A lot more than tequila …
If you’re South African, there’s a very good chance you spent two weeks getting wrecked in Plettenberg Bay to celebrate (with fiddy cent tequila) the fact that you were about to start paying your own bills. I did it. Most folks i know did it. I haven’t really been back until now and it turns out to be a pretty damn swell town when you’re not sleeping through the days.
I crashed the night at the soon to be worst kept secret on the backpacking circuit, the African Array Lodge. They have been open three weeks. Hell they are so new i can’t even give you a web address. But don’t let this put you off. They’re not in town, but when you see the vistas, the rooms, the sun deck and the hammocks scattered in the indigenous gardens you really won’t give a flying … you get the picture.
Overlooking some rich people who own farms and a seaview, it’s hard not to just drop anchor and get lost in your thoughts while staring at one of mother natures best screen savers.
If you’re coming past Plettenberg Bay spend at the very least one night here, chill in front of one of the many indoor or outdoor fireplaces or smash a few gin and tonics on the sun deck. It’s hard to find the right superlatives to describe this place and they not even 100% operational yet. (When full details are available i let you have them – in the mean time you can book on 073 1339872 / 044 5339108 or firstname.lastname@example.org
After doing just that, the gin and fireplace bit, i got up the next morning, shock and horror, to have a meeting. Turns out it was probably the best thing i could have done for this trip. You see aside from checking out the new backpackers and a little hike round the Roggeberg Nature Reserve – i was moving on to Stormsriver and that was the sum total i had planned for Plettenberg Bay.
Then i had a coffee with Stephanie, who runs gogardenroute.co.za. Before i had finished my first cup of joe I was booked for a tour of Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, the Elephant Sanctuary and some Ziplining in Tzitsikamma and was firmly instructed to return for at least two weeks to experience the Garden Route as it should be.
I am heading back in August and i am amped. It’s always super cool to meet someone passionate, knowledgable and willing to share about the area they live in and are determined that everyone who visits should leave in the same head space.
The chilled day i was in the middle of had quickly become a fully booked afternoon, i jumped in my van and headed to Roggeberg Nature Reserve for a token gesture hike, and was blown away by the amazing peninsula.
A wild card gets you in free and the views over rocky landscapes, fynbos and seas crashing onto pristine beaches and cliffs are epic. I could have spent the rest of the day wandering this peninsula … so plan more time than i did!
Time wasn’t a luxury i had, so i jumped back in my van and started making my way towards Monkeyland about 20km outside of Plett at the Crags. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, with my visits to ‘animal sanctuaries’ having been pretty depressing so far on the Garden Route.
I have clearly been going to the wrong places.
Monkeyland’s forest encompasses a 12 hectare sanctuary, has about 450 species of primates, Africa’s longest suspension bridge and they are doing amazing work rehabilitating these creatures from the havoc wrecked by humankind.
It took all of about five minutes of wandering and chatting to my guide Christian to establish that the goal of this place wasn’t as a tourist attraction per se but a sanctuary for primates who haven’t really had the chance to be well primates.
That said they do welcome human beings and you really must visit for one of their guided tours – aside from being blown away by seeing these animals in their natural habitat and understanding their origin as pets … its a pretty amazing transformation facilitated by some pretty amazing people.
This isn’t a puff piece recommendation, seriously, visit Monkeyland. It’s amazing to see what people having their heart in the right place can do for nature and animals while the rest of us get busy wrecking it for profit.
I left with a renewed sense of faith that despite our best efforts occasionally humans get it right … Monkeyland is not an optional visit when you’re in Plettenberg Bay, it’s a must.
It wasn’t long before i realized it was nearly five and i wasn’t even going to get a chance to visit the Birds of Eden – the worlds largest free flight sanctuary or the Elephant sanctuary.
I was kicking myself for not giving myself enough time to visit all the amazing things to do in Plettenberg Bay, don’t make the same mistake.
Thanks to Matthew for the epic room at the African Array Lodge, Stephanie from gogardenroute.co.za for organizing all my activities and Lara and Christian at Monkeyland for the über cool tour.