From North to the Southern-most point of Africa – An extended road trip

This summer holiday was probably one of the best holidays we as a family have ever taken. Yes, I had my reservations of being away from home for Christmas. Yes, I was a little bit cautious of myself and my father taking the whole camp down by ourselves (but let’s be real, the whole family where a bit sceptical about that portion of the trip). I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the very beginning.

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So, on the 16th of December 2021, Rusty and I journeyed down to the Western Cape. silly of us to have a cross-country journey on South Africa’s busiest day of the year. Non the less, we made the journey down. I meant to split the 15 hour (or so the GPS said) journey in two, staying over at Beaufort West for the evening. Upon arrival, however, I couldn’t get myself to stop so close to home. Granted, it was still at least a 5 hour trip home, but alas, we continued. Roadtrip question: Have you ever seen what it looks like when a caravan gets into an accident? It looks like a garage sale on a highway… Not the best image to have in your head, knowing that the family would be missioning to Cape Agulhas with a caravan in a couple of days. Other than that, it was a smooth journey. I ended up driving for 18 hours long.

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The first couple of days went by very quickly, with my anxiety levels still through the roof (truth be told, my anxiety only started to subside about three or four days into our Cape Agulhas trip). These few days were filled with preperations for the two week long getaway, with the final shopping, gift wrapping and packing being done.

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On the 21st of December, we journeyed to Cape Agulhas. I forgot how much I miss the ocean until we reached Struisbaai, the little town you encounter along the road leading to Cape Agulhas. The beaches are beautiful and the surrounding scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Upon arrival, the fun and games began, with us missioning to put up camp at the Caravan Park. Upon entrance, I couldn’t help but notice, there were no fences around the Park (probably a little bit of Gauteng in me speaking, but that was definitely a trigger for me. My mother and I even discussed a few of my irrational fears because of it). However, with this in mind, I have never felt such peace in a camping terrain as I felt there (Well, maybe once before, when I went solo-camping at De Pakhuys – but that is a story for another day).

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Upon unpacking, my brother and I made our way to the beach, well, the grassed area infront of the ocean. I fell in love the moment I saw the ocean and the bay. It was only then that we realised just how close we were to the Cape Agulhas lighthouse. In that moment, I made it part of my mission this holiday to go up the lighthouse.

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The following day we spent the morning driving around, getting to know the area. We went to the shipwreck in Cape Agulhas en route to Suiderstrand, and Struisbaai for a quick beer at the harbour. It was during this trip that we set a few ground rules for the holiday (aimed to keep all of us sane) in terms of time spent. From breakfast to 2 pm was family time and the afternoon was alone time, whatever it looked like to you (My dad became very skilled with playing Tetris). This really helped keeping the peace around camp. It was around this time that we started improvising our Christmas tree. We had a very campy Christmas tree last year (the structure of the tree was contructed of ducktape and tent poles). It was beautiful! Very sparkly and you couldn’t even see the structure underneath the decorations. It was quite brilliant!

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The next couple of days went by in a blur, my brother had to head back to the city for a few days before Christmas Eve. In that time, my parents and I went for a drive to Suiderstrand and went to the most Southern point of Africa. It felt quite empowering to stand ontop of Mountain Kilomanjaro. My mother and I went for a walk every morning since the day we arrived. This was such a good way to start the day. Even if she had a hankering of walking towards the right. It was quite comical. It was these little moments that turned into memories. These were good bonding moments. While we walked, my dad went for a jog along the main road.

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Once my brother came back (on Christmas Eve), him and my dad went diving, hoping to find crayfish in the one portion of the stretch along that part of the coast that is not a part of the protected area. To my dismay, they didn’t find any. My brother and I also missioned to a path within the Cape Agulhas Nature Reserve to take photos and spend some time together. On Christmas day we went for lunch at a restaurant that had a gorgeous buffet. It was nice not to have to do anything for the Christmas feast. You guys! The gammon was incredible!

A couple of days later, my brother’s girlfriend joined the camping excursion. Upon her arrival, she fell right into our regime, joining us for the morning walks and eagerly joining any plans that was suggested. My brother, his girlfriend and I went to hike the Spookdraai trail, up the lighthouse, and on little beach missions together. A piece of advice: If you plan on doing the Spookdraai trail, make sure you have the All trails App downloaded on your phone. It is not a well marked trail. Without the app we would probably have been very lost (well, even more than we were).

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New Years Eve we spent the whole day eating and just lounging around the campgrounds, with us ending up playing Rummy the whole evening until right before the midnight bell rang.

Bittersweetly, this bell also symbolized the nearing of the end of our trip. The next morning we started packing up camp as my brother and his girlfriend had to head back to the city. Once they left, my dad and I started packing up the rest of the campsite. As mentioned earlier, this was the part of the trip that the whole family was dreading. However, this phase of the trip went smoother than the whole family working on the set-up.

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On the last morning in Cape Agulhas, my dad and I went on a walk to the shipwreck to and from the campgrounds (7 kilometers) before heading home. It was the first time since our arrival that there were no people queing at the most Southern point where the division between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans are shown.

The last couple of days home was spent with the dogs, going to the beaches of Betty’s Bay often to go mussel-picking with my dad, servicing my car, doing the erands to Gordon’s Bay, taking Rusty to the vet in Hermanus, going to see the penguins, and my mother and I going to the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens. By the time Saturday, the 8th rolled by I was sad, but content to leave Betty’s Bay to head back home.

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That evening I slept in a Bed-and-Breakfast close to Gariep dam (which is one of my absolute favourite places in South Africa). That was a very interesting evening. If you want me to add a little ghost story in here, let me know in the comments below. Let’s just say, the next morning, I hit the road the moment I got out of bed. Luckily I had the excuse of having a long journey ahead of me to get me out. I stopped at Gariep dam, on my way to the highway. It was impressive! With all the rain received in the area, the dam was on maximum capacity and all of the sluices were open. We arrived home at about 4 pm in the afternoon.

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It was with great sorrow and emense love that I parted ways with my family this holiday season. This holiday was one of the most memorable holidays we, as a family have ever taken together. With memories made to last a lifetime.

Until next time.

The Magnetic Compass

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