WIN. A weekend escape of Overberg Magic

GANSBAAI  is the home of responsible tourism and one of my favourite South African towns . I am thrilled to offer you an opportunity to win a weekend to this fabulous Overberg village as well as tickets to a fun filled weekend camping in a mystical forest .

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Sunset in the ancient Klipgat Cave

The Greenpop Reforest Fest will be held in the Platbos Forest from 10th – 12th March and is suitable for the whole family.

You will spend one day working hard planting trees and the next day enjoying a variety of activities before heading home, restored by nature.

 The festival is the brainchild of Greenpop , a lively bunch who started a Treevolution.

 

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Surrounded by nature. Photo credit @Greenpop

The Gansbaai Weekend Away prize inludes:

A two-night stay for two at the easy-going and friendly Saxon Lodge Gansbaai.
A meal for two at five star Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.
A stunning ride from the mountains to the beach with Fatbike Tours South Africa.

The competition runs from the 18-25 January, so be sure to get your entries in today!

Enter now: http://bit.ly/GPGansbaai

 

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Views from the deck at Saxon Lodge

Keen to know more?

 Below are all the detail about the festival. Get a group of family , friends and kids together and enjoy a weekend break in the ancient, indigenous  Platbos Forest, it really is a magical place.

 

A CELEBRATION OF PLANTING AND PLAY!

A weekend away for the whole family  where you help re-plant the ancient, indigenous Platbos Forest, learn all about holistic green living, and have a TREE-mendously fun time with the kids.

We’ll plant thousands of trees, camp under the stars and ancient Milkwood trees, play and learn at a variety of fun workshops, and enjoy  family entertainment in nature.

Ready to get your hands dirty for a good cause?

9 REASONS  TO BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW:

1. You’ll help to plant 1000s of trees – what a great reason to dig in and get dirty!
2. Make new friends and reconnect with old ones.
3. Relax and join in the great line-up of family activities, you don’t need to plan a thing!
4. Sleep under the stars: pitch your tent ,or rent one from us.
5. Take a break from cooking and opt for the weekend meal-plan.
6. Experience the beautiful eco-ablution facilities provided.
7. Find the one thousand year old Milkwood tree.
8. Enjoy a talent show under a star-lit sky.
9. Unplug for some quality family time.

Ticket details.
We value inclusivity and want our festival to be available to as many different people as possible. If you can afford it, please consider purchasing a Generosity ticket. For every Generosity ticket purchased, we will be able to offer a Subsidised ticket to someone who cannot afford the Regular ticket price.

Ticket Prices:
Adult Generosity ticket: R500
Adult Regular price ticket: R390
Adult Subsidised ticket: R280
Children ticket (4 to 12): R220
Children below 4: free

PROGRAMME:

Friday:
Arrive Friday evening and relax into a chilled night of gentle tunes under the canopy of the ancient indigenous forest. Enjoy delicious food and start bonding with new friends around the campfire.

Saturday:
Saturday is an action-packed day of tree-planting and getting your hands dirty, helping to restore an ecosystem that is one of the most rare and endangered in the Western Cape. After planting thousands of trees in your teams, return to camp for a good shower and a forest party to celebrate the achievement. Greenpop provides an awesome musical line-up at the intimate main stage, with some of South Africa’s coolest emerging bands as well as a talent show and entertainment for the whole family. Line up to be announced soon!

Sunday:
Sunday is a day to relax your body and stimulate your mind. It’s filled with fun, educational activities and workshops including:
Forest walks  |  Yoga  |  Hula Hooping   |

Performances      |    Treasure hunts     |    And some surprises   |

Talks by various personalities in conservation and sustainable living   |

Interactive music sessions and instrument making  |   Arts and crafts   |  Talent shows   |

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Happy workers from the 2016 festival. Photo credit @Greenpop

HOW TO GET THERE:

Platbos forest is an easy 2.5 hour drive from Cape Town. If you are travelling in a car, please try to carpool if you can. Our partners Find a Lift (http://findalift.co.za/) have a great carpooling site where you can find travel buddies and rides if you need.

