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Gansbaai

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Western Cape : Overberg : Gansbaai
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view from De Kelders over Walker Bay

Gansbaai is a town on Danger Point Peninsula in the Overberg, the most southern region of the African continent, 200 km from Cape Town in the Western Cape.

Gansbaai (“Goose Bay”) on Walker Bay developed around a fresh water fountain frequented by wild geese. Later a harbour was built around the fountain and a (now abolished) whaling station was erected in De Kelders, just outside of town. Gansbaai is an unpretentious fishing town. The harbour, where the fishing boats come and go and the fishmeal-factory now and than creates the typical “Gansbaai-smell”, is still the active centre-point of Gansbaai. Gansbaai itself is the centre-point of Dangerpoint Peninsula. This is where you get your petrol, find the banks, the shops and medical assistance.

The people of Danger-Point–Peninsula are unpretentious, dynamic, welcoming, proud and –at times- all too real. Danger-Point-Peninsula is South-Africa in its truest form. In the working fishing village of Gansbaai, the fishermen still have the same sur-names as more than a century ago; in the rural hinterland the knowledge of the medicinal value of the different local plants is derived from ancient Khoisan ancestry; in Masakhane a vibrant community is tightly connected on the basis of old customs, yet firmly rooted in a modern society.
gansbaai harbour
Danger-Point-Peninsula has a raw and rich history. This is reflected in gruesome yet stunning stories of the many famous ships that wrecked in the area, living on today amongst the local descendants of the ship-wreck survivors and earliest residents as living proof of an intriguing melting-pot. Original homesteads on historical farm-lands show a surprising finesse in architecture in an area that was more or less isolated from the rest of the Cape until recently. This isolation is perhaps a reason for the many ghost stories going on in and around Danger-Point-Peninsula, though many residents will vehemently deny that these are just stories. Logically perhaps, since the coast between Danger-Point and the southern-most tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas, is one of the favourite hang-outs of the most famous ghost of all days: The Flying Dutchman.
view on the lake of Kraaiboschdam and the mountains behind gansbaai


Get in

Danger Point Peninsula lies exactly mid-way between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa. It is a two-hour drive from Cape Town over the N2 (turn of in the direction of Hermanus and follow the R 43 until you come to Gansbaai), unless you want to meander all the way along the coast from Cape Town, which will take three hours. Whatever route you take, you’ll end up in an area historically ruled by the sea and dominated by unique nature. Unpretentious people live in the fishing town of Gansbaai and the other six villages and hamlets of Danger Point Peninsula and its hinterland.

Meet a diverse and dynamic community in a remarkable corner of the Western Cape.
The Black oystercatcher, a rare bird, but common along the shores of Danger Point

Get around

The Tourism Office in the middle of Main-street in Gansbaai gladly helps you to plan your trip around the Danger Point Peninsula and its vast and undisturbed hinterland, where the original nature is still master over the land. The office is in any case open from 09.00 hrs till 13.00 hrs and from 14.00 hrs to 17.00 hrs from Monday to Friday and on Saturdays from 09.00 hrs to 14.00 hrs. If you need to contact us out of office hours, you can dial one of these two numbers: +27 (0) 72 29 1 55 64 (Glenda Kitley, office manager) or

+27 (0) 82 626 90 37 (Abraham Newman, deputy manager)or visit the official website of Gansbaai Tourism :tourism bureau
fynbos, the ancient local vegetation

The Tourism Office in Gansbaai serves the region between De Kelders in the West (the shore-caves with one of the earliest remains of modern man) and Buffeljagsbaai in the East (an isolated shore community, bordering a famous botanical landscape with some of the rarest and most localized plant-species in the world). In between: endless beaches and rocky shoreline overlooking the waters where the Great White Shark and the Southern Right Whale have their home. “Gansbaai: Big-2-Town:[1].” From whichever direction you enter into Gansbaai, you either have the treat of passing one of our two neighbours: the old Victorian village of Stanford with its impressive “commons” in the middle of town or the Moravian mission village of Elim, a unique place that for centuries has placed its mark on the vastness of the Southern Overberg and the Agulhas Plains. If you –on your way to Gansbaai- do not pass either Stanford or Elim, you came to us via some back-alley-dirt-roads, the existence whereof is hidden even to many locals. You will have hit some pot-holes but will also have had a special drive and enjoyed the most spectacular of views.

See

One of the oldest finding places of remains of modern man, Klipgat Cave, lies just outside De Kelders, a coastal residential area bordering Gansbaai. The cave, located in the Walker Bay Nature Reserve Walker Bay Reserve, is accessed by an endless number of steps down. From the cave you can enjoy the same view as your early ancestors had about 80'000 years ago.
Klipgat Cave

At the tip of Danger Point Peninsula is the Danger Point Lighthouse. Just a mile offshore is the Birkenhead Rock, place of doom of the HMS Birkenhead which wrecked in clear view of the coast with the loss of many lives of young English soldiers on their way to fight the Zulus.Danger Point Lighthouse

The hinterland of Danger-Point-Peninsula is a mosaic of different habitats of the remarkable Cape Floral Kingdom ("fynbos"), ancient indigenous forest, agricultural lands, vineyards, flower-farms and rural communities. Many of these places can be visited. Experienced guides are available to take you to the highest mountain peaks or the deepest riverine gorges. Though there are many nature parks and reserves in the greater area, several animals, amongst which 6 antelope species, roam freely and the abundance of different bird species is due to a plethora of different landscapes.
fynbos covered slopes

The small seaside village of Franskraal has one of the quaintest museums in the country. An original "Strandveld-house" immediately on the sea harbors a special collection about the history of the area.

