Tsitsikamma & The Crags

Location: 200 kilometers from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay towards George on the N2

Date Visited: 17 – 19  February 2012 (Summer)

Where we Stayed: Garden Route National Park – Tsitsikamma Camp

Where we visited: Tsitsikamma Falls Adventure Park, Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, Bramon Wine Estate and The Elephant Sanctuary.

recommendation: This is a weekend you should do with your family.  It is close enough to home to have an enjoyable weekend, the accommodation was brilliant & each one of the activities were breathtaking.

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By the time we got to our accommodation at the Tsitsikamma Camp of the Garden Route National Park, we felt as if we’d been on holiday for a few days.

It was late afternoon on Friday.

We’d left Nelson Mandela Bay at about one.

This was a weekend we all looked forward too.

Sophia was particularly excited about the fact that we were going to be ziplining across the Kruis-river.

Theunsie looked forward to meeting Madagascar’s King Julian at Monkeyland and Pippa wanted that special encounter with elephants.

The discovery of a Wine Estate, this far east, tickled my & Zuko’s curiosity, but mostly all of us were excited because so often we’ve rushed past all these places on our way to Cape Town or George and finally we’d taken the opportunity to slow down & experience.

This is important.

If we do not slow down & experience, we might realize one day that life had rushed by us as we chased & hurried towards a goal-post which kept on moving.

Take time out.

Make that weekend with your family.

That is going to be a worthwhile memory if you’re fortunate enough to grow old.

We stopped at Tsitsikamm Falls Adventures just before three.  Tiaan and his team greeted us.  Explained everything about the rigorous safety measures taken & then kitted us.

Zuko had to sit out for this one.

She desperately wanted to be a part of it, but she is due to give birth towards the end of March and no one wants to take risks with these things at this age.

What age, you ask?

Let’s just say, the last time we were expecting we were both 32 and our youngest is turning 9 on the 17th of March a few days before this one is due.

Not that Zuko would not do the zipline-thing if we gave her half a chance, but Wilhelmina is the responsible one in our tribe, often taming the toddler in both me & Zuko.

I think she has saved us from many an embarrassment.

Perhaps daily.

I hope she’ll save us again.

Ziplining is the tame alternative to bungee jumping.

It is adventurous, but anyone between the age of 5 and 75 could do it & would enjoy it.

It is exhilarating & beautiful & fun.

It contains just the right amount of exhilaration.

Doing it as a family gave us the opportunity to learn to trust each other.

To laugh together.

To discover something new.

By half past four we got back into our Landy for the last few kilometers to the Tsitsikamma Camp of the Garden Route National Park.

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Booking in was quick and easy.

The Park is clean & well maintained.  The staff is exceptionally well-trained & courteous.  Our accommodation was fantastic.

We had time for refreshments on the restaurant deck & a swim in the ocean, before lighting a Friday night fire.  While preparing supper, Sophia made us relive the excitement of flying across rivers and gorges as Wilhelmina expressed her dreams of walking with elephants.

Expectations is a difficult phenomenon.

They so easily go unfulfilled, leaving us empty & disappointed.

On this weekend every single one of our expectations were exceeded.

Saturday breakfast was enjoyed on the deck of our Guest House.

Then the 40 kilometer drive to Monkeyland where Theunsie hoped to meet that Ring-tailed Lemur.

Hamidi, our guide, was astoundingly knowledgeable about the eleven primate species at the sanctuary.  For almost two hours he patiently answered all the questions our junior tribes-people could conjure, while teaching them about monkeys and apes and the differences between African Monkeys and South American Monkeys.

It is magnificent to see the perfect balance found between conservation, education & tourism at Monkeyland, as well as Birds of Eden.

Charleen walked us through the world’s largest free flight aviary.  A magnificent space with 1.2 kilometers of boardwalk through an indigenous forest with exotic birds flying all over the place.

