Saturday we set off bright and early for our Garden Route Tour. I, for one, was excited to get out of the city for a few days and explore some new areas. We enjoyed our first “comfort stop” as our guide Gerhard calls them, at the Oumeul Bakery in a cute town called Riviersonderend. Gerard surprised us at our second comfort stop with a treat of “milk tart” that he secretly purchased at the bakery! It was like a warm custard pie in a phyllo dough crust. Yum.
We ventured on, driving some five hours, and we were delighted to view the Indian Ocean at Mossel Bay (notice the township too). We arrived around 12:30 for lunch at the Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. After our lovely lunch in the beautifully decorated lodge, we set out for our 2.5 hour safari. The sun was out and so were the animals! We saw giraffe, rhinos, elephants, lions, and many kinds of antelope. A couple of highlights included the lions sunning themselves on the road after a big meal (check out her belly!). Also was our guide squeezing fresh elephant poo and drinking the “water” from it. I’m not even kidding. It was one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen. One of our students’ phones slid right out of the truck, but amazingly we recovered it using “find iPhone.” It truly felt like some kind of South African miracle!
We said goodbye to the animals and journeyed on to Sedgefield, a little surf town right on Myoli Beach and the Indian Ocean. We got a peek of the sunset before we settled into our rooms at Afrovibe Adventure Lodge (no Wi-Fi hence no blog post). Then we enjoyed a beachside / fireside dinner and colorful welcome drinks, courtesy of Gerard. It was a good day on the Garden Route!
Sunday we awoke to rain. So, we got our Gumbies on and made a new plan for the day. No beach time or canoeing / hiking (we’ll save that for Monday), but instead we began with visiting a scenic viewpoint in Knysna. Not unlike the Eagle Creek Fire last fall, Knysna suffered a huge arson fire last June, so we could see the evidence both in scorched hillsides as well as lost homes. Sadly relatable.
Next we crossed the Outeniqua Mountains toward Oudtshoorn. Along the way we saw “hop valley” (yes, where hops were harvested a couple of months ago!) and lots of ostriches. Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of South Africa, and some of us will enjoy it tonight at our fireside braai (barbecue). We also had a good time singing “Africa” by Toto as we drove in the rain. 🙂
Gerard planned to take us to lunch at a winery, but it was closed being Sunday. So, he instead took us to a very unique lodge / restaurant with a big inside fire / braai. It was incredible! The owner (seen in the photo in a khaki shirt by Gerard, who’s wearing black) cooked lamb chops and beef sausages right in front of us. Different kinds of salads, veggies, and pickles – along with some delicious warm rolls – accompanied the meat. We departed with full bellies, perfect for a little spelunking (not!).
We traveled a short distance to Cango Caves, 20 million year old, spectacular limestone caverns. Some students did the adventure tour where you slide through something called the “letterbox” and climb “devil’s chimney,” among other feats. I went with a student on the heritage tour, which goes through six of the “halls.” Unfortunately, one student is not feeling well and rested in the bus for both the caves and lunch. Hoping the rest helped and the evening is much better!
We just settled in at Backpackers Paradise in Oudtshoorn. Our fireside braai will be at 7:00 tonight. Monday we plan to dip our toes in the Indian Ocean (finally) when we travel back to the canoeing / hiking area we missed today due to the rain. The weather report looks better, so hopefully that works out! We then will make the long drive back to Cape Town, arriving after dark I should think.
Reed and the kids are at PDX now as I write this, so I can hardly wait for them to arrive, along with my sister’s family! When we return to Cape Town tomorrow, I need to move to our family accommodations, so I may not get to blog. For your patience and for following along, I say “baie dankie!” (Afrikaans for “thank you,” and pronounced, “buy a donkey!”)