Caves, Waves and Forests
Traveling back to South Africa always fills me up with a sense of belonging and relief. Although my home country is riddled with political and social problems it is still one of the most beautiful places in the world for me because of the diversity of nature that you get to experience there. It is enriching and awe-inspiring and if you have ever experienced the beauty of traveling along one of the two coast lines for a bit you could almost say that it puts a spell on you that keeps drawing you back to it.
In the Western Cape region I have visited quite a few coastal towns in the past and have spent a fair amount of time near both Atlantic and Indian ocean but on this last trip I experienced a whole new wave (pun intended) of emotions which I have not felt in any other town before. This was the week that I visited a small town called Gansbaai.
Gansbaai is a small little fishing town a little bit further than the more popular town Hermanus, which is world famous for its whale watching spots that tourists visit during whale season every year.
It is most commonly known for 3 things: Shark cage diving, Whale Watching and the Caves in Walker Bay Nature Reserve.
Although it is fairly small in comparison, it has a couple of curious shops scattered along its main road with a small harbor that consists of a fish factory which drenches the whole town in oceanic fumes.
Being a hotspot for sharks and whales, Gansbaai visitors come mainly to swim next to the Great White Shark or go on a boat ride to see the giants up close. Gansbaai is also nested right next to Walker Bay Nature Reserve, a strip of land on the coast that has beautiful beaches and hosts a couple of archaeological sites like the Klipgat Caves which are massive caverns that have been discovered to house remains of middle/late stone age people.
The area in and around Gansbaai is very diverse in plant and animal life too which was interesting for me both from a visual as well as from a sound perspective. The sound of the ocean has always been one of my favourite natural soundscapes and I have used many opportunites to record the "ocean surf" before but this was the first trip to the coast with my Sony D-100 and I was excited to get some material while I was there.
Initially the trip was intended to be a self-discovery getaway, to break out of the beat of the city and escape the pressure of constantly having something on. I admit that I often get the feeling of FOMO and I really just wanted to test myself and be in a place where I do not have the need to be doing things.
My expectations were very low but my curiosity peaked because I haven't done a lot of trips on my own in the past. What ended up happening was a little bit unexpected: I arrived in Gansbaai and felt a sense of exploration and excitement. I wanted to find out what this little town was all about and get to know the area a little better. I didn't feel the desire to sit down and read a book all day long, it dawned on me that I can do all the things that I want in my own time.
Being in such a diverse part of the world with no strings attached felt really liberating.
I enjoyed walks along the coast, hopping from rock to rock next to the crashing waves, recording sounds when I felt like recording and just soaking in the rawness of the elements.
I made an excursion to the Klipgat caves and crawled into one of the narrow inlays until Clostrophobia kicked in. I climbed up a cliff hang without any safety precautions with the sun over my head and the sea in my back.
The experience of nature giving me thrills and calming me afterwards was a seasaw of emotions but it felt real and in the moment.
On one of the days I drove along a dirt road to get to a small sheltered nature reserve called Platbos Forest. This small enclave of beauty is known to be the southern most indigenous forest in Africa and it was fascinating to experience the purity of nature there. The trails I walked along felt untouched and it was another opportunity to experience serenity.
I got some beautiful recordings of wind, leaves and birds while being there. On the way back from Platbos I passed a heard of curious cows which looked promising to record as they were very close to the fence but when I took out my recorder they became silent as church mice!
Some other sound related highlights include collecting and recording the foley of sea shells, the breaking and destroying branches of a dead fallen tree, the grinding and throwing around huge rocks next to the sea and knocking on dried pieces of kelp and finding their resonance/musical characters.
This trip was a short but very rewarding journey and it has triggered ripples of Wanderlust inside of me. I am looking forward to the next adventure and I am excited to see more of what nature has in store!