Directions:
Remember you might be arriving in the dark on Friday evening, so be sure to read these directions carefully and have them on hand.

From Cape Town, take the N2 highway towards Hermanus.
Take the Hermanus turn off and go directly into Hermanus town.

Drive through Hermanus town towards Stanford on the R43.

On the R43 road from Stanford to Gansbaai, look out for the Grootbos turnoff on your left hand side, approximately 12km after passing Stanford town. (If you get to Gansbaai you have gone too far)

Turn left at the Grootbos turn off and travel for just over 6km along this tar, and then gravel, road (do not turn into the actual Grootbos Estate).

Just before the 6km mark, you will see a turnoff over a cattle grid on your right hand side, and a wooden sign, ‘Platbos Forest’. This entrance to the forest is CLOSED for Festival goers. Please do not turn up this road as you cannot gain access to the Fest from here.

Continue along the road you are on, following the Greenpop signboards and flags. Turn right onto the entrance road (marked with Greenpop signboards) immediately after you have passed the Platbos entrance.

Follow the signboards until you come to the Festival Entrance.

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ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS:
Camping

Bring your own tent and camp in our general campsite. Please follow instructions of the welcoming team and parking guards. No dogs are allowed in the forest 😦

Camper van area
Allowed in this area: camper vans, caravans (including tow vehicle), motor homes, trailer tents (including tow vehicle), roof top tents (including vehicle – must be permanent or semi permanent fixtures to the vehicle).
NOTE:The above MUST be able to comfortably fit into the 7 x 5m area allocated. Greenpop reserves the right to exclude any of the above if it does not meet the required and generally accepted standards of what defines each of the above mentioned.
NOT ALLOWED IN THE CAMPERVAN AREA:
Cars (including with mattresses)
Bakkies (including with mattresses)
Combis (including with mattresses and/or tents placed on the roof)
Trucks (including with mattresses and/or tents placed on the roof of flatbed.)

PS If you are up for a bit more of a party, maybe you’d like to join for the FRIENDS weekend (it’s still family friendly but we’ll stay up a bit later ;)) on 17-19 March 2017. Check out the event page Greenpop Reforest Fest: Friends Weekend 2017!

Watch this vid from last year’s Fest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNxOW6yiu84

Follow and support Greenpop    FaceBook     Twitter      Instagram

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Gansbaai Harbour

 

The Funky Fynbos Festival. Celebrating the outdoors like a boss.

It is just after 7 am on a Saturday morning.

I am sitting eating freshly flipped pancakes dripping with cinnamon and lemon juice, sipping the best coffee I have ever tasted. The sun is just starting to warm my bones and I feel my body relaxing after the 3 hour drive from Cape Town.

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Brightly coloured tents displaying artworks, colourful clothes and crafts draw my eyes, and then the sound system comes alive and my feet start tapping to Golden Earrings “Radar Love”

I’m feeling it. It’s the weekend; it’s festival time in Gansbaai.

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Gansbaai is a small coastal town in the Overberg, 163km from Cape Town. It is a good community with a strong emphasis on creativity, earth friendly living and a healthy paced rural lifestyle. Gansbaai and a few of the businesses recently won the top awards for sustainable and responsible tourism. Read more about Gansbaai, its delights, attractions and awards here

I am on a farm called De Uijlenes  . Continue just past Gansbaai and take the left turn onto the Baardscheerdersbos / Elim road and 15km after Gansbaai you will find yourself on this pretty farm in the flower valley.

The event is the 2nd Funky Fynbos Festival and it’s a celebration of the wild flowers, farm life, the wine, food and activities of this very pretty area.

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This year the 3 venues for the festival are the farm and wedding function venue De Uijlenes, the wine estate down the road called Lomond, Strandfontein Caravan Park and the farm and nursery Groeneweide.

The festival is also host to great outdoor competitions. A challenging MTB race on Saturday morning and a tough Trail Run on Sunday morning saw individuals and families pushing themselves to the limits through farm tracks, over rivers, up hills and down into the valleys.

