Coffee Bay: Our South Africa Round up

After what felt like forever we arrived in Coffee Bay at our backpackers, Coffee Shack. We jumped off the bus and headed into reception to check in but instead we were taken straight to the bar for our complimentary drink. We must have looked like kids at Christmas, a free drink! Bare in mind we paid about £8 a night for this place so a free drink was great. After the drink we were told we had to be driven to our rooms as it was over a stream and it’s easy to drive the bags there than carry them. We were shown to our hut and reminded dinner was served at seven o’clock. After freshening up we decided to head back to the main area and check it all out. It was a short walk from the hut down the this so called ‘stream’. Basically it was where the water from the hills met the sea but at this time the tide was in and there was no bridge. Luckily for me I had shorts on but rosie with trousers on had to roll them up as much as she could. We started wading through the water and it got deeper and deeper and was quickly past my knees, I turned round to see Rosie’s trousers drenched she was not a happy bunny but we continued and made it through and headed to the bar. We chilled for the rest of the night and ate good food before tackling the ‘stream’ again. Luckily by the time we headed back the water had receded a bit so you could see some rocks that formed somewhat of a path across the water so this time we both managed to stay dry. After a long day travelling we headed to bed for an early night as we were planning to get up and go hiking the following morning.

Up bright and early we headed across the stream which was still very small and made it across without any casualties. We had a full english breakfast in the bar which was amazing! We were supposed to be heading out on a hike to do some cliff jumping at 10.30 but the weather was having other ideas, the sky was seriously cloudy and it was starting to rain, we checked the forecast and it was meant to storm all day so we cancelled our hiking plans.. neither of us felt like getting struck by lightning in the sea.  So we decided to spend the morning booking some of our plans in Cambodia. After some yummy lunch we headed back to the hut and Kenny believe it or not went for a run in the rain (I opted out). After he’d recovered we went for a walk to the beach but weren’t totally sure how to get there so after a short walk we figured we’d head back to the bar and chill for the rest of the afternoon before dinner. It’s worth mentioning that dinner here was AMAZING! They served the best home cooked meals (2 courses for R70 which is basically £4) from soup, stew, spaghetti, steak and stir fry.

The following day we signed up to do the hole in the wall hike which is a hike from the hostel to the hole in the wall which is approx 10k from the hostel (by road) and then you get a lift back to the hostel. You follow the cliffs all the way round to the hole in the wall which is a rock formation in the sea which has a hole in the centre that the waves come through.

So we were up bright and early determined to go rain or shine. We headed for breakfast armed with our raincoats, water, walking boots and of course our cameras. We were leaving at 10.30 so we made it to the bar with plenty of time for breakfast before we left. Whilst we were eating the guide came to tell us that we would be driving there and walking back as the rain had made the roads quite muddy overnight and it was due to rain more through the day and there was a chance the truck might not make it through the mud if it rained all morning. So we finished breakfast and headed out to the truck with another 12 people who would also be joining us on the hike. The truck took us through the stunning countryside and we drove past countless  Xhosa villages, hundreds of cows, goats, sheep, dogs and donkeys before reaching our drop of point, a short walk from the hole in the wall.  We all bundled out of the truck and began our walk up the muddy road to catch our first glimpse of it. We reached the top of the hill and the view spanned out over the ocean and to the hole in the wall, even though the weather wasn’t great and the sky was pretty grey it was still a fantastic view and the perfect opportunity for a photo. We headed down the hill for a closer look and several of our fellow hikers went for a swim in the cold water although no one managed to get as far as the hole. We milled around for about half an hour with everyone getting their fill of photos before out guide announced we were starting the hike back to the hostel. With everything packed up off we went, as we started we quickly realised just how humid it was and before long everyone was pouring with sweat. After maybe 45 minutes of hiking we were drenched in sweat and quite frankly praying for rain, we had just come to the top of a cliff top close to a village when we were joined by a little dog who soon decided he would keep us company for the rest of the hike after i couldn’t help giving him a cuddle. As we continued on our hike it seemed like the up and down terrain was getting more and more extreme and it was becoming a real challenge to get to the top of some of these hills. We crossed streams, waterfalls, beaches and Kenny only fell down a hill once.  After a couple of hours we stopped on top of one of the cliffs and waited for everyone to catch up, it gave us all a chance to catch our breath while we admired the view an wondered how far we had left to go. When everyone caught up we asked the guide how much further we had left and he pointed out to the third cliff away from where we were standing and said “see that cliff with the house, the next cliff,”. I was pretty disheartened, that cliff seemed miles away and it already felt like we had been walking forever i thought we’d be much closer than that but we ploughed on anyway still accompanied by our new 4 legged friend.  Soon after we set off the rain started to come down but at this point no one was bothered about putting on a raincoat we were all glad of the cooling rain for a while. After another hour scaling the cliffs we reached a road which singled the end our our trip, it was all downhill to the backpackers from this point and only about 5 minutes away! We arrived back and were greeted with cheese and tomato toasties, not sure we’d ever been so hungry before! I checked my fitbit and we had actually covered almost 14k over the hike much longer than the 9 I originally thought it was. We got back around 2pm and after having lunch we headed back for a quick shower before heading to the beach where Kenny went for a swim. We headed back to pack up our bags  before our long journey to Durban the following day before heading over for dinner in the bar. Little did I know that we would also be spending the night watching two rugby matches, first Scotland vs Ireland and then England vs France, as the hostel had a tv in the bar they used for sporting events. After watching both matches we headed to bed ready for an early start before our long journey.

Over the next few days we spent a lot of time on the Baz Bus. From Coffee Bay we headed further up the coast to Durban, we had to stay over night in Durban as it was the final destination that for that leg of the trip with the next bus leaving the following day bound for Johannesburg. So whilst in Durban we just chilled out and went to Nando’s. Yes Nando’s. we just wandered around a huge shopping mall and did nothing it was great. Then the following day we had our mammoth trip to our final stop in South Africa, Johannesburg. The bus said they would pick us up around 6:30 am so we were up and out of the hostel early waiting for the bus. 6:45 rolled around no bus, 7 no bus, 8 no bus, finally at 8:30 the bus arrived and we started our 10 hour Journey. After stopping a couple of times along the way we finally arrived around 18:30 ish. We had booked a hotel rather than a hostel so we could get some good sleep before our flight to india the next day. We ordered room service and fell straight to sleep. Our final day in South Africa we headed to the cinema to watch Lion a true story about a lost child in India (great film, however not a recommended watch the day you fly to India). After the film we packed up and headed to the airport where we waited anxiously to board our flight.

After almost 6 weeks in South Africa we were definitely sad to say goodbye, we’ve had such an amazing time and have loved everywhere we have stayed (apart from PE when we got robbed) we’ve done some incredible things whilst we’ve been here and met some great people. If anyones every stuck for travel or holiday destinations South Africa is the One! The nicest and most welcoming people combined with the most beautiful country makes for the most wonderful trip! We will certainly be back, but for now we’ll say bye as we head of to india and prepare ourselves for the chaos that we no doubt we’ll find there.

