Spending sixteen hours in a car is a grueling prospect. It’s the equivalent of a long-haul flight, except with icky petrol station bathroom breaks instead of having to clamber over the sleeping passenger in the (way too small) seat next to you.
But with enough scenic stops and an epic destination in mind, a long car journey is just the thing.
After spontaneously deciding to take full advantage of the long Easter weekend, the Wild Child and I tossed our bags and whatever was in the fridge into the car and set off down the N2.
I’ve never visited the Eastern Cape before, and the first thing that struck me was how endless the sky seemed. Secondly, how impossibly green everything was. It’s a beautiful region, characterized by rolling green hills, herds of cows and wild coastline.
Our destination was Jeffrey’s Bay, specifically a beach house right on Dolphin Beach, a stretch of coastline that claims to be visited by dolphins daily (except over Easter apparently).
Waking up to the sound of waves crashing outside the window is my idea of heaven. Jeffrey’s Bay delivers so much more – warm water perfect for swimming, frothy wave action, a beach carpeted in pristine seashells and absolute peace and quiet.
And it’s so clean! Every morning the tide washed up hundreds of seashells, not a speck of litter among them. The beach is so healthy you could see every crab, starfish, urchin and fish. No wonder it was chosen for world Blue Flag status.
Oh, and it’s a treasure trove of hag stones too.
The shoreline stretches on forever, and because most people cluster on the main swimming beach, we had vast sections of beach all to ourselves. Morning thunderstorms created a brilliant light show that lasted as long as it took the sun to fully rise. Then it was sunshine and blue skies for the rest of the day.
It’s a magical place where human beings are just visiting, leaving nature to do what it does best. It’s well worth the eight-hour drive to get there.
The town is pretty much what you’d expect from a coastal destination. There are some nice restaurants – Kitchen Windows is particularly lovely with its warm, attentive service, delicious seafood and prime seafront location. The Mexican became a favourite haunt thanks to their extensive cocktail menu, including a frozen blue margarita that was so good I refused to order anything else.
We also explored around the surrounding areas of St Francis Bay and Cape Saint Francis, but our excursion was cut short by a sudden hail storm that lasted exactly twenty minutes before the sun was out again. I took it as yet another sign of nature showing who’s boss.
To make the return journey slightly less brutal, we stopped to spend some time in the Garden Route. In Plettenberg Bay it came down to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide between Monkeyland and the Wolf Sanctuary. The latter won and we spent a happy hour or so saying hello to the resident wolves and feeding the goats and bunnies. Then we stopped for lunch in Knysna before hitting the road again.
I made a promise to return to explore Wilderness properly. Imagine the wildest, greenest, most beautiful place on the planet. Now double it. That’s Wilderness.
We left too late to stop at Peregrine Farm Stall (a road trip favourite), but I plan to take a lot more mini breaks this year so there’ll definitely be a next time. And a next.