As I mentioned at the end of my last post, we made a slight change to our itinerary when leaving Colchester and decided to split up what would have been a six hour drive to Still Bay (or Still Baai, in Afrikaans). We did this for two reasons, 1) we were getting pretty tired from a non-stop schedule of stop-and-go sightseeing and 2) elephants!
Colchester is home to Addo National Elephant Park, a beautiful reserve where you are - wait for it - free to self drive throughout the park and animal-spot at your leisure. This idea struck me as slightly terrifying - how is it possible that we are just free to casually drive amongst these massive creatures?! Well, it's true. And we did.
We bought our passes, got a map, and drove into the park in hopes of spotting at least a few elephants. Despite it being the middle of the day (too hot for most animals to be actively out) we were not disappointed by the animal sightings! We saw warthogs (a favourite of ours), zebra, buffalo, baboons (worst), monkeys, various antelope varieties, and, of course, elephants!
After a couple of hours of driving around we decided to hit the road to reach Knysna before dark. However, we encountered a bit of delay upon exiting the park...
We arrived in Knysna around 7pm and pretty much fell asleep as soon as we checked in and showered. I wish we could have spent more time in Knysna. It is a well known vacation spot for South Africans and tourists alike, despite being largely affected by a devastating forest fire this past summer. We could see a lot of the damage during our drive out the next day. We heard from locals that approximately 500 formal and 200 informal home were lost to the fires.
Since our stay in Knysna was so short, we didn't get a chance to see or do very much. We did stop by a lovely cafe in the morning to get some coffee before our drive. The owner was sitting at a nearby table and must have overheard our accents because he enthusiastically approached us asking which part of "America" we were from. This is pre-coffee so we didn't even bother to explain that we were both Canadian and American, etc. BUT he turned out to be one of the nicest humans alive. He warned us of the speed cameras along the next part of our drive and gave us his business card, asking us to call him if we had any questions about anything during our time in South Africa. Who does that? Safe to say he made our morning. If anyone reading this ever passes through Knysna please be sure to visit our friend James at Polvo Coffee. The coffee was delicious and the breakfast quiche was absurdly good.
Still Bay was planned as a rest and recovery stop on our trip - and that it was. We stayed at the cottage of our friends from Pretoria and it was perfect. Quiet, sleepy, secluded. We washed some of our clothes, read, slept and relaxed on the patio. That's about it. But if you know me well, you know how much I love to do laundry and how happy this made me. #Recharged.
The next day we left for the Cape winelands with our first destination being the small wine town of Franschhoek. This drive was meant to be exceptionally beautiful, so we left early to give ourselves enough time to stop and enjoy the views along the way. We decided to take a small detour to visit Cape Agulhas. By small, I mean 100km off the main highway. The cape is home to the southernmost point of Africa and we deemed this worthy of a couple of hours drive. It was pretty spectacular.
It is a bit of a misnomer amongst travellers in South Africa that the southernmost point is the Cape of Good Hope which is located closer to Cape Town. Cape Agulhas is also the official point (according to the International Hydographic Organization) where the Indian and the Atlantic ocean meet. There is a marker to identify it. Cue photo opportunity.
It's a pretty cool feeling to anchor your soul, if even for a moment, to places on this planet that are so remote and special (and windy). After as much time as we could budget to appreciate the amazingness of the fact that the next physical point of land was Antarctica, we got back into our little car and set off for the next chapter of our road trip: WINE COUNTRY.