Category “English – Touring”

Cape West Coast

Saturday, 3 May, 2014

by PG Jonker

West Coast drive

April, the fairest of all months.

I know, the poem by C. Louis Leipoldt was about October being the fairest of all months.  But Leipoldt did not live in post-1994 South Africa.  More in particular, he did not experience the marvel of South African April with all its public holidays, interspersed by a working day here and there.

So making use of some of these holidays we went for a drive up the West Coast.

Weskus Fossielpark trip

[Source:   Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

First stop the West Coast National Park at the Southern part of the Langebaan lagoon.

Weskus Nasionale Park

[Map from the SanParks brochure – see also].

As a National Park you need to pay the preservation fee if you don’t have the Wild Card.  The Langebaan lagoon has fynbos, internationally acclaimed wetlands, and a wide variety of birdlife  and antelopes.

At Kraalbaai, on the Western side of the lagoon, you find the Preekstoel (pulpit).  According to the Sanparks brochure the firs Khoi dictionary of 400 words was documented here by De Flacourt, the Director General of the French East India Company in 1648.


Also some house boats and yachts.

Bote by Kraalbaai

When we were there it was low tide.


From there we drove to the southern tip of the lagoon.  Geelbek is a restaurant inside the park.  This was also in 1785 where the VOC in the Cape of Good Hope placed a beacon to demarcate it northern most boundary.


A boardwalk takes you to bird hides.


Bird species Curlow Sandpiper, Sanderling and Knot travels the 15000km’s from Northern Russia every year to breed here.  Over 250 bird species are found here.  This is more than a quarter of the total of South Africa’s bird species.

The birds don’t hide in the bird hide, though.  We do.

Bird hide

The Langebaan lagoon was classified as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention criteria in 1975.


Unlike the beach at Kraalbaai, the bird hide did not exactly have the two twelve year olds with us thrilled.  Admittedly, we were not there at a good bird spotting time, so we have not seen too many of the more than 250 species.

Shades of green:


Lunch at Driftwoods in Langebaan proved rather popular with all, though.

Drift Woods

It was now becoming afternoon, and we first took a vote on whether we would still visit the West Coast Fossil Park.  I was quite surprised at the two twelve year olds’ enthusiasm.  Maybe they had grand visions of Jurassic Park.


We arrived at the Fossil park after the departure of the laste guided tour to the excavation site.  The lady at the laboratory was kind enough, though, to give us a tour through the laboratory – which is where the guided tour in any event ends.

In die lab

Some interesting facts we learnt were that this is one of the richest fossil sites in the world.  It was discovered in 1930 when phosphate mining started there.  Unfortunately a great many of the fossils had been destroyed in the mining operations.  Apparently as much as 80% thereof.  Nevertheless, more than a million specimens found its way to the Iziko museum in Cape town.  After the mine closed in 1993 it was developed as a fossil park.

By the end of our tour even our Jurassic Park enthusiast’s concentration was starting to wear thin.  After all, if the 5 million year old bone is actually solidified into stone, it cannot be cloned, and the DNA won’t exist to churn out a new African bear.

African bear

Last stop:  Stompneus Bay.

Shelly Point

It does not get better than this, huh?…


Tuesday, 13 August, 2013


[Source:   Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

We left Cape Town on a chilly Saturday morning following a cold snap that left the mountains snow capped.  It being a long weekend that already started on the Friday, we had the road for ourselves.

The Overberg has a good spread of the ordinary South African’s diet on the farm lands.  Wheat, Canola and sheep.  Bread, butter and lamb chops close at hand, thus.











From Caledon to Bredasdorp you have these rolling hills.  Then, from Bredasdorp to Struisbaai and l’Agulhas you have this totally flat land.  Due to recent heavy rains the roads were flooded because of the wetlands in the area.

The Agulhas light house is a very recognisable beacon.  Now under construction.Lighuis1


The town itself is a pleasant dorp.Agulhas2A great many shipwrecks are found in the area.St Mungo



The hallmark of the town is, apart from the lighthouse, the fact that it is the Southernmost tip of Africa.

In case you miss it:

Southernmost bordjie

A boardwalk guides you to the spot.


And wala!


Nature can cause one to be in a reflective mood.


If all fails, and you do get bored, there are, of course, other options.


The end of the weekend saw us heading back to Cape Town.  It would seem that everyone has left Cape Town for the weekend.  Which meant that everyone had to get back to Cape Town again.



