Ep07 Tsitsikamma National Park
Welcome to episode 7.
10, 11, and 12-Oct-2019 Thursday, Friday & Saturday.
We said goodbye to the land Safaris, craft shopping, and rugged scenery, as we marched forward to new adventures and new scenery. For the next 3 days, it was to be new sights and adventures awaiting us.
Due to poor weather (it DOES rain in Africa!), we were sadly unable to cruise on Lake St. Lucia (an agenda on our itinerary). We did get off the coach to take a few quick pictures and even saw several monkeys.
DURBAN here we come
We decided to press forward for Durban, a coastal city in eastern South Africa. Here, we had an early dinner and walked around the hotel to soak in some sights of the beach. Our accommodation for the night was at Garden Court Umhlanga Ridge, Durban, South Africa. The hotel was close to an exclusive shopping destination, the La Lucia Gateway Shopping Centre. There were also some of the most golden sand beaches and the warm Indian Ocean waters. For some of us, we retreated to our hotel rooms for an early rest as we would have to get up very early the next morning to catch a short southward flight (an early flight @ 0745h) to Port Elizabeth.
The flight out of King Shaka International Airport, Durban
We received an early morning wakeup call at 0400h so that we had enough time to be on the coach and ready to roll by 0500h. The coach ride from the hotel to King Shaka International Airport Durban would take us only 30 mins. We each received a boxed breakfast, for our consumption while waiting at the airport. We bid farewell to our coach driver who had so professionally and safely driven us from our pickup at the O.R. Tambo airport, Pretoria to King Shaka International Airport, Durban. We had spent 7 days together and had come to rely on his punctual, friendly, and reliable services. We had shared many laughs and so appreciated him taking care of us.
Flight to Port Elizabeth International Airport, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa
On 11-October-2019 late morning, we arrived at Port Elizabeth International Airport. We had all recovered from the early morning wake-up call and were ready to conquer our next interesting sight.
Video of our Ep7 South Africa trip
Tsitsikamma National Park and Storms River Mouth
Next on our itinerary was Tsitsikamma National Park and Storms River Mouth. The Tsitsikamma National Park, Pretoria is a protected area on the Garden Route, Western Cape and Eastern Cape, South Africa. The Storms River Mouth in the Tsitsikamma, forms part of the Garden Route National Park. This is one of South Africa’s most diverse and protected natural areas that is a narrow band of about 150 kilometres along the south Cape Coast. There are rich marine protected areas, deep gorges, rock pools and waterfalls. It is sheer pure and natural nirvana. One of the many highlights in this area is the 77m long suspension bridge that crosses the Storms River Mouth. The Mouth Trail crosses a suspension bridge over Storms River. The bridge is famous in this part of the world and has striking gorge views and the bridge leads to a path that takes one to a popular lookout point. The suspension bridge sways a little in the wind and is an exhilarating experience. Near the park is the Bloukrans Bridge, the world’s highest bridge bungee jump at 216 metres (709 ft).
Tsitsikamma National Park, Storms River Mouth, Suspension Bridge, Dassie, Fauna & Flora
We did not know what to expect before arriving at the Tsitsikamma National Park. We were all pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the park and the storms river mouth. We also saw a lot of beautiful wildlife and fauna and flora. We even got to meet the African Dassie (looks like a rabbit or sometimes referred to as the little rock elephants). Remarkably, given their size and appearance, the rock dassie’s closest relation is the elephant. The dassie rat (Petromus typicus) is an African rodent found among rocky outcroppings. The name “dassie” means “hyrax” in Afrikaans, and the two animals are found in similar habitats.
Tsitsikamma National Park Fauna and Flora
The vegetation of Tsitsikamma is beautiful. Approximately 30% of the park is covered in fynbos and has a wide variety of beautiful flowering plants, including proteas and heather. The Tsitsikamma forest hosts ancient trees such as yellowwood – South Africa’s national tree.
The Bloukrans Bridge is an arch bridge located near Nature’s Valley, Western Cape, South Africa. Constructed by Concor between February 1980 and June 1983, the bridge stands at a height of 216m above the Bloukrans River. We stopped to take scenic pictures of the bridge as well as to walk around it. The scenery was quite spectacular.
11 & 12-October-2019 (Friday and Saturday nights)
Simola Hotel & Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course
We were driven to our next accommodation for the next 2 nights, the Simola Hotel Country Club & Spa at Knysna, South Africa. We were totally blown away at the stunning views and 5-star luxury accommodation for the next two nights. The hotel and restaurant overlook the Simola Golf and Country Estate and the scenery was spectacular. It was a beautiful experience waking up in their residential rooms to breathtaking views.
In the center of the lobby, stands a statue of Jack William Nicklaus (nicknamed The Golden Bear). We were introduced to the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Jack is widely considered to be one of the greatest golfers of all time. Today, Nicklaus heads one of the world’s largest golf course design companies. For the avid golfer, we would recommend you view the spectacular golf design via their videos. Holes 1-9 and Holes 9-18. The beauty of the golf course makes a nongolfer want to pick up golf instantly just to walk the course. We were served with fantastic meals overlooking the golf course and first-class service offered by the cooks and servers. The Spa, swimming pools (overlooking the golf course) and beautiful koi fishes were all so inviting and relaxing. We were so pampered that we did not feel like leaving.
Exploring the Knysna town
On Saturday, we had a leisure day, and many of us got a ride from the hotel to the small Knysna town for a casual stroll and lunch. The little town had quaint shops to explore. It was a fun and relaxing afternoon. We saw a draw bridge that was raised to allow a yacht to go by.
For some of us, we decided to catch a cab back to the hotel to explore the lovely Simola Hotel grounds and amenities. Exploring the beautiful flowers was the highlight for those of us who enjoyed absorbing the wide variety of colors. It was paradise in heaven.
For the past 3 days, we have traveled many miles. Our stay at the Simola hotel is a much welcome rest to our tired bodies and soul. As we settled into the hotel, the breathtaking golf course scenery is beyond our imagination. We have enjoyed a variety of flowers and the Tsitsikamma National Park was a spectacular visit to God’s beauty in this world.
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