Hot Oregon Summer – Berlin Next

Gendarmenmarkt Berlin – depositphotos.com

Gardening and Wildfires

It’s been a restful, contemplative summer in Oregon working in my garden with deer, wild turkeys, annoying yellow jackets, and a stray Gothic-looking black cat. Sadly, dry and windy conditions combined with record-breaking heat resulted in raging wildfires all around us.

Garden Visitor

Cute Stray Cat

The massive Carr Fire near the California / Oregon border created terrifying “fire tornadoes“. They occur when a fire acquires “vertical vorticity and forms a whirl”. Fire tornadoes can “grow to gargantuan size with winds of over 90 mph”.

Fire Tornado – zmescience.com

Carr Fire Chopper – The Mercury News Bay Area

The Carr Fire ignited in late July. A month later, after “torching more than 200,000 acres,” it’s about 90 percent contained!  Smoke from fires in Oregon, California, Washington, and nearby Colorado and Canada creates a surreal aura, bringing an eerie atmospheric haze, poor air quality, and vivid sunrises and sunsets.

Wildfire Sunset San Francisco Bay – Fstoppers.com

Wildfire Smoke at Sunrise – Jonathan Hayward Canadian Press

Brave Wildfire Fighter – Charlie Nash Photography

Next Long Trip

I’ve started getting into the specifics of my next travel adventure. No matter what, this time I’m traveling with one piece of luggage!

Berlin Boroughs and Districts

Like in 2017, I’ll begin in Europe and eventually make my way back to South Africa. I decided to start in Berlin – a new city for me. I’ve studied Berlin’s East and West boroughs and have a few leads for rental apartments in well-located areas near attractions and transportation – Mitte, Charlottenburg-WilmersdorfFriedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Neukölln. Rents are reasonable, and the apartments look comfortable.

Museum Island River Spree – Stock Photo

Return to South Africa

I’m apprehensive about violence in many parts of Africa – Congo, Mali, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, et al. Although I’ve never experienced violence during my travels in Africa, six cities in South Africa – Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Pietermaritzburg, Rustenburg, and Johannesburg – made the top ten list of the most dangerous cities on the African continent. Xenophobic related violence in South Africa is disturbing. Here in the US, we clearly have our own problems and brand of political tension, civil unrest, violence, and a vast chasm between “left versus right” ideologies…

Berlin Cathedral – Wikimedia.org 

Thankfully Day Zero in Cape Town’s drought is now pushed out beyond 2019, but the government’s move toward land expropriation without compensation is a concern. More than two decades after the end of apartheid, land ownership remains a “highly emotive” subject for South Africans – that may be an understatement. According to the ruling ANC government, white people own 72 percent of private land, black people 4 percent, and other ethnic groups 24 percent.

Berlin Cathedral at Museum Island – 123RF.com

Land expropriation is said to be “the most pressing social issue in the country”. However, some think high crime, corruption, and the “triple-time-bomb of poverty, unemployment, and inequality” are the issues keeping South Africans awake at night.

Kayelitsha Township Outside Cape Town – Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Julius Malema Leader Economic Freedem Fighters (EFF) -blouinnews

Julius Sello Malema Leader Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – blouinnews.com

The ANC-led government and members of the militant, aggressive Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party differ in their approach to land expropriation. The EFF – founded in 2013 and led by outspoken Julius Sello Malema – is a self-proclaimed “radical leftist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist movement that draws inspiration from the broad Marxist-Leninist tradition.

Mmusi Maimane – Leader Democratic Alliance

The Democratic Alliance (DA) – the ANC’s official opposition and second largest political party – accuses both the ANC and EFF of “misleading the public on land expropriation”. They claim to have the best land-reform plan. DA leader Mmusi Maimane says, “there can be no new dawn for South Africa until the ANC is out of power“.

My extended South African visa expires in 2020 – a regular entry (tourist) visa issued at the airport is good for 90 days. I haven’t decided whether to pursue the rigorous renewal process. The “retirement visa” has allowed me to make long trips (up to five years) to explore and better understand South Africa. I especially enjoy the Western Cape, hiking Table Mountain, volunteer work with young children, and vibrant Cape Town – a special and dear place to me. South Africa is a strikingly beautiful but complex and sometimes difficult country that can’t possibly be understood without spending extended time there.

