Three places that have special memories for Fredo and Janey on their travels, are De Hoop in the Southern Cape, Ebb and Flow in the Wilderness and Storms River Mouth.
At De Hoop we were camping in the rustic camping site near the old De Hoop homestead, which is also the centre of the De Hoop National Park. From there one can visit Koppiealleen on the coast with its marvellous turquoise beaches and the rocks where the Oystercatchers thrive on the low tide when they pick the masses of mussels out of their shells on the rocks.
Around the camp site you can admire the animals, Zebra, Bontebok, Eland, Baboon and many other species – and if you like walking, you can walk along the road and admire the animals grazing or feeding virtually next to you. There is the bird life of the lagoon – and even the early morning raid by the rogue baboons at your campsite is an experience. The giant Milkwoods at the homestead seems to have stood there forever.
De Hoop is definitely worth regular visits, at different times of the year to enjoy not only the wild life, but the many plants and coastal shrubs in their various seasons.
For us, it is those magnificent beaches and that beautiful colour of the sea which will stand out. If you camp, make sure you lock everything away from a baboon visit. They stole Fredo’s weetbix in the early morning – ran just about ten yards away, and proceeded to eat the whole pack. Fredo said that he hoped the roughage would cause them severe tummy aches and endless constipation.
If you do not want to camp, you can book one of the bungalows – and there is also a good restaurant menu when it comes to food.
At Ebb and Flow Fredo and Janey parked the ‘baby elephant’ under the beautiful trees in the kloof – not knowing that the westerly wind would test our resolve later in the day. We woke up early in the morning and decided to take the 7 km walk to the Waterfall in the mountains. We normally walk between 5 and 10 kms on flat ground. Seven kms that day felt like 50 as we wound our way through the forest – and climbed what seemed like millions of stairs along the walkways. We crossed the river and marvelled in the ferns and indigenous trees – all marked with their names.
We did get to the Waterfall – and sat quietly experiencing the sound of the water cascading down and the almost overpowering silence of the forest. We finally got back – with those last kilometres feeling like the last ten of the Comrades. We were starving – and ended up at lunch in the town to replenish our resources.
When we came back – the westerly wind had come through and the campsite was a mess. We had to pack up very quickly to get to a more secure spot. We decided to move on towards Knysna where we found a funny little caravan park almost in the middle of the town – for the proverbial one night only. Early the next morning we waved it goodbye – never to return.
Our next stop was Storms River Mouth in the Tzitzikamma National Park. A friend told us of the only two camping spots where you are safe from the westerly wind – and we settled there – overlooking the magnificent ocean and watching the endless flights of the seagulls and duikers. Out to sea we could see porpoises at play and watched the whales rolling.
Memorable was the walk at the mouth – on those long suspensions bridges and walkways which either force you to climb steeply, or descend sharply. Janey does not like heights and Fredo recorded videos of her as she gingerly and cautiously crept down to lower levels.
Most magnificent was finding the breeding pair of seagulls and their nest – with two eggs in it. Fredo could not help zooming in – and recording the special moment.
Around the ‘baby elephant’ we braaied and Janey made us a beautiful lunch – with her salad being the envy of all walking past.
Yes, these are special memories – which should be repeated soon.