Saturday, 29 August 2015

Life is a long and winding road trip

As it would come to pass we decided to do another long and winding road trip to Wilderness and back.
Wilderness being a small town on the Garden Route along the coast in the Western Cape.

But having said that, the trip is not a mad dash to the coast as is the proclivity of so many South Africans, but rather a long sedate drive making numerous stops  along the way to look, see, relax and of course eat lots of good food.

In summary the whole trip went something like this.... 

Leave Johannesburg drive to Gariep dam 584 km - stop for the night;

Drive on the next day to a town called Nieu Bethesda 231km - stop for a couple of nights;
Drive to Graaf Reinett 54 km (would hate to over do it) - stop for a couple of nights to celebrate Pam's sister Heathers 70th Birthday;
Drive to Wilderness  357 km- stop for a couple of days;
Drive to Arniston 320 km - Stop for a couple of days;
Drive to Prince Albert 426 km - stop for a night;
Drive to Gariep Dam 547 km- stop for a night;
Drive onwards to Johannesburg 584 km - stop for a while - start planning next trip.
Total Journey distance with bits in between 3718 km

You may notice a trend here, we don't do very long distances between places - as this makes for a very pleasant journey 

Gariep dam and the de Stijl hotel is always a first stop for us on any drive to the Western Cape which I've written about it in other entries - feel free to go back and view.

View of Gariep Dam from our room
View of Gariep Dam from our room
Shadow of the dam on the Orange River
Slues gate venting

Next stop - Nieu Bethesda - while it is a town we have visited before, this is the first time we have actually stayed over, and what an experience that was.

It is a tiny little town of approximately 68 permanent residents, but it is also the location of the Owl House; a museum that I cannot ever miss when visiting there.

This time however we got to meet new people and make new friends.
We stayed over at the excellent Ibis lounge B&B where we incidentally also also had our dinners, then visited the owl house, went on the paleontology tour - another of my must do's when there, Ive done it so often i could probably take the tour myself now, and of course a visit to the Brewery and two goats Deli for a beer or two.

Blue crane's South Africa's National Bird

Road to Nieu Bethesda

Road to Nieu Bethesda

Nieu Bethesda

Ibis Lounge B&B

"Dont Blink.... Dont Blink" - with apologies to Dr. Who

Ibis Lounge

Our room at the Ibis Lounge

Our room at the Ibis Lounge
Pedestrian bridge to the brewery

Road to the brewery

Brewery and two goats Deli

Pam Relaxing in the unique car tyre furniture at the brewery
The reason for being there
The main road in Nieu Bethesda
Sculpture in the Owl House
Sculpture in the Owl House
Sculpture in the Owl House
Sculpture in the Owl House
Sculpture in the Owl House
Sculpture in the Owl House - "Pants up or Pants down?"
Very odd Sculpture inside  the Owl House
The Owl House

"Dust Covers" the bookshop

On the fossil tour
Main street Nieu Bethesda
And then met Charmaine Haines a well known ceramicist and her husband Martin, we just had to acquire one of Charmaine's exquisite works of art to add to our burgeoning collection
Charmain Haines Original 

Then it was onward a whole 54 km to Graaf Reinet for a couple of days to visit Pam's sister Heather and her husband Vos and their family, and also to celebrate Heather's 70th birthday.

While were in Graaf Reinet we went for a drive to see the Valley of Desolation and drive around the Camdeboo National Park, this isn't a predator park, but we did have have a nice viewing offering of kudu, springbok, gemsbok, eland, blesbok, vervet monkeys and squirrels.

Valley of Desolation

Out on the road again for a bit of a long haul (357 km - by now we are well into the trip and getting lazy) down to Wilderness via the Prince Alfred's pass at 68 km it is the longest mountain pass in South Africa, joining the towns of Knysna and Uniondale

Prince Alfred's Pass

Prince Alfred's Pass

Prince Alfred's Pass

Prince Alfred's Pass

Prince Alfred's Pass

Angie's "G" spot on the pass

Now let me drop in at this point, we haven't booked any accommodation from here on out - so it is a case of winging it and hoping we aren't sleeping in the car.

