Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Part 2 - Garden Route, South Africa - The road trip

Part 2 - Our journey from Mossel bay to Knysna, Tsitsikamma and finally Port Elizabeth.

Part 1 can be viewed here

DAY 5: 19th April

Mossel Bay
It was a 3 hour drive from Montagu to Mossel Bay and we had booked an apartment at Fairways Self catering apartments on the Mossel Bay golf estate. If you are ever here, don't even think about going anywhere else. Just pray that they are not booked, because Mrs. Almerie and Koos are the best hosts ever! They helped us with things to do around Mossel Bay and every evening was spent chatting at their place, which is right below your apartment. It felt like home :)

We went our for lunch to this place called Cafe Havana. Do try the lemon butter fish fingers. It is a little Cuban cafe on the main street.
The Fairways Apartment was so beautiful and the golf estate is so green and well kept, that we decided to stay put in the evening instead of heading to town.

DAY 6: 20th April

Oudtshoorn and Cango caves

Early morning we headed to the Cango caves. Do book in advance for this. There are different adventure levels as per your liking, and more importantly, your fitness level. We stuck with the heritage tour. It takes about 60 minutes, through some truly mesmerizing natural formations of stalactites and stalagmites.

Next stop was the Cango Wildlife Ranch. It is a well managed ranch, with experienced and entertaining tour guides. If you have kids with you, definitely visit here. If not, it is OK if you skip this. We had lunch here which was strictly average.

The plan was to visit Bartholomeu Museum in the evening, however it was shut. We decided to do it the next day

Day 7: 21st April
A trip to Zorgfontain Game Farm.
A note of caution - their registered address is different than the game farm address. We reached the registered address, where we were informed to proceed to the Game farm and a really complex set of directions was narrated to us through the voice box at the gate. No, we did not meet anyone there and no one bothered coming out! And trust me, unless you have a directional expert with you (Sagar, not me!) you are bound to get lost. the place is not even marked on the GPS! And it is really really difficult to follow the directions of some voice booming out of a box of a hurried lady with an accent you are unfamiliar with!
But the journey was worth all the trouble...because I GOT TO TOUCH A LION.
That's it! This was definitely the highlight of my trip.
The lion and the lioness (apparently they were siblings) roam around with you and of course you have the experienced guides with you, but it was terrifying.
Now we realized why the place was situated in the middle of nowhere!
And what stories we had to tell Mrs. Almerie and Koos that evening over dinner!

Day 8 :
This was the day we said bye to Mossel Bay, but not before checking out the Bartholomeu Dias Museum. The best part was the famous 500 year old post office tree, in which in 1500 Pedro de Ataide, Commander of one of Cabral's ships, on his return journey from the east, left a letter in a shoe.

And then we were off to Knysna.
We stayed here at the The hideaway Guesthouse, which is just before you hit the town center of Knysna. Very easy to follow signs and arrows. We were also given an upgrade!

We headed over to Thessen Island, to catch the sunset cruise from there.
Lunch was the 360 degree north, an amazing Italian joint on the water front, recommended by Coleen, our host.
It was afternoon and most shops were shut.
The sunset cruise consisted of a row around the Island on a sail boat, complete with wine and oysters. The changing colors of the sky are amazing to watch. Just like the weather in South Africa, the sky changes from purple to pink to yellow in a matter of a few heartbeats and present some amazing photographing opportunities.

 We found a a cornew of a small town in South Africa...hamara Bajaj moment :)

We found an excellent Indian restaurant on the main street - Raasoie. And this is where we headed for all our meals in this town. The owner was a Bengali, who had taught the local servers in the restaurant a few appropriate Hindi words and they did make an excellent effort to make us feel at home, it was not until we ate here that we realized we really did miss Indian food!


This was the day that i was dreading the most, and Sagar was looking forward to the most - SKY DIVING at Plettenberg Bay with Sky Dive Plett. In a moment of false courage I had yes to the activity and now i was scared stiff! We went to the airport at Plettenberg Bay, where you have to report - they take you through the procedure briefly and explain all safety instructions and then before you know it you are off - geared and all, with your tandem dive instructor / partner in a small plane that looks like a toy. And then when the plane takes off and you are sitting there on the floor, looking at all the vehicles and people getting smaller by the minute, trying to focus on the landmarks that your instructor is pointing out to you, you realize what mess you have got yourself in! I dove from 10,000 feet and mu husband had opted for 12,000 ft. So i had to be the first one to jump and i was almost pushed out. And then starts this free fall, of which i quite honestly don't remember much, and then when the parachute is pulled out, the thing that hits you is that there is no sound. It is quiet, silent, still and you are gazing at the world from up up up above and everything looks so serene and small.
We had opted for a beach landing and so we came down on the Plettenberg beach with people standing around cheering and clapping for you! And in all this i completely forgot about Sagar, till my instructor pointed out to a tiny black dot in the sky swaying and sashaying down towards the beach.
It was an experience to remember, no doubt, but i also don't think it is something i would care to do again!

I HAD to get a video, knowing me, i was sure no one would believe me if i told them back home that i had done sky diving. This was the proof - of me doing something i would never have dreamed of doing!

And then we rode back to where our car was, said our goodbyes and we were off to a heavy lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant, because we deserved it!

DAY 10

We headed to Port Elizabeth to catch our flight the next day.
But before that, one last stop was to be made - Tsitsikamma National Park, where we did zip lining with Zip Line Tour. The drive to Tsitsikamma is beautiful, we also, finally, had good weather. We first stopped at the visitor's center cafe where we had a quick breakfast and then got directions to the Zip Line tour place - again very easy to follow.
After sky diving, zip lining hardly felt like adventure, but it was fun nonetheless.
Carry you cameras, as there is a way you can secure the camera while zip lining. We did not know this and left our cameras in the car :(

We zip lined 8 times, with the longest being 211 meters, zipping across valleys and gorges and over rivers. The best part is that your speed is in your hands, so you can control it to slow down and watch the gorgeous views, but you also need to be carefully that you don't stall midway and have to be rescued!

We made our way to Port Elizabeth, where we stayed at Al-Biet, Port Elizabeth. This was situated close to the airport and provided an amazing breakfast before our check out. They are almost like a self catering apartment, they do not have a restaurant and provide take aways and delivery choices. Comfortable, but basic rooms.

DAY 11

And finally we said good bye to our Garden Route Road Trip.
We love road trips - and this was was truly special with spectacular views and attractions, amazing hospitality all the way. This is something we have decided to come back for!

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