The students had been back for a week of solid (as far as we could tell) partying before school officially began. Since I was planning to be sitting in on two courses beginning at 8 A.M. and Walt had determined that it was going to be a lovely weekend, we decided to drive the garden route, about a 250 kilometer route from Storms River west to Mossels Bay. Our plan was to stay in Storms River the first night (3 hours west of Grahamstown) and then drive to Mossels Bay the second day, staying in Knysna (the K is silent).
The scenery on the way was quite interesting. I shot this from the car. I think the mountain opposite our room is the one in the distance here.
South Africa doesn't seem all that different from being in the U.S. or in Europe, but every once in a while something stands out. One is the roads. There are NO interstate/autobahn type highways. Some of the national roads have sections that are limited access, but they also have sections that are one lane in each direction with crossing roads. They have the highest rate of accidents and vehicular related deaths in the world. In the areas where highways are two lanes, if there is a shoulder, slower moving vehicles will drive on the shoulder to let other vehicles pass. The other place we saw this as a common practice was Poland. (The roads are better here than in Poland.)
We stayed at a place called the Old Village Inn. We were upstairs on the right from the front (on the left). Walt's hanging out of our window in the back on the right.
The accommodations are arranged around a square, like an old settlers village. The food was excellent and reasonably priced. The accommodations that we had which were wonderful were pricy by South African standards, 350 rand ($60). The place actually offers three different levels of accommodation; we had the top.
This big tree (a yellowwood) is located very near our hotel, a 1/2 kilometer in from the highway. It was pretty hot and sticky, but we decided to do this hike and a little more before heading to the Tsitsikamma National Park.
The park, situated at the mouth of the Storms River, reinforced our impression of similarity to California. (Again we didn't use the panorama mode for this shot.)
The canyon of the Storms River is fascinating, especially by boat. That's the Spirit of Tsitsikamma which we took a trip on, in the rain Saturday morning.
To get to the boat, you must take a somewhat strenuous hike about a kilometer in from the river mouth to a place not too far from this suspension bridge (see from the boat).
Later, we visited a cave and hiked across the suspension bridge and on up to Pookout point. It was raining quite hard by this time, so we spent the afternoon doing a little driving around and looking at craft shops.
On Sunday we visited the Bloukrans Bridge, the sight of the world's highest bungy jumping platform (216 meters). While we didn't jump, we did hang around until someone did. Then we headed back to Grahamstown. (Incidentally, we saw several baboon crossing the road on one of the back roads we took.)
Go back to Part II - South Africa
Nan Schaller's and Walt Bankes' Sabbatical Page