Plettenberg Bay

After agonising over where to start our garden route journey, we decided to fly to George and then drive to Plettenberg Bay, simply because it meant 1.5 less hours driving in the car.

DSC07525We stayed on this beautiful property just outside the main streets, close to Plett airport, although thank goodness it is a rather poor attempt at an airport so it was not noisy.   We discovered this gem on Budget Getaways although it is no longer available for the rest of 2017.  It was a spacious 1 bedroom cottage with a huge garden on a farm, some horses, cows and a couple of friendly dogs meandering in and out.   Our neighbours on the farm were the parents on one side, their son and family on another side (which meant swings and trampoline on site), their daughter on the other side who runs an exquisite restaurant called Ouland Royale (highly recommend the vegan pie and vegetarian quiche), and the parents in law behind us.  They were all as friendly as each other, and home grown tomatoes were left on our doorstep. The other lovely pro was that they are equipped for babies, and they had a high chair attachment, some toys, a baby bath and a portable cot on offer.

We decided to spend 6 nights is Plett – partly because the thought of relocating too often with the little ones was daunting, and partly because there was a lot to do!  Turned out we had glorious weather and it was the perfect amount of time to both see things and relax at our new ‘home’.  Here is a list of attractions we went to:

  • Monkey Land – A wonderful one hour guided walk through the bush with monkeysDSC07569 and lemurs playing or sunbaking.  Able to use a stroller, although would have been better with carriers for children, as our pram wasn’t the 4WD type. Miss N enjoyed the curio shop the best and would have stayed for another hour playing with all the soft toys had we let her!
  • DSC07635Birds of Eden – This huge aviary is next to Monkey Land. Whilst there were some stunning birds and it is stroller friendly, birds aren’t really my thing (says she who will cross the road and walk backwards at the sight of a magpie).  There were flamingos towards the end which redeemed it for me, but not something I would do again in a hurry.
  • Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary – This is the place to see lions, tigers and other cats DSC07687including servals (did you just learn a new animal?).  Another one hour guided tour and very interesting to learn about the animals, but I would try go last thing in the afternoon or first thing in the morning when it is not so hot.  I heard that in the afternoon, the animals are waiting to get fed so are down by the fences.
  • DSC07700Plett Puzzle World – Next to Jukani, it has a lovely little playground which is free to use and includes a maze and a trampoline (Note to Australians – ignore safety standards or lack thereof).  The cafe has some cute games like big jenga and connect 4 to play with.  For older kids, there would probably be some interesting puzzles to do, but for littlies, it was time to go home for naps.
  • Knysna Elephant Park – Who goes to Africa and doesn’t encounter an elephant?  My
    daughter and husband had the elephant experience for about 45 – 60 minutes of patting and feeding the elephants, with an educational experience.
  • IMG_0035Robberg Beach – Just beautiful.
  • Robberg Nature Reserve – We decided not to let kids get in the way of a good hike, but they did.  Instead we got to enjoy the 30 minute hike around part of the peninsula using carriers for the kids.  Before we completed the loop, perhaps about half way, we walked a little further to view the seals down below and then backtracked to returned to the carpark.
  • Old Nick’s Village – We happened to go on a Wednesday on the way back to Plett from the Crags and stumbled across the cute markets there.  Some nice hand madDSC07811e artist shops if I had lets say a spare 10000 rand.
  • Adventure Land – We picked a 30 + degree day to enjoy these water slides and pool. Good choice.  There are smaller waterslides for toddlers, and great waterslides for adults.  We took turns and had the kids watch us enjoy ourselves.  The playground and trampoline were too hot for use
  • Harkerville Market – Open on Saturday morning, we enjoyed browsing, patting some bunny rabbits and digging in to some Thai food.
  • DSC08035The Heath playground – So inspiring,  Amazing.  Kids spent a while here, and we enjoyed a cake from the cafe there.  But alas, watch out for splinters on the wooden play equipment. Located outside the entrance to the Radical Raptors.
  • Radical Raptors – An unplanned great decision after playing at DSC08187the Heath to see the Radical Raptors show.  Our 2.5 year old donned a glove and let the owl and hawk land on her clenched fist.  She still imitates this with her toy owl a month later.
  • Global Village – Nice outdoor playground, but we didn’t stay for long as there was too much to do and see.
  • The Table – A nice restaurant with a kids room and kids can make their own pizza on a Tuesday night I believe.  The pizzas were pretty good with original toppings. IMG_0050

The Journey Begins

This is the post excerpt.

People told me not to do it.  Some parents said they would rather eat a cactus than take an active and severely attached baby and a whinging snotty restless toddler on a 14 hour flight to South Africa.  Not to mention the fun for the first 4 days of being awake with them from 1 – 5am eating cupcakes and playing with teddy in a foreign environment

Did someone say cake!
Happy 95th birthday to Granny

But we did it anyway.  Granny only turns 95 once and we heard there was going to be cake, so what could we do!

Once tickets were booked, many a nights were spent scouring the internet to prefect our itinerary, to ensure it was as kid friendly as possible, and that it was not only bearable, but actually fun.  Who would have thought?

The purpose of this blog is partly to remind me of this happy month trip to South Africa for when I’m pining for something more exciting than singing Bananas in Pyjamas 17 times.  The other part is to help out fellow crazy parents who ignore the advice from friends and family, much like we did.

Family shot
The happy family before the flight!

About 6 weeks before our departure date, we started the preparation of our two and half year old toddler.  We borrowed an aeroplane book from the library and we played aeroplane simulation games with teddies so that miss N would be all over this 14 hour flight.  And the 3 internal flights.  Miss N was drilled that when the seat belt sign is on, she has to sit down and wear a seat belt and she can have a lollipop for takeoff and landing. Worked a treat (pun intended). Lollipops take a long time to eat, and she was suitable well behaved for all take offs and landing.

Another parenting win was a memory game I made of activities, animals and people we would see in South Africa.  It was a big hit, and helped us talk about what we would do and see on our holiday.   We printed out pictures from google or photos twice and laminated them.  It was also really light and a good game to play while we were traveling.

We also had a calendar to count down the days until we flew.  And then there were no more days to cross, so we headed to the airport.  We ran around the airport trying to exhaust our kids as there wasn’t going to be much room for movement for 14 hours, but in the end we just tired ourselves out too!

IMG_6615The flight wasn’t actually that bad.  That’s another thing – have low expectations, and the worst thing that can happen is your expectations are met. There was a moment where I had 2 sleeping kids and the food arrived – it’s been a long time since I’ve wined and dined and watched a movie in peace.

We organised the seats with the bassinet in advance, mostly just for the extra space and a place to feed and contain Mr. A, as it would take a miracle for our nearly  8 month old  to sleep by himself for more than 45 minutes at a time. (Never mind that the 3 month old next to us seemingly slept the entire journey!) Plus we ended up with an extra row behind us to ourselves so Miss N. could completely lie down.   It was as good as it was ever going to get.  IMG_6623

Other good things to know about plane trips – Rusks are good for babies, messy but take a long time to eat. Food is good, it is your friend.  Don’t rely on plane food for your toddler, unless you hit jackpot and your toddler eats everything. Stickers, stamps, technology with toddler friendly headphones, water play in the bathroom (and just apologise to the next person in the queue), story telling (the long drawn out type), drawing, aqua doodle mat, a couple of books and then we were there.