They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s a novella about my vacation so far.
On the way here we passed through one of my favourite places in SA – the Meiringspoort pass. This pass is on the road between Beaufort-West and Oudtshoorn and is the main passage between the Great Karoo and the Little Karoo. In times of heavy rainfall the entire valley fills up with water. I once passed through here on a school tour shortly after a flood while they were busy repairing the road. Boulders the size of our school bus had lain scattered along the road. Now, however, it’s a beautiful road with regular rest stops, this one also at a tourist centre a short hike away from the Prince Albert waterfall. Imagine five kilometres with these cliffs towering above you. At times it feels like they’re going to close up over your car.
Oh, and the Afrikaans author, C.J. Langenhoven, wrote a story of how he and his family once travelled through this pass in an old railway car pulled by their tame pet elephant, Herrie. Naturally they got stranded in the middle of the pass due to a flood for several weeks. The boys from a nearby village supposedly climbed down the cliffs on ropes to visit his daughters while they were there. Your guess is as good as mine whether the story was true. He was one of those authors where you could never be completely certain. He also wrote a story of how he and his one daughter visited the moon in a Venusian spaceship shaped like a golden egg. I’m pretty sure that one was made up.
This little guy is a Dassie, or Cape Hyrax, and is genetically the closest relative of the elephant. True story. Google it if you don’t believe me. There was a whole colony of them at the rest stop.
This is the view from the deck of the house we’re staying. We’re in a place called Reebok. To the far right you can see the edge of the beach at Klein-Brakrivier (translation: Small Brackish River). The beach just above the centre of the photo is the holiday town of Hartenbos.
In the centre of this photo you can see Mossel Bay. Situated halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, it has the smallest commercial harbour in South Africa and is a favourite vacation destination for both South Africans and international tourists. This time of year especially draws whale watchers when the Southern Right Whales come here to calf. I really hope I get to see some. (According to Whale Watching South Africa orcas also visit here. It would be so cool to spot one of them.)
Mossel Bay also has one of the world’s largest gas-to-liquid refineries. Several of these tankers have been moored in the bay since we’ve been here. I assume they’re offloading gas collected at an offshore platform.
Sunday evening’s supermoon rising over the ocean. There’s a telescope here so I got a really close-up view. Couldn’t see a cape, so I guess Supermoon was going incognito.
Fool that I am, I packed my camera but forgot my tripod. I balanced the camera on the deck’s railing to get these night shots. The brightly-lit area in the centre is the harbour.
Here’s the wife heading down to Dias Beach, named after Bartolomeu Dias, the Portuguese navigator who landed here in 1488 and is the first known European to sail round the southern tip of Africa.
Mossel Bay has it’s own Seal Island (the famous one is near Cape Town). You cannot see them in this shot, but the island is populated by over 2500 Cape Fur Seals. They’re mainly used to feed the great white sharks that live in the water surrounding the island in the winter months when tourist numbers dwindle. In summertime, the 60 000 tourists who flock to the area’s beaches naturally form the sharks’ staple diet.
In the background you can see the Outeniqua mountains that form the southern border of the Little Karoo. Those mountains are another of my favourite places in the world as they are covered in some of the last indigenous forests in South Africa.
Mossel Bay also has a thriving adventure tourism industry, as can be seen by this group of youngsters going sea-kayaking. By how they struggled to just get through the waves I’d say it’s their first time. They’re much braver than me, of course. Aside from the sharks, that water is bloody cold and the wife and I barely managed to get our feet wet.
This little guy showed up two days ago. He seems to think it’s his house as he comes and goes as he likes. Here he’s strutting his stuff on the kitchen counter while we’re having coffee. For all the amateur ornithologists out there, this is a Cape Wagtail. They’re called wagtails because they wag their tails in the cutest little up-down jerks as they walk around.
The perfect end to a day at the beach – a Cape Snoek grilling over the coals. This is my absolute favourite type of fish, but they’re hellishly expensive inland so I’m planning to eat more than one before I head back home. Cape Snoek is apparently a member of the snake mackerel family and is described to have a unique taste. I just know they taste great and that taste is greatly enhanced with a basting made from margarine or butter, apricot jam, black pepper and garlic.
I’m off to bed now to digest this monster. Until next time…