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Published: March 3rd 2015
Tuesday 17th February 2015 - Oudtshoorn.
Oudtshoorn part of route 62 and is just North of the town George ( the N2 - the main road out of the Western Cape heading to Durban eventually )and the start of the very tourist "Garden route" - that Judith and I will be following in a few days. But first it's time to explore and a little adventure!!
There are many attractions surrounding this strange town, the name of which everybody pronounces differently! One of the main attractions are the Congo Caves about 30 miles North of town. There are three ways to view the caves.....most people would be content with the traditional tourist or tourist guided tour, but not Judith and I!!! Adventure tour for us. To 'qualify you have to practice squeezing through a 'letter box' which is only 60cm deep at its widest and crawling into a
'chimney' which requires some dexterity and suppleness of limbs, to make the necessary moves to progress and eventually climb out!!!!! Hummm. Interesting and a little challenging it has to be said.
So, having practiced in the foyer of the caves and demonstrated we could
squeeze through the various apertures presented to us, it was off to meet our group and guide to face the Congo Cave Adventure tour!!!!
It must be said most groups contained 28/30 people..... Not ours, 4 of us and the guide! Says it all about the complexity ahead of us!! The other couple we have to say, were a lovely couple much younger than ourselves. The tour commenced and off we went deep into the caves which opened out into a large cavern where there were wonderful examples of stalagmites and stalagmites, the lights were dimmed to reveal a magnificent floodlit spectacular of natural formations. Continuing with a truly excellent and extremely witty guide who kept us laughing along the way and keeping our minds off what lay ahead!!
After climbing a very steep ladder we left the tourist track and entered a series of small 'tunnels created by nature to allow very small people to pass or somewhat larger people that have to twist and crawl. We had to twist and crawl! It certainly wasn't a nice place to be if you were claustrophobic.
The tour went well. We all got through the various nooks and
crannies, tunnels and chimneys, it has to be said with 'some aplomb'! No getting stuck for us thank you! We'd recommend this alternative tour as being informative, adventurous and a lot of fun. ( we got some great shots, but most of them were of the 'bum in front of you disappearing down a hole or along a tunnel - so most have been censored! )
This was always going to be a full and interesting day and that's exactly what happened. We now set of further North to the "Swartberg pass" that leads to a small town in the hills 'Prince Albert'. Many people we had met on our travels so far had commented that we really must see Swartberg pass and visit Prince Albert - but they did forget to say that it was not a 'metal road', that it was rough stone and Rock at gradients exceeding 25:1 and no barriers to stop you plunging off the road to certain death should you get it wrong! ( don't worry mother we didn't get it wrong! ) But the journey did test the little 1000cc hire car somewhat. It was quite spectacular and went on
for a very long way. We have no idea how a team of oxen could have pulled a cart up this track and made it safely.
After visiting Prince Albert we headed back to our unpronounceable town via the N12 and another quite spectacular pass, but this time at low altitude "the Meiringspoort pass" to Oudstshoorn should not be missed if you are in the area!
INTERESTING FACT: - Oudstshoorn is in fact the Ostrich capital of the world - made rich and famous in the late 1800's when " no lady of consequence around the world " would be seen without Ostrich feathers.
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