Newlyweds on Tour – Leg 5: Oudtshoorn

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We travelled through some truly beautiful scenery on this route, specifically in crossing over a few towering bridges that I really wish we could have stopped at on the Tsitsikamma Toll Route. Storms River in particular looked spectacular. I know the name and have some sketchy memories of people discussing it around me in the past. On a return trip I would definitely make a plan to spend some more time in this region.

To partner the impressive scenery we had some very underwhelming towns. I went on an epic holiday to the Knysna area with my mum in 2008 and together we discovered the grand anti-climax that is Plettenburg Bay. We only passed through it briefly today but I didn’t see anything that caused us to pull the car over. Sadly Knysna was much the same. We had a delicious lunch at 34 Degrees on the Waterfront and some wonderful gelato from a nearby stall, but the place was overwhelmingly swarming with foreign tourists; and the facilities seemed to pander to their needs at the expense of us lowly locals. However, we were just passing through and I concede that it may be a different experience entirely if we had the time to stop and properly take in the sights.

We did take a detour to Buffels Bay which I remember from my 2008 trip as being a breathtakingly undisturbed stretch of beach with beautiful rock formations. Fortunately it has remained untouched and it was good to take some last deep breaths of calming sea air before heading inland.

In a 100km stretch we went from beautiful beaches and breathtaking drops into tropical gorges, to mingling with the clouds in intense mountain passes, and finally to sparse, ostrich populated dirt with the occasional shrub here and there. At least five different countries’ calling cards covering one patch of our beautiful country.

At last we arrived at our bed for the night, Earthbound B&B, Oudtshoorn, with the most overly enthusiastic hostess I have ever encountered. Everything was described to us in excessive detail, including what was and wasn’t included in the breakfast. The accommodation was lovely though with a beautiful outdoor patio. So with no cooking facilities but not wanting to waste our patio, we opted for take-aways.

We woke up early and ate our inclusive breakfast and then attempted to visit the Cango Caves, but with the earliest time slot available being 12pm we had to move on. The place was packed with tour buses full of foreign visitors – excellent for tourism, not so good for us. However, it worked out for the best as it allowed us to make our way to stop 6 at a leisurely pace, taking in some real treats – but I will save that for the next post.

Distance Travelled: 396.3km

Defining Soundtrack: Hozier – who was switched off for being too depressing.

Items Purchased: A keyring adorned with purple ostrich feathers.

Next Stop: Franschhoek, Western Cape

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Newlyweds on Tour – Leg 2: Umzumbe

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Eight months ago, during the planning stages of this trip, sleeping in a glass tree house in a tropical forest on the edge of the sea seemed like a magical adventure. Now that I’m sitting in said tree house, I’m struggling to remember what the initial appeal had been. Also, the bathroom is downstairs. And it’s raining. This is the price we must pay for our indulgence on a five star start to the honeymoon. The Mantis and Moon definitely has character, but I would rank clean bed sheets and separation from the elements above character every day of the week!

I guess backpackers resorts are notoriously social experiences and Hubby and I are notoriously selectively sociable – another flaw in my planning. They want you to drink in the bar and make friends all night, not sit in your glass tree house typing blog posts. At least it’s only one night. The room doesn’t even have a door.

We arrived shortly after 1pm. I fell asleep en route again. This needs to stop or Hubby will have divorce papers drawn up before the ink on the marriage certificate is dry. I feel strongly about this. A road trip is a team effort. He may be doing all the driving and while I don’t expect us to talk non-stop, I do think it’s only fair I stay awake while he’s awake. Any thoughts on this? Seriously, I would welcome any logic that will make me feel less guilty.

After being shown around by one of the cast members of a surfer movie we decided to head straight for Oribi Gorge. Although, when you’re using Sat Nav, these things are never straight forward. After turning into a sugar plantation that was definitely a sugar plantation and definitely not Oribi Gorge we made some adjustments and finally ended up where we had intended to be. And boy am I glad we made the effort. Talk about breathtaking scenery. It’s like being on the edge of the world looking down into a great, green abyss. The entire lack of safety rails of any description was both amusing and unnerving. One look-out point had a bare tree branch lying across the ground like a “do not cross this point” indicator. Other viewing points simply had a sign reading “Beware of the edge”.

We got some amazing photos, Hubby got to test out the four-wheel-drive capabilities of Swifty and we visited Shelley Beach to find a Woolworths. Back at base camp we discovered that some beds are more uncomfortable than sleeping on the floor but that being in beautiful surroundings with crashing waves as your background music can more than make up for it.

Distance Travelled: 266.7km

Defining Soundtrack: To Close to Touch – who I thought were a Japanese band but are actually American. As Granny would say, there you are now.

Next Stop: Chintsa, Eastern Cape