Gansbaai, only two hours away from Cape Town, is a coastal fishing village known as the shark capital of the world. It is popularly known for shark cage diving, whale watching and other scenic and natural attractions. This small town is a great place to escape from the rushed life in the city and so last May, a group of us decided to spend some time there, to take in the sights and mingle with the towns people.
The plan was to enjoy the peaceful coastal town for the weekend, with some good food and good company before winter kicked in. What I am about to tell you, however, is a wondrous misadventure amongst friends attempting to explore the wonderful gems of the Whale Coast. A weekend off that was supposed to be relaxing, but turned out to be draining yet filled with excitement and wander.
There were a lot of activities to choose from but we decided on the following itinerary:
- Eat out at theGreat White House
- VisitDanger Point Light House
- Visit theStrandveld Museum
- Go on thetrail and find the Klipgat Caves
We arrived in Kleinbaai, only 3 km outside of Gansbaai, which would be our base for the weekend. The weather was overcast and a little cold. After unpacking and settling in, we headed out for dinner at The Great White House, which offers a great fire place, friendly staff and amazing seafood. The Great White House also offers accommodation and a curio shop that sells items like fossil shark teeth.
Any sane person would have called it a night, but my good friends, Shirley and Huan, convinced the group to go for a short walk along the beach to Danger Point. Not knowing the area, we believed that it wouldn’t take long to get to the lighthouse. We proceeded to walk towards the lighthouse. About 3 km in, we began to wonder if we were close, but the further we walked the further away the light house seemed. However we thought were more than half way to our destination, so we all agreed to keep walking to Danger Point. Along the path there were private homes that seemed a little to close the shore, making them look like they extended onto the beach itself. All beaches in SA are public, but that didn’t stop us from looking like we were out smuggling perlemoen a.k.a abalone, as some home owners looked out at us as we walked along.
Eventually, after a long walk along the beach and a track through dirt roads that had some alarming “Private”, “Armed Response” and “Beware of Dogs” signs, we made it to the freakin’ Danger Point Light House. Of course when we got there, the gates were already closed. So all we could do was admire the lighthouse from afar, and sadly had to walk back the way we came. Sad, but it is true! 14 km later, and a failed light house mission. Exhaustion had kicked in, and all we wanted was a hot shower and some sleep.
The sun came up, rested but still tired, and we had a day full of activities to do. The first stop after breakfast would be the Strandveld Museum. Unfortunately for us, it was closed. What a fail from our side, we missed the visiting hours. A note to all future wanderers, be sure to check it out when you are there, I am sure it is a nice piece of history.
The day was brutal, as we still had to hike in De Kelders on the Klipgat trail. The trail starts in Gansbaai Harbour, and continues along the coastline and intersects with a number of caves and coves leading up to Klipgat Cave, in Walker Bay Nature Reserve. We started walking on the path, which would be about 7 km away from the caves. It was a beautiful site covered with the vegetated dunes and lovely a lovely ocean breeze. We stumbled upon small caves and inspected each as we went.
It got exciting when we hit a cave that had a tidal pool. The cave was secluded and there was a platform and stairs that led into it. If we didn’t follow the locals, we could have just walked past. The cave looked over a lovely tidal pool and was nice and cool on what turned out to be a hot day. This would be our pit stop. We even took time to play around in the pool, discovering marine life, before continuing on our track.
The walk continued and the exhaustion from the night before came over us, still we were not at the Klipgat Caves. We continued walking until we couldn’t. Ah!!! The defeat!! Hot, Sticky, Tired and Hungry; this track felt like it was 20 kilometres. We started walking back and came across Coffee on the Rocks. This family-run restaurant was a life saver and the family was very warm and welcoming respite to its weary travellers. We washed our faces, had some food, and proceeded to have the best coffee milkshakes in the world (it may have been the thirst, heat and exhaustion speaking, but I am still convinced).
After a welcomed rest at Coffee on the Rocks, we walked back with a sense of defeat in our hearts finally we got back to our accommodation, took our showers and had our long deserved rest. That night, we had a braai, a game of pool and some movies to console ourselves.
The third and final day, and last attempt of salvaging our well planned itinerary, we drove into Walker Bay Nature Reserve, where the Klipgat Caves were located. These caves were important to me, as they are a piece of human history that dates back 80 thousand years. These caves once housed our early ancestors and hold remnants of their existence. It was great to finally get there and be immense in history nestled between the land and ocean.
We spent the rest of the morning exploring the caves and discovering other cave sections.
Yes, we could finally tick off everything of our planned itinerary, well sort of; we made it to all of them even if they were mostly closed 🙂
Bonus: The nature reserve also has some of the most beautiful secluded beaches we have seen. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and taking in the beauty of our surroundings. Then it was time to go home and catch up on some sleep, before heading back to work the following day.
If you wish to know more about what else you can get up to on in Gansbaai, check out the Gansbaai Information Centre.
P.S. I didn’t take many pictures for this trip, mainly because it was embarrassing and I was tired. Also, most of the group photos were taken with self-timer and a balancing act using rocks :).