South Africa’s Garden Route
After saying goodbye to my lovely and cozy home in Hermanus I set off for two hours southeast to Cape Agulhas, learning quite quickly to not strictly adhere to the “Here We Go” satnav instructions, as one of them would have me driving through the fields of a farmer! While the more well-known Cape of Good Hope south of Cape Town is billed as the most south-westerly point in Africa the less-known Cape Agulhas is, in fact, the southernmost point of Cape Agulhas, and it is the point where you will find the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean join.
I then ate my fill with food at the nearby KFC, and the server spoke at me using Afrikaans! It was not just a surprise to me, but it also surprised me. Knysna Lagoon Viewed from the Knysna Township that I just about understood what he was saying! That was, I should park my car over there as my fries weren’t ready yet, but he’d bring them over when they were. My smidgen of self-taught Afrikaans was beginning to come in handy, along with the fact that a number of words are similar between Afrikaans and English given the former’s Dutch origins.
A four-hour drive later brought me to the small town of Wilderness, during which I continued to note just how courteous South African drivers were thus far. They will always pull in slightly if you need to overtake, with the hard shoulder on a single-lane carriageway being primarily used for this. After overtaking, it is common for the overtaker to briefly turn on their hazard lights to say thank you, and for the overtakee to flash their headlights to say you’re welcome!
Drivers will also often let others go before themselves, and regularly say thank you with a hand, smile or a nod. Of course, I’ve been following suit, too, as I’m a big fan of courtesy when driving, and this is a nice welcome relief after the increasingly road-raged UK.
I think Wilderness is a majority Me Knysna Lagoon Catamaran Cruisefamous for its vast swathe of wild coastline and beach, although I headed instead to its section of the Garden Route National Park for a hike in the forests instead, since I’d thus far seen quite a bit of coastline.
I was up for seeing something a bit different. I enjoyed a lovely two-mile walk through a delightful slice of forest along a river bank there, just as the sun was beginning to set and cause the whole forest and hillsides to glow a magical colour. This, along with croaking frogs and birdsong, made for a lush and magical walk. A highlight also was using a floating pontoon bridge, on which to cross the river you had to ferry yourself across with its self-propelled rope and pulley system – very cool!
While I had planned to get to my hotel in Knysna at sunset I found myself in the town for 15 minutes after darkness began to set in. It wasn’t nearly quite as bad as the arrival in Hermanus in the same time frame, when it was raining, but the loadshedding in Knysna was already in place at 6pm. This included all traffic lights being turned off, as well as the street lights! Cape Agulhas, Africa’s Southernmost PointThis was just crazy, and I had about ten busy, light-less junctions to negotiate before arriving at my accommodation.
The whole loadshedding thing makes things so unsafe, and I can imagine causes numerous deaths and injuries if the government could bother to look into this – I understand why it is currently the bane of many-a South Africans’ lives at the moment, from all walks of life. At least also under these circumstances, drivers are very polite and orderly, and always go by the rule of whoever arrives first at a junction has right of way – it is very orderly, and fortunately such situations I encountered throughout the country did not ever lead to any form of gridlock. I think the people in the country are used to this, though it would still take me a while to get accustomed myself.