Garmt Kolhorn – coastal road via Rooi Els
We met Garmt Kolhorn at the INF Congress in Ireland in September, 2014. He is the President of the Naturisten Federatie Nederland which has 60,000 paid-up members and 12 full-time staff and their Federation has, by far, the most votes at the INF Congress. Their Federation also has a lot of experience with legal matters related to naturism – particularly naturist beaches.
After the first day of the INF Congress, when we decided to go to bed, Garmt greeted us with “Lekker Slaap” (sleep well) which was music to our ears as many of the delegates spoke either German, French or a foreign language that I did not understand. That friendly greeting started a friendship that has built bridges between South Africa and Netherlands naturism.
Garmt was invited by me to visit “Sunny South Africa” and at that stage, I thought that SANNA would again have its AGM in Badensfontein during the WCNA camping weekend at the end of January so it made sense to invite him to be our honoured guest and our guest speaker for our SANNA AGM.
I spoke to Serge, the Chairman of SANNA and to Louis, the Chairman of Western Cape Naturist Association (WCNA) and also to Rudi, the Chairman of SunEden Naturist Resort and they all gave the plan their full support.
Garmt arrived at O R Thambo International Airport in Johannesburg and as the plane touched down, I received an SMS from him “I am HOME!” which made us smile of course. Yes Garmt regards South Africa as his second home – he had been here 3 times before so this was his 4th visit and Amanda and I immediately decided that this would be his most memorable visit to South Africa.
As he walked through the doors at International Arrivals, he had a huge smile on his face (normally reserved for close family who hadn’t been seen for a long time) and that smile did not leave his face much after that.
What a nice guy and so easy to please! He is also an early riser in the mornings, he eats anything you offer him, he kept saying things like “oh my goodness” and other expressions showing how impressed and grateful he was to enjoy our beautiful resort (SunEden) and our beautiful country (South Africa). So from the very first minute, Amanda and I felt completely relaxed in his company. Garmt is down to earth and not a “Big Deal” at all. He is also one of the most considerate persons that I have ever met.
He arrived at SunEden late at night, and even though we had booked him into “Budget Accommodation”, he was “over the moon” with the accommodation and of course the woman’s touch (thanks to Amanda) of some eats, drinks and welcome “goodies”. The next morning early, Garmt was swimming his daily 50 lengths in the huge SunEden swimming pool. We then had “Kaalgat Breakfast” (nude breakfast) at Sheila’s Restaurant which overlooks the dam which had been empty due to the worst drought in over 50 years. Fortunately it was partly full of water due to some recent rains so there was plenty of bird life. Impalas and Blesbokke walked past over the dam wall seen clearly from the restaurant.
Garmt was very impressed with the resort including the accommodation which we showed him – some Company-owned – others owned by share-holders. The convenience shop, boma/dance hall and pubs also impressed him but most of all, Garmt likes to have peace and quiet away from traffic noise and away from busy shopping centres. SunEden offered him 4 days and 4 nights of peace and quiet and he was happy to read books, he tanned, swam and liked to “kuier” (socialise) with the naturists around the swimming pool. Of course, he had a “braai” (barbeque) and as usual he really enjoyed every meal and every discussion with the locals but most of all, he really enjoyed the warm weather and clear skies. Recently he had been in temperatures as low as minus 12 in the Netherlands and not much sun so he was “in heaven”.
On the Friday afternoon, we took Garmt to Mongena Lodge in the Dinokeng Game Reserve which is about a 15 minute drive from SunEden. In the 2 weeks before that, we had twice taken visitors to Mongena and we had seen 3 of the BIG 5 the first time and 4 of the BIG 5 the second time so we were hoping to see all 5 of the BIG 5 this time. Elephants, Rhino and Buffalo are normally easy to find but Lions and Leopards are not easy to see. We saw lots of game including those 3 of the BIG 5 but no lions or leopards. We did however see Cheetahs, Giraffes, Zebras, Hippos, Crocodiles, lots of types of buck and a few animals which are evidently not seen very often, so once again, our easy to please guest, Garmt, was very happy with the Game Drive.
On the Sunday morning we went to visit the Cullinan Diamond Mine which is about a 40 minute drive from SunEden. The tour started with a video and then we were taken through the mine ending at the sales counter. Garmt joked that the large diamond bought by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor, was not available for me to buy for Amanda and that second best was not good enough so we refused to buy diamonds. Once again, our guest didn’t stop smiling. Garmt gave me his opinion that Dutch Naturists would enjoy the Cullinan Diamond Mine Tour if they visit SunEden.
