De Kelders is a nearby fishing village in Walker Bay Nature Reserve. It’s a choice location for whale watching and too gorgeous for words! I visited De Kelders in the past but returned to spend more time exploring. The seaside village escaped the chaos of tourism and remains a quiet, peaceful place known for its whales and delicious, fresh seafood.
“Whales come within metres of De Kelders shoreline, never ceasing to elicit delight.”
Caves and Beaches
De Kelders (Dutch for The Cellars) coast is known for its “distinctive geological features in the form of underground caves hidden beneath limestone cliffs”. The caves contain stalactites, stalagmites, and “crystal-clear swimming pools”. De Kelders Drip Cave is the “lowest lying freshwater cave on the African coast, and it’s steeped in history and folklore”.
Further up the coast closer to Cape Agulhas – Africa’s southernmost tip – ancient remains of modern man were discovered in Klipgat Cave. Long ago this area was home to Middle Stone Age People and Khoikhoi. The extraordinarily beautiful coast stretches for over ten miles between Hermanus and Stanford. Lowland fynbos (strandveld) and sand dunes surround Stanfords Bay, Die Platt, and Franskraal – a few of many exceptional beaches.
Danger Point Lighthouse “serves as a powerful warning and commemoration to the thousands of lives claimed by this stretch of sea over the centuries”.
Danger Point is a small peninsula near the southern point of Walker Bay made dangerous by the “reefs and rocks under its surface”. The point is embellished by an octagonal lighthouse with “revolving electrical light emitting 3 flashes every 40 seconds”. The powerful light is visible for 25 sea miles.
“Few other coasts boast the dubious reputation of being the final resting place for many ships, and the place where the ghost ship Flying Dutchman – doomed to sail the oceans forever – was first spotted.”
The Flying Dutchman is said to “appear suddenly as a ghostly, glowing ship and then vanish mysteriously”. Whether this is true or superstition, “stories of the Dutchman haunt the Cape”. While standing on a beach along South Africa’s southern coast, “looking into the swirling clouds and crashing waves, you may see a strange-looking ship desperate to get home“.
Danger Point Lighthouse was built in 1894, “years after the legendary British ship HMS Birkenhead met her doom in 1852 on a rock just off Danger Point”. The “women and children first protocol” was applied during the dramatic wreck of the Birkenhead. An estimated 193 of 643 passengers survived the shipwreck, including 7 women and 13 children.
Birds and Fauna
Overberg mammals include Bontebok, leopard, clawless otter, fox, bushbuck, duiker, grysbok, steenbok, and African wildcat. Buffalo and hippo became extinct in the area long ago but are returning slowly – I’ve never seen them. Amphibians and reptiles living in caves and coastal fynbos include the ghost frog, Cape Cobra, and Spotted Skaapsteker.
Activities include spelunking, rock climbing, exploring sea life in tide pools, and beach and trail jogging. Sheltered Stanfords Bay has Milkwood thickets and cliffs that make it a popular, safe place for swimming, picnicking, fishing, and snorkeling. There are day or multi-day hiking paths, including a beautiful coastal trail from Gansbaai Harbour passing limestone fynbos, caves, rock pools, and unique threatened plant and wildlife. As spring weather gets warmer and the days become longer, it’s on my list for a hike and maybe a swim!
There are many things to experience in the Overberg – a place of incredible beauty! One fun activity I hope to experience is viewing everything from a bird’s eye perspective tandem paragliding. Paragliding is popular in South Africa, and with its spectacular coastline and mountain vistas, the Overberg is exceptional for it!