Port Elizabeth to Tsitsikama
Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
146Trip End Ongoing
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We arrived in PE late afternoon. The extra-long board walk and surrounds is geared for tourist and local alike. There was were dog walkers, walkers, joggers, surfers, shoppers, diners etc. al along the beach front. Surprised at the lack of rush hour traffic, we quickly made our way to Pine Forest Resort. Lovely, "secure" and beautifully maintained resort. Knowing this, and that the car was booked in for an early morning service, we removed everything from the car and packed it into the tent to minimize the effort on our empty stomachs in the morning. “things are not always what they seem”. During the night someone opened the tent zip up to half way. Perhaps this is what woke us. After a quick inspection, nothing was taken. Well, no matter cause just the thought had me tossing and turning for the remainder of the night. This will not help my paranoia for the rest of the trip. Dam.
Nothing was going to put a damper on today though
With washing done and tumble dried and the Tuna bright as the sun after the service and wash, we were excited to start the next section. Lovely drive through dense fynbos as you drive out along the cost. Our aim – sticking to the cost as closely as possible and discovering all the small and hardly visited places. The road took us slightly inland to get to Van Standens River Mouth Campsite. Big, horse farming communities in this area. Spotted a cute farm name “Apron Stings” wish made we think of the kids. I should keep note of all the interesting names along the way. Turning towards Van Standens the sun was just starting to get lazy and we had to make hast to get to the camp before dark. We could not resist stopping at Sea View Village at the local Spar to get some lamb chops and wood for the braai. Our lucky day! As we walked in to the Spar, we asked the very friendly man if we could have 6 NICE chops. He smiled wide and obliged. When leaving the shop we overheard the owner talking to a very impressed local about the fresh lamb he got in this afternoon from some special place, of which I forgot the name
Next morning we set off to see the Wild Flower Reserve at Van Standens. Unfortunately the Watsonia's were not in bloom, but we saw a variety of protea (most in bloom), Erica’s and other flora. Entry into this floral wonderland is free. It will not take more than an hour to drive through the reserve. There are picnic spots and walks too. Ideal for jogging and cyclists. The reserve is only 35 km from PE just off the N2. There is more than just flowers to see, 100 bird species and small buck can also be seen. Well worth it. I would love to come back when the Watsonia’s are in bloom as the mass of colour should be something to behold.
Jeffries held promise for Tom. He had been holding out for a good wave. We made a commitment to overnight there if the wave was good. Sadly, cold and wet weather had been with us most of our trip. The chill in the air alone was enough to put one off the idea of getting wet. J-Bay also did not live up to its “best wave in Africa” or “Super tubes” fame name at all
Next were Cape ST Francis, St Francis and Port St Francis. St Francis has distinctive “black and white” architecture. Picturesque and elite complete with its own golf course. Carlos said that it looked like a movie set rather than reality. Port St Francis. There the strict black and white theme makes way for sand and yellow tones. Disappointing thing about Port St Francis is that there is NO get to the Port at all. Access to it is via a housing complex. Residents only. I sneaked in on foot via the service road and was able to take a couple of photo. Predominantly private owned boats, and a number of bigger fishing boats docked in the harbor. There was much activity as a big cold room was being filled with hundreds of boxes of fish.
We are finding that it is becoming more and more difficult to get to points of interest as access is controlled. I guess this is both positive and negative. At the moment it is a bit frustrating as one drives for long periods to a specific point only to find that just short of reaching it one has to turn back.
Cape St Francis has a small bay
Oysterbay was a total let down. Other than driving through pretty farmlands and seeing ducks in a field next to the road. One can give it a miss. Especially the campsite.
Tsitsikamma National Park lived up to its promise! The magnificent forest, mountains and shore line did not disappoint. The weather was still not great. I guess we should have known. It is winter after all. The campsites are lined up right next to the sea. Stunning views with both electricity and water on site. Lots of campers all braving the cold weather and loving the beauty that it brings. We have had our fair share of strong winds on this trip and decided that we would have to find another spot to set up camp. Tom, with his beady little eye spotted the one and only site nestled in between bush. Literally protected from all sides – yet still having a sea view
A large spotted Gennet surprised us early on. Tom noticed it just behind him in the thick growth. Shy but not scared. It sat there long enough for Carlos to take a photo of it. Tom said he must have smelled mom’s Spaghetti Alfredo and could not resist coming to sample some. We also saw a couple of bambi’s and lot of dassies.
