Note: I'm posting the trip in increments of one or two days, so make sure you start from my first post and work your way backwards--just follow the titles!
- According to the itinerary we got from the company we booked this package through (a US company, not the one who actually conducted the tour in S. Africa), we were supposed to go on a train ride this morning on, like, the oldest steam train in Africa, or something. We were looking forward to that—not every day you get to ride a steam train, you know? Well, it turns out the info we got was a bit dated—the train has not been running for three years!!! I was bummed, but not as bummed as Bryan, who I had to drag away from the train station…
- We set out fairly early this morning for Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape region. Our first stop was the Cango Caves, a place that was cool but reminded me a lot of Luray Caverns. Of course, Luray Caverns doesn’t have an AWESOME story about a woman who was told she was too large to go on the “adventure trail,” which is comprised of several small tunnels in addition to more difficult terrain. This woman was offended at the perceived size discrimination, so she insisted on going anyway. Aaaaaaaaaaaaand, she got stuck. For ten hours. With 30+ people stuck behind her. My favorite quote from a woman in our tour group (not one of my traveling companions): “I don’t understand, why didn’t they just put a string around her and pull her out?” Right… because string would be strong enough, and also, I’m sure they didn’t think of that, what dummies!
- After the Cango Caves, we headed out for a delicious lunch of ostrich steak. Contrary to what you’d think (or what I thought, anyway), ostrich is red meat, not white meat like most birds. And it was probably my favorite new thing I ate while in S. Africa. Once we finished lunch, we went to the ostrich farm to play with these cutie pies. (Yes, eating ostrich BEFORE meeting the birds was intentional.) Did you know you can stand on ostrich eggs and they won’t break? Cool, huh? There was also an opportunity to ride the ostrich, which I would have done were it not raining (I didn’t want wet ostrich juice on my jeans for the rest of the trip). Instead we got to sit on them. By that time they brought out a blanket, so I would have ridden the ostrich with the blanket on, but our guide didn’t bring it up again, so neither did I. Then it was time for the ostrich race, for which we were the finish line! Luckily their jockeys knew when to put on the brakes so we didn’t get trampled by giant birds.
- We spent the night at the lovely Queen’s Hotel in Oudtshoorn. The afternoon was free for us to wander around, and while the town itself is lovely, everything was closed because it was some sort of national holiday.
- To recap: driving, driving, driving. I think it was like 6 hours from Oudtshoorn to Cape Town. We saw lots of great scenery, stopped at a cute shop for a break, had some S. African fast food for lunch. We arrived at our hotel in Cape Town late in the afternoon, and it was almost like coming home! We had been changing hotels basically every night (except for Kruger and Knysna, where we stayed 2 nights each), so being able to dump our stuff in our last hotel in Cape Town and not have to repack it as soon as we unpacked was GLORIOUS!
- That evening we ventured down to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront for dinner and to check out the area. Our guide had given us a tip to take the public bus, which basically cost us $.50/each, so getting there and home was way easy. We wandered around (and around and around) while Bryan tried to figure out how to get some of our pictures off of the camera and onto a CD, and then we ate at the S. African equivalent of Applebee’s. At this point, fancy dinners were getting kind of old.