Dan and I recently completed our longest road trip to date!
We departed early on Saturday morning & headed for Baviaanskloof approximately 630km from home. I made a deal with Dan that en route to Baviaanskloof I would not stop at farmstall’s apart from taking a leg stretch, toilet break or snack stop. I am proud to say that I managed to do just that. The trip was long & almost never ending, but think it was due to the excitement we had for the Leopard Trail that lay ahead, as well as the unknown as to where exactly we were going to be staying that night as the GPS was not picking up the exact location & there was no cellphone signal within the Baviaanskloof region.
After many memorizing long quite roads, passing through major industrial cities of South Africa (George & Mossel Bay), we turned right onto a dirt road which would take us down Base Camp known as Hikers Hut in Baviaanskloof where the next day we would begin our hike.
10 of us completed the Leopard Trail, some of us had met each other on Arangieskop in October 2016, others were new but very quickly we all made friends. Days were extremely hot, reaching 40 plus degrees by midday & a warm 23 degrees in the evening. There was never a breath of wind, a luxury for us having come from windy Cape Town. We experienced a partial solar eclipse late one afternoon which was a very special event. I think what added to this memory is that we were literally in the middle of nowhere experiencing the true beauty and remoteness of nature. Simply the best!
There were many scorpions around each camp site and on the last evening we even managed to come across a Solifugae also commonly known as a Sun Spider, totally fascinating & wanting to constantly be in everyone’s shadow whilst making its way across the ‘braai’ area, eventually heading back into the bush.
4 days of tenting in absolute wilderness was something quite incredible for me.As I had never done this sort of thing before. Yet always dreamed about doing it. Always starting our day before the sun was up and ending our day & tucked into our sleeping bag’s by 20h00! The sights, the sounds & the fresh air really does something wonderful for the soul. I know it contributed to me being absolutely content in going to bed so early listening to all the nocturnal creatures whilst staring at the stars! Dan not so much as he is normally only winding down around midnight!
Leopard Trail was a great & as usual an unforgettable experience. The landscape was blackened from fires that had raged through in December 2016. Therefore there was minimal shade & flora, yet it was a good visual of the landscape & type of rock found within the area. February was an extremely hot month to do Leopard Trail, but I didn’t know when next we would be able to do it hence took the opportunity regardless, as a result there were minimal watering points, waterfalls & rivers. I think it would be a stunning hike in Autumn or Spring.
After the Leopard Trail we then made our way to a farm in Joubertina where we stayed the night. A soft bed & hot shower was well received after many days tenting! We left early the next morning & made our way to Storms River Mouth Rest Camp. With permission from the owner, we could not resist the urge to pick some fresh fruit to take home. So some fresh pears of varying types as well as some green figs & fresh nectarines. Directly from farm to table! Mom was thrilled!
After exploring every possible shop en route we arrived at the campsite where we were now able to set up our tent in record time. After all, we are getting quite good at it now. Thanks to Leopard Trail.
From Storms River Mouth it was on to Diepwalle in Knysna for 2 days, which was beautiful and very tranquil set high on the mountain in amongst the indigenous forest. We then went to Barrydale for the night before returning home.
Our days were filled with much sight seeing, beach walks, hiking along the coastline through forestry, walking 50m into a guano cave, finding a bushman’s cave/ resting spot, spending time with calving cows, drinking unpasteurized milk, plenty of good food, chats, no cellphone signal (a big plus for me as I always enjoy escaping technology) and many other memories in between.
Below is a video that Dan put together of our trip. I managed to have my hand on the camera for a bit so please excuse the shaking as I was more focused on hiking & concentrating when boulder hopping!
Taking leave & road tripping is simply the best recipe my soul could have asked for. I certainly did not want to return to work, but one thing is always certain. Whenever we come back from a holiday we always have more adventures & ideas lined up for future trips. It definitely gives me motivation and determination whenever I return home to do the absolute best I can wherever I can so that I am able to go away & enjoy these amazing getaways.
If you would like more information on the camp sites that we stayed at, cost etc please don’t hesitate to comment & I will provide you with the information.
Hope you enjoy!