Unter den Linden by Night – 123RF.com

During this period of rapid change, the National Development Plan (NDP) is the country’s detailed proposal addressing key issues for uniting South Africans.The lofty NDP goals to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality are to be implemented by 2030. What little I know of the NDP, it seems overwhelming, but I’m digressing – back to Berlin

Clouds Over Table Mountain from Signal Hill Cape Town – Erik Pronske Getty Images

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The NDP’s goal is to “unite South Africans, unleash the energies of its citizens, grow an inclusive economy, build capabilities, and enable the state and leaders to work together to solve complex problems”…

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Staatsoper Unter den Linden

Berlin State Opera Staatsoper Unter den Linden – Wikipedia

Berlin This Fall

I plan to arrive in Berlin in September. Their fall weather is much like Oregon’s with cool but mild temperatures. When winter comes and it starts getting really cold, I’ll move south – not sure where yet. I’m considering exploring new places versus returning to more familiar areas. New countries of interest include Romania and Albania, but Italy and Spain also have moderate winter climates.

Berlin Brandenburg Gate at Dusk – pond5.com

I’m looking for a three-month rental apartment in the Berlin-Mitte borough, the central section of former East Berlin. “Before the war and division of the city, Mitte was the center of Berlin. It’s regained its former pre-eminence to such an extent that many visitors never see the western side of the city.”

Bode Museum Mitte – Wikimedia.org

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Mitte is the oldest and most historic part of Berlin with many cultural attractions and “ever-expanding restaurant, club, and arts scenes”.

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Strandbar at Bode Museum Mitte

Mitte begins at Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate on the east side of Tiergarten Park. The grand boulevard, Unter den Linden, is lined with 18th- and 19th-century palaces and monuments.

Mitte – VanDam StreetSmart Maps

Tiergarten Park – berlijn-blog.nl

Komische Opera House Berlin – operawire.com

I’m excited to attend theater performances and the Berlin opera! Berlin is teeming with performing arts theaters, cabarets, and clubs. The Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin’s main opera house, and the Komische Oper, the third largest, are both in Mitte. Berlin’s Philharmonic Season begins in late September. Other major attractions in the area include Gendarmenmarkt, a neoclassical square, Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral), and Museumsinsel (Museum Island) with five major museums. Frivolous activities that top my list are – mingling with locals, hanging out in cafés, overnight side trips, and exploring less-traveled backstreets.

Christmas Berlin – efcollegebreak.com 

Germany’s festive Christmas Markets are legendary. These are the top five:

  1. Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt
  2. Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus
  3. Wintertraum am Alexa
  4. Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz
  5. Weihnachtsmarkt am Gedächtniskirche

Christmas Markets Berlin – classictic.com

I don’t speak German but am learning key phrases and pronunciation rules hoping I don’t butcher the language too much. During past travels in Germany, English was spoken everywhere. Mehr später…

Monbijou Park Embankment River Spree

Tsitsikamma and Transkei

Plettenberg Bay

The drive from Hermanus to KwaZulu-Natal was an adventure! I underestimated it, got lost during side excursions, and was challenged every day. The N2 is the “safe” route, but for most of the journey, there’s no median separating opposing traffic. You face the onslaught of erratic oncoming traffic, including drivers passing slower vehicles, and swerving trucks packed with loosely piled goods.

Before Tsitsikamma Hike

I learned quickly that “leisurely” side trips would be a luxury. Driving solo required constant focus and full concentration. I broke my rule of no advance bookings – a mistake that added some stress to getting from point to point by a certain date.

Tsitsikamma Vista

Treacherous Transkei Rural Roads

Unpaved side roads in the Transkei and Wild Coast were dangerous and rough. Chaos in the villages and unexpected people, cattle, potholes, and debris popped up everywhere, sometimes scaring me out of my wits! Seeing small children crossing the road near curves with poor visibility was unsettling! I drove slowly and carefully but almost hit a pig, goat, and cow. Undaunted by honking cars, Transkei cattle graze oblivious to automobiles. Some describe them as “beach bums” – wish they’d spend more time on the beach and less on the road!

Thesen Islands Knysna

In between small towns like Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, and Port Alfred, this part of South Africa consists of Indian Ocean rugged coastline, rural African villages, and grazing cattle. Both animals and humans randomly walk in and across the highways. Large speed bumps are strategically (??) placed throughout for traffic control. The bumps are marked poorly and could damage your car. Villagers seem amused by unaware travelers jolted when hitting them.

