Loves and life on the Garden Route in South Africa

Through the eyes of volunteer coordinator and crazy cat lady, Sharon

Is South Africa the best place to road trip? September 22, 2014

Is South Africa the best place to road trip?

 

First thoughts of Prince Albert, a little Karoo town August 9, 2014

Filed under: Nature,Out & about,South Africa,weekend — shadreyer @ 5:42 am
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So I’ve just woken up in Prince Albert. We arrived yesterday at about 11am with a lovely 3 hour drive from Knysna to George, then George over the Outeniqua mountains to Oudtshoorn where we then took the road to De Rust and stopped for breakfast at the Village Trading store. Leaving De Rust we drove through the beautiful Meiringspoort and came upon masses of troops of baboons on the road. On arriving in Prince Albert after passing several wine farms, we stopped at Gay’s dairy for some cheese tasting and to stock up on cheese, yoghurt and the most delicious farm fresh creamy milk.

We then met my friend Kathryn who manages a farm here and had a glass of wine at the Swartberg hotel coffee shop before visiting the farm she manages with the help of her 3 week old pet sheep, Shaun.

My partner and I then took a long stroll through the town getting our bearings and looking at the beautiful historical buildings. Prince Albert is a little over 250 years old which in South African terms is fairly old. The town itself is quite flat and built on a rectangular plan with small canal ducks running down the streets which they call “lei water”.

After a quick freshen-up it was off to the NG Kerk “potjie aand” where R50 got you unlimited plates of “potjiekos”. This is a traditional South African meal whereby vegetables and/or meat are cooked in a cast iron pot on an open fire and it’s positively delicious! We tried numerous varieties of beef and of course Karoo lamb (which is famous for it’s flavour).

My partner and I then went to a local pub in the bush to catch a local provincial rugby game on TV so met a few of the locals who were extremely friendly and invited us back again tonight. Exhausted and full we returned to our beautiful historic house we had hired out and collapsed!

Now it’s time to get ready for a full day ahead of us in this small picturesque South African Karoo town for another full day and lots of photos!

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Prince Albert road trip August 6, 2014

Filed under: Nature,Out & about,South Africa,weekend — shadreyer @ 6:40 am
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My partner and I have been dying to explore the small town of Prince Albert situated at the foot of the Swartberg Mountain in the Karoo, for some time now. It was also the home to the Attekwa who are an indigenous Khoi-Khoi people of South Africa.

Our accommodation that we have booked is an old church converted into a self-catering house called “Bid Huisie” which translated means “Prayer House”. This weekend we are off driving from Knysna via Oudtshoorn and Meiringspoort- which I hear is spectacular- to get there.

Prince Albert is known for it’s olives, figs, cheese, mohair, wine, Karoo lamb and glorious hiking trails. There are plenty of historical Cape Dutch, Victorian and Karoo buildings with no less than 19 national monuments. There are a surprisingly lot of tours available and we have booked a historical afternoon walking tour and for the evening the “Ghost walk”.
I also have a friend there who does horse trails so hopefully we can explore a little on horse back too.

As it is also their Winter School, there are lots of other things on the go from markets, cooking competitions and art exhibitions

An update and photos will follow

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Bid Huisie on the Prince Albert tourism website

Prince Albert brochure

 

Knysna Oyster Festival June 22, 2014

So the next big event we will be having in the beautiful estuary town of Knysna on the Garden Route in South Africa, is the annual Oyster Festival. This festival which is on from the 4th to the 12th of July, is fun filled with lots to do for all the locals and visitors to our town. From sports events to wine tasting and oyster hot spots, there is something for everyone

Knysna Oyster Festival webpage

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Also not to missed, the local design and food market on the 10th of July
Local Design and Food Market

 

Markets galore! June 21, 2014

Saturday mornings on the Garden Route in South Africa, are a great time to explore the many local markets in the area. I am going to be taking a British and a Swiss volunteer to there such markets this morning. We will start at the Wild Oats market for breakfast with a choice of many different culinary delights from around the world. Then it’s on to the Mosaic and Scarab markets to trawl for local arts & crafts, African curios locally designed clothing and handcrafted jewelry with a stop at the factory making paper from elephant dung. All these markets can be found on the outskirts of the small town of Sedgefield and are a huge attraction every Saturday. Photos to follow later

