What does a Coffee, Cape Hare and a Waterfall have in common? It’s a Long Drive of Course!
I woke before sunrise today in the Karoo National Park. In the distance I can hear a lion roaring letting us all know that it is morning again and he is off to bed! What a sound to get up to. I make a quick coffee, and then sit and watch as the light slowly increases.
As I sit here along comes a Cape Hare. Now if you have ever read Alice in Wonderland and thought about the kind of rabbit that may inhabit such a place, this rabbit is one of those fascinating creatures. The ears were almost as long as the body and stood straight up. The light brown colours were amazing and I can say its hind legs were certainly built for speed. I sat in the moment as it nibbled a little here and there before it noticed me and wandered off into the bush. These moments are what I live for!
The light takes longer than usual today as the clouds are low and there is a coolness in the air. After watching the birds, which have had a great deal to say since I woke up this morning, I get packing and sort myself out, then head down to the restaurant to get some breakfast (included in the price of staying here) and sit outside listening to the weavers. The breakfast is called a Lions Breakfast and it was amazing – I didn’t need to eat until this evening!
I say my goodbyes, drop off the key and head back to the main gate. Of course there is one more road to detour off before I get to the gate and I take it to catch my last glimpses of wild animals. There is a picnic spot on this route too and it is perfect. If you come here for a day trip I highly recommend it. Swimming pool and braaing (bbq) facilities included! All enclosed too, so you can walk around whilst watching the game right by the fence.
Its been raining since I set off and the animals look a little subdued today. The Ostriches are sitting low to the ground and the zebra have the ‘behinds’ all facing the direction of the rain. Not many are wandering around as I think they are trying to keep as warm as possible. It is not normal to be cold and wet here! This is the Karoo where high daytime temperatures and low evening temperatures abound, but when the rain and wind comes too it is especially colder.
Before long I am back at the gate I arrived at yesterday and I say my farewells to the guard who seems to have been there all night. Time to get going and head to the sea. Just 335kms today!
Before long I have had to make a stop. Since the Karoo is high up and to get to the sea near George you need to descend downwards, there comes a point when the road must find the easiest route through the towering mountains that lead to the sea. My first pass is through the Swartberg Mountains and they are stunning. I can hardly go two corners without pulling over to take photos.
The Rock here is bent and twisted from the pressures of time that the Cape fold has pushed up these rocks as high as 2000m into the sky. The pass I choose to take allowed for the Karoo to be opened to the sea, but the effort required to cut through must have been immense.
This mountain range does allow for some rather special places though. There are the Cango Caves and the waterfalls which crash down from their towering heights. I had to stop at Meiringspoort Waterfall, regardless of the rain to see and feel it for myself. Everyone who goes here drinks a bit of the water too, and it tastes so sweet. The best filtered water you can buy I imagine!
I walked allow a narrow path up to where the waterfall is hidden amongst the rocks. The water has cut a beautiful section right out of this mountain and left behind a waterfall and deep pool. As I near the waterfall I can hear the sounds of the water as it passes over smooth rocks and tumbles down from above.
There are a few people here and we share in taking photos of each other in front of this spectacular feature. It is lovely and nobody minds the rain, we are all absorbed by the beautiful surroundings. After a half an hour of chatting and admiring, it is really time I leave and head back down the small path to the car.
As I pull away it is not more than 2kms before I stop again to admire a piece of graffiti. It is old graffiti and it was done by a very famous man, making this a national monument now. Than man, C. J. Langenhoven, carved the name of his ficticious elephant from a book he wrote way back in 1929. Here I stand now taking a picture of that graffiti that is really hidden away amongst the rocks. ( He is also responsible for writing the Old National Anthem!)
Picture snapped, and I’m off, this time I am going to make it a little further. Alas, I cannot make it very far before I am taking pictures of quaint little shops and mountains that stand tall all around me. Despite the cloud they still look magnificent and amazing.
My Next big stop is the Outeniqua Pass down to George. This is a pass that has a height of 800m and was initially constructed in 1951. It is awe inspiring and as I gaze down below, you see the green lands of the cape spread out towards the sea. These mountains are the doorway through which you must pass to get to the interior from the Cape and they have put on an amazing show.
George is a big town, and apart from getting a few nibbles I move on and down towards the Wilderness. I am eager to see and hear the sea. All this time on the high plains of South Africa with little water makes you yearn for that special sound and sight. (Click here to hear the sea)
The Wilderness is correctly named and as I join the Garden Route, the lush green vegetation seems to crowd every inch of the land. I am sure it is only the frequency of traffic that moves through this route that keeps it from swallowing the black tar road completely. The rivers are wide now and slower moving as they begin to flatten out towards their final journey to the sea.
The area around me is mainly National Park and private park lands. Protecting this precious environment is key, as you have massive fresh water lakes and salt water rivers, with it own unique and special wildlife and marine life. Onwards I must go though and towards Knysna I head.
Before Knysna I see a sign for Brenton-on-sea, and turn off the road, go through a bridge and begin heading up a steep incline before popping over the top to see the stunning views of the coastline below. This is where I will stay tonight, to listen to the sounds of the sea and to wake up early in the morning for a beach walk.
I find an amazing cottage called Brenton-on-sea Cottages just 2 mins from the waterfront and settle in. The windows are open and the sea has filled all the sound around me. Sitting at this desk is heavenly and I don’t want it to end. I cannot wait for the morning to see what is in store.
The landscape changed quickly again today. From the dry harsh Karoo bush, to the towering mountains and now to the luscious green and blue seaside, I am in amazement and in complete happiness. What a wonderful opportunity to take and experience.
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