Grahamstown Architecture

Speed bumps must be the most economical way available to protect people and animals and ensure that reckless drivers slow down. Along these stretches of road, sometimes it’s necessary to drive 5 – 10 mph to pass over rows of substantial speed bumps. A few times thought I’d damaged the rental car by not slowing down enough in advance, but the sound was worse than any actual damage to the car. Driving at night would be crazy, as there is no light except for headlights, stars, and moon.

Tsitsikamma Forest

During the drive, I learned South African “rules of the road” on the highways and toward the end of my trip, became a more confident driver. The length of the entire drive was roughly like driving slowly from the Oregon coast to Chicago.

Coffee Bay Beach

Knysna, Harkerville, and Plettenberg Bay

Scenic Knysna is a popular holiday destination. The few days I spent there were plagued with wild weather and spurts of heavy rain, prohibiting prolonged outdoor activities. With drought, the needed rain was welcome.

Tsitsikamma Vista

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“….. a set of circumstances triggered a disastrous wildfire of unprecedented proportions in Sedgefield-Knysna-Plettenberg Bay…..”

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Caracal

Knysna is a tourist town with craft shops, restaurants, and cafés. Popular attractions include Woodmill Lane – the historical timber factory, the waterfront / yacht harbor, and Thesen Islands – a picturesque marina development linked to the mainland by a causeway and bridges.

Masescha View

Thesen Islands include “19 man-made islands linked by arched bridges and surrounded by tidal waterways”. A separate island has houses and apartments in Dutch colonial maritime style.

Coffee Bay Wild Coast

In June 2017, Knysna suffered a devastating forest fire. “A set of circumstances triggered a disastrous wildfire of unprecedented proportions in the Sedgefield-Knysna-Plettenberg Bay area. The wildfire consumed vast areas of commercial plantations, and lives were lost. It caused billions of Rands in damage to properties and infrastructure and was South Africa’s largest fire disaster in modern times.”

Masescha Butterfly Courtesy of Celia Lily

I enjoyed the diverse, eclectic atmosphere in Knysna and interacting with locals. The really foul weather prevented exploring more of the recreational areas. In the heart of the small town, I noticed homeless people and some panhandling addicts.

Blue Duiker

Next stop was Harkerville, a small settlement in the Eden District on the outskirts of Plettenberg Bay. I spent the night in a rustic cottage – Masescha Country Estate. The birds and exquisite natural beauty of the area were captivating, but getting there was a challenge. A British couple – Ray and Angie – purchased Masescha about 13 years ago. The name is a Hebrew word meaning “hidden”. The entrance is a few miles down a rough, unpaved, potholed road which was muddy after recent rains.

That night I enjoyed dinner at an African restaurant – Zinzi – meaning an abundance in Swahili. It was near Masescha, but when returning in the pitch-black night, I got hopelessly lost. The turnoff is marked, but the non-reflective sign is only visible in daylight, as there are no streetlights. I left the GPS with latitude / longitude coordinates at the cottage, thinking it would be easy to find my way home. It was a terrifying experience as I pulled to the side while fast-moving trucks barreled down the highway almost grazing my car. After several tries, I found the entrance and my way back.

Dieu-Donneé River Lodge

Harkerville forest is an indigenous paradise where “the smallest creatures have right of way”. Interestingly it also includes “the remnants of an experimental plantation of Californian redwoods, planted there in 1925”.

Transkei Cattle Hanging Out on the Beach – Christopher Rimmer

I stopped in Plettenberg Bay, another popular area along the Garden Route. “Plett” is built on a hillside near the border of the Western and Eastern Cape. There are spectacular views of the bay and mountains.

Masescha Treetops

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Plettenberg Bay is known for dolphin pods playing in its warm coastal waters.

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Honey Badger

“For a South African town, Plettenberg Bay has a long history. Portuguese explorers first visited during the 15th and 16th centuries.” Shipwrecks, Cape Dutch architecture, and historical relics like the Old Rectory, built by the Dutch East India Trading Company, are points of interest. Plettenberg Bay is known for beautiful pristine beaches and dolphin pods playing along its warm coastal waters.

