Tag Archives: fishing

Watching the Fishermen on the Wall at Hermanus New Harbour (2021-01-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 MAR 2021

As it turns out, Gordon’s Bay isn’t the only small town in the Western Cape blessed with two harbours. If you have ever been to Hermanus then you’ll obviously be well aware of the Old Harbour next to Gearing’s Point, right in the heart of the town’s tourist center and which nowadays is preserved as a small museum. If you visit during whale watching season, then the New Harbour, situated to the west of the town alongside the Zwelihle township, is where you would go to hop on one of the many whale watching boats that ply their trade from that quay come season.

In the past, a lot of fishing was conducted from Hermanus, and by the 1930s the Old Harbour had become too small for the amount of fishing boats stationed there. The location for a new harbour was identified (a semi-protected strip of coast known as Still Bay), and construction of the southern breakwater was started – and then almost immediately put on hold as the Great Depression followed by the Second World War sunk its teeth into pretty much all economic activity. In 1951 the New Harbour did eventually become operational, but without a second (and recommended) east breakwater, meaning that this particular harbour occasionally suffers from rough waters – something one definitely does not want from a harbour! Unfortunately this state of affairs has led to a number of drownings and wrecks over the years, making the New Harbour one of the least safest safe harbours in the country.

Moving on. Unfortunately over-fishing from outside the Walker Bay area eventually led to the collapse of the fish stocks in Walker Bay, and so commercial fishing out of New Harbour essentially vanished – it was only once an alternative catch in the form of abalone was discovered that the harbour roared back into life again. These days, as a place of interest to visit, the New Harbour is probably most famous for the lovely Harbour Rock (and its Gecko Lounge bar), an elevated restaurant that sits perched above the harbour, affording one a lovely view over all the watery activity down below. Additionally there is Heart of Abalone, an established abalone farm that offers visitor tours, and of course you can always just stroll out along the breakwater to look at the boats and watching the local fishermen trying to catch fish from the seawall and occasionally do battle with the always competing Cape Fur seals.

So of course, after a morning of climbing up Hoy’s Koppie, staring down over the village from up on Rotary Way, walking along the Cliff Path, and before letting the girls eat their lunch on Voelklip beach, I made them accompany me for a stroll around the harbour. They did not appreciate the smell.

A Stroll around Door de Kraal Dam in Bellville (2021-01-30) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 09 MAR 2021

The family and I felt like a bit of a walk about Majik Forest in the Door de Kraal suburb of Bellville the other day, so we hopped into the car and headed out to the Northern Suburbs via the R300, making our way up the gates only to realize that under current Covid-19 lockdown levels, the fenced in Majik Forest park was still very much tightly locked up. Disappointed, we quickly moved on to a different option in the same area, the remarkably nearby Door de Kraal Dam.

Situated in the heart of the suburbs, tucked in between Door de Kraal, Kenridge, and Tyger Valley (and just across from the sprawling Willowbridge Mall village), the Door de Kraal Dam is a fair sized man made dam that offers a neat little green space that comes with picnic lawns, a circular walking path, fishing opportunities (this is the only local dam in the area that catch and release fishing is allowed at), and a great variety of birdlife, thanks in part to the many reeds growing around the banks of the dam.

It’s not a particularly long walk, between 1 and 2 km to go around via the path, but it is wide open green space with clear blue skies above and happy dogs being walked all around you.

McDonalds at Poinsettia Park in Somerset West (2020-08-22) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 20 FEB 2021

I am not fond of McDonalds fast food to say the least. If we absolutely do have to have fast food then the oily (but tasty) mess that is KFC could probably be classified as my favourite fast food option, but unfortunately for me, both my wife and kids seem to like what comes out of the Golden Arches’ kitchen and thus every now and then I need to indulge them. That said, if the chance arises to not have to eat it in the fast food outlet itself, then I always try to grab that opportunity with both hands. Case in point – why eat in the admittedly nicely airconditioned and spacious McDonalds of Waterstone Village Somerset West when it is by far more pleasant to just drive up the road and munch on your cardboard patty around nearby Poinsettia Park dam instead.

