Western Cape DestinationsGansbaai, Cape Overberg
The unpretentious village of Gansbaai - named after a flock of wild Egyptian geese that are alleged to have congregated at the freshwater fountain next to the harbour - has a large reputation.
Both Southern Right Whales and Great White Sharks frequent the Atlantic waters of the Danger Point Peninsula and are a major draw card for the town. Situated between the towns of Hermanus and Pearly Beach, Gansbaai lies in Walker Bay at the foot of the Dynefontein Mountains with a magnificent coastline rich in fynbos vegetation.
Dyer Island, just off Gansbaai, is the breeding ground of the african penguin, cormorants and other sea birds and a second island in the vicinity of the village is Geyser Island, home to some 60 000 Cape fur seals. It is the passage between these islands that, for obvious reasons, attracts the Great White and has become known as ‘shark alley’.
The entire Walker Bay area, between Gansbaai and Hermanus, is a whale sanctuary and the gentle giants of the southern ocean, the Southern Right Whale, can be sighted within metres of the shoreline where they come annually to mate and calve. These remarkable beasts spend summer feeding around Antarctica and then migrate thousands of miles to our waters, where sheltered bays, such as Gansbaai and nearby De Kelders, offer perfect refuge.
There are footpaths along the coastline that provide ample opportunity to view these intelligent mammals and a number of licensed whale watching boats get ‘up close and personal’ with the annual visitors to our waters. Whale watching by boat viewing is monitored; stipulated approach distances are maintained and there are limited permit holders, which all goes towards protecting the whales whilst in our safekeeping.
Gansbaai lies in the heart of the fynbos biome, which is home to thousands of plant species, a number of which are some of the rarest on earth. There are a number of conservancies and reserves in the area that protect these species and organised hikes in the region allow one easy access to this kingdom of plants.
Gansbaai remains a fishing village at heart, despite its growing reputation and rising popularity. Every local in the town, no matter what his profession, is also a fisherman and it is this tradition, and the fact that the town revolves around the harbour and the catch of the day, that makes it so unique and such a wonderful place to visit.