Cruising the Garden Route

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April 5th 2010
Published: April 7th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

Our Friend HortonOur Friend HortonOur Friend Horton

Getting to know the elephants at Plettenberg Bay
On Thursday Jeff and Cornel came through with a very cunning plan. They both took the day off so we could get away up the Garden Route a day early and beat the Easter traffic out of town.

So off we went, north via Stellenbosch then Franschoek and over a mountain pass to the farmland on the other side, called the Overberg. Franschoek is surrounded by mountains and chock full of wineries and quaint white buildings. Quite a french town after the Huguenot (sp.) settlers, whereas a lot of the rest of the area around Stellenbosch is more Dutch in architecture and influence. We'll probably head back this way later on and test the local vintage, not that I'd know what to look for.

Over in the Overberg it was dry rolling country and the roads are long, straight and wide. For miles. The speed limit in South Africa is 20km per hour faster than in NZ so I am right at home here. To start with though I was a nervous wreck until I got the hang of it. But now I'm on fire. Like in most countries of the world, the drivers here are more courteous than

Susan and friends on swing bridge
your average kiwi driver. It doesn't become a big competition like it is at home every time you overtake someone.

We carried on through to the Garden Route - Mossel Bay, Knysna, George, then onto Wilderness where we were booked to stay for three nights. We thought we were getting something like a DOC hut but it was more like a modern home on the edge of the bush.

From here we ventured out each day. To an Elephant place where they take in underprivileged elephants and nursed them back to health. All of us got to walk along with the elephants so that was pretty good. Then, just further along the road, to Monkeyland which was a similar concept - ten hectares of forest full of monkeys, mostly saved from some bad situation in the real world. We walked through the forest with the guide who was full of interesting titbits about monkeys.

The next day we drove over into the Little Karoo to Outdshoorn. This was a really good day out. The Little Karoo is just that much hotter and dryer than the coast and felt like the real Africa. We paid a visit to Cango Caves - for thirty years they used to have concerts in the first and largest cavity. Two thousand people in one cave - thats right, two thousand. What an amazing, unique venue for a concert. See the photo. The concerts stopped because some clown decided to help himself to souvenir bits of rock and limestone. This of course ruined it for everyone else. There was more to it that a concernt venue though. Susan and the boys took the adventure tour which went deep into the centre of the earth, squeezing and squirming through tunnels and crevices as the caves got smaller and smaller. And they loved it. I'm not good in confined spaces, so I stuck to the standard route and felt absolutely fine about it.

Next up we went to an ostrich farm and the boys had a go at riding an ostrich. This of course was also highlight, captured on video. Ostriches are everywhere here and apparently ostrich meat is protein-rich and very good for you. We tried ostrich biltong and it was tasty alright. Chewy, but tasty. Years ago they used to sell large ostrich feathers for ten pound each! Back then they were
Ride'em SethRide'em SethRide'em Seth

Outdshoorn Ostrich Farm
all the rage for women's hats, gowns etc. That trade has gone now but ostrich meat has taken off, so to speak.

We've had the braai going each night too and, for a couple of kiwis, we've done okay mate. Cornel came into her own on Sunday though. She cooked up a dish that is a really big hit over here. She cooked up a potjie kos (pronounced 'poiky kos'). Jeff and I still had to do the firebug impersonation, ably supported by Mitchell I might add. Then when the coals were hot enough we shovelled them into a big barbeque tray and Cornel put a big cast iron pot full of chicken, veges, apricots, you name it, and white sauce on top. One hour later and, hey presto, dinner time. The thing about the braai and potjie kos though is not really the food itself although its good. Its more about the storytelling and yarning that goes on, over a beer or wine, while you're waiting. Its an event.

Anyway, after our three nights at Wilderness we headed back towards Cape Town and spent a night at Kleinmond further down the coast closer to home. En route
Ahoy Me HeartiesAhoy Me HeartiesAhoy Me Hearties

Mitchell, Ryan and Seth on Bart Diaz's sailing ship
we stopped off to look at the Bartholemew Diaz Musuem in Mossel Bay. Bart was a Portuguese explorer who dropped in to the Cape in 1488. Thats a very long time ago. He reported back and then in 1497 Vasco de Gama dropped in too but went a bit further to Goa, the start of the Spice Trade. The Cape became a key stop off point along the route and eventually with the Dutch East India company doing the same trade they decided they needed a base at the half way point, and that was when the Dutch started to settle here.

So we all had a history lesson, and it was quite humbling really. 1488!

We were meant to go shark spotting today, Monday. It's really the only day available and we were booked and all ready to be scared out of our wits. Then the phone call came in - the forecast was bad, the seas were too high, and the trip was off. So its all okay again Mum. Anyway I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. So we'll save that one for another day.

Back to Cape Town now.

Additional photos below
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Classic CapeClassic Cape
Classic Cape

What a stunning coastline

7th April 2010

Great to see that you are enjoying your holiday in S.A. and getting to spend time with family in the process. Your writing is interesting as are the events you are experiencing, keep up the good work and enjoy the rest of your holiday. Hope you get to the shark cages!!! Also remember to give the locals some gyp about their rugby!!!
8th April 2010

I have read this blog it seems so adventures.
10th April 2010

Your account is gripping Russ, keep it coming. Makes me chuckle! SO jealous of your exotic trip. I never get to anywhere that exciting....."Waverley" after 7 years just doesnt have the same ring!!!!:) Jim however, is floating the Colorado river for 9 days...ME...I'm the dutiful wife holding down the fort! Cant wait to hear about the men in grey suits!

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