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A new 4 x 4 trail was put to the test by enthusiasts at Strandfontein, and keen fishermen tested their skills and luck on Lake Lomond at the wine estate of the same name.

For the kids Fun Go Karts were a big hit, especially after they found a short downhill path and then the races were on. Face painting, Milo the clown come fire eater and the jumping castle donated by Grootbos kept the kids busy and happy all day.

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The refreshing ice cream from Moo’s Frozen Treats  was irresistible. I had at least one of each flavour and happily slurped and messed all over my hands, face and clothes, and then went back for more. At R5 a sachet, it was not my fault that I totally pigged out.

I spent two very happy days in the fresh air, walking around farms and forests, listening to great music and eating way too much.  The reggae sounds of the Rivertones blew me away, going to find them again and drag all my friends along.

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Of course we all adjourned to the pub on Saturday evening to watch South Africa take on Japan in their first Rugby World Cup game During half time we were entertained by the fire eating Milo, and after the game, magic happened.

As the devastated fans walked out of the pub, 2 of the musicians who had finished their paid stint got together and started jamming. The fire pit was soon sporting a blazing bonfire and we sang along, danced or chilled around the fire as Chris Else and Guy Feldman belted out tunes like they had been playing together for years.

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The highlight of the festival for me was the people I met.  Let me introduce you to some of them.

Kloeks and Henk. This multi-talented husband and wife team have invited me back and I will be going as soon as possible. Kloeks is apparently the best cook in the world and has a restaurant in her home. Henk grew up with a dad who roasted his own coffee beans way before coffee was an urban hipster thing. Henk is now the owner of the Naked Coffee works and says the secret to his coffee is the passion and unhurried pace of the process. I believe him. When not lovingly roasting beans, Henk can be found guiding tours of the ancient caves and shipwrecks in the area.  A local history buff, Henk can tell you stories for as many hours as you have to listen to his tales.

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Wayne Gabb, owner of the fantastic Lomond wine estate. Wayne certainly knows how to add fun into the serious business of wine making and life in general.

The Lomond wines are all named after different fynbos species found in the area. This wine producer works with nature rather than trying to dominate it. For wine that is very different but delectable, get yourself a bottle. I am not even I wine drinker but I enjoyed the Cat’s Tail Syrah immensely.

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There is something special going on in the grapes down there. Perhaps it’s a combination of the salty air, the scent of the fynbos and the imagination of the wine makers?

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At Lomond I met up with pop up chef, Craig Cormack from Roasters. He was preparing a sushi feast using trout caught in the Lomond Lake. We had a great chat about the importance of using fresh seasonal ingredients and how time taken to prepare and cook slowly is the secret to healthy, tasty food. Craig loves what he does and should be checked out by all foodies.

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Henk van der Walt from Overberg Aviation made me brave enough to have my first ever helicopter flip, in the smallest helicopter I have ever seen. It was incredible and I want more. We flew from De Uijlenes to Pearly Beach in the Robinson 44 helicopter and the ocean and mountain views were amazing. I was not brave enough to fly with the door off, but even so, seeing the mother and baby whales and a few sharks through the window was a memorable experience.

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I finally got to meet Cat Nyquist from Panthera Africa, a sanctuary for big cats that are unable to live in the wild.DSC_0528-01

Her enthusiasm for the animals and her determination to educate the whole world on why we must not interact with wild animals is inspiring. More about this sanctuary after I have visited and had the full educational experience. Prosperity for Predators, the Panthera motto gives me hope for the future of our wild life

Sean Privett, from Fynbos Trails and Witkrans cottages.  Sean is a botanist of note and a very innovative, nature loving person. He is also extremely active and has recently opened new MTB routes on his farm, and broke his leg while riding the ultimate South African MTB race, The Freedom Challenge. In between all these outdoor activities Sean does incredible work with fynbos, a nursery, finding new fynbos species and writing a book about them.

