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3 to 8 January 2009  
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Family Trip along Garden Route and Karoo

Going for a Zip line ride at Tsitsikamma Nature reserve

Suspension bridge across Storms River

On the Beach in Plettenberg Bay

A Lion at the Wildlife Farm in Oudtshoorn

A Meerkat on guard duty

The Famous Grant "The Meerkat-man" Mc Ilrath

The Cabin we stayed at DeZeekoe guest Farm

Spohi coming through "The Letterbox" on the Cango Caves.

Opening is 27 cm

Coming through "The Tunnel of Love".

So called because it sqeezes you from all sides.

Bianca on a South African Ostrich

Strong Eggs capable of carrying a fat Norwegian

Well- it is not really. It is a pub and cafe called the "Road-kill Cafe"

Ronnie's friend added the "sex" and created a tourist attraction.

  Updated 11 January 2009

Once all the Christmas and New Year celebrations were over we headed on a driving trip along the Garden Route from Cape Town along the Southern Coast past Plettenberg Bay. The route from Mossel Bay to Tsitsikamma lives up to it's name with an abundance of green vegetation and pine forests to one side and the rugged Indian Ocean on the other.

The first two nights we were lucky enough to stay with Dave and Joan at their house in Keurbooms River east of Plettenberg Bay and a fabulous location for exploring Tsitsikamma nature reserve. We went to see (but not jump due to 3 hour wait) the highest Bungy Jump in the world on the largest bridge in Africa across the Bloukrans River before heading to do the Zip lines through the trees and across the river and falls at Tsitsikamma Adventure Park. Had a nice lunch at The Birds of Eden, 3.4 Ha of covered free-flight area for birds. From there we went back to the National Park and a short hike to the suspension bridge across Storms River. Since this is in the Aghulas current, the water is coming from the Indian Ocean with water temperature about 21 deg C, nicely swimmable.

Next morning we had a stroll on the beach in Plettenberg Bay before saying goodbye to our friends and going to Knysna. To our surprise the island we went to was named after the Thesen family from Stavanger, Norway. Following lunch overlooking the lagoon we headed inland to Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital.

Oudtshoorn is a quaint but quite large centrally located around ostrich farms. In its hayday (1860 -1914) the large ostrich feathers were priced the same as gold with women wearing them on their hats...a sign of wealth. The lovely manors built by these "feather barons" add to its historical charm. This was not the primary reason for visiting, we actually had to meet the Meerkat Man and join him on his safari.

Before checking into our log cabin on a small lake at the De Zeekoe Guest Farm we visited the Cango Wildlife Centre. One of their slogans is "Wet Your Pants in our Pool"... swimming with crocodiles....from a cage!

Our meerkat safari got off to an early start meeting Grant at 0500h. He guided us to the burrow where he last saw them enter the previous evening. He spoke about his conservation project along with meerkat behaviour. We stood for some time until at 0605h the first meerkat popped its head up. We had to stand perfectly still until we passed the "clearance test". Once the meerkats were used to having us as background objects we were able to move carefully around the group. There were 20 adults, teens and babies! They sunned their bellies before proceeding to hunt for their breakfast. It is amazing to hear them in action and watch them in action exchanging roles as watchmen! We walked with the group for 2 hours...spectacular! Sadly no cameras were allowed due to the noise that could distract and send the creatures back into their burrows.

The next exciting adventure was had at the Cango Caves. We took the 90 minute tour along the adventure route...squeezing ourselves through gaps, climbing a 4 metres narrow passage or fitting through the 27cm opening of the "letterbox". Two years ago a lady from Durban got stuck in the" Tunnel of Love" passage for 12 hours before being freed. 22 people behind her had the pleasure of a prolonged cave stay! Our trip actually took 2 hours and 11 minutes.

That afternoon we enjoyed the lake, canoeing, strolling, swimming (girls only) bird watching and eventually grilled meat before engaging in Rummicube games for the evening! The idea of self-catered cottages is sure a nice way of relaxing when on holiday, no restaurant waits and the choice to eat and cook at leisure! We sure had a cozy cabin.

We had to get to an ostrich farm to see these big dumb birds...their eyes (60 grams each) are bigger than their brains (40 grams). The girls had the chance to sit on one and could have also ridden one...they felt sorry for the birds as well as the other tourists in the group, so no riding. Their eggs can take up to 125kg of weight...rather impressive. One scrambled ostrich egg would be the same as 24 chicken eggs..how's that for a big breakfast!

Before leaving town we had to visit the Chocolaterie Rococo where Marite Lamprecht had us enter her kitchen\shop and try all types of her chocolates...Bianca was in heaven holding onto a 5 kg bar of rough Belgian chocolate!

Heading home we chose the inland road-Route 62 in the heart of the Western Cape province. The road twist along rock outcrops, mountain passes and desert like areas. It sure was more scenic than the main highways. We had to stop to see what Ronnie's Sex Shop had to offer. He is a very shy fellow with very good friends who painted those 3 extra letters on his shop...now it is a tourist stop in the middle of nowhere. Bras, underwear, business cards and felt pen writing fight for space on the walls and ceiling to give it that well visited look. Route 62 comes to an end near the wine land area of Robertson. We tasted wine from 2 vineyards and drove home with 48 bottles...not all for us!

Despite the long driving time, we thoroughly enjoyed our driving holiday, hard to believe we were only away 4 nights with all we saw and experienced! Now we know what all the fuss is about with the Garden Route and Little Karoo area; we would surely recommend it as a must see when traveling through South Africa! Can't wait to explore yet another area...