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The Top 3 Things To Do In Gansbaai In Winter

When looking for things to do in Gansbaai there are many choices but the finest are linked with the natural world, a  beautiful coastline, wild flora, stunning mountains and wonderful marine life. Nature lovers will be in heaven!

If you are looking for a thrill Gansbaai offers one of the greatest of all – shark cage diving. So first on your list of things to do in Gansbaai in the Western Cape should be shark cage diving.

1. Shark Cage Diving

Gansbaai is the world’s  Great White Shark capital and is the ultimate memorable activity to do in this Whale Coast town. With clearer waters in winter, this is the best time to go and Dyer Island, just a few kilometers off shore from Gansbaai, with its a large population of Cape Fur seals, entices many sharks making for an incredible experience.

2. Whale Watching

This part of the east coast between Hermanus and Pearly Beach is an incredible whale watching destination. Whales can be spotted all year but are in abundance from late June to December when the Southern Right whales arrive to give birth and mate. De Kelders, on the coast of Walker Bay is regarded by many as the best land based whale watching area in Africa, if not the world. You can also take a boat trip to get even closer!

3. Visit the Caves

The caves in  De Kelders are a must when visiting Gansbaai and when you stay at our guesthouse,  65onCliff,  the caves are only a short walk away.  There are three main caves, Drupkelder Cave, Klipgat Cave and Duiwelsgat Cave, collectively known as the De Kelders Caves. You can take a guided tour to view these incredible natural phenomena.

The natural beauty of this Overberg coastline has so much to offer that even in winter it is a wonderful place to explore.

 

Beautiful Hiking Trails in Gansbaai

What better way to explore the incredibly beautiful landscapes around Gansbaai than to do so on foot. Come visit some of Gansbaai’s gorgeous hiking trails.

Gansbaai is well known for it’s exceptional and rugged landscapes. The fynbos wildernesses, rolling mountains, milkwood forests, expansive beaches and exquisite cliff and cave systems all make it the ideal area to take a hiking holiday. The diversity of the environments also provides a wide range of terrains that suit any fitness level, from relaxed to challenging. So whether you want long, easy walks or intensive full day hikes, the bountiful reserves and conservancies in and around Gansbaai make for fantastic hiking.

And of course with all the amazing biodiversity comes an abundance of wildlife, birds and animals that can only be truly seen and appreciated on foot. Even whale watching can be done on foot in these beautiful surroundings!

You can take organised hikes or professionally guided trails through some of the beautiful reserves and conservancies, which provides unique and interesting insights into the amazing floral, animal and bird species which abound, as well as spectacular views and vistas. These guided hiking trails can also be chosen based on whether you want a leisurely and scenic trip or an invigorating and challenging day out.

For the more avid hikers there is also the option of hiking on ones own, and there are a myriad different trails and routes from which to choose.

Here are just some of the trails, reserves and conservancies where you will find some of Gansbaais most diverse and beautiful hiking trails:

  • De Uijlenes
  • Farm 215 nature retreat & fynbos reserve
  • Flower Valley
  • Grootbos Nature Reserve
  • Grootmelkhoutbos trail
  • Heidehof Medicinal Walks
  • Klipgat or Duiwelsgat trail
  • Milkwood Hiking Trail
  • Perlemoen Trail
  • Platbos – Africa’s Southernmost Forest
  • Sandberg Fynbos Reserve
  • The Fynbos Trail
  • Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy

The Fynbos Road Meander

For all you fynbos fanatics out there the Gansbaai area offers a completely unique botanical experience: The Fynbos Road Meander

The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the richest and most unique botanical regions on earth. With hundreds of particular plant-species that are specific only to the Cape peninsula it is a botanists dream destination.  The fynbos Road meander is an initiative of the Agulhas Biodiversity Project (“ABI”). It winds through a unique botanical area of about 100kms, with more than 9 fynbos- vegetation types and over 5 non-fynbos-vegetation types to be found in it. Many of the thousands of plant species are endemic to the area and some of the plant species are so localised that a single mountain is the only place in the world where they can be found.

Stretching from Stanford to the Agulhas National Park, the fynbos road meander is also destined to become the future home of all the animal species that roamed the Agulhas Plains until a little over 100 years ago, a future “Serengeti of the Western Cape” if you will, which is still currently under construction. The idea is to eventually repopulate it with some of the existing original species such as Black Rhino, Hippopotamus, Hartebees, Zebra and Cape Lion along with many others.

