Cape Agulhas to Mossel Bay

Day twelve, with a dozen impressions. Last night was our first sleep “alone” in this very big country. We survived, hee-hee! Our room for the night, with a full view of the ocean, was a very large honeymoon suite, with beds for four people (???), a couch, dining area and TWO bathrooms, both en-suite. Just the definition of their en-suite was a bit puzzling. The one at the end part of the room had an open air shower (no roof) with big leafy plants. It looked more like a tickle zone. The other one…hmm. A bathtub on a raised bed full of white pebble stones and big enough to swim a lap or two, a basin and a toilet all squatting right there in the middle of the room. No walls. No privacy. Orgy? Cough-cough. Oops! So one of us decided to go get tickled and meet some crawling thingies, and the other turned on the taps and foamed bubbles almost to the ceiling. We slept well. The morning sounds of splashing waves, chirpy (and thirsty) birds and sizzling bacon started the day off well.Honeymoon Suite, Oceanview Guesthouse in Struis Bay (Struisbaai), Western Cape, South Africa

 

Cape Agulhas

This is the geographical tip of Africa and also the point where the two oceans, the warm Indian and the cold Atlantic, meet. The different ocean currents, winter storms, high roaring waves and strong winds have caused many a ship to perish in this area, estimated at 150 so far. We did what most tourists do when here, we posed! Hee-hee. As you can see, it was quite windy, but we walked all the way, and back, from the southernmost tip of Africa to the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse. The whole area has a boardwalk so it’s easier than tramping on stones or clambering over rocks. Shh, we did that…we clambered…

 

The R319 Road

This incredible regional road was both a bit scary and exciting. Scary because it was very empty. We did not see any human being for miles on end, just naughty monkeys with hanging toolilys. The roads stretches on and on…and on…yawn, seemingly never-ending, but we stopped a lot to admire the wonderful nature and of course, the birds. It was not easy just getting out of the car as we were so scared of stepping on snakes, but thankfully none of them wanted to meet with us. After about a hundred or so kilometres, the road ends, in the middle of nowhere, and joins the N2, also in the middle of nowhere 😜 We took the national road because we were undecided as to where we would like to stay overnight, so wanted to find a place before it got dark.

 

Mossel Bay

We reached the small coastal town of Mossel Bay, the half-way stop along the Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. After an almost three hundred kilometre drive we were tired, hungry and happy. Before we could enjoy the beach sand between our toes, we had to search for a lodgings first. A few calls later we found a B&B on the hilltop overlooking the town and with a lovely view of the sea. Room good, parking nasty. Imagine sinking down from the street above and having to curve into a narrow parking space with thick pillars everywhere. It’s easy, said the old man (owner). Yeah right, then you park the car. He did. The next day he offered to “unpark” it for us, probably because the burning clutch whiffs and smoke was making his dogs bark in terror.

Mossel Bay is also known for the renowned oil-from-gas project which started in the apartheid era when the threat of oil sanctions (or higher prices) against South Africa were looming. There are quite a few natural gas stores off the coast of this harbour town. It was interesting to see the town where my father spent a lot of his time and knowledge as part of this project in their early days. We did not linger here longer than necessary as there were other exciting stuff waiting on the road ahead. Stuff we were not so sure of 😊

 

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The Garden Route: Penguins, Whales and a fantabulous Sunset

Day eleven: Eleven is a good number. We woke up early, more due to excitement, packed our bags and sniff-sniffed our teary good-byes. We were leaving the comfort-zone of a very warm and wonderful family, where we were spoilt rotten and entertained beyond measure, to embark on a two week road-trip adventure. This was a spontaneous decision and we had no time to plan any details as to what and where. So with a “local-but-not-so-local-anymore” woman in the driving seat and a German GPS reader sitting next to her, we pointed the rental car towards the highway and drove out of the bustling city towards the coast. We were now excitedly beginning a memory-making trip along one of the most beautiful coasts in South Africa, the wonderful Garden Route. No strategy, no blueprint, just drive, stop where we find it to be interesting and find somewhere to sleep before it gets dark. Simple, methinks 😇 It was not even an hour before our first stop. Well, more like a “OMG this is so WOW, where can we…there, over there…quick…STOP!” If it was possible we would have pulled the car over every ten metres or so, that’s how impressive it was, but the verge of the road was very narrow and no stopping allowed. There were one or two nice parking spots before and after Gordons Bay though, and as you can see from the following four photos, we were rewarded with wonderful and breathtaking sceneries. Click on pics for info…

