A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Lucy Hood

On tour

10 days of fun fun fun...and lots of driving!

View To Melbourne & Sydney & West tour & To Port Elizabeth on Lucy Hood's travel map.

My little and often plan is going well hey??! Or not! Sorry...again!

So, our 10 day adventure began with a very early start, but it wasn't long before our group of 23 started bonding and we ended up having an amazing time - with us forming a bit of a gang of 5. I'll give a brief description of what we got up to each day - missing out the hours of driving inbetween! For the best idea though, look at my photos!! Everything was with us on the tour bus - including food. We had sanswiches everyday (!) and all mucked in to help cooking every night.

Day 1
We left Perth and headed North to the Pinnacles Desert - these crazy rock formations (loads of pillars) which we got to wander around for a bit before continuing north to some huge sand dunes for sand boarding (basically sitting on a board like a skateboard without wheels and flying down the sand dune.) I totally thought I was going to bail, but didnt - and LOVED it!! After a swim in the gorgeous sea, we hit the road again to Kalbarri for our first night - watching an amazng sunset wen we arrived.

Day 2
After an horribly early rise (4.45!) we drove to Murchison Gorge in Kalbarri National Park where we saw Natures Window (an natural rock archway), and walked Z-Bend Gorge with the first of many crazy climbs down into the heart of the gorge. We then drove to Shell Beach which was incredible. Had a swim then drove to our next night stop at Denham.

Day 3
Today we went to Monkey Mia - a famous spot where wild dolphins come into the bay and swim metres from everyone who's lining up on the shore while the people that work there tell you all about them. They then select a few people from the crowd to come and feed them - and i got picked - WOHOO!!!! It was the most incredible thing ever. After i fed my dolphin (called Surprise), it rubbed the whole length of its body against my legs like a cat! I thin the photos of that moment show my excitement enough!

After another drive, we stopped to see the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool - the oldest living thing on earth (weird rock looking things!), then drove to Coral Bay.

Day 4
We had today to ourselves to explore Coral Bay and the surrounding Ningaloo Reef. It was incredible - a few of us decided to pay to go on a big snorkelling trip which included swimming with Manta Rays. Having only snorkelled once before in Rotnest Island, this was amazing!!! They sent a spotter plane up to tell our boat where to go for the manta-rays...and as it turned out also to keep us away from the Tiger shark that was near-by - whch swam passed the boat and attacked a turtle about 3 minutes after we got out of the water!!
Late afternoon we drove to Exmouth.

Day 5
We went for a wander around a national park where we saw lots of kangeroos then we went to Turquoise Bay which was the most beautiful beach so far for more swimming, snorkelling and generally chilling out! It was stunning! On the way back we stopped for a quick look at random Lighthouse then headedback to our hostel late afternoon.

Day 6
We left to head inland today towards Karijini National Park (about 6 hours drive), where we'd spend the next three nights sleeping outside - hopefully avoiding the 3 most deadly snakes that lived there! Once we'd arrived we went on our first big gorge walk. All our gorge walks consisted of some pretty hairy climbs/decents at some points but ended in amazing swims in gorge pools.

Day 7 & 8
Lots more amazing gorge walks, swims, climbs and camping! Day 8 was our last proper day - so it was sad saying goodbye to everyone - the others carried on to Broome, while we had a wonderful 2 days of solid driving to get back to perth!

Day 9 & 10
One last early morning short walk and swim then we basically sat in a coach for 2 days, stopping to sleep in a cattle ranch on the way (where we had a deadly redback spider behind the door!)

Not got enought time now to put my photos up but will try to do it asap!!!!!

Posted by Lucy Hood 12:52 Comments (0)

Perfect Perth

West coast adventures

View To Melbourne & Sydney & West tour & TO Perth & To Port Elizabeth on Lucy Hood's travel map.

Ok, so i'm officially rubbish at this blog thing! My new approach is going to be little and often so my lengthy descriptions (which i'm sure you're all enjoying!) will be saved for special occasions!

Arrived in perth after a very long day and jet lag, so had an easy first day involving a wander into the city, making dinner and going to bed! Over the next three days we went to Cottesloe Beach (recently quite famous because its where the held a memorial for Heath Ledger as it was one of his favourite spots), Got a ferry to Rottnest island (totally pedestrianised) where we hired bikes and snorkel stuff to explore and went to Kings Park outdoor cinema. We also had a few good nights out and made some good friends - particularly with one guy Paul who was in our dorm.

After many the lengthy discussions about how we were going to explore the rest of the west coast, we finally decided to book on an official tour which would take ten days (expensive but turned out to be worth every penny!). We then ended up with a few more days before the tour left so we hired a car and decided to head south for 3 nights and Paul decided to join us for a bit

We drove to Margaret river (a famous wine region), stopping off in in a village or two on the way...we managed to catch some of the West Oz Ironman race in one village which was awesome to see! In Margaret river we visited a few wineries and cheese factories as well as visited some amazing caves and beautiful beaches with some Irish girls we made friends with.