Bumper to bumper traffic on Houwhoek pass and Sir Lowrey’s pass stretches the return trip of 220km’s to 4 hours.

Video clip.


Riebeek Vallei – Part 1

Friday, 24 August, 2012


Some 80km’s from Cape Town lies the Riebeek Valley.

[Source:   Map data ©2012 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

Travelling from Malmesbury you first get to Riebeek-Kasteel.  Five kilometers further on you find Riebeek-Wes.  It’s difficult figuring out why there are two towns, instead of one, given the demographics of the towns.

According to the 2001 census there were then 2532 people living in Riebeek Kasteel.  The town itself is a wopping 1,4 square kilometers big.  This, as opposed to Riebeek West, which only measures one square kilometer, and had 2661 residents in 2001.  Which means that Riebeek-West is more densely populated, should you care to notice.

In spite of the name indicating the contrary, there is no castle in Riebeek-Kasteel (kasteel = castle).  It would appear that the valley was found in 1661 by one of Jan van Riebeeck’s men, who then for lack of a better name called it Riebeek’s Castle.

Apparently the mountain looks like a castle.  Maybe if you’re on the mountain, dude, but not from below!  But then again, maybe one should give a bit of leeway for the views and needs of the settlers in those days.  I guess a castle counted for something then, and you could hence easily mistake something for your dream castle.  (I wonder what they smoked in those days?)

Rumour has it that some 24 000 people now stays in the Valley.  I’ve got my doubts.  On my first visit there I saw 13 people, which included 9 visitors.  Admittedly, I was on the outer perimeter of Riebeek-Wes.  On my second visit, though, I found myself in the hustle and bustle of down town Riebeek Kasteel.  And indeed, this time I saw more people.  About twenty people, but that was on a Sunday morning just as the church came out.

But these guys use any excuse for a festival.  Maybe that’s when they get the 24000 people.

October               – Shiraz & Arts Weekend

December           – Kloovenburg Summer Market Day

March                    – Mediterranean Fest

April                       – Portuguese Festival

May                       – Olive Festival

July                        – Berg rivir marathon and the Riebeek Mountain Marathon

From the local information brochure I could glean that Riebeek-Kasteel sports 32 overnight places, and 12 eateries.  Clearly, you might die of boredom long before you will die of hunger in this place.   This outperforms Riebeek-Wes that only sports a humble 14 places to stay, and 3 eateries.

But according to my calculation it gives you an option of 46 places to stay, and 15 places to eat at.  And that in two towns totalling 2,4 square kilometers.  Not bad, huh?

For my first visit we went to stay at Andrea Townsend’s Church Hills Guest House in Riebeek-Wes. Andrea is a lawyer turned guest house owner who speaks Afrikaans, English and German.  And a bit of French too, although most locals would probably mistake that for swearing.

A view from the stoep.

We went walkabout through Riebeek-Wes.

Time comes to a standstill.

But still takes its toll.

Each of these towns has its own church as well.

Roads are well marked.  It’s only the Do-Do that has a bit of a problem knowing whether he should go left or right.  No wonder he became extinct!





Riebeek Vallei – Part 2

Friday, 24 August, 2012


By the time you read here, you were supposed to have read my previous posting on Riebeek-Wes.  So as not to repeat myself, most of the vital detail and statistics of the town are to be found in the previous mail.

After our first visit, and just to check that we have not missed something, we went back for a short visit to Riebeek-Kasteel.

And promptly tried out one of their restaurants.  Kasteelberg Inn & Bistro.  It was a coldish morning, with two fires being stoked to keep the place warm.

Behind the Inn you can see the outline of Kasteelberg (Castle Mountain).  Of course it looks like a castle!

You could go next door for coffee.

Or we could also have eaten 20 meters away at De Jonges.

Or at Fat Cats Kitchen.

Or we might have been in a hurry.

Pizzas anyone?  Bread? Cookies?

Or maybe just water?

Of course, there are other important things in life too.

The Royal Hotel.

And of course, the other hallmark of the Afrikaans platteland, the church.

And just as we left, I even noticed a few houses.






Magic Klein Karoo

Sunday, 1 May, 2011

On a farm outside Montagu.

It is a mountainous area, with magnificent views.

Other things also amuses small minds.

Water is sourced from a natural spring.   Pretty remote, and it takes some planning to get to the spring.  So the farmer decided to make a road to get there.

Not quite your ordinary road.  And albeit a road, it would be life threatening traversing it with a vehicle without low range.

The road takes you down into a ravine. 

