March 14, 2018 / 6 Comments
The beginning of 2018 was possibly the best January of my life.
Back in 2017, my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to travel and explore a bit of our beautiful country, South Africa. So after the festive season was over, we hit the road for a holiday I will never forget.
Starting in Plett, we drove tthrough to Cape Town along Route 66. We spent three days there and visited Kirstenbosch Gardens, The Waterfront and Hout bay, before eventually moving onto the magnificently beautiful Franschoek. This was definitely my favourite stop. The town of Franschoek is like something out of a movie. We spent the day on a wine tram travelling from wine farm to wine farm, tasting and pairing different wines.
Noble Hill was one of the highlights and we were treated to their reserve red. It was absolutely delicious. I really enjoyed this wine farm because there was a dog wearing a bowtie chilling in the tasting area and he looked super fancy. We also did a nougat and wine pairing at Backsburg which was extremely yummy.
Our final stop: Aleu Bluee. We ended up buying two bottles of wine at R45 each and that was all we could afford at the end of the day.
This was my first experience with camping so I sat and watched my boyfriend pitch the tent, blow up the mattresses, make the bed and then cook dinner (princess much?). It was here that we met a German boy named Leanard who decided to travel South Africa for his gap year. We all braaied together and enjoyed the company, drinking our cheap wine. Needless to say, he was super impressed by the friendly nature of locals, saying it is by far the biggest difference between Germans and South Africans.
The next day, we visited the Cango Caves. I almost had several breakdowns. I’m such a claustrophobic, but despite all the swearing, punching and shouting at my poor boyfriend, I did it.
Our next stop was Kouga Wilderness. Once again, we drove along route 66 and stopped at the Famous ‘Ronnie’s sex shop’ which isn’t as fun as it sounds, it’s actually just a restaurant but they do have great burgers.
Route 66 is absolutely beautiful and cute. The stops along the way and all the bikers on the road just make the experience. After five long hours we finally arrived at our destination. It took 45 mins from the main road to get to camp and once we arrived, we realized it was sweltering hot. I have never experienced such heat. It was 45 degrees and we were in the middle of nowhere with no air-conditioning. This time I was expected to help set up so we got straight to it. We pitched the tent and blew up the mattresses in complete silence, we were both focusing on not killing each other and/or passing out. When we finished up, we were both dripping in sweat and accepted that it was going to be a long, hot night.
We braaied some burgers and once again indulged in our Franshoek wine. We had no other option but to literally drink ourselves to sleep. That said, we both woke around 1am and looked up to witness the most beautiful constellations of stars, which made it all worth it.
The next morning we had planned a hike but it was already 35 degrees so decided to move on to Addo.
In Addo we treated ourselves to a bed and breakfast with an actual bed and shower and stove. I thought I was in heaven. We spent that day in bed watching Netflix and drinking tea. The next morning we woke up very early, had some coffee and headed to Addo Elephant Park where we spent the entire day trying to spot some animals. They don’t call it Addo elephant for nothing; I have never seen so many elephants in my life. They were around every corner. We also sited bat eared foxes, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo.
We then drove to the fairy forest known as Hogsback. Hogsback is possibly the most beautiful place I have been to. The place actually vibrates with the sounds of the forest – it’s difficult to put into words. We stayed at the beautiful backpackers called ‘Away with the Fairies’ which is famous for being magical, and it was. The place was complete with a little bar that served pizza. We pitched our tent far on the outskirts of the site and it actually felt like we were living in a magical forest. Everyone there was so friendly and lovely and had such interesting stories. It felt like an alternative universe where everyone was cut off from the world. I felt my worries and anxieties slip away and I forgot about everything else. Everyone wanted to know your story and would listen so intently.
Even more, the hiking trails were insanely beautiful, despite getting lost and having to ask for directions from a man selling magic mushrooms. We politely declined and hurriedly moved on. The bar was always buzzing and people were constantly coming in and out.
Overall I am so grateful that I got to experience my country. The travel bug has certainly bitten and I plan on doing something similar very soon. I am so in love with the Garden Route and Route 66 and can easily say it was one of the most amazing experiences and unforgettable experiences of my life.