After a few U-turns, we found Route 62 and had an incredible drive. Driving on the left – this time with a manual – was tricky that first day but luckily the roads were pretty empty. We stopped in small town and had a great Christmas lunch in the only place open. There were a few hair-raising moments, but we made it to Paradise Backpackers in time for a sundowner. There was a nice crowd at the hostel bar, and Vickus the bartender supplied plenty of entertainment. Popcorn and snooker replaced our Christmas goose, but I felt lucky to be with a close friend. The next morning after breakfast in the cute downtown, we were off again in our blue Kia Picanto.
Our goal was Addo, but the twists and turns of Route 62 were a bit much and once we hit the highway we decided to pull off in Jeffrey's Bay. As American #3 drove, I frantically called around for accomodation and there was nothing to be had. High season had come to the Garden Route... So we decide to stop in the first place we see to inquire about a room. Cristal Cove proved lucky, and a couple happened to leave one day early opening up a room just for the night. Excellent! Jeffrey's Bay was lovely but crowded due to the holidays. We had a nice walk on the beach, a swim (brrrr!), and took advantage of the kitchen facilities. It was great to be at the sea and we took advantage the next morning before setting off for Addo and the Orange Elephant. After getting lost in Port Elizabeth for what felt like eternity, we found the Elephant - a cute place, with a nice bar and garden. We took an early morning safari tour of the park, which was overrun with German tourists wanting to stop for every dung beetle... but nonetheless the elephants never cease to impress and American #3 got to see them up close and personal.
After our tour we set off for Cintsa – the gateway to the Wild Coast. Holiday-goers took all of the beds in the area, so we decided to hit the local sporting goods store to buy tents and sleeping bags. The best idea we had yet! The N2 was a gorgeous drive with plenty to see along the way. Buccaneers had camping space, so that's where we spent our New Years. It was heaven on earth. We liked it so much, we stayed 6 nights! The campsite is gorgeous – set among the forest next to the beach. There is a pool, volleyball court, and the beach is a 5 minute walk through the forest and over the stream. Our fellow campers were mostly South Africans on holiday, which made for a great experience. We were taught the proper use of Howzit, Mooi, Bru, Brah, Oak, Belter and lekke (important terms!), and how to make the perfect brandy and coke. On New Years Eve there was a theme party, and of course a braii where we set off chinese lanterns. The other days were filled with sand castle building, nightly braiis, and time on the beach. We even ran into Vickus - from Oudtshoorn- there on his holiday. Small world.
After 7 days it was time to go to Tsitsikamma for some more natural beauty. We stayed in Storms River Village at the Tube'n Axe. Again our tents came in handy for our last minute planning, and we lucked into garden camping spots. Our destination was hiking in the Tsitsikamma National Park, and we waited one hour to get in. It's a beautiful place, and it'd be a great place to camp. We chose the waterfall hike, and off we went. We didn't make it 2 km when I decided to admire some trees along the path – slipped on some roots and down I went with a sprained ankle. Excruciating pain followed, and down I stayed. That waterfall was looking very far away... After a few minutes and we tried to go on. American #3 found me a walking stick, and I hobbled the best I could until we found the boulder path – ok now we just climb on the rocks... I gave it a shot, but the going was tough. We came across a rock pool and that is where we decided to stay. The waterfall would have to wait until next time! The rock pool was incredible, and worth the pain! Next stop were the suspension bridges – another short hike but this time there were supports to hold... Terrible timing on the ankle, but they were worth the hobble as well. What a beautiful spot and somewhere I'd like to return to tackle the bungee jump with healthy ankles!
Cape Town was our final destination after 2,300 km. After a long day on the N2 we stayed one more night at the Green Elephant, and enjoyed dinner in Sea Point with a friend from Buccaneers. The day of departure we had a short downtown tour and a great Ethiopian lunch before packing up and saying our sad farewells. What a great road trip that gave me a new appreciation for the beauty of both South Africa and good friendship. American #3 was back to winter in the US, and I was off to my next destination – somewhere I knew nothing about... Mauritius!