An amazing day today.
We followed the Garden route as far as the East Cape at Tsitsikamma National Park. The Garden Route is climatically very different to the rest of the Western Cape as it is much more humid and temperate. Today's temperatures were high 20's again with higher humidity which resulted in us having quite a bit of cloud at the beginning and end of the day but very sunny in the middle which was good as we had our lunch on Plettenberg Beach.
The Garden Route is a strip of land between the Ocean and the Mountains. Having past the most southern point of Africa (can't remember the name) we are now bordering the warm waters of the Indian Ocean rather than the cold Atlantic.
This makes conditions perfect for lush vegetation.
The warm waters and beaches are also understandably very popular with tourists and whilst Plettenberg was very busy today it is apparently nothing compared with how it will be in just over a weeks' time when the schools break up for the long summer / Christmas holiday. ( Got a bit of a jolt when I realised that it was 1st December today and I heard a Christmas song playing when we stopped for coffee!)
The three major resorts here will be packed with families, surfers, campers, shark cage diving hunters etc over the next couple of months.
On our way back to Knysna where some free time and shopping was on offer. We had an option to visit Knysna township. At first I thought it may be voyeuristic but we were assured it was something that was well supported by the community and was beneficial to them. So we did with the wonderful Peggy seen here.
The township is up above the lagoon and town of Knysna and has 47,000 residents. I can't go into all the information here but a few key points were that this township is mainly wooden buildings because of nearby resources unlike mainly metal building in townships elsewhere.
We were also told of the transformation brought about by Nelson Mandela who when he came to power insisted all homes had water and electricity. The first government provided house is seen behind Peggy here and was just a single room with neither of these services.
In the year 2000 the first Mandela house was built - we visited one, and they are still being built so his legacy lives on. They are 6m x 6m with a living room, kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms. Not amazing but a big improvement. It may take 5 years to get to the top of the list for one and 8 -12 months to build. There are terraces cleared ready for building and wooden chalets as temporary homes for those waiting.
Businesses are run from metal containers as they are less of a fire risk. Being Friday and pay day lots of BBQ's (braai) were going on but the chicken feet didn't look too appealing!!
It's still a very harsh life but good to see progress. Much more could be said but I will just say it was a most interesting experience. Peggy supports community projects with the funds she raises from the tours, especially arts and crafts and is hoping to open a pre school.
We returned to Knysna for dinner on a boat on the lagoon!
A day of great contrasts.