The Most Peaceful Place on Earth
Trip Start Dec 25, 2008
41Trip End Mar 28, 2009
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The drive to Swellendam was faster than we'd expected, arriving after only a few hours of mountain swtichbacks and two-lane "highway". One of the things I actually loved about driving in South Africa was how incredibly polite everyone was - people would drive onto the shoulder so that you could pass them more easily. This seemed to be completely in keeping with how friendly everyone is - they would go above and beyond anything I'd previously experienced to help
We ended up on the "long road" to the Reserve, following the directions of the person who owned our guest house, since there were no signs to direct you otherwise. But after a while on a road clearly meant for 4X4s and not our little sedan, we made it to the Reserve (we learned from someone we met later that we were very lucky to not have gotten a flat tire). We were immediately stunned by how peaceful (yes, the guide books are right) and incredibly stunning the Reserve is, and I realized that I would love to come back one day and spend a week there - particularly during the South African winter, when scores of right whales can be spotted right off the coast. De Hoop is easily one of the most strikingly beautiful places I've been - untouched, immense sand dunes (called "Koppie Alleen", or "Head Alone") that contrast with a crisp blue sky, fynbos and rocky coast pounded by turquoise water, many species of antelope, birds and other animals, and rarely another human in sight
That night we had an incredible dinner at our guest house and shared with the cook and waitress a bottle of wine Irene had bought in Franschhoek. The next day we decided to walk around the town a bit, visiting a few shops on the main road. There we met Ester, a really sweet young woman who had just opened up a shop selling crafts from around the country. We talked to Ester and her boyfriend for a while and promised we'd visit if we're ever back in the area (Ester promised her boyfriend would take us fly fishing) - something not at all hard to imagine . . .