Lying at the mouth of the Keiskamma River in the Eastern Cape, Hamburg has morphed from a settlement for British-hired German legionnaires into a not-so-secret fishing spot. A tour of the South African fishing blogosphere will tell you almost everyone with a rod has caught a 'monster kob' at Hamburg. Go onto the local South African fishing blogsites and you’ll see why the village of Hamburg in the Eastern Cape is a top fishing getaway in South Africa.
Every man and his boat seem to have worked the waters of the Keiskamma River and the local seaboard at some time or another. 'Monster kob!' vies with 'killer steenbras!' in the various enthusiastic blogs from anglers who regularly don't let the big ones get away.
And maybe, 140 years ago, when members of the disbanded German Foreign Legion – imported by the British authorities – settled here in Hamburg, they were just as excited about going fishing. The German soldiers were brought in as farmers and, according to records, most of them returned to the military after a few years. It’s harder to farm than most folks imagine.
Later, however, a new wave of German immigrants was introduced to the area, and these people could actually farm. They set to their task with gusto and transformed large parts of the Eastern Cape into productive, lively settlements – Hamburg being one of them. From then until well into the mid-1960s Hamburg was a fisherman’s haven. Then the apartheid government incorporated the village into a homeland called Ciskei and the community was set adrift.
Now, however, on a weekend you can see the convoys of fishermen returning to the lure of Hamburg, which today also houses a very important social and creative institution called the Keiskamma Art Project. This project is a community initiative that provides women in the area with skills, materials and instruction in arts and crafts. The project now involves more than 100 members of the local community, and one of their major landmark art pieces is a series of epic tapestries hanging on permanent display in the South African Parliament.
How to get here
Hamburg lies about 60km south of East London.
Where to stay
Self-catering at Pelican Place.
Around the area
Visit the Keiskamma Art Project for world-class crafts.
Tours to do
Imonti Tours from East London knows the area well.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Keiskamma Trust can take in a limited number of volunteer workers.