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Thanks go to Dave and Caron from Saxon Lodge in Gansbaai, and Michelle Williams from Sorted Solutions who made me so welcome.

I believe this festival is going to grow slowly into something huge and not to be missed. I will be back next year.

Funky Fynbos Festival 18th – 20th September. 10 good reasons why you should go.

Spring has arrived and the Overberg is exploding with the colours, smells and tastes of nature.

This is the time to discover and fall in love with Gansbaai, a fabulous coastal town just 40km past Hermanus.

Read all about Gansbaai here.

Gansbaai is celebrating spring in style, and everyone is invited to the Funky Fynbos Festival.

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Please note the new times for the MTB and Trail Run Events.

19th September 2015 MTB RACE.  45km at 08:30 |  30km at 08:45  | 10km at 09:00

20th September 2015 TRAIL RUN. 30km at 07:30  |  12km at 08:45  | 6km at 09:00

Here are ten good reasons why you should be there.

  • If like me you have been hibernating all through winter, this festival is just the thing to get you  off the couch, away from the screens, and energised by nature.
  • 20150207_121617 You can go to relax and take slow walks on the beach or gentle strolls through forests or fynbos
  •  You can man up and compete in MTB races, trail runs, or 4x 4 adventures. To enter just click on the links below.

          Rockets Funky Fynbos Mountain Bike races.  10km, 30km or 45km.

          Cape Mohair Trail Runs.  6km, 12km or 30km

          Flower Power 4X4 events  Various degrees of difficulty

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  •  Win big time. All entrants to the trail run or MTB races automatically qualify for the lucky draw to win 1 adult Momsen Big Gun Fat Bike valued at R 12000, or  1 Junior Rapid Fat bike valued at R3750.
  • 20150822_123937Win some more. Up for grabs are cash or vouchers for shark cage diving, whale watching and accommodation. It could be your lucky day.
  • Test your golfing skills on the southernmost golf course in Africa. The locals say you can land of Boeing on this course, but not a golf ball. To enter the golf competition please contact the golf course directly on +27 (0) 28 384-1441 or  E-mail: gbgholf@gmail.com
  • Take the kids and keep them entertained all day, outdoors. Let them tackle the short MTB routes and trail runs, ride a horse or a pedal go kart, see a magician, have their face painted or take them to walk in the forest or to the caves on the beach. This town is big on family and there is loads to keep the little people active and happy
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  • Enjoy the flowers, the market stalls filled with crafts, food and smiles, and the slow country life.
  • Come for the day or better still, stay overnight. Click here for accommodation.

See you there.

Bring your walking shoes, a swimming costume, and an appetite for food and fun.

For more information go to www.funkyfynbos.co.za

 

 

Great White Sharks. Discover, protect and fall in love.

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Announce “I am going shark cage diving” and I guarantee you will get one of these three reactions.

  1. You are so brave, I am way too scared to try that
  2. It is so wrong, I am a conservationist
  3. Can I join you? A selfie with a Great White would be awesome

 

I won a Shark Cage Dive with Marine Dynamics and my first reaction was all 3 points above, coupled with a large dose of sheer terror.

So great was my fear that it took me 4 months to claim my prize.

Fortunately, all three initial reactions and my abject terror were way off base and totally unfounded.

As a self- professed coward who likes to pretend to be a ninja, and has bragged about going shark cage diving, it is true confession time.

Shark Cage Diving really is not scary. Not even a little bit.

As someone with an overactive imagination and a dominant drama queen gene, my fears were plentiful, and not confined to being eaten to death, or slightly maimed by a Great White.

I was very concerned about the cage.

Was it strong enough, would I be claustrophobic, what if I hated it and wanted to get out.

What if it came loose from the boat and I was trapped inside it?

 

 IMG_3293 IMG_3285 IMG_3283Reassuring cage facts.

Although the sharks are not known for attempting to bite the cage, if it came to that the cage would win every time.

Professionally engineered from 25mm stainless steel squared tubing covered with 6mm security mesh, the cage will not rust or break, and as an extra precaution it is checked thoroughly after every dive.

