Mossel Bay and Onwards

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.

The replica of Dias' ship

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.

On the way out of Mossel BVay

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.

The view from the deck

The Southern Right Whale

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.

 

 

Plett to Mossel Bay

The next day was a travel day so after breakfast and fond farewells, we hit the road bound for Mossel Bay. Along the way we stopped at the Garden of Eden walk. This is a short walk on a wooden boardwalk through the indigenous forest which identifies the various trees and plants for you. I love a walk in the forest, especially when the trees are unfamiliar. It was lush and jungle-like with many birds. We were very pleased to see a Knysna Lourie in the wild–one of the beautiful local birds we had seen at Birds of Eden the day before.

In the woods

Back on the road, it wasn't long before we got to Knysna and went out to The Heads for a look at the view. Knysna is located on a lagoon that gives out to the sea through a narrow channel with “heads” on either side.

Looking across the lagoon to Knysna

One of the Heads

After admiring the view we went into the town of Knysna and found a place to park. Then we did some shopping. There was an open air spot with some vendors as well as some artsy shops. One cool shop made wooden boats and other craft. We found a café for lunch and had something simple while watching the people.

The Woden boat shop

Afterwards we continued on our way to Mossel Bay, another hour or so down the coast. In Mossel Bay we found our accommodation quite easily. It turned out to be a lovely loft over our hosts' house with nice views, mostly obscured by clouds by then. Our hosts were Darryl and Nadja Monson with sons Kye (3 or 4 maybe?) and Finn (1-2?), and small dog Zinkie. Darryl surfs, so he and Michael discussed the possibility of surfing together in the morning. Darryl very kindly offered to lend Michael a board so we trotted down the street to the local surf shop to see if we could find him a wetsuit to rent. We were successful and then went back to the house again and enjoyed sundowners while chatting with Darryl. Nadja had taken the boys to go swimming.

Our loft

Our dinner that evening was at a restaurant called Route 57 which Darryl had recommended. The name made us think of Route 66 so we had subconscious expectations of a casual, diner-type place. This was not the case. It turned out the restaurant had been opened by a somewhat famous South African golfer who had once shot a 57 at a local course! The ambiance was decidedly not diner-like. The food was reasonable however, and we giggled a bit at the giant mural of said golfer holding a trophy that appeared across at least one entire wall of the restaurant.