K & R x

 

Hogsback: Waterfalls, Bathtubs and Lord Of The Rings 

With our amazing stay in Chintsa over it was time to board our shuttle to Hogsback. When I say shuttle I mean a car and this car was full to the max. It had space for up to eight people, two inh the front, three in the middle and three in the back. Every seat was taken and with the back seats being used it didn’t leave much of a boot for eight large back packs. We managed to squeeze five in the small boot space and three on the roof rack then finally we were off. As you can imagine this car was hot, it was about 27 degrees outside and of course there was no A/C so we were sweating. We had a two and a half hour journey up the mountain to Hogsback with one stop at a supermarket for supplies. When we finally stoped at the supermarket we all kind of just fell out the car rushing for the drinks section of the shop. Our driver said we had fifteen minutes so we all used every second of those fifteen to walk around and buy snacks and drinks ready for the remainder of our drive. Luckily once back on the road I fell asleep and before I knew it we were pulling down the driveway of the backpackers (Away With The Fairies) towards buildings that look like something from lord of the rings. The Amatola Forest in the Hogsback area is often claimed as J. R. R. Tolkien’s (who was born in South Africa) inspiration for The Lord of the Rings, in particular for his fictional forest of Mirkwood.

Once out of the car and in reception we were quickly given a grand tour, dumped our bags on our beds and headed straight to the bar. The bar area was relatively small but there was a great atmosphere, the bar manager Garth was an awesome guy. He was super talkative and got everyone chatting away about different random things, travel mostly. He was originally from South Africa but had worked in England for a few years so us being the only English people we had a lot to talk about. He said he had visited the Peak District a number of times and loved it so that had Rosie talking and he also lived and worked in Newquay for a couple of years so naturally we spoke about Cornwall for a while. The bar served draught beers from a local Hogsback brewery so I had to try them of course. A few beers down we both decided we were hungry and headed out to dinner at a restaurant Garth had recommended. Around a fifteen minute walk and we reached The Lighthouse Pub and Restaurant it didn’t disappoint. We went all out, starters and everything, the food was amazing when we left we kind of waddled out full to the brim. we definitely needed the fifteen minute walk back to let the food go down. We headed back to the bar for a few more drinks before hitting the hay relatively early ready for a big hike the next day. We agreed we would wake up early to get this hike started before it got really hot. So up at eight and straight to the bar area for breakfast. The night before I had already eyed up the breakfast menu behind the bar and knew exactly what I wanted, ‘The Fairy Fry Up’, so there was only Rosie to decide and she ended up going for the same thing. When it arrives there was a huge smile on my face as I looked at a plate full of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes and toast, sorted! While that all washed down with a cup of tea we bought two bottles of water and acquired a map and headed off down the forest path to the start of the hike. The hike was to be around four hours long depending on how fast you walk. The majority was through dense over grown forest and a mass of spider webs towards the main attraction (Madonna and Child) a big waterfall. Although we finally set off around 9:30 once on the forest floor at the bottom of the valley it was disgustingly humid. You only had to take one step and sweat would begin to pour off you. Around the two hour forty five mark we reached the waterfall surprisingly Rosie’s boots were straight off and she was paddling in the water pool just below the cliff. We chilled in the shade for almost half an hour before making our way up a steep incline make to the top of the valley and the long road walk back to the backpackers. Once on the road and out of the shade of the trees we realised how hot it actually was. There was zero shade on the road so we had to take repeated water breaks to try and stay hydrated. We realised that the road eventually brought us out just a bit further on from the restaurant we had been to the night before. Luckily for us closer to a small shop where we bought drinks, chocolate, pies and of course an ice cream to cool us down as we made our final walk back to the backpackers. Once back I had to get straight in a cold shower and change I was so hot Rosie did the same and then we headed to the bar.
One very unique thing about the place we stayed was that they had a fully working bath tub on the side of the cliff in a secluded area over looking the valley below. You could book hour long time slots in the bar. I had booked us in for five o’clock so we had a couple drinks and head down for our bath. Unfortunately it had before grey and cloudy and once on the cliffs edge there was a chilly wind but we gave it a good go anyway. You had to create a fire to heat the water which we managed to do and before we knew it the bath was full, bubbles and everything. We took it in turns as the bath wasn’t big enough for the both of us but the cold got the better of us so we took a few cool pictures (check my Instagram for the best one) and decided we were done, dried off and head inside for some food. We just grabbed a pizza from the bar as we had heard everyone talking about them of the night before. I thought the breakfast was good but this pizza was great. Once that was devoured we spent the remainder of the evening with drinks at the bar chatting the night away.

The following day we had a lay in until around ten ish. There wasn’t the same bright sun shining through as the day before and we soon realised that was because there was think fog everywhere. All the windows were open so a lot of our clothes felt damp. It was one of the days where you just wanted to wrap up and lay on the sofa, so that’s exactly what we did. We spent almost all of the day relaxing in the common room watching films and planning future travel like Cambodia and booking flights to America. We grabbed pizza from the bar again in the evening and just chilled all day.

Before we knew it it was our last day in Hogsback. The shuttle was due to leave at 8:30 so we had to get up early if we wanted breakfast. Up, showered and checked out by 7:30 that’s a good effort for us. Straight to the bar for food. We ordered the same as the past two days and kept our fingers crossed it came in time as the chef didn’t start work until eight. Luckily it did we ate and waited outside for the shuttle. We couldn’t believe it when the five people we had been in the shuttle with previous were waiting for it with us. We all immediately knew it was going to be the same sticky journey as before. We had a warm two and a half hour journey back to Cintsa to board the Bas Buz for our three hour journey to Mthatha. Then once in Mthatha we had around a twenty minute wait before our final one hour and half shuttle journey to Coffee Bay for our next few days of excitement.

Chintsa: Burnt To A Crisp

So after our unfortunate time in Port Elizabeth I was thrilled to be heading somewhere familiar to visit old friends and to show Kenny the place i’d spent so much time in over the past few years (for those who don’t know I volunteered at a horse rehab and rescue farm here several times over the past 5 years). We boarded the baz bus at 6.30am outside our hostel and quite frankly I couldn’t wait to see the back of it. Our bus driver Jay was great, he explained that we would stop along the way for breakfast and would arrive in Cintsa by about 12.30 in the afternoon. Luckily the bus was pretty empty so we were able to stretch out and grab some well needed sleep (as neither of us had slept much the night before thanks to the bedbugs and stolen cash). Before long we arrived at our breakfast stop and after grabbing a sandwich and some snacks we headed on towards East London and Cintsa. We dropped one guy off in East London and from there everything started to become familiar, the shops, the roads, the houses and before long we were turning on to the Chintsa West road that led to the backpackers. With a flying glimpse at some of the horses as we drove past towards the backpackers all the worries of the last few days seemed to disappear. After a long and bumpy ride down the drive we arrived at Buccaneers backpackers where we would be spending the next few nights.

