Do you see that small white dot on the edge of a shrubby cliff, overlooking the incredibly massive Indian ocean? Well that is a bird’s eye view of one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the privilege of staying at. It is near impossible to take in the beauty that this place has to offer. Jeremy and I had been meaning to go away for a few days over December, but as busy as Christmas time gets – we reached the end of the holiday just not finding the time. We had visited Bishops Cove once before and were thoroughly impressed with the place, we unfortunately did not have great weather during our stay and could not explore too much of the surroundings – much to our disappointment. We made a pact that we would return one day and experience all it had to offer. And what a wonderful weekend we had.
To get to Bishops Cove, you have to stray from the beaten track and trek down a bumpy gravel road for quite some time. It is a scenic drive with lots of country side sights and smells (lots of fresh cow dung wallowing in the air). The locals in the area are very friendly and you’ll get a number of nods and waves as you make your way along to the coast. The real fun starts after you pass the tail of a broken aircraft that is sticking up out of the ground. This is kind of like a landmark for Bishops. From here you glide between mealie crops that are about the height of six foot walls and finally you will reach the grassy green meadow (also used as a runway for microlights) which leads you to the entrance of Bishops. We arrived shortly after 5pm on Friday afternoon, the weather was gloomy and we had a fair amount of wind on our side. Upon our arrival, Joe, the site manager and lodge tourguide, greeted us with much excitement. Joe’s appearance has changed since I last made his aquaintence – he now has sunkissed hair which has been cut quite a bit shorter. He has also gained a few kilograms – quite understandable due to the amount of entertaining he must do over the December period. Anyway, none the less, we were glad to see him too. He took us staight to the reception where we met with Ed, Joe’s father. Just to clarify, Ed is a human, Joe is a Cockerspaniel and an intelligent one at that.
We settled in and decided to watch the sunset on the patio with some drinks. Joe joined us of course. Later on we decided to brave the more than gentle breeze and start up a braai. Let me tell you, the view from the patio is not something you will tire quickly of.
The Indian ocean extends for miles in front of you and the turquoise waters calmly lap the shore in the sandy cove below, the hills on either side also like to show off at sunset and sunrise, exploding with warm, beautiful colour. The patio extends around the back of the house where the view is just as exquisite – here you can see the densely packed kloof dotted with tiny birds darting from tree to tree and the acres of farmland in the distance.
Waking up at Bishops is a really easy and enjoyable experience. Our room was nearer the back of the house, we awoke to the pleasant chirping of the birds and the faint sound of the ocean shushing in the distance. 5AM on Saturday morning, I was awake and ready to catch a glimpse of one of the gorgeous sunrises. The windows in the house are big enough for a person to fit through, I found myself a kitchen window with a suitable perch to sit upon. The sunrise was fantastic, the sky was suddenly illuminated with reds, oranges and pinks. Mother Nature was showing off a quiet firework display. Joe joined me from the patio and took a minute to watch me click away on my camera. I got a few goodies, but nothing compares to the real life shot.
After a quick cup of tea at the cute little wooden kitchen table, we made some bacon and egg rolls and packed them into a lunchbox. We packed a bag with our swimming costumes and towels and made our way to the mountain trail to Periwinkle pool – a fairly large natural rock-pool at the bottom of the hill. Grey clouds began to loom above and cover the sunshine, but we didn’t let this dampen our spirits. Joe was very eager to show us the way and ran off ahead of us, stopping for us to catch up with him every so often.
Along the path, there are many photo opportunities and a bench or two for catching a quick breath. I found a really cool swing in the on one of the trees and decided to find a zen moment and meditate….a minute later I was back on the trail. My excitement was far too high for a moment of self discovery, but I could totally see how one could do that out here….once you had seen all there was to be seen. The trail to the rock pool is not too lengthy, but it is quite a windy trail that wraps around the mountain side. Wear shoes with grip, the decline can get you slipping and sliding. I would not recommend doing the trail if it has been raining, while sliding down may be easy, the climb back up won’t be so much fun.
Once at the bottom there are a few steep rocks that need navigating down, there are a few ropes to help you down. Periwinkle pool empties and fills up with the tides, we were lucky enough to get there just before high tide so the pool had a decent amount of water in it. We found a flat rock island that looked comfortable enough for two people to picnic on. Towels down, shoes off and egg and bacon rolls out, we sat and had breakfast surrounded by beautiful rock formations with the sea water gently tickling our toes. Joe was frolicking around in the shallow waters having a whale of a time. The weather was still overcast and gloomy, but the humidity was turned up high and a dip in the stunning rock pool was certainly something we were not going to miss out on.
The vibrant turquoise water was waist deep in places, had the tide been a bit higher it would have been slightly deeper. On the other side of the rocks you can hear the waves pounding down and crashing against the rocks and every so often a big wave will cause water to rush in from the sides. It was a fantastic experience, we floated around and enjoyed the peacefulness. The rocks surrounding hugged the rock pool and made you feel safe, although I was never at complete ease. The booming waves behind the rocks were a constant reminder that we were playing in Mother Nature’s domain, we kept a close eye on the rate that the water was rising.
We spent most of the morning at the rock pool and then made our way back up the mountain, Joe bounding ahead. We took a different route this time, we walked back towards the beach and then climbed back up the mountain. If you head down to the beach at the bottom of the cove, there is another trail that wraps around the mountain, it is quite challenging and daunting in places, but…if Joe can do it with 4 paws, then so can you. The mountain climb is not a piece of cake, we stopped at least five times to catch a quick breath and have a sip of water. Appreciate these moments by taking in the view. You’re definitely going to need to rest your shaking legs once at the top. It was lunch time when we got back to the house. We decided to get our jelly legs into the car and took a lazy drive to Oudebosch Farmstall. Oudebosch is about a 15 minute drive away and is situated just off the N2. Here we stocked up on some snacks and forgotten grocery items. The farm stall has lots of unique gifts, delicious baked goods, local wines and unusual preservatives. There is also a restaurant for those who want to stay awhile.
Late afternoon brought an immense heatwave followed by a quick rain shower. The sun graced us with it’s presence for the last few hours of the day. My parents, who live about 50 minutes away in Jeffreys Bay, decided to take a drive out and join us and Joe for a braai on the patio. We spent the afternoon staring at the captivating Indian ocean and sipping on sundowners as the sun gradually slid behind the hill. We had a great time, sharing stories and laughing. My parents left with daylight as they did not want to navigate the gravel road at night. Jeremy and I decided to go back to one of the benches we had found earlier, along the trail to Periwinkle pool. We took some sundowners with us and silently we watched the last of the daylight disappear and the little fishing boats chug along the blushing horizon. The humming of the ocean together with the chirping crickets in the surrounding bushes was so calming. We took some time to appreciate the beauty around us and then had to jog away from the hungry mosquitoes.
Morning dawned with dark grey clouds and occasional drizzle. We made some breakfast wraps and started packing up. We wanted to get an early start so that we could do the The Striptease trail situated in the middle of the Tsitikamma forest. Although we would have loved to have stayed a lot longer at Bishops, it was sadly time to leave the beautiful place. After saying goodbye to Joe and Ed, we hit the dusty road back to civilization at around 9am.
What a wonderfully perfect weekend we had here. We’ll be back soon. xx