About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

10 July 2007

Roadtrip: Day 3: Kolga to Durban

For the first time, I actually managed to leave at 6am! And it was damn cold (well in South African standards anyway). I stopped very briefly by the Great Fish River, but it barely a stream. No sign of all the rain we had in Cape Town, ever reaching this far! In fact, most of Transkei looked very dull and brown. But the road itself, despite the potholes, is a lot of fun to drive. Long mountain passes and great views makes for interesting driving experience. Again, a nice car is really needed to make the most of it.

The one weird part of the whole trip through the Transkei was the amount of roadkill I came across. Not sure what the animals were - looked like cats and dogs - I didn't bother to really investigate. Regardless, it was somewhat creepy.

One other point of interest - there was a hint of snow on the mountains by Kokstad. That is however not too surprising - last week, the whole town was snowed in, and the roads were closed!

Another welcome change from the Transkei - Kwa Zulu Natal is so much greener! I more or less drove straight from Kokstad, with one stop to fill up petrol (which I didn't really need). A long trip, but I would love to do it again!

Roadtrip: Day 2: Storms River Village to Kolga

So, not contend with sliding half way across the Bloukrans bridge - I decided to go for more. In Tarzan, Tarzan always seems to enjoy swinging around the forest. There is something similar in the Tsitsikamma forest - instead of swing around though, you slide between platforms high up on the Yellow-wood trees of the Tsitsikamma forest. Some long slides, some fast slides, and through the canopies of the forest. Really cool, and beats walking around any day.

Our Guide Pam, Sliding to the last platform

There is so much to do around Tsitsikamma - there is a mountain bike trail to the Storms River mouth but that was closed until mid July (and I didn't have time anyway). There are also numerous hikes, and I went up to the Big Tree (a massive Yellowood tree), the starting point of some other longer hikes around Tsitsikamma forest. I think I can spend a whole week here!

Drove straight to Grahamstown (after a short stop at the Storms River bridge) with the road remarkably empty, and except the approach to Port Elizabeth, rather dull in scenery. I did consider stopping over at Grahamstown for the festival, but I was too disorganised, and did not think I could find accommodation or tickers easily.

Instead of following the N2 into East London, I decided to cut through the Transkei. It was getting dark, and stopped at a small town called Kolga (about 6 Km from where the road rejoins the N2. Found a (possibly only) B&B (Red Valley B&B) run by a granny (numerous items in the office testifying to the fact she is a granny :P). Not too bad, what can be expected I suppose. R250 for the night with dinner (I leave early in the morning, so decided not to take the breakfast option). Not the cheapest place to stay, but not a bad place to stay.

My favourite picture from the trip

09 July 2007

Roadtrip: Day 1: Cape Town to Storms River Village

Initially, I planned on starting the trip at 6am. But due to various reasons, including the fact that I was still packing at 6:30 am, I only started out at 7am. Still dark though! For whatever reason, regardless of trip, I always manage to misplace my lip-ice - today was no exception. So, first stop - the Engen 1-Stop near Somerset West to address this problem and to buy breakfast (Woolies food stop - yummy). Decided to delay breaking the fast until Sir Lowry's pass - eat with a view!

From here on, it was rather straight forward - just drive. I did stop a few times at some of the lookout/rest areas - but the rest areas I was really looking forward to - between Mossel Bay and Knysna were all blocked out due to road construction. :( Regardless, I must state that the road between Mossel Bay and Knysna is particularly stunning, and the lakes, mountain and greenery reminded me of the Scottish Highlands.

Every second car on the road seemed to carry a bike (so I sort of fitted in). Only when I came to Knysna, did I realise that the Knysna Oyster Festival was on, and there is a bike race as part of the festivities. The traffic was horrendous, so I did not bother going into Knysna.

I have been to Pletenberg Bay once before, I did not understand the attraction. But my (ex) house mate, Dan mentioned Nature's Valley, and I decided to give it a try. A brilliant suggestion!

Firstly, the road is exhilarating with all the switchbacks through the forest and mountains of Tsitsikamma. really need to come back with a better car :P Nature's Valley itself is very cool - a massive, largely deserted beach, lagoon, lots of birds. Very pretty, and I think it has a good potential for a very nice day/evening out.

After that, it was getting towards late afternoon, so off to Bloukrans. I have always wanted to bungee jump from the bridge. But to see it properly, looking down - I almost chickened out. But then, I decided, what the hell. And went for the combo - a slide down from the side of the bridge to the jump base. And then the bungee.

The slide was brilliant - you literally fly suspended across half the canyon. I think they should make a really extreme one that does the full canyon. The jump was interesting - it was a high (all that adrenalin), and it was really cool to see the world from a different angle. The whole falling thing is also quite scary, but cool. I preferred the rebounds however, much slower speeds, and thus, you get to see a lot more. Dangling over the canyon (even if it is head first) is an experience in itself. However, I am not sure if I would like to do it again. Would happily do the slide again, and again. I must commend the staff - they were very friendly, and were very safety concious. I do find the whole video, photo and t-shirts a bit excessively priced. I think it would have been better to offer at least some of it as part of the package and not as optional extras.

As it was quite late, I decided to find a place to stay for the night. The staff at the bungee recommended that I try Storms River Village - basically a whole tourist village with a number of guest houses and the like. God a very nice self catering unit (Ploughmans B&B) - R150 for the night, fully furnished. Went to a restaurant here, Rafters, which incidentally specialises in Cape Malay cooking - whose food was average and overpriced. Oh well - you win some, you loose some.