Monday, June 21

Steve: We are now officially in wind-down mode, and can definitely feel it. Today was another slow-paced day - the kind we all really feel that we need.

Our main activity today was a whale watch that we did on a small boat that left from right here in Knysna Lagoon. We spent about two hours on the boat, mostly watching a group of humpback dolphins and then a pair of humpback whales that were migrating along the coast toward Mozambique. The dolphins are actually an endangered species, with only about 1,200 left here along the South African coast. Unlike the more common bottleneck dolphins, they mostly keep to themselves and seemed to ignore our presence.

The humpback whales were very impressive, and treated us to a couple of huge breaches. The breaching behavior is thought to be used by the whales to remove lice from their bodies, but it's impossible to know for sure. We stayed and watched the whales for over half an hour before returning back to Knysna.

The most adventurous part of our time on the water was the passage through the Knysna Heads. The water was much rougher here than yesterday, and only after we got ready to pass through the narrow opening to the sea were we told that this is the third most dangerous sea passage in the world! Not to fear, however - our captain told us that he had over 18 years of experience in these waters. We were told to assume a "brace position" as the boat fought its way over and through some very large waves, and we were all very happy when we reached calmer waters out at sea. The ride back through the pass was much easier, as we simply found a large wave and rode it all the way back into the lagoon.

This afternoon we drove to the western side of the Knysna Heads, to a spot called Brenton-by-the-Sea. Here we walked down to a long beach that was being pounded by heavy waves and surf. We have found the waters here to be some of the roughest and most dangerous that we have seen anywhere. There are very few beaches that are safe for swimming, and there are some very significant undertows. The weather today was beautiful, and we enjoyed simply walking and relaxing on the beach, admiring the power of the ocean.

Tomorrow morning we will drive back to George, and then fly east to Durban. From there we will drive along the coast to a place called Umhlanga Rocks where we plan on staying for three days at a beach resort.












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