September 16, 2008

Hermanus Wildflowers, Wild Woman and Whales; Moyo Dining Experience

Spring (UK fall) in Hermanus yields wild flowers and whales in abundance. Easy trails through Fernkloof Nature Reserve lead us through green hills decorated with sprays of pinks, yellows, reds, whites, blues and even charcoals.

Waterfalls pour into a pool of liquid stained by tannins to the color of dark brewed tea. The rockfill dam reservoir is up to 70% this week, but will empty in summer.

A steep descent drops us into to Bientang's Cave Restaurant in Walker Bay, named after a completely self-sufficient woman who protected her cave in the late 1800s. She hurled rocks and insults at intruders, and then disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While gorging ourselves on grilled line-fish and calamari ($35 for 2), we spot our first whale, a Southern Right. (And no, I am not trying to pass off a log floating on the Thames for a whale - this is for real!)

After lunch, we stroll along the Fernkloof Cliff Path, spotting almost a dozen Southern Right and Humpback whales breaching, diving, spouting, and swimming on the surface

One final photo of a Dassie (Cape Hyrax - most closely related to the elephant) lounging on the patio of a posh house overlooking the ocean is a whimsical end to a day of flora and fauna in Hermanus.

The day may have ended but we still need to experience Moyo at Spier. It is a chilly evening to dine under tents, and the blankets Moyo provides never quite keep me warm. Shortly after we are seated, a woman uses a delicate brush to paint our faces with what I describe as "white-out." We swivel around to view dancers on one entertainment stage and can peer a bit in the distance to see entertainers on a second stage. The buffet offers ostrich, venison, mussels, fish, and many native dishes I cannot begin to describe. We enjoy everything we try. A man gives us each a postcard to fill out and address to any place in the world, and he promises to stamp and post it for us (mine arrives home in the UK a few days after I return). Five singers croon sweetly at our table during dessert. Our bill for two, including our share of two bottles of Pinotage, is less than $60 including tips. After living in the UK, this is like eating for free!

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