Focus on, Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa
Gansbaai nestles at the foot of Duyenefontein Mountains, and boasts a beautiful coastline with magnificent "Fynbos" vegetation. It is the World Capital of the Great White Shark, with Dyer Island presenting the best place in the World to discover, observe and dive with these elusive and wonderful animals.
From June through December, Gansbaai becomes home to the Southern Right Whale. This coastline and the many bays then become the breeding area for these giants of the Oceans.
Gansbaai is also located at the Heart of the Fynbos Biome, the smallest Floral Kingdom in the world but also the richest. The rich and scenic region includes the small towns of De Kelders, Perlemoenbaai, Kleinbaai, Franskraal, Pearly Beach and Dyer Island and Geyser Rock.
Along with the fishing industry, Gansbaai has grown into a charming village and holiday resort. It has a primary school, churches of various denominations and shops to provide for every need. Fishmongers are stocked with fresh catches daily. Gansbaai is a popular holiday resort for boating and fishing enthusiasts and whale watchers.
There is a narrow channel in the sea between Geyser Rock and Dyer Island which is home to up to 60 000 Cape Fur Seals. The sea around these islands has become the feeding ground of the endangered great white shark and regular shark safaris are undertaken from Gansbaai.
Since the area around Dyer Island has been declared a nature reserve, boats may only enter this area with a permit given by the Department of Nature Conservation
The center point was the freshwater fountain next to the present harbor which provided the small but successful community with drinking water. This fountain was home to wild geese and soon the place was known as "Gansgat" (goose-hole), later changed into the more respectable Gansbaai (Goose bay). The name Wessels and those of other early settlers are still the common names in Gansbaai. The fountain has recently been restored into its former glory.
The "gansgat-community" was not the first of its kind in the immediate area. Already in the early 1800's the first permanent fishing cottages had been built by Khoi-descendants under ancient Milkwoods in Stanfordsbaai, a secluded cove in De Kelders. Archeological excavations have shown that Klipgat Cave was inhabited by early modern man 80'000 years ago at a time when Neanderthal man was still the only representative of the genus "homo" in Europe.
Today, the hike from Gansbaai harbour to Klipgat Cave, the "Klipgat Trail", is not only a stunning nature walk along small and larger caves, but also a walk in time. Maps and information on the Klipgat trail can be obtained from the Tourism Bureau.
The Fynbos-Road crosses one of the richest parts of the Cape Floral Kingdom, itself the richest (though the smallest) Floral Kingdom on earth. Of the thousands of plant-species along this road, many are strictly confined to this area and some of them are amongst the rarest plants on earth. Thousands and thousands of hectares of plains and mountains in this area are protected in private-and public- conservancies and reserves.
Closer to Gansbaai proper, experienced guides will take you on a tour through Masakhane, the rural and peaceful township of Gansbaai, which you can conclude with a traditional Xhosa culinary experience under the ancient milkwood trees at the local restaurant.
From there it is only a short drive to Franskraal where you will find the local museum on the shore. The Strandveld Museum is a little gem in an original fishing cottage with a treasure of stories and relics of the local history.
A visit to the lighthouse at the tip of Danger Point Peninsula is also a historical trip; a short distance out to sea is where the famous HMT Birkenhead was wrecked. The Lighthouse is open to the public and one can climb the many steps to the top for a fantastic view.
The Gansbaai Festival takes place annually in July in the Gansbaai harbour and the Winter Fynbos show is a great attraction not to be missed.
The Abalone farm, just outside Gansbaai, immediately on the shores of Danger Point Peninsula, produces this traditional local culinary delight in large quantities for the Asian market.
Article from: www.encounter.co.za