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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 meeting of new people.
The tasting of new experiences.
A mystical moment amidst the rush & hurry.
A moment of connection.
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