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Cape Coast South Africa

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Knyssna, Cape Coast
South Africa

Arriving in Knyssna in time for coffee at the fashionable and buzzing Waterfront, we spent a very enjoyable morning in the early spring sunshine, pottering about the harbour and exploring the small and interesting shops which complement the cafes and restaurants in the area. While bargaining was not appropriate in the shops, it was a different story with the dozens of hawkers promoting the virtues of tablecloths, hand printed cotton, and various other goods for sale.  This area is known as one of South Africa’s favourite towns, built around the lagoon which is the foundation of the town’s wealth, and with its relaxed atmosphere, it is easy to see why.

cape coast

Further along the coast, we spent a very enjoyable afternoon at Plettenberg, where we took the authorised boat trip out into the Bay to see the Southern Right Whales, which had travelled all the way from the Antarctic to calve and nurse their young. This is part of an eco tourism project, with part of the fee going towards protecting the habitats for this fascinating species.

 The boat launch from the sandy beach was an experience in itself, as we were told to hang on, while the jeep pushed us to the water’s edge at speed, and then disconnected the rope, propelling us into the waves. Coming back, it was like a roller coaster; we crashed through the waves and directly up onto the sandy beach.

The whales come into the bay from June to late November, and you can never be certain they will be around. One sign we were told to look for, is the sea birds which feed on the skin which the whales shed, often in large sheets, the thickness of a bin bag, and which is apparently very nutritious- if you are a sea bird that is.

We were fortunate enough to see two groups of whales, each comprising one female and two males who were vying for her attention. They came very near the boat, so that when they flume, which is their way of letting off steam and reducing body temperature, we could smell them quite strongly. It was a great privilege to see them, and we were all quite awed.

whaleThe next day, we made our way further down the coast toTsitsikamma National Park, a marine and forest park stretching for 80km from a lagoon at Nature’s Valley to the mouth of the Groot River. Here our small but select band of three took part in an amazing canopy tour, suspended in harnesses on steel cables 100ft. up in the air. The “tour” comprised a series of ten zip wire journeys around the tree tops, our own squeals mingling with the birds whose habitat it really was. There were ten journeys in total, of different lengths and speeds, and all you have to use as a brake is a thick gardening glove! Fortunately we had experienced guides with a good sense of humor, who made sure we were both safe and enjoying the trip.  Needless to say, once back on terra firma, there was a lot of hugging and self congratulation.

We rounded off the day with a gentle walk in another part of the National Park to the suspension bridge that spans the mouth of Storms River. A cleverly built walkway, using recycled plastic, hugged the rugged coastline, with viewpoints of the crashing waves below. By this stage in our journey, we had become blasé about the occasional family of baboons who occupied some of the woodland in this area.

The people who operate tourist attractions all along this coast are very concerned about protecting the environment, and each of the sections visited was structured to that end. They have proved that sustainable tourism and can work, providing business opportunities and ensuring the beauty of the area and the wildlife it contains are preserved for future generations.

September 2009


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