My claustrophobic  fears were stilled when I saw that there is a lid on the top of the cage, but it was not locked down, so a push from inside, or a call to the crew who are always right there and it is lifted up in seconds, allowing you to get out. At all times there is a meter of space between the sea water and the top of the cage, so even the biggest heads will fit comfortably, and drowning is not a concern.

The boat “Slashfin” is the only boat in the industry that was designed to accommodate the shark cage, as well as the sea conditions specific to the area. It is also the only boat made entirely from aluminium, so rusting and sinking is not going to happen. Ever.

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The cage is winched into the water and firmly secured on both ends to the side of the boat using multiple safety ropes.

The cage sits snugly up against the boat and moves as one with it in the swell as the sharks drift by.

Numerous floats are placed between the boat and the cage to prevent bumping, and in the unlikely event of the cage becoming detached from the boat, it would float. This means that sinking to the bottom of Shark Alley while trapped in a cage is not a valid concern. Good to know.

Renting a wetsuit might not bother some, but I had a bit of an “eeeeuw” reaction to the thought of that. Wetsuits are quite personal, I think. Not quite in the category of underwear, but close.

The first time I rented a wetsuit I was so excited about having a surfing lesson that I never gave it a second thought. The wetsuit was dry, and I was totally focussed on contorting my lumpy body into it, so no further thought process could occur.

The next time I needed to don one of these rubber onesies I was preparing for a shark cage dive.

Probably as a diversionary tactic, my mind started wandering into the territory of the potential “yuk factor” of sharing a wetsuit.

I am sure some people wee in a wetsuit. From fright, physical need or don’t care less attitudes, whatever the reason, someone else’s smelly urine has been in that wetsuit.  Other nasty facts popped into my head like Stratum Corneum or skin cells from someone else’s body. Most people shed about 30 – 40 000 of these every hour, and you are in your wetsuit for 2-3 hours. That is a lot of skin cells!

Then there is Micrococcus Sedentarius, a horrid little bacteria that produces volatile sulphur compounds and is the reason for yukky, smelly feet.

The wetsuits include hoods, and that tapped in to my personal number one on the yuk factor scale, Sebum from dirty, oily hair. You know that awful hair smell I am talking about? Aargh, it is just too gross to contemplate.

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Fortunately, Marine Dynamics know all about these nasties and have a rigorous wetsuit cleaning process, with a huge dedicated washing and air drying area. They use a specialised wetsuit washing product, and add an extra rinse in the cleaning process. I saw it with my own eyes, and chatted to Bruce Bulelani who manages it and checks each  Reef wetsuit after it has been washed. There are over 100 wetsuits in circulation and an extra 25 brand new ones on standby.  Every 6 months the wetsuits are replaced. This means you will never have to put on a wetsuit that is not pristinely clean, sweet smelling in a rubbery way, and bone dry.

The actual dive.

Looking like a stunted penguin, but happy in my nice clean wetsuit, booties, gloves, weight belt and mask, I climbed into the cage. My emotions were all over the place, ranging from apprehension to excitement, and everything else in between. My first thought was registering the coldness of the water, but that was rectified in under a minute as the wetsuit did its job. The next task was finding the foot bar and grab rail for when we got the shout to “go down, look left” from the spotting crew above us. Being a shorty, this involved a bit of a stretch, but worked just fine.

This done I settled down, enjoying the absence of sea sickness in the cage, and did a few practice runs submerging and looking around.

It struck me for the first time that I was out in the open sea, a visitor in the territory of a might predator. Strangely this did not make me fearful. The first shark that came along was about 2 meters away, she swam past us twice, looking slightly bored. Then another one came by, and another, it was like watching a graceful dance. One shark did come face first towards the cage, but it was not with any jaw snapping sense of menace, but more an inquisitiveness to see what this was. Somehow, this was so different to seeing these ocean kings in an aquarium. You realise how large and powerful they are and how much space they need to in order to move uninhibited.