Tsitsikamma Village and the old bridge road turned out to be the best fun we had to date!! We planned on doing the Canopy tour but it was going to take too much time out of the busy day we had planned. In the village main road, this very “out of character” place in shocking pink drew us closer. At first we were just going to look from outside. A “super impressed” tourist waked up to us and said “you have to go in, you will never see this again, you only live once!” Wow, OK. So with that said Tom and I ventured in. He was right. One of a kind. A coffee shop / restaurant / bar etc.
The road to the old bridge through the forest was a hit with us all. Dad was in his element cause he was “off the beaten track”, Tom was brimming from ear to ear – he just wanted to be left there so that he could live in the forest, and mom was “over the moon” to be more “out of the car than in it”. The smell of the forest was like very rare and expensive perfume. Almost, transporting us to another time. Although man has his “finger in the pie” here, things still look pretty much like it used to be long ago. After doing a number of jumps for joy along the route (Tom), we arrived at the old bridge. The “coke” water in the stream was crystal clear. At the beginning of the bridge a designated parking area should have made us think about the rest of the road. We did not. We were rather euphoric in this setting and just wanted to see more.
Tom spotted a Fish Eagle high up in a huge tree. Very excited we took a couple of photos and to our surprise it stayed in the same spot for as long as we cared to admire it. Carlos put Hannes ‘ long lens onto the camera and was able to take a couple of close ups of the Eagle. Tom did his impression of the Eagle call and Mr Eagle was either thrilled to bits or very freeked out by it cause he fluffed up his feathers and turned his head. Well spotted Tom.
The Big Tree. Another spot that one could miss if you dont plan to stop there. Only 500 m to the big tree. It is not as big as the one in George but still worth the walk. We saw quite a number of fungi too. Entry is R12 pp. One of the big trees has a face. Nose and eyes and with a bit of imagination a mouth.
Seeing that the J-bay surf was a no-show
Natures Valley’s drive is almost as beautiful as the old bridge road. Tom missed this as he was passed out in the back after the stress of the possible bungee, LOL. Just joking. The day was running out and we needed to set up camp. Arriving at Natures Valley campsite we were informed that it closes during the winter months. On to Plet then.
Pletenburgbay – Keerboomsrivier – Forever resort. We seem to be making it a habbit of arriving in the dark or just at last sun. It is a beautiful time of day. This would turn out to be one of the coldest nights and mornings on the trip so far. Camp had a number of other people, so at least we were not alone in that. Tom suffered as he has the habit of staying up late on the lap top and because he smokes he has to do it semi outside. Brrrrrr! He got into bed frozen and got up frozen. Carlos made a fire early morning just to get some blood flowing. Our tent would smell of fire for days to come. Forever resorts is situated on the banks of the ……….river just as you enter into Plet from Jeffries side. The “coke” waters look stunning running through the white sand. Lots of bird life. Lots of activities available. We, being gypsies an all, do not have time for all that. So off we go. Breakfast at Mug a Bean, bit of a shop, couple of pics and the open road. Tom is in the co-pillot seat so he has to take photos today.
Knysna –drive through.
Sedgefield- drive through.
Wildernisss – drive through
George, our old home town. Great memories for the kids as they went to school at York High and still have contact with some friends. Tom quickly organized to spend the weekend with a couple of them. We met up with Mark Rademager and had a coffee with him and his wife. We met years ago as Carlos was doing some translation for business from Spanish into English for him. Was nice to catch up and see how the kids have grown. With Tom organized we decided to stay over in Harolds bay. Fortunately the camp site was not closed. Went looking for wood, there was none. Bad planning as it became bitterly cold. We have a habit of picking a site according to view or cover rather than for convenience. The allusions were far off and the camp was dark so we skipped the shower thing. After a hot cup of soup we went to bed with good old faithful 500g duck down. In the morning after packing up and longing for that now “over due” shower, stark naked in brrrr temps, THERE WAS NO HOT WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yuk! Spoeg uit my kind! So it was a case of a quick was of all important parts and grin. At least we had the promise of a great shower at the next stop. Kobus and Johanna in Stilbaai.
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