On Sunday Afternoon, there were over 50 couples at SunEden including the Management Committee of Gauteng Naturist Association (GNA) and Garmt was happy to speak about the NFN and their experiences related to naturist/nudist beaches. He answered all the questions and he looked very relaxed. Late that afternoon, Rudi, the Chairman of SunEden, made a short speech welcoming Garmt to SunEden and handed to him a DVD of SunEden and Garmt replied accordingly saying how impressed he was with the SunEden resort.
On the Monday morning we left SunEden and headed for Port Elizabeth which is about 1,000kms from Johannesburg. We had a leisurely breakfast at Mugg and Bean at Kolonnade then drove to Colesberg in the Karoo where we had “Karoo Lam” (Lamb) which is famous in South Africa. We were at that stage about half way to Port Elizabeth. Garmt enjoyed the meal at a local restaurant and he was also happy with the accommodation at the Colesberg Lodge. We had an early night knowing that our trip to PE also included a game drive at Addo Elephant Park. Amanda and I had not previously been there so we were looking forward to seeing the elephants.
We had breakfast at Colesberg Lodge and then drove to Addo Elephant Park which is near Pattison in the Eastern Cape. Just before the turn-off we noticed lots (maybe 50) elephants next to the road on another farm. After registering and receiving a map, Amanda marked the positions of the most recent “sightings” of various game animals according to their large map outside the main offices. Garmt was our navigator and he told me where to turn and so we did our own game drive but after an hour we had not seen an elephant yet. We had seen lots of Zebra, various types of Buck, lots of bush pigs and plenty of birds including the Blue Crane which is South Africa’s national bird but no elephants. We joked that Addo Elephant Park should change its name to Addo Bush Pig Park.
Addo Elephant Park
A few minutes later we saw lots of cars ahead of us and we then watched over 200 elephants having mud baths, drinking water and generally having fun around a nice dam. Wow! We had never seen so many elephants at once – not even in Botswana. We then headed for Port Elizabeth using the most convenient gate and much to our surprise, we saw more elephants and many other animals on our way to the gate. Our guest was smiling from ear to ear. Amanda is crazy about steak pies made by a farm stall called Nanaka about 25kms from PE so we simply had to go there. We arrived at Pine Lodge, and after booking into our chalets, we ate our pies which were delicious as usual. We enjoyed a few beers in the restaurant while overlooking the ocean and Garmt was in heaven again.
On the Wednesday morning we left the lodge early and we quickly showed Garmt the Secrets Naturist Beach which is close to Pine Lodge. We then drove to Jeffrey’s Bay where we had breakfast at a restaurant next to the ocean. After breakfast we went to see where the world famous surfing competitions are held in Jeffrey’s Bay and then we then drove to Tsitsikamma and showed Garmt the Big Tree. On our way there, for some reason Garmt did not want to do a bungee-jump which is the longest in the world. After that we took him to my personal favourite place in SA – the Suspension Bridge at the Storms River Mouth. Amanda walked ahead and proved that she was just as fit as the men but Garmt really is fit and he even ran up some of those wooden steps. I was puffing and panting most of the way but the views are certainly worth the long walk. We then drove to Plettenburg Bay where we had lunch overlooking the ocean.
Garmt & Amanda, Knysna Heads
We then drove to The Heads at Knysna which from the Viewing Point is breath-taking. We then tried to book a cruise from the Waterfront to the Heads but they were all fully-booked. Knysna must surely be the most beautiful town in South Africa. We then drove through Sedgefield to Wilderness where we booked into The Wallows guesthouse which belongs to friends of ours – we stayed there for 2 nights. Garmt was in his element with the upmarket accommodation but what impressed him most, apart from the free Wi-Fi, was the lovely view of the sea from the top of a mountain with NO TRAFFIC NOISE at all! We had an enjoyable supper and wine at a local restaurant in Wilderness and then we had an early night.
On the Thursday morning, we took Garmt to Oudtshoorn to see the Cango Caves and Cango Wildlife Tours. He had previously been to an ostrich farm so we skipped that and went directly to the caves which he really enjoyed. The Wildlife tours were okay – at least we saw lions, tigers, cheetahs, crocs and many other animals. During the tour we crossed a hanging bridge above some crocs and suddenly the bridge started shaking and people screamed, however, our guest simply walked slowly over the rest of the bridge completely relaxed – it was part of the fun/tour. The drive from Oudtshoorn to George is beautiful especially the 4 passes in the mountain range. Garmt walked into the Pam Goulding Real Estate offices and he fell in love with the Wilderness Area. He decided he wanted to buy a house there considering the exchange rate of R18 to Euro1 at that stage. That night we had a braai with Garmt outside his room and enjoyed a beautiful sunset while he browsed through the brochures of properties for sale. He decided to save up and to return one day to buy a property there.
