Durban to Cape Town Road Trip

Nov 27th, 2019, 11:49 AM
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Hey crellston, I'm sure you will enjoy SALT. They have a kayak that you can borrow, which might be something to do. Judith should send you an ebrochure with local recommendations, restaurants, etc. There are some hikes nearby but I'd cheat and use the car to go up to the view point. There are a variety of boat trips out from the harbor there including shark excursions and cage dives but don't expect to see great whites.

I went on a longer pelagic birding trip out past Cape Point, to where the trawlers are (cancelled due to weather on the Saturday, actually cancelled 3 weekends in a row). It was a perfect day when we went, even not too bad through "the washing machine" which is the apt name for the waters off of Cape Point.

I agree that the Chapman's Peak road is pretty awesome.

Some of the towns to the east from Kalk Bay to Muizenberg have a the painted beach huts and some interesting history, but you may not be coming in that way.

You could probably do two days at Cape Point, actually. Especially with the Wild Card.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 27th, 2019, 07:54 PM
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As promised TP, some Karoo photos. Some from the Great Karoo and some from the Klein (little) Karoo. Both semi desert and both pretty amazing. There will be a lot more photos on our blog in due course but that has taken a back seat at present. In between the two Karoos are the incredible Swartberg mountains which we have now crossed twice by two different passes. Again, incredible but more of that later.

A typical Karoo gravel road

Loads of empty space

Ostrich Country around Oudtshoorn

Route 62 Klein Karoo

Valley of Desolation near Graaf Rheinet

Valley of Desoltation
crellston is offline  
Nov 27th, 2019, 08:06 PM
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Thanks for the tips Odín. Llandudno!! Bizarrely I have just found out we are house/pet sitting in the North Wales original version when we are back in the U.K. next year. Had no idea there was one in SA! we are keen divers but only in water temps of 25c plus. I am assuming that is not the case around the cape?

mlgb - Judith did send the ebrochure which is v helpful. Seems like there is a lot more than I thought around that part of the Cape. I am going to have to be very selective! Already planning on returning. This time next year is a toss up between a return here (plus Zimbabwe /Namibia ) or to Mexico + Central America but who knows!
crellston is offline  
Nov 28th, 2019, 02:42 AM
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If you are a keen diver, I would recommend diving around Simons Town. There are a couple of operators in the high street. Yes it is cold but the wetsuits they provide are thicker than the ones I use in the Caribbean, the experience of seeing the seals and sharks was amazing. They took us out somewhere close to Boulders Beach so saw the penguins close up.
We considered renting a holiday apartment once in Llandudno, the area is beautiful, the beach is lovely but we thought it a bit far to get to restaurants, supermarkets etc. Worth a stop just to look.
If you do go to Noordhoek (horse riding is available there), Kommetjie is worth a detour, the whole area around there is scenic.
Odin is offline  
Nov 28th, 2019, 06:00 AM
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Thank for the pics.
Look f/w to more in due time.
jacketwatch is online now  
Nov 28th, 2019, 01:42 PM
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Awesome photos. The Valley of Desolation looks very interesting.
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Nov 29th, 2019, 05:34 AM
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Addo Elephant Park

Sad to leave Gardiol Country House but the time has come to drive south to a place we really have been eagerly anticipating. The legendary Addo, home to some 600 elephants and allegedly, lots of other game. After a two or three hour drive we finally arrive at the Main gate and are able to check into our lodge straight away. I confess to being a little disappointed on arrival. Nothing wrong with the main camp, just very, very busy and not what we have become accustomed to. However keys and map in hand, we set off on short game drive through the main section of the park before heading up to our much smaller and newer Nyathi Restcamp.

Nyathi is fenced of from the main park which provides a feeling of exclusivity as it is effectively separate from the remainder of the park. There are only a dozen or so lodges in the camp and what a camp it is!!