King Protea Tsitsikamma

Hiking Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail

In late October, I began a three-day hike along the Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail. It was a fantastic wilderness experience walking through forests, mountain fynbos, and gorges, while traversing rivers and mountain streams. The hike began in Nature’s Valley and included from 2 to 6 days. I joined in the middle for 3 days.

Wild Coast

“Along the Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail little contact is made with the outside world. Baboon, vervet monkey, caracal, honey badger, large-spotted genet, bushpig, and bushbuck are often found along the route and at overnight huts. Leopard, serval, and blue duiker also occur, but are seldom seen.”

Forest Buzzard

Tsitsikamma’s forest habitat is ideal for South Africa’s “lesser-seen bird species” – Rameron pigeon, Narina trogon, Sombre bulbul, forest buzzard, sunbirds, and flycatchers. The “fynbos harbors elusive endemics such as Victorin’s warbler, protea canary, and the Cape siskin“. We heard and saw many birds but never spotted their nests. One person in the group was good with bird calls, and the birds responded.

Masescha Birdsong Lodge

We heard, but did not see animals, including the remains and sleeping nests of baboons who often come out of the dense forest at night, using the hiking trails to move through the forest more quickly. The baboons made warning calls as hikers approached, but I never saw them. At one point I became separated from the group and wondered if the baboons were eyeing me from the bushes!

Cape Siskin

My group included 12 strong, experienced hikers – all South African. The hiking was challenging, and for me, it would have been difficult carrying a heavy backpack. I hiked with a day pack and hired a porter to move my gear between overnight sleeping huts.

Bushpig

The other hikers were from the Cape Town area. We had interesting evening meals and conversations and shared facilities with another group of about 14 Indian businessmen and their cook. The cook prepared incredible campfire Indian cuisine which was generously shared with everyone. There were two separate sleeping huts with 6 – 7 three-high bunk beds in each. There was no electricity or plumbing.

Zinzi African Restaurant Harkerville

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“Along the Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail little contact is made with the outside world. Baboon, vervet monkey, caracal, honey badger, spotted genet, bushpig, and bushbuck are found along the route and at overnight sleeping huts.”

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Transkei Cattle

More difficult than the hiking was sleeping in a small room of heavy snorers… There were several Muslims in our group who were up each morning around 4 am for prayers. Dawn prayers – salat al-fajr – begin before sunrise. In such close quarters, their early rising awakened everyone in the hut. The lack of sleep affected my hiking ability, but I’m grateful for the experience. The magnificent scenery was worth the discomfort!

Transkei Cattle

During the hike my new lightweight Sony camera malfunctioned… I took a few iPhone photos and others in the group agreed to email theirs. The camera has a flashing error message that refuses to disappear. After checking online and visiting camera shops in Durban, I discovered there are no Sony dealers in South Africa. Guess I’ll send the Sony in for repair and purchase another camera. I have several more months of travel before returning to the US and will sorely miss the light little camera.

Tsitsikamma River

Grahamstown and Coffee Bay

After the Tsitsikamma hike I drove to Grahamstown, where they were experiencing a power outage – common in South Africa. A much-needed shower and comfortable bed were on my simple agenda, and I slept well!

Narina Trogon

Originally, I wanted to stop at Addo Elephant Park en route to Durban. I gave it up after discovering the popular park was 100% booked for the foreseeable future.

Tsitsikamma Hikers

Grahamstown is between Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred. It’s home to Rhodes University and South Africa’s National Arts Festival. Originally, the town was a small military outpost established to secure the eastern frontier of the British Empire’s Cape Colony. Grahamstown was once the second largest city in the Cape.

Sombre Bulbul

Grahamstown‘s streets are wide with many trees, historical museums, and churches. It’s part of one of the “most diverse ecological regions in South Africa” and intersects “four different climatic zones”. The weather is wild and unpredictable.

Serval

I decided to take a side trip to Coffee Bay, misjudging how long it would take to drive from point to point with no idea what was in store in such an isolated rural area! If I thought previous roads were wrought with cattle, humans, and debris – this stretch of Transkei territory made them look like child’s play! At one point, I almost gave up, but turning around seemed the coward’s way out, and I had already come so far…

Wild Coast Map

Coffee Bay is a tiny town – population of about 200. It’s situated on the Wild Coast in Eastern Cape Province about 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Durban. The town is named after “hundreds of coffee trees which grew from beans either scattered by a shipwreck or by plunderers”. It’s on the “Wild Coast” which is appropriately named!

