Welcome to The Timeless Voyagers blog! We are so excited you are here. This is our first blog post and we are privileged to share our travels with you. We thought about our first post for a long time – how to best introduce ourselves and share our passions with perfect strangers (just joking – hey moms!). We decided to share our engagement story. A story of international love between a German and a South Africa, surrounded by nature on the Striptease Hike in Tsitsikamma.
An accommodation gem in Tsitsikamma
The second half of April is always a good time to go away because of all the public holidays in South Africa. We looked at areas near Port Elizabeth and quickly came to Tsitsikamma. Our goal is to try something new each time we travel. Tsitsikamma is an area known for its green forests and extraordinary coastline. It is also a place that we hadn’t explored in far too long and place we hadn’t been together. We found a great deal on Booking.com to stay at Armagh Country Lodge and Spa. A central, easy-to-find and quaint place with a delightful restaurant on site. Long weekend + great deal = perfect getaway!
Armagh (said ah-ma) is a place we would stay at again. We stayed in the loft room; a great open planned space with a window looking onto the mountains. The place was clean and the staff were very friendly, always ensuring the guests are well taken care of.
During one of the dinners, we complimented the chef via our waitress on the butternut and orange soup, honestly saying we didn’t think we would enjoy it as much as we did. Our waitress came back to the table with a printed copy of the recipe. We were surprised and she replied simply, “family share recipes”.
There is a spa on site where we enjoyed a couples package. The spa was very popular, with people coming and going throughout the day. Both the restaurant and spa are open to the public (not restricted to the Armagh Lodge guests) so even if you are staying elsewhere, stop in and see what is on offer. We told the manager our plan to hike the Striptease Hike and he called ahead for us. It was the culmination of small acts of greatness that made our stay there unforgettable.
About the Striptease Hike
The river water was described to us as Coke-Cola coloured, and that was exactly its colour. Don’t let this detract from its beauty, the water was fresh and clean. A few points about the hike along the Kruis River:
- Location: Tsitsikamma Lodge and Spa (big signage along the N2)
- Length: 5 km
- Route: The hiking trail is along the river to the top or final pool. There are two options for the return route: (1) back along the same river trail, (2) shorter path (roughly 20 mins) up and along the hill
- Difficulty: For any fitness level but must be ready to climb along and up rocks
- Cost: Free
- Check-in and -out: Sign in at the Tsitsikamma Lodge and Spa reception so that they know you are on the hike and that you returned
So where does the name come from? The Striptease Hike is so named because the idea is that hikers follow each rock pool name as an instruction for dress code. For example in the Topless Pool, you get in topless; the Bottomless Pool means bare bottoms only; Kaalgat Pool means skinny-dipping.
The pool names are Pebble Pool, Honeymoon Pool, Cataract Pool, Halfway Pool, Bikini Pool, Topless Pool, G-string Pool, Bottomless Pool, Boobs Pool, Fantasy Pool and Kaalgat Pool (Kaalgat is a South African term meaning naked).
Our story on the hike
After signing in at the Tsitsikamma Lodge and Spa reception, we made our way through the pine forest, down to the river. Maps are provided at the reception – we forgot to take one and instead took verbal directions. Although we have geography based degrees, we got lost before we even started the hike (something fairly typical for us as Geographers as this wasn’t the first time ): be sure to follow the blue spray painted blobs on rocks and trees along the way!
The distance between the pools was about 15 minutes, some were nearer and some were further. We swam in the Honeymoon pool (one of our favourite pools) and picnicked at the Halfway Pool. Throughout the hike, I was in and out of the backpack, whether I was getting plasters, snacks or sunblock. Daniel always watched intently as to what I was doing but he always seemed to brush it off when I caught him staring, laughing at my clumsiness or constant need for food.
We eventually reached the wondrous Topless Pool. Admittedly, our nudist-confidence levels are low and we went with the plan not to striptease, especially with random hikers about. Surprisingly, we were the only hikers around even though it was a spectacularly sunny day. The Topless Pool was shallow and was perfect to sit or float in. Instead of following the pool name instruction, Dan suggested we skinny-dip already. With no one else around and being warm from the walk, it sounded like a good refreshing plan.
Lying in the cool water with the gorgeous forest surrounding us was truly sublime. This fast became one of our favourite hikes as we are both nature-lovers. The setting of the river and forest was a perfect piece of heaven for us.
(Fun fact: we both hold one of our postgraduate degrees in Environmental Water Management, and higher degrees in Geography).
Dan got out and went to the backpack under the premise of taking photos of us in the pool. I wasn’t too keen on this idea (as someone who is incredibly self-conscious the thought of posing nude was a no-go). So, I turned away from him.
Sneakily he had somehow hidden the ring in the backpack. He climbed back into the pool with this most magnificent engagement ring, saying the most heart-warming things. I was crying… probably ‘ugly crying’ – it’s a family trait (kidding, not kidding).
The proposal in terms of scenery setting and ring choice was the perfect representation of us. He chose to propose in nature, with us at our most raw-natural-beautiful selves, in a setting that spoke to both of our souls. Just the two of us present. Simply loving each other as we are, for who we are, wherever we are; and not for what we have
We eventually got out of the pool and started redressing. Dan says “hello” as if greeting someone and I look at him with the facial expression of ‘yeah right, nice try, but I’m not falling for that trick’. Much to my embarrassment fellow hikers appeared, greeted us and swiftly moved on (awkward!). We were both almost fully dressed but my face still went bright red. For me, the situation was a simple example of the old adage ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. It was a small step out of my comfort zone but I entered into a new life chapter with my incredible partner, in one of the most special moments of our lives
Welcome to the voyage!
This is us: a slightly quirky, ever-growing, travelust couple. We always look for adventures, especially if it takes us out and into nature. South Africa is a country with so much to offer and we want to share its greatness with any and everyone.
We look forward to connecting with you further. Thank you for joining us and we hope you will follow along with our journey. We welcome suggestions of places to go or things to do and would love to know your experiences at the different places we travel to. Find us on social media or leave comments after the blog posts.
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