Saturday, 11 April 2009

Road Trip - Part 3

Wednesday March 18th - Wilderness

We woke up to sunshine! Hooray! Time for a shower, breakfast and tent packing, all achieved by about 0900hrs!

Canoeing was on! We said our goodbyes to the few people who were staying or working at the backpackers and headed off round the corner into the Wilderness National Park and the canoe hire people at Eden Adventures. For a very reasonable fee we were given the paddles to Canoe No. 6 and two life jackets and off we went!

We headed off on the 1.5km paddle upstream towards the end of the navigable river where we could join a 2km long wooden boardwalk through the mountain to a waterfall near the source of the river. Surprisingly all went well. Jon provided power from the front whilst Elaine kept us on course and provided additional power from the rear! After a very pleasurable paddle looking at the wildlife (including a swimming African Puff Adder (killer variety!) and a pair of Knysna Loeries we dragged the canoe up onto the rocky beach, stowed the paddles, pulled our bags out of the dry buckets and set off along the boardwalk.

After 45 minutes good walking exercise we reached our destination, a beautiful series of sink pools fed by two fairly large waterfalls. Time for a swim/paddle in the freezing mountain water and some lunch on a 2m square island/beach in the middle of one of the pools.

After an hour or so it was time to head back to the canoe and make our way back to base. Strangely enough the journey back was also against the current so we had another good work out amongst the flora and fauna of the Touw River. A blissful and healthy first half of the day!

When we got back to the car we treated ourselves to an ice cream, rubbed our sore shoulders and set off on the short (40km) drive to Buffelsbaai (Buffalo Bay). We arrived at the Buffalo Bay Backpackers and pitched our tent within throwing distance of the beach.

Elaine was actually the first guest at this backpackers three years ago! She helped paint the walls and even had to unwrap the packaging from her mattress and bedding before she could sleep! Johan the owner was pleased to see her and amazingly had spent time working at The White Swan in Henley-in-Arden, just around the corner from Jon's home in the UK!

We spent the early evening watching the surfers on the 'morning' beach and looking at some of the art on show in the backpackers.

As evening drew closer we decided to make the short journey to Knysna and have a nice meal at Cornuti's Restaurant at the 'Knysna Heads' (apparently the second most dangerous port entrance in SA). Before we left we did notice that the sea was turning a little rough and dark clouds were rolling in. Was the tent going to be a good option? We didn't care, we were hungry!!!

The meal was fabulous and the view from the terrace was fantastic. The heads are two natural outcrops which separate the sea from the lagoon, forming a narrow channel navigable only by the best seafarers and even they cross their fingers and pray!

By the time we were ready to head back to Buffelsbaai the rain was really falling hard and the wind was blowing. Things were even worse at the backpackers. We quickly emptied the tent of our belongings and asked Johan for a room instead! Once you get to our age there is nothing to prove by sleeping in a cold, wet tent! We sat around the fire and had a drink with some of our fellow residents, joining in the jokes about the poor souls who were sleeping in the tent outside, not letting on that it should have been us!

The following morning the weather was fantastic once again. The tent was still in situ and bone dry! We packed our things, nursed our now VERY sore shoulders, had breakfast and got ready for the next leg of our journey. Just one last task before we left, kindly ask Johan's Jack Russel to stop reading our copy of Coast to Coast and get out of the car!

We said our goodbyes and were off to Stormsrivier in the Tsitsikamma National Park.

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