Lynn & David travelling in South Africa travel blog

Lynn at the old Wilderness Railway Station

Old trainline going into tunnel, Wilderness

David on the beach, Wilderness

Dolphins off the beach, Wilderness

Dolphins off the beach, Wilderness

Lynn and our beers, Wilderness

Lynn feeding the elephant, Knysna Elephant Park

Lynn feeding the elephant, Knysna Elephant Park

Us and the elephant, Knysna Elephant Park

Lynn and the elephant, Knysna Elephant Park

3 bums, Knysna Elephant Park

2 elephants near the feeding area, Knysna Elephant Park

People riding the elephants, Knysna Elephant Park

Inside the boma, Knysna Elephant Park

Inside the boma, Knysna Elephant Park

Lynn and the boma, Knysna Elephant Park

Walking with the elephants, Knysna Elephant Park

Lynn and the elephants, Knysna Elephant Park

Us and the elephant, Knysna Elephant Park

Wolf at the Wolf Sanctuary, near Knysna

Wolf at the Wolf Sanctuary, near Knysna

David feeding elephant, Knysna Elephant Park

Zebra at Knysna Elephant Park

Elephant at Knysna Elephant Park

3 more bums, Knysna Elephant Park

Elephants, Knysna Elephant Park

Elephant, Knysna Elephant Park

Elephant, Knysna Elephant Park

Elephant, Knysna Elephant Park

Wolf at Wolf Sanctuary, near Knysna

Pig at Wolf Sanctuary, near Knysna

Babe

Little pigs, Wolf Sanctuary, near Knysna

David having a very nice beer, Storms River

Lynn and the beer tasting plate, Storms River

David and the 1961 Dodge Lancer, Storms River


Friday 3rd April 2015 (Good Friday)

Wilderness

Today we had a lazy breakfast in the restaurant downstairs and then posted the blog. At about 11am, we went over to the supermarket and bought some sandwiches and chips for lunch and set off towards the beach to walk as far as we could. The day was overcast, but fine and cool with no wind. The beach at Wilderness is very long. The River Touw runs into the sea here, but ends behind the beach and only empties into the sea when it floods. We walked for about 2 hours then stopped for lunch and a break. In the ocean we saw a large pod of dolphins (we think approx. 50) swim past one way and then later swim back. By chance, we had our binoculars and were able to see them up close. Quite a sight! On the way back we checked out all the large houses that were on the bluffs overlooking the beach. Many appeared to be guest houses with quite a few having steps down to the beach. At around 3:30pm we arrived back from where we set out and walked along to the old railway station (now a café) to have a really pleasant beer and whiled away about an hour there, before walking back to the town via the tunnel underneath the main road. We had dinner in the restaurant and then to bed around 10pm. It was a very nice day.

