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Crazy About The Crags - SA

baboonsFrom Addo we started to head West on the Garden Route and soon discovered why it was named so. I felt like we were driving through Switzerland, Spain, England at turns taking the most beautiful landscapes from each. Such vibrant greenery. The roads were dotted with locals hitchhiking in the most improbable places - where it looked like there wasn't any reason to be there or under 'No Hitchhiking' signs - sometimes waving a note as an incentive for someone to stop. I would love to have picked people up along the way - such a great way to get closer to local life - but with the kids onboard it was an un-necessary risk to take on their behalf. As we approached The Crags, sign posts started cropping up for wineries and animal reserves, plus 'Don't feed the Baboons'....

tsalaThe area called The Crags begins at Nature's Valley and branches off from the R102 on to Plettenberg Bay - Plett as it is fondly known. Suddenly we seemed to be driving over a range of gorges, but on a smooth road over the top of them. So unusual to have that perspective - looking down on the scenery as you drive over it. We should have taken the Old Road to Nature's Valley Beach (regretting that still now) but the kids wanted to 'arrive' so we went straight on to our hotel - Hog Hollow Country Lodge.

There is a story to tell about how we ended up staying there. Originally I had booked the biggest treat of our lives - a night at Tsala Treetop Lodge. I still haven't had my night in a treehouse and staying there would probably be one of the most impressive ways to do it. The luxurious and spacious rooms each have their own private pool and terrace in the trees. It would have been a night we would never forget. BUT I fluffed up the booking and it was not to be. (Lets not talk about it!) So at the last minute I had hurriedly done a new search for a special alternative that wouldn't feel like a let down. And thankfully I found the Hog Hollow.

On arrival we passed the pond with the lilies and the flourishing tropical garden and were warmly greeted and offered a welcome drink on the terrace. Wow - we were looking out over lush forests as far as the eye could see. This was Sri Lanka all over again, especially once the monkeys came out to play. The pool terrace was an ideal place to showcase the view. We settled in, immediately meeting another English family who we clicked with. Plans to hike to the monkey and bird sanctuary or along a coastal path, see all sorts of animals up close or joining activities like kloofing and canyoning, were put on hold. We hung out for the afternoon and relaxed. Dinner is around a large communal table here so we had a lovely social evening with the kids having a great time with newly-made friends.

monkeyhoghollow

In the morning the monkeys scampered along our roof and we savoured our own incredible vista with them peeking into view. Breakfast was delicious and the pool too inviting to leave it quickly. But soon we were packed up and ready to move on in our freshly washed car. (That was a nice touch by the hotel!) We had totally underestimated The Crags - I could have spent 3/4 days here easily. The hotel had held us captive, but there was so much to do nearby that we would have to overlook - this time.

Reluctant to leave the area too quickly, we drove to a local beach outside Plett called Keurbooms Beach with our new friends and paddled in the sea until our table was ready at the Enrico Restaurant overlooking it. They don't take bookings - take turns to wait in a queue and enjoy the beach in the meantime. A great spot for service, value, tasty food on a terrace above the sand. We left full and happy, although a little withered from the heat, and were ready for a bit of air-con in the car for the next leg of the journey.

djkb

Next stop WILDERNESS.

Other accommodation options in The Crags - Tarn Country House / Grand Cafe and Rooms (beautifully quirky - next time I'll stay here!!) / Trogon House and Forest Spa / Rocky Road Backpackers