It’s been a busy week here at Travel Ideas, a fantastic and busy week! We were fortunate enough to experience the Cradle of Human Culture educational tour, sponsored by Wesgro and hosted by the fabulous Felicity Poggenpoel and Jeremy Howard from Cape Town Guides Association.
If ever there was a way to experience the Garden Route this would be it! In all our years of travelling this route, what we saw and experienced will be forever etched in our hearts. The Cradle of Human Culture Route is an eye-opening trip that every South Africa should, and can, experience. Our journey started with an early morning pick up at the V&A Waterfront and then straight through to the Klipgat Caves in De Kelders near Hermanus, then through to Stilbaai for lunch at the quaint Palinggat Teetuin & Restaurant. A brilliant taster for the days that lay ahead, both culturally and culinarily. A short trip down to the Tidal Fish Traps in Stilbaai, crop circles having nothing on these giant ocean-rock creations built by the San people and steeped in history. Truly something that leaves one in awe. Unfortunately the nearby Blombos Caves were closed to the public, so we got back on the bus, our next stop being Mossel Bay. Check in to The Point Hotel and we were off yet again for dinner at The Gannet Cafe where we were treated to a one of a kind Gin tasting at the restaurant’s own Cape St Blaize Distillery. For all gin lovers we HIGHLY recommend this experience. They offer a variety of different packages, from tastings to actually creating your own signature blend (Warning! There is no such thing as a glamour shot after slugging back a few of these beauties).
Did we mention the food and views? AMAZING!!!! A short trip back to The Point Hotel for some well deserved R&R. Morning arrived and well… all we can say is that our next activity was LITERALLY breathtaking! MosselBay ZIpling, the longest over ocean zipline in the WORLD! What an adrenaline-fuelled, exhilarating experience! Probably the closest one will ever get to feeling like a seagull – as well as wondering if sharks enjoy scrambled eggs! Definitely leaves you wanting to go again and again and again. Fully awake (and grateful to have our feet firmly cemented on the ground again) we walked up to nearby St Blaize Cave where we were introduced to Dr Peter Nilssen – one of South Africa’s leading archaeologists and founder of the Point of Human Origins. A fascinating and thought-provoking lecture on the history of these sacred caves and we were off with Peter and Christopher to Pinnacle Point Caves, a Provincial Heritage site, south of Mossel Bay. The views on the hike down are nothing less than world class (it must be said those with a fear of heights may find the walk down to the caves to be a little challenging). We recommend this as a “must do” at least once in your life. You’ll walk away from this experience completely humbled, filled with pride and very proudly South African.
To think some of the earliest evidence of human behaviour has been discovered right here, on our doorstep….. You have to see and experience it to believe it. Time to depart for Plettenberg Bay with a quick champagne and oyster lunch in Knysna at Sirocco Cafe Restaurant, Thesens Island. An introduction to the area and all it has to offer was warmly welcomed by all. Make sure to check out Ocean Sailing Charters for your sea and lagoon adventures in Knysna. A family-owned business that exudes heart and soul, and if hearing owner Neil speak about sharing his passion for the ocean doesn’t show you this, one look at his yacht, adorned with beautiful quotations everywhere, certainly will. A late check in at The Bayview Hotel in Plettenberg Bay, with dinner at the hotel’s on-site restaurant Adi’s Kitchen (the steak… ORDER the steak). Friendly service, beautiful views and spacious rooms, a perfect way to end yet another fabulous day.
Early start and we were headed to Oudshoorn, preceded by a quick stop at Nelson Bay Cave on Plett’s Robberg Peninsula. A beautiful walk down to the cave with yet more documentation of the existence of early man. Caves checked and back headed forth, we stopped in for lunch at Die Pot in George, an eclectic little open-air restaurant that is well worth a visit! There is something to see around every corner, local hearty cuisine, friendly faces, such a unique little gem! After much laughter, spotting a rather precarious pirate on a bike and having a chat with a donkey or two, we were off again. We arrived for an early check in at Swartberg Country Manor near the Cango Caves.” Lost for words” can only but describe the feeling upon arrival. Situated at the foot of The Swartberg Pass you’re surrounded by mountains and greenery as far as the eye can see. We were welcomed in by Leoni Fourie, owner and General Manager, and shown to our rooms. Top class accommodation, spacious and luxurious attention to detail really shows here. Dinner consisted of homemade breads, salads and a good old fashion braai, seated on their deck under the stars. A truly amazing experience all round. There is definitely something to be said for moving outside of the hustle and bustle of mainstream towns.
After a lazy morning wake up, swim and breakfast, we were off to the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn for yet another informative talk, given by Steve Mouton. One never tires of visiting this amazing natural wonder, whether it is to bask in their sheer magnitude and beauty or just to see the reactions and emotions of those witnessing it for the first time. The Cango Caves is one place that should never be overlooked!
Our journey was almost over with the last stop being Karusa Premium Wines & Craft Brewery, a family-owned, managed and operated wine and fruit estate near the caves. After a wonderful wine tasting (Sauvignon Blanc for the win!) and light lunch, it was time to head back home to Cape Town.
A fantastic trip through the Western Cape’s heartlands, made extra special by the group of industry specialists we were travelling with. Being on a bus with over 20-odd Tour Guides gave us a new appreciation for the people trained in this specialised field. We should be super proud to have the calbre of phenomenal Cape tour guides that we do – these guys and gals are a well of knowledge and clearly have a calling to do what they do. Whether you are local or foreign tourist, we highly recommend investing in having a specialised guide accompany you on your journey. We look forward to individually showcasing some of South Africa’s finest guides on our website soon!