Cape Town has many stunning suburban beaches. One that I wanted to visit was the obscure Macassar beach which was home to a holiday resort and water park. The resort was closed and abandoned after financial problems, now the moving sand dunes have engulfed the pavilion, changing rooms and water slides leaving it a weird and eerie place. We’d just got out of the car when a local fisherman pulled over to warn us not to walk around as it ‘wasn’t safe at all’. Now the deserted pavilion is a haunt for druggies who would happily mug you for a few rand. After googling ‘Macasser Beach Crime’ I read that only last year an angler was murdered for his car battery. I guess there’s a reason this place isn’t listed in the guidebooks, time to move on.
Great White Sharks are an apex predator of a marine ecosystem. It’s scientifically proven that if the Great White was removed from the ocean it would lead to an imbalanced food chain, which in turn would result in excess growth of algae, effectively suffocating the ocean. Shark cage diving, isn’t actually diving, it’s just floating on the surface then holding your breath and ducking under when a shark comes near. Even then the shark had to practically touch the cage to be able to see it through the freezing cold murky water, I actually got more exited by the floating tuna head they used as bait. Paying just shy of £100 each for this wasn’t exactly good value. They did throw in some cold calamari rings though to enhance the severe seasickness.
Oudtshoorn is undoubtedly the ostrich capital of the world. The Highgate Ostrich Show Farm is the best place to go on a tour for all things ostrich. Here you can see the local ladies making ostrich feather boas, feed the forever hungry birds and learn all about their breeding habits.
Four ostrich facts:-
1 – An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.
2 – One ostrich egg is the size of 24 chicken eggs.
3 – A male ostrich’s tail feathers look like Donald Trump’s hair.
4 – Holding on to a running ostrich is absolutely solid.
In Tsitsikamma National Park you can do the world’s highest commercial bungee jump, or you can save the money and just watch someone do it, which was enough for me to say “I’d rather bathe in ostrich shit”. I opted to do the easy and tame walk to Storm’s River Mouth over the 77 metre suspension bridge. ‘Tsitsikamma’ is a Khoe-San word meaning ‘many water’. That might explain why it hardly stopped raining while we were there.
In Addo Elephant Park there is almost 600 elephants, so seeing a big hoard of them is almost guaranteed. You can self drive most national parks in South Africa, meaning you can have some really nice animal encounters. It’s ironic that in South Africa elephants won’t damage the vehicle or interfere with human things, but if you left your car unattended in a supermarket car park, there’s a good change you’d return to a smashed window and a missing radio.
It’s funny how sometimes a place seems to find a connection with something famous, and then jumps on the bandwagon. That’s exactly what happened with the mountain village of Hogsback. JRR Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein but moved to England when he was three. Some claim that after visiting the town as an infant, the area inspired him to write his 1200 page epic novel. Although the beautiful scenery does look like middle-earth, I think this is extremely unlikely. That didn’t stop the town playing on the ‘fairy dreamworld’ theme making artists, crystal healers and many more pretentious hippies flocking here. I guess if Kate from Berkshire gets sucked in by the magical vibe and wants to walk around with no shoes on before she returns to her day job as the plaster technician, each to their own.
Named after the three ‘hogsback’ bristly looking hills that overlook the town, it is certainly an amazing area, great for walks around the indigenous forest where I spotted the localised Knysna Turaco and the resident Cape Parrots. You can hear them before you see them at around dawn when they return home to roost.
There’s speculation that Tolkien’s nanny was from Hogsback and told him mysterious Xhosa tales of her home at the foot of the hogs mountain, where the hobbits and fairies reside. Believe it or not, the most magical thing for me in Hogsback was being able to take a bath for the first time in three months, and what a way to do it!