5 THINGS EVERY JOBURGER SHOULD EXPERIENCE WHEN IN MOSSEL BAY
I say Cape Town, you say Table Mountain. I say Durban, you say Golden Mile. I say Mossel Bay – what do you say?
For as long as I can remember Mossel Bay has always been overlooked in favour of other, more glamour-infused destinations. At best it was that one-night stopover on a family holiday, at worst it was driven straight past without a thought.
But things are happening in Mossel Bay. Tourism-friendly operations are indeed alive and well, with a distinct feel and flavour of their very own. Wanting to explore and experience just what is going on in the land where Bart Dias first rocked up to in 1488, I recently headed down to Mossel Bay. My aim – to seek out five things every Joburger should experience when in this part of South Africa.
Just because you’re at the sea doesn’t mean you can’t get your safari lodge fix. Best of all, while on a game drive in Mossel Bay, you get to hear the magnificent sounds of the mighty Indian Ocean. This, as a giraffe strolls by. Pure magic I tell you!
Garden Route Safari Camp does a first-class job of providing a complete beach to bush experience, just 25 minutes from Mossel Bay. The luxury en-suite tents provide the perfect location from which to take some time out after a morning spent game viewing, with stunning views over the majestic Langeberg and Outeniqua Mountains. Guide Stephan is phenomenal, overflowing with passion for nature and a wealth of knowledge to boot, he shared insights into the bush-by-the-sea that had me transfixed.
Safari not your thing? Check out the log cabins at Dibiki Hartenbos with views for days over Hartenbos, a wholesome family welcome at Julsies Home Guesthouse in Kleinbrak Rivier or, for larger groups, the 12-room palatial home that is Mosselbos, set amongst the rolling hills of the Grootbrak Rivier.
One of the things I particularly enjoyed about Mossel Bay was the variety of cuisine on offer. Carola Ann’s, located in the heart of Mossel Bay, has a passion for serving fresh, wholesome food. Add to that the rather eclectic spot they have cleverly crafted from a heritage building, and some mind-blowing décor, and you could be mistaken for thinking you were supping in Sandton.
If you find yourself in Mossel Bay during the warmer months be sure to ask for a spot in the outside, upstairs courtyard. You need to go through the loo to get there, but it’s like sitting in an enchanted garden, complete with fairy lights. Ask owner Caroli to share the story of the resident ghost, then turn around and note your proximity to the location of that story! Ghost stories abound in this town, which is literally as old as the hills themselves.
My steak was prepared to perfection and really hit the spot after a day spent exploring Mossel Bay.
In the mood for something else to eat? Vista do Mar is the only authentic Portuguese spot in town, complete with renowned hospitality. For the best pizza in Mossel Bay, try Salty River Beerhouse (with more beer to choose from than you will have time to enjoy), or leave your shoes at the door and experience a traditional seafood beach restaurant at De Vette Mossel, with 13 different dishes served over 7 courses.
Head out to the Cape St Blaize Lighthouse in Mossel Bay and jump off a cliff, headed for the Mossel Bay Point. Just be sure to attach yourself to the Mossel Bay Zipline first, which stretches 1 100 meters and will see you reach speeds of up to 80km/h. Best of all, during high tide you may find yourself refreshed with a splash of salty seawater (be sure to close your mouth, trust me).
As you glide along the longest over the ocean zipline in the world, you will enjoy fantastic views over Mossel Bay, all the while screaming with pure joy. Sign up for the photo option to ensure your Instagram post is on-point as you relive your world record adventure.
Looking for something a little less adrenaline-inducing? Enjoy an eco-adventure as you quadbike along the Hartenbos River with ex-military man Melvern, who has a passion for conservation. Really enjoy nature? The Oystercatcher Trail offers four glorious days exploring the beaches, dunes and cliffs of Mossel Bay. This slack-packing route will introduce you to some of the most rugged and beautiful sections of the Southern Cape Coast, including Boggoms Bay and Fransmanshoek. All you need to do is walk.
At the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains, a mere 35 minutes from Mossel Bay, lies the mission village of Friemersheim. Established in the 1860s, this proud village with its neatly kept gardens, today has yet another feature to boast about. During the lockdown local artist Fourie Ackermann began painting wildlife murals on homes throughout Friemerseim, which this map will help you navigate.
Be sure to allow extra time to chat to friendly residents as you explore Friemersheim, they are always keen to engage. May I suggest you brush up on your basic Afrikaans greetings before you head out, to facilitate the friendly encounters?
Fancy a walk but not quite so far out of town? Enjoy a stroll through historic Mossel Bay and sign up for the ghost tour option, if you feel so inclined. Perhaps a more leisurely stroll is what you are looking for? Pop into the Hart en Bosch Village Market on all day Saturday, a market that is on-par with the likes of the Fourways Farmers Market and the Bryanston Organic Market. Best of all, they have revived the tradition of drive-in movies on Saturday nights.
Who didn’t (doesn’t still) enjoy a Coke Float from back in the day (over this past weekend)? Release your inner child, the grown-up way. Head on over to the Copper Lounge in Hartenbos, the working home of Harmony Gin Distillery. This uber-cool space will coax you along a Gin Journey as you sample the rather interesting gin cocktails owner Marlene and her sister thought up one Sunday evening.
The Captain Copper, resplendent with its copper-coloured ice and lightbulb placed dead centre inside your drink, pays homage to Nona the copper still. My favourite was the Gin Float. Imagine gin-infused Turkish delight ice cream, a splash or three of the Honeybush Gin and some lemonade, topped off with a delightful pink meringue. You’re welcome. What the heck, go on and have two.
Gin not your thing? Head on over to the Boplaas Wines tasting room in Kleinbrak Rivier. Boplaas was awarded Best SA Producer at the 2019 Michelangelo International Spirits and Wine Awards and boast an impressive array of wine, port and brandy. For a spot of wine tasting in a more rural setting, motor out to Jakkalsvlei Private Cellar, just 40-minutes from Mossel Bay. With the Langeberg Mountains as a backdrop, this is a place of stunning beauty with a wine pairing menu containing seven different options. Have you ever tried bamboo ash crusted prawns? No, well then you have to sign up for this pairing. I won’t tell you which varietal it was paired with, but believe me, it was paired to perfection.
In addition to all these great activities to keep you entertained while in Mossel Bay, don’t forget they also boast five Blue Flag beaches, including Santos, De Bakke, Hartenbos, Glentana and Klein Brakrivier Beach. Water sports and generally chilled vibes continue along the Hartenbos Lagoon which is perfect for budget-friendly family days out spent picnicking and swimming. Check out Mossel Bay Tourism and Garden Route Unexplored for more planning options.
Mossel Bay has worked hard to become a shining beacon of hope in the local tourism market. In a time in which we all need to play our part and support local, spending more than the traditional one-night stopover when you next pass Mossel Bay, could leave you wanting more! And you will be well rewarded.
Written by Ryan Enslin @mylimeboots.
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