The Perlemoen Trail.
One unconsciously enjoyable aspect about walking along the coast close to the sea with a group of women is that one never seems to tire of it or certainly I never did. The rhythm of the breaking waves and the accompany soft mist it breathes into the air every few seconds is like a heart that beats without instruction. This is the beauty of the outdoors: our bond with nature brought about just by being part of it, being surrounded by it which elicits in most humans, an unquestionable sense of calm and wonder.
Combine that with a guide who stops and explains the origins or purpose of the marine plant life and little sea animals found along the seashore and a chattering bunch of wonderful women with whom you can share intimate or funny stories when you want to and there’s a sure a recipe for goodness.
The so-called ‘hike’ was really more of a beach stroll, with only a moderate little uphill path on our last day when we made our last 6kms walk from the Gansbaai harbour to De Kelders. For the rest it was virtually flat the whole way and the paths were either jeep tracks next to the coast or the wonderful hard clean sand of the beach.
Here’s a brief summary of the Beachcomber trail run by Jason Stonehewer whose knowledge and passion for Pearly Beach and its surrounds was plain to see.
After delicious platters of prawns and some nostalgic Sultans of Swing numbers from the resident musician at the local pub the eve before, we started the day wrapped up tight from the chilly wind. We were dropped off at a point about 12- 15kms past Pearly Beach and made our way towards Quoin Point Nature Reserve and Die Dam.
The terrain was easy-going, the bits of info on red bait, rock formations and plant life fascinating. Lunch which consisted of nuts and nutty snacks, fruit and the most delicious wraps was enjoyed with a warm flask of tea all supplied by our Beachcomber hosts.
We ended the walk at about 3pm and were ferried back to our quaint guest house, Pearly Shells for a beer or a lie down with a book or whatever we felt like. It was a super place and definitely worth coming back to for another visit.
Dinner that evening was at another local spot and equally delicious. Large dishes of chicken pie and an assortment of salads. At the one end of the long table, I sat in between two of our group who I knew vaguely at the start but had learnt much by dessert. We all have our own stories. Such different stories, each our own. And how judgmental we are of others when we don’t know each others stories. Life in story.
The weather started a little cloudy but I was pleased for the suggestion to pop in a pair of shorts just in case! This time our walk took us from a spot about 17kms away from Pearly Beach and we made our way back there. Interesting stops along the way revealed a one time holiday resort which had failed the requisite environmental impact assessment and was covered, over the years, by the shifting dunes.
Highlights included a fresh water spring and then the most ideal swimming spot where a few stripped off quickly and dived into the somewhat salty, but invigorating water.
Without doubt, (apart from the swim!) my best part of the walk was the feeling of the cool hard sand on my bare feet and in between my toes, and the occasional creep of the gentle water when I ventured closer to the sea. This I learned (from the husband of a couple who had joined us, and who happened to have been an old friend I had last seen more than twenty years ago, the sister of a digs friend at varsity, and thus an added highlight for me!) was commonly referred to as ‘grounding’ and is vital to calm your mind and recharge your energy. Feeling both present in your body and connected to the earth allows you to re-align yourself physically and not only elevates your mood but is proven to expand your heart and spirit. Apparently it’s also known as earthing and has a balancing effect on the nervous system.
I can vouch for that. That little stretch of bare foot walking with sand on my soles, lightened my spirit and lifted my soul. I didn’t want it to end.
A stop at the Pearly Beach shop at the end of the walk for an incredible assortment of wares for sale – literally any type of gift or gadget imaginable , and then after a short rest, sundowners on the beach.
Tonight was party night! Supper at the club where the main dish was fish and /or calamari and chips but there was no way we were going to miss another ‘Rooibier opskop’. So back we were, us middle aged mums, having somehow caught the attention of the local fisherman who appeared en masse in the fishing village for a big fishing competition and insisted that we dance with them – plenty brandy and cokes accompanying the happy vibe!
Our last walk was a short 6km or 7km walk from Gansbaai along the path of entirely different vegetation, being greener and lush, past a beautiful tidal pool and quaint little milkwood forest and around Stanford’s Cove. It ending at some caves which we were told had been privately bought and specially constructed for a proposed hotel but currently on hold due to a property dispute.
We ventured in briefly and surveyed the stalagmites and stalactites and even bravely all turned off our torches for a few minutes to experience real pitch black deep darkness. At once eerie and entirely soothing is how it felt for me. But when a bat flashed past my ear I was ready to leave.
Our hike ended at a delightful little coffee stop in De Kelders where we shared our last meal and said our goodbyes.
I can highly recommend this little piece of paradise. Our footprints will surely have been covered over already but the memories made and friendships fostered will be with me always.
Here are some details:
Cell no +27 (0) 728904317