Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

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.

Port Owen and Laaiplek

The Port Owen Marina, an upmarket retirement and holiday development, lies on the Berg River between Velddrif and Laaiplek. The marina was established on a vlei and a network of canals were built to give boats access to both river and sea. The marina also includes Admiral Island which can only be accessed over a linking bridge via a security entrance.

Many owners of the upmarket villas have their own yachts and this has ensured modern and safe moorings, a harbour and a slipway with a hoist capable of lifting boats of up to 10 tons out of the water.

One of the many large houses at Port Owen.
One of the many large houses at Port Owen.
You can step out of your house and straight on to your yacht.
You can step out of your house and straight on to your yacht or motor boat.
Spotted this friendly duck who didn't need a boat to navigate the canals.
Spotted this friendly duck who didn’t need a boat to navigate the canals.

One of the complexes at Port Owen.
One of the housing complexes at Port Owen.
This man was helping with dredging of the canals.
Working on the dredging of the canals.
The security entrance to Admiral Island.
The security entrance to Admiral Island.
Admiral Island in the midle surrounded by the Port Owen Marina.
Admiral Island in the middle surrounded by the Port Owen Marina.

Charter boat for birding trips on the river.

Charter boat for birding trips on the river.

Late afternoon there are boat trips along the river and many water birds can be seen in the reeds. The area is especially famous for its Pelicans.

Heading west out of Port Owen you soon arrive in Laaiplek. The town was bought by a Carl Stephan from Theunis Smit and was originally known as Rooibaai (Red Bay) apparently for the beautiful red hues reflected in the bay by the setting sun.

Laai is Afrikaans for load  and the town takes its name from the point on the river where boats were loaded and offloaded of their goods. It is situated where the Berg River  enters the Atlantic Ocean and it is from here that the larger fishing boats leave to trawl the ocean  and return with tonnes of fish for processing in the local fish factories.

Fishing boat at Laaiplek.
Fishing boats at Laaiplek.
If this was a house for sale they would call it a "fixer upper".
If this was a house for sale they would call it a “fixer upper”.

Restaurant right on the beach.
Restaurant right on the beach.
Gave myself a treat and bought some grilled fish here. It was delicious.
Gave myself a treat and bought some grilled fish here. It was delicious.
Fascinating shop on one of the side streets.
Fascinating shop on one of the side streets.
Entrance to Stywelyne Caravan Park in Laaiplek.
Entrance to Stywelyne Caravan Park in Laaiplek.

Went and had a look at the caravan park and it was not too bad. Still I am glad I stayed at Dwarskersbos.

This stretch of coast offers spectacular boat and land based whale watching and each spring Southern Right Whales put on a great show of breaching, lob-tailing and blowing and sometimes come in as close as 10 meters from the shore.

Yzerfontein walk about

In June, after I had refurbished my little Sprite caravan and before setting off on the first part of my west coast journey, I spent a week at Yzerfontein to make sure that I could cope on my own and that I would enjoy doing it.

Yzerfontein is about 80 km’s from Cape Town and  over the years I had probably driven past at least 10 times and not turned off the high way to have a look round. I had been there once before with my parents as a child and did not remember it at all.

On a clear day you can see forever.
On a clear day you can see forever.

This is a shot of Cape Town’s Table Mountain taken from Yzerfontein.

This  seaside village is renowned for its unspoilt beaches, including the pristine 16-Mile Beach which stretches north to Postberg Nature reserve near Langebaan and  the main beach has been awarded  blue flag status.

Yzerfontein main beach.
Yzerfontein main beach.

Laid out and developed in 1936 by a gentleman by the name of Abraham Katz, Yzerfontein is a popular week-end and holiday resort and has quite a few retired folk living there permanently. There is plenty to do apart from the swimming, surfing, boating and just lazing in the sun.

Father and son enjoying some rock fishing.
Father and son enjoying some rock fishing.

Whales
Whales

In spring the bay is the  destination for not only dolphins but also Southern Right and Humpbacked whales as they arrive to calve and one can watch from various elevated vantage points when they come close inshore. There are some spectacular displays of wild flowers, bird watching, hiking and Yzerfontein is renowned for its sea food. Snoek, crayfish and perlemoen are available, in season, at some of the restaurants in the village.

Snoek fishermen hitching up in the harbour after a long day on the water.
Snoek fishermen hitching up in the harbour after a long day on the water.

What  struck me as I wondered round the village was the amount of really posh looking houses that have been built as holiday homes and some that, in spite of the economy, were still being built.

Some of the houses accross the bay in the older part of Yzerfontein.
Some of the houses across the bay in the older part of Yzerfontein.

If this is the holiday home I would love to see the residential home.

If this is the holiday home I would love to see the residential home.

A house in the newer section to the south up for sale for R5,000.000
A house in the newer section to the south up for sale at R5,000.000

Walking trail along the coast.
Walking trail along the coast.
You can run into some interesting animals as you walk. I am pretty sure that is a Dassie.
You can run into some interesting animals as you walk. I am pretty sure that is a Dassie.
The beach at the newer part of Yzerfontein.
The beach at the newer part of Yzerfontein.

Cute hey!

Cute hey!

All in all I loved Yzerfontein and if I was asked to pick a place where I would like to stay on the west coast this would be it. I loved Kleinzee and Hondeklipbaai but for me they are just too far from Cape Town whereas from here you can be in central Cape Town within an hour.

I am going to do another post about Yzerfontein as I met some  interesting people involved in the snoek fishing industry and got some really good  photos.

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