My last morning in Jeffrey’s Bay and I almost overslept for the bus… Of course I had also been so smart to not pack my stuff the night before. Luckily the bus driver (and the passengers) were patient and gave me enough time to get ready. After I got my bags, I gave the dogs one last pet and woke – of course he was still asleep :p – Tyrone up and said goodbye to the hostel. The bus ride was not that bad, but it helped that I had an amazing view, Tsitsikamma being the main source of that. After about 2 á 3 hours on the bus I arrived at my next stay for coming days. The hostel I stayed at was Albergo backpackers, owned by a Dutch couple. Apparently this place is a Dutchies-magnet, because I heard my mother tongue everywhere.. Besides a few German and local people, it was for the rest Dutch. But I didn’t expect any less – We travel a lot.. – so it was fine. Upon arrival I was shown around. First the lounge where you could chill and converse, then outside there are hammocks, a fireplace and lots of green, a bar in the corner and a building separate from the reception and lounge with the kitchen and rooms.
It was still morning, therefore I decided to dump my bags, get out of my sweatpants and go explore the area. At the reception I got some advice on where to go for hikes and what kind of transport to use when doing any of my planned activities. I was given a map of the town and went to see the area. It is much bigger than I had expected and at the beach I got to see the Robberg, but I didn’t clearly see where I could get up so I just postponed it to another day in the week. Now okay, my day was nice, but this is not why I came to Plettenberg Bay. Therefore I made an appointment, well the backpacker’s assistant did, for the Tenikwa tour, Elephant Sanctuary and the transport for it. I got 10% discount thanks to some flyers at the hostel. I went to bed early, as the morning walk started around sunrise.
Petting a Cheetah!
Waking up from the alarm clock at 6 in the morning, I got my little camera and left with my chatty transport. I don’t get how someone can be that chatty this early in the morning… I had chosen for a combo, where you walk with the cheetah’s in the morning and then you get to see a few other cats as well. When I arrived there I got welcomed by very friendly people – even though they called me a “kaaskop”* after hearing my nationality – and lead me to the introduction room. Here was explained what Tenikwa does for the animals and that it’s not just for tourism. I will put a link below if you want to read about their rehabilitation center. Furthermore they gave us the do’s and don’t’s when it comes to cheetah’s. Apparently a buzzing phone can piss them off, so better turn off your phone or keep it in the locker… On the tour were also two older ladies from Capetown with the combo and then 2 American girls and another ‘Captonian’ guy with just the sunrise walk. After the introduction we were lead as one group to the fences that separated us from the cats. It felt kinda strange and awesome that in a minute there would no longer be anything in between us. Excited we watched as the keepers went in and got a female called Thandi and a male named Duma. Then just like that I was holding a rope with Duma on the other end as if I was walking my dog. It felt so weird and awesome at the same time. The way these animals walk is just astonishing. Then we went for the walk and I soon learned that I was not the one that was in control, nor was I going to try to be. I was told in the beginning that the rope is there just for us, because if the cheetah starts sprinting, I wouldn’t want to try and stop them. When walking the female I noticed she was a little bit moody, it seemed the chirping birds were getting on her nerves. The keepers had warned me not to block her sight nor to look them in the eyes and after a warning like this, I felt my heart drop when Thandi suddenly looked back with a cold blooded stare of the predator she is. Despite her mood, I was still able to pet both of them, which was awesome. After the walk they get their food and we watched as they filled their stomachs. As they chewed on their big pieces of meat, we could hear the bones which they crushed with ease using their sharp teeth. After this bad-ass walk, we went back to take a small break before part 2 of the combo began.
After we had been delighted with some food and drinks, the others left and the three of us were led to finish our tour. We started with two young lions. They were not far from maturity, meaning they would almost be released. Then one of the keepers opened the door and guided us inside. I did not expect that! It was fun, the caretakers played with the lions by having a tire on top of a stick and letting them try and catch it. In the meanwhile they also had to make sure the lions wouldn’t play with us or themselves, seeing as they have massive strength in their paws and jaw and we humans are so weak :p. It was incredibly fun to look at these big cats just playing as if they’re house pets. Now I am not sure if this is the correct chronological order, but I think we went to see a leopard after the lions. No, this time we did not get to go in the cage and I am sure it was the right choice. The leopard is such a majestic beast. I am happy I saw a 2nd one a month later when I was in Kruger Park. On the rest of the tour we also got to see some servals in action from up-close, a few caracals, the black-footed cat, the African wild cat and finally a honey badger. The tour was a lot of fun and afterwards I was given a ride to the Elephant Sanctuary.
