Sunday 5th Nov
The stretch limo arrived to pick us up at 2.30 p.m., much to Ron's surprise. We enjoyed champagne with Sandy & Tony, Shirl & Bob. After checking in we went to the airport lounge and sat in comfort whilst we waited for the flight. The flight time was 12 hours and we both slept for a while, or as well as you can when you are cramped up.
Monday 6th Nov
Touched down in Cape Town at 10.30 a.m. All was going well until we saw the queues for immigration, it took us nearly an hour to clear, at least the luggage was waiting the other side. The car hire desk was heaving and although we had pre-booked a car it still took forever to process the paperwork, it was past 12.30 before we finally drove away. Not at all like leaving Heathrow and joining the M25, a bit more like the A45 going to Northampton. Followed the instructions we were given but still managed to take the wrong turn on a couple of occasions.
At last we find our accommodation, we were hot, thirsty, hungry and ready for a sleep, would the room be ready, yes it was!! After unpacking our minimalist cases, we headed for the nearest café, by foot, we didn't feel up to tackling the road system again so soon. Our first view on the road outside the hotel was Table Mountain, it is an awesome site and completely dominates the city.
After our first outing, we went back to the room, and no matter how hard we tried we were both asleep within half an hour. When we finally woke up we decided that the best idea was to just chill out and stay put, we were in bed by 9.00 p.m. (7.00 p.m. British Time)
Tuesday 7th Nov
Breakfast in our room and raring to go, sun cream on, it was extremely hot even at 9.00 a.m. Lets be brave and tackle a drive into the City Centre, we asked for directions and set off. With Linda's skilful navigating and Ron's excellent driving we didn't get lost at all and parked down at the waterfront. We decided the best way to see the city was on a "hop on - hop off" tour bus, the cable car ride was on route and we opted for this as our first "hop off".
The cable car takes you to the top of Table Mountain (2 min ride to the top). We had picked a clear day, apparently the cable car does not run when it is very windy or if the cloud cover is too low. After an hours walk at the top, we took the cable car back down and rejoined the tour bus. Our final destination was the Victoria and Alfred (not Albert) Waterfront. This is one busy place, full of shops, restaurants, African music, dancers etc. Highlight of the day, Ron's fillet steak, 300grammes in weight, SA Rand 79, at an exchange rate of 14 SA Rand to £1 that was a very cheap steak.
Wednesday 8th Nov
We are into the driving lark now and decided we would go further afield. We had some complimentary tickets for a boat ride to see the seals, the boat left from Hout Bay which is about 20 km south of Cape Town. The day started hot again but not such an intense heat as the day before, The boat left the harbour at 10 a.m. and headed out into the Southern Atlantic Ocean (not very far away from Cape Hope). Not being the best of sailors we though we would be best standing at the front of the boat, did we get wet from the spray. The island and surrounding waters was full of Cape Fur seals, it was amazing to see so many seals congregated in one place.
We then drove further south to Boulder Bay to see if we would see any penguins (what in South Africa). Boulder Bay was full of tourists and thankfully some Jackass Penguins as well, but by now the wind had started blowing, apparently The Cape is famous for the "Cape Winds". As we walked along the front, we struggled to stay upright as gusts were blowing in off the sea. We thought that we should head back towards Camps Bay (a beautiful sandy beach) to see if the weather was any calmer, it wasn't, the sand stung our legs as we tried to walk along the promenade, As we drove back to Cape Town the wind just got stronger, thank goodness we had been up to Table Mountain the day before as the cloud was hanging on the mountain (the famous tablecloth on table mountain).
Thursday 9th Nov
Time to move from Cape Town, we had a 500 km drive to our next port of call Knysna (pronounced as in Knight). The journey took 6.5 hrs allowing for a stop over in Swellendam where we had a well deserved cuppa. The journey was not very spectacular until we hit the coast road, wow what a site of crashing waves. The guest house in Knysna was called Lavender House and the owners made us extremely welcome, we were the only guests staying. Cecil and Edith were the owners of the guest house and gave us lots of suggestions of places to visit, they had lived in the region most of their lives. We drove to the "heads", which is the headland at the inlet from the Indian Ocean to the lagoon (but really an estuary of the Knysna River). Where the 2 currents meet from the sea and the river was like a blender churning everything up.
