after an extremely early morning drive where once again the big cats of africa eluded us, we meandered slowly out of hluhluwe and towards the pristine coastal region of st lucia. the largest estuary in africa, and a protected natural reserve, st lucia is home to crocodiles and hippos, as well as an incredible number of rare bird species.
the town has a relaxed and peaceful feel, and instantly we were very comfortable and happy with our decision to visit st lucia. open-air restaurants and shops line the main drag on this one-street town, and quaint guest houses and lodges offer a welcome change to the rougher accomodations we had been used to. the temperature seemed to have risen dramatically in the last few days, peaking upon our arrival, making the midday sun nearly unbearable. we settled in at the sunrise lodge- an unbelievably appointed log cabin, priced cheaper than our basic rondavel in hluhluwe, and with decor and ammenities nice enough to rival any modern apartment in the city. the major selling points being the swimming pool + hammocks overlooking the hippo-laden waterfront, and the frigid air-conditioning in the room.
we walked along the coast just meters from wallowing hippos as they frolicked and grunted, and even caught glimpses of crocodiles just off the shore. locals fished at the waters edge and we watched the sun slip behind the massive sand dunes in the distance.
that night we ate the best calamari of our lives- prepared in a variety of ways, and relaxed on the deck at the most popular restaurant with a fantastic bottle of south african wine.
the next morning we drove north to cape vidal where i reached the pinnacle of my excitement- multiple prolonged encounters with wild little vervet monkeys! and yes, i got EXCELLENT shots of their bright blue scrotum! they danced along the tree branches above our heads, brazen enough to dip close as we walked below. the beach was white sand and crystal blue ocean as far as the eye could see and we walked along peering into the small tidal pools admiring the fish and small crabs which inhabited them.
reluctantly we departed st lucia that afternoon and pushed further north and inland, having completed the entire stretch of the N2 highway from cape town to just past piet retief, stopping for our final night at a waterside lodge, falling asleep for the last time under the stars of south africa.