Here water comes from a rock.  Unlike Moses there is no need to hit the rock.  You just scrape away the moss, and out comes the water.

From there you walk a distance to get to the spring.  Well, not really to the spring, but to a pool into which the spring deposits its water.

On your way there you find some interesting rock formations.

And more.

Looking back.

And then you find this pool between the rocks.  At the far end where the water comes in, moss has made it a slippery slide.  Once you let go, you have no control.  Gravity takes over.

Careful, grandpa, let me hold your hand.

And then back up again.


Saturday, 19 February, 2011

By PG Jonker

[Published in Leisure Wheels, March 2011] 

It’s always nice going back on your old tracks.  One weekend we decide to follow my wife’s old tracks where they used to camp as kids at Tieties Bay.  When they were small, long before the world discovered Tieties Bay, they used to camp there every summer holiday.

It is nice drive with the dirt road from Stompneus Bay to Paternoster.  Paternoster used to be one of those secluded spots you would visit to get away from everyone.  These days when you get there everyone is there already. 

Downtown Paternoster is busy.  Before you get the Paternoster hotel you drive  past Oep vi Koep (Open for buy)


As expected, the local courtesy befalls us:  any vehicle with a non-local registration number invariably gets an invitation along the lines of “Die Larnie willie ‘n kriefie koepie?”   (Does the larnie want to buy a crayfish) Such a transactionwould, of course, be illegal.  The appearance of a law enforcer evokes a quick recovery:  “Nei, die Lanie niem net ‘n sneppie, nuh?” (No, the larnie is just taking a photo).

Downtown Paternoster is too busy for our liking.  It is outside holiday season, so Tieties Bay should be deserted, guaranteed to render the expected splendour and quietness that we seek today. 

Not so.  Today Tieties Bay is just as busy as Paternoster itself.  Some Inter Corporate Challenge sporting event is in full swing.  Colour coded teams participate against each other.  Rowing, cycling, that kind of stuff.  We drive past all the action to where it is indeed quiet.  We park the bakkie and walk off, away from the hustle and bustle.

My wife wants to go show me a cave where they used to play as kids.  She relives the memories of big crayfish, waves and rocky pools to play in.  She remembers this big pool where she used to swim as a four-year old.  We find the pool.  It is now 3 feet deep and 5 feet long.  Maybe things look a bit bigger when you’re only 4 years old.  My wife also shows me where the older girls would tan topless, and where the dudes would then peep over the rocks to watch the sun set.

Before we can reach the cave a guy with a huge camera comes running past us from behind.  Then a whole team of participants in the Corporate Challenge also comes running past. 

The next thing a chopper appears, with another camera man hanging out of the helicopter.  Suddenly we find ourselves in something that feels like a reality show. 

My cell pone rings.  I answer, but cannot hear a thing.  The rotor of the chopper makes one heck of a noise.  Dust and foam from the water twirl up in the air. 

Eventually things become quiet again.  We reach the cave.  The cave also turns out to be not as big as it used to be when my wife was 4 years old.  In fact, it’s not really a cave, but rather a rocky overhang.  Someone had a braai there recently.  They did not clean up when they were done. 

We can see that Jordan was there.  As were Del and Carien.  And Angel digs Reija, the grafitti on the rock confirms. 

We sit down on a rock and enjoy the quiet. 

Later we drive back.  As one drive away from the sea you see the hill with the rock in the middle form which Tieties Bay got his name.  It looks like a woman’s breast. 

However, someone was not quite satisfied with mother nature’s endeavours, and decided to spice it up with something that makes the ‘nipple’ stand out more prominently.

Maybe it’s a good thing that the koppie was there before they built the lighthouse.  The name might have been totally different then.

Paternoster’s beach remains a wonderful …

Beaverlac and Montagu

Monday, 14 February, 2011

By PG Jonker

We had one of those extremely long weekends in May 2008.  With a view on the upcoming tour to Vic Falls we were planning we decided it’s time for a trial run.

We were a party of three vehicles that hit the road to Beaverlac, just North East of Porterville.  We took the back roads.

Just past (North of) Porterville is a worldwide renowned hang-gliding spot. For the benefit of the hang-gliders they tarred the little mountain pass.  

It looks like nothing, but believe me it is nogal steep up there.

On top of the world.

In winter the land in the background become lush green wheat lands. Quite a sight then.

Some of the attractions at Beaverlac are the pools, and the foofy slide – hence the rope.

Of course we also did the camping thing, as was the purpose of the exercise.

