17 September 2012 by Chris Marais

Crossing the Agulhas Plain

A day trip spent crossing the Agulhas Plain, from Gansbaai to Arniston, means historic encounters and experiences that leave you wishing you could stay a week.

Fishing fleet at Gansbaai

I cross the Agulhas Plain, in the Western Cape's Overberg region, once a year, and every time it throws up a surprise or 2.

The modest little road trip begins at Gansbaai and ends somewhere in Arniston, often in the company of a fisherman.

Southern right whale off Gansbaai Southern right whale off Gansbaai

I catch the earliest boat out with Dyer Island Cruises, and we are normally on the lookout for great white sharks, southern right whales and seals. The seals are always posing on the rocks and the sharks are majestic with their toothy displays, but I really dig the whales, because they’re busy flirting with one another or showing off their calves early in the spring months.

The main street of Elim village is one of the most photographed in the Western Cape, with its candy-coloured cottages and its friendly locals.

Then I head off to Franskraal, just near Gansbaai, for a drink of moonshine with the curator of the local museum. If you're driving yourself, then avoid any member of the local Baardskeerders Bos Orchestra. They’re all loveable rogues, and very keen to show off their home-brewed, head-splitting liquor called witblitz. When you encounter them, just buy 1 of their outrageously wonderful CDs and walk away – no tasting sessions if you really value your sobriety.

The cottages of Elim The cottages of Elim

Next stop is the Moravian Mission village of Elim, and if you’ve got the time you should stay over in its guest house. The main street is one of the most photographed in the Western Cape, with its candy-coloured cottages and its friendly locals.

After a brief visit to the Bredasdorp Shipwreck Museum, I head down to Arniston. This is where the ship of the same name went down, but the real magic lies in the little fishermen’s village up on the hill. It’s called Kassiesbaai, and the people who live there love it when you wander through and pass the time of day.

It’s getting late. Time for a sundowner within sight of the sea. And the catch of the day on your dinner plate...

Fishing boats, Kassiesbaai, Arniston Fishing boats, Kassiesbaai, Arniston

Category: Culture & History

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