AROUND THE WORLD ON 80 PENCE - SOUTH AFRICA
GARDEN ROUTE: Cape Town, Tulbagh, Humanus, Mossels bay, Wilderness, Kynsna, St Plettenberg Bay, The Crags, Francis Bay, Victoria Bay, Humansdorp, Franschhoek, Tsitsikamma, St Jeffery's Bay
South African Rand R11.44 = 80p
Putting pen to paper or more like fingers to touch screen, I struggle to find the words to describe this trip...amazing, adventurous, superb, the best…uuurgh these words are not strong enough, not emotive enough! The best way to describe this trip of my lifetime is not descriptive fancy words but simply a long pleasurable groan, now that about sums it up! But I guess I need to tell you more....
We took nine days (normally done over 2-3 weeks) to indulge, exhale and seek out the breathtaking sights, sounds and natural habitat of the 'Garden Route' in South Africa. In essence it's a road trip along the South Eastern Cape named the Garden Route
due its dense green trails, vast lagoons, lakes, rock pools and beaches dotted across the coast.
We visited at least fifteen towns or bays (listed above) and stayed in eight superbly luxurious hotels or B&Bs, including my top two (ok three) hotels:
But it doesn't stop there. By day we amused ourselves canoeing down a picture perfect serene lake to discover the 'secret' waterfalls. We dived with the Great White Sharks, spent hours on long sandy white private beaches, took in an evening safari, trailed through lush green forests absorbing its entire natural habitat. We also climbed the 120 steps to walk across the Storms River suspension bridge with magnificent views, then to calm the nerves we stopped at a few wineries for a spot of wine tasting. That said, and not to appear completely shallow and over indulgent we also spent a day at an orphanage simply hugging, loving, playing, reading singing and dancing with these hopeful, happy, grateful children.
There were masses and masses to see, feel and experience:
Snooze - accommodation was relatively cheap on average around £40 (R570) whilst the luxury end was approx £63 (R900) and upwards. Most of the best places we snoozed in we're the walk-in hotels or B&Bs we quite fancied the look of. We then bartered for a suitable price. In fact, the hotels booked online were the worst (although not bad) choices of accommodation.
Amuse - the tourist attractions, not surprisingly, we're fairly expensive. For example the canoe ride costs £20 (R280) whilst the Great White Shark Dive £77 (R1110). However, the best and by far the cheapest ways to amuse ourselves were the free, wonderful, breathtakingly beautiful outdoors. Including the stunning wildlife, mountainous backdrops, endless stretches of empty beaches, fascinating rock pools, tranquil lagoons, forest picnics, hidden waterfalls all dotted closely together within a 3-4 hour drive.
Booze - Any wine lover will know South Africa is ‘THE’ place for outstanding wine with a multitude of wineries including my favourite Franschhoek. The wine tasting, 85ml, was incredibly cheap at £0.35p (R5) a taste. However, if you bought a bottle of wine at £3.50 (R50) the wine tasting samples were then free of charge. Even in restaurants a quality bottle of wine was the same price as a cheap bottle in a UK supermarket £3.50- £5 (R50-70) whilst a glass cost a mere £0.97- £1.54 (R14-22). Cocktails cost approx £2.50 and a pint of beer just £1.19 (R17)
Chews - Restaurants were the best value for money. Being right on the coastline was the perfect place to dine on delicious fresh seafood. The table "host" prided themselves on exceptional customer service, yet unlike America, regardless of good or bad service, tips were not compulsory. (But yes, of course I gave!) Menu prices were roughly the same, whether it be the cheaper fast food (albeit good quality) chain restaurants to the exquisite Vineyard restaurants with breathtaking views. Main courses on average cost between £2.50- £7 (R40-100)… How cheap is that!
What about my 80p budget? Well, what I will say is this.... The GBP will certainly go a long way in particular with 'booze and chews.' You can buy snacks, confectionary and soft drinks but also wine, starters and as I witnessed in one restaurant, a couple sensually slurping then devouring Tabasco dipped, lemon squeezed oysters. Great value at just £0.56p (R8) an oyster, but given my already tantalising South African experiences, I opted to be a voyeur to that type of acquired pleasure! (Yuck!!)
Dawne B Stewart
Twitter : @dawneb007
Article by Dawne B / 30th January 2013
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