Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

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

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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.

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.

The remotest B&B in S.A.?

Each time I have travelled from Brandkaros to Alexander Bay and back I have been intrigued by a sign at the side of the road, about 20 k’s from Alexander Bay, that advertises a B&B. On my way back from Alexander Bay on Wednesday I determined to stop and have a look around.

B&B in the desert

B&B in the desert

You can’t really miss it because of the brightly painted bits of scrap metal.

The B&B is managed by a mother and daughter team, Annemarie and Saome Reck, and is owned by someone living in Hong Kong. Annemarie started the B&B about 18 years ago and has managed it ever since under various owners. She is from the area as she and her husband used to farm nearby until he passed away.

Salome and Annemarie Reck

Salome and Annemarie Reck

There are 5 rooms, 3 inside and 2 outside, and also an extra house about a 100 meters away for when things get really get busy. Unfortunately it has not been too great recently as the pont at Sendelingsdrift is not working and people from Namibia can’t cross over there and as a result they have had many cancellations. ( The same thing has happened at Brandkaros and I have been the only one staying there for days now.)

Mother and daughter are very friendly and were more than happy to show me around and for me to take photographs. Again I will let the pix speak and just offer a few comments. All I can say is that Annemarie has tried to be as creative as possible, without much to work with, and in fact many passers-by stop and ask if the place is also a museum.

The main house

The main house

One of the rooms inside the house

One of the rooms inside the house

The 2 wendy house type rooms and ablutions.

The 2 wendy house type rooms and ablutions.

View from the front of the house.

View from the front of the house.

It really is a bit like an oasis in the middle of a desert. That is the Orange River in the distance and the dark area between the road and the river used to be an olive plantation.

The dinning area

The dinning area

The bath garden

The bath garden (My name for it)

The charge per person  per night is R250.00 and breakfast (R60.00) and dinner (R75.00) are extra. I reckon if one is passing through the area it would be a great and unique place to spend a night or two.

If you wish to see more photographs of the B&B please click on B&B photos

Alexander Bay revisited

Yesterday (15th) I drove to Alexander Bay  to buy a few things at Sentra Supermarket and decided to take photographs in the town itself to give you an idea of what is happening there.

The place is named after a prospector in the region from 1838 to 1848 named James Edward Alexander. Little did he know of the fabulous riches that he transported his goods over to be shipped from just south of the river mouth. The diamonds were only discovered in 1928 and it was proclaimed a State Alluvial Digging under the Department of mines with a work force of 45 whites under strict supervision.,

The outer perimeter of the  town was fenced off but had also been divided inside by fencing, the miners in the southern section and their families in the northern Section. The men were only allowed out every 150 days for 2 weeks. This inner fence only came down in 1974.

I  read  a little pamphlet that tells of how things were round 1980 -” Alexander Bay is a modern mining village with all necessary amenities and facilities with attractive living quarters, vegetable gardens, lucerne fields and orchards”. It certainly is not that way now.

Even today there is a distinct North /  South feel to the town – mining area South and houses, shops, schools etc. in the North and the town is still fenced off and one has to sign in to gain entrance. Of course where they do the actual mining is still a high security section today.

Welcome to Alexander Bay.
Welcome to Alexander Bay.
The boom gate where one has to sign in.
The boom gate where one has to sign in.

Once through the boom you can only turn right as left takes you to the mining area which is high security.

I think I am going to let the images do the talking and just offer a few comments. The one thing I will say is that the town has the feel of everything going downward. Most places look dirty and unkempt although you can see where special efforts have been made to spruce things up.

Old diamond safe house
Old diamond safe house

They found over 2500 carats of diamonds under that stone stuck on the wall

Old church (I think NG) now used as a creche
Old church (I think NG) built in the 1930’s is now used as a crèche
The swimming pool
The swimming pool

I believe they are going to repair the pool and use it for diver training

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The Clinic

The Pharmacy

The Pharmacy

The clinic is used for consulting and has no beds and the Pharmacy is not open at all.

Interestingly I did bump into the newly appointed doctor for the area and he is from the US. He knew my fathers name. He too was a doctor, and we had a nice long chat in English.

Old derelect shop

Old derelict shop

Derelect building

Derelict building

The 9 hole golf course.

The 9 hole golf course.

The fairways and rough are the same and the greens and T boxes are not too great.

The sports field

The sports field

Looks fine from far but on closer inspection the stands are starting to fall apart.

The shopping centre

The library and shopping centre.

Because everything has to be brought in by road the prices of all goods is pretty horrendous.

In June last year over 200 of the employees were offered and took severance packages so about 1200 people have moved from Alexander Bay. There are huge fights going on in the community as to what has happened to all the millions of rands that have been pumped into the region and they are, according to the local newspaper, “Gat vol” with everything and are demanding answers.

Wild flowers near the golf course

Wild flowers near the golf course

May the above image be a sign of better things to come for the people of Alexander Bay

I have now consolidated all the pix taken in and around Alexander Bay at this link – Alexander Bay Pix

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