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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

TRAIL DIARY: Eve's Trail, 9 - 11 August 2013 (Mercia Riekert)

Day One

It's a beautiful, warm winter’s day as I drive to the Duinepos Chalets in the West Coast National Park. My clients arrive and we all gather to "meet and greet". What a diverse bunch of people! There's a medical doctor, a psychologist, an ophthalmologist, a couple of volunteers involved in rescuing penguins, a remedial educator, a nurse and a tourism officer. Tongue in cheek, I request that anyone in need of medical attention kindly consult our on-hand doctor -- someone quips: "...or maybe the psychologist!" I just know this is going to be a great couple of days. These folks are friendly and jolly, the perfect kind of group to bring out the best in a Trail. 

Duinepos Chalets

It turns out that one couple, Rob and Sameera, are Muslim. They're celebrating Eid (the end of the holy month of  Ramadan, marked by fasting from sunrise to sunset) on the trail. This is some way to break that fast! I'm quite sure they're not going to be disappointed.

Our itinerary is jam packed from the moment guests arrive, and we soon set off for an afternoon walk through the dunes. My clients are in awe! The vistas we encounter are greeted with copious exclamations of "Spectacular!", "Wow!" and "Awesome!" I simply have to smile. This is the West Coast, folks! They are amazed when I serve them snacks and sundowners, miraculously appearing from nowhere it would seem.

Back at the Duinepos Chalets, Natasha and Caroline serve a scrumptious supper at the Boma and, to put an exclamation on the perfect end to a perfect first day, Oom Eddie entertains them with lovely stories about the whaling station at Donkergat. Then it’s off to bed for an early start tomorrow.

Day Two

After a nutritious breakfast we set off for 16 Mile Beach. My clients are avid hikers, two of them having conquered Kilimanjaro! They're clearly in a different class. We encounter eland, bontebok, and a few bird species such as prinia, sun birds, Karoo scrub robin and magnificent flamingo in the lagoon!

Spring on the West Coast
Lunch Time at Kraal bay is a feast, with my clients basking in the afternoon sun. Then it’s back onto the shuttle to the drop-off point and our walk back to Geelbek.

Andrew & Judy McKenzie relaxing on the beach at Kraalbaai
We stop off at Geelbek Restaurant for pre-dinner drinks and a light snack, and then take a brisk walk back to our accommodation for yet another one of Tannie Caroline’s West Coast dishes. This time we get served in my chalet, which Natasha has turned into a cosy restaurant, candlelight and all!

Geelbek Manor
Day Three

After breakfast we head for the Seeberg lookout point. There is a light drizzle, but it doesn’t last long. It’s low tide when we stop at Gravity to enjoy our snacks. The spring flowers to the top of Seeberg Look out are spectacular and everybody just enjoys the beauty!

The last stretch to Seeberg lookout. The flowers are incredible!
Then it’s time to hop onto the bus and get back to Duinepos where we are joined by Andrew and Judy’s children, Cara and Joel. Joel is celebrating his birthday and after all the birthday wishes have been bestowed, my clients tuck into their indulgent Sunday lunch, complete with Chenin Blanc and Merlot from the Darling Valley before heading back to Cape Town. I discover that my Muslim clients drove all the way from Port Elizabeth, and are now making their way to Wilderness on the Cape South coast for a night or two. What a way to end the Trail!

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