Although this is a San Parks camp it is more like a privately run camp. There are only a dozen or so lodges in the camp and what a camp it is!! The lodges are exquisitely designed in African Rondavel style a massive circular main bedroom with well designed kitchen areas, a huge bathroom, complete with a huge circular bath, a wrap around deck and even a plunge pool.

What really sets it off is the view. We are high on a hillside overlooking a fully enclosed valley below with a waterhole in the middle. Within minutes, almost on cue, the game arrives. Elephant, rhino, troops on baboons and monkeys, Cape Buffalo. We hardly need to leave our deck to go game viewing (but of course we do!).

Our own private waterhole..

The drive from the gate to Nyathi to our camp is along a single road in and out. Even though it is only a 7km drive, the scenery is very diverse, rolling hills, mountains forest and savannah, perhaps it is this diversity which draws the vast quantity of wildlife to this section of the park. We feel a little guilty about having it virtually all to ourselves as we rarely saw another vehicle.

What we did see however were many, many elephants. Herds of them up in the hills, in the bush and on the road. One day we gave up counting at 60 of the huge grey beasts. The traffic on the road into the camp which we drove along several times a day, consisted of mostly elephants. We frequently got stuck behind a herd of a dozen or more, ambling gently along the road. Finally! A traffic jam I was happy to be in!

Elephant traffic!

I thought this beauty was about to get in the back seat!

We always took it pretty slowly along this road as elephants would appear as if by magic out of the trees alongside the road and disappear just as quickly. Hard to comprehend how such huge beasts can just melt away into the bush with seemingly no trace.

This place is not just about the elephants though. Zebras are everywhere as are a variety of antelope, warthogs, rhino, Cape buffalo. Driving along in a world of my own admiring the scenery, Carolyn yells STOP in my ear! There they are, lions, our first sighting on this trip. But not just any old lionS, these are truly magnificent beasts just lazing, seemingly without a care in the world under the shade of some trees right by the track.

The scenery in the rest of the camp is as diverse as it is stunning. We can really see why this is one of the most popular parks in South Africa. Just don’t tell anyone about Nyathi - wouldn’t want it to get booked out for our next trip...
crellston is offline  
Nov 29th, 2019, 07:01 AM
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Loving this report - some of our fave areas in SA (Karoo, Addo.) I thought I'd post a couple of pix of road signs from Addo that still bring smiles...

and.. well, duh...

Gardyloo is offline  
Nov 29th, 2019, 08:14 AM
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What a great sighting. Re the water temps off CT. Too cold for more than knee high wading for me. Seaforth beach is especially fun late afternoon-pre dinner as the pengies wander up from the beach to their overnight lodgings (under footbridges over culverts, cars, etc.)
mlgb is offline  
Nov 29th, 2019, 11:00 PM
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Gardyloo, I remember the dung beetles from your post on my original planning thread which, incidentally, had a big influence on the route we took. We saw load of the flying dung beetle in iSimangaliso. Quite disconcerting at first to see these huge beetles flying at my head carrying marble sized balls of s**t!

When we got to Addo I thought of your comments as there were signs up all over te park warning us not to drive over the beetles or their food source, the elephant poo. A big ask considering how much elephants poo!!

The Garden Route
I debated long about travelling the renowned Garden Route but in the ended decided that it was not for us and that the inland version, Route 62, was more up our street. More remote, more rugged and less people. That said we couldn’t come to South Africa and not have a taster. The original plan was based on comments from Tegdale on my aforementioned post, to stay in Plettenberg Bay and use that as a base which is what we did. The plan was to take a few trips out from there but we were suffering from a little trip fatigue at that point, so just used our three nights there to chill out and eat some fish.

Plettenberg is clearly the premier seaside resort in SA and I can imagine it gets very busy in the high season which we just missed. Our only trip out was, again on Tegdale’s recommendation, was a hike around the Robberg Peninsula. A great call as the hike was absolutely stunning! Thanks for the suggestion.