Baardskeerdersbos can easily be missed when passing this rural hamlet on the road from Gansbaai to Elim; it has only a small number of houses. It has however a magnificent position in the Boesmansriver-valley nestled in between fynbos-clad hills.

The neighboring village of Elim is an old moravion mission station, established to function as a refuge for Khoi-people (the indigenous inhabitants of the Western Cape) in the 18th century. Visiting Elim is almost a time travel to the 19th century. There is a monumental church, a working water-mill and the only monument to celebrate the abolition of slavery in South Africa.

The victorian village of Stanford lies 24 km from Gansbaai in the direction of Hermanus. Located on the Klein River estuary, it is a birding hotspot of fame with over 300 different species.
Description

More to the east is Cape Agulhas, the Southernmost point of the African continent and the meeting place of Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. The newly established Agulhas National Park, stretching from Agulhas in the east to Buffeljagsbaai in the west is a sanctuary for several rare and endangered species of the Cape Floristic Region and the future home of all the animals that once roamed the Agulhas Plains, "the Serengeti of the Western Cape".

Do

Shark-diving boats and whale-watching boats leave from the small harbour of Kleinbaai, a coastal village on Danger-Point-Peninsula, to the best spots to see the whales or find the sharks or –onwards- to the Dyer-Island-Group, which rocks are covered with thousands of Cape fur seals and African penguins and numerous other birds.
the sugarbird, a fynbos-endemic
If boats are not your thing, you are a lucky person. Several easy-to-reach spots along the shores of Danger-Point-Peninsula are famous for the southern right whales hanging out, frolicking and mating just a few metres from land. Recommended boat operators : Dyer Island Cruises whale watching toursShark Diving Unlimited Shark cage diving
File:Horsetrails.jpg
Horse rides along the beach in the Walker Bay Reserve
Klipgat Trail is a hiking trail between Gansbaai and the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, meandering around the rocks, coves and caves of this rugged coast of "De Kelders". The trail is also the best place to see Southern Right Whales just a few meters from the shore between August and December.
A breaching Southern Right Whale under the coast of Gansbaai

In the hinterland of Gansbaai, guided botanical walks through pristine "fynbos" (the indigenous and colorful vegetation of the unique Cape Floral Kingdom)are offered in the private nature reserves of Heidehof and farm 215 nature retreat.

Guided nature horse trails can be enjoyed along the coast of the Walker Bay and in the mountains behind Gansbaai. African Horse Company : Guided horse trails & treks

The shores on the eastern side of Danger Point exist out of endless and undisturbed sand-beaches, inviting for long and refreshing walks. These beaches are home to the endangered Black oyster catcher , Cape clawless otter and various other creatures.

4x4 trails with a clear emphasis on the local nature (fynbos and indigenous forest) are organised in the Franskraal Mountains, accumulating with a rest on the "Aasvoelkop" (Vulture-peak) with stunning views over the Agulhas Plains and the Uilkraals-estuary.

Visit Flower Valley, a Unesco initiated empowerment farm and a pilot project of the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative for sustainable harvesting of fynbos for the cut-flower industry. flower valley trust

Eat

Gansbaai is a working fishing town and the local restaurants serve a lot of fresh fish. Gansbaai is also crayfish town, of which there is plenty to enjoy during the crayfish season. Gansbaai is also famous for its Perlemoen (Abelone). It is a threatened shellfish and locally considered as a culinary delight, though some people might argue it is an acquired taste. The neighbouring victorian village of Stanford has a few very good restaurants.

Drink

There are various places in Main street in Gansbaai, but one could also have a sunset-drink overlooking the harbour watching the fishing boats come home or on top of the cliffs in De Kelders watching the whales prepare for the night.

Sleep

The Danger Point Peninsula area has strangely enough not developed a vast tourism infrastructure. There are no hotels or resorts and -contrary to Hermanus on the other side of Walker Bay, the total amount of beds in the area is restricted. Yet there are some lodges, guesthouse and nature reserves, spread ou around Gansbaai, offering comfortable to luxury accommodation.

Some selected accommodation :

Located on the R 43 from Stanford to Gansbaai:

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, an upmarket 5-star lodge in a 1700 ha private nature reserve overlooking the spectacular Walker Bay. Over twenty cottages / all meals of the day. Grootbos

On top of the rocks in De Kelders, 5 km before Gansbaai, overlooking Walker Bay:

Whalesonglodge, a modern and relaxed guesthouse with 4 contemporary rooms and 1 suite, all with sea views. Dinner served. Whalesonglodge

Cliff Lodge, B&B, a stylish and intimate guesthouse with four luxury rooms and one suite all with seaview. Clifflodge

In Gansbaai proper :

Foley's Self catering : 6 fully equipped self catering units in the middle of town. Foley's self catering

In Kleinbaai, seaside village on Danger point Peninsula :

Aire del Mar Guesthouse, a friendly place with 5 rooms and 4 self catering units. Aire del mar

Near Pearly Beach on the R 43 from Gansbaai to the east:

Klein Pardijs, a country house set amidst old milkwood trees with self catering cottages. 5 rooms, 5 cottages, all meals of the day. Klein Paradijs

On the Gravel Road from Gansbaai to Baardskeerdersbos, Elim and Cape Agulhas:

De Uilenes , affordable farm-accommodation for groups of up to 40 in very tranquil surroundings. uilenes

farm 215 - nature retreat & fynbos reserve , a private and secluded 4 star place in a fynbos reserve of 800 ha with sweeping views over the Agulhas Plains to the ocean. 2 rooms, 3 freestanding fynbos suites, 1 family house. All meals of the day. farm 215

Get out

You can leave the Gansbaai are in easterly direction to Bredasdorp and from there to Swellendam and onwards to the Garden Route or the Karoo.
Whale2.jpg
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