Richard, my host at Swellendam told me about the Cango Caves and Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn. I made my way through the majestic Tradouw Pass on R324 and passed through the towns of Ladismith and Calitzdorp before reaching Oudtshoorn. For Port Wine lovers, Calitzdorp offers some of the best Port Wine there is. I reached Cango Wildlife Ranch around 3 pm in the afternoon and got to live my childhood dream of petting a Cheetah in there. I reached Mossel Bay by dinner time and checked into a Backpackers hostel.
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184 Kms from Swellendam
Where: South AfricaWhat to do: A visit to Cape Town must include a hike to the top of the iconic Table Mountain. Discover the history of Cape Town by visiting Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was locked up during the days of Apartheid in the country. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are a massive expanse of 52,800 sq km, offering some of the most beautiful collections of flora and fauna. Don't forget to get a pint of crafted beer at Woodstock, which is now home to Cape Town's best micro-breweries.
145 Kms from Swellendam
Next morning I went to the serene town of Stellenbosch. The place has some fine vineyards and I had registered for a wine tour with Wine Flies. Ian was our guide-cum-driver. And our group was really interesting, with fun-loving people from different parts of the world. Stories were shared over wine, chocolate, cheese and food. My host for the night was Eugene, who has a beautiful house there. He told about some secret trips and trails on the Garden Route over dinner.
157 Kms from Swellendam
The next day would turn out to be the most intense day of my trip. I went hiking on St Blaize Trail early in the morning. The trail takes you onto the cliffs overlooking the ocean and is a good 13 km long. The weather was cloudy. So, with crepuscular sun rays piercing the clouds to hit the surface of the ocean, waves lashing onto the sedimentary rock formations and a cave which is known to have housed a core population which showed first signs of modern human behavior, this trail was a surreal brush with the past.
239 Kms from Swellendam
I headed towards Knysna after brunch at Santos Express and visited the pretty Victoria Bay en route (couples, you have to go here). Eugene had told me about a secret trail some 20 kms before I would reach Knysna. Drupkelders Trail. Trivia - not more than 12 people are allowed on this trail at any given time. What you get at the end of this 4 km hike into the forest is something intensely soothing. Rocky pools with cascading river water having a dark green color owing to tannin from the leaves. The day I went, I happened to be the only person on the trail and thus I felt like it was my own private swimming pool. I reached Knysna in the evening and headed straight to the Knysna Heads, which has some stunning views of the lagoon opening into the ocean. That evening as the water receded in the lagoon, got to see two unique things – a group of people baptizing one of their own and people searching for bloodworms (fish baits).