The road, which also acts as the entrance to the  Agulhas National Park, wends it’s way through the very peaceful rural vicinities of the Gansbaai area and Overberg providing access from it’s route to over 10 large conservancies and reserves which are open to the public for hiking, horse riding or 4×4 driving. The 5 distinct and diverse ecologies offer a wonderful opportunity to explore the amazing flora and fauna that belong to the fynbos kingdom, not to mention the incredible birdlife, which makes the fynbos road meander a fantastic birding route too!

What’s Happening in May in Gansbaai

While Gansbaai may not be a bustling metropolis like Cape Town or Johannesburg, we certainly still manage to keep ourselves occupied! There is always something to go and see or do in our beautiful part of the world and even though we are heading into the winter months now, May is no exception.

Here’s a brief run down of some of the what’s happening in May in Gansbaai for you to look forward to.

Of course the main event for May in Gansbaai is that with the onset of winter, come the whales! Yes, whale watching season starts soon and we can’t WAIT to have them back in our bays. While whale season does only officially start in June/July, it doesn’t mean we can’t start getting excited! Walker Bay and De Kelders are some of the most perfect places from which to view these majestic creature while they are here, so we recommend booking your stay with us soon!

Everybody loves a good market right? What’s not to love? You can wander around buying delicious treats and baked goods, get a boerie roll, partake of the local produce and maybe even pick up a nick-nack or two for home. Well we have loads of Markets in May in Gansbaai. You could check out the weekly Friday market at Pretorius Hall, or pop into the pearly beach market which happens the 1st Saturday of every month. The we have our annual Gansbaai Church Bazaar on the 3rd May as well as the VG Church Bazaar in Blompark on the 24th May too.

And for something a little different, why not come spend a week end with us and participate in the monthly Bread making workshops that are held at acclaimed artist Niel Jonkers home on the last Thursday and Friday of every month. learning how to bake home  made bread with a famous artist, in his kitchen! why not!

May also marks the month in which Gansbaai hosts the Greenpop Platbos Reforest Family Festival and the Greenpop Platbos Reforest Friends Festivals. These awesome festival involve, you guessed it, planting trees! But there are lots of other fun activities too, so you get to have fun and feel good about doing something special to help the environment too!

Playing Golf in Gansbaai – Local Golf Courses

Golfers need not panic at the prospect of a holiday in the Gansbaai area without their beloved golf bags, they are well catered for here!

The Gansbaai and Overberg areas boast a decent number of great golf courses and estates to visit so you definitely don’t need to leave your clubs at home when you come to us for a visit.

Here are just a few of the golf clubs and estates worth visiting while you are in the Gansbaai area.

Gansbaai Golf Club

Gansbaai golf club is arguably one of the most scenic 18 hole courses in the country. Surrounded by seascapes and fynbos, this fantastic course is located in the Kleinbaai, home to many of the shark diving tours in the area. At Gansbaai Golf club, you could play a round of golf with the local fauna and then catch a boat out to meet a great whit shark, all in the same day! The course itself is a thing of beauty, luring many international and national players to it’s greens with regularity, and offers many novel obstacles as well as the normal ones, like wild Southeasters and angry Kiewiets.

Hermanus Golf Club

Hermanus Golf Club offers a whopping 27 hole course. This 18 hole country classic course was upgraded with 9 more modern classic holes in 2006, making it both challenging and beautiful to play on. The Hermanus Golf Club makes use of both the gentle coastal and mountain landscapes to present a golf course that is both scenic and stimulating.

Arabella Estate Golf Course

Currently ranked as South Africa’s 4th best golf course, the 18 hole Arabella Golf Course is nestled within the award winning Arabella Estate along the banks of the Bot River. This beautiful but tricky course has drawn holiday makers, celebrities and international players alike and boasts South Africas top finishing hole to boot!

Kleinmond golf Club

The Kleinmond Golf Club is nestled into the beautiful surrounding of the Kogelberg biosphere and offers players a spectacular day amongst the fynbos. This is one of the few courses around where, from July to October you can play your round of Golf and watch the whales in the bay at the same time! now that is an experience worth having!

Gansbaai 4×4 Trail Holidays

While it may be known first and foremost as the number one shark cage diving and whale watching location in the world, the entire Gansbaai area has a great deal more to offer than just whales and sharks and sea. The entire area is a cornucopia of beautiful scenery and wild environments, and for the 4×4 driving enthusiast it offers more than beautiful trail to consider visiting on a 4×4 holiday.