By the time we left this amazing world we were too late to go to the elephant sanctuary & still be on time for our 3 o’clock booking at Bramon Restaurant.

The elephants would have to wait patiently for Sunday.

Bramon Wine Estate is a wild surprise.

It is a boutique vineyard of 5ha situated 20km East of Plettenberg Bay in the mountainous area called The Crags.

It is a family run estate.  It is pioneering and they’re award winning Methode Cap Classique sparkling wine is divine.

It is bottled poetry.

Their Sauvignon Blanc capturing the personality of this innovative family & winemaker Anton Smal.

Sumi welcomed us to the restaurant & seated us amidst vines heavy with fruit.  She served the tribe with scrumptious food, bringing local cheeses, oysters, meats, pates and freshly baked homemade breads, before owner Peter Thorpe & winemaker Anton Smal joined us to add to the magnificent food an energy & excitement you only encounter in people who are invested in the life they live.

Peter & Anton took the tribe to the cellar.

I was astounded that the little tribes-people still had questions.

Anton had his hands full, but loved teaching these three about wine making.

When we returned to the Tsitsikamma Camp of the Garden Route National Park for our second evening’s stay, we were exhausted, but energized & excited.

We had seen so much in a single day.

Learned so much.

Experienced so much.

The evening held another swim in the magnificent ocean who is always soothing your soul at this fantastic Park.  Not only as you swim in it, but also as you close your eyes to sleep.  It drives the noise from your being.

Its rhythm whispering sweet nothings to your soul.

There was another fire.

More good conversation late into the night.

Time spent together.

Talking.

Sharing.

Being.

This is what traveling is about.

This is the heart beat of what the Tribe hopes to inspire in you.

Sunday I was up early.

Rested.

I brewed fresh coffee.

Wilhelmina joined me in the kitchen. Together we made toast & fruit salad.  Fried eggs & onions & red pepper.  Breakfast wasn’t as leisurely as Saturday.  We still wanted to make it to the Elephant Sanctuary.

And we did.

Finding another world class experience.

Walking in a forest holding the trunk of an elephant is not something most people can say they’d done.

It is mystical.

Feeling her skin.

Touching her ears.

Feeling her breath on the palm of your hand.

This weekend was mystical.

A time of being together.

A time of experiencing together.

Perhaps this is what it is all about?

The traveling.

The meeting of new people.

The tasting of new experiences.

A mystical moment amidst the rush & hurry.

A moment of connection.

Enabling us.

To be.

Click HERE to watch our Family Video 🙂

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Categories: Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Tsitsikamma & The Crags

  1. spdent

    Thank you for allowing us to travel with you! It is a priviledge to share these experiences from my desk and then be able to make an informed decision on where to travel to. It is also wonderful to be reminded again why we decided to return to PE and the Eastern Cape after 8 years in the UK – the breathtaking beauty of our region – and the awesome nature of the local people!!

  2. Bronwen

    Oh wow! I can honestly say I am slightly jealous! What a breathtaking region, and so many fun things to do. A trip like that can only seal a precious family bond even more! That is exactly what family holidays/weekends should be, fun and educational! Definitely putting it on my ‘Holiday-to-do-list”.

    Listing to your weekend charades makes driving to work on a Monday way more bare-able!

  3. Gwyneth

    Reading your blog on your travels in and around Tsitsikamma really made me tingle all over. The way you’ve described your experience honestly makes me want to live life slowly. Thank you for sharing. Birthday month coming up for many of us I see. This destination would be the best way to celebrate.

  4. Andrea Wood

    Absolutely one of the best areas in South Africa, and as you say an amazing easy and perfect weekend getaway. I am in Tsitsikamma every second week on business (just for the day). Monkey land, Birds of Eden and Tsitsikamma Falls Adventures I have and still do go to often, but alas, never as the ‘holiday maker’. My daughter and I go to Storms River Mouth (SANPARKS) as often as we can, but haven’t had the pleasure of the Garden Route National Park. Embarassed to say, I know not of Bramon Wine Estate, ‘bottled poetry .. in the mountaneous area called The Craggs’, pretty much sums up a persons desire to go there if they know the Craggs at all!
    A definite winner of a weekend.

