When the idea of finding people who’d be willing to travel with strangers to an unknown destination first came to mind, I thought it might be perceived with a sprinkle of skepticism, a dash of doubt and a decent serving of “Lady, you nuts?”.
Instead, a few minutes after I hit publish on this post, the first competition entry came through, then the next one and after that a few hundred more; all women (except for one male), all women residing in Nelson Mandela Bay, women who were ready for an adventure, women who agreed that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet, women who decided to step out of their comfort zone, trust a stranger and travel somewhere, to a location they’ll only find out the name of when I step on the brakes of the bakkie.
I wish that I could’ve given every single entrant a weekend getaway, but in the end there could only be two winners and while phoning one of the winners, I quickly learnt how creepy this all sound…
Anje: “Hi, who’s speaking now?”
Winner: “With whom do you want to speak?” (Her mother taught her well).
Anje: “I want to speak to a stranger.”
A few seconds of silence.
*Beep beep beep*
With a face of disbelief and my bubble burst, I look over to my friend who said, “You made it sound really creepy.”
I called again.
*Beep beep beep*
I have freaked her out completely.
So I sent a message, added a smiley face (which I now realise probably made it even creepier) and gave her a minute or two before I called again to tell her she’s a winner. Let’s just say that my second call to her went a lot better!
When it came to calling the second winner I decided to go with, “I want to speak to a stranger who wants to go somewhere with another stranger.”
Less creepy, right?
The Addo Edition of Going Somewhere Slowly with a Stranger
The two winners of the Addo Edition of Going Somewhere Slowly with a Stranger trip, Yolandi and Zhané, were awesome travel companions. They decided to trust their gut, they ignored the what ifs and just got into the bakkie… and off we went.
To top it all off (not sure who saw it but I kept my lips zipped) on our way to pick up the second stranger a black cat ran across the road.
Nope, just a cat crossing the road.
Watch the video highlighting bits from the trip.
Do you want to replicate the same trip?
Here’s the details:
Addo Elephant National Park
Getting there: Enter Addo Elephant National Park’s main gate; if you’re driving from Uitenhage or Despatch you can do it via the R75, then take a right onto the R336 and a left onto the R335. From Port Elizabeth, you can either detour via the same route or follow the N2 out of PE, make a slight left onto the N10 and at Patterson, take a left on the R342. Alternatively, to get to the elephants faster, enter the park from the Mathyolweni Gate and drive the 39 km through the game viewing area to the main camp.
Conservation fee: R69 p/adult (for this fee you can spend a whole day in the park) and R35 for children. Wild Card holders don’t have to pay this fee.
Game drive: While it is possible to do a self-guided game drive in the park, the insight and information one gets from a guided game drive is always a treat. A guided game drive starts at R365 per person and Addo Elephant National Park is the only national park in South Africa that offers a hop-on/hop-off guide where you drive and a guide gets in the car with you; it starts at R210 for a normal 4-seater car and the price depends on the type of vehicle.
Other things to do in the park: There are two picnic areas, one at the main camp and the other inside the game viewing area, in a fenced off section called, Jack’s Picnic Site, a curio shop and restaurant (Cattle Barron). You can also explore the park on horseback and learn about the history of the park and the legends of the park, like Hapoor and Domkrag, at the Interpretive Centre. There is the PPC Discovery Trail: a short walk in the main camp, one loop suitable for wheelchair users and visually-impaired visitors and the SASOL Red Bishop Bird Hide: in the main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users). If you have more time you can also visit the Zuurberg section of the park and enjoy more horse riding trails as well as hiking trails; a new trail just opened up here recently and the 12 km circular Doringnek Hiking Trail is a five-hour activity with a natural pool en route where you can cool off in during the warmer months.
Even though we didn’t stay in the main section of the park for this trip, there are plenty of accommodation options if you want to stay there. Visit SANParks’ website for costs and details.
Getting there: Follow the R72 out of Port Elizabeth and just before entering the town of Alexandria, take a right onto a dirt road, follow the signs to reach the Langebos Huts of the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park.
Conservation fee: R69 p/adult (for this fee you can spend a whole day in the park) and R35 for children. If you already paid this in the park, you don’t have to pay again. Wild Card holders don’t have to pay this fee.
Accommodation Costs: The Langebos Huts are two self-catering huts (sleeping 4 each, two bedrooms, one bathroom) and regardless of the number of people joining you – whether you are a party of two or eight – you will still receive the keys to both huts. The base rate for 4 guests is R1455; additional adult R260, additional child R130.
Even though the Woody Cape section is not a place for game drives, the area with its coastal forest vegetation is great for birdwatchers, there’s plenty of curious bushbuck and also hiking trails. Not too far from the Langebos huts you’ll find the Woody Cape Nature Lodge that gives you access to a great viewpoint of the longest coastal dune field in the Southern Hemisphere.
Get on that back road!
There is a sedan-friendly dirt road stretching from Woody Cape to Cannon Rocks and it is one of my favourite back roads in the Eastern Cape with its farms, rolling hills and ocean views. Make a pit stop at Cannon Rocks and its next door neighbour, Boknes, for a walk on the beach, a shipwreck or join the local fishermen and kite surfers on the shore.
Between this and that
From Cannon Rocks’ side, get on the R72 towards Port Elizabeth; if you have enough time you can stop at a few different farm stalls such as the Oakly Farm Stall (you have to try their pineapple juice), Boschoek Farm Stall and Tam’ Jazi Farm Stall. In Alexandria there’s also the Quin Sculpture Garden to check out.
All roads lead to Nanaga Farm Stall
Stop for a Nanaga pie and/or roosterkoek. It is a road trip law and a quick, easy and affordable meal.
Head out on the Sundays River and end the trip on a boat note
The Sundays River is the perfect end for your road trip and you can opt for an early morning bird watching tour by boat, a sundowner cruise, a sandboarding or sand sledding experience or, you can take your Nanaga meal on board for a lunch time cruise (you can also order platters from respective tour operators).
Boat trip costs: Starting from R270 per person for a 90 minute boat ride (minimum 3 people). Visit Addo Cruises’ website for sand sledding and Sundays River Adventures for sandboarding (both offer boat rides).
Don’t forget about the Nelson Mandela Bay Pass. With this nifty pass you will pay one price and can choose and do 5 activities in and around Nelson Mandela Bay. The 5-in-1 pass is R600 per person (R450 per child) and here are some of the activities you can choose from: a Sundays River Ferry trip, a 3 hour safari and lunch at Kuzuko Lodge, free entrance to Addo Elephant National Park, a 25% discount on the penguin island cruise and whale watching tour with Raggy Charters, a 50% discount on sandboarding at Sundays River and a free Adrenalin Addo Zipline experience.
These are only a few activities, there are more to choose from and if you do a quick calculation of how much the activities mentioned are worth you’ll see that a R600 5-in-1 pass will give you more adventure for your buck! Get yours today!
A massive thank you
First of all, thank you to everyone who entered! Maybe you’ll be the next stranger, who knows?
Thank you to Yolandi and Zhané, thank you for being the “Going Somewhere with a Stranger” guinea pigs, thank you for being such easy peasy travellers, so spontaneous and for trusting the idea regardless of what your loved ones thought about it.
Thank you to my co-pilot and right-hand for the trip, my mother, who dropped her own plans when my original wing women fell ill.
And thank you to the individuals and organisations in the tourism industry – Isuzu Motors South Africa, SANParks and Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism – I can’t thank you enough for bringing this idea to life and making it all possible.