 

Stony Point Nature Reserve at Betty’s Bay

It’s only a 30-minute drive between Gordons Bay and the little coastal town Betty’s Bay, but with a few more “ooh-aah” stops in-between and getting seriously lost trying to find the Penguin Reserve (yes, it’s a village and yes, it is possible to get lost in it), it was almost mid-day when we reached Stony Beach. It was also very windy and the air a bit nippy. No matter, because there they were, welcoming us with curious eyes, the Dassies (Rock Hyrax). They were nearer to us than those on Table Mountain and so cute that one had the urge to pick one up for a little cuddle. These are wild animals and their environment should be respected, especially when their babies are around, that is why we kept our distance. Zoom-zoom!

The Nature Reserve is more known as one of the biggest breeding colonies of the African Penguin in the world. Not only the penguins, but on the outlying rocks, three species of Cormorant birds also breed here. You will not find anywhere else where you are so close to the Penguins in their natural habitat. It’s also not crowded with humans so one can enjoy the natural sounds of crashing waves, braying birds (they sound like donkeys) and oinking bird calls. Simply amazing! Oh, and believe it or not, the reserve was previously a whaling station which stopped operating in the mid-1950’s. Two African Penguins chose this site to breed, and the rest, as they say, is history. Nature happened and won. Also keep your eyes open, as there are “pooping-in-flight” seagulls (plop!), sneaky lizards and other crawling thingies too. Enjoy the photos!

 

Hermanus

Here you can have a whale of a time hee-hee. Seriously, Hermanus is a beautiful bustling coastal resort enveloped in mountains and where one can do whale watching without a boat. Yes, the Southern Right Whales come here every year (July to December) to breed and to rear their offspring. Nowhere can one sit on a rock or bench to watch whales that are often as close as only ten metres from the shore. Please don’t worry about missing a whale sighting. Go ahead, browse in a tourist shop or have coffee and cake, BUT keep your ears open. When you hear the sound of a kelp horn, stop what you’re doing and run to the shore. Hermanus has the only Whale Crier in the world! No, not the sobbing kind, but a man with a kelp horn and a good set of lungs. This whale crier “tradition” started as a publicity stunt in 1992 to alert the public when whales were sighted. It has become a tourist attraction and is part and parcel of the whale watching season. We were there in January, so did not see any whales 😞

After some lunch, freshly caught fish of course, and a long walk around the town, we set off towards the south. Driving through a few amazing nature reserves, we headed for the Danger Point Lighthouse near Gansbaai. We were too late, entry was closed, and soon it would be dark. Time to look for overnight accommodation. It was easy. A phone call later and we had a room. The only thing is, it was an hour and a half away. We agreed to drive without any stops…but…

…as you can see below, the sun was already setting. We just had to stop! Added to that we were forced to drive a major detour route because a lot of roads were washed away by heavy rains in the weeks before. Fortunately we were getting nearer to our lodgings in Struisbaai. We were also hoping to see more of the sun setting.

Sunset at the R319 close to Struis Bay, Western Cape, South Africa

AND WE DID! After motoring at full speed (legal of course…okay, just a bit faster…shh) we reached the coast. Stopping with screeching tyres and spitting gravel, and an excited GPS man almost falling out of the car, we had thankfully arrived just at the right moment for him to take these fantabulous and amazing sunset photos at the southernmost tip of Africa. Oh. What. A. Day!

ps: Without stops and all that nice stuff, the journey would only have been about three to four hours. It took us the whole day, from sunrise to sunset, and we enjoyed EVERY single minute. We were pooped and so ready for bed! Tomorrow is another day. ZzzzzzZ!