The Gap leading to The Beach

There are a couple, of choices, the full monty, four hours from the car park to the tip of the peninsula and another lasting 2-3 hours, returning via the spectacular "Gap". We chose the latter, as did most others we saw.

It truly is a spectacular walk and could probably be managed by anyone of reasonable fitness and mobility. There are a few rough and steep paths along the way but nothing too demanding BUT - we did manage to pick the hottest of our days so far. Glad we took plenty of water, hats and a picnic. We saw lots of dolphins and seals for which the bay is famous.

As we headed back through the "gap", effectively a giant sand dune stretching from one side of the peninsula to the other we walked down this very steep dune to the most spectacular beach I have seen - ever!

Plettenberg is a terrific place to spend a day or three and I can see why so many of the wealthier white South Africans buy first or second homes here. Some of the properties are stunning. However, it is also where we noticed more than anywhere we have been previously, the wide disparity in socio-economic status between black and white. The shanties on the edge of town were a huge contrast to the multi- million rand places overlooking the bay.
We had cooking and Braii facilities at the place we were staying and so took advantage of a couple of specialist food shops to by some incredible fresh tuna and some wagyu beef (a fraction of the cost back home!) and use the braii. We did eat a couple of lunches at The Lookout - great views and pretty good food. Also, had sundowners and fish and chips at the jet ski club on Main Beach. Like the Jet Ski Club in St Lucia, this place served good food, cold beer and even at six in the evening, the clientele consisted of drunk South African men of a "certain age". Maybe it is a thing in SA like the "working men’s clubs" used to be in the U.K. ?

Glad we stopped over in Plettenberg and we possibly missed out on some great places by not venturing off the main drag. Next stop Oudtshoorn ..
crellston is offline  
Nov 30th, 2019, 03:20 AM
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The pictures are just priceless. What a great experience to see the animals in their own habitat.
jacketwatch is online now  
Nov 30th, 2019, 10:16 AM
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Stunning was the word that immediately came to mind.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 1st, 2019, 10:06 PM
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Oudtshoorn markets itself at the ostrich capital of the world. Driving into town and passing all the ostrich farms bordering the highway, I can see why. The giant birds are everywhere!

The town itself has some nice colonial type buildings dotted around and is pleasant enough and although, other wise fairly unremarkable, it does get a lot of visitors.

Unsurprising the town is all about the Ostrich. Ostrich is on every single restaurant menu presented in more ways than I would have thought possible - fillet, goulash, carpaccio, pizza, burger.... it took me back to our time in Sierra Leone where one of the few meats we could get hold of was minced ostrich ( at least I think that’s what it was) and I created my renowned ostrich bolognese sauce!

There are some very good restaurants in this town, most focusing their cuisine on said ostrich but in some very inventive ways. On our first night we found a place called Anny’s Bistro that had only been open a month. It was superb! So good we returned the next night which is unheard of. Truly amazing food and one of our best restaurant finds in years - highly recommended if passing this way.

Ostrich fillet

I have been very impressed with the accommodation in South Africa ( apart of course from the dog crap place in Smithfield). My choice here again wasn’t my best effort. For a change I decided on an AirBnb which we have used before but only for the whole apartment or house. I didn’t fully appreciate that this was just a room in a private house. It was on a huge development on the periphery of the town. Perhaps my travel planning mojo deserted me on the day I booked it?

With just one full day here we had a choice of the Cango Caves or a visit to an Ostrich farm. The Ostriches won out and off we went to Highway Ostrich Farm. We had chosen this one on the recommendation of the tourist information office as one of the ones that didn’t allow riding of the ostriches (yes really!) as we feel much the same about that as we do about riding elephants.

The woman running the hour long tour of the farm was very informative. Who knew there was so much to know about ostriches? She took us through the whole process from fertilisation to the end use, weather that be a feathered headdress at the Rio carnival, ostrich leather handbags in the boutiques of London or Paris or on the plate in the farms restaurant. Very little is wasted.