On Friday morning, the sunrise over the ocean was stunning, and Garmt had already walked around the huge property by the time we surfaced. After breakfast, we headed for Cape Agulhas to show Garmt where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean. We took pics of him standing at the sign with one foot in each ocean. From there we drove to a naturist resort/backpackers lodge called Bare Necessities near Swellendam where we had been invited for lunch by the owners, Neels and Petro. They welcomed us with open arms and served a lunch that was “to die for” including homemade feta cheese and homemade butter on freshly baked bread. The weather was very hot there so we had an enjoyable swim in their swimming pool before we left there to drive to Badensfontein near Montagu.
We drove through beautiful mountains followed by winelands – on our way to Badensfontein where WCNA were having their popular camping weekend under huge trees on a wine farm in the mountains. Nude, in beautiful surroundings, with lovely naturists! It cannot possibly get any better than that! We were booked into a very nice cottage with a view over the camping sites and on arrival, many of the campers had already set up camp. Louis and Vernia were the perfect hosts and joined us for a braai on the Friday night. SANNA had decided not to have an AGM or any meetings that weekend but Louis, the Chairman of WCNA had asked Garmt to be a guest speaker to address a very informal get-together in the lapa on Saturday morning. The members of WCNA seemed to enjoy his presentation and after answering questions, we all relaxed in the pool.
That night we were treated to live music and a braai with salads. Garmt enjoyed every minute of the weekend and he made friends with many of the WCNA members. On Sunday morning, we thanked Louis and Vernia and we drove to Franschoek and took Garmt to the top of that mountain to look down on the town – certainly one of the most beautiful views in South Africa. From there we drove around the huge Theawaterskloof Dam and through the apple farms near Elgin to Hermanus. We knew that it was the wrong time of the year to see whales but we still enjoyed lunch at a restaurant overlooking the bay/ocean with beautiful views.
From Hermanus we drove around the coastal road via Rooi Els and Gordon’s Bay to Serge’s home in Somerset West where we stayed for 3 nights. We then enjoyed a swim in Serge’s swimming pool before we went to Bertus (Osbloed) van Niekerk to do wine tasting and to hear his “story” about being a pastor who decided not only to produce wine but also decided to make a wine bottle label using a nude lady on a horse. The grapes had been harvested using nude WCNA members which also resulted in lots of publicity. We bought a few bottles of “Osbloed” wine and went back to Serge’s home to do more “tasting”. It tasted so good that Garmt decide to take a bottle to Netherlands.
On the Monday we took Garmt to Cape Point, Chapman’s Peak, Hout Bay and the famous naturist beach, Sandy Bay which was quite a long walk but enjoyable. We then went to the V&A Waterfront to book a trip to Robin Island but it was fully booked so we decided to return the next day. We then drove up Signal Hill and looked down on Robin Island and onto the City of Cape Town with a beautiful view of Table Mountain. Garmt had previously been up Table Mountain so we skipped that. Serge and Floreen spoilt us with a braai and salads and we “tasted” another bottle of Osbloed wine.
Boat trip, Table Mountain
On the Tuesday morning we drove to the V&A Waterfront in time to go on the 11h00 trip to Robin Island but it was already fully booked so we booked for the 13h00 trip. That put a spanner in our works as we had planned to do wine tasting at Nederberg Wine Farm. We cancelled that and decided to go to the aquarium which was nice. We then went on a catamaran trip out of the harbour and without doubt it was one of the best boat trips that we had been on because we saw lots of dolphins very close to the catamaran. The views of Table Mountain from the sea were also breath-taking. Garmt was smiling from ear to ear again.
That afternoon, we went on the boat trip to Robin Island and we also went on a bus trip around the island during which time, we watched whales near Robin Island. We were then showed around the prison by a previous inmate who had served his sentence there during the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. Garmt enjoyed the tour and then we went back to Cape Town on the same boat. By then the wind was stronger and the water was very choppy so we didn’t see any more whales or dolphins. We then took Garmt to the airport in Cape Town where Serge and Floreen joined us at Spur for supper and a few drinks. When we said goodbye, we were almost in tears because we had enjoyed his company so much. He was even more emotional than us – we were sorry to see him go back to the Netherlands. Garmt has promised to return soon!