Adventures Along The Garden Route

This entry is part 6 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

After a great day kayaking and hiking around Plettenberg Bay, we drove towards our stop for the night, Mossel Bay. Along the way, we drove over some beautiful mountains into the sunset, which made for some great vistas (unfortunately we didn’t stop for photos, so you’ll have to take our word for it!). Our accommodation in Mossel Bay was a new notch in our travelers’ tool belt: staying with a local we just met who invited us into her home.

With our new friend, Gontse

With our new friend, Gontse

We met Gontse two days earlier, on our flight from Joburg to George. She works for an oil company in Mossel Bay, and had actually lived in Dallas for several months for work. We instantly connected talking about our travels and adventures in Texas and beyond. Anyway, we almost always book accommodation in advance, but since we didn’t know how driving was going to go, we didn’t on this leg. So when Gontse invited us to her apartment for the night, we were quite thankful, especially since we really needed a hot shower after that hike! We had a great evening eating delicious local seafood and getting to know each other before we parted ways the next morning. This experience has definitely made us rethink how welcoming we should be to tourists visiting our hometown in the future.

As far south as you can go in Africa

As far south as you can go in Africa

The following day was our big drive across the Garden Route, 6 hours in total. Sara took her turn at driving on the left, and I took my turn occasionally yelling, “VEERING!” We made one detour, to Cape Agulhas, which is the southernmost point of Africa and the dividing line between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. There wasn’t much more than a sign, but it was a beautiful drive and nice to take pictures of anyway. From there, we drove on to Hermanus, which is the whale watching capital of South Africa. It did not disappoint! The town has a 12km cliff walk overlooking the ocean, and while we were there we saw at least 5 or 6 whales; some were jumping in and out of the water, some just swimming. We also had our best meal in South Africa at Fisherman’s Cottage there. We stayed at an AirBnB, and the host was really welcoming, so we ended up staying a second night as well. It was nice to be in a house for a bit, as we’d been on the road nonstop for almost two weeks.

So many penguins!

So many penguins!

Our plan was to drive to the Cape of Good Hope to see the penguins, and then to some wineries near Stellenbosch, which was going to be another 3-4 hours of driving. After a bit of research, however, we learned that there was an even bigger (and much less touristy) penguin colony about 30 minutes away, and some great wineries only 15 minutes outside of Hermanus. Our first stop was Betty’s Bay, which is a penguin sanctuary run by the National Parks department. We got there right as a downpour started, so all the other tourists were running to their cars. We didn’t think penguins minded rain, so we went to visit, and we ended up having the whole place to ourselves for almost 30 minutes! There is a long walkway running the length of the national park, and there are hundreds of penguins to the left, right, and below you. Some were sleeping, some were just hanging out, and others were jumping in and out of the ocean. You could get so close to them, it was really a fantastic experience.

So close, we even got photo-bombed!

So close, we even got photo-bombed!

On our way back, we stopped at a brewery who’s beers we had the night before at dinner. They are trying to bring Belgian style beer to South Africa, so we had a great time talking about our recent trip and discussing (and tasting) beer styles. After a few hours, we decided we should try to make it to one winery. We drove up, walked in, and it was really crowded, with a lot of well-dressed people talking about wine in detail (probably the same way how we were talking about beer). We realized it wasn’t really our scene, so we ducked out.

We dropped by the grocery store and cooked ourselves a meal, for once, which was nice, and caught up with our families on Skype. It was a nice break from a very hustled trip, so it was nice. The next day we hopped in the car one last time for our last stop, Cape Town!

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