Saturday 4th April 2015

Wilderness to Knysna Elephant Park

We had breakfast at the restaurant downstairs again this morning, then packed up and headed off to our next destination. On the way we made a stop in Knysna, a large very busy town, reputed to be the most beautiful spot on the Garden Route. It was Easter Saturday and many holidaymakers were in town, so we parked and went for a stroll to the Knysna Waterfront, a large shopping centre on the harbour. We looked around the shops then walked about 5 blocks up to Main Street to check out whether there were any more interesting places to see. There weren’t many restaurants there so after buying a pair of Converse shoes each, we walked back and had lunch at a pub on the way. Knysna didn’t fulfil its promise really and we were glad we hadn’t chosen to stay overnight there. It was very cold – maybe it would be better on a warm sunny day. After lunch, we headed off the 25km to the Knysna Elephant Park where we had booked in to stay the night in the Elephant Lodge. As soon as we arrived and checked in, we were advised that there was a walk with the elephants leaving straight away and so we joined another 40-50 people, boarded a carriage attached to a tractor and lumbered off up the hill to where the elephants were. The elephants here are mostly rescued, orphaned or similar. Once we arrived the 7 elephants, knowing what would happen next, had positioned themselves behind a long metal barrier and we were able to feed them by hand from a bucket of fruit and veg we had bought at reception for 40rand. It was great fun. Then we were split into groups of 8 – 10 people and walked with a guide over to where the elephants had now wandered. We were able to pat the elephants and have photos for as long as we liked. It was quite cold though and slightly raining and so we decided to go back to the Lodge on the next tractor. Once we got back to the reception area, we checked into our room, then went back to the restaurant and had a light (very) early dinner of toasted sandwiches with chips. By this time, it had started to rain very heavily and we went back to our room which was one of 6 in the Lodge. Outside the room, there is an observation area complete with lounges and blankets from where you can see the elephants in their night time enclosures. There are 3 mature males and they are put into separate enclosures so they can have sufficient to eat as they are bullied by the female elephants otherwise. There is also a bachelor herd that is kept separate in another farm over the road with the main bull Harry in charge. The 3 we just mentioned got into trouble recently as they broke down the fence and got into the neighbouring vineyard! The only way they got them back was to fetch Harry and he herded them back into the Park – they are scared of him… These 3 are soon to be transferred to another Game Reserve as their own small bachelor group – they are apparently great friends even though 2 of them have grown up as wild elephants and the other Clyde was previously in a circus. The other 7 elephants, mixed females and young males, can either stay outside or come inside as they please. As we watched for about 2½ hours from the observation area, the elephants sometimes came in and sometimes stayed out. The rain remained quite torrential the whole time - heaven only knows what the roads will be like after this much rain as we came in on a gravel road for about a kilometre. As we lie in bed, the rain is pounding down but we can occasionally hear the elephants trumpeting at each other downstairs. Great experience!

Sunday 5th April 2015 (Easter Sunday)

Knysna Elephant Park to Storms River

We were up at about 7am this morning to get ready for our close up elephant experience as part of our package for staying at the Knysna Elephant Lodge. It had stopped raining this morning so that was a positive sign. At 8am, the guide came to pick us up together with the other people who had been staying overnight. After he explained what we were going to do, we went down and walked out to where the elephants were, having their early morning meal of tree branches and leaves. It was 200-300 metres away and when we got there, the elephants really took no notice of us. They knew we were there but paid little attention to us. They are all very large and if they step in your direction, you give them the right of way. Up close, they vary in height from around 2-3 metres up to 3.5 metres tall. Many of their habits were explained to us by the guide who knew all of the elephants intimately together with all their habits. We all had another opportunity to have a photo taken with the elephants. The guide told us that there had been 200mm of rain during the night and that the rain had caused a number of problems with the gravel roads around the lodge where we were staying. Repairs were proceeding as we walked around. He also told us that in the middle of the night in the middle of the storm the elephants were all having a swim in the middle of the dam that had become a torrent in the night. After an hour or so of listening to the guide and wandering near the elephants who were pretty much eating all the time, the tractor came and took us back to the lodge. After farewells, we packed up our belongings and put them in the car and checked out. After checking out, we went and had breakfast at the lodge restaurant and then headed off. Quite close to the elephant lodge was a wolf sanctuary, and we visited there. It was very interesting to see the wolves even though they were mostly snoozing. There was also a petting area and we had each been given a bag of pellets with which to feed all the farm animals - goats, pigs, geese, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs. That was fun and you should have seen the muddy state the pigs were in after the overnight rain! The weather today was cool and threatening to rain but it held off until we were in the car again. We just had a fairly short drive to our next destination (about 70km) so we stopped off in Plettenberg Bay, a large seaside town where South Africans go for holidays. Many of the shops were shut today due to it being Easter Sunday, but we strolled around for a while, then drove down to the beach area and then continued our journey. Back on the main road again and we drove through the Tsitsikamma National Park area, a beautiful place with magnificent gorges, high bridges and thick forests. When we arrived at our accommodation in Storms River Village, the owners told us that their power had been knocked out by the storm last night and that was why the generator was running next to our room. We went out for a reconnoitre of the (very small) village; only the few restaurants and cafes were open. The supermarket and liquor store were shut today due to the holiday (we presume), so we booked ourselves into a restaurant and went back to our room and read our books for the rest of the afternoon. It rained quite a bit today, although not as heavy as last night. Better weather is predicted for the next few days. Eventually the power came back on and at 7.30pm we walked the few paces across the road for a very pleasant dinner near a warm fire.



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