We stopped for a night in Bunbury on the way back to perth, went to the cinema to see New Moon (whoop!!) and also had our first close encounter with a dolphin - it swam about 2ms from us!!

Once we were back to perth we had a bit of a night out as a girl we'd met was leaving, then very late that night Mikey arrived so we had a quick hello before all getting to bed ready for our VERY early start ready for the tour (which Mikey also managed to book on!!

Posted by Lucy Hood 01:25 Comments (0)

Road trip begins...

wine tasting, whales, off road adventures and hostel perfection...

View To Melbourne & Sydney & West tour & TO Perth & To Port Elizabeth on Lucy Hood's travel map.

(The map should be zoomed in...but my blog is not behaving itself - you'll have to zoom in yourselves!)
This is going to be a mamouth entry - sorry!!!!

Day 1

We got up early to leave Cape Town to start our road trip adventure heading towards the famous wine region of Stellenbosch. Driving inland a bit was amazing - the scenery changed so quickly - it wasnt long before we were in amongst the hills and vineyards.

We got to our hostel - 'The Stumble Inn' (!!), and left to go on our organised wine tour. Went to 4 vineyards, learning a bit about the process of making wine and how to taste it at the first, and then concentrating on the actual tasting at the others...with some cheese tasting too.

Had a fab time - the views and vineyards were just STUNNING...the wine wasn't bad either! Met some lovely people too and ended up buy some things on the tour to have a cheese and wine party together back at the hostel in the evening.

Day 2

Today we headed to Hermanus which is a famous land-based whale watching spot...we got there, went for a bit of a walk and...didn't spot any whales - Bugger! Luckily we were given a tip about another little spot where we might be able to see some, so we carried on to there. It was this tiny little spot, as we pulled up in the car we straight away saw about 6 whales. We sat there for aaages looking at them and having our packed lunch!

Eventually we tore ourselves away to head to our next sport - Cape Agulhas which is the most southern point of Africa where two oceans meet. Here we had the choice of driving about half an hour back in the direction we came to join a big main road that would take us there the long way...or go on a 'secondary road' which looked like it would get us there a bit quicker.

We went for option B and ended up on a dirt/grit/rocky road which took us into the middle of NO WHERE. I cant stress how in the middle of nowhere we were - we were inland and surrounded by fields and fields of nothing - beating up our poor picanto with the grittiest rocky road ever, in 30+ heat. All of this would have been a fun adventure if it wasnt for the fact that half way between nothing and more nothing and nowhere near our destination...our petrol light came on!!!

As the driver i was trying to hold it together while Anna had a (small?!) panic - but i think both of us were absolutely..erm...scared (parents reading!). We saw a random car and asked how far it was till the nearest petrol station - the guy helpfully didnt really speak english but we worked out he said about 50k! So we stuck the picanto extreme into 5th gear and prayed very quietly...along the most nervous drive of my life, i managed to run over a snake and kill a bird (all his friends flew away but he took off to join them too late and paid the price)....so i was squealing like you wouldn't believe!!

Anyway - our heroic picanto somehow made it - i swear i've never breathed a bigger sigh of relief, we practically hugged the petrol man! All of this to get to a spot which turned out to be a big let down...there was a plaque saying 'This the most southerly point of africa'!!! Whop!! Ahhh well, it makes a good dramatic story!

We then hopped in the car again to drive inland to a place called Swellendon. We could enjoy the drive this time and loved the surroundings and wonderful sunset.

Arrived at our hostel (erm...our room was a shed with 5 bunkbeds in!) in time to a bbq (braai!).

Day 3

An easy day today after yesterdays dramas! Went for a morning hike up to see some little waterfalls which took a few hours then drove to our next stop - Knysna, via a stop at Mossel Bay for lunch and a bit of beach time.

Day 4

Had a guided tour to the Knysna heads - a really narrow entrance from the sea to a lagoon which Knysna town surrounds. We then went for another hike - which started out as rather rubbish due to some bad signposts (we ended back where we started after about half an hour!) but then after a false start, ended up to be an amazing hike down through forrest which out of nowhere opened up into a private beach where we had lunch. It took us about 2 hours to get down but we took the 'alternate route' back which was essentially directly up the steep cliff - it took us about 20 minutes but was SO steep!

We then drove to our next stop in storms river and arrived at hostel perfection - the most idyllic spot EVER! Hammocks, star gazing, beautiful rooms and wonderful hosts who did our washing!

Day 5

This morning we went tubing which is basically sitting in a big rubber ring and floating along rivers! Wasnt quite how we expected as the water was low, so there was a lot of walking with our tube and very little current so we had to power ourselves along. There were a few big jumps people did though...i did one little one but was too scared to do the others!