I had originally wanted to surprise George and Penny (the people that run the rehab and rescue farm) when we got there but after our disastrous last few days I was just eager to see them and all their wonderful animals, so I sent a picture to Penny of the view from our room and said ‘guess where we are,’ she quickly replied with ‘when are you coming over,’ and soon after she was on her way to pick us up for the afternoon.  Before long I could hear the squeak of breaks I instantly recognised as the Toyota, so we headed out to meet her and after the hugs and introductions we were off to the farm (about 10mins away) to see George and everyone else. We were greeted with the same enormous hug from George and after the introductions for Kenny we immediately put the kettle on and had a cuppa to catch up on what had been happening over the last year. We spoke about the new horses they had acquired the old ones that they had lost and everything in between (there’s always lots to catch up on). We then headed out to meet some of the new arrivals and one of the youngest new arrivals bibi who is only a few months old and born on the farm.

It’s always amazing to come back and see how much the younger horses grow up from when you first meet them, for example the first time I visited Harvey and Themba (my favourites) were 3 & 2 and now they are 8 & 7 you can imagine in that time they’ve gone from little things to enormous animals but still have the same wonderful characters. (Even if they are a bit cheeky). With Kenny’s introduction to the horses, pigs, dogs, rats and mice over it was feed time (for the horses not us).

So we headed out to feed all the horses across the farm while Christine and Ninka (two volunteers who were also staying at the farm) headed out to get fish and chips for tea. Before long they were back and we were all enjoying the most amazing fish and chips outside on the veranda. Once we’d all finished Penny, Christine and Ninka drove us back to the backpackers and came in for a drink or two at the bar. As per usual the bar was full of characters, one in particular … Mfuta, a South African guy who lives in England and runs a strawberry farm, in all the days we were there no one made me laugh more than he did! After a couple of ciders Penny and the girls headed home and after a few (too many) more Kenny and I headed for bed slightly worse for wear. 

The next morning I was up bright and early ready for a trail ride with Penny and some other clients. While Kenny had a lie in and a chill. (If you ever happen to be around the area do the trail ride! It’s the most amazing ride along the beach and up through the bush on fantastic horses!) Horses caught, groomed and tacked up the clients were introduced to their horses and we were off. I was spending the morning on Themba, a horse who I had helped to train a few years previously and my absolute favourite. We headed off down the road and on to the beach and the weather was glorious, sunny but a little bit of wind, by the time we were back I was starting to think I might be a little burnt despite covering myself in sun cream before heading out. We untacked the horses and fed them lunch while we waited for Kenny to make it up the road to meet us before heading back to the farm for a quick lunch before the farrier arrived. 

By the time we headed back out after lunch it was quite clear I really had burnt, my legs, arms and very much my shoulders. So I spent as much time as possible in the afternoon in the shade while we watched Anton, the farrier, do each of the horses feet. It took him around 2.5 hours to trim all 19/20 horses and by the time he was finished it was about 4.30pm so we fed the horses and headed back to the farm to feed there and get ready for dinner, George was making macaroni cheese. Now George’s macaroni cheese isn’t your average macaroni cheese. It the best Mac&cheese in the world, full of different types of cheeses and bacon. So for Kenny’s first experience ever of macaroni cheese he was pretty spoilt. After stuffing our faces Christine dropped us back at the backpackers where we grabbed a quick beer before heading for a shower and an early night. Needless to say I covered myself in aftersun in an attempt to help my sun burn before we hit the hay. 

Morning and despite my best efforts the night before of drinking tons of water and covering myself in aftersun the sunburn had got to me and I felt like I was dying. So after texting Penny and letting her know we wrote off the day and ended up spending all day in bed with me feeling sorry for myself, good job we brought a whole load of dvds with us, we grabbed a pizza for tea before grabbing an early night in an attempt to feel better. 

Up bright and early for breakfast the next morning and with my sunburn not looking quite so fierce but some nice blisters appearing on my shoulder and back we headed to the pool (all burn covered up obviously) for some well needed cool water. After a few hours we decided to check out the beach and grab some lunch at Barefoot Cafe across the beach. However we didn’t check out the beach for the long! The wind was crazy and sending the sand everywhere, we headed straight up to the cafe and grabbed two amazing burgers for lunch. After a couple of card games and beers later we headed back to try our luck walking back across the beach. It wasn’t so windy by this point and it didn’t feel like we were getting shot in the legs by tiny bullets of sand. We headed back up to the pool for a while before showering and sorting our bags out for our departure the day after. (It always amazes me how much mess we can make in just a few days). We had dinner at the hostel which was a braai, the food was great and lots of it. We shared a table with another couple who were also travelling around South Africa and India and got to swap our travel plans and travel blogs before we headed to the bar for a couple games of pool. After I beat Kenny and the two of us beat a couple of girls who had challenged us we decided to call it a night ready for our departure the following day.

Morning again and after finishing packing we headed for breakfast to fill up before our drive to Hogsback. The shuttle was leaving around 11.30 so we chilled out in reception and looked at some travel plans for the rest of our trip while we waited for the shuttle to arrive. Before long our driver appeared and we headed on out to our ‘shuttle’ that would take us up in to the mountains to Hogsback. 

R x

Pumba Game Reserve: Four Days Of Heaven 

So we’ve finally got round to writing a post about our safari!! From beginning to end it was nothing short of amazing. 
Day 1

We were picked up on Thursday (19th) by Andre who would be transferring usto Pumba Private Game Reserve. Gone was the cramped and hot baz bus, we would be traveling in style in a Range Rover compete with TVs, air con and drinks for us! Our journey took around an hour and a half most all of which the conversation took a turn to rugby (shock) but before long we were pulling in to the driveway of our destination. Pumba Private Game Reserve. 

Andre dropped us off at the reception building where we checked in and waited for our transfer to the lodge, not long after our transfer appeared in the form of a Land Rover safari truck so we piled our bags in and climbed up into the truck and headed off to the Msenge Bush Lodge where we would be staying. The two rangers in the truck told us that the drive would take about 20 minutes so we sat back and enjoyed the ride. Not two minutes in to the drive we came across a pack of white lions, a mother and her four cubs, it was amazing to see them in the wild and so soon into our trip. Another few minutes down the road and we were faced with a road block, a huge gathering of giraffes fighting in the road, so we stopped turned of the engine and waited for them to move across the road which eventually they did. So after a fairly eventful drive we arrived at the bush lodge where we were greeted with more drinks and a tour of the lodge and the facilities before being shown to our room. Everything about the place was breathtaking, from the view of restaurant that went out over the open plains, the infinity pool that was right next to a watering hole to our room that was glass walled on each side and had our own private pool. It felt like we were in heaven on earth! 

We quickly took in our surroundings explored the room, and the free minibar before heading up for lunch. 

