The town of Plettenberg Bay lies almost on the border of the Western and Eastern Cape. Built on the hillside, most of the town is on a steep slope leading down to the sea, which means that regardless of where you find yourself accommodated, you will be treated to spectacular views of the bay and surrounding hills and mountains.
For holiday-makers, accommodation in Plettenberg Bay is plentiful. From upmarket resorts and hotels to budget Bed & Breakfasts and self catering, accommodation is offered in varying price ranges from budget to over the top luxury. You are sure to find a great place to stay.
Plettenberg Bay has a relatively long history for a South African town, having been regularly visited by Portuguese explorers during the 15th and 16th centuries. Signs of their visits abound, and history enthusiasts can view artifacts such as the remains of the Gonzales Shipwreck in the town. Early European settlers to the area arrived in the late 1700’s, and have also left behind many fascinating historical relics, for example the Old Rectory, built by the Dutch East India Trading company in 1776, and Forest Hall, a privately owned stately home, built in 1864 by William Henry Newdgate.
In modern times, Plettenberg Bay has gained somewhat of a reputation as a pleasure seeker hotspot, and has many leisure activities on offer. From polo at Kurland, to yachting at the Keurbooms River mouth and marina, to less high brow activities like swimming and water sports in the warm, gentle waters. In fact, when you enter the town proper, a monument to one of the symbols of this lush, almost tropical bay greets you: a bronze statue of the dolphins that play in the warm waters just off the coast. With miles of pristine beaches to choose from, it’s no wonder that lazing on the beach is so popular with visitors, but, for those that manage to pry themselves away, there are charter boat cruises, hiking, canoeing and abseiling to choose from, to name but a few.Another attraction well worth a visit is the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary; the world’s only multi-species, free roaming primate sanctuary, located a few minutes outside of town.
For the adventurous palate, trips to the Mampoer and Witblits distillery are available, where one can view the making of, and sample, these very strong locally produced alcoholic beverages. There are many fine restaurants, café’s and other eateries to choose from in the town, one of the most memorable must surely be the restaurant at the Beacon Isle Hotel. Built literally straddling a small strip of land between a lagoon and the sea, it almost seems when seated in the restaurant, that the hotel is floating on the water.
For those seeking a once in a lifetime experience, a short trip on the N2 towards Port Elizabeth, and over the border into the Eastern Cape, will bring you to the Bloukrans Bridge. Itself an engineering marvel, this bridge holds another claim to fame. It is the site of the world’s highest commercial bungee jump. At 216 meters, or the equivalent of almost 70 storeys, it is definitely not for the faint and many may prefer to view the seemingly endless plunge from the purpose built observing platform on the edge of the gorge. While at the bridge, whether or not you decide to take the plunge, it is worth visiting the Khoisan Village, which offers insights into the lives of the native peoples of the area, as well as opportunities to buy local arts and crafts.
WHAT AN AMAZING DESCRIPTION OF OUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY... IRRESPECTIVE OF WHERE YOU ARE IN THE WORLD NOW! 😍
I sit here quietly thinking about what it means to me to be South African, a visitor to South Africa, or even African. So it seems easier to rather explain the effect that this unique land has on me...
The perfume of rain on African soil. The scent of woodfires drifting across the Highveld on winter evenings. There's a very distinctive aroma just as one starts coming into George / Knysna / Plett (I've never figured out which herb it is), in much the same way the smell of Wild Sage defines the area around Santawani in Botswana. The odour of thatch in a game lodge. The bouquet of dust and the various plants when one gets into the bush, sometimes a whiff of something dead. The tang of the ocean at the seaside. The smell of ‘moer’ coffee over an early morning fire, or the delicious aroma of roasting meat over flames – whether you call it a braai or shisa nyama (but definitely NOT a barbeque, a barbie, or a ghastly NZ sausage sizzle!)
There is also something about the light here. “Santorini Blue”... I don’t know if that’s an actual colour, but it seems to describe the hue of the highveld sky on a winter’s day to perfection. We live in “big sky” country – whether blue, or orange in sunset, or dark grey and rent by lightening, or velvet black and filled with stars that seem close enough to touch – the sky is ever present. As is the moon. I am always aware of the moon, from a sickle moon to the full fecund globe that is full moon. Silver light gilding thorn trees, juxtaposed against dark shadows on the savannah, is not a sight one easily forgets.
The caw of the ubiquitous, raucous Hadedah in suburbia, the burbling call of a rainbird (Burchell’s Coucal) when a thunderstorm is on its way, the beautiful Diederick’s Cuckoo announcing the arrival of spring, the screech of a Barn Owl, or the evocative call of the Fish Eagle. Jackals calling as the sun goes down, a lion’s roar quite literally making the air reverberate, or the chilling whoops of the hyenas. The cacophony of barking geckos that start up as the sun goes down over Deception Pan, or a veritable orchestra of frogs around a pan in the summer months. Cicadas shrilling on days so hot that the air shimmers, or a nightjar calling in the dead of night in the bushveld.
Days of withering heat often followed by the lightest cool breeze, just as the sun is setting. A gentle little wind, which plays with your hair like an absent-minded lover, reminding you that the cool of the night will soon be with you. Walking in the bush very early in the morning, the sun’s rays catch the dew on spiders’ webs, reminding you that life, both seen and unseen, is all around you. Trout fishing as the sun peeps over the horizon in Dullstroom, so cold that the water droplets freeze on your line…
The colours of this land are not subtle either. The blood red of the coral tree, the green metallic glint of sunbirds, the striped black and white hide of the zebra, or sapphire blue of a kingfisher. The miles and miles of yellow and orange daisies in Namaqualand in September, or pink and white swathes of cosmos along the roads in April. The lilac and turquoise of the roller, the tawny hide of a lion or the emerald green of a little dung beetle that makes its appearance in the summer months. From the golden dunes of the Namib to an unimaginable number of greens in the Knysna Forest. All vivid and arresting.
Talk to me of Morrungulo or Tsodilo Hills, the great Drakensberg, Platteland dorps and the great Karoo. The warmth of Sodwana Bay or the icy kelp forests of the Atlantic Ocean. Of wine farms and fynbos in the Cape, to meerkats and diamonds in the north. Show me our people, in so many hues, with brightly coloured traditional costumes – and even brighter smiles.
All of this creates a frisson of excitement, passion each and every day, a vivid, immediate sense of being alive that I have found nowhere else….
These are my people. This is my land.
Because I am, at the very core of my being, a child of Africa! ❤️