The Garden Route, and the Origin of Modern Mankind

So having seen a bit of Port Elizabeth, it was time to take the Garden route and see about a place that Scientists and Anthropologists had discovered to be the point of Origin of Modern Mankind.

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The Garden Route is a stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa that extends from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape. The name comes from the diverse vegetation and greenery encountered along the way, with rugged mountains, gorgeous lagoons and lakes being the trademark of this coastline.

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The Route is sandwiched between Mountains and the Indian Ocean. It is so beautiful here, and you can see why this bit of South Africa might be home to many species of animals, flora and fauna, due to the varied ecosystems of the area. It also has unique marine reserves, is home to soft coral reefs, dolphins, seals and a host of other marine life.

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Anyway we arrive at Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay in the afternoon. We had a quick lunch at Pinnacle Point Beach and Golf Resort, from a gorgeous location, i.e. the Club House Overlooking the Golf Course.

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I have to say that this was one of the most beautiful golf courses I had ever seen, with the green over looking two beaches that stretch along four kilometers of spectacular coastline, which borders four hundred hectares of prime land, and homes that are situated on this craggy cliff. Guests staying at Pinnacle Point may enjoy the wildlife, bird life and wide variety of fynbos, which are home in this beautiful estate.

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Located half way between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, the Pinnacle Point Beach & Golf Resort is sprawling and green. You can tell with the bunkers just inches from the water, the course must be challenging.

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The resort is just a 3-4 hour drive from Cape Town and a 20 minute drive from the George International Airport. It is incredibly pretty. I would have loved to have stayed a night here as well!

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Precision is key! 

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Prime property you can be sure! 

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A delicious lunch was served at the clubhouse 

After that, it was time to do down to the Pinnacle Point Caves, situated below the Club house. First, we had a quick presentation by Dr. Peter Nilssen, who gave us some background info, to the Pinnacle Point Man. The Pinnacle Point Man is a name given to a group of Homo sapiens believed to have lived in a cave at Pinnacle Point 164,000 years ago.

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It is well documented that many anthropologists and scientist believe that Africa is the Cradle of Humankind, the origin of human life as we know it, where it all started. The Pinnacle Point Caves in Mossel Bay have revealed the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour – which puts Mossel Bay as the birthplace of culture and complex technology.

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These early Homo sapiens required tools and implements with which to hunt, cook, build and live. They constructed these tools out of stone, bone and wood. The remnants of these have provided much insight into the types of materials that were available during that early time, what they ate and how they lived. These all bear testimony to their way of life and level of advancement.

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Dr. Peter Nilssen, a very cool guy. It was in fact, himself, together with Jonathon Kaplan, who identified this site for science

The popular hypothesis also placed the development of mankind as originating from one central point. Furthermore, DNA evidence points to the fact that all mankind on earth originated, at some time in human history, from Africa. Also, there is nowhere in the rest of the world i.e. Europe, Asia, the America etc, of any evidence of modern thinking man that could be found prior to 45,000 – 50,000 years back.

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Excavations done over the last few years uncovered pieces of ochre engraved with abstract designs, beads made from Nassarius shells, bone tools indicating evidence of shell fishing, stone tools and a large number of small flakes indicating on-site production which the modern hunter might have utilized for hunting. Also, another fact is that modern hunter gatherers are always closely tied to climate and environment. They went where it was the easiest to live. As it turns out, Mossel Bay has the second mildest climate in the world.

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Excavations of a series of caves at Pinnacle Point since the year 2000 have revealed occupation by middle Stone Age people between 170,000 and 70,000 years ago, where the earliest evidence of the systematic exploitation of marine resources (shell-fish), symbolic behavior, evidence of heat treatment of rock to make stone tools and the use of ochre to beautify, have been documented.

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Anyway, to cut a long story short, it is believed that between 400 – 700 of these early modern thinking men and women, survived the ice age here in Mossel Bay and coastline to the West, which was habitable due to the known mild climate, by eating roots, seeds, etc. of the very hardy, diverse plant species and then shell-fish as protein. Shell fish is believed to may have been crucial to the survival of these early humans as they roamed the coastline of Mossel Bay.

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Then they, as origin of modern humans, moved up the coast of Africa, multiplied, the climate changed, earth heated, rains returned, and then around 45,000 ago years ago, these men and women, who originated and survived in Mossel Bay, walked into Europe, Asia, through the Bering Straits into the Americas and further!

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“Standing at the Point of Origin of Modern Mankind” That’s us in the photo.. can you guess which one I am? :)
photo credit : Mauricio of Trilhas e Aventuras

That night we return to Plettenberg Bay to a stunning hotel by the coastline again. It was one of the nicest accommodations on this trip – The Plettenberg Hotel is situated on a rocky headland in Africa’s most spectacular beach town and if a property could be 6 star, this would be it!

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It was small and intimate, with only 37 individually decorated rooms and suites, showcases the most breathtaking vistas in Southern Africa.

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With views of the ocean, mountains and endless stretches of golden beach, The Plettenberg’s location was awesome for catching the sunrise. The service was amazing as well, and they left in our rooms, a gift bag with nice things for us to discover about the place.

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Dinner that night was a swanky affair too. We started off with cocktails at the Sandbar. Then a 5 course degustation dinner, followed, which was one of the best meals I had on this entire trip.

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 Margaritas and Champagne, all round!

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This guy was good! He made some awesome cocktails too.. loved the Margarita! 

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Cheers, Team Luxury were totally psyched to be at the Plettenberg. The trip had been awesome thus far!

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The Plettenberg Seafood soup

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This soup was thick and had an oceanic zing about it, almost like a lobster bisque. It was made from sauce rouille, gruyere cheese and eaten with a crouton stick.

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Then came the Cape, Seafood plate – nicely presented bite sizes of smoked salmon, prawn and avocado, pickled calamari, whitefish tartar and thai scented fish cake.

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Next up was the Almond crusted Catch of the Bay – a generous slab of fish that was crispy on the outside, thanks to the almonds and sweet and succulent on the inside. Flavours of fennel slaw and lemongrass veloute were perfect complements to this dish.

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One of my favourite dishes for the night – a grilled Medium Rare Springbok loin, served with potato rosti, heirloom carrots, plum puree and green peppercorn sauce. Totally tender and spot on in succulence.

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Finally dessert of espresso creme brulee, traditional malva pudding, strawberry and chocolate eton mess and a dollop of apricot ice-cream,  had us clutching our sides with pleasure. What a meal!

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That very next morning, we were rewarded by the most gorgeous sunrise on earth. Shivering on my balcony at 6:30am in the morning, this was well worth the wait!

Soon, we would be driving to George to catch our plate at King Shaka International Airport. It was almost time to fly to Durban for INDABA 2014!

 

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Comments

  1. Awesome! I’m writing about that at this moment! hahahaha
    Love your pics ;)

  2. Beautiful pics and a lovely recap of the Pinnacle Point – you were taking notes! :)

  3. What a gorgeous coastline!

  4. stunning landscape! love your breathtaking photos and enlightening words (really) :)

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