Valencia, Spain

We’ll soon be off on our next trip to Spain. So keep an eye on the blog for any updates ..

 

 

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Port Elizabeth

Thursday

We have left Amakhala and have now arrived in Port Elizabeth. We’re on the beach front feeling hot and tired from our 5am game drive this morning. We did manage to have an outside shower before we left Hlosi Lodge, but the heat is very intense. Here’s our view from our bed..

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We looked around the local shops and nearly bought some bracelets, but found they were made from elephants tail hair, so decided against it. The pool at the hotel looked inviting but the sea was so close and beautiful we just had to get in there. The waves were high and crashed rhythmically on the beach.

The lifeguard flags only allowed limited access to the beach, so we had lots of people laughing and jumping through the waves with us. Lots of the local girls were in the sea in their clothes. It had been a very hot day so I guess nobody cared about being drenched in sea water.

We also spoke to an old SA couple on the beach. They had originally come from Cape Town but had to settle in Port Elizabeth for work. They were very friendly and chatty and wanted to tell us all about PE. Unfortunately, we were only here for one night so we were unable to explore as much as we would have liked to.

We dressed up and went for cocktails overlooking the beach at a bar called Ginger. As you can imagine, many drinks were made with root ginger, so we tried four and were not disappointed.

In the evening, we found a nice restaurant about a km away from our hotel. Mark had seen it recommended on Trip Advisor. It was called The Coach House was in an elevated position, overlooking the sea. All the staff wore long, elegant, royal blue dresses that enhanced their slim figures. We only managed to get a table inside, as all the outside tables were reserved. The place soon filled up and the waitresses were kept very busy.

Mark had the fillet steak and it was absolutely delicious. He also had mussel soup which was also tasty. I had pork chops and ate every mouthful – yum.

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A lovely walk along the beach pathway and we were back at the Beach Hotel, ready for our last sleep in South Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – Amakhala

IMG_20170320_080351In a beautiful luxury safari tent at the Hlosi Lodge. Wake up at 5am for early morning game drive. Breakfast served back at the lodge at 9am. Relax til 1pm. Drinks at the bar, then lunch at 2pm, high tea at 3.30pm before heading out for late afternoon game drive 4-7pm. Finally dinner at 8pm.

We met Daniel & Sandra from Switzerland, Liz & Toby from Devon, Barry & Dev from Ireland.

 

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Enjoying a drink and refreshments during a game drive. Usually beer, wine, crisps and biltong.

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Safari Sunday

We drove to Port Elizabeth to return our hire car, then got a transfer to the Amakhala Game Reserve. We had a great taxi driver called Mana. He was originally from Zimbabwe and he chatted to Mark about tourism and english football. He was such a happy guy and made our journey so entertaining. At Amakhala, we were greeted by Monique who showed us to our safari tent. It was along a very long wooden ramp, a good 10 minute walk from the main lodge house.

After a light lunch in the lodge, we went on an afternoon game drive. We saw giraffes eating leaves from the trees, a cheetah with her four cubs sitting majestically in the long grass and then an elephant rolling around in an empty water hole. Fantastic.

We had dinner with a young swiss couple, Daniel & Sandra. They talked about their travels, cheese and chocolate! Sandra loved the Shiraz, but I managed not to get drunk.

Plettenbergbaii

Hogs Hollow

We spent the day at the many beaches around Plettenberg Bay. Warm, white, soft sand.. crashing .waves, empty beaches. It was a Saturday and yet there were no people. Most shops were closed, but luckily we found a very nice fish restaurant and bar in the beach. Without hesitation, I ordered a large spiced rum and coke, mussels, followed by grilled fish and chips. It had a great beach vibe and Mark and I watched the kids on beach boards surfing the waves and a sand artist slowly creating nautical sculptures on the beach.

We also found Natures Valley where on one side was a serene, calm lake with mountains, then on the other side was the crashing waves of the sea. The beach between the two was enormous and beautiful, so I laid here for a while, turning from side to side enjoying the magical difference in sceneries.

A short drive away was the longest bungy jump from a bridge into a valley. It was so scary, I really don’t know why people would do it. Mark really wanted to do it. We watched a few jumpers then decided it was much better watching, than doing it ourselves!

We’ll be checking out of Hogs Hollow in the morning 😔

Day 11 Birds of Eden and The Monkey Sanctuary

Breakfast in the sunshine with spectacular views, followed by african birds that have been rescued or need help to survive.

Then the monkey sanctuary caring for monkeys that had previously been pets or disabled.

Here we crossed the longest suspension bridge in the world!

 

 

 

Day 10 Mooselbaii & Knysna

After another delightful breakfast at de Opstal Lodge, we packed up and headed off, forgetting our credit card when checking out and having to return after driving for 10mins. Luckily our travel agent called us on Mark’s new sim, so we avoided a tricky situation.

