I have always been an adventure seeker and therefore have had the opportunity to go and explore the path less traveled which has taken me through most of this diverse country from the Cape of Good Hope, north to the Orange River, east through the bushveld of Thabazimbi and back down the east coast.
Two of my good friends from the US, wanted to come to SA and ‘see it all’ recently, but as they are like most of us, on a ‘not so good budget plan’, they only had a week to do it .
We started the week with perfect weather in Cape Town for Table Mountain and the Cape Point region. And so it starts with all tours… the same route, the same place the same, the same, the same…
When was the last time you have been to see the small towns, met the locals and had dinner in a farm house kitchen discussing the smell of wild flowers and star-gazing with a few close friends?
These places do still exist, and one such place we visited, not far from Hermanus is like this. Bodhi-Khaya was a self catering retreat from where you are in short driving distance to a whole range of really neat places such as the whale watching of Hermanus, the seldom visited caves at De Kelders and then there are the endless list of adventure activities and small craft markets for all levels of thrill seekers.
We then headed north and to a place everyone knows and still enjoys, Knysna and the Garden Route area. With the economy where it is today, not many of us can afford to stay in up market accommodation anymore, so we stayed in a backpackers! Yes, I know what you’re thinking ‘Cheap, noise, party animals stay there’, but this was not the case. While there are a few with a bad reputation, and then the few with the atmosphere of a three star lodge, I recommend that you look around and do your homework, as the good ones are definitely out there!
The Garden Route needs little introduction, if you want an adrenaline rush, you can go bungy jump or for a ride in the trees of the forest, join the very informative team of Tree Top Tours for a zipline ride through some of the oldest yellow woods in Knysna! Or if a nice laidback day trip is more what you want, why not hop on the Choo-Choo steam train as you chuff along the coast to George and back.
The winds turn and the climate cools, so it’s time to pack and head for the mountains and the rustic town of Oudtshoorn in the Karoo. Depending on the time of year, you could well be driving into a quiet and peaceful town or you may be rocking through the night at one of the annual music and art festivals. No matter how many times you visit this area, everyone always has a good time and loads of fun stories to tell after a stop at the Ostrich Farms and the Cango Caves.
But, we had one big problem our American friends needed to see the big 5 so thanks to the miracle of email and a few like-minded friends, we managed to find a really nice lodge not far from Cape Town where we saw all except one (the elusive leopard) up close. It was a bit on the pricey side but well worth it, as lodging, meals and two game drives were included.
With a short drive back to Cape Town through the vineyards of the Hex River, our week was coming to an end, but we still had time for wine tasting and dinner before their flight back. How wonderful to truly get out there and explore one’s own beautiful backyard.