27 January 2013

South Africa - Sundays River and back to Cape Town

Sundays River, South Africa

The Sunday River has the most beautiful sand dunes lining the banks. However, if you do not have a boat, getting to the river means going through the Pearson Park Resort. The current cost is R60.00 even if you are only there for an hour. The drive down goes past the camping sites on a dirt road which is quite bone-shattering. At the end of the road there is a sandy "parking spot" The walk to the river mouth does not take long and the views are spectacular. This is a haven for fisherman, birds and people who enjoy nature.
There are boat rides on the river but the chap only takes a minimum of 4 so he was not willing to take us out. This was very disappointing as the dunes must be totally incredible from the water. There are sand-boarding excursions from Pearson Park - one only hopes that these are well controlled so as not to disturb the eco-system of the dunes.
It was the strangest sight to see two moving fishing rods way beyond the dunes - we realised that there was a path below the dune and the fisherman were walking down to he sea! At first, we thought we were indeed seeing ghostly happenings.
The clouds suddenly came over and the sky darkened which spoilt the light that I was hoping for on the sand. The boats were out and fishing or just enjoying their spin down to collect bait. We felt like hi-jacking one but not being Somali's, we are not quite versed in the art of hi-jacking boats. Sadly!!
Our evening meal at the Elephants Footprints Lodge, was the best in a few days - culinary art is not the greatest in these small places. The Dutch guests were looking forward to their  excursion to Addo the following day whilst we were not looking forward to the homeward journey.

An early start to the day meant that we reached Knysna in time for breakfast. The restaurant at the Heads was our choice - stunning views and a good plate f food. We watched, fascinated, as the yachts went out through the Heads - the sea was calm but it is still a tricky maneuver. The Knysna Lagoon is so  beautiful and the views from the top of Coney Glen Drive are superb.
Traffic was well behaved so we made good time although the many speed limits between Plett and George make for slow going.
The Point at Mossel Bay was a welcome short lunch break and we watched he children dive and play in the tidal pool at high tide. with waves crashing over the rocks, it's quite scary and we were worried that they would get bashed against the rocks as the waves were so high. Luckily not.
The last stay of this trip is on a farm called "A Farm Story" On the road to Still Bay, it is a dairy farm that also has a cheese factory. The Kasselshoop Cheese factory was started in 2002 and sells it's cheese to Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape. The guest house is in a restored cottage which was known as "Oom Tom se Huis" It is beautifully dencorated with old family history, dresses, old wash basins, photos etc and is a look into the past whilst still enjoying modern comforts. And a long history this farm has as it has seen 5 generations of farmers to date.
I love the quote "If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed" The family history goes back to 1700 when a German wagon builder from the town of Kassel, travelled to South Africa and so the story began........
This is also the site of the southernmost skirmish between the Boers and the British on 12/9/1901. One hundred years later, 12 September 200, a monument was set up on the exact spot where this battle took place and can be visited whilst on this farm.
For now, we look forward to a home-cooked meal and a good night's rest with only the cows, the stars and the moon for company!
After a good breakfast, we set off for Still Bay about 20 kms away. This town has an East and West side divided by a beautiful Goukou River. The beaches are simply fantastic for long walks at low tide and swimming appears to be safe. Fishing seems very important to the locals as the harbour had many trailers parked - some even towed by tractors!!! There are lovely houses on the beach - west side - it looks so relaxing, the inhabitants sipping their lunch time drinks, with braai fires going. The kids are able to play quite happily on the sand right in front of their holiday homes. On the East side, there are some really old "beach" houses - most probably built many, many years years ago and still well loved. Many larger mansions stand proud and tall - for the rich families who have to show off that they have made it in the world. Give me the beach living any time.  We watched a rather distraught parent shouting at her kids on a canoe to come back - they were far out and oblivious to their mother's stress. They did capsize but it was low tide and we saw the standing in the sea so it was shallow quite far out. The mom was not amused as she was wading out and calling to her childen all the time!! I think the canoe will be locked away in future!!
Back on the farm for a short siesta and then a walk amongst the cows and outbuildings then sundowners whilst listening to the numerous birds. There are resident owls in the trees at night but we have not yet spotted them. Feeding a calf a bottle of milk is such fun - they certainly can gulp it down in a few seconds.
© Judelle Drake

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