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Life on the edge – touring the wild rocky shores of the Garden Route South Africa

Life on the edge – touring the wild rocky shores of the Garden Route South Africa

January 2020 · 4 min read · Western Cape

Greetings and welcome to another edition of The Shape of The Cape with your host Julescape. Today we explore the less well-known shoreline of the garden Route, situated on the southernmost shoreline of South Africa. Most visitors may know of the beautiful vast open expanses of white empty beaches along the south Cape coast of Africa, but today we are at a wild rocky shoreline just below the steep cliffs outside Knysna-Plett area.

With summer here now, we find the Garden Route to brimming with afternoon thunderstorms today. The climate here is great all year round, so any time is a perfect time to visit. Curiously the region lies between two weather zones, namely the summer rainfall of the east and the winter rainfall of the west. As a result it can rain at any time of the year, although the main season for rain is Spring, or October-December.

Rainfall varies each year though, sometimes summer is dry but sometimes the region receives rain from the eastern patterns, like this year. Today, for example we can see a perfect example of the afternoon humidity bringing thunderstorms, which greatly relieve the dry or hot conditions. Some years the rain comes in winter from the Cape of Good Hope region, blown by fierce winds, known in Cape Town as the “Cape Doctor” because it blows away all the city smog and cleans up the place.

In a good year, the region receives rain from both sides all year long, on and off, thus facilitating the vast indigenous forest here. On a bad year neither side brings rain and the region is left in drought, which has happened in the past decade more than once. So this is a water scarce area, despite an occasional good year of healthy rain. It looks like the planet as a whole is becoming a water scarce area, if you really investigate, with big multi-national corporations buying up the drinking water of poorer nations in order to sell it back as soft drinks. This will not end well.

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Today’s video clip in this post is recorded a few days ago, just before full moon, and so the tides are higher than usual and the swell is uplifting, for want of a better word. I found my own way down to the sea and the shoreline way below, since there are no paths in this area. It meant climbing down the steep slopes, which looks harder than it is. It certainly adds to the adventure of hiking along the coastline surrounded by the pure elements of nature, without another human in sight generally. It makes for a rather brooding, emotive and romantic scene, “far from the madding crowd” and deep in no-man’s land.

It’s hard to imagine that the 1st world is just around the corner, in a sense. Just a few km away along the coastline, we come to the most exquisite beaches with numerous stylish holiday houses and accommodation for travelers and tourists from all over the globe. And they are quite full at this time of year. But here, on this little-known and harder to find stretch of the coast, we have an isolated and desolate scene that could be anywhere, at any time in history. The waves simply crash unending in the eternal now, beyond time and yet linked to tide. So there are options for all sorts of travelers, young and old along the Garden Route.

The lone rocky cliffs of the Garden Route
The lone rocky cliffs of the Garden Route

After climbing down the cliffs and having a swim in the rocky pools of the shoreline while the waves crashed in, I was able to take a quick video clip, as you can see here, and then make the return ascent before the clouds burst open and sent the cooling rain down on me. I recommend the smooth white sandy beaches here but if you prefer a more rugged and exciting coastal stretch to explore, then you will find that too with caves galore. It’s available to you all year long, and this region will even reveal whales calving in winter, which I will film for you in six months from now. But we will leave that for another post. Until the next time, when we explore still further coastline here on the south Cape coast of Africa, this is Julescape signing out.

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