South Africa with a Toddler - Driving the Garden Route - Plettenberg Bay - Part II

Day Four - Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay 

We began the day with a hearty breakfast at the Taj again, along with having a special check in for 'Taj Kids' the also offer them there own breakfast menu including items such as eggs and soldiers, french toast, chocolate doughnuts and milkshakes. Bubs was a bit too young to make the most of this so I helped him out sample a few of the delights.

In England we do not actually drive very long distances since most of our family and friends live close by therefore doing an all day drive with Bubs was very new territory for us. I did plan ahead and set the car up with a backseat organiser containing toys, sticker books, music and story CDs and as a last resort the iPad was fully loaded with some of his favourite programmers. I also made sure we had car sunscreen shades, lots of water and snacks. Mr S had also done his part by planning the drive to ensure we had plenty of stops to let us stretch our legs and give Bubs a chance to let off some steam. In the whole time we were away I think I drove for around 10 minutes so Mr S definitely wins a prize for the number of miles he covered.

All the roads we drove along were in great condition, without much traffic once we had left Cape Town, all the drivers also stuck to the speed limits of around 100-120 kph. Mr S quickly picked up the road etiquette to pull over to the left to allow other cars to overtake and flash to acknowledge. Also along the route are several stops to pull into with permanent picnic tables setup, useful if you have to make a sudden stop to get something out of the boot for example. 

Our planned route along the N2:
  • 9am: Cape Town to Sir Lowry Pass
  • 10.15am: Sir Lowry Pass to Swelldenham
  • 2.00pm: Swelldenham to Mossel Bay 
  • 5.00pm: Mossel Bay to Plettenberg Bay
In total around six and half hours driving over a ten hour day. Bubs actually fell asleep as soon as we hit the road so we carried on driving past Sir Lowry Pass and went straight onto Swelldenham. We stopped off in the town centre and a local Spar to pick up a picnic before heading to Bontebok National Park. It took us a while to find the entrance using the tom tom and local signage since an old entrance had now been closed down and we were very close to giving up and having a picnic in the car but the persistentance was worth the views and peace that awaited us when we did finally make it there.

After fuelling up and chasing bubbles around the park we sent off for the second leg to our journey onto Mossel Bay, we had a pitstop at a small beachside coffee shop, whilst Aaran enjoyed a run collecting shells on the beach. Throughout our time in South Africa one thing that really stood out was how friendly the people were, even our coffee shop ended with a twenty minute conversation before we hit the road for our final stretch onto Plettenberg Bay. 

After doing some research on places to stay along the garden route I soon learned that there are not many large hotels, more so smaller resorts and b&bs so for our first stop off I booked the Formosa Bay resort, which had a great location just off the N2. 

For a bargain price we ended up with a huge two bedroom two bathroom apartment, complete with a full kitchen, lounge area, dining table and balcony with a built in BBQ, I think we could have easily fit another four people into the apartment with the size it was. They were cleaned daily and a restaurant attached served food all day too. There was also two swimming pools, crazy golf and a kids play area so we got lot for our money.

After a quick unpacking of the car and freshening up we made our way into central Plett along the coast for dinner at the Fat Fish.

Build your own carbonara 


Hake and Calamari

For starters we shared the sushi platter along with a crispy fried fish and for mains Mr S went for the Hake and Calamari with wasabi mayo and I had the Kingklip, Bubs had the carbonara pasta which came with a build your own sauce and cheese. After starters we were really full so did not enjoy mains or even attempt desert, out of all the places we ate at this was probably my least favourite.

After a long drive we were all more than ready for bed, unfortunately soon after we hit the sack Bubs decided to vomit up, luckily this was mainly on the tiled floor so was easy to clean up. 

Day Five - Plettenberg Bay and Elephant Sanctuary

Bubs had three more vomitting incidents in the early hours of the morning so we had a very early start and after calling a local 24 hour clinic were informed the best thing to do would be to visit the local GP at 8am. Although this was not something I would have planned for during our holiday it was still interesting to see the other side to a holiday village with the local people going about their normal daily business. 
The GP saw us straight away and was great in diagnosing his symptoms, another upper repository infection and prescribing an anti-sickness medicine, antibiotics and steroids. Thankfully as soon as he took the anitsickness he was much more himself and we went for a quick breakfast at the attached Le Journal En Route Bakery within the resort. Bubs then knocked out for a long four hour nap which gave me a chance to wash all the clothes from the morning and night at the onsite laundry, I felt a bit like I was back at university making sure I had enough change for the machines, but it was great to know the clothes would be clean rather than still soiled when we returned back home.

Cheese Croissant and Coffee for me

After his nap his was completely back to being himself and very excited to visit the elephant sanctuary. On our previous holiday to Kenya we visited another sanctuary where he had seen the orphaned baby elephants being fed formula from bottles and loved it, so was even more excited to know he would be meeting elephants again. At the Elephant Sanctuary you are able to purchase a bucket of fruit and veg to feed them whilst on a walk with the elephant experience, it was a fun task trying to convince Bubs the fruit was for the elephants and not him whilst we waited.

The tour begins by visiting the elephants sleeping area, you are also able to spend the night in a lodge above this with an open mezzanine level to watch the elephants in the evening. A tractor and trailer then lead you out to the fields where the elephants all gather around knowing its time to feed as soon as they hear the vehicle approaching. Despite being very excited, once Bubs actually saw the elephants he became very scared and refused to go close let alone feed them, he kept asking for the baby ones and not the mummy and daddy ones, he soon became accustomed to them as a private guide led us around the field giving a brief history on each of the elephants. Other wild animals such as zebras are also roaming free, was a great experience to be so close to them especially without the constraints of a normal safari vehicle.

Later that afternoon we headed down to the Keurboomstrand Beach area where Bubs had lots of fun pouring buckets of sand over himself before we headed to Enrico's for a delicious pizza dinner. As the sunset in the distance around twenty dolphins appeared in the water, making for great evening entertainment.
Garlic Bomba

For dinner Mr A had a baby chicken and me and Bubs shared a garlic Bomba and ham and mushroom pizza, all of which was delicious. For desert we had a tiramisu to takeaway as Bubs was now getting irritated by the amount of sand in his hair - time for a long bath and bedtime.

Day Six - Tsitsikamma National Park

For breakfast we started the day early at Thyme and Again, a farm shop along the N2, breakfast was delicious and the shop was filled with lots of goodies, perfect to grab a picnic from. Also have a large childrens play area attached which we found it hard to drag Bubs away from when it was time to leave.

Bubs Baby Chino

Bubs Scramled Eggs

Now I am not the most active person around but Mr S assured me the hike would be a gentle one and I have to say the hike itself was not so bad, what I was not so prepared for however was the Storms River suspension bridge. The views however were stunning and Bubs loved the climb and walking across the nail-biting bridges.

The first bridge leads to a small pebbled beach where you can stop and admire the views, the actual hike itself is mainly along a constructed wooden platform with a few ropes in strategic places to stop you falling off. It was fine with Bubs but if you have children any younger or those that do not follow instructions well it could be dangerous.

For lunch we stopped at the Bramon Wine estate, all the hiking and worn out Bubs and he had a lovely long sleep on a custom made bed on one of the large dining tables out of lots of blankets. This gave us the chance to enjoy a delicious bottle of wine, lots of bread served with sea salt and butter and probably nearly every one of the tapas items available on the menu. The tables are set in between the actual vineyards, the food and service was amazing and we throughly enjoyed our leisurely late lunch. 

The stunning drive home, where we had a early night and packed up before hitting the road again tomorrow onto Oudtshoorn

Part IV - Hout Bay

Part I  - Cape Town