Wild Oats Community Market

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Beautiful breads!20140621-102437-37477966.jpg

Traditional South African vetkoek (fat cake)20140621-102500-37500259.jpg

Freshly squeezed fruit juice, smoothies and chai tea20140621-102615-37575574.jpg

Pastries and cakes from the German baker20140621-102658-37618660.jpg

Artisan bread from local patisserie, ile de Pain20140621-102806-37686284.jpg

Olives galore!20140621-103134-37894558.jpg

Traditional koeksusters, the sweeter and syrupy the better20140621-103235-37955794.jpg

Love these hand crafteed wooden rabbits and people20140621-110203-39723527.jpg

Proteas, indigenous flora to South Africa and also our national flower20140621-110244-39764480.jpg

The Mosaic Outdoor Market20140621-110507-39907433.jpg

Vintage stall20140621-111751-40671924.jpg

Beautiful bonsais 20140621-112206-40926064.jpg

The minstrels 20140621-112318-40998001.jpg

Dreamcatchers20140621-112437-41077986.jpg

T-shirts with a South African feel20140621-112624-41184570.jpg

Fairy and fantasy gear for kids20140621-112910-41350473.jpg

Amazing wooden furniture20140621-113013-41413981.jpg

Incredible mosaic art20140621-132902-48542654.jpg

Prints on paper made from elephant dung20140621-135156-49916925.jpg

Mosaic protea flower on a vase20140621-135238-49958339.jpg

Yummy cheeses20140621-135454-50094440.jpg

A stall thats profits goes towards anti-canned lion breeding and hunting20140621-135528-50128404.jpg

The oddest vegetable I have ever seen!20140621-135601-50161605.jpg

Droe wors or as it is translated into English “dry sausage’, also a traditional South African treat20140621-135643-50203756.jpg

Wild Oats Community Farmers Market

Mosaic Outdoor Market

Scarab Saturday Craft Market

 

The Outeniqua Power Van March 7, 2014

The Outeniqua Power Van

I am planning on doing this next weekend! It looks great and the Power Van takes you through the Outeniqua mountains on a 2 and 1/2 hour trip! What a lovely way to see nature!

Trips on rail with the Outeniqua PowerVan are of the most popular tourist attractions in the South Cape ,Garden Route. This is a unique eco experience and you can enjoy the Garden Route from the comfort of rail busses in exclusive groups. Daily trips between 07:00 and 21:00 are available.
Travel in the Outeniqua Mountains, one of the most scenic railway passes in the country. Experience the forest and four passes, waterfalls and six tunnels, fynbos and proteas, bird and animal life and the panoramic picnic area.
Outeniqua Power Van

Outeniqua Power Van
The Outeniqua Transport Museum serves as the departure and arrival point for both the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe and Outeniqua Power Van. It houses a large collection of steam locomotives and carriages dating back to the bygone years. The Museum offers hours of exploration and intrigue while your children can enjoy a ride on the miniature steam train.
We also have excellent catering facilities available at the Tewani Coffee Shoppe or the Stimela Restaurant.
· Special trips for special occasions can be arranged
· A minimum of 20 passengers are required.
· Booking is essential.
· A picnic at Power – with a spectacular view – is included in all these trips. Passengers bring their own picnic basket.
Outeniqua Power Van
Outeniqua Power Van Contact the Outeniqua Power Van: 
· Outeniqua Transport Museum
· 2 Mission Road, George, 6530
· E-mail opv@mweb.co.za
· Tel. +27 (0)44 801 8239
· Fax: +27 (0)44 801 8246
· Cell 082 490 5627

The power van trip was amazing! Felt like being back in a bygone era! My mother and aunt loves it-especially going through the 7 tunnels! Definitely worth doing.

 

Another great blog from the “Going Homeless Project” :Photostory : Clifford’s Cave February 5, 2014

You can find the webpage at:http://www.goinghomeless.co.za/photostory-cliffords-cave/

Photostory : Clifford’s Cave

August 15, 2012 by stu | 4 Comments

While hiking to Victoria Bay from Wilderness along the old Tjoe Tjoe Railway track, i encountered the cave dweller Clifford. Here’s the photostory.

the front door

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You can read about the Going Homeless Project’s time in Wilderness here

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Wild walks and cave dwellers …

This was taken from the blog “The Going Homeless Project”

http://www.goinghomeless.co.za/wild-walks-and-cave-dwellers/

Wild walks and cave dwellers …

June 29, 2012 by stu | 2 Comments

So after a big weekend in PE and George, it was time to get back on the road, albeit for all of about 20 minutes down the Kaaiman’s River pass and into Wilderness. It has always been one of those places driven by and never visited. That was about to change.

