The Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot is an unforgettable experience

  • Thursday, 09 October 2014
  • Jeanette

CWC Hope Spot by Carole Knight

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The Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot is an unforgettable experience with the star of the show unquestionably being nature at its most elemental.  Here visitors can enjoy long stretches of pristine beaches overlooked by majestic mountains swathed in fynbos.  Spectacular marine species like whales, dolphins and seals can be glimpsed from look-out points along the R44, the Whale Coast’s main arterial.  The area is also a great avitourism spot where bird-watchers can keep a lookout for the elusive Cape Rockjumper or rarer species like the endangered Black Oystercatcher.  

Situated in this natural paradise, the Overberg region includes the picturesque villages of Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay, Kleinmond, Hermanus and Stanford. Here visitors can swim, dive for crayfish (in season and with a permit), angle from the rocks and glimpse the Botvlei herd of wild horses, all the while keeping a lookout for the cheeky Chacma baboon troops that frequent the area.  

The Overberg boasts three internationally-recognised Blue Flag Beaches: Kleinmond, Hawston and Grotto Beach in Hermanus.  There are scenic hikes in the beautiful Kogelberg Nature Reserve which is an internationally acclaimed conservancy, with hikes following paths along the Leopard’s Gorge Trail or up to the Disakloof waterfall in the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden.  

The rugged terrain is perfect for hiking and mountain biking, but there are other exciting eco-adventures to participate in from white water tubing, canoeing and river rafting on the Palmiet River to sand boarding down the Silversands dunes, South Africa’s highest dunes.  

A wooden boardwalk at Betty’s Bay’s Stony Point enables visitors to view a breeding colony of African penguins, one of only two South African mainland-based penguin colonies. Travellers from Cape Town can break the journey along scenic Clarence Drive at unpretentious eateries, while the newly-upgraded Harbour Road in Kleinmond offers great restaurants, funky shops and even theatrical productions to enjoy.      

whale-tail-srLying in the lee of Walker Bay in the heart of the Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot, Hermanus is perhaps best known for whale watching.  However, with magnificent beaches like Grotto Beach and Onrus Beach, excellent restaurants, friendly cafés, some of the Cape’s southernmost wineries and the Fernkloof Nature Reserve with its hiking and mountain bike trails, there are many other leisure options to occupy the holiday traveller in Hermanus.

Stanford is a quaint little village just past Hermanus and it has quirky antique shops, restaurants and a pub or two to experience.  There is also lots to do including tackling a 4 X 4 trail, indulging in a hole or two of golf, embarking on a sunset cruise, canoeing on the river, learning to fly-fish, spotting whales or daring to go shark cage diving.

Situated just outside Stanford the Birkenhead Brewery wine and brewing estate has commemorated the sinking of HMS Birkenhead on 26 February 1852 with artefacts taken from the shipwreck, making it an interesting stop.  Beer aficionados can try the Birkenhead Premium Lager, Honey Blonde Ale and Chocolate Malt Stout. The estate also has a restaurant that serves basic but hearty fare.   

If visitors feel the urge to get up close and personal with a Great White Shark, one of the ocean’s most impressive and fearsome predators, Gansbaai is the place to head for and there are a number of highly experienced cage diving companies to choose from.  Boats leave every morning from Kleinbaai, a small natural harbour on Dangerpoint Peninsula, to take travellers out to deeper water and a typical cage diving excursion takes between three to five hours depending on weather and sea conditions and shark behaviour.  

oyster-catcherGansbaai is also the place for 4x4 enthusiasts with the Gansbaai Obstacle Course designed to challenge both diehard enthusiasts and weekend “dabblers”.  Other outdoor activities to keep visitors busy are kayaking, horse-riding, Geyser Island Tours and tours to the famous Drip Kelder Caves

Did you know:  The villages of Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond share a common history as a safe haven for smugglers in the 1800s and whalers in the 1900s

Source

© Written, Research and Photos:  Carole Knight - http://caroleknight.co.za/

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