The food was on a whole other level! Some of the nicest food I’ve ever eaten, 3 courses for each meal breakfast, lunch and dinner. We found ourselves looking forward to each meal trying to guess what it would be. My personal favourite were the soups! (And I’m not a soup person but they were amazing) 

Once lunch was over we had an hour or so wait until our game drive at 4.30pm (everyday we had 2 game drives, one at 6.30am and one at 4.30pm) when we weren’t on game drives the day was our own to do whatever we wanted, sunbathe, swim, go to the spa, etc although we spent the most time sunbathing and sleeping. 

So full from lunch we headed out on our first game drive with our ranger who would be with us our whole trip, Sethu, it was just the two of us for our first drive although there would be more joining us over the next couple of days. Sethu quickly explained the rules before we headed out amongst the animals which included no standing in the vehicle (the animals are used to the trucks and they view the truck and the people inside as one so when you stand up you break the unit and they can become aggressive or frightened) and no making noises to try and get the animals attention (if they aren’t intrested in getting a good picture tough!). With the rules explained off we went, we were very excited for our first drive and it didn’t dissapoint, although the weather wasn’t great (wind and rain!) we saw 2 male white lions, 3 rhinos (two enormous females and a baby), a handful of wildebeest with their calves, lots of giraffe, zebra, one lonely tortoise, countless impala, kudu and nyala and plenty of Kenny’s favourite .. warthogs compete with their adorable babies! All in 2 and a half hours and we stopped for a beer along the way! 

Once we were back in the lodge we headed out to the fire pit to warm up from our rather chilly drive and check out the menu for dinner. Food chosen, dinner time booked and much warmer than when we’d arrived we went and showered and got ready for dinner. We had to call reception to ask for the ranger to walk us back to the restaurant (you have to have a ranger escort you in the evening when it gets dark, even though it’s less than 50m, as this is when the leopards and hyenas are most active) which I thought was a bit excessive however when we found out that another couple had found a leopard sitting on their deck one evening I decided that I much preferred walking with a ranger! After eating the most amazing dinner we headed back for a good nights sleep ready for our early start at 6.30am.



Day 2 

Up bright and early ready for our first early morning drive we headed to the meeting point where we met up with Sethu and another couple who would be joining our drive. After a quick recap of the rules we set off to find some lions, after what seemed ages of driving and seeing nothing, not even an antelope I spotted the pack of lions sleeping right by the side of the road. The mum with her four cubs and one of the male white lions. It’s amazing how completely unbothered they are by the trucks you can get so close and they don’t bat an eyelid although they are watching you the whole time. After we’d taken all the photos we could we headed off in search of more animals, we spotted some more giraffe and a couple of hippo that were in the water before we stopped for a hot chocolate close to the giraffe. We headed back to the lodge for breakfast (which was amazing as per usual) before heading back to the room to sunbathe and chill out before lunch and our afternoon game drive. 

After another delicious lunch ( starting to feel fatter by the second) and watching the elephants play around at the water hole from the restaurant we headed out on the second drive of the day. A fairly quiet drive but we did spot lots of elephant, giraffe and antelope before stopping for our beer before heading back for dinner. 

After another delicious dinner we headed back, escorted by our ranger of course, to our room for the night ready for an early night before our early start. However the hyenas had other ideas and for half an hour all we could hear were their distinctive laughing calls from what sounded like right outside our room. Nothing like a reminder of how close to nature you are. 



Day 3

Our last full day at Pumba and another 6.30 start, now with a full truck of 6 of us we headed out in search of animals. We quickly came across a pack of 5 lions who were sunbathing in the early morning sun waiting for their mum to return who had gone out to hunt. They weren’t interested in us at all and barely even bothered to look up when the trucks approached them. We hung around for a while in the hope that the mum might return but she didn’t so we headed of and we’re quickly greeted by more giraffe including 2 babies (who were still 5/6ft tall) and then 3 gorgeous rhinos grazing on the plain. They were totally unfazed by us and just carried on their business of mowing the grass. It was amazing to see them so close when so few still exist in the wild. With enough excitement for one drive we headed back to the lodge for breakfast where we filled up and headed back to the room to sunbathe until lunch. I spent a little bit of time after lunch going through and editing some of the photos I had taken throughout the trip so far before we headed out on our penultimate drive of the safari. 

So cameras ready we headed out and almost straight away came across a herd of elephant eating amongst the trees. We parked up and watched them for about half an hour while they broke down trees and Sethu explained how they live in a herd of mainly females with one alpha female. The herd had 2 young elephants and a real baby elephant with them which were adorable to watch. They were also accompanied by an enormous bull elephant who was taking down trees left right and centre as he made his way through the bushes. Eventually we headed off leaving them to their lunch. We quickly saw scores of impala and their babies, kudu, nyala, wildebeest and more giraffe before stopping and waiting for a repair vehicle as ours had something coming loose underneath. We had a few beers as we waited and joked about being stuck in the wild, before long a replacement vehicle arrived and we started the drive back to the lodge. 10 minutes later we came across a road block in the form of a herd of elephant, we pulled up alongside an enormous bull elephant who Sethu told us was in musk and we should leave alone so we quietly moved forwards only be blocked in by a huge female. Now it’s great to be within touching distance of these amazing animals but I was starting to feel a bit nervous about just how close they were. We spotted the baby elephant and her mum behind our truck and watched as they walked around the side and crossed in front of us before heading of into the bush. The next minute the enormous bull elephant that we had decided to stay away from was walking right by the side of the truck and stopped right by the front. Sethu told us to be quiet and not to move as he watched us and began to rub the front of the truck with his trunk. We quickly realised he was more interested in scratching himself on the truck than us but still even just scratching his trunk he was swaying the truck from one side to the other. When he eventually finished and walked off into the bushes we all started to breathe again before we started laughing about the incident. We quickly arrived back at the lodge where a stiff drink was definitely in need before a quick shower and change of clothes for dinner and our last of the trip! After dinner we headed back for our last night in paradise ready to get up early for our last game drive.



Day 4 

Our last day on safari! We woke up bright and early to head of on our last drive. We were the only 2 on the drive as the other couples opted for a lie in. So of we went in the blazing morning sun on our last hunt for animals. The first thing we came across was a very large male brown lion, the first brown lion we had seen all Safari who was quickly joined by his mum. Although they weren’t to interested in us they were more bothered about sleeping in the sun! We headed off spotting more giraffe, wildebeest and some more warthogs with their babies. Just as we thought it was getting very quiet we stumbled across a buffalo! The first of our trip he didn’t stick around very long though and was quickly off into the bushes but it was good to see another one of the big 5. We also managed to spot a herd of zebra (my favourite) before we got back to the lodge. By the time we got back it was almost 9 and we were checking out at half 10, shock we hadn’t packed a thing, so after a quick breakfast we rushed back to the room and quickly packed up before our transfer arrived to take us back to reception where Andre would be collecting us to take us back to PE. 

Bags packed and ready to go we boarded the truck for the last time as it drove us to reception. We managed to catch a glimpse of some more elephants on the way to reception a great way to end our trip! 

We were welcomed at reception by Andre who was all ready with his air con to take us back to PE in style. 

We were definitely sad to leave after such an amazing few days but I’m sure if time and money allows us we will be back again.

