Friday, June 09, 2006


The drive from Addo was very interesting. The terrain is sub-tropical thicket (low but dense bush) until you go over the Olifantskop pass, another road hacked into the mountains and giving a wonderful view across the valley. On the other side of the pass the vegetation changes to short yellowed grass, sparse shrubs and whole fields of cacti (huge). This is not quite called the Karoo yet, but might as well be (Karoo meaning 'Dry Place'). After a rest stop in Somerset East we motored on along the empty road to Graaf-Reinet. I like zooming along the road in endless nothingness, and I know that Gemma does too. Along this road we began to see Meerkat as well as the baboons an monkeys we had been seeing previously. We also saw a mongoose or two. Gemma gets very excited by all of this squeaking, "Monkeys, Monkeys, Monkeys on the road!" and getting higher with each word.

Graaf-Reinet has to be the South African, if not the world, capital of twee. They make a big deal of the old houses and the church (which is nice) but also seem to insist that all furnishing and decoration in the town be from Victorian times. I'm certain that walking down the road I got the vague whiff of mothballs everywhere. We stayed at Le Jardin backpackers, which is like no hostel I've ever stayed at. There were copies of South African County Life by the bed and doilies everywhere. The lady who runs it is very nice but it all felt like visiting a great aunt that you see once a decade. When we left the next day Gemma even gave her a hug and kiss.

Graaf-Reinet is home to the Karoo Nature Reserve. This has a small game viewing area which we drove around -seeing mainly antelope and monkeys. We carried on to another part of the reserve, The Valley of Desolation, which is honestly a lot nicer than it sounds. A road winds steeply up the mountain to a set of lookouts. These give an amazing view across a flat valley bordered completely by mountains. The sunset there was lovely.

Having seen lots of Springbok over the last few days, I took the opportunity to eat some that evening. Very tasty it was too.

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