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Elaine and Peter’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 11 Feb 2012

Location: Oudtshoorn, South Africa

MapPete's birthday today. In addition to family and friends cards, he got a signed card form the group, so he was well pleased.
We left Knysna after breakfast, travelling along the coast to the town of George. This is a lovely route and we could easily see why it is called the Garden Route. This is a very prosperous area and the shanty towns north of Knysna have long disappeared. You can see why there is resentment as these contrasting areas are a stone throw apart. There is real concern here as to what will happen to the country once Nelson Mandela has passed away.
We made our first stop at the Outeniqua Transport Museum. After a brief look round we picked up what they call the trolley. It's a sort of diesel railcar with two trailers and is known as the Choo-Tjoe.
The ride over the mountain range took us one and a half hours and it was well spent, passing all sorts of wild flowers such as cannas and agapanthus. The scenery was stunning, initially with views of the Indian Ocean and then passing through rugged mountain passes to reach the valleys the otherside. Here there was abundant hop growing and some grape vines.
We left the train at Camfer and picked up our bus, travelling through the Karoo plains, a very arid part of the country. We followed a meercat along the road in one place and passed several ostrich farms before making our next stop.
This was at the Safari Ostrich farm, where we were taken on a tour of the breeding areas. We saw a baby pecking it's way out of it's egg, amazing. Pete has a photo of me sitting astride an ostrich and this just made his day.
Lunch here was ostrich steak..delicious but am beginning to get a food phobia.
Our stay tonight is at the Queen's Hotel in Oudtshoorn, an old colonial hotel. There has been much complaint from the others about the rooms, but because it's Pete's birthday we were given the best room in the hotel and it's lovely, overlooking the garden.
The town is a bit disappointing, everything closes on a Saturday at 12 ' clock so it's a bit dead.
In the suburbs, the houses tend to be large and you get a feeling that time has stood still here. Many of the buildings are from the Victorian and Edwardian era, some of them huge sandstone mansions, which were built on the riches reaped by the ostrich feather boom of the 1880s. Because of the hot, dry climate, the conditions are ideal for ostrich farming.
Yet current house prices seemed to be very reasonable...

Tomorrow promises to be a very long day as we drive the long way round through the mountians to get to Cape Town..where did the time go?