Stop! Please wait October…where are you rushing off to? I’m pretty sure it was September just the other day! And by the time I hit “publish” on this post, it will actually be November already and will be over a month since we were in Graaff Reinet for the #meetsouthafrica Instameet. In between work and life in general, it has taken me far too long to write this post and now I’m wondering whether I will remember everything I wanted to say.
I honestly planned to write this post straight after this one but then our car got written off and it took a miracle called West Cape Volkwagen to come to our aid with a replacement car, who offered us a car for the same amount that the insurance paid out. So now we have a 2008 Polo Comfortline with enough boot space for all the adventures we have in mind for our South African tour next year. Thank you Lord!
We arrived in Graaff Reinet fairly late on Thursday 24 September and made it just in time to register and make our way to our lovely self catering accommodation, Country Mouse Cottage (how cute is that name?) for the long weekend. We were warmly welcomed by the owner who gave us a tour of the house, informed us of the stray cat who comes-a-meowing for food (and where she keeps it) and showed us how to set and disarm the alarm. I loved the homey touches of milk in the fridge and cookies in the jar as well as a safe and secure place to park the car in the garage.
Country Mouse Cottage
The house can comfortably sleep 6 people with 3 double beds (one in each bedroom) and a beautiful garden with a simple swing and mulberry tree to keep the kids occupied for hours. We sought refuge from the heat on one of the afternoons (we were actually home) and I opened the French patio doors and lay on the bed to watch the birds flit about in the well maintained garden.
The agenda was jam packed but fortunately there was more than one opportunity to experience some of the tours. What we didn’t realize was that there was quite a bit of overlap in terms of time, so we had a scheduling issue on the Saturday, but it all worked out in the end.
We started off with the walking tour of Nieu Bethesda on Saturday and had no idea it could get so hot, so early in the morning. These is a cash only town so if you are planning to explore it, pack your own drinks or bring cash so that you can stop off at the local tavern or coffee shop. We arrived back in Graaff Reinet around lunchtime and wanted to do the hike in the evening so we spent the rest of the day resting and eating so that we would feel rested and ready.
I’m not comfortable being on top of a mountain with two kids after dark so we left a bit earlier so that we could explore at our leisure. I’m glad we did because by the time we left at sunset, the party was just getting started at the top and the child free Instagrammers stayed to watch the moon rise while we went home to put the kids to bed.
Saturday morning dawned bright and early and we chose to do the Makhoti Cultural walk. We had no idea that it would take us out of town for over 4 hours so the kids missed out on the instaride but we found that the @instabikeride people are a bit nuts and had actually spent around 8 hours exploring the day before. They then did the same thing on the Saturday and the kids would not have managed at all.
And then it was back to Camdeboo National Park for the @southafrica sunset hike where we all met at the bottom for the most delicious soup and breads before we took some more pictures at the top. Z1 was fascinated by the drones and promptly asked for one his birthday. (He turns 11 at the end of this week so watch our social media Instagram/Twitter feeds to see if he got what he wanted) 😉
We were then transported back the hall for our sponsored dinner and an opportunity to network. The South Africa team is truly amazing. This event was incredibly well organized and if this is what the first National Instameet looked like, I can’t wait for the next one.
What you should know about Graaff Reinet
This is a beautifully historic town. Yes, there is more to it than just the church at the end of the main street. It is safe to walk around at night and people are very friendly. The water quality is not suitable for drinking but if you take a 5l container from the Oasis water shop , you can have it filled up for R6 (there is a shop close to the Spar on one of the main roads).
It does get VERY HOT in Graaff Reinet. Pack accordingly and stay hydrated. You won’t want to forget your sunscreen and mozzie repellant. In terms of exploring close by, Camdeboo National Park is around the corner while Nieu Bethesda is about 50kms (about 1 hours drive due to dirt roads) away. Aberdeen is about 50kms away in the opposite direction and it’s a good place to stop for padkos on the drive home.
We took the N2 back to Cape Town and stopped off in Mossel Bay for lunch. Try to break your journey up into 2 hour long trips so that they kids can find a place to run off some energy and have a bit of a mental break from each other. It keeps the bickering down to a minimum and, who knows, they might even learn something if you stop somewhere like the Post Office Tree in Mossel Bay.