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LOCAL TIME: 06:58 am | Monday, 24 February
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Day trip from Plett to The Crags

Text and Pictures by Rich Pearce

A trip to the Crags is a journey into a wonderland of humbling scenery, down-to-earth people and attractions that showcase the nature-loving philosophy of the community.

A mere 20km NE of Plett along the N2, the Crags is a hop and a skip away and truly is the ultimate day-trip destination. Nestled gently between the Tsitsikamma Mountains and the Indian Ocean, the Crags lies in a fairy-tale setting, each attraction hidden in its own piece of Garden Route paradise, enticing you to discover them all – a discovery that will satisfy the visitor’s every desire to truly get away from it all.

Calling the Crags a day-trip destination is somewhat of an irony, as there is just so much to be done in a day. But whether you plan to stay for a day or a weekend, the Crags offers an attraction- filled adventure, from which you will emerge touched and inspired at the beauty of the surroundings and the impact of what each attraction has to offer.

A Green Mamba on display at Lawnwood Snake SanctuaryThe Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary, first on the to-do list as you travel from Plett, is an attraction geared for the whole family. They offer hourly tours of their impressive array of indigenous Garden Route and South African snakes, as well as exotic snakes too colourful to remember and too many to count. The guides are unbelievably friendly and knowledgeable, and the experience has a genuine personal touch, as the guides go out of their way to involve willing members of the tour in discussion, frequently asking questions and challenging existing knowledge of snakes. Their aim, they say, is to dispel myths and mistruths about snakes as simply being dangerous creatures, and to create awareness about them as playing an integral role in all ecosystems, especially in the Garden Route.

So don’t be afraid as your guide jumps in and out of cages, giving you the chance to photograph and (sometimes) handle the snakes. It’s all for the purpose of a genuine, personal experience, from which you will emerge surprised and satisfied at your new found knowledge of snakes!

Next on the list is Bramon wine estate, directly neighbouring the Snake Sanctuary. There, you can enjoy a romantic lunch at their exquisite restaurant amidst the vineyards. Be sure to sample some of their now-famous Sauvignon Blanc or enjoy a glass of refreshing bubbly with your meal.

Bramon Wine Estate

Bramon Wine Estate

Although running for ten years, the farm boasted their first on-site production in 2010. Previously sending their grapes to Stellenbosch for fermentation and bottling, the farm now proudly produces their wine on site, a touch they believe made all the difference to the quality of their product. After tasting their signature ‘The Crags’ Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll understand why the opening of the cellar in 2010 was such a success.

Time spent at Bramon is guaranteed to leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed. Whether it’s from sampling their selection of fine wines, or enjoying your choice of delectable tapas-meze menu items. The best way to do it at Bramon is to combine them both, sitting comfortably, freely enjoying another gorgeous Garden Route day amidst the mountains and vineyards of the Crags.

Gorgeous scenery at KurlandIf you’re looking to spend more time in the Crags to enjoy its full potential, then the Kurland hotel is the perfect place to stay for a night. Enjoy the sense of refreshment gained from the Huguenot architecture and relax in luxury in what is one of the most stunning settings for any hotel in the country. The farm is the polo destination of choice in Bitou in the polo season, but whether it’s polo season or not, the grounds are absolutely worth a visit for their pristine and luscious greenery. Relax and unwind as you enjoy gorgeous views and the wonderful sight of the magnificent horses; they give that nice down-to-earth touch to the exquisite grounds.

Elephants enjoying their drink at the Elephant Sanctuary

Elephants enjoying their drink at the Elephant Sanctuary

The animal sanctuaries in the Crags are worth a day’s trip in themselves. The Plettenberg Bay Elephant Sanctuary, Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre are all sensationally rewarding experiences. Anyone who makes a trip to these very special wildlife centres is guaranteed to be moved both by the beautiful animals and by the work that is done to give the animals a home. All the sanctuaries offer hourly tours so it is possible to get them done in a morning or afternoon if you’re moving through quickly. The sanctuaries certainly don’t mind photography, but they ask that photographers be mindful and respectful of all the animals at all times.

The Elephant Sanctuary is a special experience, especially if you’ve never been that close to an elephant before! Visitors will have the fortune of walking side by side with Africa’s most majestic beasts, all the while learning about their fascinating behaviour from some very knowledgeable handlers. The handlers ensure a deeply personal experience, giving you the opportunity to touch and stroke the elephants, while they gently utter commands to keep the animals on their best behaviour and occasionally, to get their elephants to show off to the crowds. It’s a very special thing to experience such close human-elephant interaction and, during feeding time you can get even closer if you wish to have them eat out of your hand!

Monkeyland is the world’s first free-roaming multi-species primate sanctuary and is a very unique conservation initiative. Primates from big to small call the 12 hectares of indigenous forest at Monkeyland their home. Tours cover only half that area and so the animals are given space enough to live and enjoy a free primate life.

The tour guides are remarkably passionate about the animals and are personal encyclopedias of information. You’ll emerge feeling like a monkey-expert yourself, learning about and witnessing the behaviour of rare primates such as gibbons, lemurs of all types and sizes, chimpanzees, howler monkeys, the adorable squirrel monkeys and so many more. All of which happens in a completely natural environment making it all the more special.

Birds of Eden is also a unique conservation initiative, being the largest free-flight bird aviary in the world. The walk-about experience gives you the opportunity to spend some real, intimately-natural time in the bird-kingdom, listening to a myriad of calls and chirps and seeing constant splashes of fascinating colour all around you. It’s fantastic to see the birds up close, but equally as rewarding to see them flying free in the upper reaches of the forest. Being the Garden Route, the beautiful Knysna Lourie astounds in dashes of brilliant red and purple all-round as you walk through the forest, but don’t let them distract you from the beauty of the hundreds of other exotic and indigenous birds, each one beautiful and special in its own right.

 

Birds on display at Birds of Eden

Birds on display at Birds of Eden

Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre is a wildlife experience second-to-none. Though home to many of Africa’s wild cats, other precious animals such as penguins, cranes and bat-eared foxes are given a caring home here too. Some of the animals are brought here as a result of injury or mistreatment; others are born and raised in captivity. Whatever the reason, simply being fortunate enough to see some of Africa’s most precious wildlife up close, is a deeply personal experience never to be forgotten. Tenikwa also offers photographers tours and a special chance to take the cheetahs on their daily walk (both start at 7:30 am). Accompanied by guides on all tours, their passion and caring spirit for the animals are at all times evident, as they’ll tell you it is their aim to promote awareness of the beauty and significance of the animals, and their true place in nature.

There’s something for everyone in the Crags – even a visit to the Plett Puzzle Park, where you’ll be presented with challenging mazes and obstacles to get through, is something people of all ages can enjoy.

The attractions really do speak for themselves in making the Crags possibly the most worthwhile day-trip destination from Plett.

Cheetahs enjoy human interaction at Tenikwa

Cheetahs enjoy human interaction at Tenikwa

 

More info on the town of Plettenberg Bay More info on the Garden Route area



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