To Hell and Back
“Never drink the water” is a usual call in Africa, Asia or anywhere that’s referred to as “backwater”, but I thought South Africa would be an exception to that rule. After being rushed to hospital in the back of an ambulance, I’d have to say otherwise. I got to spend the night hooked to a drip with lots of drippy goodness and seeing as I’ve never been a patient of a hospital, nor ridden in an ambulance before it was all good in the end.
We decided it best not to travel too much and spent the next few days exploring the Little Karoo town of Oudtshoorn (Ouut – shh – oooren). We ventured up to the limestone caves and were exceptionally happy with our adventure tour. The largest chamber at the front held classical concerts until ‘94 and was absolutely huge and stunning. Towards the end of the tour we were walking sideways through the Tunnel of Love, climbing up a hole not though possible in Devil’s Chimney before mailing ourselves out the Post Box, a 25cm high slither between two chambers.
Oudtshoorn is sandwiched between large mountain ranges to the north and south and the passes to get through are absolutely stunning. On our way over the Swatberg pass we saw a sign on the side of the road that said “The Hell”. Motivated by curiosity and the most stunning scenery this side of Lord of the Rings we turned our little Vdub down the dusty track and set off. 50kms and 2 hours later we had arrived in “The Hell” a quaint Afrikaan farming ghost town. It was occupied and farmed for generations in complete seclusion and amusingly enough died out 30years after they connected it with a road.
Our animal count has risen to 7 with the latest by far the cutest. Waking before sunrise was a challenge, but has since got us into good habits (not to last surely) and we sat on the corner of two very deserted roads in the middle of nowhere in the freezing cold waiting for “The Meerkat Man” to arrive. It’s hard not to imagine the worst at times like these. He did arrive though and we set off to a local farm where we all sat around a hole in the ground waiting for these super cute but super elusive animals to awake wondering if our guide wasn’t just a wack job setting us in the middle of nowhere for nothing. Surely enough, just like Magic one popped it’s head out of the ground and searched the skyline for predators. Soon the all clear was given and slowly, one by one the other 18 meerkats came up and sunned their bellies (a technique I quickly copied). They are the most adorable creatures in the world and the Meerkat man, all be it quirky, was a wonderful guide and researcher as we walked with the creatures for a little over an hour as they hunted for food.
Oudtshoorn is billed as the Ostrich capital of the world, so we couldn’t leave without going to at least one Ostrich farm. The tour started off normally with the incubator, construction of a feather duster, then took a decisive turn as we rood the ostriches and finally were treated to an Ostrich race, god those things can fly. After the week starting out like hell, and then going to hell it was nice to finally see some cuteness before screaming like hell as I got thrown off my Ostrich. We’re safely away from the Ostriches on the coast now and sleeping inside an old train carriage tonight.
Next Stop Eastern Coast, so until then “tot siens”