To read about the start or our journey along the Garden Route click here.
To read about the second part of our journey along the Garden Route click here.
As I’m writing this last post about South Africa and our adventures along the Garden Route, I am sitting under the stars in the outback of Australia and the two experiences could not be more different. But more will come about Australia in later posts!
The last few days in South Africa were actually fairly relaxing and we enjoyed not doing much to be honest. Once we arrived in Plettenburg Bay and got to our Air B&B, we drove into town and had a walk along the beach for a good ways before stopping and having the obligatory beer (or margarita in my case) at a beach front bar.
We’d been looking at things to do in the area and found an experience called Kloofing – defined as ‘moving down a kloof (canyon) using a variety of outdoor activities such as walking, climbing, jumping, abseiling, swimming, and bouldering’ – that we were keen to try, so we were up and out the next day to do just that. From the website, we were expecting a massive group of people to be joining us; however, due in part to the weather (overcast with little rain showers here and there) and it not being ‘peak season,’ it ended up being just the two of us along with 2 other girls from the Netherlands. We drove the 25 minutes from Plettenburg to the meeting spot and were greeted by our guides who handed out wetsuits, life vests, helmets, and harnesses, at which point we knew we were going to enjoy the day. Once the 4 of us were kitted up, our guides drove us to our launch site, which was a 70 foot abseil down the canyon wall into the water at the bottom. Despite this being the highest obstacle during the trip and being terrified of heights, this was actually not the scariest part for me – probably because of previous abseiling and rock climbing that I have done (and because you don’t have to look down😂).
Following that, there was indeed swimming, climbing, walking, and bouldering until we got to our next major obstacle which was an about 25 foot jump into the water. I was terrified; not because of the fall or the water below, but because I really struggle to make myself jump off. Once I’ve done it and am in mid fall, I’m okay; however, the act of stepping or jumping off something completely paralyses me. It seemed I was not the first person like this whom our guides had to deal with, and rather then giving into my stalling tactics and answering my (non relevant) questions, he just looked at me and counted down from 3. Granted, he had to repeat his countdown a number of times before I jumped, but I did do it!
The rest of the experience consisted of more of the same, with 2 ziplines at various points as well. Our guides had warned us that because of our small group, we would be finished sooner then what is quoted on the website, for the simple fact that we were only waiting for 4 people to complete obstacles rather than 20. This did turn out to be the case, which was disappointing as we were really loving it and could have continued, but also understandable given the circumstances. Unlike the start where we abseiled into the canyon, we unfortunately had to hike our way out and to the top. Although the weather wasn’t the best that we’d had during our trip, we hadn’t been cold at all during the day, and I was quite glad for the cloud cover as we puffed our way up the canyon wall. With our wetsuits, helmets, and life vests, we would have been roasting had the sun been out in full force; as it was, we were glad to see the bus as we climbed to the top and left the canyon behind.
After a good long shower we made our way into town for dinner at The Fat Fish which had been recommend to us by one of our guides. Once there, we were convinced to try out a wine from the winery that won Winery of the Year 2018 – Raats. It was one of our favourites of the whole trip; however, very difficult to find elsewhere. Keep your eye out for it and it you ever see it, I recommend grabbing a bottle (or 5!).
After Plettenburg Bay we were off to our last stop – Jeffery’s Bay – for our last 3 nights along the Garden Route. In between Plettenburg and Jeffery’s is Bloukrans River Bridge, which is home to the world’s highest commercial bungee jump at 216 m high. We’d found it ages ago when doing research of where we wanted to go, and I begrudgingly said I would think about doing it with Rich (remember that fear of heights…), but once we got there and actually saw it, I was a firm no. It didn’t help that we woke up to rain and wind, which makes everything worse at that height, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that had it been absolutely calm and clear I probably still would not have done it!
Rich decided he did still want to do it, and he did! Watch the video below to see his jump and reaction, but disclaimer: there is some swearing from him at points. You can sometimes see me in the background as I was desperately trying to find the spot in the middle of the bridge that was farthest away from every edge.
Once we got Rich some new trousers, we were on our way to Jeffery’s Bay – or J-Bay as the locals call it – for our last few nights. We stayed in this little hotel/hostel, Aloe Again, which I would highly recommend, and had a couple good evenings around the Brai with some fellow travellers. Jeffery’s Bay is home to a pretty serious surfing spot, and hosts the annual World Surf League surfing event every year. We had heard horrors stories about the cost of surf lessons in Australia (our next destination), and decided that J-Bay was probably a pretty good spot to give it a go. We booked a lesson with surf school and spent 2 hours with them learning the basics. We had a really good teacher and we both managed to get up on the boards, despite the waves not being great for beginners. It was hard work, but really good fun, and something we both want to try on our own a bit more in Australia.
We really enjoyed Jeffery’s Bay; however, other than surfing and various other water based activities (which usually cost a fair amount), we found there wasn’t a lot that we wanted to do there. After our day of Surfing and being at the beach, we went to Kitchen Windows for dinner, which was probably one of my favourite meals we had out. As we were headed to Australia in 5 days time via Dubai, our second day in Jeffery’s Bay was spent as an admin day to try to find accommodation and applying to jobs in Perth (which were much needed after almost 6 weeks indulging ourselves in Africa!). We watched one last South African sun set from the beach with a bottle of wine, and the next day drove to East London Airport to drop the car off and fly up to Johannesburg for 1 night before flying on to Dubai. We landed in Johannesburg at 8 pm, got a shuttle to our hotel, and than left at 7am the next morning. Despite being there for a night, we didn’t actually see any of the city, which we weren’t too bothered by.
We boarded the plane, and as we watched Africa slowly disappear from view during the flight we both agreed that we would be coming back at some point in the future. But first – Dubai.