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Mossel Bay

© Jennifer Stern© Jennifer SternThis sheltered bay was a haven for European mariners in the early days of the exploration of the African coast. It was here that a sailor left a message in an old boot under a milkwood tree and – fantastically – it was found and delivered to Portugal. This act of spectacular postal efficiency is commemorated in the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex, where you can still see the gnarled old post office tree. Inside the museum you will find, among a whole host of other displays, a full-size replica of a 15th Century Portuguese caravel. It’s the real thing, and was actually sailed over from Portugal in 1988 as part of Mossel Bay’s quincentenary celebrations. Other attractions include good seafood restaurants, nearby game sanctuaries with small game, good diving, excellent surfing and the opportunity to go sailing, horse riding or bungy jumping. The nearby St Blaize Trail offers a lovely day walk, with fantastic clifftop sightings of dolphins and, in season, whales. Hikers who like their luxury, can do the Oyster Catcher Trail which runs along the coast. It’s a slackpacking trail, which means it is escorted and catered, and all the luggage is taken to the overnight spots by vehicle.

Mossel Bay is one of the termini of the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, an authentic narrow-gauge steam train that runs from the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George to the Maritime Museum in the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex.

Mossel Bay is considered to be the western edge of the Garden Route. It is on the N2, about 400km east of Cape Town and just a little bit closer to Port Elizabeth in the other direction. The closest airport is George, about 50km away.


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