Driving the Garden Route Day 6: Exploring Hermanus & Fernkloof Nature Reserve
After a delightful breakfast at our sweet little B&B in Hermanus this morning, we hustle out the door to enjoy more of the incredible Fernkloof Nature Reserve and its impressive beachside Cliff Path. After our walk along the trail last night, we were absolutely convinced that we needed to spend a bit of time today in Hermanus so we could explore more of the stunning coastline before moving on, so we shuffle our plans a bit and decide to stay in town until afternoon. Our first activity is just returning to the Cliff Path and strolling along beside the sea, admiring the rugged rocks and looming mountains.
We pop into town for a bit of a shop as well, wandering around the cute little markets (surprisingly open on Christmas Eve), and then enjoy a bit of gelato while looking out over the ocean. The sun is out, the surf is pumping, and Christmas is here, so life is feeling pretty phenomenal this morning. After a touch more browsing around the little boutiques, we finally have to bid the stunning Hermanus goodbye and continue onwards for the day, horribly sad to be leaving before we are ready, but also excited to see the Cape Winelands this evening.
Actually, we only make it about 10 minutes down the road before we stop for lunch at La Vierge, a winery in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Over several glasses of red and an incredibly large cheese board, mum and I admire the incredible landscape and start to get even more excited for the wine country we’ll be spending the next few days in. The ultimate consensus is that it’s rather mediocre wine, but our bird’s-eye-view of the rolling vineyards more than makes up for it. Finally, it’s time for us to truly leave Hermanus, already later than our updated plan for the day, so we hop into the car and zip off towards the coast.
On the recommendation of Kloos, the owner of our B&B, we decide to drive the long route around to Stellenbosch via Gordon’s Bay on the scenic R44. No exaggeration, it may be the most phenomenal scenery we’ve seen on the whole trip. Every two seconds, I am asking mum to pull over on the side of the road so I can snap some photos looking back at the beach or over at the mountains, and thankfully she is more than happy to oblige because she can’t really look out the window herself while driving. Every time we stop for photos, we are both outside going crazy over the scenery.
Finally leaving the coast just after Gordon’s Bay, we curve inland for about 30 minutes to reach Stellenbosch, the wine capital of Africa (I just made that up, but I feel like it’s true). We arrive at our Airbnb and have a little hiccup checking in, but there’s a cat at the property, so all is quickly forgotten. My own fur baby has travelled down to Melbourne (with Callum, obviously) for Christmas and I say hello to him briefly on the phone, not mentioning that I have a little kitty keeping me company here because I don’t want him to be jealous, before we set off in search of dinner. Unsurprisingly, not much is open at 6pm on Christmas Eve (on a Sunday, no less), so we end up with frozen pizza, but absolutely no complaints here because it’s my favourite brand and feels like quite the luxury.
After devouring our pizza and polishing off the better part of 2 wine bottles, we nip off to bed, new cat friend in tow, in preparation for the early morning drive into Cape Town tomrrow. On the bright side, we will be staying in Stellenbosch for the next few nights, so this is the first time in a long time that we won’t need to pack up in the morning, but no one is excited about the 6am wake up tomorrow (especially considering that it is rapidly approaching midnight as I type this). Merry Christmas to all (from South Africa), and to all a goodnight!