The Western Cape offers some truly exceptional 4×4 driving opportunities, with a diverse range of routes to be enjoyed whether you want a challenging trip or a leisurely one, and Gansbaai is no exception. With the incredible land based nature and fynbos ecology, there is plenty to see on a 4×4 holiday here whether you are doing a self drive holiday or want to take a guided tour. For those who want a guided tour, this can often incorporate a walking tour of the area too, where guides can show you rare plants and provide useful information about the local fauna and flora.

Here are just a few of the farms and trails available that are worth taking a look at in the Gansbaai area.

Walker Bay Fishermans 4×4 Trail

Situated about 12kms outside of Stanford, the Walker Bay Fisherman’s trail takes you through the Walker Bay Nature Reserve. This is a scenic trail rather than an adventure trail and can easily be self-driven . The trail gives you access to pristine birding, hiking, fishing and picnicking areas within the reserve.

Flower Valley Farm 4×4 Trail

This fantastic farm, situated in De Kelders is only 13.5 km’s from Gansbaai itself. The farm offers 2 different 4×4 trails, which both have beautiful view stops along the way and a day full of  fun for 4×4 enthusiasts. There is also ample space to have a picnic after your driving activities with the whole family.

Glen Oaks 4×4 Trail

Situated about 60 kms out of Gansbaai, in the beautiful town of Greyton, The Glen Oaks 4×4 Trail runs through a working fruit and livestock farm. This course is quite tricky and is often used as an obstacle course, so definitely geared more for the adventurer and not the leisure driver!

Groot Toren Eco Experience 4×4 Trail

This trail is the furtherest out of the Gansbaai area, located 88 kms away in the town of McGregor. This trail is an unchallenging 25km route with spectacular viewpoints, but still requires low range and high clearance vehicles to participate.

The Baardskeerdersbos Art Route

One of the highlights of the Overberg Arts and Crafts Calender is the Baardskeerdersbos Art Route, and for any art lovers out there this is the very best time to visit Gansbaai!

Started in 2008 the Baardskeerdersbos Art Route, otherwise known to the locals as the B’bos Art Route, allows people a behind the scenes look into the lives and processes of 12 fabulous local artists, and has single handedly put the tiny hamlet of Baardskeerdersbos on the map, so to speak!

The Art route, which is held 3 time a year, takes you on a circular meander around the beautiful little town of Baardskeerdersbos and behind the scenes of the various acclaimed artists who live there.  Guests get to view the artists, who use a variety of techniques and mediums to create artworks that adorn homes and galleries around the world, in their homes and work spaces. Whether you enjoy painting, printmaking, sculpture or ceramic works, you will find artists who are prolific in many of these mediums during your day out!

Each artist puts on a solo exhibition, but without the formality of the usual gallery spaces. Guests can sit and chat with the artists while often enjoying a sampling of home made food and drink, which could range from moerkoffie or wine to snacks and home made bread.

Main Artists include:

  • Kali van der Merwe – photography, film and graphic media
  • Joshua Miles – Oil painting and reduction woodcut printmaking
  • Niel Jonker – Oil painting and Bronze Sculpture
  • Amanda Jephson – Oil, Acrylic and Graphic media Paintings and drawing
  • Lizzie van der Berg – Oil Painting and Gyotaku Printing
  • Philip John –  Sculpture and drawing
  • Ivan Trollop – Oil and acrylic painting
  • Jan Vingerhoets – Found object Furniture

Guest Artists

  • Gareth Williams
  • Braam Van Zyl – Painting and drawing
  • Kevin de Klerk – 2 dimensional Mixed Media
  • Juria Le Roux – Oil painting

The Baardskeerdersbos Art route promises to be a fantastic experience this year with it’s varied collection of artists. And if April is short notice, fret not, because they will be doing it all again in October. If you would like to look at the route map or just find out more about each artist you can go to the Baardskeerdersbos Art Route official site here.

 

De Kelders Caves – A Funhouse for Spelunking!

For the avid spelunkers or cavers out there, our little corner of Gansbaai, De Kelders will prove to be a fantastic week end out for you! The area is riddled with limestone caverns for you to explore which are collectively referred to as De Kelders Caves.

De Kelders literally means “the Cellars” in Dutch. This vast collection of caverns was discovered by some of the earliest Dutch colonists to the Gansbaai area and there are far to many to mention them all, but for eager cavers, there are 3 that are of particular importance and can be visited while staying in the De Kelders or the general Gansbaai area.

Drupkelder Cave

Drupkelder cave, otherwise known as De Kelder Cave, is particularly impressive because it is the only freshwater cave on the South African Coast. Known as one of the natural wonders of the old colony, Drupkelders was even visited in 1798 by Lady Anne Barnard. Drupkelder cave is boasts incredible stalactites and stalagmites and deep freshwater rock pools of mineral rich water  which are all filled by a strongly flowing underground river.