A nice surprise!
In all honesty.. I did not get the experience I was hoping for. At the reception I got greeted indifferently and impolite and then I found out riding the elephants wasn’t possible as it had rained. Then the hour I was supposed to walk the elephants was a lot shorter than an hour. The people that were with me when walking the elephants were really nice though. And I did enjoy it, I did have fun learning about the elephants and feeding them, but it just felt too much like an act that’s repeated exactly the same way daily. Of course these tours get repeated almost the same way daily, but when you’re doing it right, it doesn’t feel like it. As it was over much sooner than expected, I still had a whole hour to kill before my ride would pick me up. It seemed it was a blessing in disguise, because as I was waiting along the road, a lady named Lee, stopped by to ask me if I was waiting for someone. After she heard I had an hour left, she asked me why I didn’t go to Monkeyland and go on a tour there, as it’s exactly an hour. I explained I didn’t want to spend too much money. Then something amazing happened, she explained that she is the owner of Monkeyland and offered me a free tour, as she doesn’t care about the money, but more about making people happy. It made my day! She knows Albergo and called them, making sure the shuttle drive would come to the right place. Out of the two tours, Birds of Eden and Monkeyland, I chose to go with the monkeys. It was a lot of fun, especially as I hadn’t planned on going there. I learned a few things, met some blue ball monkeys and witnessed a dominance battle between two monkeys. I am still grateful for that and after thanking her, I went back to the hostel. The evening I spent around the fireplace with some guests.
Sticking around a bit longer
At first it was my plan to go to Knysna after I had done these activities, but I really liked it in Plettenberg’s Bay. With that, it was also almost impossible finding a place in the cheap hostels around that time in Knysna. They were apparently having an annual Oyster festival, thus it was incredible busy everywhere. This gave me the opportunity to try and hike Robberg. With my great sense of direction, I got lost the first time… The second time I did find my way – accidentally taking a huge detour – and I found out they charge money. As I was wearing sports clothes, I didn’t have any money with me… On 3rd try I actually got to go hike there, following The Point’s hiking trail (9.2 km/ 5,7 miles ). When I came to The Point though, it was way past the time limit and flood was coming, so I had to go back the same way and finished my hike through the Witsand hiking trail. Robberg is a beautiful place for hiking, I just find it sad that I have to pay just because I want to see and walk on nature’s beauty.
I had done all I wanted in Plettenberg’s Bay, so my last days I spent enjoying the weather and the presence of my compatriots, now that I still could. Then I went back to planning my next destination, which was Capetown. I wanted to go to Mossel Bay for cage diving, but at my tour in Tenikwa, one of the American girls had told me about a place in Cape Town that would give you your money back when no sharks were found. The Captonian completely convinced me when he said that there is also a bigger chance of finding large sharks there. So this was the end of Plettenberg for me, a lovely place where I had stayed for a week. I had another week left before going to my 2nd workaway place, which I was going to spend well.
A small recap of Plettenberg: Albergo is a great backpackers and one of the cheapest there, the people are very likeable and it’s easy to make friends here. The Tenikwa tour is definitely worth the money. Monkeyland was awesome, but if you’re either low on time or money, I wouldn’t do it. If you really want to come in contact with elephants, I would try to find a different place first. Robberg is beautiful and great for hikes, even though it’s ridiculous you have to pay, it’s not that expensive. The beaches are great for long walks. The city is not huge, but bigger than Jeffrey’s Bay and it’s cozy. People here are very nice, just make sure that the ones you meet are not one of the few with an underlying reason.
*Kaaskop is the Dutch/Afrikaans way of saying ‘Cheesehead’, which is sometimes used to call people from the Netherlands.
**I am writing this way after my trip and just before my next one, so apologies as this is just a short and quick summarize of everything I still know so that I can start writing on time before I leave**
***Any given advice and or opinions is only meant to either describe my trip or to help people have a great travelling experience***