Charmed, sun-dappled days passed quickly in the fading wake of our honeymoon. South Africa’s Garden route lived up to its reputation as a region of stunning, diverse natural beauty and oceanic climate. As road trips go, this has got to be one of the most epic.
The route and everything it had to offer from Mossel bay to Tsitsikamma was our playground. Along dizzying mountain passes roamed by baboons, empty roads stretched out into the vivid distance before us. Down to beaches and bays where surf sparkled and fresh fish headlined the menus. We pootled along, scaling inlets, ancient, indigenous forest-lined cliffs and majestic emerald valleys.
A haven of extreme sports, one gorge lays claim to the stage for the world’s largest bungy (over 200m). Tranquil and majestic, its steep sides often dangle the fearless (see www.faceadrenalin.com) from an ominous-looking concrete bridge spanning the Bloukrans River valley. At this particular zone of the intrepid, we stepped out for a gander to ponder our fate, but hungover and lacking a go-for-it group mentality we chickened out of actually making the leap ourselves, although it’s worth noting they have a 100% safety record. There were also oodles of other devilish activities that lay in wait. This ancient elephant migration path is now an sporting, eco-tourist’s dream: white water rafting, waterfall trail hikes, mountain biking through old Storms River pass, segwaying, national parks, wolf sanctuaries, Blackwater tubing, kayaking, snorkelling – you name it, it’s probably on offer. Having filled every day of the last two months discovering the extraordinary, daring to go where we had not gone before, we were prepped and brimming with adventure.
And so it was that we made our way to Storms River, lured by the name which oozes mystery, promises escapades and tantalising explorers’ tales from days of yore. We strapped ourselves into spongebob-yellow helmets, harnesses and sporting gloves and zip-lined our way over the waterfalls of the Storms river. Spectacular. Hungry from excitement and lack of food that day, we followed a recommendation and ended up just down the road at the finest little farm house café you ever did see. Nestled at the foot of the mountains, neighbouring Finebush Farm, Carla’s Farmstall & Country Kitchen is a rustic delight. Enticing local Tsitsikamma and Southern Cape cheeses, oils, preserves, decadent cakes, crafts and seeded breads line the shelves. We sat in the charming dining room and gorged ourselves on a slow food lunch – homemade bread, lashings of butter, farm garden greens, a smoked salmon salad speckled with wild flowers and hunks of cheese. Service is friendly, unhurried, non-presumptuous and smiley, accompanied by an elderly pooch.
Back in the village we traipsed 7km through dense scrub, beating away cobwebs with a trusty stick as we went, stopping to treat ourselves to excellent mojito (complete with glacé cherry) at Marilyn’s 50’s diner.
We left planning adventures new here – so much to do, so little time.