Driving on the Left, Robberg, and Plettenberg Bay

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series South Africa:

  1. Flying The Longest Flight in the World
  2. Safari in Kruger National Park, Part 1
  3. Safari in Kruger National Park, Part 2
  4. Johannesburg and Soweto Tour
  5. Driving on the Left, Robberg, and Plettenberg Bay
  6. Adventures Along The Garden Route
Our sweet ride through South Africa

Our sweet ride through South Africa

While the first half of our trip was safaris and city, the second half was a relaxing drive across the southern coast of the western cape, in an area called the Garden Route. This was actually only the second country (out of 30) that we operated a car (the other being Germany, on the autobahn). When our flight arrived from George, we had an hour and a half drive to our first stop, Plettenberg Bay. Our flight was a bit late, and getting a car took forever, so by the time I pulled out of the airport it was already dark. Plus the highway, which we thought would be a straight shot, turned out to go through small towns and over mountain switches, so it wasn’t a “set the cruise control and space out” kind of drive (we didn’t even have cruise control!).

This was also my first time driving on the left! Luckily the roads are really nice in this part of South Africa, so that part was easy (no weaving around potholes, etc). The turns came easy enough, and Sara, in addition to navigating, always reminded me how to turn:

“Turn left. That’s the easy one. Look right. Stay to the left.”

“Turn right. That’s the hard one. Look left and right. Stay to the left. STAY TO THE LEFT!”

We managed without any accidents (even on our last day in Cape Town), so we were pretty happy. The toughest part was trying to remember that since the steering wheel is on the right, there is a whole car on the left, and not to veer off the road. We tried not to side seat drive, but the passenger was responsible for yelling “VEERING” if it started happening.

Sea kayaking. There's a whale behind us, I swear!

Sea kayaking. There’s a whale behind us, I swear!

Anyway, we had a full next day planned in Plettenberg Bay. We booked a sea kayaking trip with Dolphin Adventures, which was pretty awesome. We had only kayaked on rivers and lakes, so the ocean was new for us. All the other kayaks ended up going in early because they got seasick, but we toughed it out. As our reward, we got to spend an hour playing with a Southern Right whale and her newborn baby! These whales migrate from Antarctica to give birth and train their young to swim/eat in the warmer waters. Despite being over 14m long, they were really docile and didn’t mind our presence. Really cool to watch!

BEAUTIFUL Robberg National Park

BEAUTIFUL Robberg National Park

After a nice seafood lunch, we drove to Robberg National Park, about 15 minutes down the road. There are several trail circuits in the park, ranging from 2 to 9km. We went with the middle, the 5km circuit. I should note this was the hottest day we’d had in South Africa, and the afternoon sun was beating down on us. The views were gorgeous, and we even saw (and smelled) a huge seal colony from the rocks. The trail ranged from well maintained boardwalk to climbing up large rocks to traversing a cliff above the ocean to a hilly sand trail. It was an amazing hike, and we wouldn’t hesitate to do it again, except perhaps on a cooler day. I’m sure no one would have wanted to get in a car with us. Except some people from the hostel we stayed at that needed to bum a ride back into town – I’m sure that wasn’t pleasant! Overall, a fantastic day, and a great start to our week on the Garden Route!

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