R x

Port Elizabeth: Our First Unfortunate Event

So after three amazing days at Pumba Game Reserve we were back in PE at Island Vibe in our five bed dorm room. Whilst we checked in and dumped our bags, Andre our driver from Pumba, offered to wait for us so he could drop us somewhere for lunch. He suggested an area called the Boardwalk on the sea front which is full of restaurants, shops and bars, so off we went. 

Once we arrived we just headed to the nearest restaurant which was called Spur Steak Ranch. Spurs is a huge family restaurant (very similar to something like Applebee’s in the states). We filled up on good cheap food and headed out to wander around the shops. We found a few surf shops and Rosie found another book store so we both ended up with another new book. Then we stumbled across a cinema and with the whole day to kill we thought why not catch a movie so we booked tickets to watch ‘Why Me’. We had a bit of a wait so we just chilled out in the shade and waited. Three o’clock rolled around and we stocked up on drinks and sweets as in South Africa they don’t charge you an arm and a leg for packet of starburst like they do in the UK. The film, it was the first laugh out loud film I’ve seen in a long time. We had the seen the trailers a thought it might be funny but it exceeded our expectations we both laughed the whole way through. Coming out of the cinema Rosie reminded me that we had seen an ice cream shop so headed there then grabbed an Uber and went back to the backpackers. Once back at the hostel we both just crashed hard and fell asleep really early. 
The following morning we spent just chilling around the dorm room. I read the remainder of my book ‘Traffiked by Sophie Hayes’ a true story about an English girl who get sex trafficked in Europe. As I put it down and said finished Rosie picked it up and read cover to cover in just over an hour. We were the only ones in our five bed dorm so we got our money out and counted it all up so we could work out our daily allowance for the remainder of our time in South Africa. All counted and with the money locked away we got ready and decided we would go to the sea front for some lunch. Our driver the day before had suggested Barney’s so went there. From there we just spent the day wandering around checking out the different areas and then decided as it was so cheap to catch another movie ‘Assassins Creed’ this time. The film was okay, not the best not the worst. In the Uber we had seen a convenience store so decided to walk back to the hostel via this shop so we could grab some bits. Rosie was in desperate need of some insect bite relief and luckily there was a pharmacy. Once we had all we needed we finished the walk back to the hostel ready to pack up for our 6:30am bus to Cintsa. 
Back at the hostel and packed up, Rosie went to get some money out for the bus ride the following day. I could see her frantically counting and recounting the money. Then she asked me what did we do with that money we counted earlier. I started to realise what was wrong. Money was missing! We cleared everything off the bed and then laid everything out so we make sure we had stupidly put it somewhere else. We hadn’t. The money was gone. We were gutted, angry, confused. £600 gone poof. Rosie instantly got the insurance details out while I was running through my head how it happened. There were a couple of lads hanging around outside our sliding patio doors in the morning, had they seen us counting it? I wasn’t sure. Could I approach them? I decided against this when I remembered they were both like 6ft 4 and built like a train. One maybe I would of but certainly not two. We tried the insurance company but obviously they only work 9-5 UK time and at this point it was about 10pm. We told the night manager what had happened and he was sorry, but nothing he could do. He told us that the police wouldn’t come out for something like that so he wrote us a letter for the insurance company. 
Stressed out, angry and tired we decided it was time to get some sleep, it was almost midnight when a Canadian couple checked in were shown into our room. We had to move the mess we had made trying to find the money. They both got straight in the bunk bed clearly tired and then out of nowhere the woman on the top bunk jumped up and off the bed screaming her boyfriends name saying get it get it. They both walked out the room not knowing what she saw we just ignored it assuming it was a spider. She came back in and took her bags back out the room after telling us her bed is crawling with bed bugs. This made sense as to where Rosie’s huge bites came from. The Canadian couple left as quickly as they had came. My bed was on the other side of the room and a single not part of a bunk bed. Rosie emotionally exhausted laid on it with me, not bothered about changing rooms we both fell asleep in the single bed fully clothed head to toe with alarms set for 6am. 
Both of us had barely slept wink when the alarms were going off. Before we knew it we were up, showered and outside waiting for the bus. For once it arrived perfectly on time, still angry and confused about the night we boarded excited to be moving on to Cintsa where Rosie has volunteered on a horse farm for a number of years and where I have heard so much about. 

JBay: Sea, Sand & Shopping

JBay,

Another day and another stop on the Baz Bus. Jeffrey’s bay, another place ticked off on our list. We’d heard so much about JBay before we came, people raving about the surfing and the chilled out vibe. It certainly didn’t disappoint, although both days we were there the wind was a little crazy we managed to make it out on to the beach for a sunbathe and Kenny even made it in to the sea (even if he did get absolutely flattened by a 10ft wave and what looked like road rash on his shoulder that he had gotten from hitting the sand so hard). We decided we would save our first taste of surfing for somewhere where the waves weren’t quite so enormous (I don’t want my first surfing experience to be my last). We stayed at island vibe which is right on the beach, in a 4 bed dorm, we decided pretty quickly that we much prefer a larger dorm than a small one with us ending up having two dorm mates who were the complete opposite (one in bed and asleep at 9 and up at the crack of dawn and the other out until the early hours and asleep until midday). The backpackers had a great bar that served great food for breakfast, lunch and dinner (included some great pizzas!) as well as cheap drinks, good music, peer pong and pool. With our stay here relatively short we decided that for the first time we would just chill for both days which is exactly what we did, sunbathed and did a little shopping at the surf factory outlets and found some great bargains in the billabong shop (we’ve got just enough room in our bags to fit them in). 

We also managed to book all of our rail travel and hostels in India as that part of our trip is fast approaching, we thought it would be best to have a set plan with us having a limited amount of time there.

Also whilst on a booking spree we were able to book 3 days in a really nice resort in Phuket for our last 3 days in Thailand using hotels.com. We managed to get an amazing rate because we’ve been using their rewards programme where you get 1 night free when you book and stay 10 nights through their website. The free night is equal to the average cost of all your nights so we had about £75 to spend, as well this by signing up to their rewards program you get up to 50% of normal prices so we managed to get a huge discount and then £75 off also! 

So after all that productiveness it’s time for us to head of on the next part of our adventure, Port Elizabeth, where we will be transferred to our Safari at Pumba Game reserve! So get ready for some posts filled with animals! 

Plettenberg Bay: Facing Fears

Monday, and our last day in Plettenberg Bay. What a better way to end this section of our journey than with a bungee jump. Not just any bungee either, the highest bridge bungee in the world. Bloukrans Bridge bungee, 216m of bungee with our name on it at 11am.

