Sunday, July 25, 2010

Betty's Bay, South Africa

The road from Franschhoek took us up a large pass with plantation pines. Near the top we saw several baboons in the middle of the road so had to drive carefully around the windy roads in case we came upon more of them. We could slso see snow on some of the peaks. We travelled inland through a huge fruit growing area with large packhouses and lines of workers' cottage dotting the hills.

We had a stop at Kleinmond near the beach and watched the local kids playing in the lagoon, while adults took their dogs for a walk along the beach.

We found a free book advertising lots of backpackers' places so were able to ring ahead and find a bed in Betty's Bay. The hostel had a 9 hole mini putt course and a huge billiard table to entertain the guests as there is not a lot to do in the holiday seaside town if you don't have transport and are not a keen surfer.

There was a huge indoor fireplace so Lil was in her element stoking it up to keep the huge common area overlooking the beach warm. The wind was coming off the snow and was surprisingly freezing even though we couldn't see any snow peaks from where we were.

There was also an outdoor pit and two wood barbecue areas so the locals could have a braai (br eye). We could never have such fires in a drought because of the risk of bush fires, but here it is the tradition to cook on embers outside whenever you can.

Betty's Bay has about 20% permanent residents and the balance is for the holiday makers.

We visited Stony Point and enjoyed watching the African penguins waddling about or snuggling up to their brown fluffy young. The noise they make is like a donkey and so they were called Jackass penguins but have been renamed African penguins. There were huge fences separating the birds from the holiday homes and it looks and smells like the protected area that they have made is helping increase the penguin numbers considerably. I would imagine that some of the locals find the noise and the smell a nuisance as the colony grows and tries to spread into their front yards. Scientists were at the site when we were there counting and weighing animals. They have constructed some concrete shelters to encourage the birds to nest and breed here and it seems to be working really well.

We had tried to couchsurf in Hermanus but didn't have any luck so took a drive to look around the town. There seemed to be lots of Brits visiting after the World Cup games and they were enjoying the walk along the rocky cliffs like us. We were hoping to spot some of the right whales that come to this area at this time of the year but didn't see any.

We would like to have stayed on a bit longer at Betty's Bay but the place was booked out by a group of 28 youngsters to celebrate a 21st so that was a really good reason to leave.

The huge hills along the beach are covered with wild leucodendrons, proteas, heather and lots of other native plants that we didn't know the names of and looked gorgeous.

There was not a very good internet connection here so we were not able to any postings.