Friday, 14 January 2011

Roadtrippin’ the Garden Route

 While some of my friends ventured overseas for their Christmas break, I decided to keep it local with seven friends. The plan was to visit J-Bay, Knysna, Wilderness, Mossel Bay and then stopover in Arniston for one night on the way home. So on Christmas Eve we packed our bags and hit the road. This is just a round up of the places we stayed at – just in case you need inspiration for your budget trip.
We had to stop to secure the boards
 Fairy Knowe Backpackers
Our first stop was Wilderness, where we stayed at Fairy Knowe Backpackers. What an awesome place. Like most backpackers, it’s really chilled and everyone’s really laidback. We booked one en suite room (R380), one twin (R250) and a four-sleeper room (R300 – double and bunk bed). Since it’s really close to the lake, the mosquitoes were really bugging us. We only stayed there for one night because it was just meant to be a halfway stop before J-Bay. 
Sunny day, yay!
Awesome mural

This is where the en suite room was
There’s a lapa where you can chill at the bar, play Xbox games, board games or watch TV. If you’re in the mood for a toasted sandwich, you can order one for R15 at any time, muffins are baked regularly (R5 each) and they are delicious.  There’s a pool table and lounging area as well and right next to the lapa you can braai. 
Lapa side!
Next stop – Jeffreys Bay – whoop whoop. The weather on the Garden Route wasn’t that great. It was overcast the whole time we where out that way. It was hot, but sometimes you still need that little bit of sun to remind you you’re on holiday. So pushing on, we headed to the mighty Supertubes (there was nothing super about the tubes while we were there though).

Because we were so spoilt with space at Fairy Knowe, it felt a bit cramped at this spot. Nevertheless, to be fair, it’s a decent hangout – clean and carefree. Our rooms (all double, shared bathroom) were all R300 a night (R150 each) and included a free light breakfast (really light). Breakfast was cereal – a choice of corn flakes, bran flakes and rice pops.  We were on the bottom floor – which was a bit of a mission because the staircase was a not-too-wide spiral metal contraption. If you’re afraid of dogs… you shouldn’t stay here. They’ve got four large (friendly) dogs that roam around freely. I promise they won’t bite but just bear in mind they’re there.
Ubuntu entrance, in a Cul-de-Sac
 I like the lounge area they’ve got going on. At 8pm every night you can watch movies on their projector – although we didn’t watch anything, I still liked the idea. The very top floor is the bar and pool table room, with a little balcony overlooking the main road and ocean.
The movie room during the day
Surf pic wall in the lounge
The garden’s quite pretty with its little lapa with comfy cushions and the lawns are well-maintained (and you can camp on it). Their ads say they’re close to the beach – this is true but if you’re going to The Point, it could be a 15 to 20 minute stretch. The second floor’s balcony is really fun because there’s a swing you can relax on and the stairs that lead to the top floor has really funky artworks on the walls. 
Lovebirds on the swing
Arty farty wall
 There wasn’t big swell in J-Bay for the two days we were there (Christmas and Boxing Day), but the guys still went out to catch some fun waves. Shopping at the Billabong store wasn’t that great this time around. The last time I was there I bought quite a few items. I think the stuff wasn’t THAT cheap this time around. Anyway – I bought my brothers some Element hoodies for R150 each…not too shabby.

 We had lunch at a place called Food Inn. Highly recommending it!!!  Their presentation is amazing and the food’s sooo good.  We had to get all veggie meals because on this side of the world, halaal food is hard to come by… but it was yummy!

Off to Knysna we go!! On the way, one of the guys decided to bungy jump. Right…  So NOT for me. Not sure why I won’t bungy jump. Anyway – he looked traumatised afterwards.  We stayed at a place called Island Vibe.

This was cool spot but it was also the only place we had to stay in a dorm with other travellers. We weren’t ecstatic about it because we were each so used to having our own space. Anyway, so four of us stayed in a six-sleeper dorm (R120 a night, each). The other two couples had their own en suite rooms (R385 for each room).  This was the first accommodation we booked on the trip – we didn’t realise we were going to opt for our own rooms for the rest of the trip (well, the two married couples always had their own rooms and the four of us always shared a four-sleeper – which worked out perfectly for us). 

The rooms were clean – nothing fancy about it, but decent. The TV room wasn’t really cosy so we only spent time there inbetween activities. There’s a plunge pool outside the room we stayed in, and a bar, pool table and Moroccan-styled chill room next door. That proved to be annoying when we wanted to sleep. The vibe and look of the place is really cool, especially with the pool and upstairs deck overlooking it. It’s within walking distance of most of the shops as it’s in the main road – but where we stayed we heard no traffic – the couples with their own rooms did, however, complain about truck sounds all night.

Just chillin at Island Vibe
 While we stayed in Knysna we decided to check out a place called Adventure Land in Plett. It was R70 to get in and you can braai or picnic there and fool around on all the slides. I was surprised that there wasn't a normal swimming pool to chill in, but there was enough to keep us busy all day.

 Our next place was Pinelake Marina in Sedgefield. This was the first time we were all staying together in the same unit. Our chalet was next to the trampoline and putt-putt section. Once again – overcast weather, but this time with lotsa wind. So we didn’t really do any water sports. We did spend a lot of time in the Jacuzzi though – mmmm. There’s not much to say about Pinelake really. It’s a family holiday resort – probably really fun when the weather’s better. Pity about that.
One of the two Jacuzzis we kept occupying
So for New Year’s Eve our spot was Mossel Bay. We stayed at a cool place called Park House Lodge. We booked rooms in what they called the guesthouse (not part of the main house).  For the price we paid, this accommodation was actually really top class.

It doesn’t look like much when you stand outside. Once you’re past reception you enter a beautiful courtyard with a mini pond and creepers all over the walls. We had two double en suite rooms (R350 a person a night) and one four-sleeper (R220 each). The bathroom we had we had to share with the other four-sleeper room but luckily for us there wasn’t really anyone else staying there.

The yard has hammocks, a braai area, a big lawn with tables and chairs and a refreshment station to make tea and coffee.  The bar and coffee station worked on an honesty system where you take what you want and write down what you took…and pay when you check out.  The kitchen is a bit small for the amount of people who need to use it – but it had everything we needed. The overall look and feel of Park House made us want to stay longer…and some are going back there if they’re in the area.

 Arniston, here we come.  Before heading home, we turned off to Arniston to spend one night there before heading home. We stayed at a place called Culross (from a holiday homes agent). The house was R925 for the night (works out to about R115 each) and it can sleep up to 10 guests. The four-sleeper room isn’t that cool because the beds are really narrow. The rooms are very basic and there are two toilets – one with a shower and one with a bath. There’s also a toilet on the other side of the house with a shower as well – this leads to another room that’s accessible from the courtyard as well. The upstairs lounging area has a beach house feel – that was my favourite room. 
 And then…on 3 January 2011, we made our way back to the Mother City.

Total spent  ± R2500 (accomm R1500, petrol R250, food and other R750.