South Africa & Mozambique 2017
March to July 2017 (Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa; Tofo and Pomene, Mozambique; Kruger National Park, South Africa) —
On March 1, we moved into our home for the next four months in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa:
The break lived up to the hype, although David wants to make clear that it’s super crowded and sharky so don’t visit.
Indeed, there was always a ton of marine life around, and dolphins shared the line up frequently.
There were no shark sightings by me, but a big fella did clear the line up one day.
And whales would cruise just past the line.
In June, local pro surfers competed in the JBay trials for a spot in the JBay Open. Amazing to watch it right from our deck.
We spent four months mostly surfing (and yoga for V), but enjoyed mixing it up with some fat bike beach riding.
We were also lucky to hook up with the local Mountain Club with which to climb, which was awesome as they’re a good group. But they’re pretty young – so we’re the oldies, which we frankly should be used to by now.
It wasn’t all just surf and sand as we also volunteered in the local township with our friend’s non-profit, which incentivizes school kids to collect recycling. The JBay Recycling Project helps keep both the town and the ocean a touch cleaner. In exchange for delivering recyclables to the Project, the kids get points that they can spend in the Project’s shop for necessities like soap and food, as well as clothing. The kids can save up points to get big items like bicycles and rugby balls. V enjoyed putting her bike mechanic skills to work to fix up donated broken bikes for the shop. Really rewarding to be involved.
When the ocean went flat or when we simply needed a change of scenery, we would head an hour outside of JBay to Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa’s fourth largest park.
We even did an overnight in Addo where we stayed in a self-catering cottage in the park and cooked our first braai.
Sometimes the sights on the way home were more than we bargained for.
The end of June brought Greg and George to town, and the surf cooperated for Greg while George kept busy running, practicing yoga, helping V cook, and/or otherwise being constantly on the move.
All too soon, our time in JBay was over, although we are already booked to return in 2018.
July took us and our new-to-us LandCruiser (‘Bessie”) on her first major road trip. First stop was to see Ash and Gavin and their newest addition, Ser Robert. We relaxed on the beach with them and their friends, and David went crayfish free diving with their cousin Steve.
From the North Coast, we ended up taking the wrong way to our next destination (Tofo, Mozambique), which put us on the worst roads we’ve seen this side of Costa Rica. Alas, the roads were too much for even Bessie, and we broke a lower control arm.
But one of the reasons to buy a LandCruiser is that every town in Africa has someone who knows how to work on them, and we found one in Xai Xai, Mozambique. The local garage sent us to Mr. Adams, who didn’t know us from, well, Adam. He’s the local (road) construction magnet, and he had four of his workers spend all day re-welding and replacing the cracked control arm. At the end of the day, he returned Bessie to us and refused to except a single cent for the work. It was an exceptional act of generosity toward travelers that we’re still blown away by.
From Xai Xai, we easily made it to our first destination, Tofo, where we eased into a beach life. Which was like Jeffrey’s Bay, but with warmer water and less sharks and way less surfers.
We had first visited nine years ago while on our honeymoon, and were surprised that despite a few more mega-homes built for visiting South Africans, it had not materially changed and still retained the charm that we remembered. We spent our days lazing away on the beach or in the water, and eating fresh seafood purchased from fisherman walking past our cottage.
From Tofo, we headed to our ultimate goal of this adventure, Pomene. Pomene is a couple of hours north of Tofo, in a national park at the end of a long sand spit. It took almost two hours of sand driving just to reach. It was worth it.
From Pomene, we made our way to Kruger National Park, where our South African residency allowed us a last minute deal at &Beyond’s Ngala Safari Lodge. Beautiful lodge with great guides, and we had some excellent wildlife sightings.
All too soon, our time in South Africa had come to an end and we made our way to our next destination — Indo.
But we’ll be back, now now.