late af­ter­noon

Getaway (South Africa) - - On Track -

In the West Coast Na­tional Park, slow­ing down is a re­quire­ment: here, tor­toises have right of way and within a 10-kilo­me­tre ra­dius we saw 28 of them. We walked along a board­walk over the la­goon to a bird hide at the end. In­side, we opened the win­dows and let our­selves soak up heaven on Earth. The breeze was per­fect and we had a won­der­ful view over the wa­ter and sur­round­ing hills. We stared at the rip­ples on the sur­face of the wa­ter. Af­ter a long si­lence, we looked at each other know­ing there was no bet­ter way of bring­ing this road trip to an end.

We made it to Lourens­ford with 20 min­utes to spare be­fore it closed – only to learn that the choco­late and wine pair­ings are tem­po­rar­ily on hold. Elana saw the gloom on our faces and lined up a row of glasses for an im­promptu pair­ing: MCC with Turk­ish de­light, white wine with dark mint choco­late and a Lourens­ford liqueur. She wasn’t in a rush to lock up – and said she wouldn’t charge us. Her warmth and hospi­tal­ity em­braced us, with­out her know­ing we were jour­nal­ists. At the end of an event­ful day, Elana was a high­light.

First we had to ne­go­ti­ate an­other nerve-wreck­ing road: Bain­skloof Pass (and its large troupe of ba­boons). Leo spent most of it lean­ing away from his pas­sen­ger door, avert­ing his eyes – sheer drops are not his thing. The drive was stun­ning and quite as­ton­ish­ing in places. We reached Tweede Tol af­ter 3pm, walked down to the river­side and fi­nally re­laxed – and ate! Shad­ows were al­ready start­ing to fall, so we swam while there was still sun­shine on the wa­ter. It was ice-cold and to­tally ex­hil­a­rat­ing (our shrieks could be heard for miles), the high­light of the day. We had to re­sign our­selves to the fact that we would not make it to the al­pacas, nor would we get those churros...

LOURENS­FORD AND THE HELDER­BERG MOUN­TAINS

RIVER­SIDE AT TWEEDE TOL

THE BIRD HIDE NEAR GEELBEK VIS­I­TORS CEN­TRE

WEST COAST WILD FLOW­ERS

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