built and they are now busy building 6 or 7 chalets.

More vineyards. Vineyards.
Wine Route.

Wine Route.

I was amazed as I drove towards Lutzville  and Vredendal to see  mile after mile of vineyards. I had had no idea that quality wine was produced in such vast quantities in the area. In fact Vredendal is home to the largest wine cellar in South Africa and has a number of boutique wineries and a dried fruit depot.

Sishen Saldanha railway bridge between Lutzville and Vredendal

Sishen Saldanha railway bridge between Lutzville and Vredendal

sss

Giekwa Ratelgat Conference Centre.

This shot is a bit of a sneaky one as I took it on my way down from Kamieskroon to Strandfontein and just love the shape of the building. It is situated a couple of km’s north of Vanrhyansdorp.

Developement just north of Clanwilliam.

Development just north of Clanwilliam.

My turn off to get to Lamberts Bay was at Clanwilliam so I thought to have a quick look round and that was a huge mistake. The town was  busy and I have never seen a worse main road in  my life. It was incredibly narrow and had a really bad surface with many, many potholes. It was a nightmare!!. I also took a wrong turn trying to get to one of the caravan parks and had to try and execute a 3 point type turn with the caravan behind me. I am not the most expert at reversing and turning so it took me a while to extricate myself from that mess. When I did find the park I was given a price of R150.00 with no concessions.

The drive from Clanwilliam down to Lamberts Bay via Graafwater went off with out any problems and I arrived at Lamberts Bay just before lunch.

Lamberts Bay Harbour.

Lamberts Bay Harbour.

Lamberts Bay looks really interesting and I want to write a few posts in the next couple of days and also show you around the caravan park. The stories I had heard about it were spot on.

Pieter the librarian et al

Tuesday 7th I spent virtually the whole day trying to get my act together so that this site could go live on Thursday. I have found it extremely difficult and frustrating to do because of the  slow internet connection I have here. Its been on a par with working, in the good old days, with a 56k modem. To be honest I am lucky to have any kind of data connection as I am 25k’s from Alex Bay and only got a GPRS signal there.

Wednesday 8th arrived and I set off early to meet up with Pieter van Wyk the librarian who was going to give me a tour round some of the interesting parts of Alex Bay. What an amazing young man – a virtual walking encyclopaedia of facts, plant names and history. A  librarian, photographer, writer, museum curator, ornithologist and conservationist and he is only 21 years old!!  He was born, schooled and raised in the area and his family have lived in the Richtersveld since the 1800’s. He has been writing a book for the last 6 years and it is due for publication in September this year.

Pieter van Wyk

Pieter van Wyk

Pieter the Librarian

His biggest passion are the Lichens of the area. There is a huge field of them, now declared a world heritage site and one of the largest collections in the world, that overlooks the town and that is where we started.

Lichen: plant organism made up of a fungus and an alga which grow together on rocks“.

If, like me, you are a total philistine who had never even heard the name before, and would like to find out more then please follow this link. Lichens.

Lichen field

Lichen field

The Lichen field overlooking Alexander Bay in the background

Pieter van Wyk

Pieter van Wyk

Pieter, in the Lichen field, doing what he loves most.

Pieters passion for what he is doing, research, conservation etc is so strong that it becomes infectious. The field is surrounded by a fence but the lock on the gate has been broken and all and sundry have unsupervised access to the plants which then get walked on, driven over or stolen. They can’t survive dust and while we were there about 6 police cars roared through the field, on the way to a shooting range. Even I was upset by that.

Lichen flower

Lichen flower

If I remember correctly this is known as “window of the world”

After spending some time in the field it was off to the Museum which is situated in the security area of the mine and I had to be signed in and a security card issued.

Pieters knowledge of the history of Alexander Bay and surrounds is quite staggering and we spent a good few hours going from section to section of artefacts on display, some of which he had put together himself. He has been appointed by the mine management to look after the museum and do tours but finds it very difficult to do justice to the work as he is employed full time at the Library. This was the 1st time he had been in the museum for 2 months and there was dust everywhere. I felt very privileged to be given the tour all on my own.

Museum display

Museum display

Time was running short as Pieter had to be back at the library by 1pm so we took a quick drive to the restricted boarder crossing into Namibia to get a photo of the longest bridge in South Africa.

Bridge spanning  the Orange River

Bridge spanning the Orange River

Difficult shot to get but also illustrates what the soil and vegetation is like.

On our way back to town we came across some more flamingos and I learnt that the area is also a Ramsar site.

Famingos

Flamingos

My time was up and we said our goodbyes.  I went to the restaurant to have a bite to eat and ponder on all I had heard and seen from this very knowledgeable young man and work out how I was going to try and capture the essence of it all on this blog. I have tried my best.

For more photographs of the day go to pix

If you wished to learn more about what has happened, and is still going on, in the lands claim scenario please go to Link