  5. Craig

    Reading your Blog one thing comes to mind “AWESOME”, a wonderful experience for you and your family. Each week I follow the travelling tribe, wish My Family could be so fortunate to have those experiences, however we are Blessed nonetheless. At some point in life everyone wishes to travel overseas however they do not know what is on their own doorsteps. A few years ago before we were married my wife, brother- and sister in law and I decided on a whim to jump in the car and just hit the road, destination “UNKNOWN”. First stop was Storm’s River, we moved on to Tsitsikamma, Plett, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay and at every destination we did sightseeing, it was the best break away we ever had, on the trip home we decide to go through Nature’s Valley. We experienced South Africa’s beauty and adventures kept secret and unknown to most, it is such a shame. Looking at the pictures of that weekend just fills my heart with thankfulness. Having kids did not stop our adventurous streak after our first daughter we would pack up and travel teaching her the beautiful places SA has to offer . I would advise anyone to go experience the wonders of Tsitsikamma and the garden route, it is anyone’s dream vacation. Thank you Kingfisher for taking us on this journey with you and sharing these beautiful secret places that “Our South Africa” has to offer. Keep up the good work, God’s travelling mercies with you and your family on all your adventures and look forward to learning more of the hidden places we have on our doorstep. God Bless!

  6. Tania

    Wow, Theunis! You put it so beautifully. My breath was taken away just reading your piece. We celebrate our coastline!!

  7. Nadia Nortje

    Birds of Eden en Monkeyland is net Awesomeness!!! Zip-lining was seker die cherry opi koek! (Sal nie weet, het dit nog nie gedoen). Is net jammer Zuko kon nie saam doen nie, sodra baba groot genoeg is om ma so effe te laat gaan, moet jy haar deffinitief vat! Enjoy julle toere, julle is bevoorreg! Blessings!

  8. What an amazing experience! From zipping to sipping … it sounds like a fabulous weekend for the family.
    I love your comment on slowing down … you are so right … we keep thinking we are living in the world but one wonders if we are just in survival mode – always busy, always using technology, always planning, regretting, worrying, fretting … seldom just being.

    it seems like this weekend allowed the tribe to just be … what a privilege

  9. Wow, this getaway sounds amazing, this is something my family and I would love to experience

  10. Rushka

    I want bottled poetry and my expectations exceeded this very minute… I simply MUST win this competition.!
    Live life slowly YES !!! live each day as if its your last…DOUBLE YES!!!
    On the off chance that this might indeed by my last day on this beautiful earth, I choose to spend it doing EXACTLY that…. ……. …….. …….. in Tsitsikamma that is…..

  11. Showna Petzer

    Awesome. Tsitsikamma is a wonderful area to visit. We haven’t been privileged enough to go to every activity in the area and would truly be grateful if we had to win this prize. We love travelling and exploring our gorgeous country.

  12. Andrea Wood

    Ok. So sorry. Followed link for the accomodation at ‘Garden Route National Park’ – and saw it was Storms River. I somehow totally missed that – even though you’ve said at least 3 times in the blog Tsitsikamma Camp. I thought it was another camp. – still – absolutely stunning – and by the way – I found the SANPARKS link far better than before (from a selecting accommodation point of view). 🙂

  13. Penny

    Looks like they had a really nice time together as a family exploring our beautiful country. Makes one realise that we need to appreciate what we have as South Africans!There is so much available to us and we don’t realise it! Special memories for them all!!! My soon to be 13 year old thought it would be a great idea to take his buddies there to celebrate his 13th birthday!!! If only my boy!

  14. Pingback: Tsitsikamma park | Trkiyecumhuriy

  15. Pingback: Mountain Zebra National Park « travelingtribe

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