At the fire:

We only stayed for one night, and thereafter left for Montagu. Due to a slight error in judgement we ventured into Montagu dorp on the Saturday morning.

Payday, Holiday, Easter, all compounded to make it a very busy morning. 

At the end of the weekend we headed back home, and waited longer than a hour just to get through the Huguenot tunnel!

Nice weekend, though.



Monday, 1 November, 2010

By PG Jonker

How it happened

Over a cup of coffee Pieter let it slip that he had a caravan site booked at the Calitzdorp Spa.  I did not know that Calitzdorp had a Spa.  Actually, I did not even know where Calitzdorp was.  Nevertheless, I then promptly booked a site for my family as well.  After all, we had a brand new second hand tent that had to be taken for a test drive.


Packing for a tour is not per definition ‘touring’.  However, in this case the packing requires some comments.  See, this new tent of ours was a rip stop dome with a “diner / extension”.   Apart from the day that I took delivery of it and pitched it just to check that everything was there, this tent had not been camping with us before. 

Given the size of the tent with extension, though, it was clear from the outset that there would not be space for our fold out mattresses.  In fact, there would not even be space for the “diner / extension” if we do not take a trailer along which we did not have.  Out of curiosity I weighed the equipment, only to find that the whole package weighed a cool 70kg’s!

Standing back to inspect after packing our stuff the Friday evening before our departure, it appeared that I might, with a bit of rescheduling, get that diner/extension in as well.  So the packing started all over again.  Everything had to come out of the double cab again.  Rather proud of myself I managed to get the complete tent with the extension in.  After all, the whole idea was to see if we could get this right before the upcoming tour to the Kgalagadi Park a few months later.  All that remained was that “last few things” that comes in the morning of our departure.  Experience have taught me, though, that this “last few things” often gets very near to breaking the camel’s back!

Calitzdorp spa

We departed early Saturday morning.  Twice.  At Kraaifontein, about 10km’s away from home, we had to turn around the switch off an electrical appliance.  The second attempt was more successful. 

Calitzdorp is far from Durbanville, especially if you later find that your eyes have become watery because of a need to visit the restroom.  To make matters worse, the road signs did not play along at all.  By the time we should have reached Calitzdorp, the road sign said it was still 10km’s away.  When we eventually reached Calitzdorp, we learnt that the Spa was still 20km’s off.  And when we eventually reached the turnoff to the Spa, there was yet another sign indicating the Spa to be still 7km’s away!  Paah!  Eventually, though, we got there.

Pitching tent

It took a while to pitch the tent.  Quite a while.  No. Let me rephrase.  It took a ^&*($@# long time!  By the time the last tent peg was in, it was 15h00 – just in time to go find a TV to watch the Tri-Nations rugby test between South Africa and Australia.  The test, I am happy to report, was won by South Africa, albeit with a small margin.

It was a wonderfully quiet full moon night.  However, by 21h00 one got the feeling that your denims are just too cold against your skin for comfort.  Pieter warned that it became rather chilly the previous night – they came a day earlier.  Now how cold exactly, we asked.  Quite cold, reckoned Pieter. 

It turned out to be -1 ° Celsius.  Cold, man.  Like in Kimberley-in-the-army-in-winter kind of cold.  Eish!  You can put more clothes on, but it only prolonged the process of the cold eventually getting into your bones – it cannot prevent it.  This is not, let me tell you, my idea of camping. 

During the course of the night my wife did her rendition …

West Coast Tour – Gallery [1]

Monday, 1 November, 2010

First Stop: Langebaan

Weskus toertjie

[Source: Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

At Mykonos yacht club.

Kite surfers on the beach


Just around the bay to Saldanha.  A panoramic view from the koppie overlooking the bay.  If you know what to look for you can see Mykonos in the middle in the background.

Jacobs Bay

Jacobsbaai hotel


Walking distance away from the Jacobs Bay hotel


Paternoster beach

Shopping at Paternoster


Where Tietiesbaai got its name from

Camping at Tieties Bay

Cape Columbine lighthouse

West Coast Tour – Gallery [2]

Monday, 1 November, 2010


Stompneusbaai / St Helenabaai


[Source: Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

Stompneus Bay

Shopping at Stompneus Bay

Mid-West, St Helena Bay

Sandy Point Harbour


The bridge over the Berg river

Port Owen in Laaiplek


Rocher pans


Elandsbaai hotel

Lambert’s Bay


Bird hide


Side walk cafe – Isabella’s