This one is not shaking too many tail feathers!

The Zimbabwean Black

Perhaps someone just pulled his tail feathers..

A fun fact - ostrich eyes are twice the size of their brains

A three week old chick

Apparently , ostrich leather is the most prized leather in the world after kangaroo. Very expensive because only a small section on the breast showing the bumps from the feathers can be used for bags etc. The rest is used for belts etc. but all is used.

The feathers are harvested every six months or so. The big fluffy ones on the tail are what they are after and this requires 4 men to hold the ostrich while another pulls them out. She assures us that this causes the ostrich little distress - not sure I bought that assumption! These feathers command a very high price. So high that the industry in South Africa is facing big problems from the Chinese who are faking these by manufacturing plastic quills and sticking cheap ostrich feathers to them!!

It is currently the breeding season so we get to see ostriches in all there stages of growth through from lots of chicks a few weeks old right up to the much prized Zimbabwean Black - huge, at least 7-8 ft tall.

As we drive back into town we see literally hundreds and hundreds of ostrich in the desert scrub bordering the highway. Next stop Prince Albert over the Swartberg mountains and back into the Great Karoo.
crellston is offline  
Dec 8th, 2019, 01:07 AM
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Our intention is to drive most of Route 62, a renowned driving route, similar I guess to Route 66 in the USA or Ruta 40 in Argentina, just not as long.

But first, a brief diversion! From Oudtshoorn we set off north to Prince Albert, a small town back in Great Karoo. We drove through the Swartberg mountains via the spectacular Meringspoort Pass. This pass is along a nice tarmac road which carves its way through the mountains. Everywhere we look, there are weird and wonderful rock formations to be admired. We stop awhile at the xx waterfalls a short walk from the road. Once again we meet a biker gang numbering 20 or so riders, most on Harleys or BMW . I say gang, they made me feel quite young! It seems motorcycling is a major retirement hobby in South Africa.

A truck that lost its way

Meringspoort Pass

Waterfall on the pass

Once through the pass we drive along more desert scenery towards Prince Albert. Passing many vineyards, we eventually find one that is actually open and pop in for a tasting. I can’t recall ever meeting a vineyard owner , more enthused about his profession. A couple of hours later, after sampling a few wines we buy a couple of bottles and continue on to Prince Albert, a very small, very quaint town and the main centre, such as it is for this area. It is very hot and very quiet. In fact it is a bit like a ghost town in that there are very few people around. But then it is a Sunday afternoon and it is around 40 centigrade!

We leave our bags at our cottage and walk into the town, a number beautiful churches, probably way more than this small town needs, but everyone seems very keen on religion in this part of South Africa. Not just churches, there is even a synagogue and a mosque. There is a prison on the Main Street too, which seems a little odd.

The rest of Main Street is a mish-mash of craft shops, cafes and an apparently famous old hotel complete with Gin Bar - the first time I have ever seen Gin and Tonic on tap - terrible.. most of the buildings are colonial in style. A nice, quaint place but so very quiet.

One night here was very pleasant, but enough. It is now time to head back over the Swartberg mountains vis the famed, Swartberg Pass. Unlike the Meringspoort Pass, this is an unrestored gravel road, quite rough in places, steep and with a huge number of hairpin bends. Quite some drive, although I have to say, I think I preferred the Meringspoort Pass for scenery.

Swartberg Pass

Once over the pass we descend once again into the Klein Karoo and the Groenfontain valley and, after some brief relief of tarmac roads, it is back onto gravel again until we find our next stop of Red Stone Hills Farm, just off Route 62. In one short day we have seen some pretty incredible scenery.
crellston is offline  
Dec 8th, 2019, 04:05 AM
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Glad the road trip remains interesting. Reminds me that I only saw a fraction of South Africa and a return is in order.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Dec 8th, 2019, 02:28 PM
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Still following Mr. C. Love your pictures and TR. The ostrich filet looks scrumptious
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