Before leaving for our “up the coast” trip to Knysna we went down to Muizemberg beach in False Bay. A group called SharkSpotters run these flag systems and while we were there the siren sounded and the red flag was replaced with the white, shark spotted, flag. We think it was due to the fishing activity that was going on in the photo’s below.
“Trek” fishing is traditional here and consists of a small wooden rowing boat going out through the surf and circling round before coming back to the beach some 100 or so yards from their entry point, all awhile dropping a net into the water. Then the two ends are slowly pulled in and in theory the net captures a load of fish. Alas, in this case all that was caught we’re crabs and small uneatable ones that are thrown back.
Knysna is a small coastal town about 300 miles east of Cape Town in the heart of an all year rainfall and surrounded by coastline and forests. We took an overnight stop at Witsands to break the journey and just see what the place looked like. Predominantly fisherman orientated and we had a great chat with a local who kept telling us that one of his sons was in Chicago with sub zero temperatures while he walks around in T-shirt, shorts and slip-slops looking for clients to take fishing. His ideal lifestyle.
Arriving we wasted no time looking for a hike in the forests and found Drupkelders (drop cellars) that started at the edge of a forest and then dropped down into the Homtini gorge and river. The forest is thick and difficult to photograph with my iPhone but pleasant to walk though. A steep section with a rope assist reminded me of Black Canyon of the Gunnison that we had visited last year in Colorado.
The water is said to be drinkable but black from it’s mineral content. Even swimming in it felt ominous, as if an unseen monster lay in wait below it’s surface. The sides of the gorge had overhanging rock with dense growth above, I think that’s where the name comes from; feels like you’re in a cellar with water dripping from the walls.
The forest has numerous “Big Tree” tourist spots and lend the photographer the challenge of capturing their entirety. Lucky for me the iPhone has “pano” mode that works like a charm.
Another walk up the road is around the Millwood gold rush of the 1880’s. Not much came out of the ground and within 5 years it had shut down and little is left to see these days.
We had booked a place here for 4 weeks and wanted to simply hang out with no real agenda. After nearly 3 weeks up in Kruger and spending each day sitting in a car we were desperate to get back into an exercise routine. Some Google’ing around found us a local gym and a spinning class 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8:30am. We signed up for a month, met some of the locals including a guy from Conneticut that comes out here every summer for 6 to 8 weeks. Can’t beat the prices, sunshine and wine were some of his words.
I had found it difficult finding a place to rent while sitting in California and when this flatlet was offered to us for R750 per day when the normal, 4 person rate was R1500, I took it. At 13 Rand to the US dollar it comes out at around $55 per day for a fully furnished, self catering flat. The downsides to this one were that it was a bit out of town, no WiFi and cell service was rather weak. Being in a self proclaimed nature reserve we were warned of critters which Rose would rather do without. Even I was rather taken aback when we found a scorpion in the bathtub and a mouse that came in looking for breakfast when I had left the door open.
The natural beauty, remoteness and low usage of this coastline is brilliant. In the photo above we had gone for walk on the beach and then could sit and have lunch while gazing out at this typically Cape coastline.
If you look on a map you will see the coast line broken by these two buttresses and opening the seas to the Knysna Lagoon on the inside. They are the “Heads” and attract a fair bit of tourist activity.
Just to the east are the Harkerville forests and some good bike trails. The bike shop in town wanted too much to shuttle us out there so some more google’ing turned up Outenique Bike Hire and a lady who rents bikes on the side. We pick out two basic hardtails , that’s all she had, and went for a ride. “Just leave the bikes in the garage and the money in the envelope” the lady says. I opted to pay first but the rest of it was all on a handshake & trust.
We road the RED route of 25Km and spent 4 hours of enjoyment with hardly any other riders on the trails except for the tailend of the Knysna Bull ride.
The old 7 passes road was built by Thomas Bain who built a number of passes in the Cape. These, on the old George to Knysna road, are upside down passes, in that each pass goes down to cross a deep gorge that knifes into the landscape.
The above snake was on the side of a back dirt road and a passing motist told us it was a male puff-adder. Had a beautiful skin color but by the time I got the camera ready he was on his way back into hiding.