I had expected sharks being lured towards the cage, teeth flashing, bumping the cage while we screamed in delight and terror. What I experienced was so much better than that.  There is a collective gasp when a shark swims close to the cage, but for the rest of the time you are silent, lost in awe of these beauties. They are graceful, they appear intelligent, they are so much bigger than you imagine. Some seem to be more playful and breach out of the water, others drift lazily past and a few swim fast, darting about as though in a hurry.

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I expected a cheap thrill but instead I fell in love.

Getting out of the cage the reaction was unanimous.

Bright eyed, grinning, shivering saying

“That was awesome, but nothing like what I expected.”

If you do a shark dive and still want a selfie with a menacing looking shark, you have missed the point somewhere.

Seeing the Great White Shark where it is supposed to be is a privilege, and a very humbling experience. I made me rethink every thought I have ever had about sharks, recognise their vulnerability and respect them for their instinct to survive.

The ethical issue. I am no expert, but I do have a brain and I have done some homework.

There are many companies offering close encounters with wild animals and claim to do it in the name of rehabilitation or research, when in fact it is primarily a profit making enterprise that pays lip service to conservation. I believe companies like this should not exist as they promote misconceptions.

Wildlife is wild and should never be viewed as a plaything for humans.

That said, I do not believe Marine Dynamics is one of these companies. If your concern is that Shark Cage Diving taps into this, do some homework and then make an educated decision.

The motto of Marine Dynamics is Discover and Protect. These are not just words. Speak to any of the staff and they positively glow with pride when they tell you about the sharks and the latest developments in the research being conducted by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

The Trust was started by Wilfred Chivell who is the owner of Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises. These 2 companies fund the trust, which contributes in a meaningful way to global research on Great White Sharks. The trust publishes scientific papers and Partners of the trust include  Department of Environmental Affairs;CapeNatureSANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Care of Coastal Birds); Animal Demography Unit – University of Cape TownMammal Research Institute – University of PretoriaWWF (World Wildlife Fund); Overstrand Municipality; Birdlife OverbergWESSA (Wildlife Environment of South Africa); the Two Oceans Aquarium Cape Town.

Marine Dynamics welcomes all shark lover, especially green and responsible travellers, with an educational tour that will knock your socks off and leave you as a true Great White Shark ambassador

TIPS

  • Seasickness is the only downside to the dive. Take tablets for motion sickness and listen to the advice from the crew. If you do throw up,don’t be embarrassed, the crew are used to it and will sort you out. I believe that a certain effort is required for the luxury of viewing any wild creature in its natural environment. Being sea sick is worth it for the joy of being so close to the sharks.
  • Wear a swimming costume underneath your clothes. Getting into a wetsuit and maintaining your modesty do not go well together.
  • Take a few photos if you must, then spend time just watching. The memories will always be greater than any picture.
  • Do a little research as the Marine Biologists on board are happy to talk Great Whites and answer any and all questions.
  • Keep an eye out for the guy at the back of the boat making the chum mix. The birds love it and hundreds of them fly in for a feast
  • Spend some time on the top deck for great views of the sharks.
  • Make a weekend of the adventure, explore the caves, have dinner at  the Great White House, take a walk along the cliffs and visit the nearby village of Stanford.

The surrounding area is beautiful as you will see from the pictures below.

The beach at Klipgat Cave

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 The view from Klipgat Cave20150207_120646

 One of the cottages at The Great White House

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Stanford. The repeat #shotleft destination.

L o c a t i o n.           Lo  c  a  t  i  o  n          L   o   c   a   t   i   o   n.  

143 km from Cape Town

Mountains & rivers  |    Birds & bush   |     Food & wine   |   Beer & cheese

 Adventure   |    Pamper  |   Relax

  Explore 

via

Horse   |  kayak  |  quad-bike   |  bicycle  |  car  | boat  | small plane

Walk or hike the

heritage  |  history   |  fynbos & flowers  |  markets & crafts  |  birds  |  antiques  routes

STANFORD-VILLAGE-INFOGRAPHIC
This infographic was created by
Xplorio for the Stanford community.