We get to Wilderness and drive around a bit and walk on the beach a bit looking at various B&B's that grab our fancy, then decide on one and phone them, the call went something like this:

Me: Good afternoon, do you have any accommodation for 2 people the next 4 nights

B&B Manager: Yes certainly can I go ahead and reserve it for you
Me: That will be great thank you
B&B Manager: When can we expect you.
Me: Oh... in about 5 minutes....

We then got out the car and walked in the door of The Dune Guest Lodge; we couldn't have picked a better guest house if we tried hard. 

The next couple of days were a lot of walking up and down the beach eating at some amazing restaurants and generally just taking it very easy.
Breakfasts were a gastronomic occasion, before the main course after the fruit  6 - 8 freshly cooked pancakes arrived at the table, needless to say I couldn't see myself letting any of them go to waste.

Our room had the most fantastic deck in front where we could relax with a nice bottle of wine after a hard day of walking on the beach.
However as is our want comes the day we are due to leave and we wander down to reception - "do they perchance have space for another night or so" so and so it was we stayed a tad longer.
Dune Lodge from the beach

View from our room at Dune Lodge B&B

Our patio

Our Room
We did a number of walks up and down the beach, sometimes ending up at the View's hotel for either lunch or drinks.
While on these walks and for that matter any walk we do I have a desire to make small cairns to leave behind.


Fossilized beach



Sea Snails eating beached jellyfish

Views Hotel

Views Hotel


Foot Print Cairn

Walks along the beach

Walks along the beach

Walks along the beach - Oyster Catchers

A swim and relax on the beach

During our stay we also popped up the coast to the town of Knysna for the day to have a look around.

The Heads - Knysna

The Heads - Knysna

The Heads - Knysna

But all to soon it had to all came to an end and off we went again down the long winding road -320 km- to a town called Arniston and the Arniston Hotel.

On the way we stopped off at yet another small seaside town called Witsand to see the whales, at this time of year the entire length of the coast has whales.
Again while there we popped off to another little town called Napier to have a look see, then my sister Marganne her husband Brian and daughter Robyn drove up from Cape Town for the day to visit us and have some lunch. 

Had a most interesting dinner, called a pint of prawns while we were there, it consisted of a 500ml beer mug filled with prawns and a salad on the side

Our room at the Arniston Hotel

View from our Balcony

View from our Balcony

View from our Balcony - Sunrise

Arniston Hotel

Historical working Fishing Village


Historical working Fishing Village
Morning launching of the fishing boats as viewed from our balcony

On the walk to Oyster Beach near Waenshuiskrans Cave

Lighthouse way in the distance on the point - our destination

Sea Bird colony at Otter beach

Another cairn

Most days we walked to the Waenhuiskrans cave then on to Otter beach and the lighthouse.
We swam at main beach once and were informed by the informative nature conservationists that they had observed some sharks of large proportions swimming down the coast - didn't see them thankfully but we did get some great Whale sightings.
Whales going past

Eventually our time at Arniston had to come to an end and it was onto Agulhas to see the southern most tip of Africa, driving through the most amazing countryside of vast fields of barley and canola.

And finally up and over the Tradouw pass to Barrydale.

Up on the Tradouw Pass
From Barrydale we then drove onto the amazing but hellish Swartberg pass and on-wards to another favorite town of ours - Prince Albert.

Arriving in Prince Albert, We stayed in another excellent B&B called Dennehof in the Wagon Room.

Outdoor bath

Entrance to our room

At Dennehof Pam was in heaven as she got to see dozens of "fluffy sheep" - Angora Goats and their kids.

Angora Goats "Fluffy Sheep"

The next day it was on the road again to Gariep dam to the de Stijl hotel, got the one bad room in the hotel but after a bit of a discussion with the front desk we were moved to a much more acceptable room for the night.

View of  Gariep Dam from our improved room

And with that the last leg of an awesome 3718 KM came to an end.