East Coast

Finally collected the car , after a day sorting it out and re-arranging things. Peter and Fiona’s friends were lovely ,coming to say good-bye and thanks so much to Pat and Anfred for the bottles of wine….they should keep us going for a minute !

Many thanks too, to Peter& Fiona for putting up with us for so long,we had such fun and they made us so welcome right from the start.

With the Landy ready to go and sounding 100% better than when we had arrived in Cape- Town,we said our sad farewells to Peter and Andrew(sorry to get you out of bed Andrew) and set off for Mossel bay, to visit Arno and Elize. As we’d already been along the coastal road,we took a different route. We had planned to go to Cango Caves but due to a road closure,decided to carry on to Mossel bay. Arno and Elize have been following our blog from the beginning and although well- travelled themselves, were looking for advice on The West Coast Route. We finally found them at their stunning flat overlooking the bay. A lovely couple,who once again treated us to some wonderful South African hospitality with a huge Braai. We exchanged many travelling tales,hearing about all the places they’ve visited in the past. I’m not sure that we were of much help,but we might have given them some useful info on West Africa, which not many people tackle!

Arno & Elize

Having been fed an enormous breakfast the next day,we set off once more, along The Garden Route via Knysna and Plettenberg Bay ,spending the following night at Tsitsikamma ,a beautiful indigenous Cape forest region, but with campers everywhere, due to South African holidays. (We’ve been spoilt in the past)

After some exploring,the rain set in, so the best bet was to keep on driving. Carried on up The Garden Route and along The Sunshine Coast, despite no sun, stopping off at JeffreysBay,a surfing beach,but there was no surf either !

Had a night just outside Port Alfred ,a beautiful peaceful camp called “Mansfield” with a resident Giraffe.

Travelled “The Transkei”-steep hills and valleys, up to 2,500 metres,very cold and overcast, but not that surprising really. We were intrigued by all the colourful little houses and shacks,well spaced out and very neat. Beautiful countryside but so many lunatic drivers on this stretch of road and far too much road-kill, dogs,goats, cows and Donkeys, seemed to litter the roads, really horrible.

By-passed East London , ending up at Port St Johns, a nice typical African town,very noisy though,but we spent the night beside a very fast flowing river, got eaten alive by midges,had the oil changed in the Landy (which seems to be performing well,dare I say it!)

Spent two days in The Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, couldn’t camp at the wild camp as currently flooded,but other site was just fine,on a small lake. Fantastic rock faces ,waterfalls and mind blowing drops off the roadside!

Made a brief visit to Durban, The Bluff and Brighton Beach,where Michael hung out for a while in his youth. Needless to say he didn’t recognise anything- apart from the beach ……. enough said!

Camped in Amatigulu Nature Reserve,on the North Coast, a bit Blair Witchy and spooky for my liking, wasn’t too happy about the large red ants and spiders either, we are talking sub- tropical rain forest,therefore very dense and dark. Was my fault really, I should never have directed him that way!

jungle cave

Camped in Isimangaliso Wetland Park, a world heritage site for a while, in respect of wildlife and South African campers! Extensive settlements and one group beneath a tennis court sized insulated tarp, several chambers at last count( we can’t help but spy) with large indoor and outdoor entertaining areas, i.e. beer drinking dens. Not to mention four foot Christmas tree with flashing lights. Across” the crescen”t,was another settlement, anchored on the biggest caravan you’ve ever seen. Highlights here were the extensive fitted kitchen and topping it all, a full size whirligig,rotary clothes dryer bigger than yours at home! I think they look at us in horror and possibly pity at our lack of gadgets!

Went into the reserve  and having visited the beach and played in the huge waves,we returned to camp ,spotting three Black Rhino 100 yards away,causing great excitement.

 

Visited Imfolozi Game Reserve, known for it’s large numbers of Rhino and were fortunate enough to see two Black and five White (one of Michaels”interesting” facts is that we have now seen 0.5% of The World Black Rhino Population having seen seven.)

large bull white rhino having a bath

We also spotted a Lion- like rock about four metres away, that was a infact a lion -a  rather large male Lion, staring right at us ,on a bank at eye level. Very exciting, though the trouble was he was too hot and wouldn’t pose for the camera!!

