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PROTEA HOTEL — MOSSEL BAY SOUTH AFRICA

Story and photos by

Located in Mossel Bay, on South Africa's scenic Garden Route, the Protea Hotel Mossel Bay is halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on the Indian Ocean coast.

Statue of Bartolomeu Dias, the first navigator to depart from Cape of Good Hope
Statue of Bartolomeu Dias, the first navigator to depart from Cape of Good Hope
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Built in 1846 as a warehouse, it once held ochre, which was exported to England to make paint. Today, it features 31 rooms. Some are self-catering suites.

The main building, one of the oldest in Mossel Bay, is part of the Bartolomeu Dias Museum. The complex includes The Granary, The Culture Museum, The Maritime Museum, The Shell Museum and Aquarium and the Old Post Office Tree, which gave the hotel its former name: the Old Post Office Tree Manor Hotel.

A stone shoe postal box marks the location of South Africa's first post office.
A stone shoe postal box marks the location of South Africa's first post office.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

A large milkwood tree, nearby, was the first post office in South Africa. In 1500, the captain of a ship bound for Portugal left a message in an old shoe tied to the tree. The commander of the Third East India Fleet found it, in 1501, on his way to India.

The old post office tree is now a national monument. Letters mailed in the stone shoe, beneath it, receive special postmarks.

The hotel's Gannet Café serves fresh coastal oysters, mussels, grilled King prawns and Mossel Bay sole, indoors, and on a patio overlooking the ocean.

The Guinness Book of Records claims Mossel Bay has the mildest all-year climate in the world, second to Hawaii. Southern Right Whales calve in the bay between June and November. Dolphins come year-round.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Protea Hotel Mossel Bay: www.oldposttree.co.za

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