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[Saturday 30 June 2007 : Cape Town] After packing the car we left Fish Hoek at about 10:30 AM in cold, windy and rainy weather. We drove east through Muizenberg on Baden Powell Drive (the R310) then onto the N2 through Somerset West and over Sir Lowry's Pass to Caledon, where we turned south-west on the R316. In Bredasdorp we turned south on the R319 until we reached Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point in Africa. It was raining and freezing cold, but we walked around on the rocky shore for a while then visited the Agulhas lighthouse nearby ; you have to climb a rickety wooden ladder to get to the very top.
We left Cape Agulhas and drove through the fishing village of Struis Bay to De Mond Nature Reserve, a wetland at the mouth of the Heuningnes River - the road was dirt, very bumpy and muddy. At De Mond we settled into our cottage then Paul braved the rain and cold to collect wood for the fire (which we managed to light, even though all the wood was soaking wet). It was a VERY cold night.
[Sunday 1 July : De Mond Nature Reserve] De Mond is a delightfully tranquil place, with the Heuningnes River on the west and the Indian Ocean to the south. There is a sturdy Indiana Jones-style suspension bridge over the river near the reserve entrance gate. We went for a long walk round the reserve on the Sterna Hiking Trail, over the suspension bridge, along the bank of the river, through coastal fynbos then onto the deserted beach and over massive sand dunes.
[Monday 2 July : Storms River Mouth] We left De Mond and carefully negotiated the wet, muddy roads until we struck the R319 tarred road. We followed the R319 north and then turned east on the N2, past Swellendam, Riversdale, Mossel Bay and George to Knysna. The effects of the 2006 floods and mudslide on the mountainside above the Kaaimans River (between Sedgefield and Knysna) were very obvious, and major roadworks were underway to repair the damage. We stopped for lunch in Knysna, bought some supplies at Pick 'n Pay then headed east again, past Plettenberg Bay and over the Bloukrans bridge (location of the world's highest bungy jump) and Storms River bridge to the Tsitsikamma National Park. The Tsitsikamma National Park is a small reserve at the mouth of the Storms River, and we checked into our "oceanette" (self-catering apartment) for the next two nights.
|The lighthouse at Cape Agulhas|
[Tuesday 3 July : Storms River Mouth] We walked the first three kilometres of the Otter Trail, a 5-day, 50 kilometre hike along the coast that starts at Storms River Mouth and ends at Nature's Valley to the west. Storms River Mouth is amazingly scenic, with a rocky coastline pounded by relentless wave. At the mouth there is a restaurant and curio shop, and we enjoyed some excellent coffee while watching the heavy swells roll in from the ocean. Unfortunately the suspension bridge over the river was closed for repairs so we could not do the short forest walk around the river mouth.
[Wednesday 4 July : Addo Elephant National Park] Zip-line over the Tsitsikamma River. Arrived at Addo Elephant National Park via the main (west) entrance after driving up the R335 from Port Elizabeth. We went on our first game drive that afternoon but unfortunately saw very little wildlife apart from several warthogs and a lone kudu.
|Tsitsikamma National Park coastline|
[Thursday 5 July : Addo Elephant National Park] We got up early and headed out in the icy cold of pre-dawn for a game drive. This time we got lucky and saw quite a lot of elephants, as well as warthogs, kudu, buffalo, zebra and a host of minor species.
[Friday 6 July : Port Elizabeth] We left the Addo Elephant National Park via the little-used southern entrance, through an area which has only recently been acquired for conservation and which has not yet been fully integrated into the park. We saw several sizeable elephants before we turned onto the N2 national road some distance east of Port Elizabeth near Colchester. Back in Port Elizabeth we checked into the Humewood Hotel, right across the road from Humewood beach. We first dealt with the tedious job of getting several days of dirty laundry washed at a laundromat a block from the hotel, then Paul and Scott went go-karting at the track near the beach.
[Saturday 7 July : Port Elizabeth] The fantastic help-yourself breakfast buffet at the Humewood Hotel occupied our full attention for quite some time in the morning, but eventually we got going and explored Port Elizabeth's (relatively) new "Boardwalk" casino, shopping and entertainment centre. It's very nicely laid out, but it was virtually empty. On a Saturday? During school holidays? Doesn't auger well for its future ...
[Sunday 8 July : Bushman's River] A short drive north-east along the coastal road (R72) from Port Elizabeth brought us to Bushman's River, a small holiday town at the mouth of the Bushman's River on the south-western side.
[Monday 9 July : Bushman's River] A day spent relaxing - fishing, beach-walking, book-reading.
[Tuesday 10 July : Bushman's River] Dinner in an ocean-side restaurant in Kenton, a holiday town across the river (on the north-east side).
[Wednesday 11 July : Bushman's River] Our last day at Bushman's River.
|Storms River mouth in the Tsitsikamma National Park|
[Thursday 12 July : Knysna] We left Bushman's River and headed west on the R72 then the N2, back through the mini-metropolis of Port Elizabeth. Not far from Storms River we stopped at Birds of Eden, a relatively new, fully enclosed bird park. What an incredibly amazing place ; it is surely a "must-see" for anybody travelling this route. We also visited the snake park, which was somewhat run-down but still interesting.
[Friday 13 July : Albertinia] Paul and Scott took the steam train from George to Mossel Bay (the Outeniqua Choo-Choo), a very scenic trip. Due to damage to the tracks from the heavy rain and floods of 2006 the original route of the steam train (from George to Knysna) has had to be suspended indefinitely [Aside : Paul and Karen went from George to Knysna by train in September 2001, before the line was closed]. Karen drove from George and met Paul and Scott in Mossel Bay, where we all explored the Diaz Museum and had lunch. We stayed overnight in a charming old-style country hotel in the small town of Albertinia, some distance west of Mossel Bay.
[Saturday 14 July 2007 : Cape Town] Arrived back in Cape Town.