Nice kitty – you go back to sleep

Other beasts spotted, but no less interesting was a Terrapin, a Water Monitor (two ft long lizard) and Three Lions up a tree (can you spot them in the photo? if not you would probably be dead as they were only 40 m away) plus another lying next to the road but with his back turned much to the phatographers dislike!. theres one lion hanging out on the right hand side eyeing up a warthog family, another at the bottom of the leaves in line with the trunk if you blow up the picture you should see it. the third is a tail hanging down on the left

spot 3 lions or die

Should also say we saw so many animals here, that we’ve already mentioned in other blogs,far more than expected for this time of year, or in fact any time of the year, a beautiful Reserve, definitely worth a visit.

 

Off to Ithala Game Park for Christmas in North Zululand. Would like to wish you all A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Will update blog in the new year, after the girls have visited xxxx

We are whaling etc etc

 

To The South-West

Decided to head south over the week end while waiting for the landys resurrection. The idea being we would camp and hopefully see some whales while giving Pete and Fiona some space as Fiona was returning to England to Play grannies , Peter to follow.

So Off we went heading for Hermanus ( no sniggering!!), lovely scenery but no whales so we carried on to a place called Die Dam where we found a large campsite. We tucked ourselves into a corner being one of the few people there then watched in growing amazement as an SA two car caravan and trailer procession appeared. We saw on our travels how South Africans like a lot of kit but this being on home turf was something else. Over several hours they erected what was a small village- caravan and tent plus 3 others all with awnings capable of housing a family each, a large kitchen marquee all arranged around a village green containing chairs loungers etc. As we left for supper they had lit a very large fire – sufficient to cremate a big animal which was probably the idea. Those belonging to the “Braai” religion( namely all) take a BBQ very seriously usually at least 4 meat courses potatoes, garlic bread and sometimes some green stuff. We also noted several more bundles so anticipate there was going to be a phase 2 of the building programme – we used to think the French were bad but they are amateurs compared to this lot, Another pitch we saw had erected about 50 metres of 2m high windbreak around their village which included a mock victorian lamp post in the central courtyard.

 

Supper we thought would be easy – several pubs noticed nearby. Well,the first one turned out to be a seventies heavy rock venue populated by local rednecks best described as interesting , we had a drink and tried the second. This had been set up for a hen night , our arrival coincided with the bride to be doing strange things on her back in a flower bed while someone took photos – something on her “to do List”  we were told several other things she did were quite interesting as well from my perspective although Emma was not as interested. Gave that up as a bad job so went to last resort – huge steel framed barn type place, we entered, only to find that there was only a few youths playing pool on one of many tables the huge place was empty. After a struggle and a long wait we finally got a plate of chips all that was on offer. Only after a long long wait.

 

Next day travelled further along coast when I saw a “puff” out of the corner of my eye, we went down a little track and saw a group of whales off shore rolling tail smacking etc. very impressive you can hear it above waves, wind etc at quite a distance also you can hear a sort of groaning noise.Quite lucky really as the seasons really over in this part of the coast

 

a whales flipper

Decided to carry on to Agulus the most southerly point of Africa, had lovely dinner but our camping neighbour turned out to be a nightmare- it seemed he was holding a tupperware party opening and shutting lids for hours – that’s when he wasn’t banging car doors. Then about 3 am his car alarm started going off which it continued to do until daylight. He was sleeping all of 2 m from his car but was clearly fixated with the fact it should be on regardless – bastard!!

the tip of Africa

 

Next day we went to De hoop NP, coastal fynbos vegetation ending with sand dunes. All very lovely. Saw plenty of Bontebok which only live in the cape, once very endangered with numbers down to only 300 they are now doing well in parks like this. Also Cape mountain Zebra – they have no stripes on the stomach, together with ostrich and a few eland. Got a monster puncture – s lice of stone about 75mm square went straight through tyre so next morning first priority was a new one for Peter. On the way we saw quite a few blue cranes – huge things which are SAs national bird but again endangered.

 

Bontebok and baby

Cape Zebra – white bellies

Back to CT where at last we were advised landy was running just road test and a few odds and sods – dual battery charger was found to be faulty and headlights behaving very strangley so hopefully pick up car Tuesday and off the following day. Girding my loins for whhat is going to be a big bill!

