Week Three - Garden Route

Trip Start Aug 26, 2003
Trip End Aug 24, 2004

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Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Day 15 - Tuesday 9 September 2003

Dropped off hire car to Avis and boarded 7.20am Baz Bus to Knysna. Were to stop at Mossel Bay but look on Belinda and Jo's face previous night changed our minds. Baz Bus a small 16 seater mini bus, no toilets or any other facilities, other than a video and entertaining bus driver named Sam. Bus stopped every few hours for comfort breaks/lunch for passengers and for Nicola to throw up after previous night's excess or bug - not sure which. At Mossel Bay, five people got on, we were to get off but didnt and two people had to sit on the floor of the bus - always making a scene. Arrived at Knysna at 5pm, checked into Caboose - train themed hotel. Peter got a few beers, Nicola threw up again and in bed for 8pm.

Day 16 - Wednesday 10 September 2003

Up 5.30am due to room being directly below breakfast kitchen. Changed to quieter room and then got 'Featherbed' Boat to Featherbed Nature Reserve at 'The Heads' for 4 hour drive and hike around Reserve. Stunning scenery at 'Heads' regarded as the most dangerous port in South Africa which became apparent once you looked down from the cliff to the narrow estuary and the angry waters beneath. Had very good lunch at Reserve and headed back to book bikes for cycle round Leisure Isle from Kynsna. Approximately 10k in one hour. First time on bike in years, legs knackered. Up to Harry B's, Kynsna for decent dinner and drinks.

Day 17 - Thursday 11 September 2003

Hired another car from Plettenberg Bay Hire Co (white car again) to drive to indigeneous forest - 30k inland from Kynsna. 6.5k Kerblans Hike through forest (boring) then drove onto Jubilee Creek for 3.6k hike to natural swimming pool - hike past old gold mining sites, easy and enjoyable. Back to K out to 'Heads' for sundowners and dinner at Paquita's at 'The Eastern Head' - oustanding location for restaurant, waves crashing against windows. Food didnt match the location but Nicola ordered (and ate) first fish meal.

Day 18 - Friday 12 September 2003

Drove to Plett Bay to drop off car and booked into first backpacker's hostel - Nothando's - Nicola very nervous - but no need. Lovely double room, en suite, nice bar and pool table with very friendly staff and guests - great introduction to hostels. Due to our tan and age everyone thought we were seasoned backpackers - if only they knew tan all picked up in Northern Ireland and first time in backpackers. Walked down to beach, had lunch in the excellent, if pricey, Lookout Deck, no sign of any whales but booked with Dr Vic for next day. Dinner at Cranzgots Pizza place in town - horrible. Back to hostel, weather still inclement so all huddled round fire in open bar to swop backpacking stories.

Day 19 - Saturday 13 September 2003

Up early for whale watching but all boat tours cancelled to due to high easterly winds and rough sea conditions. Went instead on hostel minibus to Bloukrans Bridge to watch two English guys staying in our hostel, jump the highest bunjee in the world - think its 261m. We sat with three Irish girls, Mags, Marie and Louise and watched the boys jump their first jump. Couldn't believe height, 7 seconds freefall before rope slows - unbelieveable but cold standing round for four hours, although great crack with Irish girls. Off next to Monkey Land (sanctuary to rehabilitate monkeys into natural environment). Running late for Irish girls to catch Baz Bus but whizzed round and enjoyed. Back to hostel and then off to Moby Dick's for dinner. Peter had Crayfish (25 GBP) - most expensive dinner yet - just ok. Attracted attention for bill using Steve's international sign. Peter noted that urinals were filled with ice which made urinating fun.

Day 20 - Sunday 14 September 2003

Weather still inclement and unfortunately boat cancelled again. Decided to make a run north and head for Port Elizabeth in the hope of getting out with Hamal (Dr Vic's son). Another power cut throughout Plett, traipsed around town for breakfast, Moby's only place doing restricted menu. Spot of sun bathing in Nothando's garden and then caught Baz Bus at 4pm for PE. Arrived freezing to Lungile Hostel at 8.30pm. Initially unfriendly welcome from German guests but met up with some other Irish girls (Paula, Pauline, Roberta and Sinead - heading to Australia to work) and had a bit of crack. Booked for Addo Elephant Park and Scotia Lion park for next day with Irish girls leaving at 10am. Went to horrible bed at 10pm.

Day 21 - Monday 15 September 2003

Up to shared bathroom facilities - there's a first time for everything. Set off at 10 for safari with Johnnie our guide (who turned out to be brilliant - if you go there try and get Johnnie). First to Addo (one hour's drive). According to Johnnie we were unusually lucky to see so many elephants (approx 100 around water hole - elephants love the Irish), which set the scene for the rest of the day. On from there to Scotia, about 40 mins drive, transferred to 4x4 jeep with raised viewing seats and drove across Reserve to Lapa (thatched communal corral) for barbequed lunch - delish). Back into Reserve on jeep saw pair of giraffes just released two days previously into Reserve, Johnnie the Ranger delighted at first sighting since released and carried out experiment on male's reaction to human approach - v exciting. As we watched giraffes, 'John-Boy' the lone White Rhino dandered past within 10 yards of our jeep - Johnnie again couldn't believe our luck. Also saw Warthogs (short straw of animal kingdom - ugly and staple diet of most predators, inlcuding Peter), Eland, Duiker, Wildebest, Zebra, Ostrich (boring), 'Steve' the solo crocodile. Back to Lapa for cup of hot tea and freshly made scones, packed cozy blankets onto 4x4 for night drive to see Lions. Got amazingly close to lions - see photos, who had eaten the previous night - dread to think on what! and were just lazing about - unbelievable. Back to Lapa for drinks and dinner at our Irish table - best in the house. Back to hostel for 11, bade farewell to our new Irish friends and straight to bed.
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