Oct 27 Langebaan
We had a leisurely breakfast at the old Mill guesthouse in Springbok and then headed down the road. It was quite a change for us after weeks of desert. Not exactly the Garden Coast yet, but still lots of green and the hue of yellow and violet caused by tiny flowers on bushes. The road initially was not too busy and so it was very restful coasting along on the narrow paved road. The sides of the roads here, as they were in Botswana and Namibia is completely free of litter. I think only once have we seen people picking up litter, mostly people just don’t litter; unlike in so many of the countries we visit.
Suddenly, cresting one of the many hills we saw a whole large valley filled with orderly bushes, which proved to be grapes; we are in wine growing territory. The mountains rising in the background added to the idyllic scene. After some hours, close to Cape Town, we left the highway and headed towards the coast. We had read about a National Park, known for its proliferation of birds. As the day waned we were in the hopes of finding a campground but ended up in a small hotel, our room looking right out on the lagoon. We walked the beach, watched another incredible sunset and had a great seafood meal.
Oct 28 Near Paarl
It was raining a bit when we got up and so we hung around for the 8:00 breakfast. We spent much of the morning in the West CoastNational Park. We had four bird hides that we sat in, and we saw quite a few new species. Some walking and a little driving in the park. It is mostly a shore bird park, but we did see some nice song birds as well. I particularly enjoyed a little swallow that would fly in through the first hide we were in, and sit for a few second on the window sill giving me a chance to snap him. Normally with swallows they move so quick you cant see anything.
We were near Cape town, but Rich in particular did not want to struggle with the traffic, even though it was my day to drive. For the last week or so we have been taking turns driving the whole day. We headed off and soon were on back roads heading for Paarl. The roads were narrow and quiet. We wanted to see Franchhoek, as I remembered it to be mountainous. We ended up with a long drive to get to a camproung where we had to promise that we were not lesbians, and they were not allowed.
Oct 29 Swellandam
Off on more back roads; we are in meandering mode now, not trying to make big distance gains. Through Franchoek, into Garenderdal, where we spent some time in the most detailed community museum imaginable,following a detailed introduction by its creator. Onto Greyton where we had a nice lunch and picked up a couple of bottles of wine at the recommendation of the restaurant owner. Onto another back road we saw three new birds in a bull rush thicket. Into Swellandam, we camped at a backpacker and went for a quick two hour hike to a waterfall.
Oct 30 Mossel Bay
Another couple of hours in BontebuckNational Park where we saw a new ungulate, the Bontebuck and a new bird, and then some back roads driving that was good mostly for its remoteness and some flowers. In MosselBay, it is raining and so we are in a Backpackers, where we did steaks over a |braai, that the manager helped us with. We are now at the beginning of the GardenCoast and have promised our selves we will do some hikes. We shall see.
Oct 31, Nov 1 Knysna
It is now raining for the better part of most days. We did not have far to drive to Knysna, but made it interesting by again choosing some back roads. We chose a backbacker in Knysna and settled in for two days. Knysna, possibly the most important town on the Garden coast, has lots of places to stay. We ate in both nights we were there. They first night we did our normal pasta feed, but the second we did a full braai. We bought steaks and boerworst, started the braai ourselves, which is different in that they use a hardwood that is tough to start but burns with lovely coals. It worked out pretty well.
On our day in the region we headed into the forest, once important for its Elephant population. Now there are only a few left, the southern most in Africa. It took us about three hours to walk a tough 7 km trail. It had rained much of the night and then off and on while we were walking. We had five stream crossings and so walked in our boots without socks and just walked on through each stream. None of the crossings were tough, but we were careful, as falling is not a good idea for old folks. We saw almost nothing as we were in deep forest the whole time.
Nov 2, Jeffrey Bay
We left the Garden route, and entered the Eastern Cape area, still mostly on the coast. Our first stop was the world’s highest bungee jump. Rich was going to jump, but then decided not to. I guess he is getting old. I’m more of a spectator in life and so the thought never occurred to me. The fact that is cost about $100 didn’t help. We stopped a bit at a few others of the coast’s prime towns, but didn’t do much. We had nice hour walk around the third of the Garden Coast Nat Parks that we have stopped at. All were good. A few more kms and we were at JeffreyBay, one of the world’s best surf sites, but at this moment the surf is not great, although the waves look incredible to us. Possibly if the surf was up Rich would have gone. We are in another backpacker and they arranged a nice seafood meal for us, after we watched England beat Austalia in rugby. They sent us off in a taxi so we could drink, or should I say continue to drink, having started during the rugby game. Possibly you have noticed that I have been writing under the influence.
We have enjoyed our slow meander on the coast and will head inland to another game park, Addo Elephant Reserve, tomorrow for a couple of days.