Johannesburg --> Sabie --> Arathusa Safari Lodge --> Mbabane, Swaziland --> Saint Lucia --> Durban --> Bulungula Lodge --> Hogsback --> Jeffreys Bay --> Prince Albert --> Bettys Bay --> Cape Town
Hogsback, South Africa
After a long drive back through the bumpy dirt roads with potholes everywhere we got back to the main road. Unfortunately, we had to make a stop at the local airport to drop off one of our travel companions as he had to rush back to Canada unexpectedly to fulfill some work commitments. So, the remaining 3 of us headed on a beautiful 5 hour drive to Hogsback where we stayed for only one night. Hogsback is actually the inspiration for the well known book The Hobbit! Hogsback reminded us a lot of Vancouver with its lush green landscape and fog. The fog was so thick coming in at night that it took all 3 of us to navigate the windy roads as we couldn’t see more than a foot in front of the vehicle, but it was nice to get a break from the African heat for a day. One of the highlights of this leg was that our Airbnb host signed us up for a dinner and wine tasting at a local restaurant! We didn’t know what to expect but were blown away. They started the evening off with a glass of champagne and some delicious appies while everyone mingled. Then once everyone had arrived and found seats we had 6 large tastings of local wine placed in front of us. Starting from lightest to boldest we made our way through all 6 tastings, ranking them as we went! To go along with our buzz, we were served a delicious curry dinner that ended the night perfectly!
Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
The next morning, after a short drive we arrived in Jeffreys Bay, which turned out to be one of our favorite places we have visited so far. There is something about a small surf town with a chill vibe on the ocean that we seem to fall in love with each and every time! JBay is famous for hosting some major surf competitions every year. We spent 3 days walking up and down the beach, enjoying the sand, watching all the surfers and even catching sight of some dolphins playing. The water was a bit too cold for us without wetsuits, but we enjoyed just hanging out and soaking in the sun. In town, we couldn’t believe how many major brand name board shops within a 10 block radius there was. Dispersed throughout the shops we had some amazing meals while in Jeffreys Bay. Some of the meals consisted of seafood, pasta, and some exceptional African meats! All in all, Jeffreys Bay really let us relax, mellow out, and take a step back from the pace of the real world for a couple days!
Prince Albert, South Africa
The next day we took a very scenic drive through the mountains to Prince Albert. The 4 hour drive included a 27km trip through the Swartberg Mountain Pass, one of the steepest mountain passes in South Africa. Not to mention, all done on a single dirt lane road, dodging all oncoming traffic. Lucky for us, after each switchback and every hairpin turn, an even more breath-taking view was revealed. The valley and the mountain ranges can only be described as incredible and we are so happy that we decided to make the drive!
Prince Albert was a quiet town which we stopped in for a couple relaxing days. This town is filled with older style buildings that have all been updated but kept their old town charm. We ended up having lunch one day at an Olive Farm which reminded us of being in the Okanagan Valley with the desert heat and agriculture! Not to mention the lunch and olives were some of the best we ever had! I don’t think we will ever forget the place we stayed because as we were lying in bed going to sleep, Piet mentioned he felt something moving, I brushed it off saying it was all in his head but he was adamant he felt something so on came the lights.. and there just above my head on my pillow was one of the largest cockroaches either of us had ever seen! Between me jumping out of bed at warp speed and Piet scrounging to get a cup the cockroach had managed to crawl back down below the floor. We didn’t get too much sleep that night knowing there are big cockroaches just below your bed…
We woke up early the next day to make one of our longest drives and luckily our last before heading to the suburbs of Cape Town where we will spend the next 5 weeks. On our way to Cape Town we stopped at Bloukrans Bridge to check out their adrenaline rushing bungy jump. At 216km high it is no small jump (not like the small bridge jump we did in Ecuador). This is ranked number 4 in the highest bungy jumps in the world and it did not disappoint. After watching a few people jump (and a small mental battle) we worked up the courage to take this leap. After all its more dangerous driving in a car or walking down the street anywhere in the world then bungy jumping. After tossing on a harness we have to do a fairly nerve-wracking walk to the platform in the middle of the bridge- Mike claims this was scarier than the jump itself! They tell you not to look down but of course who doesn’t look down! Once we got to the platform the whole atmosphere changed and you go from nervous to really pumped up to jump. It’s a big celebration with music, chanting, cheering... you name it! There was a group of about 30 of us and Piet was probably the 20th person to jump. For those that have jumped this will bring back good memories... Once your name is called you almost black out and let your senses take over. Everything happens so fast as they strap you in and walk you to the edge. Before you can even realize what it is you are doing they start counting 5..4..3..2..1.. and you Jump!! It is about 10 seconds of straight free falling before the cord tightens and slingshots you back up and down. The mind is an amazing thing because over those 10 seconds you go from being scared, to accepting your fate, and ultimately enjoying the rush and feeling of what you are actually doing! It’s like something you have never experienced before. The minute you are alone waiting for the staff to come get you and bring you back to the platform is a special moment. You learn that you are limitless, capable of so much more then you think, and to cherish every moment of every day because it can be taken from you so quickly. Unfortunately, Bri wasn’t able to jump due to a recent eye surgery but having done 3 previous jumps she couldn’t have been more excited for Piet to truly experience these moments. We highly recommend everything to do this, scared or not, because it is something you will never forget or regret!
Check out the video below for Piet’s jumping experience!
After the massive adrenaline rush, we headed to Betty’s Bay, a small retirement town right on the water with some amazing coastline views. The big highlight at Bettys Bay is the enormous penguins colony! We have never seen so many penguins in one place and it was incredible to see how comfortable they are around humans! We hadn’t seen penguins since the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador just under a year ago, so it was great to see them in a completely different setting!