Mossel Bay on the beautiful Garden Route is a rather low-key holiday town that holds a special place in South African history, as this was the first place that the Europeans actually set foot on the country’s soil. That was when the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias first ventured ashore here in 1488.
Actually, given the waves and swell that our tender had to deal with to get us into the small port here, then I think that Dias did pretty well to come ashore. But, other than the Dias connections, there’s not a huge amount to discover in the town, although its lovely beaches have now turned the place into a relaxed holiday resort.
So, if you want to discover Mossel Bay’s history, you have to visit the Bartolomeu Dias Complex to go to its small Maritime Museum where the star exhibit is a copy of the caravel that he sailed all those thousands of miles on from Portugal. When you see its diminutive size, you really do marvel at the sailing skills (and sheer bravery) of those hardy Portuguese mariners all those centuries ago.
We also saw the famous “Post Office Tree” where the early sailors would leave their messages in a boot, for any passing sailors to collect and bring home on their next epic journey. Seeing as some of my Christmas cards didn’t arrive until February, it was probably more efficient than some postal systems!
Other than the (predictably) underwhelming shell museum, that was it for my sightseeing in Mossel Bay. Fortunately, Tracy did a much more interesting walk along the Cape Blaize trail, taking her along some lovely coastal scenery, and giving her some close encounters with the cute-looking dassies, furry little creatures that look vaguely like groundhogs, but are somehow related to elephants.