After getting back to the hostel, we were supposed to leave and drive to our next stop, but we loved the place SO much, we decided to stay another night and enjoy a relaxing afternoon (complete with jacuzzi with the water heated over a big fire!)

Day 6

Drove to Jeffreys bay to try and do a spot of sunbathing but it was too windy so we treated ourselves to a big breakfast there before carrying on to Port Elizabeth. Once we got there we went for a walk to a shopping/restaurant area, then went to a pub and had a bit of an impromptu night out.

Day 7

Today we went to Addo Elephant park - a huge safari sport which you can drive around in your own car. It was amazing! Lots of driving seeing nothing, but then you suddenly stumble across loads of elephants/warthogs/zebra/buffalo!

At one point we found a herd of about 15 elephants hidden in the bush, and one by one they started crossing in front of us to the other side. One HUGE elephant walked SO close to the car. We paniced and wound our windows up so fast! Caught it on video - but with a background sound of Anna and i panicking 'Oh my god...oh my god!!' getting higher and higher as it got closer and closer!

Day 8

Got up early to spend an exciting day at airports! Flew from Port Elizabeth to Joburg and spent 9 hours at Joburg waiting for our flight to Perth....YAWN! But chatted to a few people and ate some cake!

Posted by Lucy Hood 17:46 Comments (0)

Cape Town in all its glory

Lucy discovers her love of hiking...but not the leg pain after hiking!

View To Cape Town & To Melbourne & Sydney & West tour & TO Perth & To Port Elizabeth on Lucy Hood's travel map.

So, after a horribly early start, we arrived in cape town - stepping off the plane into glorious weather! HURRAH!

Day 1
The taxi from the airport was amazing - the first sight of Table Mountain was incradible...as was every other sighting after that - it never looked the same twice.

Got to our hostel then went for a walking tour of the local area suggested in the lonely planet - saw lots of the local sights including the major sight of where slaves were bought and sold - and the balcony where Nelson Mandela did his first speech to the public after his release. Also walked through these amazing gardens with loads of gorgeous little areas, hidden gardens and fountains etc. - beautiful!

After a chill at the hostel we walked to the V&A Waterfront which took a lot longer than we thought! A general toursit hot spot at the harbour with lots of restaurants/shops etc. (A bit like Pier 39 for those of you who have been to San Fran!). There we treated ourselves to a few cocktails while we watched gazed at table mountain and watched the sun set!

Day 2
We got up early planning to head back to the waterfront to get a boat to Robben Island (Mandelas prison) for a big tour...but the hostel told us it was sold out so, in about 5 minutes we decided we'd climb table mountain instead...threw on our hiking shoes and armed with nothing but a big bottle of water, a small packet of pringles, sun cream and a hat off we went... Probably not the best preperation but we survived!!

We hiked up one of the many routes to the top, probably the shortest distance wise but tough going! Basically 2 hours of 'steps' over big rocks, lots of scrambling up on your hands with VERY little shade. But - I LOVED it!! Was leading the way powering on (i KNEW the gym was working Bainer!!). Bring on Kili!!!

Finally got to the top where you can do hours more walking but we headed to the major area where the cable cars was and major view poitns for lunch. After we re-fuelled we threw out our original getting the cable car back down idea, got cocky and decided to climb down too!!

I struggled a lot more with this so it was Annas turn to lead the way - felt i'd lose my balance and fall down the whole time - and it was TOUGH on the thighs...our legs were shaking by the end haha!! Got a boost and stopped moaning when we pasted a 80 year old climbing up with about 5 people helping her with each step - Her excuse for taking her time as she passed us was 'I'm sorry, have lung problems'. What a hero!!

We were supposed to meet up with my friend that night but it didnt work out so we celebrated our hiking achievement with some drinks at the hostel and a bit of night out with some people there!

Day 3
Despite suffering a little from our celebrations the night before, we still managed to get up early to try heading to robben island again...alas it was for nothing - tickets were booked up till Tuesday so we had to abandon that plan. Ended up going shopping, wandering along the coast and heading to the beach for a bit. I say wandering...i mean hobbling - our legs from the hike up the Table were hilarious - we looked like Bambi learning to walk! Experimented with gettting a 'mini van' on the way back...essentially these little vans that whizz around yelling out the window where they are heading...if you're going their way you stop them and hop in and join anyone else whose going that way too! Work out very cheap - though one driver i think over charged us when he heared we were english..he got very excited and kept saying 'Lovely jubbly'...of all the english phrases to reach SA!

In the evening we went on a sunset cruise (sp?!) of the harbour in a catamarane to see CT coastline...(i bought Anna her ticket for her birthday...which id forgotten!). It was beautiful - if a little windy and choppy. Luckily you got given cosy blankets (whoop!) and free champagne! Saw some seals and a dolphin!

