Tourists in Our Own Backyard

Sometimes we simply take for granted the old familiar places we visit so often. But when you take visitors exploring and see it through their fresh eyes, the joy and wonderment of it all gives you a renewed appreciation of your own backyard.

We recently had friends, Chris and Har visit us for a few days and we took them to all our favourite spots. In November last year we met them at an overnight campsite in Ermelo and then found ourselves at two of the same camps in The Kruger National Park. We discovered that we had a lot in common and told them that if ever they were in our neck of the woods they were should please contact us. And we are so glad they did because we had the most awesome time.

The stop-over with us was part of a caravanning road trip they were doing. They fitted us in between Cape Town and The Garden Route. Although they had visited the area many years before their memories of Struisbaai were quite vague.

On Monday we visited the Southern Tip, Agulhas, Suiderstrand and Arniston.

The coastline is rocky and interesting and quite different to what they are used to in KZN.

The compulsory tourist shot
The Meisho Maru – a Japanese Fishing Boat that wrecked at Suiderstrand in 1982
Suiderstrand is a remote holiday village about 10 km from Struisbaai
The Earl and me walking back to the car
Agulhas Lighthouse
The resident yellow mongoose of Agulhas

After driving around and showing Chris and Har the growth that has taken place in Agulhas and Struisbaai we took a drive to Arniston where we had lunch at the hotel. If you’re ever in the area this is a good place to overnight or just to have a meal,or a drink and a snack.

It’s a half hour drive from Struisbaai to Arniston if you’re not a birdwatcher. We all are and so it took about two hours!

We saw more of these Denham Bustards that we have ever seen travelling along this road
There were also scores of our national bird, The Blue Crane

We stopped many times along the way to see bokmakieries, yellow canaries, red bishops – in non breeding plumage, capped wheatear, common fiscal, francolin and guineafowl among others.

Capped Wheatear
Chris and Har admiring the view at Arniston
In front of the hotel
Looking over Otter Beach

After a lovely day out we returned to Struisbaai and just before it became too dark, Har and I went for walk. We enjoyed seeing both the sun going down and the super moon rising.

Sunset over Struisbaai
Super Moon

The next day, Tuesday, we made our way to the quaint village of Elim, once again birding along the way and stopping at The Black Oystercatcher for a snack and a glass of their excellent Sauvignon Blanc.

The ever-present Ostriches – we believe Struisbaai was named so because of all the presence of the ‘volstruis‘ which is the Afrikaans word for ostrich.
There were scores of rhebok about too
Lavailant’s Cisticola
Cape Longclaw
Yellow Canary
Jackal Buzzard
Cape Canary
Non-breeding adult common starling and pied starling having a chat
Spur-winged Goose

Elim village is situated on The Agulhas Plain and was established in 1824 as a Moravian mission station. It’s position was chosen as there was plenty of water there so they could plant vines and make wine for their communion.

The German missionaries taught the villagers many trades and skills including thatching. This is a craft the young men took to well and to this day they are renowned for their skill and often travel abroad to do thatching contracts.

Even today one may only live in Elim if you were born there or marry somebody who was born there. Many of the women are employed as protea pickers by the nearby protea farms. The men are engaged in various trades and some are farm workers.

Elim has a care centre and school for handicapped children which has an excellent reputation.

There was once a working water wheel but this no longer functions.

Har bending very low
Chris being a lot shorter is not as lowly
The Water Wheel
The River that runs through Elim
The picturesque thatched cottages of Elim

Sadly Chris and Har had to leave for the next leg of their journey on Wednesday morning but before they left we went in search of Black Oystercatchers before having some breakfast and sending them on their way.

We did not see the oystercatchers on the rocks but we got them flying and calling overhead.

It was spring low tide so the photos of the harbour were interesting

Spring Low Tide at Struisbaai Harbour
No Oystercatchers but we did see some distant Caspian Terns
The very long Struisbaai Beach

What a wonderful three days we had. May you enjoy the rest of your journey, Chris and Har!

1 thought on “Tourists in Our Own Backyard

  1. Anne

    You are so right about being a tourist on our own turf. I enjoyed seeing photographs of both Arniston and Elim as well as Agulhas – all bring very happy memories to the fore!

    Liked by 1 person


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