To the Wine Country

We spend a few days in beautiful Plettenberg Bay. There has been a lot of shark activity here recently.

Maria goes in anyway

There is a thick sea mist covering Plettenberg Bay for most of our time here. It finally lifts to reveal the surrounding sea and mountains.

Mossel Bay is our next stop.

The Bartolomeu Dias museum has a replica of his ship. This vessel sailed from Lisbon to Mossel Bay in 1988.

Cape Agulhas is the southernmost point in Africa.

Where two oceans meet

There’s a lighthouse you can climb.

You get a great view from the top.

Antarctica is somewhere over the horizon

The trip from Agulhas to the wine country goes through the Overberg region, full of golden rolling hills and vast grain farms.

Wineries on our list to visit include Boschendal, La Motte, Alto, and Rust en Vrede.

At La Motte winery
At Boschendal winery

While driving from Franschhoek to Paarl, we discover that when Nelson Mandela was released from prison, it wasn’t from Robben Island – it was from Victor Verster Prison. It’s still a working prison.

Nelson’s column

Speaking of Nelson Mandela, we are walking along a street in Stellenbosch when we come across a pair of his shoes in a shop window. It seems they were auctioned off for some fundraising event.

Big shoes to fill

In Paarl, we visit the Afrikaans Language Museum, which is less than riveting. But brings us to an interesting – but purely anecdotal – observation: about 80-90 % of the (white) South Africans we meet are Afrikaans speakers. (Most of whom speak perfect but heavily-accented English.) What happened to all the English South Africans? My theory is that many of them probably had access to British or other passports and left the country.

Sight or Insight of the Day

Our last camping experience is in Franschhoek. This is all the stuff we acquired for our comfort and convenience while on the road. As usual, there is a big giveaway.

‘Imagine no possessions…’ – John Lennon

We’ve camped about half the nights of our trip. Almost all of them delightful.

This photo is a visual reminder for any future voyage. We had precisely what we needed this time around.


Addo Elephant Park – Park Name Checks Out

After we re-enter South Africa proper, we spend a few days at the ultra-civilized Yellow Sands Caravan Park.

We revisit Addo Elephant Park. ‘Revisit’ because we came here on one of our previous visits. There are lots of elephants in Addo – over 500. So many pachyderm pics follow.

It’s good to be back in a game park. The first thing we notice is that the elephants in Addo are used to being close to people (in their cars, that is.)

Heading for our car

Even mama elephants with young ones don’t become tense and anxious.

Tense and Anxious? Moi?

Not only elephants. Many animals in the park that are usually very skittish and bolt at the first approach have become accustomed to carloads of visitors. They stand calmly a metre or two away while you admire them.

Like this zebra.

And this ostrich.

But elephants are still the stars of the show. We are amused by this elephant that doesn’t want to share his waterhole with a family of warthogs.

Every now and then, he sprays them with a blast of water to drive them away. They keep coming back, refusing to be bullied.

Of course, with a lot of elephants comes copious amounts of elephant dung. Addo is also home to the rare flightless dung beetle.

This vehicle brakes for dung beetles

And oceans of urine, too. Apparently, elephants can gush out gallons of the stuff. According to Global Sanctuary for Elephants:

“An elephant will urinate approximately 13 gallons (50 liters) throughout the day, voiding 3 gallons (10 liters) each time they urinate.  That’s the equivalent of 5 bottles of soda each time.”

Looks like more than 3 gallons

Anywhere there is a waterhole or a mud hole, there are elephants. These ones have found pitch-black mud that almost looks like crude oil.

They become so blissed out during these mud baths that they disconcertingly resemble dead bodies.

I break the rules and get out of our vehicle to help a small tortoise cross the road.

Maria keeps an eye out for lions

Another water hole, another mob of elephants.

It’s an important part of their socialization.

This juvenile is having a blast.

The park sometimes tops up the waterholes from a tanker truck. At first, the driver leaps out and manages to get thousands of tons of elephant flesh to back off by shouting. They gradually drift back, ignoring the truck and its driver.

Water for elephants

Several locations have fenced-in blinds, where you can safely observe the wildlife.

Elephants come in all sizes, from super-jumbo to pocket-sized.

We notice many zebras with foals at this time of the year.

Motherly love

Surprisingly, the gestation period for zebras is 12 to 13 months.

Mother-daughter outing

Sight or Insight of the day

Maria says we should include something about load-shedding. This is an everyday occurrence in South Africa, where the power shuts down. This can range from ‘inconvenient’ to ‘highly dangerous’. You kind of get used to it, but this morning, when the power went off yet again, we agreed this was getting really old, as they say.

As usual, there’s a good article in The Economist that sheds light on the subject – pun fully intended. There’s also a report from Harvard University warning the entire economy could collapse through the incompetence, corruption, and mismanagement of the ruling ANC. Pretty strong stuff.

So the ANC, which was bequeathed essentially the only industrialized country in the continent, has got a bit of explaining to do.

In light of all this, the election coming up in May should be interesting. Registration of voters has begun. We see this sign while driving through the town of Knysna.