Got chatting to a lovely SA couple and later a Gay married couple from Brighton who ended up inviting us to join them for dinner - which was lovely. Went to a very posh restaurant which we felt a little out of place in given that we'd not been home since 9 that morning...plus it blew our budgetting rather! But BLESS Chris and Dave - they ended up insisting on paying for everything. We've said we'll meet up again in Brighton and treat them to dinner in a year or two!! Food was AMAZING - i had springbok...yum yum!

Day 4
We picked up the car today - after an annoying start (company were rubbishly organised and the guy didnt have a clue what was going on - but about an hour later we finally hit the road!)...

Guess what we had Han... a PICANTO!!! Whoop! Not the picanto of love this time (our car in Vilaricos!)...this time it was 'Picanto EXTREME' (all will become clear later - our car survived a lot!).

We drove to Cape Point - a national park including the most south westerly point of africa. The drive there was amazing - gorgeous coastal views. Once there we went on a walk to various viewpoints and despite our legs still being like jelly - we braved the 200 steps down and a big run down a sand dune to a secluded beach, . It was worth it - there we had our little packed lunch and watched as a Seal (Cecil as we named him), frolic about and hop on the rocks right in front of us!

After the climb back up the dune and 200 steps (ouch!) we got even more amazing views and i spotted a Whale!! Whoop! We then surprised ourselves even more by deciding to climb even more steps to the lighthouse and the official most south westerly point...we practically ran down afterwards - it made the pain not last as long!!!

I then did my first bit of driving - we headed back to CT via a different route - stopped to see a beach full of penguins and then for Tea and Cake in a lovely area called Kalk Bay. Got back to the hostel to have dinner, pack and then My friend Trev and his Girlfriend came to meet us for a drink in the hostel which was lovely - not seen him in three years!!!!

The next morning we left Cape town and the road trip adventures began....

Posted by Lucy Hood 05:54 Comments (1)


The fun begins!

View To Joburg & To Cape Town & To Melbourne & Sydney & West tour & TO Perth & To Port Elizabeth on Lucy Hood's travel map.

Hi all!!!

Sorry its taken me so long to start this thing! I'm going to summarise as much as poss - its been a jam packed few weeks!!!

I'm HERE!! Hurrah!

After a teary goodbye to my sister, followed by a LOT of text messaging and phone calls to as many people as possible - (right up until the plane started moving!) - i was finally on my way.

The flight went without a hitch - other than i really should have done less film watching (The ugly truth, julia and julie, AND harry potter!) and more sleeping...but oh well!! (Han, i totally recommend The ugly truth - Gerard is HOT!)

Once i'd arrived at the airport i had a fun 3 hours wait for Anna to arrive - got chatting to a SA woman...who was unfortunately rather dull..but it helped pass some time!

Anna finally arrived - looking BEAUTIFUL and brown as..something really brown and beautiful. We got picked up by the hostel and taken there and gossiped and caught up the WHOLE way (much to the delight of the guy who picked us up i'm sure!)

The rest of our first day was filled with cups of tea, settling in, wandering to the local shop etc...we were both rather tired!

Next two days in joburg were great though...here's where i'll bullet point!

We went on a tour organised through the hostel...could ramble on for HOURS here as we went to loads of places...

1) Went to the centre of joburg to the top of the tallest tower in Africa... Got an amazing view of the city.
2) Headed to Soweto - a township about 15k south of the city and where there are 8 major 'informal settlements', which are essentially shanty towns/tin shacks. We visited the largest one called Kliptown - which has 42 thousand people living there..no electricity/running water etc. (and only 42 taps). We met Bob, this man that set up SKY - Soweto Kliptown Youth, this community centre/library etc. where kids can go/live and be educated, supported etc. He was a real inspiration. Could write about it for aaages!
3) Went to various famous landmarks related to the apartheid - including the hector pieterson memorial dedicated to the first boy (aged 13) to be killed during the student riots against schools being taught only in afrikaans (the language of the essentially white middle class). Was fascinating/upsetting.
4) Went to the apartheid museum...arrived late though so didnt get to see it all...so we went back the next day to do the whole thing again!!!

Evenings in the hostel consisted of a few sophisticated dinner parties with a portugese guy we made friends with and a gay couple from the netherlands! We had a lot of fun cooking up a storm!!

Despite all the worry/hype about joburg re. safety etc. i'm really happy we came and got to make our own opinion. Granted there are some dangerous areas to avoid - but so has most cities!! All in all we had a fab few days! The only downside was the weather! After is being warm on the first day it was flipping FREEZING and rainy...thank goodness for my ugg boots!

We then flew to Cape town after a horribly early start!!...continued in my next entry!!

Love to you all!!

Posted by Lucy Hood 10:09 Comments (1)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 21) Previous « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 » Next