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Waenhuiskrans Nature Reserve

The Overberg Coast is home to a charming fishing village called Arniston. The town was originally named Waenhuiskrans before being renamed to Arniston to commemorate the ship that was wrecked here in 1867. A large part of the areas coastline falls within the Waenhuiskrans Nature Reserve, an almost 264 hectare reserve that is teeming with bird and aquatic life and is a popular Southern Right Whale watching destination between May and November. A highlight of the reserve is the vast and enchanting Waenhuiskrans Cave, a massive structure arching crookedly into the ocean that can be reached only at low tide. The name Waenhuiskrans loosely translates to wagon house krag and makes reference to this Cave. The cave is supposed to be wide and deep enough to easily fit an ox wagon and its entire team of oxen inside, rather than actually housing wagons since it is very wet at high tide.

The Waenhuiskrans Nature Reserve is known for its incredible views of the ocean which are presented in uninterrupted vistas. It also has many ecological, historical and archaeological treasures, which CapeNature undertake to protect for future generations. The reserve preserves the historical fish traps (visvyfers), Waenhuiskrans cave, beacon, archaeological shell middens and the fauna and flora on the reserve. The Waenhuiskrans Nature Reserve is also an important breeding site for black oystercatchers and crowned cormorants.

Many fish traps are found within the inter-tidal zone of the Waenhuiskrans Nature Reserve. The local community maintains these traps, which yield good catches of fish at certain times of the year, has they have done over the years. These traps are a good provider of protein during the winter months, when bad weather dictates that boats cannot go out to sea. All of the Waenhuiskrans fish traps are older than 60 years and thus are protected by SAHRA (South African Heritage Resources Agency).

The beacon which was erected on 28 September 1871, was built due to the number of ships striking Saxon Reef just off Struis Point. This beacon used to have a large copper ball on top that reflected the rays of the sun to the ships at sea. During November 2003 Portnet has installed light, on top of the existing beacon as a navigational tool for sea users. Due to its great historical importance as being the only known one of its kind ever erected there is a good possibility that the copper ball on top of the beacon may be reconstructed.

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