Friday 10th Nov
On advice we took the Eco Tour of the Featherbeads, this is actually the other headland on the West side of the lagoon. Tradition states that the area is called "The Featherbeds" as sailors who found themselves in Knysna Lagoon after weeks out in the South Atlantic thought they were sleeping on grandmas featherbed. A ferry took us from the harbour to the docking site where we boarded a 4 x 4 vehicle. This took you on a very steep climb to the top of the headland. You now had the choice to trek back down or go back on the 4 x 4, naturally we trekked, hence the dramatic pictures of the caves and rock formations. At the end of the hike there was a good buffet lunch waiting. Later that day we drove to Bufallo Cove, where we walked along the front, avoiding the jelly fish that were being eaten by some sort of sea slugs (there was literally hundreds of these things). As usual you do not realise the sun is catching the back of your neck, face etc. so we ended up RED and sore.
Saturday 11th Nov
Left Knysna for the 100km trip to Tsitsikamma Forest, on the way we firstly stopped at the Elephant Park where we got to feed the elephants and feel their leathery skin. Most of the elephants there are orphans from other parts of South Africa. Next we stopped off at Plettenberg Bay, found our way through the local people shopping at the open air markets and parked up at the front. In South Africa when you park your car a nominated security steward approaches you to tell you that they will look after your car and you can "reward" them on your return. These people only earn the money they make this way, they are quite happy with a few rand. There was less jellyfish on this beach, so we had quite a "paddle".
We arrived in Stormsriver Village and found our accommodation, aptly named "At the Woods", as you are quite literally at the woods. We checked in and then went for a small 2km hike though the forest, only finding out afterwards that baboons actually live in the forest along with lots of other "beasties" of all sizes. Dinner was our first "Baari" or as we call it a barbecue, there were strange sausages, chicken kebabs and lamb chops.
Sunday 12th Nov
The day Linda was dreading, the canopy tour at 11.00. It was the coolest day so far, so we had to wear trousers and a warmer top. We were kitted up and set off into the forest, us being the oldest ones there. The hardest bit for Linda was actually "launching yourself" off the platform, the middle bit swinging through the trees was not too bad, and once you got the hang of braking without pulling your arm out of its socket, landing at the next platform was less scary each time. There were 10 slides all together, the longest slide being 91m long, at a height of 30m. Once recovered we then went to Stormsriver Gorge to see the suspension bridge. After quite a long walk to the bridge, up and down steps through wooded areas, the bridge linked the two headlands where the river met the sea. It certainly wobbled when you walked over it.
Monday 13th Nov
Set off to Port Elizabeth for a nice 180km drive to the airport, stopped off at Jeffreys Bay for a quick paddle, ha ha, the way those waves were rolling in we would have ended up nearer the South Pole. We thought that perhaps we could download all of this journal and our photos to date on our website when we arrived at the airport, but unfortunately things didn't quite go to plan. Horror of horrors our flight had been cancelled and moved to an earlier slot at 12.40 but nobody had let us know. The good news was that South African airlines could fit us on to their next flight to Durban, the bad news was that it wasn't until 18.40, arriving into Durban at 19.55. Off to the airport lounge (it cost us £10 for 2) to use their internet connection, no wireless connection available and there was no USB port to download our memory stick. Never mind we passed the time playing cards and drinking!! We finally arrived at the Hotel Tropicana only to find that you needed an armed guard to come with you to the car park. The hotel internet also had no USB ports. We will update as soon as possible. Off to bed now, p.s. its raining for the first time since we arrived.
Weds 15th Nov
We are now at the Cavern Berg Resort in the Drakensburg Mtn. Hoping to update this as it is too hot outside