It’s been a week since the end of my road trip, but I’ve been somewhat lethargic to write about it. It’s not that it was not good; it’s just that I don’t really know what to say about it. So I’ll just give it a shot; maybe some photos will help.
After leaving beautiful Saint Lucia behind, I spent a few days in Durban, and you’ll remember that I was off to the Eastern Cape and the Tsitsikamma Forests. My stop-over in Beacon Bay, East London brings back horrible memories of the err, uncomfortable drive down to the Tsitsikamma area, probably due to some dodgy Sushi I ate there that night, but I won’t forget the wonderful conversation I had with my hostess at the Parrot Peek Inn.
I’ve been almost everywhere in South Africa, and had the privilege to gaze in awe at some of the most stunning scenic beauty that nature provides, but the Tsitsikamma is beyond spectacular. In fact, I’m going to stick my neck out and proclaim that this region in the most beautiful in South Africa; topping even the magnificent Cape Peninsula. It has everything; rich forests with ancient trees, jagged mountain ranges, flowing gorges and a pristine coastline. The early morning mist hanging thick in the air gives the area a surreal and other-worldly look and feel. It’s quite simply, astounding.
For my Tsitsikamma adventure, I was based at the Otters Nest in a little village called Storms River. Tsitsikamma is a Khoi-san word meaning place of water (or place of many waters depending on which translation you trust), so I was a little surprised, when my host Jaco informed me that I was to use water sparingly as restrictions were in place. However, this did not prove to be any problem at all.
Various activity operators offer the adventurous traveller an abundance of adventure-sport such as hiking, zip-lining (The forest Canopy Tour is a firm favorite), abseiling (also known as repelling), boat tours and bungy jumping (the Bloukrans Bridge claims to be the highest commercially operated pure free-fall jump in the world at 216m, but I have since found that the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland is higher, but only just, at 220m). For the less adventurous, gazing at the majestic beauty around you while getting a massage at one of the Spa’s, is a good alternative.
I did manage to drive down the East Coast one day, to Knysna which is also quite breathtaking, although there has been far too much development in the Knysna Lagoon area since I was last there many years ago. However, a boat cruise out to the Heads is always a great way to take in the natural beauty of the place. There is also a wonderful upper-floor tapas restaurant at the Knysna Waterfront, the name of which escapes me at the moment.
On my way back, to Storms River, I stopped at Plettenburg Bay, and all I can say about this place is that its absolute rubbish. I suppose it was once as stunning as the other locations on the East Coast, but once the developers got their grimy hands on this place at the behest of South Africa’s rich and not-so-famous, it became a shitty little town, just like Margate on Kwa-Zulu Natal’s south coast. Plettenburg bay has been turned into a home-away-from-home for those with too much money; the big inner-city transported to the coast with all its ugly buildings and conveniences.
I won’t forget the wonderful evenings dining out at quaint little restaurants, and especially the evening with my host Jaco and his forester-friend Charles, at the backpackers around the corner from the Otters Nest. What a wonderful evening we had, chatting, drinking and shooting pool with the locals and a bunch of German backpackers, with a warm log fire burning in the bar. And afterwards, a drag of Tsitsikamma’s finest – not exactly Durban Poison, but enjoyable all the same, since it’s been such a long time since I indulged.
I found it hard to say goodbye to Storms River, but Port St. Johns and the Wild Coast beckoned. I will definitely come back to Storms River one day; real soon. There was more to see on my way back North, but that’s a story for another day…