Michael got up early our morning in Mossel Bay to meet Darryl at 6 a.m. for surfing. The conditions weren't very good but he enjoyed getting wet anyway. I elected to revisit the inside of my eyelids. After chatting with our hosts for a bit we packed up and went on our way. We had some driving ahead of us and I wanted to visit the Dias Museum first. Bartholomew Dias arrived in Mossel Bay in a caravel in 1488, having sailed from Portugal. A replica of his ship, built in 1988 and sailed to Mossel from Portugal as well, is housed in a maritime museum there. The first exhibit we saw was one on the history of South Africa. It was good to get another chance to absorb the complicated mix of peoples and cultures that have inhabited and fought over this land. Then we went next door and found the replica of Dias' ship. There were lots of other maritime artifacts as well and you are allowed to actually go on the ship, so it was pretty good.
When we finished at the museum we found some coffee and fruit to take on the road with us and made our way out of town.
Our next destination was De Kelders, on the coast in the Overberg region. That area is known for its whale watching and shark viewing. The first half of our 4 hour journey was a bit dull except perhaps for the cows, sheep, and ostrich farms we passed. As we drew closer to Swellendam the scenery got more interesting. We could see mountains and the terrain began to roll a bit more. We stopped in Swellendam for a spot of lunch at the local pub. The town seemed quiet. Not long after Swellendam we turned off the main highway onto a smaller road and drove over rolling hills that were being farmed. Michael snapped a couple of photos of the cool patterns in the fields.
As we drove over some mountains on a small pass and began to drop down toward the coast. we started to see some wineries. Next thing we knew we had reached the Walker Bay Reserve with it's sweeping sand beach and dunes. On the cliffs adjacent is the small village of De Kelders. We turned in and found Whalesong, our lodge for the next 2 nights. Situated along the cliff directly facing the water and looking across the bay toward Hermanus with mountains in the background, it had a spectacular view. The sun was shining and almost immediately we spotted whales in the water just off the cliffs. As we were waiting to check in and standing on the deck, Michael called me over to see whales breaching offshore. What a sight! The Southern Right Whale visits Walker Bay in South Africa from June to November to breed and raise their calves. It is one of the best places in the world to see whales from the shore. In the summer the whales move back to Antarctica.
I got a call that afternoon from Marine Dynamics that our Shark Cage Diving excursion for the following morning had been delayed until noon because of impending bad weather. This was not entirely unwelcome as it meant we didn't have to get up early, but we were getting a little tired of bad weather. In any case it did make us fully appreciate the gorgeous evening and sunset on the water that we were experiencing. We walked down the way to dinner at what I would call a “house restaurant”. Some enterprising folks had opened a small restaurant serving a limited menu in what appeared to have been a lounge or family room. The food was pretty good and the ambiance quite nice if a little tightly spaced. I'm sure they are booked up most nights as there isn't much within walking distance of the small hotels and guesthouses in De Kelders.