Situated to the side of the very nice, up on a hill suburb of Heldervue, Somerset West, sits Poinsettia Park, a small strip of green wedged in between suburbia and the big R44 that serves to shuttle traffic between the Helderberg and Stellenbosch. Built around a small dam, this space of green is a relatively popular spot for fishing and family picnics, and also features a small loop which makes it great for getting dogs (and little girls) to stretch their legs a little. These days there is also a brightly coloured outdoor gym in case you are eager to show off some sweaty muscles to whomever is willing to take the time to look.

As for the three of us (Chantelle was back home hard at work in the kitchen on this particular day of out and about adventure), we found a bench, munched on our food, watched the birdlife and the fishermen at work, and then grumpily took a short stroll before chasing back to the car because the youngest one decided that the need for a toilet was now about to enforce itself. (Kids always make everything so fun.)

Anyway, with the relatively busy R44 lying right next door, Poinsettia Park isn’t a particularly quiet and tranquil space, but it is rather pretty to look at, and it definitely does beat sitting in a boring McDonalds, that’s for sure!

Fishing and Picnics at Majik Forest in Bellville (2017-12-22) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 30 AUG 2018

The Durbanville/Bellville area is home to a couple of nice greenbelt areas, not necessarily as lush green as those found in Constantia and the like, but certainly nice wide open spaces with lots of grass and loads of good picnic spots. One of the better known ones is Majik Forest, a strip on the edge of Welgemoed that encompasses two dams (Fynbos Dam and Amandel Dam) and of course the titular small forest.

Naturally this then means that you are bound to encounter quite a few families spending some quality time down on the grass together, either enjoying a picnic, trying their hand at a bit of fishing or going for long walks. (The forest on the other hand is the perfect spot for teenagers looking for a bit of privacy – or at least that is how it was back when I was growing up!)

Mountain bikers have laid some serious claim to Majik Forest, with the Tygerberg MTB Club setting up shop and laying out various trails over the area. The park is also adjacent to Vink’s Arboretum, another great public space that is home to over 500 different indigenous trees!

So, a great option to keep in mind if you find yourself in the Northern Suburbs and want to get the kids off the couch and away from the tablet/TV!

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Side Note: Although security used to be somewhat of an issue in the area, following the fencing off of the entire public space, things have gotten much better, thus seeing an influx of families returning to relax in the park.

Related Link: Majik Forest | Bellville

Stroking Leather at Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm in Paarl (2017-12-23) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 07 JUL 2018

The Cape Winelands is home to a surprisingly large number of animal-based attractions, in other words great news for tourists and dads with kids to entertain like myself. Situated on Babylonstoren Road in Simondium, an area centrally situated between Paarl, Franschoek and Stellenbosch is Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm, a CITES registered breeder and tanner of the African Nile crocodile.

Basically, if you want a close up view of teeth on legs all wrapped up in a thick leather hide, Le Bonheur is the place to go.

So, obviously the main crocodile pond tour takes front and center in terms of activities for any day visitor, with eleven such tours taking place on a daily basis.

The tour starts off with a brief introduction to the species in the briefing room, before you are led out onto the ramps that walk you above the open dams and Le Bonheur’s approximately 300 crocodiles who are mostly lazing about beneath you. You will learn more about these animals from an experienced guide, maybe witness a feeding session (primarily during the Summer months), and definitely get to touch/hold a baby croc.

While not particularly exciting as such (crocodiles tend not to move very much unless they really have to), the tour is very informative and certainly worth it if you have never seen a crocodile in real life before.

Then there is the crocodile cage dive, a close encounter experience offered by African Croc Dive that sees you dipping into a pool full of crocodiles with only a steel cage between you and their rather plentiful teeth. (For those of you who don’t relish the prospect of getting wet, an underwater, dry viewing box experience is also on offer).

