Day 11: Garden Route and Tsitsikamma National Park

 There were no strenuous activities on the schedule today, but I felt compelled anyway to gorge on breakfast at the Pezula Resort Hotel, a top-of-the-top-end place located on the Eastern Head of Knysna, from where there are views of both the Knysna Lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Pezula features beautiful condo-like rooms (decorated with a simple, elegant, local touch), a world-renowned 18-hole golf course, a private estate, a 5-star restaurant, and blocks of gooey Bree cheese on the breakfast buffet table (which is about the only thing that I could afford on my own here!).

We began the day with a whale and dolphin tour operated by Ocean Safaris. Our guides were nervous beforehand since it’s not peak whale season and since it was the first trip of the day, before they know where the action is at, or if there is any at all. But we got lucky—we found a 2,000-dolphin pod that was chasing a school of fish a few miles from shore. A few whales were in the area too, but the dolphins were the stars today: at any given moment, hundreds would be jumping in and out of the water, some right next to or in front of the boat, just like in a movie. Their power and grace were awe-inspiring, and confirmed my distaste for tuna. Reluctantly we had to return to port, but along the way we swung by the aptly-named Cape Seal, where perhaps a thousand seals were lounging, basking, and barking on the rocks—except for being great white shark food, it looked like quite the life!

Today’s other activity was the Tsitsikamma Treetop Canopy Tour, in which we glided on cables from tree to tree at speeds of up to 15mph for distances as long as 250 feet. I thought the tour was “fun”—exciting and unique, and one of our guides was hysterical—but its educational value could have been higher. Our guides, while very professional, safety-conscience, and reasonably informed, lacked the in-depth knowledge and passion that a trained expert or scholar would have in subjects like forestry, wildlife biology, and ecology. That level of information is probably not of interest to most customers, but I find that I’m still an academic and a policy wonk at heart despite having moved far from that direction.

Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour

Posted in on May 12, 2008

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