The Kouga Region is not only home to the surfing capital of South Africa – Jeffrey’s Bay, it is also home to the spirit of the Khoisan people, the world’s oldest cultural group. Visitors can experience a unique fusion of ancient and modern cultures, pristine coastline and a vibrant, fertile river valley nestled between three mountain ranges. Walk along kilometres of unspoilt coastal dune fields, or share in the exhilaration of hundreds of dolphins at play as they patrol this stretch of the Indian Ocean, joined by giant Southern Right whales during the winter months. Activities like hiking, birding and a range of water sports cater for a wide variety of interests and families alike.
Adventure activities on offer range from birding, to forest walks or fynbos trails, quad biking, 4×4 trails, abseiling, sandboarding, hiking, tennis, cycling, archery, horse riding, volleyball and touch rugby. Water-based activities are not restricted to surfing and the range of activities include canoeing, jet skiing, boat cruises, scuba diving, game fishing, kayaking, kite surfing, spear-fishing and swimming.
Reasons to visit:
The coastline is a major attractor of national and regional tourism due to the popularity of the surf at Jeffrey’s Bay and other bays in the vicinity. Starting from the Gamtoos Mouth and following the route inland you arrive in Humansdorp. Humansdorp was established in 1848 and is named after Mr. Mattys Human who donated the land to the Dutch Reformed Church. The town is host to historic buildings, a watermill and a museum.
Jeffrey’s Bay is known as the surfing capital and many of the world’s famous surfing legends were schooled at the infamous Supertubes Beach. Jefrrey’s, as it is commonly known, has a number of nightclubs and a large variety of restaurants offering a wide range of cuisine. International celebrities such as six time world champion surfer Kelly Slater, and acoustic musician Jack Johnson, often visit the area. Live music shows at restaurants and other venues contribute to a vibrant nightlife.
Nearby Cape St Francis, which is the very next bay along, was made famous in the 60s when Bruce Brown produced a surfing film “Endless Summer”. The surf spot, named Bruce’s Beauties, is dependent on a north-westerly wind together with a low-tide ground swell and occur mainly in winter. The Kromme River in St Francis Bay is popular with boating entusiasts, and is great for water-skiing, kite-surfing, sailing, fishing and paddling.
The Gamtoos River valley has wide low-lying plains with steep slopes and the towns of Hankey, Patensie, Loierie and Thornhill are small centres of activity in the high yield agricultural region between Kouga and Gamtoos Mouth. Hankey and Humansdorp boast many buildings from the 1800’s. Hankey is the oldest of the three towns in the Gamtoos Valley dating from 1826. It is surrounded by beautiful hills and fertile farms, and is the home to the largest sundial in Africa, which was created to commemorate the town’s 160th anniversary due to the chance reading of a book “Sundials Old and New” by a town resident, Dirk Schellingerhout. It is 34.6m in diameter and the gnomon (the metal or wood finger of a sundial) is 18m high, weighing in at one ton.
The Seekoei River Nature Reserve lies on the estuary of the Seekoei and Swart rivers between Aston Bay and Paradise Beach and has more than 120 species of birds, making it a paradise for bird-watchers. A circular hiking trail begins with a short trip on a raft across the lagoon and takes you through subtropical vegetation and fynbos.