That said, it isn’t all crocodile on the menu at Le Bonheur. In the main building the team have setup an interesting little self-guided snake centre exhibit filled with both indigenous and exotic snakes, and also on offer is an interactive snake show that includes both an informative talk and touch session with some of their slithery stars.

Then there is the small onsite restaurant/pizzeria that produces a selection of good pizzas, pies, and other light lunch options (like their famous crocodile meat pies). Well priced and a good way to round off a croc viewing experience on a hot summer’s day. You can also pre-book a picnic basket to be enjoyed on their luscious lawn out by the dam, or book the braai facilities if you want to take charge of your own menu for the day.

The dam behind the main building is open for catch and release fishing (you can hire fishing rods from Le Bonheur if needed), and the small kids play area around the back is great for the little ones to run out any left over energy while you laze on the grass under the shade of their big trees.

Finally there is the small gift shop full of Nile Crocodile leather products, and just in case you didn’t feel like making the drive home, Le Bonheur also has self catering/bed and breakfast facilities available.

Oh, and they host kids parties, cater to weddings (their hall can accommodate anything from 160 to 200 guests), and offer conference facilities.

So pretty much everything then.

Anyway, the girls and I found ourselves spending a Saturday there back in December last year (the second time that we had paid Le Bonheur a visit), and as you might imagine, crocodiles were observed, croc skin touching was had, pizzas devoured, and lots of photos taken. So a good day out then.

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(Footnote: Obviously the horrible accident at the start of the year was an absolute tragedy for all involved, but given all the employment that this attraction provides in what is a relatively economically depressed area, I’m really pleased to see the Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm still operating and attracting as many visitors as what it does. Tourism still remains the best key to unlocking the biggest opportunities in rural communities at this stage.)

Related Link: Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm | Paarl

A December Holiday in Gouritsmond (2017-12-29) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 04 APR 2018

Last year December saw us enjoy a holiday break in three parts – first Christmas at home, then a splash at Pinnacle Point Estate in Mossel Bay with my folks and my sister’s family, followed by a (because we were already in the area) final stretch in Gouritsmond with both my folks and Chantelle’s folks. (So yes, basically a full on family time holiday then!)

This was my second time holidaying in Gouritz (or Gouritsmond depending on who you ask), and to be honest, despite not being into fishing (which technically you should be if you are going there) I was really looking very much forward to the quiet, chilled nature of a stay in this little coastal holiday town.

The house that we had rented wasn’t 100% perfect thanks to its strange living arrangement (it had only just hit the holiday rental market), but beggars can’t be choosers (we only made the decision to go right at the end of the year), and in the end the actual accommodation was more than comfortable enough for the eight of us, so all was good on that front.

With my parents in the mix, there was of course a LOT of card games over the next couple of days to be had (Monopoly Deal for the win!), plus of course the LOADs of leftover Christmas snacks to be devoured, not to mention all that relaxing walking about town to be done – which I most certainly did my fair share of! ;)

We braaied, we rung in the new year with a potjiekos get together in the caravan park, we hunted for small little fish in the rock pools, we went on exploratory drives around the area, and of course, we tucked into delicious milktart and peppermint crisp tart pancakes whenever the opportunity arose.

In other words, it is basically impossible to come away from a stay like this NOT feeling 100% chill, refreshed, and ready to tackle the new year head on!

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(Or rather, that is how one would normally come away feeling after such a good seaside getaway, unless of course they experience a blown coil in their aging Hyundai Accent, which then triggers a chain of events that eventually leads to a quite unscheduled holiday extension in George…)

Related Link: Gouritz | Gouritsmond

Fishing for Lunch at Eikendal in Stellenbosch (2017-08-06) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 11 DEC 2017

You could of course travel to Eikendal in Raithby, lying along the R44 snug between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, in order to taste and buy their award winning wines. You could even be heading out that way to stay in one of the private terraced rooms of the Eikendal Lodge, or perhaps to try your hand at fly fishing in their trout stocked dams.

Most likely though, you are probably heading towards their distinctively styled entrance to grab a seat (either inside or out) at Cucina di Giovanni, more commonly referred to as Giovanni’s among the locals.