Klipgat Cave

Equally as impressive as Drupkelder cave, and best known of all the De Kelders Caves is Klipgat cave. Klipgat Cave is an World heritage site as it is home to some of the oldest human remains and artifacts in South Africa. Excavations in 1969 revealed substantial evidence that Klipgat had been used as a home and shelter by indigenous peoples for many thousands of years. Further excavation of the deeper parts of Klipgat cave in 1992 unearthed artifacts and remains as old as 7000 years in age, which are amongst the oldest home sapien remains in the world.

Duiwelsgat Cave

Duiwelsgat, or Devils hole cave, was in fact originally named Duiwegat which means Dove hole becuase of all of the rock pigeons that used to roost inside the cave. It is marked by a very clear circular stone wall around a hole in the ground. This wall was built when people first inhabited the area to prevent livestock from falling through the hole, which is in fact the collapsed ceiling of the cave. Below is a cavern filled with seaweed and other marine life, that is subject to the tides. If you are prepared to forgo your vertigo and look down you will see the water rolling in and out. For the more adventurous one can scramble down the cliff face to the low tide entrance to look into the cave from below.

The Gansbaai Marine Big 5

Anyone who comes to Africa knows about the Big 5. Africa is famous for it’s amazing variety of large and unusual land mammals, and of course South Africa is one of the best places in the world to see the Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion and Leopard that make up the African big 5 in one place.

There is however another big 5 that is equally as amazing, the Marine Big 5, and just like the Land Big 5, one of the only places you will ever see the Marine Big 5 is in South Africa. And one of the only places you will see them all in one place is Gansbaai! The Marine big 5 consists of the Great White Shark, Southern Right Whale, Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin, Cape Fur Seal, and African Penguin.

As far as Whales are concerned, Gansbaai’s waters are frequented by both the majestic Southern Right Whale and the shy Humpback Whale species, which spend a considerable amount of time breeding and raising their babies there every year. Gansbaai is also known as a Mecca for shark cage diving and Great White Shark spotting, because of the prolific number of seals that live in the area, which are the Great Whites’ main food source.

When it comes to seals, there is an abundant Cape Fur Seal population that breed and live on Geyser Rock, providing a constant stream of entertainment for entertainers, and a permanent feeding ground for the Great white Shark population. While the Bottlenose Dolphin is the one to look out for if you are specifically searching out the Marine big 5, there are a number of other species that visit and play along side the bottlenose dolphin species through out the year around Gansbaai too.

And of course, if it is penguins you love, there is an entire island sanctuary’s worth of breeding African penguins on Dyer island to go and enjoy!

Marine Big 5 safaris are available through many charter companies in and around Gansbaai so all you need do is ask your hosts to book a trip for you and you will bea ble to head out onto the waters to catch a glimpse of these awe-inspiring and often entertaining animals.

 

Visit a Pretty Gansbaai Beach

For all  the sun lovers and beach enthusiasts out there, Gansbaai is an absolute haven of beautiful, non-commercial and virtually untouched beaches.

The entire Gansbaai coast line is decorated with beautiful beaches. Known as the “coast of contrasts” there are beaches to fulfil just about any requirement you might have of a beach day! While just about every Gansbaai beach comes complete with stunning white sands and ideal swimming conditions, some are better suited than others to your needs.

If you are looking for a secluded Gansbaai beach on which to tan and relax in privacy then you should consider make a plan to visit the beautiful Buffelsjagsbaai beach, or one of the many private coves along Die Plaat’s 17km stretch.

Stanford’s Bay, situated closest to De Kelders is the ideal space for a family picnic with it’s rolling lawn and swimming friendly waters. Families will also enjoy the busy and popular expanses of Pearly beach for swimming, playing and picnicking too.

For the activites and adventure seekers, Die Plaat is the perfect Gansbaai beach for kite-flying and sand-boarding while Uilkraal is the idea spot for rowing and watersports.

Avid hikers will love the dunes and long walking trails that wind through beaches like Die Plaat, Walker bay and Pearly beach,or the more secluded and hard to get to pathways around Kleinbaai and Ulkraal. But all of these Gansbaai beaches are also ideal even if it is only a long quiet walk you are after.

And then for the avid anglers and bird watchers amongst you, or those who want to explore the rocky outcrops and pools for signs of the abundant sealife, Franskraal, Uilkraal and the lovely Pearly beaches are where you will find the best rock and beach fishing, an abundance of nesting birdlife and exciting tidal pools and rock formations.