We packed up the house and headed towards De Hoop Nature Reserve which we were going to be spending the next three days at exploring the coastline, tidal pools, and mountain biking around the reserve. There was a restaurant at the reserve, but we had a cottage that we were staying in, so this meant a bit more advance planning with respect to meals, so I actually made a meal plan for the next four days, and went and shopped while the family packed the house up. The car was jammed full of our gear, and we headed off further east along the coast to our next adventure destination for the Travelling Trenholms.
On the way, we took a slight detour south to Cape L’Agulhas, which is the actual southern tip of Africa. As close to Antarctica as I will ever be. Maybe.
This looked like it would be a small cottagers village but teeming with tourists during high season. Kind of Dorset-ish.
There is a lighthouse there that is the second oldest lighthouse in South Africa. Probably for a good reason since ships could easily run ashore here if they couldn’t see where the tip was.
The Travelling Trenholms found a big map of Africa at the Cape, and we took our spots on each part of the continent that we had visited on this trip thus far. Then it was off to find a geocache. We couldn’t resist finding a geocache at the bottom of the continent!
So, as some of you may know, this is the point where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet up. So, who can resist having one foot in the Indian and the other foot in the Atlantic oceans. Certainly not me! And if it meant that I got two soakers and a wave crashing into me soaking me from the waist down while taking the photo, then so be it!
And of course we had to have a couple of “Dad Runs Like A Maniac And Almost Slips and Falls On The Jagged Rocks 30 Second Timer” photo. Well, a couple actually. It is part of the fun, and if I make it (especially in a place like this where you have to hop over water), it is a miracle and is worth celebrating!
Cape L’Agulhas was actually very beautiful, and I (I don’t know about Deb and the kids) could have spent all day here just watching the waves crash into the shore and hike along the coastline (oh, ya…who cn resist a geocache at the bottom of the world!). It was a beautiful day.
Then off to De Hoop we went. Deb got a bit stressed out as it was 2:30pm by the time we finished exploring the Cape. The problem was that we needed to get to De Hoop before 4:00pm before they closed the gates on us and we would be sleeping in the parking lot. Walmart camping, but in Africa.
Thankfully, we double checked our super awesome “Here is where you are going, where you are staying and what you are doing” Google spreadsheet, as we found that the gates closed at 6:00pm not 16:00. Phew! We had a bit of wiggle room as it took 2 hours to get there.
Once we pulled into De Hoop we had a short ride down a dirt road to the resort, and we found our cottage, where some ostriches and cape zebras were waiting for us in the backyard. It was a nice welcoming committee for us!
The cottage was well equipped with all of the fixin’s, and each of the kids had their own room. However, that didn’t last too long since they are so used to sleeping in the same room on this trip, and at home. So, they quickly gravitated to sleeping in the same room, and I moved over to the bunk bed to give Deb some extra room. That, and the beds weren’t too comfortable, but the bottom bunk was the most comfortable bed in the whole cottage.
The reserve did not have as much to do as we had thought unfortunately, but we were able to fill our time up with shoreline excursions and exploring the land. The wind was blowing quite strong while we were there. Enough so that we actually had to put a brace up against the doors to prevent them from rattling and banging around. The wind was strong enough to keep things really cool, especially at nighttime and in the morning that we had to wear our jackets and touques! No snow though…
We headed down to the shore at low tide as there are a number of tidal pools that can be explored at that time. Plus, there are a number of whales that are in this stretch of the shoreline as well at this time of the year.
Even though the pools were beautiful and full of shells, there wasn’t much in the way of living creatures as you would suspect you would find in the pools. Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun finding some beautiful shells along the beach and in the pools.
The wind was gusting in at about 40-60kph (that’s what the resort staff thought it was), and so the waves were crashing into the shore with dramatic flare, and creating a beautiful coastline sunset at the end of the day.
The whales were not as plentiful as they were in Hermanus but they were still pretty close, and even saw one close to us fly up out of the water and breach the rough waters.
One of the super fun adventures that we had (depending on who you are asking.. 😉 ) was a mountain bike ride. Well, a trail ride really. However, the trail was full of small ups and downs but was single track and exposed uneven rock surface. So, for a couple of kids, it was pretty challenging.
We initially thought that it was a 5km trail ride, but we couldn’t find the connecting loop that would have taken us back to the resort. That, was pretty much due to the fact that there wasn’t much in the way of signage. About 2/3rds away from the end, the kids had had it. So did my crotch as we had bikes that weren’t very comfortable and we didn’t have bike shorts or chamois on.
There were lots of cool things to see along the way, but our rear ends didn’t want us to stop since whenever we stopped, our rear ends would start to scream at us and actually swell up, so best just to keep going. Just like this super cool dung beetle that we found along the way. Imagine what he says to himself when he is rolling this…”Rolling some poop, rolling some poop, rolling some poop, rolling some….whoa here I go! Should have let go. Ok. Rolling some poop….”
(YouTube Video Link of Dung Beetle Rolling Poop Ball: https://youtu.be/4oCo960RFGs)
At the end of the trail, we made it out to the main road and we were able to head back to the cottage for a bit of a break. The kids jumped on their iPads for a bit of chill time, and I headed back outside to sit in the backyard at the picnic table and write a bit of the blog. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a fast moving animal coming toward the house, so I turned around and saw a baboon bolting for our cottage, where the back door was open. Unfortunately, the baboon made it into the cottage before I could scare it away, and then there were the screams of the kids who were hanging out on the couch inside.
Thank goodness the baboon knew what its target was…the sugar packets by the coffee station in the cottage, so it got in, grabbed some and headed back towards the door. I made it to the door just as it was coming out, and so I did my best yell at it, which must have been pretty effective as I scare the crap out of it. Literally. It crapped all over the floor and even onto the wall as it bounced around the doorway to get out of the cottage. Of course there was the bareing of teeth and gorilla like posturing it did, but at the end of it, the kids were safe, untouched, and we had a cottage full of crap to clean up.
Thank goodness that it didn’t get the packets of coffee. Nothing like a baboon hopped up on caffeine!
We headed over to the restaurant for dinner while the housekeeping staff cleaned up the cottage. We ate there a couple of times, which was quite good. However, the kids were exhausted from the bike ride ad the excitement of the day, so they were not in the mood for a nice leisurely meal that most of the other guests were having at that time.
In the morning of the second day there, we went on a bird watching hike, which was pretty nice, however we learned more about the flora and fauna than we did about the birds in the area. That was ok, it allowed us to get an early start on the day.
Back to the house for some school work, lounging around, and then off to the coast to watch some more whales. However, the wind was blowing so incredibly strong that we were walking sideways, the beach sand was stinging as it hit our legs, and we had to find refuge behind rocky outcrops just to be able to open our eyes to look out.
The kids and I wandered down onto a beach that was nestled in a small rocky cove that we didn’t visit before to escape the wind, and there was a small seal there that surprised us! It wasn’t aggressive, but had a sad look on its face. More sad than the usual pouty look that they have. We walked to the other side of the rock it was leaning on, and its buddy lay there lifeless in the rocks, with a pretty nasty gash across its neck. Who knows what did that, whether it was a rock or a shark bite, but nonetheless this seal was mourning the loss of its friend. We said a little prayer and then headed back to the car to head back for dinner at the lodge.
We packed up our gear and then got ready to leave the next morning to head off to Outdshoorn for two days before heading back to the coast.