So another early start and another rush to get packed and check out before our taxi arrived at 9.15am, in all this rushing Kenny discovered that he has ‘misplaced’ his wallet (i’ll explain later). Anyway with our bags stored away, GoPro ready and charged we set of in the taxi for our 30min journey to the bungee. I should probably mention that Kenny’s barely said a word all morning at this point and he’s practically radiating fear in the back of the car. We finally pull up at the Bungee and get out of the taxi and head for reception to check in, I looked left and noticed the bridge that we’d be jumping off and stupidly mentioned it to Kenny which instantly started the, ‘I don’t think i’m going to be able to do it,’ conversation. Nevertheless we checked in, got weighed (for the bungee cord) and headed off to put our harness on. Harnessed and ready to go the guides let us know we had 40 minutes until our walk down to the bridge so we chilled out in the restaurant which overlooked the canyon and the bridge and watched the live video stream of the current jumpers. I don’t know that watching other people made us feel any better but it passed the  time pretty quickly and before we knew it there was just time for a nervous wee before we set of towards the bridge. Bungee-14-1024x688.jpg

The walk down to the bridge was pretty steep and I have to be honest all that was in my head was “I really don’t want to have to walk back up this hill,”. About halfway down our guide stopped and gathered us together to explain how it would work when we got to the bridge, how they would call us up by our number but it would be in weight order not necessarily number order (i’m thinking great i’ll be somewhere in the middle). He explained there would be people videoing and taking photographs of our jump and how when we were completely harnessed up they would help us to the edge of the bridge with our toes off the edge they would count down from 3-2-1 bungee and we’d jump head first as far out as we could. I’m thinking at this point ‘you’ll be lucky if I fall of the edge let alone jump,’ and I think Kenny was just trying to think happy thoughts to stop him from crying. When the talk was finished we carried on down the hill, once underneath the bridge there was a small walkway that would take us right to the centre (under the road part of the bridge) where we would jump from. Now the walkway was not what I had imagined, suspended 216m above the canyon screwed to the bridge above was this metal mesh walkway that went all the way out over the canyon. The trick is to not look down, I did and my stomach felt like it was about to do 100 somersaults. Kenny’s hands were practically glued to the railing either side and his eyes fixed on the roof of the bridge, he didn’t say a single word all the way there. We finally get our feet on solid concrete again and I looked at him and there was just a look of terror on his face followed by another ‘I don’t think I can do this,’. His terror was short-lived because they called out the names of who would be the first lot of jumpers and guess who was first… Me. I think it was more of a nervous laugh from him but definitely a ‘i’m glad it’s not me,’ laugh nonetheless.

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At this point the fear really started to set in, why on earth had I suggested a bungee jump what is wrong with me, first the shark diving and now this i’m an actual moron. So they call me forward and start attaching all the cables and what not telling me how safe they are and how it they can take 3.8 tonnes. That’s all well and good but my brain is just screaming, “YOU’RE GOING TO DIE, THE CABLES WILL BREAK AND YOU WILL DIE,” So i just sit there and smile (more like a grimace). To be fair to them they do a great job of getting everyone pumped up, theres music going on like you’re in a club and everyones having a laugh and dancing, but when it comes down to it your still stood on the edge of a bridge dangling your toes of the edge. When we watched the video of the jumps after I look like someone who’s seriously regretting their decision in life and you can hear me ask the man if i’m going to die. Then they move me to the edge and all I can say is, “oh my F****** god,” I’ve got my GoPro on ready in my hand and they count down 3-2-1 bungee and then push me off, no jumping from my legs, nothing was working. The first few seconds before you feel the tension on the rope was terrifying I couldn’t even get my screams out properly. The feeling of free falling was terrifying my brain genuinely thought I was going to die. Then the rope caught me and before I knew it I was swinging back and forth under the bridge and I felt a little safer, safe enough to have a look around me at the incredible view surrounding me. Before long Royston appeared beside me and hooked me up to some cables that would help me sit upright and pull me back up to the bridge. I was pretty thankful to get all the blood back where it belongs and out of my head at this point. One quick trip back to the top and my feet were back on solid ground again, (where they belong), I was greeted by Kenny, who was still wearing his terrified smile , who congratulated me and we quickly went back to watch the others. I kept trying to tell him that it was amazing (thinking in my head I would never do it again) to pump him up but I don’t think it worked.


We watched almost everyone else go before they finally called his number, I think he would’ve actually preferred to go first in the end. I have honestly never seen anyone look so terrified as he did getting his cables attached, I thought i’d want to laugh but in fact I was actually more nervous than I had been for my own jump watching him get ready for his. Once his cables were attached and we had posed for the obligatory photos he told me that if he died I wasn’t allowed to date anyone else or he would haunt me. After getting that off his chest he headed out to the edge with the guides. Shuffling his feet to the edge because he refused to bunny hop I could see him taking enormous deep breaths like the worlds oxygen was running out. He stood arms out ready for the countdown, 3-2-1 bungee and then he disappeared. I watched him on the screen as he swung up and down on the bungee waiting for the guy to go down and bring him back up. (It’s worth mentioning that because of the music you can’t hear anyone scream when they jump so it wasn’t until after when we watched the GoPro footage that I heard him scream the whole way down. Not like a little high pitched scream either, a real terrified scream the whole way. I don’t know how he has any voice left now.) Once he was back on the bridge and I was able to give him a cuddle he finally relaxed and we watched the last of the jumpers go before heading back to the walkway to make it back to the reception to watch our video footage. His relaxed mood lasted about 10 minutes until we got back to the walkway where he went back to gripping the railings so hard they left a mark on his hands and refusing to look down or speak to me for the whole way across.

 

By the time we got back to reception and watched our footage it seemed surreal that we’d even done it. It was over so fast! We both bought the footage and photos of our jump (pretty sure neither off us will be doing it again so may as well!) and headed back to our taxi who had been waiting for us all that time. We headed out and back over the bridge we had just jumped off back to Plett.

After we’d had lunch at Ghillies on the main street we headed to the back packers and watched our GoPro videos then we were brought back down to earth pretty sharply when we remembered Kenny had “misplaced” his wallet that had our spare cards in. After emptying our bags and going though everything we found nothing. We checked with reception who didn’t have it and we figured it must have fallen out of his pocket somewhere. We decided that we would do one final check when we got to our next stop in Jeffreys Bay. So we boarded the Baz Bus one wallet down and headed up the coast. We stopped about halfway to get some dinner and as we walked in to the shop my phone rang, it was the backpackers we had just left telling me they had found Kenny’s wallet in the garden. Given the fact we’d only been gone about an hour we were feeling pretty frustrated that we hadn’t found it. But the lady on the phone was super helpful and hopefully one way or another we will be reunited with it in PE either by Baz Bus or courier who knows we’ll wait and find out!

R x

 

Plettenberg Bay: Always Have A Plan B 

Thursday and another 3 hour trip on the Baz Bus. The bus was due to pick us up at 1:45 eventually at 3:15 the bus rolls up to the hostel and we climb on. Finally at around 7:30pm we arrive in Plettenberg Bay or ‘Plett’ as it’s more commonly known, after numerous hostel and McDonalds stops. (We think the driver had a thing for fast food, not that we were complaining). We had read and heard from other travellers that Plett was a tourist hotspot because of its white sand beaches and clear waters. But unfortunately when we arrived the weather wasn’t looking good, thick cloud and rain showers which is not ideal weather to check out these amazing beaches. So we grabbed some food from a local restaurant and headed to bed still knackered from the sandboarding.