That’s me on the top losing my religion

It’s a pretty striking view when you come out of the pass and the viewpoint on the N2 nearly does it justice but hides so much from view. If you are not in rush, head up to Wilderness Heights in the direction of the Map of Africa and you will truly get an understanding of what a spectacular part of the world this is.

Wilderness Heights Self Portrait

After being blown away by the view of the town and the Touws river mouth i turned around and stared down at the “Map of Africa”, Its resemblance is uncanny right down to two different rivers, The Kaaiman’s and Silver, meeting at its point much like the Indian and Atlantic do in Cape Town.

Map of Africa

I started to like Wilderness and i hadn’t even arrived yet.

I made my way back into town and sought out the Fairy Knowe Backpackers, which is beautiful hideaway right next to the Wilderness National Park. Within walking distance to town, 90% of the activities and some beautiful hikes, it’s a definite for a place to crash when you pass this way

Sunrise at Fairy Knowe Backpackers

The Backpackers is run by fellow by the name of Digby, who upon my arrival bombarded me with a gazillion things I could do, canoeing, horse riding, paragliding, hiking, abseiling and kloofing to mention just a smattering of what you can do in this super beautiful place of the world. I spent two days here i would recommend at the very least four!

After a quick run around of the facilities of the Backpackers, which is set on about 10ha of land covered in indigenous bush and forms part of the Pied King Fisher trail, i set about planning the next two days with a sinking feeling I wasn’t going to experience a smidgen of what i wanted to do.

I worked hard for this … well my legs did

Digby also makes a hell of an effort to get everyone socializing by offering a cooked meal in the evening for 55 bucks, the plate of food you get could feed three and is damn tasty. A bunch of us sat around a dinner table and had a great chat about just about everything worth shooting the shit about. He also offers a killer breakfast for 35 bucks, cooked or healthy and did i mention the daily fresh-baked muffins?

There are also the usual’s, free wi-fi, an epic bar, comfy sofa’s, a few idiot boxes although with a location like this who needs it! The self catering kitchen is super well equipped and there is a porch that catches the morning sun and is an excellent place to start the day with a coffee looking over the lake bordering the Backpackers. There is also a great outdoor area under some Milkwoods next to the bar with hammocks, a fire pit and braai area which was set upon this earth for the sole purpose of dropping anchor and never leaving.

The hikes are all about the details

The room i was given was a double, super comfy, an epic duvet that didn’t require additional effort to keep warm and goes for 350 a night. Fairy Knowe Backpackers also offer out of season rates so check HI South Africa for great deals.

I got up the next morning to a chilly sunrise and headed to the Wilderness National Park, which was a 10 minute walk from the Backpackers, my Wild Card got me in free and i immediately headed in to a thick indigenous forest which was very much alive. There are two routes to follow on this hike up to a spectacular waterfall.

Serenity

The Bosdruif and the way more chilled stroll along the banks. Do both, the Bosdruif loops back onto the chilled route, but offers a spectacular view from the peak of its route, it’s a steep hike but the reward is worth it. The walk is through amazing bush, thick forest and runs parallel to the Touws river.

Go early as later in the day there is a fairly steady stream of people visiting the falls, I got there and had the place to myself for an hour, if you feeling brave scramble up above the waterfall and there is another Waterfall and a fantastic swimming hole. It was super cold but after the Bosdruif i needed it.

The Falls

Reluctantly i packed up and a walk that should have taken me three hours had taken me closer to five, with the numerous views, photo opportunities and the desire not to leave the falls. I would recommend packing a picnic and spending the day up there, it’s well worth it.

This walk is not optional

Digby recommended i do the railway line hike to Victoria Bay, after doing it twice, it is something you have to do when you visit Wilderness. Seriously. If you don’t you missing out. It’s not strenuous, but the views, the hair-raising crossing of the bridge across the Kaaiman’s, scrambling through old railway tunnels and finally a spectacular view of Vic Bay make it an epic experience.

