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Overview: We spent 5 nights in Knysna (pronounced Nye-zna, where Nye rhymes with Die), one night longer than expected since I spent a night in the hospital. We also visited a monkey park and took a surfing lesson.

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Arrival, Town, 4 of 5 stars - strongly recommended! Monkeyland, Surfing Lesson, Hospital, Departure
Satellite Photo: See this satellite map with pushpins and then zoom in at least once. Or the South Africa satellite map.
Arrival: We arrived from Mossel Bay, which is 100km (2 hours) to the west, having stopped along the way in the dull town of George (the largest Garden Route town, its main virtue being it has an airport) for groceries and a failed attempt at coffee (the cafe was closed!). We didn't stop at the town of Wilderness and its namesake National Park, nor at little Sedgefield on the coast, nor Buffalo Bay with its on-the-beach backpackers due to the weather. It rained the whole way, so we were tired when we checked in to the lovely Yellowwood Lodge (B&B) and promptly napped for a few hours (something I never do in the daytime unless I am sick or really exhausted). Our room was an upstairs end unit in a 2nd building with a big covered balcony, a mini-fridge and nearby second sink.
At one point during our stay we had a long interesting discussion with the proprietor Ernest, about B&B life, as he had come from a workaholic office life in Argentina.
At Knysna Head looking back to lagoon and town Town: Knysna sits on the head of a large lagoon; actually it is an estuary since a river does drain into it. The entrance is a narrow channel through two high cliffs, making the lagoon one nice large protected natural harbour. Looking at the channel from the town (i.e. out towards the ocean), the left (east) cliff is full of ugly big houses, while the right side is a preserved private nature park.

The first evening we enjoyed a nice seafood dinner at 34° South, a funky deli/store/resto on the Knysna waterfront, which, you guessed it, sits at latitude 34° south.