The following day we were woken up by the sound of rain. We checked the weather and it looked like the rain was here to stay so we decided to take a look around the local area as our hostel was based on what seemed like the Main Street through the town. With it being a surfing town the streets are lined with surf shops which we were happy to check out. Some how we managed to leave empty handed which for us is an achievement. Rosie spotted a book shop on the main road when we passed on the bus so we headed there. At this point Rosie had already finished the three books she brought with her and I was about two hundred pages into my only book. After some deliberating Rosie eventually she settled on one enormous book. We grabbed some food from the local checkers and walked back to the hostel to chill for the rest of the day. But not without stopping for ice cream first.

With the bad weather here for the next couple of days we were forced into plan b (Plan b seemed to be an on going theme at this point). Luckily, whilst in Cape Town we looked online for activities in the towns further up the coast and stumbled across africanyon.com the first paragraph of the site reads “Explore the river with AfriCanyon, navigate through the river shallows, jump, zip-line, swim through fresh-water mountain pools, slide down natural water slides and abseil in and around waterfalls as you dip down into the river gorge.” it was instantly was something I knew I would love, however I thought it was going to be a challenge getting Rosie involved. We checked the website out again and surprisingly Rosie was game so we booked in up there and then for the following day, the Saturday.

We said to ourselves we would get up early for breakfast and with enough time to shower and pack a bag as the shuttle was picking us up at 9:10 for the canyoning. Shocker, we were up late I sorted the bag while Rosie munched on some coco pops, threw our clothes on no shower and ran out the door as the driver was arriving. The drive took around twenty five minutes. We were greeted by a man mountain, a big guy called Tebzzz (later ended up being the tour leader) we went through to reception for sign up. We had to fill out these forms, stating they weren’t liable for anything, I felt like I was signing my life away I must of written my signature about seven or eight times.  Next it was wet suit time, if you read the shark diving post you’ll know Rosie really struggled and lets say this was a repeat performance. Mine was on in seconds and Rosie was jumping up and down being pulled around by the staff trying to help her get it on. We also had to put on a life jacket and a lower body harness. (Luckily you could rent trainers so you didn’t have to destroy your own which was amazing). But eventually we were both kitted up and ready to go. We were all put on a shuttle bus and taken into the middle of nowhere.

On the shuttle we were properly introduced to the crazy instructors, Tebzzz (the man mountain from earlier) and Ninja. Tebzzz was the lead guy so he explained that we would be doing abseiling, cliff jumping, ziplining and a lot of swimming and that we would be safe as long as we didn’t fiddle with any of the equipment which was reassuring. We got to location and piled out and sat on the group meters from the edge of a cliff to the gorge below. They asked if anyone was left handed, Rosie raised her hand and they sighed saying there’s always one. Tebzzz gave us a run down on the basics of abseiling and then once Ninja had set up and disappeared down the cliff we were ready to go. At this point I was starting to freak out heights are not my thing and I had no idea how high this abseil was. So I tried to sit there and not make eye contact so I could be forgotten about and go once everyone else had already gone. Rosie was sat on the far left as she was the only left handed person and I was by fluke sat on the far right we had 5 people between us so I couldn’t even use her to hide behind. Well my plan of no eye contact didn’t work Tebzzz pointed at me and said your first big man. Rosie and I instantly looked at eachother I think she could feel out scared I was. I was strapped into the line and slowly started leaning backwards over the edge telling myself don’t look down, small baby steps, don’t look down. Then Tebzzz shouted STOP I thought I was going to have a heart attack but he just wanted to take a picture. So I squeezed out a smile and carried on and before I knew it I was at the bottom and shaking. Everyone else then followed and then Rosie came down she finally hit the bottom and her body was trembling from adrenaline. We were about half way down the cliff, stood on a small ledge with the river running below us. Tebzzz then said right we’re jumping the rest and just jumped into the river. Again that fear I felt at the top returned and again it was me that was first. So I closed my eyes and jumped, I instantly forgot about the jump as I was hit with freezing cold water. I knew this was the bit the would freak Rosie out as she would end up under the water so I swam just far enough away so I wouldn’t get hit but close enough I could grab her as she hit the water. She came up and looked like she enjoyed it so off we went down the river. We traversed across over 2km of the river swimming, climbing, jumping off some even higher cliffs and zip lining down those waterfalls that were too high to jump or climb. We were in the water for around three hours until we eventually reached the end. We had a big hike back to the top of the cliff we’re we were greeted by the driver and driven back to base for a hot shower.

Once back at base we stripped of all the equipment and ran for the showers to wash off and warm up. Then before we knew it we were back in the shuttle back to the hostel to chill for the rest of the day.

Just a massive shout out to the staff at Africanyon there were amazing and had a great laugh but when it came to safety they were unbelievable and not at any point did either Rosie or myself feel unsafe or not completely trust the guys in charge.

We still have two more days in Plett and an even bigger day planned tomorrow but I’ll keep that one a secret for now. You can read about it soon.

Mossel Bay: Braai, Boards & Buses 

So after leaving Cape Town bright and early at 7.30am on Tuesday we boarded the Baz Bus for the first time and set off on our 5 and a half hour journey to Mossel Bay. (for those who don’t know the Baz Bus is a hop on hop off bus service that operates between Cape Town and Joberg all along the coast). After several stops and lots of naps we finally arrived at Mossel Bay Backpackers where we would be staying for 2 nights.

