This week my wife and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. We decided to spend the weekend, which happily was a long weekend with Monday being a public holiday (officially “Youth Day”), away at one of our favourite destinations.
LAAIPLEK is a coastal fishing town in the Bergrivier Local Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa. It is located on the estuary where the Berg River flows into St. Helena Bay.
LAAIPLEK is known mainly for the fishing industry. There is a canning factory there, and it is also the base for a number of Fishing Trawlers.
It has always been a pleasure to stay at this hotel, but since February of this year, Johnny and Lida Ferreira, have been appointed to run the hotel. The improvement since I was there last was amazing. By that I do not mean to imply that things were bad before, on the contrary, we found the service, accomodation and everything else to be all we desired. Now, however, it was simply better. One got the impression that the management were very hands on. The staff are happy and willing to please the guests with excellent service. This is a place I feel happy to recommend to those in search of a weekend of peace and quiet with great food and excellent views.
Of course if you happen to be a bird watcher, then you may already know that this entire area is a haven for birds. I am not very knowledgeable on the subject of birds, but this I can tell you. Birds there aplenty! Cormorants, Seagulls, Weavers, Sunbirds, Kingfishers, Swift Terns, Herons, Moor Hens, Pelicans, Flamingos, Owls…the list goes on…and on!
The hotel, called Laaiplek Hotel, has a few rooms which are quite affordable and has an excellent menu. It is situated on the bank of the Berg river, set back a little way overlooking a large area of lawn. To the left and right of the hotel are the berths of the huge trawlers.
The Hotel owners are the Eigelaar family who are legend in the area. Apart from the Laaiplek Hotel they also own the Riviera hotel in Velddrif and the Hoedjiesbaai Hotel in Saldanha. They are also influential in the fishing industry. They have a number of trawlers berthed in Laaiplek. I believe that the Eigelaar family were the founders of the fishing industry in Laaiplek.
Some of these trawlers can carry up to 300-400 tons of fish. Others are smaller and are only capable of around 40 tons.
While we were there we enjoyed watching the boats performing some intricate maneuvers to un-berth (having to avoid some sandbanks) and sail to sea. When they returned later in the day they once again have to perform their moves like a dancer following the choreographed music to get into the allocated spot alongside the quay – taking care not to bump into boats tied upon either side of their berth. A very complicated process of parallel parking indeed, but most entertaining to a landlubber like myself.
Other activities include, walks on a beautiful beach, boating up the Berg River to have a breakfast on the river bank somewhere.
Next door to the hotel is a very well appointed Fisheries Museum. We found it to be extraordinarily well furnished with items of interest. Behind the museum, in the grounds of the hotel is an antique harvester. It is made of wood. A magnificent piece of machinery of days gone by.
I hope that after reading this you will feel interested enough to try out this favourite destination of ours. I am sure you will not be disappointed.