I know – this follow up post has been a long time coming, but thankfully with the year winding to a close, I have somewhat more time on my hands 🙂
After leaving the not-as-nice-as-expected Knysna, the only other place I was adamant to venture to was ‘Ostrich’ country. Having been met by the disappointment that Knysna was no longer genuine ‘oyster’ country – I knew that Oudtshoorn would not disappoint.
Oudtshoorn (pronounced Oats-hu-wern), a little town nestled cozily just before the Swartberg Mountain Ranges and boasting more than just ostriches as its claim to fame – as it is also home to the ‘Cango Caves’. I had no expectations of the town itself, but was really just looking forward to the ostriches and caves. We had no accommodation bookings, because my husband who huddles in a corner at the mention of ‘planning’, said that I should book – and I told him that we should just wing it… which we did. On the GPS we located the nearest guesthouse upon entering the town, stopped – enquired about the rates (which were really good) and then booked in. Having arrived quite early in the morning – we unpacked the car and then set forth.
I had no pre-conceived notions about the place – but this little town sure blew me away. It was entirely reminiscent of what a little South African Town had been like back in the early 80’s (since that’s as far back as I can remember), prior to all the political nonsense and other stuff which so unnecessarily plagues this country’s past. It was simply beautiful! It was clean and the historical buildings had been looked after and maintained in pristine condition. The air was filled with a radiant warmth and welcoming feeling – which made me not want to leave the following day!
Our first stop was the Cango Ostrich Farm, where we enlisted ourselves on the guided tour and having missed the two large tourist busses which had stopped just prior to our arrival – our tour happened to be ‘exclusively’ ours! Just the two of us 🙂 It was truly special.
(Left) Hugging an ostrich never felt so good 🙂 (2nd) Judging by the look on his face, I don't think he enjoyed it nearly as much as I did (3rd) Apparently they can carry quite a substantial weight. NOTE: No ostrich was harmed during the taking of this picture (Right) Let them see the corn.... and it's a whole different kind of crazy!
After a brief intro on how the ostrich ended up here and the lucrative history of the ostrich feather (and that at one point in time was worth more than gold of the same weight!!), we were afforded the opportunity of being able to ‘hug’, feed and ‘sit’ on the ostriches. These rather docile and doe eyed looking sweetie-pies come right out of the dino era, or so we were warned and that when angered can kill a grown man with one fierce forward kick of its two toed foot. Also good to know that they’re right up there with cheetahs as far as land speed and that the best way to avoid getting severely injured by an ostrich is not to run, but to lie completely flat?!?! – only because this will set you out of its peripheral vision. Another handy tip to note, is that the most valuable asset to the ostrich is it’s eyes!! Those big beautiful eyes, with to-die-for-lashes! They are so protective over their eyes, that they will shy away from any possible threat, so in the event that you wish to move unharmed through a herd of ostriches perhaps, be sure to carry and flank yourself with ‘thorny branches’.
These charming creatures were definitely my highlight! They are truly delightful creatures with such unique personalities…
Such cute harmless looking creatures, who can pack one mighty kick!
They are also very much like swallows in the sense that they “partner” for life – however, in the event of one passing away, strangely the female moves on to find another mate, but in the instance of the female passing…the male will never take another partner!
Ostrich eggs are quite clearly a feat all on their own, as they are able to hold and sustain quite a substantial weight!!
As the day settled into early afternoon, with the lazy July sun wanting to settle, we still had much adventure time ahead of us, I eagerly wanted to get along to the next ‘notch’ on our itinerary… we needed to see how far the Cango Caves were out of town and how long the total trip through the caverns would take us, so that we could establish if we still had enough time to get it done. Even if we had found the time constraints choking the afternoon into evening and hadn’t been able to go cave crawling – the spectacular view and drive more than soothed my restless self. The scenery in the outlying areas are simply stunning and we were blessed by the spectacular sight of the Swartberg Mountains, blanketed in snow! All I wanted to do then, was get to the mountains…
The Swartberg Mountain ranges covered in beautiful snow!!
The above stunning backdrop is what you will experience first hand from the deck of the Cango Caves ‘waiting area’ – we sipped on hot chocolate and took in the scenery, while deciding whether to take the ‘Standard’ or ‘Adventure’ tour… I decided that since neither of us had done the Caves before and considering we were on an ‘adventure’, we weren’t going to miss any bit of it…
The map of the 'inside' of the cave - the green line represents the 'standard' tour, where the red line represents the 'adventure' tour. It may not look like much difference, but that little additional bit of "adventure" which extends past the green bit... is not for the faint of heart
Once again missing the large groups from the same two tour busses as at the ostrich farm, we once again were privileged enough to have been given an ‘exclusive’ tour. So hubs and myself got a super personal tour, which was quite awesome to say the least.
Unfortunately the camera didn't quite do the inside of the caves much justice, because they are far more breathtaking in person!
I wasn’t striking a pose in the above picture, I was ‘limbering up’. It wasn’t my intention to have sore muscles on honeymoon…I was thankful that in the build up to the wedding I had lost some weight and with all the additional cardio – I was in top form, because after the ‘gentle’ stroll through the first part of the cave (which is really quite a sight to behold), the endurance and contortion of my human body were certainly tested.
(1) Ok, I will admit - here I was just posing 🙂 (2) ... and deeper we go - and they call this the 'Tunnel of Love'... (3) My rear end while trying to traverse the 'Devils Chimney' the first time (4) My second attempt at the 'Devils Chimney', this time after hubs made it through first 😥 (5) Through the 'Post box' (6) All hot and flustered after my triumphant walk/climb/run/contortion act!!
After the amazing trek through the caves and the wonderfully peaceful trip back to the guesthouse via the stunningly scenic route with the Swartberg Mountains looming in the background – I needed a shower and clean set of clothes. I’m also think I can safely say that I am possibly the only person who has done the ‘Adventure’ tour in a dress and ‘knitted Beret’. If anything, it just added to the challenge!
For supper we decided to search out a ‘local’ spot and after enquiring with the owners of the guesthouse, decided on a small restaurant offering the finest local cuisine, situated smack in the centre of town on the main street. I will not mention names, but to say that the air outside was crisp and cool – we were welcomed by a crackling log fire and cozy atmosphere. My biggest problem at most restaurants is that I usually play it safe… but figured that because this was Oudtshoorn, I should do something out of the ordinary. After perusing the menu for a period long enough to drink a glass of wine and a mug of hot chocolate, I finally decided on the ‘Crocodile Burger’. I usually settle for a far safer option, like a chicken schnitzel, but for some reason it spoke to me. The evening was blissfully sublime and upon returning to the guesthouse quite a time later, the room nice and warm, the wine having made me somewhat drowsy and the bed so-very-inviting, we called it a night… until just after 2am…
I woke with symptoms associated directly with either food poisoning or death and between violent vomiting and… I won’t share the rest – I decided that there’s probably a reason I decide to select the safer option on restaurant menus. Because when I bit into and ate that croc, I didn’t suspect he would bite back. It cut our honeymoon a day short – but even with the entire experience having ended on such an awful note, I would go back and eat at that same restaurant and possibly retire to Oudtshoorn.