Thursday, November 21, 2013

Part Two of the Garden Route

We arrived in Jeffreys Bay an hour after leaving Tsitsikamma and found Dolphin Beach.  The sun was out now, although quite windy, so we took a quick stroll on the beach to touch our toes in the Indian Ocean.  I like being at the tip of a continent so I can touch two different oceans.

I saw the tourist information office close to where we parked and car and decided to go in and ask what there was to do in Jeffreys Bay.  The woman in the information office asked if we'd seen "surfer's village".
"no, we haven't"
"oh, it's just down the street.  All the surf shops are down there and a few restaurants.  
Well, Jeffreys Bay is one of the best surf spots in the world.  It's where the Billabong surf contest is held every year.  Since it's summer here the waves weren't so big.  People come from all over the world to surf, shop in the surf shops (Billabong, RVCV, Quicksilver, etc), and hang out at the beach.
We had a fabulous lunch at In Food.

We were really enjoying our time in Jeffreys Bay but I was told to be at the game reserve by 2:30.  Not thinking we really had to be there exactly then we didn't leave until 2:00.  Much to my surprise, when we arrived at 3:30 we found out the first afternoon drive started at 3:00, hench the reason to be there by 2:30.  What's ya gonna do.
We were greeted by the owner who checked us in and then drove us to meet our group and guide, Andrew.  There were already 8 people on the jeep and we made 10.  We stayed with Andrew and the group for the 2 days we were there.  After the first night a couple from Sweden left and then we were 8.  A couple from Switzerland, and the other two couples from Germany.  

On our first drive of the day we saw rhino, giraffes, buffalo, antelopes, wilde beast, impalas and hippo eyes.


The first drive went until 5 then we stopped for tea and snacks in the saloon.  Our next drive went until dinner and after dinner we had another drive.  Unfortunately the rain started during this drive so we ended earlier than we should have.

This game reserve, Schotia, named after the Schotia trees on the property, has been in the same family for 6 generations.  Originally a cattle farm it took nearly 12 years to turn it into a game reserve.  What I discovered, much to my dismay, was that the animals on private game reserves are not native to the area, they are purchased at auction and brought to the property.  Animals in the national parks are from the area, such as Kruger Park. 

Next to Schotia is Addo Elephant national park, where we went on our second afternoon drive.  I thought the animals were from here but was informed that they are all native to the north and brought here as well.  Because it's a national park there are more of them.

We had a different guide take us to Addo, Christo, who told us we were very fortunate to see so many elephants at the watering hole.  Baby's, mama's and papa's.  It was so cute to see the little ones playing in the water.  I gained a new appreciation for these gentle giants.  The one thing I wish I could have done was have a ride on one.


I believe there are other animals in Addo, but primarily they are known for the elephants and that is all we saw.

On our return to Schotia we stopped at a farm stall to have lunch.  There are many farm stalls along the roads in South Africa.  They are very nice road side stops for travelers with restaurants and food from the farm for sale.  This one didn't have very good food but we did stop at other ones during our journey that were much better.  For some reason these farm stalls reminded me of  Lancaster county, PA.  
The rain had subsided while we were at Addo but began again when we returned to Schotia.  Emily and I said we wanted to take a rest and not go for the afternoon drive and then everyone decided to join in a rest period.  
Our game reserve package included 7 drives but we only participated in 5.  It's a lot of drives for a short period of time and with so much rain it was plenty.  I will say that I was happy with the number and variety of animals we saw during our stay.  

We had 2 night drives as well looking for the lions. Lions are very lazy animals and sleep about 21 hours a day.  There are three lions, one male and two females on the reserve.  They had more but the lions eat the other animals so they needed to get rid of some of the lions to help protect the others. 

We had all our meals in the lapa, where they cooked the food in cast iron pots and pans and used coals as the heat element.

the toaster:

We had our last breakfast, said our goodbyes, packed the car (in the pouring rain) then headed back toward Cape Town.  We had one more night on the road since we didn't want to drive the 8+ hours straight back.
About 10 minutes into our drive Emily asked me to get her phone that was in her purse so we could listen to music.  I couldn't find her purse in the car and as it turned out she'd left it at Schotia.  Oy, we turned the car around and went back.  Fortunately the purse was there and we were so glad we hadn't gone further than we had before figuring out her purse was missing (with her passport and wallet).
We certainly have travel angels following us.
Back on the rainy road to our next stop in Wilderness and last night on the garden route.  Emily wanted to stay on the beach and we were lucky to find this B&B, Sea Paradise, situated right on the beach.  Pity the weather wasn't better.  

We had a nice dinner at Pomodoro in the quaint town of Wilderness.  I would come here again and spend time.  It's a nice little village across the street from the beach.

Sadly we made our way back to Cape Town for our last night in South Africa.  I can't believe how fast 3 weeks went for me.  Emily was sad to leave her host family but ready to get back to America.
We had a last dinner with Emily's host family (Gail, Armian and Talia) at Beluga, a very hip sushi/dumpling restaurant in Green Point.  On Sunday's they offer sushi 1/2 price.

I was so happy for Emily and the White family that they'd both had great experiences with each other.  Gail was so sweet and gave me a parting gift of a beaded giraffe.  This was the first time they had hosted an exchange student and due to their good time with Emily, signed up for another student to stay with them for the next semester.  I know it doesn't always work out for students and their host families to get along and know that Emily and the Whites will remain in contact.  I hope they will visit us in Santa Barbara some time in the future.  Thank you White family for taking such good care of my baby.

Our last night was spent back at Balu's house.  Another wonderful angel sent us here and we felt as though we'd been long family friends.  We all got along so well that we discussed meeting in Greece for a family vacation.  
Balu recommended we have dinner at a rather new and hip restaurant, The Pot Luck Club located in the Old Biscuit Mill.  OMG, this was by far the best meal so far in the trip and one of the best meals I've ever had.  Every bite was filled with flavor and spice perfectly blended.  Hard to describe but believe me you want to eat here if ever in Cape Town.
Rachel on the left, Georgina on Emily's left and Balu to the right.  Unfortunately, Ian, the dad and David the young son were unable to join us.  David had water polo practice.  Next to Rachel is Sean, a friend of Georgina's.

Time to say more goodbyes.  Hugs and kisses all around then Balu drove us to the airport for our flight to London.
South Africa, for me, was a wonderful experience filled with new adventures, interesting people and lots of culture.

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