Good morning, good day, and good evening world!
First off, we have some bad news. The two of us went to visit a place called Monkeyland and now it looks like Maja may be the only one returning back home to Canada. Mike refused to leave! More (and boy do we ever mean MORE!) on that later.
After our amazing safari adventure, the road trip through South Africa continued. We've had a packed few days but we'll try to be as concise as possible, no one wants to read pages and pages of our ramblings.
On the suggestion of Sanjin's friend, we took the scenic Swaertberg Pass on our drive to Oudsthoorn. We were initially wary of this path as it added time to our drive and once we pulled in to this dirt road our worries were not assuaged. Thankfully we were greeted with a traditional "African traffic jam" of a family of baboons walking along the road. These pink-butted rable-rousers are known as a scourge in South Africa and are infamous for their "monkey raids!" Of course, Mike didn't care about those words of caution in the slightest and he was just like a little kid in a candy store, giggling and pointing as we drove by. Once we passed these little distractions, the long windy dirt path took us all through the mountains and next to an amazing bubbling spring. The road continued all the way to the top of the mountains where we managed to snap some truly breathtaking photos (we'll post photos in a seperate post later when we get back to Cape Town, we promise!). The drive was perilous because apparently Africans don't believe in road railings, even if there is a 200m drop right next you and the road is too small for two cars to pass through (despite a lack of trying!).
Another amazing thing Mike noticed about the African terrain is its varied biodiversity. I know, I know, biodiversity, ecosystem *snore*! Bare with us here! When we were driving to the safari, all we saw were bushes, short shrubs, bare trees and orange dirt. It was a very dry climate with no water. But as soon as we passed over the mountains, the terrain changed completely, full of moss covered rocks, crevasses and bushes. You'd swear you were in New Zealand or on the set of The Lord of the Rings movies. Further down on our road trip, the terrain changed even more and it looked exactly like Canada. There were bushels of lush, tall green trees and dense pines, this is stuff you'd never believe you'd see after all the images of Africa we know from television. It was a little shocking. For Maja, this is all old hat of course.
One of the most impressive examples of caves we've ever seen was at the Cango Caves near Oudsthoorn. These caves were made of three giant chambers, with the largest being over 20m tall, 94m long and 42m wide. In other words, FRICKIN' ENORMOUS! These were truly impressive and are highly recommended. There was an additional "adventurous tour" which had more challenging routes like the "letterbox," with a floor to ceiling clearance level of only 27cm, and the "Devil's Chimney" which is a 3.5m long, 75 degree angle climb up through a 45cm wide opening. Needless to say, we took a pass on that :P
We finally arrived to Villa Rustique in Oudsthoorn, which was an adorable Belgian-run, modern Guest House. The owners were super friendly, offering excellent advice and hospitality, and the guest company (an older Dutch couple) were courteous and interesting conversationalists. We highly recommend the trip to Oudsthoorn and this guess house especially, it's a fantastic place.
Oudsthoorn is Ostrich capital of South Africa so naturally Mike had to drag Maja to the Cango Ostrich Farm. These giant birds freaked her out to no end but the trip was worth it just to see the tour guide tease her by telling her an ostrich was sneaking up behind her. To be honest the farm was extremely interesting, the guide super knowledgeable, the souvenirs fantastic but, I kind of agree with Maja, ostriches are kind of gross. Although if you're looking for a place to experience these interesting animals, and actually ride one, you'll find no better place.
We've have much more to tell you but we think its best to spread it across a few posts for brevity's sake. But we will leave you with one word that should hopefully get you excited for the next entry: MONKEYLAND!!!!!