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Published: October 8th 2015
Sharon and Gandalf had to return to Cape Town and were getting a lift with Nathan, who had gone to visit his family in Oudtshoorn, so we dropped them off there. We didn't want to miss the opportunity to see the area so we decided we would book into a place to stay overnight. Unfortunately we weren't feeling too well so our time away was accompanied by headaches and dizziness, however we still had some adventures: Cango Caves
About 30km out of Oudtshoorn, the Cango Caves are truly a natural wonder, were inhabited by man 80,000 years ago and have been a big tourist attraction in the area since the 17th century. The entrance fee for the one-hour Heritage Tour is R85 (~£4.25) and is worth every cent. The entire route is lit, though the lights are turned out for a few seconds so you can see what true darkness looks like. Our guide, Eric took us through six different chambers, each with its own character.
The first is the most cavernous - it feels like the inside of a cathedral in scale and grandeur. It has some stunning stalactite and stalagmite features as well as
flow stones. Apparently they used to hold concerts in here which must have been amazing! Walking up a sweeping double staircase you come to the second chamber which is also large and boasts more stunning stone features including a solid pillar formed when a stalactite and stalagmite joined together. The third chamber is a little smaller but no less grand; here there is a wide curtain of stalactite formations. The fourth chamber was the 'Bridal Suite' which is named for a formation of fourteen small pillars, supposedly somewhat like a four-poster bed. Beyond there, the next chamber was creatively lit to reveal a rock shaped like the devil on one side and an angel with a bible on the other. The final chamber was the smallest but also the strangest. Here Eric started singing with a deep resonant voice. The curved walls of the chamber provided surprisingly good acoustics and it sounded fantastic. That would have been impressive enough but then Eric moved behind a wall and there was a sound like the beating of a drum. I wasn't sure but I think he was actually beating a section of wall which had formed into a skin-like structure. He shone
a light through it and it was translucent. It really was incredible.
The tour was over but we walked back through the same route so had the opportunity to see it all again. Photographing the caves was a challenge due to the low light levels, but it was good fun trying. De Rust
Sadly, by the time we came out of the caves we were feeling quite nauseous due to our being unwell combined with heat and humidity. It was a relief to emerge again into the fresh air. As we weren't feeling well we decided that the best thing to do would be to secure our accommodation for the evening. We looked at the map and concluded that the small town of De Rust would be where we would stay. Lindsey found a guesthouse with wifi and a swimming pool (life's essentials). The drive from the caves to De Rust via Oudtshoorn is pretty but the setting sun behind the mountains made it absolutely stunning.
When we arrived the guest house turned out to be fully booked. We weren't worried though, there were plenty of others to choose from.
We walked to
the next one and rang the bell. There was no answer. The third one appeared to be completely closed up...as was the fourth and fifth. By this point I was starting to think that maybe the tactic of turning up and just checking into a place may not actually work in practise.
Finally we went up to the top of the road to the 'Boutique Backpackers'. Whilst the sign said "backpackers", what we could see suggested "scrap yard". Tentatively, we walked in and were greeted by a cheery woman. We asked if she had a room available and she led us inside. The room was basic but had a double bed and ensuite bathroom. It appeared clean and would meet our needs for the night so we agreed to take it. This was our first experience of a backpackers! We were shown the kitchen and invited to join the owners and their friends at the bar for a drink. We declined as we were keen to get some food and spend some time together.
We walked back down the street (there is only one street) to where we had seen a café at the bottom of the hill.
We walked into 'Herrie Se Plek' (Herrie's Place) and discovered that it was a corner shop. At the back was a locked door which we were directed to. We went through and came to a small square room with half a dozen tables and one other couple already dining. We ordered our food which took forever to arrive. My steak burger tasted nice but after I'd removed the rind and a huge lump of fat had only half as much meat as it appeared. This was served with chips which could not be described as nice. The service was very slow so we ended up waiting a long time.
At the end of the meal we asked for the bill. Twenty minutes later a hand-written note was brought to us. We counted out R200, expecting R60 change. Half an hour after we had put the money down the waitress finally came to take it. She didn't come back. We waited... and waited... and waited. We were still feeling ill, and by this time exhausted so we didn't have the strength to battle for the money (about £2 after we'd deducted a tip) so we just left feeling extremely annoyed
to be robbed. If you ever find yourself in the one-horse town of De Rust do not trust Herrie!
After watching an episode of Yes Prime Minister we went to sleep, with no idea of what would await us in the morning.
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