We finally got to the vacation part of my trip in SA. I mean this whole time has been my vacation, but Efrem finally has his 10 days of time off. So now we’re in the middle of a road trip through the garden route. We took this trip before in the winter to Plettenberg Bay so that I could go bungee jump at Tsitsikamma, so now we’re seeing some other parts. Side note: the car ride was definitely more beautiful in the winter when everything was green and the flowers were in bloom–now all those rolling hills are a summer brown.
Our first stop was in Oudtshoorn, which is famous for the Cango Caves and their bounty of ostriches. The caves were incredible. It was hot, humid and slippery inside but it was well worth it. We did the adventure tour which takes you through all sorts of uncomfortable and narrow tunnels. They actually warn you if you’re kind of on the “curvy” side that you really can’t do the adventure tour, because you’ll get stuck. Five years ago, some woman insisted on going and got stuck, just as they said she would, for over 3 hours. Shame.
It’s really difficult to take good photos underground, especially since I’m an amateur photographer. It’s one thing if you have time to set up the photo and try different settings and different lighting, but much of the tour I only had time to point and shoot. Funny enough, on the way back out when I thought I’d take my time and take photos, I thought I was taking some really nice shots, only to get back and find they were ALL grainy and blurry. Maybe the lack of oxygen was warping my perspective. But out of the hundreds of photos I took under there, I did get a few really beautiful photos, and that’s all you can ask for. There was one section where I couldn’t take the camera with me–through the Devil’s Chimney. It was just too tight, especially with my hips. The tour guide was telling everyone who went before me to use their legs to pull them up this almost vertical tunnel [imagine the horizontal military crawl except vertically]. but with my hips, I actually did not have enough space on either side of me to pull my knee up to get a grip with my foot to propel me forward. So–thank you INSANITY–I literally just climbed the tunnel with my arms. The little room we ended up in was pretty cool, hence my disappointment in not having my camera–and then to get out you had to shimmy on your belly through a 21 cm hole that was about 3 1/2 feet off the ground and then roll on to your back and slide out. It was all crazy. But we had a great tour guide that kept us all thoroughly entertained.
After we finished the tour we were heading back to town after deciding NOT to go to the ostrich farm (I really had no desire to ride an ostrich, they just seem too mean), and we saw a sign that said ‘Rust en Vrede’ with a waterfall symbol. The hostel manager had told us there were waterfalls around, but we actually weren’t sure whether it was a waterfall or not. But we took a chance and drove down this long winding DIRT road for about 10 km only to get to a gate where we find out we have to pay R40 to see the damn thing. We had come that far, so we paid. We drove on some more dirt road, got to a trail head and got out and walked. We could hear the water, and walked over some bridges and along winding paths until we got to a field of boulders. There were a couple pools of clear water and then the large cascade of water, that when the sun hit, just sparkled. The waterfall was breathtaking and definitely worth our ambiguous, dusty ride and our money. We stayed there for awhile and took pictures. It would’ve been nice to swim, but the water was pretty chilly and we were starving. By the time we got back to the hostel Efrem’s car was (is) filthy. We ended our day at a restaurant where I got an ostrich fillet (to make up for skipping the ostrich farm tour), and bought the south african favorite milk tart for dessert.
Next stop: Sedgefield & Knysna.