Tsitsikamma Sleeping Hut

Coffee Bay is a popular backpacking location. Backpackers hike there from Port St. Johns. I stayed overnight in a small rustic cottage called Seaview Cottage at Coram Deo. By the time I arrived it was almost dark, since there ere no street lights, I couldn’t see much. When I booked, the owner set me up with a local manager who was to provide keys and take me to the cottage. I had trouble connecting but we finally met. The manager, Julie, showed me to the cottage which was on a hill overlooking the coast.

Resting Hikers

I was hungry and asked if there were any restaurants nearby. Julie invited me to join a birthday party at a small nearby restaurant and explained how to walk there from the cottage in pitch dark. It sounded like fun.

Tsitsikamma

After taking a few wrong turns and meeting cattle, dogs, and locals on dark unpaved side streets, I arrived to join about 30 people and a few dogs at a rustic outdoor restaurant – hippies one and all. They were celebrating, drinking wine and beer, smoking pot, and eating fish and meat – no other dishes served. I enjoyed partying and talking with them. There were several Africans from the village who were shy but warmed up as the evening lingered. Some of the Coffee Bay locals I met sponsored orphanages and preschools. Many Coffee Bay children became orphans when their parents died of HIV/AIDs.

Xhosa Village Transkei

Transkei Village

Later, I stumbled back to the cottage in the dark and collapsed into my bed.

View from Seaview Cottage at Coram Deo

Port Shepstone and Southport

The next day I drove to Port Shepstone – no cattle or people crossing the highway, but it took longer than expected and I arrived after dark. Port Shepstone is named for Sir Theophilus Shepstone, a British South African statesman who was responsible for annexing the Transvaal to Britain in 1877.

Tsitsikamma Ravine

I found a nearby accommodation – Dieu-Donnee River Lodge. It was a few kilometers outside Port Shepstone in Southport. I called to ask if they had vacancies. It turned out, I was the only guest!

Knysna Yacht Harbor

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“If a vehicle breaks down in that area and you don’t get help within 10 minutes, there’s a 99% chance you’ll be attacked.”

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Vervet Monkey

There was no street address, so I met the owner who led me through the dark to the location – off a side road deep in the forest. The owners, a German couple, were oblivious to my exhaustion as they tried for 30 minutes to get their credit card machine to work – more power problems. I wilted and almost fell asleep on my feet. An African guard wrapped in a blanket patrolled the property. He startled me as I was moving my belongings into the accommodation.

In the morning, I retraced the route through what seemed like endless jungle terrain and couldn’t believe I drove there in the dark.

Transkei Beach Bums

Durban and KwaZulu-Natal (“K ZED N”)

Durban is a vastly different experience from European-like Cape Town or coastal Hermanus! I’m glad to have “branched out” a bit to experience more of this often rugged but strikingly beautiful country.

Willen Doen HIV AIDS Orphanage Matukasini Coffee Bay

After arriving in Durban, I became aware of reports about N2 drivers being attacked along a stretch of road called “Durban’s Highway of Terror“. Now that it’s over, I won’t dwell on what might have happened. My rental vehicle is a new VW Polo, and it performed well. Driving that route in a poorly maintained vehicle would be a mistake. They say, “If a vehicle breaks down in that area and you don’t get help within 10 minutes, there’s a 99% chance you’ll be attacked.” YIKES!

Rameron Pigeon

The accommodation in North Durban is small but comfy and I’m acclimating to the change. The weather is warm and tropical, and the friendly owners are helpful. I feel safe here. The neighbor’s parrot is hilarious. It makes authentic telephone ringing sounds and sings into the evening.

wild-coast

Xhosa Houses Wild Coast

Durban drivers are brutal. They’re impatient driving dangerously and tailgating within an inch of your bumper. I’m still learning my way around, so it’s somewhat unnerving – a good exercise in staying calm and keeping on your toes!