The next morning we stuffed ourselves with the terrific breakfast (great omelettes) in the B&B's main building, which had very long (6m at least) planks of Oregon Pine original wood floor (brought over by boat decades earlier from the US west coast).
A little further down the main we found a used bookstore (I actually found a used Harry Potter book!) and an Internet Cafe (for later use) above the cinema.
Other sailboat going through Knsyna Head We drove to the waterfront to check on harbour cruises, choosing the 90 minute 3 of 5 stars - recommended! Featherbed catamaran fun sail to the Knysna Heads, which is the opening to the large natural harbour. This new cat was only 4 months old and in great shape, with bean bag chairs on the front transom. Being on the cool water, it was definitely cool when the sun wasn't shining (or behind the sail). We sailed past ritzy houses on the appropriately named Leisure Island, then up to the Heads, motoring close to but not through them, as this is one of the most dangerous harbour entrances in the world. In fact, most boat insurers specifically exclude it! The off-center channel weaves through 2 sandbars and there are big waves and tidal action.
Tip Tip: Don't try the hamburgers from the stand on the waterfront, they were terrible, albeit edible.
We drove to the east head and enjoyed coffee and dessert at the aptly named East Head Caffe, sitting on an outside deck with a nice of the heads' straight (the water passage). The five minute walk up the path for a closer look at the cliffs and water yielded some nice views!
Then we drove to the top of the east head which had a lovely lookout trail, with views back over the lagoon to Knysna town, and out to the ocean. The path/boardwalk was cliffside with several viewing platforms, running in front of some large and expensive houses (the house on the point was even for sale).
On the way back to town we did a quick drive through Leisure Island, which has a road around the water's edge, keeping the houses on the inland side and an open shoreline on the water side of the road. There were lots of joggers and bikers on this flat island.
After some Internet action, we enjoyed dinner at the nearby cozy Cora's Corner.
Spider monkey Monkeyland: One morning we drove east along the coast, through lots of road construction, past Plettenburg Bay (known as "Plett"), which is also the far end of the Garden Route. Our destination: 4 of 5 stars - strongly recommended! Monkeyland, a sanctuary for primates rescued from zoos and private homes. And monkeys just happen to be Susan's favourite creatures on this trip.
The entrance fee included a one hour long guided tour, which is entertaining, informative and essential if you want to learn anything.
We skipped the Garden of Eden next door, a huge net-enclosed aviary (separate entrance fee).
Some things you probably didn't know:
  • Only North/South American monkeys have prehensile tails.
  • Primates have colour vision and opposable thumbs.
  • All monkeys have tails, but not all tailed primates are monkeys.
click to expand/collapse the following section(s) Additional details: These are the main monkeys we saw, and some tidbits about them:
On the way back we stopped in Plett for a beachside lunch and beach time at Hobie Beach.
Surfing Lesson: We drove to Lookout Beach in Plett for our noon 2 ½ hour surfing lesson with International Surf School, which consisted of a van full of surfboards in the beach parking lot. There were about a dozen students and several instructors. On the sand they first taught us how to paddle and jump up onto the board, which seemed easy enough (ha!). It turns out that surfing is 90% paddling, and 10% riding. And all that paddling against the surf to get out far enough to try to ride was very tiring, making it that much harder to push my upper body up just before trying to jump onto the board. By the mid-lesson break one of my knees was scraped and bleeding (good for attracting sharks :-) and I had a dehydration headache. Susan almost crashed into some rocks riding the board in (lying down) for the break, and then she was too tired to go back out for the second half.
Other sailboat going through Knsyna Head I probably should have stopped too, but I was determined to make it up. On the way into the water, I was chatting with an instructor and stupidly held the surfboard in front of my body, so naturally a small wave knocked the board into my ribs. Later I would notice some nice bruises there. I wasn't wearing sunglasses or a hat, which was adding to my dehydration / sun stroke. And the occasional mouthful of sea water wasn't helping any. The best I managed was to stand for about 1 second as I missed a wave. So close!
On an instructor's recommendation, we drove to the Rod n Reel for lunch; this is a holiday park's inexpensive resto up on the hill above town, with nice views. I had a fish chowder and grilled hake (the fish that is often used for deep-fried fish & chips). The former was fishy, the latter was tasty. Top it off with a local (Knysna) Mitchell's Lager and a big glass of water. Susan's meal was ok but not as memorable as mine after we drove back to the B&B for some rest...
Suddenly I got a migraine that just wouldn't go away, along with sensitivity to light (fortunately I rarely get migraines) and so I laid down on the bed saying I would be good to go in 20 minutes. Famous last words. I did not feel like getting up at all and within an hour I started throwing up...
click to expand/collapse the following section(s) Additional details: If you really want the graphic details on my misery:
The next morning, Susan extended our stay by one night and called the next B&B to explain our arriving the following day. This was unfortunate since it would crimp my carefully hand-crafted schedule :-) and because this B&B was our most expensive lodging in South Africa after the resort (thankfully the next B&B kindly didn't charge us for the missed night). This also necessitated in having our laundry done here in the expensive Garden Route; we didn't see a laundry price list at the B&B but were surprised how large the laundry bill was.
In the early afternoon, Susan called the doctor who said that a stomach flu was making the rounds and that I would probably be fine since I was holding down bread and water and had not had much of a fever during the night. About two minutes after Susan hung up the phone, I threw up again. Susan went out for some groceries to help in my recovery, in addition to using the Internet and having a quick dinner.
Since I had been sick while she was out, and again right after her return, Susan called the doctor who told us to "come on down!"
Hospital: We arrived around 20:00 at the small Knysna Private Hospital. The emergency room was surprisingly empty (much unlike the public hospital, presumably). The nurse put me on a bed and called for the doctor (literally, she called him "doctor") while Susan filled out forms for me. Yes, I was that feeble at this point.
After two or three IV drips to rehydrate me -- which, incidentally, cleared up the migraine in minutes! -- the pleasant Dr. James Norval asked me to pee in a cup so he could verify my kidneys hadn't shut down (not a detail I needed to hear, really). Actually, he asked me "when did you last wee?"
Jan in hospital bed My urine sugar (glucose) level was 20+ (where a normal reading is 7-10), so the doctor was concerned about a possible sudden onset of diabetes! He waited thirty minutes, then tested my blood sugar level (pricking the finger like diabetics do) which was still elevated. Since he wanted to wait a further hour before re-testing my blood sugar, and it was already late (and he was going home I think), he admitted me for the night.
They wheeled me down the hall and into a quad-bed room, banging into door frames along the way. Luckily there was only one other patient in the room. While there was an individual TV above each bed, there were no headphones available at that late hour. This was fine, since all I really wanted to do was sleep. They changed the IV to a slow saline drip and gave me sedatives. No funny gown exposing my butt; I slept in my T-shirt and underwear.
An hour later at 22:00 they tested my blood glucose again and it was close to normal, meaning no diabetes! Susan went home at this point, and I had a great night's sleep - at least until 6:00 when the bright overhead lights came on followed shortly by tea and biscuits. At 6:30 they pricked my finger for yet another blood glucose test. I couldn't fall back asleep, and read until the respectable breakfast at 7:00.
On my 4th visit to the washroom, the nurse burst in on me to give me an IV stand.
Susan arrived around 9:00 to pick me up. I paid with a credit card, then went next door to pay for and pick up my latest lab results.
Departure: After a late checkout and a quick lunch at Knysna Oyster Company's resto so that Susan could try the oysters homegrown in the Knysna lagoon while I had the waiter bring me a cup of hot water which I poured into a store-bought cup of soup.
Then we left for the long drive to Graaff-Reinet in the heart of the semi-desert Karoo, about four hours north of Knysna. We started out on a long gravel road through scenic valleys and passes, on what felt like a logging road.
Groceries from SparR100
cheese (x2)R13 each
Cadbury chocolate (x2)R7 each
5L mineral waterR14
disposable razorsR38
plastic bagR0.18
Dinner at 34° SouthR165 + tip
½ tomato soupR17.50
garlic snailsR32
shrimp saladR48
seafood bisqueR36
appletizer & grapetizerR12 each
200mL soda waterR7
Coffee at East Head CaffeR50 + tip
filter cofee (x2)R7.50 each
coffee refillR4
milk tart (a S.A. dish)R16
scone w/ creamR15
Dinner at Cora's CornerR127 + tip
brie (not baked!?)R29
Caesar salad (w/ anchovies)R34
chicken w/ peasR44
wine glass (x2)R7 each
Laundry at Yellowwood LodgeR189
underwearR5 each
towelR12 each
T-shirtR19 each
shortsR10 each
socksR5 each
pantsR15 each
Groceries from SupersparR132
cup of soup (multiple)R5.59 each
smoked turkeyR11.80
200g Marie biscuitsR3.69
soft drinksR5 each
1.5L still waterR7
750mL AppletizerR12

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