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Leon van der Walt - Walking with the ghosts of Mossel Bay

If you’re ever looking for something different to do in Mossel Bay, take a guided tour of its (haunted) history. Leon van der Walt is the local Mossel Bay Historic Ghost Walk guide every Friday night, where he gives guests some insight into the interesting and eerie history of the sleepy Garden Route town.  

“My first interest was in geology but I had trouble finding work in that field. Jobs are pretty scarce in Mossel Bay, so I decided to create one myself and combine it with something that has always been close to my heart, my hometown and history. I eventually started the Mossel Bay Ghost Walk in February 2019.

“I believe that the more you know about the past, the bigger your perception becomes of the future because things tend to happen in a circle. And ghost stories, they really connect the past with the present. With a place like Mossel Bay, we have such a rich history that it makes for great stories.

“I get certain premonitions during my walks, a feeling of energy, but it’s my wife who has the third eye. My wife has actually seen apparitions like at the graveyard or at the Cork and Plunger, I just pick up on certain energies in the places I take my people to.

“I believe that energies are left behind and they might be reoccurring or scenes being played over and over again. I have my own opinions based on what I’ve seen and heard, but science hasn’t been able to explain it yet.

“I think people’s fascination with ghosts comes from a quest to understand the unknown. We live in the here and now but none of us knows what happens after we die. We even invent religions from that very question.  We have to find a purpose and I think ghosts or paranormal activities give us something to hold onto, some concept of life after death.

leon van der walt garden route 3
leon van der walt garden route 4

"My wife has actually seen apparitions like at the graveyard or at the Cork and Plunger, I just pick up on certain energies in the places I take my people to.”

“Mossel Bay is a good start to the Garden Route. Starting here and going east, it gives you a good perception of how towns developed along the route and a good background against which you can view your way, your journey. Doing a ghost tour here is a great way to start any Garden Route trip.

“I believe that folklore gives you some sense of identity, especially if you’re from an area. It gives you a sense of belonging, that sense of you were born here and grew up here. A lot of people who come on the tour who are from here, they enjoy it more than people from out of town. Even though they know the town very well, there’s still some stuff they didn’t know and they get a lot out of the history. These ghost tours that I do, it provides a feeling that you belong somewhere. That’s one of the reasons I love this job.

“There’s one place I won’t walk to at night, it’s the trail by the shore by the graveyard where the dead babies were found, long ago. I won’t go there at night.

“Whale Hole was known for the way it stank and no one really walked past it. On a few occasions, babies that were brought down were found in Whale Hole. It is not something out of the ordinary for that period, as it was a chauvinistic era where, if you as a man of reputation, impregnated a woman out of wedlock, your whole career would be damned. 

“A couple of people currently living in the residential complex behind the graveyard, report that they can hear babies cry during the early morning hours on the rocks near Whale Hole. When they go to investigate, no babies are to be found.”

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