We checked in and dropped our stuff in the dorm and went to explore. This backpackers had a much more chilled out vibe that the last. There wasn’t as many people with it being a smaller place but it was nice to be able to chill. The facilities were great, there was a huge communal kitchen with everything you could need (obviously you bring your own food), a pool with sun loungers, several lounge areas to chill out in, various games (pool table, giant jenga, drinking jenga, cards, foosball table) and an activity centre where you could book all sorts of activities.
We headed out to the local checkers (supermarket chain) to grab some food for dinner. Every night the backpackers would do a Braai (african style bbq) all you have to do was bring your own meat etc and someone would cook it for you. So both nights we made great use of this and both nights it was cooked amazingly!!On the wednesday we had booked to go sand boarding in the morning. We were collected at 8am by our guide and headed off about a 20 minute drive away to the ‘dragon’ dune, the biggest sand dune in South Africa. We got there and hopped into the back of a land cruiser that took us up on to the sand dunes ready for sand boarding experience. Our guide spent 20 minutes explaining what we would be doing, some safety tips and how we would actually sandboard. After he gave us a board and we were off straight in to it. We climbed to the top of one of the smaller dunes for our first ride. The boards were the same as snowboards, this is one of the only places that can use snowboards on the sand instead of wooden ones because the sand is actually river sand and is a different texture.
Once at the top it actually seemed a lot higher that it looked from the bottom but nevertheless one by one we headed down. Both me and Kenny got the hang of it pretty quickly and were both heading higher up the dune each time. After 5/6 runs we took a break before heading out to the dragon (it was a super hot and sunny day so climbing back up the dunes after each ride was pretty tiring).So, break over we switched our snowboards for smaller plastic boards that we would be using for the dragon, we wouldn’t be standing on these boards we’d be laying down so they were much smaller and lighter (thank god). Once we were at the top of the dragon, which I should probably mention is 170m high and you can get a ride up to 350m long and travel up to 90kmh, we stopped and admired the amazing views out over the ocean while everyone gathered up. Our guide explained how we would be going down on our stomachs on the board, how we would stop using our feet and that when we finished there was no cable car we’d have to climb the dune. One by one we started going down the dune it looked pretty easy, so I laid down on my board and set off, 10 seconds later I was off the board and tumbling through the sand boardless. When I finally stopped rolling I sat up in a huge sand cloud and I was covered, I mean covered in sand, it was in my eyes, nose, mouth, hair, ears, in every possible place imaginable and thanks to the suncream not coming off any time soon. (Some might call this karma for Kennys sea sickness). So not only did I not get the full ride i had to climb up to retrieve my board which had stopped halfway and then climb back to the top of the dune to try again. Then it was Kenny’s turn to go and in a flash he was flying past me at high speed and seemed to make it to the bottom without coming off. Eventually those that made it to the bottom began to reappear at the top but there was still no sign of Kenny. The others started to go again when he finally appeared looking like he had been walking through a desert for days, red faced and sweaty, as soon as he saw me he began historically laughing at just how covered in sand I was (after checking I was okay of course). Then it was our turn again but instead of going down by myself me and Kenny went down together in like a sandwich. He laid down on the board while the instructor held onto his foot so he didn’t begin to move I then laid on top of him one hand holding on one clinging on to the GoPro (don’t know how comfy it was for Kenny but it was pretty comfy for me) this went much better and a lot faster, no involuntary board dismounts. After this one climbing back up the dune was so hard, like ridiculously difficult especially with the heat, that by the time everyone was back at the top everyone was done for the day. So we headed back to get picked up by the land cruiser that would take us back to the office to get our ride back to the hostel.Once back at the hostel we were both knackered, so after grabbing some lunch from the supermarket we spent the afternoon lounging around and making some more travel plans for later in the trip. We finished of the evening with another braai and a few drinks and some card games before crashing.

Thursday was our last day in Mossel Bay and we were getting picked up by the bas bus around 1.45pm so there wasn’t really time for us to do much so we spent the morning by the pool relaxing before packing up our stuff and heading to the bus that would take us to our next stop, Plettenberg Bay, another 3 and a half hours away.

Shark Diving: Sickness & Suits 

So, shark diving.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not the biggest fan of water let alone the sea, I’m terrified of sharks and I have horrible travel sickness. So naturally I thought the logical thing to do while we were in Cape Town was to go on a shark dive.

So sunday morning we were up at 5am ready to be collected at 6am for our 2 hour drive to Gansaabi where we would be doing the dive. With my Sea sickness tablets taken we boarded the bus with the 20 other people who would be going on the boat with us. 2 hours and several naps later we arrived at Gansaabi and we’re welcomed with breakfast. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as nervous as I did waiting to get on the boat, I think I barely spoke to Kenny over the course of the morning trying to physc myself up. While we were waiting to get on the boat our trip guide Wierren gave us a talk about the type of sharks we’d see (great whites), how long we’d be out on the boat (3 hours), that it was normal for people to be sick and there was always at least one (I sat there thinking yep that’ll be me hanging over the edge, even Kenny turned to me and laughed) and other general safety tips and a few shark jokes to make everyone feel less like they were about to walk to their death ( I still thought I was going to die). He also told us that the sharks were completely uninterested in us in the cage. He was quick to tell us that no matter what we had seen on social media the shark does not want to go for the cage or try and get in there with you. He explained that sharks can sense magnetic fields and when the cage is in the water the steel gives of a small magnetic field around the cage that the shark can sense and to the shark the cage appears as one solid block of metal. The only time sharks bump the cage or end up biting the cage is normally when they’ve approched very quickly to get the bait and havent been able to turn in time and have hit the cage. (still didn’t make me feel much better)

We boarded the boat and drove about 15 minutes out to where the cage was anchored about 3 miles out at sea. There were a couple of moments in the drive where I thought my stomach might not hold but surprisingly it did and the seasickness tablets appeared to be doing their job. When we anchored we all went on to the roof of the boat where our guide gave us another talk on what would happen in the cage, what we would be wearing and how long we would be in there etc. Whilst down below two of the crew we’re putting bait in the water to lure the sharks (4 big tuna heads and some nice fish guts and blood just to make the stomach feel better). Our guide never managed to finish his talk as we were all distracted by the approaching sharks so we all headed back downstairs to put on our wetsuits.

Wetsuits… What can I say probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to put on in my life totally not my forte, there I am still trying to get it over my foot and Kennys already in and zipped up. Once we were in we waited while the first group got in the water but as they got in the shark disappeared so we waited, and waited and waited a bit more. During all this waiting Kenny started to feel a little bit sick and the more we waited the worse he got. Thankfully before he got too bad the shark eventually returned and we swapped with the first group and got into the cage. I was pretty suprised with how quickly i got in to the water despite it being absolutley freezing. (12degrees) once we were in we had to bob around on the top holding on too the bars to keep us stable until the shark approched and then the crew would tell us to go down. The first few minutes were pretty terrifying just sitting waiting not really knowing what was swimming around underneath you. A short while later we heard “down, down, down” as a shark loomed towards us headed for the bait we ducked under the water but not before we’d seen his mouth open for the bait. It was terrifying but also at the same time felt like an out of body experience, like it wasn’t really happening and we were watching it on a screen, they were just so close. We continued on in the cage for about another 20 minutes with several more encounters with the shark. I was quite thankful to get out in the end the last encounter was just a bit too close for my liking he was right by the cage and i had lost all feeling in my feet (tip: if your going shark diving wear the wetsuit boots they have). We climbed out and made way for the next group to get in as we took our wetsuits of and grabbed dry clothes. However.. Kenny never made it to get his wetsuit off. We had literally been back on the boat 30 seconds before he announced, “i’m going to be sick,” and leaning of the side of the boat (not the side with the cage attached obviously) and he ended up stayed there hanging his head over the side for pretty much the rest of the trip.

Once out of my wetsuit (eventually) we watched as the sharks continued to give us a show with the last group in the cage before we headed back to shore. By the time we got back to the shore Kenny looked like a ghost and I don’t think he’d ever been happier to have two feet on the ground. Once he’d composed himself we headed back to the meeting room for lunch, chicken lasgne, and watched the video from the boat. By the time we had finished it was about 3pm and time to pile back in to the bus and head for cape town. Another 2 hours later and we were back at the hostel ready for a shower and a nap before dinner. We rewarded ourselves with some delicious italian food from a resaturant just down from the hostel for dinner before crashing in to bed early after a long day.
R x