Cape Town, Wilderness, Knysna

Early on Thursday, March 3, I took a taxi to a bus station in Cape Town.  I boarded the 6:00am Intercape Bus headed along the Garden Route, and would be on the bus until 12:50pm, when the bus pulled into George, SA. I was in and out of sleep for most of the morning’s bus ride.  My last night in Cape Town, Jon, Juul, Andre, Non and I climbed Lion’s Head for the sunset, which was spectacular, and well worth the hike.  The walk down was a dark one, but was made doable with some head lamps that some of us were wearing.  We went out for burgers and Savannas, (South Africa’s apple cider!), then headed back to the hostel to visit before calling it a night.

Once the Intercape bus dropped me in George, I took a taxi to the George airport where I picked up a car that I had booked to hire for my time in George, Wilderness and Knysna.  Without seeing the cars available, I was given the option of a Kia, Hyundai, Chevrolet, or a VW… so I chose the VW, and the man from over the Budget Rental counter smiled and said, “great choice, it’s a good car and it’s brand new.”  Little did I know, it was the only bright coloured car available, and stood out from all the other white and silver vehicles on the lot – a very small, bright red, two door beep beep.  I was pretty grateful for having spent so long in Australia and having learnt how to drive on the other side of the car and road, especially when hiring a car in Africa!  Fell right back into the groove, and away I went.

With limited daylight left, I decided to drive to a place that Gilli’s cousin Stephen had mentioned, Outdshoorn.  I was really hoping to see the caves there, but ended up just driving there to explore the town by foot.  The drive there and back was fantastic, and I stopped a few times along the way.  There are so many different landscapes here!  I’ve also never seen so many ostriches, but the ostrich farms were everywhere on this route.  I even saw lots of little ostrich chicks!  After some venturing, I drove back to George, and along the N2 to Wilderness.  There’s something so relaxing and refreshing about driving through new beautiful areas on a hot day, with the windows down, and the music up loud… not to mention how much I love driving standard in bare feet in the summer!

Arriving at the Wildfarm Backpackers,  I felt so welcome.  I was given a great rate on a private room with a double bed, and shown around the property.  On the farm, there were horses and cows, numerous cats and dogs, and birds of all colours and sizes.  The farm is on the top of a large hill, and was so peaceful and quiet, with breathtaking views.

The Friday morning, I got up early and made breakfast before heading to Knysna.  Visiting the Knysna Elephant Park has been on my bucket list since I booked the trip – but also since I learnt more about the place from a really good friend of mine who volunteered there for a few weeks at the end of last year.  Climbing into the little red car, my heart steered me towards the elephants, and I couldn’t wait to get there.  Once again, I was in awe of the landscapes and scenery here… the drive down the hill in Wilderness and towards Knysna was stunning, and I would have stopped more frequently if it was safe to do so! (The shoulders didn’t offer much grace!) On the way, I stopped briefly at the Knysna Quays and walked along the waterfront.  The main street was full of life, with a little market halfway down the street.

When I’d made it to the park and paid my entry fee, I just couldn’t wait to see the elephants… The next tour had about twelve people in it.  We sat down together and watched a video on the history of the park and learnt about the elephant rehabilitation programs and research programs that the park has. (Kylie did the volunteer research program here for a few weeks!)

The Knysna Elephant Park is 360 hectares, and there are two herds of elephants in it.  As much as it’s considered protected, people often question the authenticity of a park and wonder if it’s really allowing you to see elephants in their natural habitat and natural state.  The answer for the Knysna Elephant Park is yes.  This is a park large enough for the elephants to wander off and keep their distance from the humans if they wish, but also offers them an area for care and rehabilitation.  There is research done daily at the park, for the wellbeing of the elephants.  The two herds are quite different though, and only the one chooses to remain in close proximity to human contact.  They’re the ones that stay close and are the ones that the tourists get to come in close contact with, as I got to do!

Elephants are fascinating, and are extremely smart.  They eat for 18 hours a day, and therefore the programs available at the Knysna Elephant Park and the extra food available helps to keep their bellies full.  Only by repetition and routine are the animals aware of where they have to stand to be fed by the tourists.  After they’re fed and have had initial introductions with the new guests, they wander around and interact with the people.

Our group was divided into smaller groups and assigned to a guide.  I certainly benefited from traveling alone, because I got a guide to myself!  My guide’s name was Wilfred, and he was a pleasure to be around.  Wilfred has been working with elephants for over 15 years, starting his career in Zambia at a park there.  I learnt so much about the elephants and their habits and their lives and the personalities of the herd we were in contact with.  I met Shungu first, one of the young males. He is only 8, and weighs about a ton.  Sally is the matriarch!  She’s massive, weighing roughly 4.5 tons… She was born in 1989, and was brought down from Kruger National Park in 1994.

I was in heaven, able to touch these massive animals, running the palms of my hands over their faces and trunks.  They’re covered in mud and dust as a form of protecting their skin from the sun.  Even weighing 4.5 tons, Sally was so remarkably gentle.  Their eyes tell such a story, and I could have stood by her forever.

Leaving there was difficult!  I wanted to stay… but I know I’ll be back there.  I toured my way back along the road and stopped at the Sedgefield Beach in Wilderness to walk along where the water met the sand.

After hugging and kissing dusty elephant faces in the hot sun, I needed a shower desperately!  I headed back up to the hostel to to recharge, then got ready to head down to the Wilderness Friday Night Markets!  There was live music, and African goods of all sorts.  I could wander laps around markets like this quite happily for hours.  Having the gift of the gab and the ability to speak to just about anyone, I found myself getting to know the local vendors.  Their craftwork is exceptional, and they work such long hard hours creating beautiful things.  Paintings, carvings, pendants, jewellery, wooden spoons, bowls, wire and beaded figurines and keychains, clothing… the list goes on and on.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere at the markets, and found a place to sit and enjoy a cider and some sushi while I wrote some post cards.

Saturday morning, I gathered my things and drove to the George airport to return the car and to fly back to Joburg.  The flight was great, and I spent the rest of the day relaxing and reflecting on an amazing week.

I love my life.

A xo

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Sunrise from the top of the hill in Wilderness, from the Wildfarm Backpackers.

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Gorgeous views from the Wildfarm Backpackers in Wildnerness, South Africa.

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Gilbert, carving his initials and the year into the bottom of something he made, that I’m bringing back for Allison!

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Victoria Bay, South Africa

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Sedgefield Beach, South Africa

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Sally, a 4.5 ton elephant at the Knysna Elephant Park in Knysna, South Africa (ny-zna)

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Shungu, one of the young boys!

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Lining up for some hand fed snacks from the tourists for a proper introduction before the tourists get to mingle with the elephants somewhere in a 360 hectare park.

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Ostriches everywhere between George and Oudtshoorn. (Oats-horn)

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The little beep beep, VW Up! that I hired for a few days to tour around in!

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As the sun sets, the lights come on in Cape Town.  View from our hike up Lion’s Head.

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The “Table Cloth” starting to hang over the mountain and the apostles.

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The hike got pretty steep towards the top!  Chains and ladders and slippery dusty rocks.

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Shacks and sheds, a small community outside of Cape Town.

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A beautiful park in Cape Town, between Mouille Point and Green Point.

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A xo

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4 thoughts on “Cape Town, Wilderness, Knysna

  1. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful! Love you xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. amazing photos Amanda! Looks like you are enjoying your trip.

    Like

    1. Thanks Angie!!! It’s truly unreal. Xx

      Like

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