We didn’t actually know this, but it turns out that this restaurant is rather on the popular side, and even more pleasingly, produces some particularly delicious pizza – as we found out for ourselves with an impromptu visit there one Sunday afternoon back in August this year.

(Turns out, the place we were actually on our way out to, the nearby Vredenhof, is closed on Sundays).

Eikendal itself is really worth a visit though.

Obviously there is the traditional wine tasting and food pairing that happens at the Eikendal Tasting Centre, but then there are also tours of their distinctive barrel vaulted cellar, fishing with the onsite Winelands Fly Fishing outfit, upmarket food from Giovanni’s, mapped out vineyards walks, lush green lawns, and finally a small kids play area, to enjoy.

Also, the abundant views of the vineyards and mountains isn’t too shabby either.

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Chantelle, the kids and I rather enjoyed this impromptu visit, and given the fact that Eikendal lists Kiddies Tastings and Tractor Rides on their website, there is a more than reasonable chance of us returning for a more full experience sooner than later!

Related Link: Eikendal Wine Estate | Cucina di Giovanni | Giovanni’s Eikendal

Pit Stop at Houw Hoek Farm Stall near Grabouw (2017-03-17) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 27 OCT 2017

In the middle of Houw Hoek Pass, as you travel between Grabouw and Bot River, you will pass by a very hard to miss white and green building, tucked away in a rocky corner with undoubtedly a lot of cars parked outside.

The popular building in question is of course the longstanding Houw Hoek Farm Stall, known for its quality, fresh, homemade breads, pies and bakes – a trait that makes it rather popular little stop among the locals.

Also, in addition to a good selection of local wines on sale, the shop section is stocked with all manner fresh fruits and vegetables from the farms of the surrounding Elgin Valley, all complemented by the normal farm stall home industry staples like biscuits, jams, biltong, and of course – cake.

Seeing as this is a chef-owned-managed business, the food and coffee on offer in the welcoming little coffee shop is particularly decent, and bonus, if sitting at a table and chairs doesn’t quite appeal to you on the day, then you will be pleased to know that picnic baskets can also be prepared on request.

Somewhat surprisingly, Houw Hoek Farm Stall is also home to three dams stocked with Rainbow trout – making it a great spot for some fly fishing then. (Naturally, rods and tackle can be hired from the farm stall itself.)

Oh, and finally they have a nice little space out in front that is open enough for the little ones to run around and give their legs a stretch.

So. The Orchard. Peregrine. Houw Hoek. Dassiesfontein. Plenty of good, visitor friendly farm stalls to pick and choose from on this first part of the N2 highway then!

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(Bonus: Just in case you were wondering, this particular stop took place back in March this year, when Jessica and myself drove up for a long weekend away with my folks in their place at Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay.)

Related Link: Houw Hoek Farm Stall | Facebook

Poinsettia Dam and Park in Somerset West (2017-08-12) My Life | Travel Attractions 25 OCT 2017

There are not a lot of freshwater fishing spots in the strictly Somerset West/Strand area. However, out of those few that do exist, without a doubt Poinsettia Dam is by far the most popular one with the locals.

(Or at least, that’s what it looks like and that’s also what Google searches seem to corroborate).

To be honest, Jessica and I actually stumbled upon it by complete accident the other day. We had just finished buying a new, bright green lunchbox and bottle from Mambos for her, when, after purchasing a couple of snacks for us to enjoy, I punched in a search for the Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary (Strand) into Google Maps and off we went.

As it turns out though, the incorrect search result didn’t exactly take me where I wanted to go, and instead we ended up at Poinsettia park, where after devouring our snacks, we took a stroll, then a drive along the dirt path up the dam, and finally sat and watched the fishermen try their luck.

It seems a good park for stretching legs, walking dogs and catching a fish or two, so all in all, not a terrible little discovery then.

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A map – primarily because Poinsettia Dam is easily spotted from the road when travelling between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, but not quite as easily reached. (Hint, access it via Poinsettia Street).

Related Link: Somerset West