We’ve been making our way across the Western Cape via the Winelands, Little Karoo and Garden Route. This has given us a chance to get used to being on the road for long stretches on generally paved roads before we have some long, challenging days in Lesotho. We celebrated my birthday with a nice dinner at 96 Winery Road and visits to several wineries (Eliav strongly prefers reds, Avital has a slight preference for whites) where we sipped not just wine but olive oil as well.
The contrasts of this region are pretty stark – the wet green on the coast versus the dry bush of the Little Karoo, the low fynbos versus the tall forests of Knysa, the nice seaside vacation homes of the well to do versus the shanty towns of their staff. The natural contrasts make the scenery quite spectacular. Which we particularly appreciated on our trip through the Swartberg Mountains first up the steep, gravel Swartberg Pass and then through Meringspoort, a narrow cut through the mountains. Both were beautiful, the pass a steep driving challenge up and the poort a smooth twisty run through the mountain.
The most visible contrasts of the Garden Route are between the holiday home and leisure communities scattered along the coast (almost giving this the feel of the Fort Lauderdale of South Africa) and the shanty towns found between them – and yet, trying to get the kids to notice either the natural or cultural contrasts has been a challenge as their attention is always on more mundane activities like coloring, kindles or watching the time to our destination count down on the GPS.Though we avoided many of the tourist traps here (particularly the wildlife ones as I would rather leave that for the actual wild) we did have a great time ziplining back and forth 50 meters above the Kruis River. Surprisingly, even on the first platform the kids showed no fear – yet Avital jumps at every spider and Eliav hides from every dog. After that we went to a great 3d maze, where Eliav and I pulled a trick out of Belicheck’s/The Patriots’ bag and cheated a little to leverage our preexisting advantage into certain victory; Avital was not amused.
The firsts continue for us tomorrow as we head to Addo and Mountain Zebra national parks for a few days of our first camping and safari. After that we are heading into the mountains of Lesotho for pony trekking, village stays, off-road passes etc. Internet access may be limited so don’t count on hearing from us for a week or so.