|Driving the Garden Route|
We decided to drive what is known as the Garden Route. It starts near Cape Town and travels along the coast east until Port Elizabeth. Our first night we stayed in Hermanus which is supposed to be one of the best places in the world to watch whales from the shore. Alas we saw no whales probably because they are only just starting to arrive in the area. Closer to September would probably have been best. We moved east to Knysna and stayed at a wonderful victorian b&b/backpackers lodge, where we met a couple from Holland who we spent some time talking with. They told us of their travels to Addo Elephant Park and showed us some pictures and we were very excited to go. The following afternoon we were in the park. The park has a interesting setup in which you are allowed to drive around on the roads and watch the wildlife, but are not allowed to get out of your vehicle except in certain designated areas. We started driving through and just as we were told we immediately started seeing Elephants.
|Elephant watching us|
|Mother and Baby|
And I'm not talking like we saw them through binoculars and they looked cool, I mean they were right up next to the car, in many cases only a few feet from us. They were huge impressive beautiful animals and we spent many an hour just sitting there watching them eat and walk around. Truly magnificent experience. We saw plenty of other wildlife as well, though not all the "big 5" that are so sought after. The park did have lions and leopards and rhinos, but not very many. We're considering doing a safari to make sure we get to see the rest of the big ones. That being said for $20 each per day we certainly got out moneys worth. The second day we went back into the park and spent a full day exploring it.
We saw a lot more animals than the previous day and were thrilled with our time there, though as it was drawing to a close we were saying to each other "i hope that wasn't the last elephant we get to see". Well, you know how sometimes you wish for something maybe just a little too hard? and when you get it it's a lot more than what you bargained for? As we were driving out to exit the park we saw one more elephant eating and pulled up about 50ft from it to watch him eat. He was just munching along paying us no mind when he slowly pulled away from the tree. When these behemoths move they are very slow and you have a lot of time to see what's happening so as he started walking towards us both of us held our breath because he seemed to be looking right at us. He started waving his trunk around and flapping his ears and kept coming toward us. Now, let me say that all the elephants in the park are huge, but this one in particular was massive and when he decided to stand right in front of our miniature tiny insignificant little rental car with our even smaller insignificant bodies inside of it we indeed felt very small. He looked directly at each of us with his huge eyes and used his trunk to check out the bumper. Sometimes I hear people use the expression "about shit myself with fear" but I tell you I was so tense that couldn't have happened. I think we both didn't breathe for at two solid minutes as he sat there watching us and seemed to be considering if it would be a good idea to total the car by simply stepping on it. Eventually he just got tired of us and walked off to another car giving us the chance to pull away. We were both very happy to have had that last encounter and decided that being humbled in front of such a majestic animal was probably the best experience of all the ones we had in the park. We'll always remember his presence in front of us and listening to his breath. Truly magic.
|In the grasslands|
After that we headed back west and checked out Cango cave near Ootdsthorn. We've seen a lot of caves so and didn't have great expectations of it even with many of our south african friends telling us how amazing it was. We were stunned when we went into the first room. It was huge and amazing. Absolutely wonderful cave and the best we've even seen. Truly stupendous place.
|Driving to Oudtshoorn|
Tomorrow we head back to Rocklands to start climbing again. Cassie's finger has improved some, but is still sore so we'll see if she can climb much. Truly a frustrating injury when you're on a climbing trip. She's had the bulk of the injuries on the trip and it's tough to have fun when everyone else around you is climbing and you're not. We'll try to stay positive and keep hoping for a full recovery soon.
Oh, btw I sent a super cool roof climb just before we left called "Minki" it's a 7b which works out to v7/8. So, the strength is gradually returning. Many climbs we are excited to go back and try. Time to return to Rocklands!!!
|Minki 7b v7/8|