You head through three tunnels

Just as you pass through the first tunnel, there is a cave, like no other you have experienced. It is inhabited by Clifford. He has spent nearly six years turning it into a seriously amazing spectacle, its is decorated with shell mobiles, drift wood and all manner of things. It has an amazing Garden and can sleep upward of ten people. It’s hard to describe in words, it is something you have to see for yourself.

The caves entrance

Drop by, don’t be afraid and hook him up with some moolah, as technically he is homeless, despite owning the finest cave in the Southern Hemisphere. I went back the next day to shoot more images and it just re-enforced that this cave is in fact a living breathing work of art perpetuated by a slightly mad genius.

Cliffords Cave

Shortly after the cave comes the harrowing bridge crossing, I normally have no issue with heights but some casual efforts to grab some imagery resulted in me realizing that walking down the middle of the track wasn’t the best idea, stick to the rickety walkway. After that the rest of the walk is über chilled but still spectacular. Go in the afternoon for better light.

Discovered rickety bridges scare the bejebbers out of me

As i headed back to the Fairy Knowe, I was bushed. I showered, ate and crashed into oblivion. The next morning felt like I was attached to the bed and after a slow start i headed back out to the cave to shoot some more images of the Cliffords cave.

The Cave is also all about the details

It didn’t take long before lunchtime had come and gone and i needed to get moving to my next stop. After a packing and another chat with the super cool and seriously knowledgeable Digby, I reluctantly headed towards Sedgefield and Myoli Beach to experience the AfroVibes Adventure lodge, knowing i hadn’t got close to getting the full Wilderness experience.

Many thanks and a promise that i will definitely return must go out to Digby at Fairy Knowe Backpackers for hosting me on Hi South Africa’s blogging adventure. I felt like I was home.

** I shot the cave in detail and when i get a chance to actually look at the photo’s i’ll do a full story … it was incredible.

Fairy Knowe Backpackers Lodge

Fairy Knowe Backpackers Lodge is well positioned, with Wilderness being at the pivot of all that can be enjoyed on the Garden Route. The many adventure attractions of Wilderness are on the doorstep: from amazing hiking trails, to endless beach walks and stunning canoe trips through the Wilderness National Park to the waterfalls.

TEL: +27 (0) 44 877 1285
URL: http://www.wildernessbackpackers.com/

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South Africa – Days 3 and 4! November 22, 2013

Filed under: knysna,Out & about,volunteering,weekend,youth — shadreyer @ 10:53 am
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Days 3 and 4 of Travellers Worldwide volunteer, Jasmine Burford, in Knysna, South Africa

enchantedafrica

Back again, and filling everyone in on days 3 and 4! Thank you if you’re still reading!

So, after an exhausting 72 hours, I was looking forward to a lie in. However, at 8.30, my sleep was interrupted (although quite pleasantly) by church bells. The volunteer house is close to 4 churches, but the bells sounded lovely so it was quite a nice alarm clock (which makes a change!) We had nothing planned for the day, but I was adamant I didn’t want to sit around wasting precious time. 

Myself and the three other volunteers decided to get a taxi to Leisure Island which is approximately 5 miles away from Knysna (the town where I stayed). The two are complete polar opposites; Leisure Island has a predominantly white population and it is very wealthy there. The weather was forecast as rain however it was a really warm morning and we…

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South Africa – Day 2 November 19, 2013

Filed under: knysna,Out & about,volunteering,weekend,wildlife,youth — shadreyer @ 7:02 am
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Have to share this Jasmine!

enchantedafrica

My second day in South Africa was again, incredible! Whilst I was planning my trip, I knew if there was one thing I did culture wise, it would be to ride an elephant. I’d found a sanctuary which was the best place to do it as the other parks are very touristy and there are rumours that they can be very cruel. I guess you never know what goes on “behind close doors” but I’d done my research and made sure I was going to the best possible place. When I arrived in South Africa, however, I wasn’t expecting to fulfil one of my life long dreams (and a huge thing to tick off my bucket list!) on my second day in the country!

I’m not sure how we managed to fit all of this into one day but anyway here goes! So first off, myself and the other volunteers…

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