I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees – Henry David Thoreau
As much as we loved our stay in the animal kingdom, when it was time to continue our journey we were all excited to stretch our legs. Enough (spotting) excursions on wheels! We got out our hiking boots and hit some of the many beautiful paths, trails and hills this land has to offer. I’m far from the active-Dora-the-explorer type. But you know what? I LOVED it! (Yes, I was almost as surprised as you are). Granted: there were some tomato-faced-out-of-breath moments. Hiking up yet another hill, wondering how the hell I was going to make it to the end of this trail. But the sights. Oh those beautiful sights… They make it all worthwhile. Catching your breath while having it taken away.
On another (yet related) note: don’t expect any outfits from this trip. Besides our days in Cape Town I basically spent three weeks in shorts and T-shirts, with messy hair and no make-up. That felt like vacation all by itself! But all this sartorial practicality aside, my hiking boots did have coral-colored accents. You cannot expect a girly girl to totally dismiss her sensibilities, now can you? :)
After saying goodbye to the bush, we headed towards the Amphitheater area, where we spent a day hiking the Drakensberg and another visiting Lesotho, a teeny tiny country, completely enclosed by South Africa.
After that, we set off towards the coast, which we were to follow for the rest of our journey. First stop: Coffee Bay, perfect home base for a hike along the coastline to the beautiful “Hole in the wall”.
The Amfitheater Backpackers Lodge, is definitely a fun location to stay while visiting the Drakensberg area. (From basic camping to en-suite deluxe rooms, whatever floats your boat ;) ). Nice braaj area, beautiful pool and chill jaccuzzi: check! They organize guided tours to different locations, which (if our Lesotho experience was a representative sample) are definitely worth trying!
Lesotho Love. We took the Lesotho tour organized by the backpackers and were fortunate enough to find ourselves with an amazing guide (<3 Sila!), who didn’t only showed us its beautiful landscapes and rock paintings, but introduced us to some local people and told us fascinating stories about both Lesotho and South Africa. Stories are the best kind of history lessons, aren’t they? <3 Nice plus: the backpackers has a collaboration with a local school in Lesotho, which offers a little history lesson and a taste of local cuisine (and the locally brewed “Maluti” beer) for their visitors, in exchange for help buying teaching materials and food for the kids. Top!
Be Sweet! When visiting/walking by the local villages, make sure to stock up on some candy. Something to fill the cute little hands of those cute little ones that will be running up the hills to meet you (I know, SO not good for them, but those happy faces <3)
Friends Café. On our way back from a particularly exerting hike in Coffee Bay, we found safe haven, a yummy lunch and a beautiful view in this lovely place owned by a charming South African-Texan couple. Delicious fresh food, made with <3 It was so yummy we went back for dinner the same night. And we were not disappointed :)
Pajama Party. After our days in the bush, as amazing as they were, we have to admit that a night at Aberdeen House ordering in food, lounging on our luscious bed and watching Coach Carter felt like the best pajama party ever.
Back to basics. So we booked this stay in a traditional round hut through Airbnb. Sounds cool, we thought. Because no: we didn’t mind a bit basic, and yes: we definitely wanted to try a unique traditional experience. Ahum. Let’s say our interpretation of a bit basic slightly differed from what we found upon arrival. And that the sanitary traditions were a little more than we bargained for. There was a small “let’s-get-out-of-here-NOW” moment… But we put on our big girl pants and decided to tough it out. We’re badass like that. Ahum. Ok, it really wasn’t THAT bad… You get used to that “solar powered aka plastic bag” shower. Plus: there is something to be said for that wonderful view and the friendly reception <3
Doggie! When leaving for our walk from Coffee Bay to the “Hole in the wall”, this beautiful sheep dog just walked up to us and decided to tag along. She was so sweet! For some mysterious reason she felt called upon to take care of this group of stupid tourists and stayed with us the whole way. Like a real pro, she was running from the head to the tail of the group and back again, all the while fiercely protecting her newfound flock against the “Transkei Big Five” (mostly cows ;) ). We baptized her Doggie and felt like the biggest a*holes in the world when we had to leave her behind to take the bus back :’(