13 September 2021 | Tourism
Dog Rock Bay on the Diamond Coast
Hidden by the formidable coastal mountain belt, Hondeklipbaai in the Northern Cape is still more remote than almost anywhere else in South Africa.
The erstwhile little copper export harbour is in fact not all that remote – 104 km southwest of Springbok and 83 km northwest of Garies – but it is really difficult to reach by way of the bumpy gravel roads, which are best negotiated by four-wheel drive.
The isolation here is part of the allure. Add dramatic mountain scenery and, in spring, the magic of glorious wildflowers aplenty. If you are yearning for adventure, fill up your car in Springbok, bring cash, bring your own food and drinks, in actual fact, bring pretty much your own everything. Most importantly though, you need time.
The spectacular 17 km Messelpad Pass (Afrikaans for masonry road), built 150 years ago with convict labour, is part of your adventure. The road itself is heavily corrugated and in serious need of repair. The name is thanks to the elaborate stone embankments designed by Irish road engineer Patrick Fletcher. Impressively, the route has defied the general degradation, bearing testimony to his outstanding workmanship.
During the Northern Cape’s copper boom, this road was heavily used to transport ore from Okiep near Springbok to Hondeklipbaai. Okiep boasted the richest copper mine in the world.
Ironically, soon after the pass was completed, the Cape government decided to develop Port Nolloth as a harbour. Sadly, Hondeklipbaai declined rapidly and only came out of hibernation when diamond mining started in 1970. This lasted until 2003. A previous attempt at reviving the quaint settlement was a fish factory built in 1925, but that closed in 1997. Abalone farming was the latest project that has come and gone.
As a result, Hondeklipbaai’s best bet for a future now, is tourism. However, a real sense of adventure is required to visit this very special place, considering it consists of a small selection of self-catering accommodations, a caravan park and about half a dozen eateries which all require booking in advance. There is a shop and a butchery, but there is no petrol station or ATM.
Honnehokke Resort, voted the friendliest holiday establishment on the Namaqualand coast, is the heart and soul of Hondeklipbaai. The six “hokke” (kennels) sleep a total of 28 guests. The resort also offers geocaching, a diamond diggers’ patch, table tennis, billiards, bicycles for rent and even a swimming pool. Owners Attie and Esmé Hough go out of their way to make you feel at home. They share with guests about the lighthouse and the shipwrecks, the best fishing spots, the seal colonies and the Spoeg River caves.
Sadly, after 30 years on the Diamond Coast, the Houghs, with a heavy heart, have decided to move on and now Honnehokke Resort is seeking for a new owner.