Durban at Night by Nick Ferreira

Seychelles Next

After a month in Durban, I’ll travel to the Seychelles. Lots of reflection is necessary to absorb experiences and all I’ve learned about South Africa during this trip. This blog post summarizes some of my adventures driving from the Western Cape to Durban. More from Durban later…

Seychelles

Seychelles

Garden Route – Hidden Stretch of Paradise

Outeniqua Pass

The Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth is South Africa’s “hidden stretch of paradise”. Although I visited some of the places many years ago, the Garden Route is my next South African adventure.

Kwena Lodge Garden Route

Beginning in late October, I’ll be driving the route, and I’m researching the area to decide which direction to take and what attractions to include. There’s so much exciting territory to explore, it’s a challenge deciding where to stop and for how long.

Bridge along the N2 Garden Route

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Along South Africa’s Garden Route, “be at one with the indigenous forests, ever-changing sea, mysterious rivers, and wondrous lakes”.

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Knysna Lagoon

The Garden Route “can be driven in five hours, but hidden destinations and side roads are the region’s secret jewels”. The two routes to choose from are inland and coastal.

George Golf Course

Inland R62, the route less traveled, has “stunning mountain scenery and quaint, historic towns”:

Great Karoo

It’s recommended to take at least 3 days for the R62 and allow an extra day for the Prince Albert Circuit. Prince Albert is in the arid Karoo Plains, an “oasis on the southern edge of the Great Karoo”.

Prince Albert Bungalow

The town’s water supply flows from springs in the Swartberg Mountains. The spring water “runs in irrigation furrows bringing gardens and orchards to life” and makes Prince Albert one of South Africa’s prettiest towns.

De Bergkant Lodge Prince Albert

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As it “meanders along the coast from Heidelberg in the West to Storms River in the East,” the Garden Route has breathtaking scenery!

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Jeffreys Bay South Africa’s Surfing Capital

“Serene Prince Albert has beautifully restored Cape Dutch, Karoo, and Victorian buildings, a number of which are National Monuments”. Founded in 1762 on a farm called Kweekvallei (Valley of Plenty), after it gained municipal status in 1845 the town was “renamed Prince Albert in honor of Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg”.

Prince Albert Farm

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The Garden Route “can be driven in five hours, but hidden destinations and side roads are the region’s secret jewels”.

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Dolphin Hiking Trail

Jeffreys Bay Surfers

Coastal N2 is a “brilliant marine drive” along the Indian Ocean passing:

Canola Fields Swellendam

Heidelberg

Inland R62 and Coastal N2 Garden Routes

Parks and reserves along the Garden Route include Tsitsikamma National Park. Tsitsikamma (sits-ee-cah-ma) is a coastal reserve that protects South Africa’s indigenous forest and giant trees like the Outeniqua Yellowwood.

Ostriches Oudtshoorn

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“Serene Prince Albert has beautifully restored Cape Dutch, Karoo, and Victorian buildings, a number of which are National Monuments.”

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Garden Route N2 Beach

“Rivers in the area carve deep gorges as they wind down from the plateau to the sea. The Tsitsikamma Forest is also home to adventurous activities like bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bridge, the Storms River Adventure Center, the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, and the Tsitsikamma Waterfall Zipline. Hiking choices are abundant, including the Otter and Dolphin trails.”

Chris Davies Otter Trail

The Otter Trail is one of South Africa’s most famous hikes through coastal forest, river crossings, and viewpoints with gorges and waterfalls. It’s a 5-day hike along 27 miles of Tsitsikamma coastline, from the Storms River mouth in the east to Nature’s Valley in the west. Bookings are essential. They open a year in advance and sell out quickly.

Dolphin Trail

The unique Dolphin Trail is a challenging hike covering 10.5 miles in Tsitsikamma. The hike begins at Storms River mouth and winds east through fynbos and pristine indigenous forest. It ends on the banks of the Sandrift River at The Fernery. This hike is on my bucket list!

Oudtshoorn

Port Elizabeth marks the end of the Garden Route, but it’s also the gateway to Addo Elephant Park and the Eastern Cape’s private Big 5 game reserves:

Elephant Family Addo Elephant Park

Addo Elephant Park

I’ll probably vacillate between the inland and coastal routes, hike, and enjoy the more affordable game reserves. Tsitsikamma Waterfall Zipline sounds fun. Planning the itinerary is a bit overwhelming, but I have a few weeks to get things together. More blog posts in October, when I encounter some of these spectacular places!

Outeniqua Mountain Range

Outeniqua Mountain Range

Swellendam