along the coast of South Africa
Jan 5, 2005
|We joined our new group in Capetown, people from England, Scotland, Canada, and New Zealand, and met our tour guide, Bruce and our driver, Yusuf for a 10 day tour around the coastal area. The views reminded both Melissa and I of the coast of California. We kept expecting to be jumping back in the car for home.
The first day we drove along the Cape Peninsula and spent some time hiking around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. We also went to the Jackass Penguin colony, one of the only places in the world where this sea bird resides. They look like a little person wearing a tuxedo with the most distinctive waddle when they walk. The next day we hiked straight up to Table Mountain. It was a lot like hiking the Inca trail without the altitude.
We ended up that night staying in Stellenbosch at a beautiful guesthouse in a winery. It was like staying in someone's home for two days. The town was first settled in 1679 by the dutch or Voertrekkers which was their original name. We spent some time hiking in the morning at the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve and finished our day at one of the most well known wineries, Spier. Interestingly enough there is a Birds of Prey Center where they attempt to rehabilitate injured birds to help release them back into the wild. They also educate the public about the raptors, using the birds who are not able to be returned to the wild. In the same area is the Cheetah Outreach Program which campaigns to bring the plight of the Cheetah to both the South African and International communities.
We spent the next day driving to Little Karoo where we stayed in a lodge that was actually an ostrich farm. I have to tell you the younger ostrichs are crazy. They start walking and then all of a sudden begin swinging around like a crazy bird until they fall down. Hysterical, we got it on video, but unfortunately this website isn't ready for video yet. The next day we traveled to the town of Knysna and along the way we stopped at the Cango caves which were fascinating. Some of the formations were 1.3 million years old. I guess the area use to be tropical and now its desert so the formations have pretty much come to a stop.
We arrived in Knysna on New Year's Eve. Now Knysna is a little town, but its a tourist town along the coast. So we thought making dinner reservations would be difficult since our tour guide had never really done this tour before and no reservations had been made in advance by the tour company. Melissa and I had a balcony which overlooked the water, so we decided to have some cheese and wine before heading out. Marnie and Norm joined us. We started that around 6:30 pm and then headed off with everyone to dinner. Now the fact that the restaurant was empty should have been a clue. We just assumed we got there before everyone else.
We ordered drinks and waited for our meals to arrive. We kept drinking and drinking and I think the starters came around 11:30 pm. Now just think how much you can drink in a group from 8:00 pm to around midnight. You could imagine Melissa and I, yes we were loud, well at least I know I was. Midnight came and we all ended up outside doing a conga line down the sidewalk. When we came back we noticed the restaurant had no one in it but us. Dinner arrived around 0045 and was pork. From what everyone said it was really lousy since Melissa and I ate pasta. Dessert arrived around 1:30 am and we were all back in the bus going to the hotel around 2ish. Four of our group stayed out all night with the Scotsman, Alan, ending up sleeping in the bushes next to the front door of the hotel. Ryan, Melissa and I thought of you!!!
The next morning the group headed out early for a day in Tsitslkamma National Park with the exception of Melissa and I (no we weren't sick) just wanting to hang out and do nothing. Unfortunately Melissa missed out on doing the bungy jump that Alan did which is the largest one in the world. I told Melissa she will have to come back again to do it.
We drove the following day to a little Dutch town called Swellendam where we stayed overnight and then headed back along the coast to Capetown. We now have two days free in Capetown before we head off to Australia. We ended last night by having dinner along the wharf with about seven of us. It was a great way to end this portion of our trip with fun people, beautiful evening weather, great food, and the sound of bagpipes in the background.
I do have to make an observation about South Africa. There are two distinct South Africa's and they are separated by an invisible barrier which permates this country. We spent time in the "colonial" portion, but never got to touch or feel the native South Africa. When we did get near it, we were always kept at a distance merely observers. It was unfortunate because that is one of the main reasons Melissa and I visit other countries. I guess we will have to come back to South Africa when their democracy is older. With having that in mind, the country landscape is absolutely beautiful, the people are very friendly, and we are really glad to have experienced it.