Cape Town – Playing Tourists

 

Cape Town

 

Received a very warm welcome from Peter & Fiona on our arrival in Cape Town. I’d forgotten just how nice it was to sleep in a proper bed in a proper house with a lovely shower and yummy food. Makes you realise just how spoilt we all are!

Peter & Fiona are great friends with Michael’s parents and go back many years. They have completely spoilt us ,shown us around Cape-town by night and day,taken us to some wonderful restaurants,through the vineyards around Stellenbosch, included us at parties with their friends,given us sole use of a car,whilst ours is in the sick bay and generally put up with our slovenly ways,since becoming New-age Travellers, so for all this we are extremely grateful.

The expert!!! – enjoying his work

The Beast,as I just mentioned is in safe hands, in a proper garage and currently in many pieces,undergoing major surgery and will virtually have a new engine,by the time we get it back ,the guy’s there seem most professional and can hardly believe the trauma it’s been subjected to,they’ve collected a box of assorted pieces of metal which are completely wrecked,I’m starting to wonder why we’re not quite in the same state! (They did say the engine would not have gone on much longer in it’s current condition ,so it’s lucky we made it this far)

 

It’s fun being a real proper tourist for a while,although Michael is getting seriously itchy feet already. Cape-Town is a beautiful city,with so much to see and do.

We took a cable car to the top of Table mountain to admire the stunning views of the city,some very cute Rock Dassie’s were sunning themselves on the rocks up there and we had a nice walk around, ate some breakfast,before returning,various people told us to hike up,but we were fairly convinced our levels of fitness were not quite up to it although it must be an amazing walk.

Dassies asleep

Fledgeling

We then went on to visit the gorgeous Penguins at “Boulders”they had been foraging in the sea and had come out to bask in the sun,so many photo’s later ………….

 

In between being tourist’s ,we’ve been to many camping and 4×4 shops to stock up on various things,South Africans certainly lead the field in this department,there is nothing they haven’t thought of, including the kitchen sink! Although good fun looking around, it’s a bit too tempting!

 

Spent an interesting day Wine Tasting at “The Leopards Leap” Winery and vineyard, near the picturesque village of Franchoek. This was great fun,informative and the location so beautiful, we ended up having some lunch there too,this in turn helped to soak up some of the delicious wine sampled.(ok,so I know you can spit it out,but what a shame after all the work that’s gone into it!) Needless to say we came away with a couple of cases to share with Peter and Fiona during our rather longer than expected stay!

Have just returned from a visit to Langebaan,passing through The West Coast National Park,once again beautiful scenery,Fynbos vegetation (meaning fine bush). Birds spotted included Ostrich, Heron,Falcons and Black Kytes. Tortoises were bravely crossing the roads, having moved the first couple off to the side,we realised they were everywhere and have to take their chances,although they were actually quite speedy. Michael spotted various beasts including an extremely large Cricket and Grasshopper thing (see photo’s)

A little further North, came across a quaint village called Paternoster,found a gorgeous room for the night(as we didn’t have the Landy to sleep in) in an idyllic location, right on the deserted beach,the view would be the envy of most! Ate out at a beach restaurant a few doors down, a simple feast of Crayfish,Prawns and Calamari. It’s Crayfish season and the local folk had plenty to sell,most being the size of a 3lb Lobster !

A scenic route next morning,took us back to the beach in Cape Town,where we sat and watched the skills of the Kite-Borders with Table mountain as the back-drop, a strong wind blowing, these guy’s manage to leap extremely high over the waves and up into the air,it looked absolutely exhausting and only for the extremely fit ,but fantastic to watch.

Also been to Cape Point which is not the bottom of Africa although many tourists believe it is. The actual southern tip is Aquilas point which we will visit when landy is fixed. The area of Cape point is a national park and consists of Fynbos – a low extremely varied type of cover- the most varied on earth. Not many beasts but we did spot a few Bontebok which only exist in the Cape.Lots of photos of flowers by Emma. Scenery fantastic as you can imagine.

The Beasts engine goes back in today – total rebuild in the end. It appears too much gunge deposits introduced by bush mechanics meant that everything was totally worn. Having got to that stage loads of other things that make sense to do to ensure a long life. So large painful bill expected on Monday.

Wheres my engine???

We have decided to go up west coast for a few days in the little loan car to a place called Hermanus, hopefully we will be able to see whales which come in shore along the coast at this time of year. praying the car will be fixed by Monday.