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Africa > Southern Africa > South Africa > Western Cape > Overberg > Gansbaai

Gansbaai

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Gansbaai (Goose Bay) is a town in the Overberg region, Western Cape, South Africa. By road it is 165 km southeast of Cape Town.

Understand[edit]

Gansbaai 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 a quaint little fishing village that bloomed into the Great White Capital of the World. The bountiful landscapes and oceans around gives way to a multitude of outdoor activities and spectacular views to behold. Also, who can forget the two celebrities that lend Gansbaai the name Big 2 Town, the graceful Southern Right Whales and the famous Great White Sharks.

Get in[edit]

From Cape Town, follow the N2 in the direction of Hermanus then take the R43 turnoff and follow that route until you come reach Gansbaai, about two hours driving time.

Get around[edit]

See[edit]

Trivia

The coast off Gansbaai is rumored to be the favorite hang-out of the ghost ship The Flying Dutchman. If you are lucky, you may also get to see it.

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.

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, among which 6 antelope species, roam freely and the abundance of different bird species is due to a plethora of different landscapes.

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 Moravian 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.

Do[edit]

Gansbaai is world-renowned for great white shark cage diving, with peak times running from June to August.

  • 1 Great White Shark Tours, Kleinbaai (The house is on the hill overlooking the harbour.), +27 83 300-2138. 8AM-6PM. Join Brian McFarlane on his boat - Apex Predator - on a face to face experience with the ultimate hunter, the great white shark. They offer cage diving, no previous experience needed, and surface viewing in the area surrounding Dyer Island, host to one of the densest populations of great white sharks in the world. You'll have a chance to see great white sharks, penguins, dolphins, whales, seals and a variety of marine birds. R1250.
  • Walker Bay Nature Reserve, just outside De Kelders. Hike the Klipgat trail and Visit de Klipgat cave.
  • Flower Valley Trust. An empowerment farm initiayed by UNESCO and a pilot project of the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative for sustainable harvesting of fynbos for the cut-flower industry.
  • Guided horse trails & treks. Guided nature horse trails can be enjoyed along the coast of the Walker Bay and in the mountains behind Gansbaai. African Horse Company
  • Guided botanical walks, Heidehof and Farm 215. In the hinterland of Gansbaai, guided botanical walks through pristine "fynbos" (the indigenous and colorful vegetation of the unique Cape Floral Kingdom).
  • 4x4 trails. 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.
  • De Uijlenes Tractor Rides, Grootbos Rd (On road to Baardskeerderbos from Gansbaai), +27 28 388-0551. Tractor ride through the fynbos in the picturesque Mt Dyer Reserve, or take a pub crawl to the hamlet of Baardskeerdersbos. The tractor takes up to 30 people, so this is perfect for birthdays, family outings or just a good day out with friends.

Eat[edit]

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.

  • 1 Baardies Food Wine Art, 33 Main St, Baardskeerdersbos (25 km outside of Gansbaai, towards Elim), +27 73 210-6125. 9AM - 6PM. Baardies is an informal but stylish restaurant venue where one can enjoy food, wine and art, and tranquil views of the Baardskeerdersbos valley Reasonable.

Drink[edit]

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[edit]

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 around Gansbaai, offering comfortable to luxury accommodation.

  • Farm 215 (nature retreat & fynbos reserve). 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.
  • De Uijlenes (On the road from Gansbaai to Baardskeerdersbos, Elim and Cape Agulhas), +27 28 388-0551. Affordable farm-accommodation for groups of up to 85 in very tranquil fybos surroundings. De Uijlenes offeres tractor rides also for up to 30 people.
  • Klein Pardijs (Near Pearly Beach on the R 43 from Gansbaai to the east). A country house set amidst old milkwood trees with self-catering cottages. 5 rooms, 5 cottages, all meals of the day.
  • Aire del Mar Guesthouse (In Kleinbaai, seaside village on Danger point Peninsula). A friendly place with 5 rooms and 4 self catering units.
  • Whale Song Lodge (On top of the rocks in De Kelders, 5 km before Gansbaai, overlooking Walker Bay). A modern and relaxed guesthouse with 4 contemporary rooms and 1 suite, all with sea views. Dinner served.
  • Cliff Lodge (On top of the rocks in De Kelders, 5 km before Gansbaai, overlooking Walker Bay). B&B, a stylish and intimate guesthouse with four luxury rooms and one suite all with seaview.

Go next[edit]

  • 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".
  • 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.
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