A Travellerspoint blog

The Garden Route

The views of Aouth Africa

Day 29, 25 February 2011
Today was a long day. We landed in cape town at about 5am and negotiated our way through immigration. We picked up our bags (even though we were told in Dar El Salam the bags would be checked through to Port Elisabeth (called PE by the locals)) and found the domestic check in area – which was miles away, Terminal A, gate 141!?!. We even managed to get five minutes in the lounge!

Once we arrived in PE we picked up the hire car, a fiat punto. This is small (emphasis on small) european car. The backpacks plus day sacks occupy the boot and the back seat when folded down. Any charitable thought of giving someone a lift would have to balanced out with a) lack of space and b) lack of engine power. C did the checks of the car and as per usual pulled someone out of the office to inform them of unrecorded chips and marks, in some vain hope the marks we add are just missed.

After the obligatory turning on the wind screen wipers instead of the indicators (European cars!), we headed off out of town. The wrong way at first, but eventually found the main highway, the N2, and started the adventure.

After driving for about 2 hours we stopped in Jeffrey’s Bay and talked to the tourist info people. We worked out our path down the garden route over a burger and went in the direction of what is called Storm’s River which is just outside of Plettenberg Bay. At Storm’s River there is a huge gorge and an accommodation village. It is a bit of an adventure activity area with bungy jumping, tubeing and other scary things. We booked into the backpackers and went in search of the elephant sanctuary. At the sanctuary we got to walk with elephants – holding their trunks and pat them – it was awesome. Apparently C and I were very lucky and received great elephant blessings, C claims the elephants just managed to sneeze of both of us.

We crashed pretty early as we’d pretty much been going for 48 hrs. Even the noise of the backpackers didn’t disturb us too much.

Day 30, 26 February 2011
After breaky we went down to the tree canopy walk which we had booked the day before. It was a bit early so C explored the Elvis shops (apparently there is a big festival in the Storm’s River Village each year) and I got coffee. I managed to buy some scissors to trim Chris’ whiskers. His beard is coming along well but he was complaining about the hair going over his lips. (C- I don’t care what they say, whiskers do not sift, they just catch everything! It gets very annoying.)

At 8:30 we were taken into a room for a briefing on the tree canopy walk and then kitted up and driven to the forest. It was amazing – they’ve constructed a number of platforms around the middle of the big old trees and you slide across on wires – you’re about 20 -50m off the ground. I managed not to freak out, but a few unsavory words were used - C loved it. (C – I have the evidence recorded in film! Wendy can swear with the best of them when stimulated).

We went back to Elvis shops and looked at the old cars (C- they were Cadillac’s and they were in pristine condition, it could make a grown man cry. Don’t worry dad, I got photos!)

We finished up and headed off to see what Plettenburg was like. The landscape is beautiful along the road – we struggled a bit to focus on the road as we kept crossing ‘gorgeous gorges’, ( C- Wendy’s new phrase, it was funny at first but after 50 gorges it becomes monotonous.), and we’re driving along next to huge rock mountains. Plettenburg was another sleepy coastal town – a bit like what Mooloolabah used to be – with some flashy houses and some dodgy ones. At the café we stopped at, they had photoes of the beach before and after the Tsunami in 2008. Apparently over the 7 days, huge waves rolled in and removed very large tracts of shore line. There is a famous hotel called the “Manor” whose swimming pool is now literally in the sea, the owners must have been very nervous we think for a few days.

Afterwards, we got back on the road toward Knysna. As we got to Knysna we went out to what is called The Heads – which is where there is a break in a big mountain which lets the water into Knysna. The houses in Knysna are the next level up in opulence – this is where people have their holiday house/mansion. We located the backpackers and dumped our stuff then went in search of a sunset cruise. It was fantastic – we were given a discount because they want to encourage the backpackers to promote it to guests. it was great – they provided drinks and nibbles, then part way through there was an oyster tasting. It was lovely out on the water. Afterward we had a few more drinks with a few of the others on the tour – then we were taken to dinner by a lovely South African couple – it was great to have some company and to eat nice food. We stumbled home at about 11pm- our heads the next day though were a bit rough! (C the generosity of strangers could be our undoing!)

Day 31, 27 February 2011
We decided to do a big drive today to get down to the southern most point of Africa – Cape Argulhas. It is where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. The light house is close to another small costal town about 100km off the main highway.

The point was pretty windy but C still managed to pee in the ocean (which is for good luck).

After a bit of a look and a wander we got back in the car and zoomed off toward the wine region. I was really struggling at this stage - the wine headache just wouldn’t let up. But luckily C is a good highway driver and as long as I get him on the right road he just keeps driving.

We went up over the mountains and came across Franshoek – which is a wine beautiful town – very ritzy. We kept going though, to Stellenbosch which is a university town (lucky I didn’t go to uni here- it is surrounded by 150 vineyards) and found the backpackers and a supermarket. We crashed pretty soon after dinner.

Day 32, 28 February 2011
In the morning we just caught up on emails/ banking etc, and at 10:30 we headed off on a wine tour. It is very much like the Australian wine regions- you drive round and find these beautiful cellar doors with tasting rooms and restaurants. We were given a tour of the wine making plant which was very interesting – but a bit smelly then we set about tasting. As usual C and I agreed that we’d get one bottle per vineyard – we stuck to it this time – there were only four vineyards on the tour- which by the end we thought was a good thing. We also did a cheese tasting which was great.

There were a lot of people on the tour that had done a 90 day overland tour from Nairobi. They were in pretty good spirits, but said that there had been some very long traveling days. I think our next tour will be a lot like that.

After cooling off in the pool when we were getting dinner ready C helped two Dutch guys with barbequing (or ‘braiiing’ as it’s called here) a huge piece of steak. It was a bit more cooked ( ie not rare and bleeding) than he usually does it but they were happy. We somehow got dragged into the bar and were given copious amounts of tequila by the bar people…. Another long day tomorrow! (C -I told W, the generosity of strangers will be our undoing)

Posted by ourlife 00:20

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