 

We went to Mooselbaii, enjoyed the fabulous , virtually empty beach. We had a beer at the Point and ran into hoards of bikers. It must have been some kind of convention. The drive to Knyzna was really nice with beautiful valleys, mountains and rivers. We parked up and walked around the marina and found a nice restaurant with first floor tables overlooking the boats and boardwalk. I had a warm grilled chicken, bacon and avo salad, Mark had fish. They also served cocktails, so I had a pina colada in the sunshine.

Next stop, Hogs Hollow.. just wow 😀

I can’t upload pictures at the moment, so I’ll try posting something on facebook. The african bush just spilled over into the distance. Lush green trees and rolling hills, with the mountains as a reddish backdrop. Simply stunning.

We were greeted by staff who offered us complimentary drinks and offered to sit on comfy sofas on the Bomo Deck. They brought over our checking in papers so we could complete them at our leisure whilst drinking our tea and being blown away by the location.

Next, we were shown to our suite. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. It was like something you see in magazines, yet there we were, our home for the next few days.

After a swim in the cool pool, we showered and went for canapes and pre-dinner drinks on the Bomo Deck. Then we went in to dinner, sitting at a big, communal table. We chatted to other guests and had a very nice meal of black bean and vegetable soup, pork loin then a berry cheesecake with homemade ice cream. We made friends with a german couple (just back from safari) and a couple from Cambridge who had only arrived in SA a few hours before. Also, there was a guy called Phil. His wife was feeling poorly, so he came to dinner on his own. Everyone was friendly and chatty. However, we only managed to stay up til eleven as everyone was feeling tired. Photos to follow..

 

Day 9 Ostriches in Oudtshoorn

Last night, we went into town with two other couples from de Opstal Country Lodge. The Black Swan was recommended so we were prepared for a feast. I started with creamy mussels followed by rump steak. It was incredible. Mark had belly of pork to start, then curried chicken. Everyone at our table loved their food and we had a really nice evening chatting and laughing.

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Today we went to breakfast in the grounds of de Opstal Country Lodge. The staff were very attentive, toasting our bread and refilling our coffee. There was an old wooden cart parked in the dining room and chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post photos once we get to somewhere with a stronger internet connection.

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Next we headed off on a tour of the ostrich farm. Dressed in PPE, we went into a cooler room and handled eggs (1.5kg), then to incubation rooms where the eggs begin to hatch. We saw one still curled up in half a shell. It still needed to be dried off before it could come out, so he went back in to the shelves upon shelves of warm eggs.

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The chicks in the next room were lively and cute. I had a little cuddle with one before heading out to a small holding to see ‘mum and dad’ with all their 2month chicks (about 40) running around a huge enclosure. As they grow, their cuteness disappears, but they are such fascinating creatures and life in Oudtshoorn seems to suit them.

We’re now back at de Opstal and deciding on how we’ll spend the rest of the day 😃

We decided to go to the Canga Caves. Here we were treated to beautiful underground caves, amazing formations and acoustics. Very inpressive. There was also the option to do adventure caving and extreme, but we wanted to do some more stuff later, so took the standard tour.

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Next, we drove through the Swartsberg Pass. Unmade roads, clinging to the mountain sides. It was intense, scary and exhilarating. Mark drove so I just clung onto my seat and held my breath for an hour! It was roughly 30km of bumpy, noisy track.  We found Prins Albert which was an historic town with watermills, windmill and showroom dance hall. We had coffee then took the 168 km journey back around the mountain using a very nice, flat, smooth road.

Goats and the Garden Route

Day 8. We left the Protea Hotel in Franschhoek after breakfast and drove the whole Garden Route in 4.5 hours, non-stop. There were a lot of mountains and not much else. We did see a shanty town, a field of goats, some ostriches roaming around and the occasional car and motorbike. Luckily, it was cloudy so we kept cool and alert. Some of those bends around the mountains were quite hair-raising. But we made it and found the De Ostal Country Lodge with ease.

The grounds here are so pretty, with beautiful flowers, pomegranate and lime trees. The gardens have windy stone footpaths, with a sparkling pool nestled under trees and so many lush plants and birds. An oasis.

 

 

 

Day 7 Wine Tasting

 

After a delicious breakfast at the Protea Hotel, we walked to the town to collect our tram bus. First stop was Boschendal. My cousin Steve had recommended we took the purple route. Two hours of drinking wine we then moved onto the next winery. We stayed an hour, then the next and the next and so on.

On our way, we got talking to a lovely couple, Jake and Charlotte, doctors from Oxford. Then there was a young local guy who was in the wine industry so he kept us informed all day long. The next stop we met Brian and Anna from our trip to Table Mountain.

As the day progressed we collected two other couples, one from Canada and the other from Israel. Everyone had a great time and we all stuck together.

By the end of the day, we’d made plans to meet that evening for drinks. This is where it became a little hazy. Apparently, we had a very nice time drinking and eating pizza.