Day 2 | Wild Spirits

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As we had gone to sleep, so we woke up… to the sound of the ocean. We both had a wonderful and comfortable night’s rest. Last night I wrote my name on the board for our breakfast order, the choice being omelettes or muesli and yoghurt. Breakfast was served at a table out on the lawn in the sun. A beautiful, sunny start to our day. For R35 I was very impressed with the breakfast, which Damian and I shared as it was far too much for either of us on our own. A three egg omelette filled with tomato, onion, green pepper, mushrooms, bacon and cheese, two slices of toast, a bran muffin with marmalade and butter in ramekins, and a glass of fresh orange juice.

We were still a little undecided as to whether to stay an extra day or move on. Eventually I thought we should move closer towards our destination, and if we stay over anywhere, to experience another backpacker lodge. Digby was helpful in recommending activities and attractions. We decided to head towards Map of Africa first. It was easy to find and the route was scenic with a fresh forest feel. Two ladies were waiting at the parking area to direct us, and jumped in with information and tips.

Fresh water from the right, salt water from the left
Fresh water from the right, salt water from the left

Next we wanted to visit the Big Tree – a 300 year old yellow wood tree reaching 34 metres high and so wide it takes 8 men holding hands to circle it. I followed the signs along the road, but couldn’t find the actual turn off, so we decided to carry on and find the next place to visit. Because of our route, we ended up at the front of the stop-go section towards Knysna again, and decided that perhaps it was time to move on instead of risking getting stuck in the traffic later. The queue going into Wilderness from Knysna stretched about a kilometre, so I was relieved we wouldn’t have to use that route for a while again.

Our next stop was Timberlake Organic Village, as we had been eyeing the zipline course on brochures we had seen. Timberlake hosts three restaurants; a wine boutique; dairy-, chocolate-, mohair-, and gift shops; and local arts and crafts. There is also a children’s play area with jungle gyms and a mini zipline and an enclosure with pigs, sheep and some wandering turkeys and chickens. Also offered are kiddies rides on a barrel train towed by a tractor, and quad bike rides. Damian decided against ziplining after all but enjoyed an ice-cream while I sampled a dark whole cherry truffle.

Timberlake Express
Timberlake Express

Soon we were back on the road and heading towards Knysna. I had been considering the Oyster Festival, but once we were in town and traffic, I decided against the hustle and bustle of a festival and decided on a quick stop at The Heads instead. We found our way to the view point and made our way along the paths to the few different points for breathtaking views of the lagoon and the ocean.

Knysna Heads 5
Enjoying the view at The Heads viewpoint

We stopped at a centre hosting an African curios shop, another wine boutique and homemade foods, looking for fruit juice and water, but didn’t find what we were looking for. I realised it was just after 4pm and we were still in Plettenberg Bay without an idea of where we were sleeping. I opened the Coast to Coast and picked the first backpackers I saw – Wild Spirit Backpackers on the Natures Valley Road at The Crags. I phoned and managed to book a bed. I was told they were making a lamb or vegetarian potjie dinner which I could book on arrival.Along the Natures Valley Road I missed our turn off and stumbled upon a hidden gem – Naturesway Farm Stall which we stopped to visit. We found ourselves in the heart of farm country, greeted by cows and calves and an enticing little store which offers cheese tastings of cheeses made on the farm, fresh farm milk and olive oil on tap with your own containers as well as a variety of homemade food items and local arts and crafts. I found a frozen chicken pie for Damian and chatted with the owners a bit, leaving a few copies of Warrior on Wheels on consignment to be included with their crafts – a wonderful moment for me to share my art.

A welcoming face at Naturesway Farm Shop
A welcoming face at Naturesway Farm Shop

And then we were off to our last destination of the day – Wild Spirit Backpackers down a tree-lined dirt road. A little hesitant at first, as the first impression was vastly different to Fairy Knowe, we made our way to reception and were guided around the property. The reception doubles as the bar and is in keeping with the rustic theme throughout. We were given a bed in “The Love Barn”, apparently it would be the quieter dorm as the other was filled with ‘frisky twenty one year olds’. I wonder when I got to the stage where people look at me and feel I am too old to cope with frisky twenty one year olds. Perhaps it’s because I’m a mom – but I was a mom at nineteen. I put my name down for a vegetarian potjie, and our hostess offered to cook Damian’s pie early so that he didn’t need to wait until 8pm dinner. The lodge itself has a fireplace, and 92 year old ‘Grandpa’ was asleep in his favourite chair beside it, not yet lit for the evening. Bookshelves line both walls and there is a piano, guitars and a range of bongo drums, which I was told we were free to use, and there would be a drumming circle later. There is a yoga studio, self-catering kitchen and communal bathrooms. We went back for a cup of tea on the deck at the reception and spend a quiet evening taking in the activity around us, listening to interesting music which Damian bobbed his head to. After the sun set the fires were lit.The potjie was served at 8pm, traditionally with salad and mielie pap and was just the dinner I needed. After dinner we went to sit around one of the fires downstairs and were mesmerised as one of the residents lit her poi and did a firedance. I make a mental note to get my poi out of storage at some point and resume learning. Later in the evening Aslan, a giant Persian ginger cat decided his sleeping place would be on Damian’s blanket as Damian sat beneath this heavy cat in his buggy, squealing with delight. The drumming circle didn’t happen as planned, and Damian and I climbed into our bed at around 11pm, exhausted yet invigorated by our travels.

Ready to warm as the sun sets

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