Posts Tagged ‘whales’
Kleinbaai is a picturesque little village situated on the Eastern side of Gansbaai and is the ideal launching site for the local fishermen to fish in the Dyer Island area. Stories about the Big White Sharks led to the establishment of the now very popular shark-diving expeditions which has resulted in Gansbaai being known as the Great White Shark capital of the world.
Old shark diving cage. Don't think you want to leave your arm hanging out quite like that.
You want to make darn sure you know the rules before you try cage diving if you want to keep all your limbs.
I was lucky enough to go out on one of the boats and I am going to be doing a post about the cage diving at a later date so won’t go into much detail now.
One of the seven shark boats operating out of Kleinbaai most days of the week.
It's not only about sharks and this boat, "The Whale Whisperer" takes people out to view the whales which are also plentiful in the area.
If you are not really into going out to sea there is also a very nice restaurant which overlooks the harbor.
Or you could pop in and buy some souvenirs here and tell all your friends how you went diving with the Great Whites.
I was fortunate that I bumped into my fishing friends, who I had met while at Yzerfontein, and it was through one of them that I got to go out on one of the shark boats and take some photos.
Kleinbaai is not only about the shark and whale watching but there is also a golf course, squash courts, tidal pool for safe swimming and some great hiking trails one of which is along the peninsula of Danger Point which extends about 8 kilometers into the sea.
The rocky Danger Point shore line looking back towards Kleinbaai.
The many reefs and unchartered rocks along the shoreline make it one of the most dangerous places in the world for ships sailing too close inshore. A hidden rock lurks just below the surface off the Point and it was on this rock that the legendary HMS Birkenhead met her doom in 1852. This rock can be seen at low tide just a few kilometers off Danger Point. Seven shipwrecks surround Danger Point and 140 wrecks are dotted along the shores between Danger Point and Cape Infanta.
Danger Point Lighthouse, erected in 1895, which was too late to for the troop ship Birkenhead which floundered on the 26th of February 1852 with only 193 survivors out of the 636 souls on board.
An etching of the Birkenhead floundering off Danger Point.
Birkenhead Memorial at Danger Point Lighthouse.
Display inside the lighthouse.
Artifacts from the Birkenhead.
All in all I found this a very interesting area to explore and in my next post I am going to follow a group who decided to to go shark cage diving with one of the operators, Marine Dynamics, just off nearby Dyer Island.
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.
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’s Point.
Monument housing the roll of honour for those from the area who perished in the 1st and 2nd World wars.
- 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 spot for whale watching in season.
- 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.
- There are 3 museums in the Old Harbour area and 1 ticket gets you into all 3.
- Another of the 3 museums.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
As one gets to the end of the R44 you get to a T-junction with the Bot River to Hermanus road the R43. You pass the fishing villages of Church Haven and Hawston , which has long been the home of abalone fishermen. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to explore these two places and went straight on to Vermont.
Basically Vermont, Onrus and Sandbaai are upmarket suburbs of the major town in the area, Hermanus. Each place has its own character and I found Vermont to be best of the three. They all have one thing in common and that is they are all situated in Walker Bay and are great places, at the right time of year, for whale spotting and viewing.
- Great coastal hiking trail that links the three places.
- Davies pool with Onrus in the background. The pool is directly in front of the Onrus Caravan Park.
- A view of Vermont from the highest point I could find.
- Vermont is not only a residential town but is becoming increasingly popular as a retirement village with many security type estates.
- Even though Hermanus is just 10 minutes away they also have a modern shopping centre.
The next place you come to as you head down the R43 towards Hermanus is Onrus. Actually the tree villages are linked and it is difficult to tell where one ends and the next one starts.
- The Onrus River and lagoon are accessible next to the beach.
- The beach at Onrus.
- The safe lagoon area which is next to the beach. To be honest the swimming here was the best of the three areas.
- The Beach Kiosk Bistro at the beach. Good place to stop for breakfast.
- One of the good looking “sea side cottages”.
- The “Mission’s House Gallery. I saw quite a few art galleries in Onrus.
- The last place you get to just before you reach Hermanus is Sandbaai.
- Unfortunately there had been a massive sea so the beach was not looking it’s best.
- As with most sea side places I have visited there are some pretty big houses.
- The bottom section of one of the older houses has been turned into a restaurant called Bamboo Beach.
- Also discovered that Sandbaai has it’s own private college called Northcliff House.
At the junction of the R43 where one turns right to go down to Sandbaai there is an intriguing shopping village on the left which is well worth exploring. There are art galleries, restaurants, an interior design studio and a wine village shop where all of the local wines can be purchased .
Hemel en Aarde Shopping Village.
- Interesting use of old wine barrels.
There are a quite few wine shops here and you can also go for tastings at the Whalehaven Winery.
There really is a lot to see and experience in the three villages so try and make a day of it – have breakfast, go swimming, look through the art galleries, have lunch, taste and buy a few bottles of the local wines (some of them are excellent) and just have a wonderfully relaxing day.
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 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.
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?
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 also not so lucky.
- 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 “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
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
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
After a 5 week break I am now back on the road to continue my voyage of discovery round the coast of South Africa. I ended off at Vensterklip, just outside of Elands Bay , and am now at Dwarskersbos which is the next coastal town on the road south and about 160 km’s from Cape Town.
Dwarskersbos – a kersbos is a candle bush and dwars means across (pushed over by the wind) – is situated in the centre of the St Helena Basin and about 12 km’s north of Laaiplek on the R27.
- This is Kersbos consisting of 3 or 4 bushes clumped together.
The town was founded in 1920 on a Sandveld farm called Dwarskersbos owned by the Smit family and even today most of the original farm is still owned by them. On the 23rd August a huge tidal wave, thought to be caused by the Tulbach earthquakes, submerged most of the town. In 1974 Dwarkersbos got electrical power and in 1983 a new development was started next to the caravan park on the northern side of the town.
- Lay out of the older part of the town.
As you can see all of the houses are on the seaside of the R27 road and it was only recently that a housing development was built on the other side of the road.
- There are some pretty big holiday houses.
I am guessing that there are about 300 houses of which at least 2/3rds are holiday homes.
- Original boundary poles to the south of the town.
- The beaches go on for miles north and south of the town.
- Quite a house for a holiday home.
- Some unusual architecture. I waited to see if there might be a damsel with long hair at the top window.
- This is the development on the other side of the road.
- In the background is the only general dealer in the town
- The only restaurant in town which is up for sale at R2.5 million.
- Another pretty large home.
- Inventive people – is this the latest South African TV areal?
There is massive development taking place on the north side of the town.
I think one could negotiate pretty good deals right now.
Yes, No, Maybe?
For most of the year there are probably only 300 or 400 hundred residents in the town but I am told that come the holiday season the place is packed to the rafters. Whales can often be seen near the coast and attract many visitors and the town has become well known for its fishing and other water sports. There is also excellent bird watching at the famous Rocher Pan, with its over 150 bird species, which can be reached via a walking trail from Dwarskersbos.