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Old 07-07-2009, 01:18 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Allentown, Pa
Posts: 220

South Africa Trip Report Day 7 and 8

Just a note about my trip reports. I am leaving out a lot. It would be way too long to get it all in here, and I don't want to spoil surprises for anyone going on this trip. This was our 4th ABD and by far the best. In fact, each one has been better than the one before, and each time we thought there was no way for it to get better. That said, onto day 7.

Day 7
Breakfast at hotel in George. The only thing in the news in SA is death of Michael Jackson. (still the only thing in the news all over the world I think). Checked out of hotel and on the bus by 8:30am. Drove to Knysna. The drive was incredibly beautiful through mountains and seaside homes. First stop is Garden of Eden. This is a walk through a forested area. Very pretty walk. Next, onto Monkeyland. Monkeyland takes in monkeys from homes or zoos that can no longer keep them. At monkeyland, they try to reintroduce the animals to their natural habitats and behaviors. Food is provided to them, but they are no longer caged or pets. They have 8 types of smaller primates. They cannot house larger ones like chimps or apes. Our guide, Surgeon, walked us through the forest paths. Monkeys are everywhere all around you. The monkeys are used to people, so they don't run away. You can't touch or feed them, but they are really right there. They even run right through the middle of the group of people.

My husband took these photos. We also saw enclosures where new arrivals are held until they can slowly be acclimated to the environment. We walked over a bamboo bridge that was covered with feces. We were told that the monkeys usually hang out on the bridge to sun themselves. They weren't on the bridge, but they were everywhere else. Our guide told us the monkeys were particularly friendly that day and that some days they hide.

Surgeon also told us that they have facilities for senior monkeys (assisted living? They eat dinner at 4! just kidding). We didn't get to view those areas. Of course, we had to make a pit stop in the gift shop, and my girls got a few little things.
Then we walked over to Birds of Eden. This is a bird sanctuary and it is on the same property as Monkeyland. It is the same kind of place. They take in birds that people no longer want, or zoos cannot house any longer. There was a big flock of Scarlett Ibis's (probably the wrong way to say the plural of Ibis) donated by Disney's Animal Kingdom. It is the largest Aviary in the Southern Hemisphere. It doesn't look that large from outside, but it was huge. They have it sectioned by climate so that tropical birds are in that area etc. It is built in a naturally forested area, so they didn't have to do much planting. A lorakeet landed on my head as we walked. My husband was behind me, so the only picture is the one my daughter took and not on this computer. The birds landed on many people and at one point there were 2 on Craig. You can shoe them right away too. Some are much more shy and don't come to close. We saw many birds that we had never seen before. One of our adventurers was an avid birder and was in heaven.

If I remember correctly this is some kind of pheasant.
In Birds of Eden, you walked on a boardwalk path that went through all the different areas and over another cool kind of bamboo bridge. Unbelievable, we bought nothing in the gift shop.

By now we had worked up quite the appetite. On the coach again for a short hop to the Bramon Wine Estate. It was a lovely little place that felt like a Tuscan Villa. Big fire going in the fireplace (the weather was nice that day, so we didn't really need the fire), windows looking out on the vineyards. The adults ordered wine (on our own) that is made at that winery. It was a bubbly wine like a light champagne, it was very nice. Lunch was one of my favorite meals of the week. Soup and fresh bread and cheeses, carpaccio of ostrich and springbok (some kind of antelope). The kids, who are mostly not technically Jr adventurers, weren't as thrilled and Tina ordered jr food for them, Salami and cheese and tomatos. There were other foods on the table too, and I don't remember exactly what, but everyone seemed happy and full, even my son.

Back on the coach and we headed to the Knysna Quays hotel, where we were greeted with fruit and juice (we just finished lunch and it wasnt a long drive!). Our rooms were lovely. We all had a view of the harbor. We had a few hours until dinner, so we strolled around the waterfront area and checked out the shops. Lots of nice things to buy. Unfortunately, most of the shops closed by 5. We walked up to a tiny mall and caught the last 10 min of a store or two.
We hung out until dinner time. Dinner was at a restaurant called 34 degrees South (the lattitude I assume). It was right in the harbor and a really short walk from the hotel. Very cool place with a wine store and like a little general store. Also a sushi bar in the middle where the sushi is riding around on a conveyer belt!
They had 2 tables set for us, the kids all rushed and sat together at one and the adults at the other. Pretty nice meal. Always good company.

Day 8
The weather forcast said a beautiful day today. It lied (in terms of weather). Rain started just as we were leaving the hotel after breakfast (another nice hotel breakfast with lots of everything). Tina called the bus driver Naveen, to come and take us to the pier instead of walking. Most of us walked anyway, it was right there, and by now we always had our raincoats available. We boarded the ferry to the Featherbed Nature Reserve. Our guide, Helen, told us the history of Knysna, the water, birds, oysters, developments, shipwrecks etc. The ride was about 20-25 minutes on very calm water. We exited the ferry and boarded Umigogs (A tram like vehicle). As we rode up the mountain, Helen told us more about the History of Featherbed. a famous professor proved that a fish long thought extinct, still existed, he wrote a book and with the money he made, he established this nature reserve. We stopped at a lookout spot and took some amazing photos of the view of the heads. the heads are one of only 7 navigable spots in the world that Lloyds of London will not insure. We continued on to the top and then began our hike down. A beautiful hike and amazing views of the cliffs as you walk down.

At one point the hike went down to some caves and the Ocean. We put our hands in the Indian Ocean. I loved this part. It was sooo breathtakingly beautiful. We hiked back to the ferry area. Much of the rest of the hike was flat along the ocean.
When we arrived back, guess what, LUNCH. A big buffet of salads and meats and fish. It was terrific. After lunch, you guessed it, the gift shop. The girls bought things for their friends. I'm sorry I didn't buy the elephant dung stationary. oh well, next time.
Relaxed on the Ferry ride back. At the hotel, Craig and Tina showed us a room that the hotel had made just for disney with computers and dvd's etc. Our kids decided to stay there for the afternoon which was on our own.
My husband and I walked over to Thiessan Island, a fancy vacation home area about 1 mile from the hotel. Lots more little shops etc. Very pretty. We got back to the hotel in time to watch the Spain vs South Africa soccer game. Spain won.
There were lots of nice little restaurants on the waterfront to choose for dinner. We just grabbed some pizza so we could get back in time to watch the Brazil vs USA soccer game. Brazil won, but the USA put up a great fight.
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