Hermanus, Gansbaai and Cape Aguilas
Gansbaai Travel Blog› entry 13 of 17 › view all entries
Day 12 - Hermanus, Gansbaai and Cape Aguilas
This was another early start day. We had everyone, we had maps, we had GPS and we were excited. We had planned on a shark dive but the seas were running 3-4 meters, not feet as I thought, duhhh. When the Cape Doctor winds blow, they do blow. A brief explanation here; these winds are aptly named as they are a drying wind and evaporate the moisture on the leaves preventing mold and rot. They also stir the water a bit, quite a bit. That being said the shark dive was off.
The coastal drive from Gordon's Bay on R44 is both spectacular and not for the faint of heart. There are areas to stop and take photos and they are well worth the extra time to do it.
Our first stop was Hermanus. This reminds me of a New England town along the Cape Cod coast. A quaint (I can never overuse that word for South Africa) village of old and new. The main theme here is whales, Southern Right Whales, to be exact. A short walk out to a very nice park right on the edge of the Atlantic brought the theme to reality. We saw at least 15 individual whales playing within a half mile off shore. Some brave souls were in sea kayaks and the whales amazingly swam up to them and remain in very close proximity for quite a long time. There were people leaning over the cliff shooting photos almost straight down because the whales were that close. We took lots of photos but, lucky for everyone reading this blog, we filtered out most of them. We realized how cold we were when it became difficult to press the shutter on the camera.
We stopped for a light breakfast and coffee (who would have guessed) across the street from a nice memorial. Following breakfast came the obligatory souvenir hunting. The REAL photographers went hunting for a different type of souvenir. We did find the beautiful church and the caretaker let us in to walk the grounds. The grounds were a photographers dream. We did get some beautiful flower shots and paid our respects to the grave of Tigger "The Holy Dog" who passed in 2004.
After all was said and done, and bought or photographed, we headed out to Gansbaai. As Hermanus is known for whales Gansbaai is known for sharks, White Sharks, to be specific. As I mentioned previously, the seas were not conducive to diving so we passed through. Our next point was Pearly where we would be leaving the paved road of R44 and headed onto dirt of 7809 and 7799 en route to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point on the African continent.
The roads, while dirt, were very good. This is the most direct route from Gansbaai to Cape Agulhas. We did meet back up with a paved road, R319, after an hour or so and followed this directly through the town. The route is well marked and well maintained. We stopped at the first parking lot and opted to walk. The day was beautiful albeit very windy.
Being the geek that I am I had my Garmin 60cx GPS out and was watching it count down the longitude to exactly 20.0000 degrees east. I even have video and photos to prove it, so there!
Surprisingly, there were not a lot of people there. We did see another geek doing the same thing with his Garmin. We set up the tripod, mounted the camera and took photos, lots of photos, of the plaque, the rocks and the seas. This geography is definitely formed by the wind and the seas as you can see in the photos. The water was blue and green in eddies and waves. To the left, east a 100 yards or so, the Indian Ocean water was a beautiful blue. To the right, west, the Atlantic Ocean was more greenish. Where they met was a riot of color. The only place I've seen such delineation was off of Cape Hatteras where the Gulf Stream meets the Atlantic current.
After spending about an hour we opted for the warmth of the van and sustenance in our bodies. We had seen the Lighthouse Restaurant on the way in and wanted to eat there but, alas, it was not to be. They may have seen us coming and closed the doors. We did manage to find a nice restaurant off of R319 called Kate's Country Kitchen. Now this was very friendly. I brought in a map to look over and had four people arguing over who would help us out. The service was great and the food even better, only to be out done by the liquid refreshments.
To keep things interesting we opted to take R319 north to R316 at Bredasdorp. From there we headed NW to pick up the N2 at Caledon. Our thinking was that this would be less scenic but faster. WRONG in the strictest sense. Construction was the plan of the day. We hit unbelievably long lines of traffic sitting still for up to 15 minutes at a time.
When we finally broke out of it at Sir Lowry's Pass we were really in for a shock. As we cleared the pass doing a bit under the speed limit our van decided to move sideways one lane due to the wind gusts. Thinking it was me not paying attention we watched a rather large truck do the exact same thing. Well we can't say they hadn't warned us as there were signs posted to the east of the pass. Another mental note to clean the seat.
Back to the apartment, dinner and download photos. Those chores completed it was time to watch the sun go down and the lights of Gordon's Bay come up.