Day 5-6: in the eastern cape

Perched on top of a treetop, the only sounds I can hear right now is the slow breathing of sikander sleeping next to me and the chirping of the birds. It’s amazingly quiet and tranquil over here. But this post is about the days before we reached on this treetop.

One thing which I think I forgot to mention about wild lubanzi I my last post was their amazing homemade bread in the morning. And the day we were leaving, Rahel, made an out of this world bread..It was almost like a farewell breakfast..

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Rahel's out of this world bread

After feasting on the bread and sikander on the very greedy breakfast, we bud our goodbyes for until next time and made way further down on the road. We didn’t plan it that way but it’s interesting how on every drive  the scenery around changed from the last time. We are still in Xhosa territory.. While the surroundings were mainly wide open grasslands from southbroom to wild lubanzi; now it was a zigzag of grasslands and forests. The forests of this region are dense wit small bushy trees. My picture of a forest would be of tall trees but as our host in Colchester explained to us this is a unique feature of this region. This feature also helped the Xhosa people to hide out 100s of years ago when they would attack the white settlers.

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The route was a zigzag of open grasslands and dense forests

We stopped at King williams town for lunch.. It was around 3. We were thinking of whether to call it a day there or drive further down. We had to reach knysna on 6th. We decided to stretch a little on that day and stay near Addo National Park and have a day of rest on 5th. It’s easier to stay for 2 nights at one place than to switch places everyday. We had lunch at Nando’s. I love their vegetarian entries. After a takeaway coffee, were back on the road. Close to Colchester, the game reserve territory starts and if you are careful,  you can see a lot of animals. The first time we spotted zebras, I made sikander go back so that I can take a photo of them. Though we soon realised that zebras are the easiest to spot along the route! We saw giraffes, buckaneers and deers as well. We reached Colchester  by 6:30pm. Checked into a B&B  we had found on the net – dungbeetle. It is beautifully situated right on the Sunday’s river. Colchester  is a small village/town with just one pub/restaurant and that too close for last orders at 8. We had a lot of wet clothes after our hikes in the rain for the last two days so we first went to launderette  and dropped our laundry (Rand 70 for one load!) And then went to Grunters.

This vacation has pleasantly been about early to bed and early to rise, till now. The sun rises at 4:30.. by 5:30 the room is flooded with light! Sikander is a little under the weather, so we decided to take the day easy. Many would be disappointed  with us, but we decided not to do either the Addo National Park or the biggest sand dunes of the southern hemisphere.

Coming from India, seeing just elephants didn’t really excited me so much. Even though they are bigger here in Africa, we were sure we going to do a safari later in the year. Instead we decided to do a little drive around the eastern cape towns.

We started towards Bathurst. On the way saw an interesting farm stall – nanaga, and stopped for a quick bite and also purchased some farm produce like jams and sauces and to sikander’s  dismay I spent a lot of time in their knick knack counter as well :p.

Bathurst has the oldest licenced pub of South Africa – The Pig and the Whistle. It has never closed it’s doors except during renovation. It’s got an interesting history (which is there on their website too) and the building is currently much the same as it was in 1820s.

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Entrance to The Pig and The Whistle Inn, locally known as The Pig :p

Bathurst itself is a quaint little town. After our lunch at The Pig, we walked around the town, walking into art galleries, old book shops, antiques shops selling curios.

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The town of bathurst

We stopped at a giant pineapple! It seems this region is a big pineapple producer and the farmers paid their respects to the pineapple by making this monument! 🙂

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The big pineapple at Bathurst

From there we drove through Port Alfred and Kenton on Sea. Kenton on sea was a perfect time for a coffee but by 5pm everything in the town was closed. Surprisingly everything on the highway was also closed… One stall was open but they had no electricity and so no coffee…

By the time we reached Colchester back it was already 7. We had a drink with our hosts – etta  and derry, who told us a lot more about the history of the region. Back in 1800s the Xhosa tribes were attacking the whites in Port Elizabeth and to counter that the government gave Britons huge farmlands that acted like a warning system. The government was not able to catch many as they would hide in the dense forests nearby but this definitely reduced the occurrence of attacks in Port Elizabeth.

Etta then talked about the nature around. The sand dunes right next to the river are an intriguing feature after all.  And the significance of the dungbeetle and the unique characteristics of the African elephant.

What I love about staying at B&Bs  is the cozy interaction one can have with the hosts. This is typically absent in hotel stays.

After another dinner night at Grunters we called it a day. The next day we were leaving for knysna, excited about living in a tree house! 🙂 

PS1: we were stopped by traffic police twice during the two days, both the times they said we were not allowed to drive on our Indian licence. That we needed an IDP… but both the times they let us go with a warning. Thank you officers! xoxo

PS2: as before more pics when I get back home and can download from my camera!

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