J-Bay and African Dawn
[Due to the lack of internet access, or posts are a few days behind. We'll try to get you caught up!]
Our B&B in J-Bay was right on the beach, a first for our trip. It was sweet to walk out of our room and immediately launch into a beach hike. As mentioned, J-Bay is a world famous surfing town, but that’s more of a winter thing. During summer there is generally little swell, and frequent winds. Therefore, the town is pretty quiet, and that was fine with us. One of our reasons for landing here was that it’s a short hop to African Dawn, an animal rehabilitation and preservation sanctuary where Stina’s dad and niece did volunteer stints in 2010. We heard lots of stories about it and were excited to check it out. We decided to check it out on Friday.
After a short, scenic drive we arrived and and were warmly greeted by Sara, a permanent staff member who fondly recalled both of Stina’s relatives. After paying a nominal fee, we started our tour. The grotto-like reception and restaurant area had some neat snakes and skinks. Then we went outside and encountered the first of many gregarious birds. This fellow ogled us for a while as he ate some apple.
After those critters it was birds birds birds! From big vultures to little love birds. There were many enclosures with all shapes, sizes, and amazing colors, and most really enjoyed being photographed! Unfortunately the wire or netting of the enclosures made most of our photos sub-par, but it was great fun. This vulture was really curious about us, probably expecting some food. We kept our distance from that beak!
Apart from the birds we also saw a serval (cool cat!); a few antelope-like critters such as blue duiker, grysbok, and kudu; monkeys; a mongoose; a crocodile; and about 6 cheetahs lounging in the shade. It appeared that African Dawn was making great progress with the help the ongoing volunteer program.
We were loathe to leave our great B&B and wonderful hosts (and their cute boxer, Dasher), but needed to make progress. While in Knysna we had booked a stay at a game reserve outside of Addo National Park, and this would be our opportunity to see more amazing African wildlife in their native habitat. On Saturday we spent a couple of hours checking out the surf shops in J-Bay before aiming towards Port Elizabeth. We were warned that PE is quite industrial, and it lived up to the hype. We just looked around a bit before continuing on. We grabbed some fuel and food at Blue Water Bay, and finally made it to the small twin towns of Colchester and Cannonville.
These towns lie along the Sundays River, a popular spot for recreational boaters and fishermen. Luckily we found a cute B&B, and were shortly swimming across the river to the massive dunes on the other side (dodging some waterskiers on the way!). Don took a short but grueling hike up the first set of dunes, only to find what appeared to be endless dunes at the top. After some walking around we headed to Grunters Pub and Grub (the only restaurant in town) to sample the local fare and brews. This capped a long but successful day.