Tag Archives: wild life

Plettenburg & Swellendam

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Plettenburg & Swellendam

After Addo elephant park it was time to move on to Plettenburg, which was about a four and half hour drive away. Some friends of ours recommend we stop off at Storm River as we were told it is worth seeing, so we gave it a look. I have to say it wasn’t as amazing as described. Firstly far too many people than we had been used to, quite the tourist trap in fact, and in my opinion have seen better in my native country of England, like the Jurassic coast of Devon and Cornwall, but at least I can tick it off the list. Arrived at our home for the next three days “Southern Cross Guest House“. Another really nice colonial property, situated on a hill, with a boardwalk right down to the beach. Plettenburg is a nice little town with plenty of shops and restaurants, and some stunning properties to boot, also the prices are so much cheaper than the UK.

The next day we decided to visit Monkey Land, not a very inspiring name, sounds almost like a theme park, but well worth the visit. It’s situated around 10 to 15km away from Plettenburg, and is a centre for the care and rehabilitation of a wide variety of monkey species. They have been rescued from laboratories, people that have kept them as pets also ones that have been injured in the bush. The guided tour lasts around one hour and is very informative indeed. Also watching the monkeys playing around and getting up to there antics is very amusing indeed.

Next we drove to Knysna which is about the same distance from Plettenburg but in the opposite direction. Another place where the guide-book recommends. It is situated on a large lagoon which is very nice, but with rows and rows of identical houses built on a man-made island, all a bit like the film the Truman Show. So you can tell we was not very impressed.

Our final day in Plettenburg was spent visiting Robberg Nature Reserve. Now I have to say it’s well worth the visit. Be warned though the map that they give you at the entrance only vaguely resembles the route you will take. There is no warning that the route can be quite treacherous in parts and very steep. So good walking shoes are a must and take plenty of water. We only did the short route which is around a 8km circuit which takes you to a place called the gap. Which consist of a very large sand dune leading to a wonderful beach. Word of warning, the return route is somewhat difficult to pick up and there are no real signs denoting where to go. All we knew that with the aid of the poor official map was follow the water’s edge to the rocks and you will then see the hundreds of footprints left by previous walkers. The return leg of the walk is a lot shorter but more difficult as you have to transverse along the water’s edge, with signs warning of high winds and freak waves. “No mention of that at the entrance” you can choose to take the longer walk to the end of the peninsula  which is  around 14km, but apparently this involves walking along a narrow ledge with just a rope to hang onto. but all that said it was well worth it.

Our next stop was the town of Swellendam, just overnight to break up the journey to Cape Town. You have a choice of two routes from Plettenburg to Cape Town, either the N2 which takes in the garden route. Or the R62 which goes through the Karoo, a very dry flat plain which receives little rain. Many years ago is was a very dry arid desert. Seems very strange as its surrounded by rolling mountains and green hills. The route then takes you through the amazing Tradouw pass, a very winding and picturesque road indeed.

Swellendam is a very nice little town with quaint shops and a few restaurants. From the guide-book there appears to be a few high-end restaurants dotted around, especially good if you are a foodie. Many were closed though as it was a bank holiday, but we found a nice one open called Vagabond serving good food at very reasonable prices, would highly recommend. Next stop Cape Town.

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Camp Figtree & Addo National Elephant Sanctuary 

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Camp Figtree & Addo National Elephant Sanctuary 

The flight to Port Elizabeth was a nice short hop, it took around 1hr 30 mins. It was quite strange to be on such a small plane only 56 seats. Luggage collected, rental car picked up and we were on our way. The journey took around one and three quarter hours to Camp Figtree as there was a fair few km off road (getting quite the expert at off road driving). Camp Figtree is high in the hills about some 10km from the park entrance  and is just an amazing place. We had booked a game drive the next day into the park. We were picked up by our ranger Saul who was a very nice chap indeed. It was great as there was just four of us in a nine seater jeep so we had great views and plenty of space. Addo is the third largest game park in South Africa and covers an area of some 445,000 acres.It was started in 1931 with just 11 elephants. Now it boasts some 600 elephant, lion, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, leopard, a variety of antelope and zebra. Top Tip, you can opt to drive through the park in your own vehicle, maps are supplied at the entrance, or you take a guided safari like we did. Which I would recommend  as the Rangers really know there stuff, not only about the wild life but the plants, birds and the Eco system of the park itself and most importantly know where to look for the wildlife, which after all that’s why you are there. It wasn’t long before we saw quite a large group of Wart Hogs, cute little things especially the baby’s. Felt quite guilty really, as earlier on in our trip I had a Wart Hog steak, it was tasty though. Next it was male Kudu. A very impressive creature, much larger than the female and with huge horns. We then saw a lion although it was away in the distance and only discernable with the the aid of my zoom lens. Quite how Saul our ranger spotted it just with his own eyes I will never know. Next up was what we were in the park to see, a large group of elephants at the water hole, I roughly counted around forty just amazing. Then Saul pointed out in the distance a long line of elephants, male, female and baby’s making there way to the water hole. We waited and watched, and slowly they came towards us, crossed the road and walked right past our jeep, so close you could touch them. Mission complete. A truly amazing day.

I would like to give a special mention to Mike, Camp Figtree’s General Manager. A really interesting guy from Zimbabwe. He is very passionate about conservation, he also told me he had set up various community projects in his native Zimbabwe to promote conservation of the native wildlife. Alongside running Camp Figtree he has his own company conducting game drives. A very informative and interesting man. So if you are visiting Addo give his company a look, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. ElephantDawnSafaris