Last weekend my housemates and I took a trip along the garden route, a famous stretch of coastline on Route 62 between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The garden route is 300 kilometers of beautiful South African mountains, Karoo plains, vineyards, and game reserves littered with lots of little towns and attractions.
Views from the road:
On Friday morning our tour guide, Zee, picked us up at 6:30 AM. After about 7 hours of driving and enjoying the views we reached Cango Caves, a huge underground network of limestone caves and one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Africa. We explored the caves on the “Adventure Tour”, crawling and sliding through tiny nooks that led to marvelous caverns.
After the caves we drove about 30 km to a hostel in Oudtshoorn, a town in the Klein Karoo area of the Western Cape that is famous for its ostriche farms. At the hostel we were served a delicious meal of ostrich kabobs and enjoyed sitting around the bonfire with the many interesting people staring at the hostel.
Saturday was by far the most eventful day of our trip. After breakfast, we jumped into the van for a short drive to Buffelsdrift Game Lodge to meet some elephants. There are three “baby” elephants at the lodge, all of whom were rescued from Kruger National Park after their parents broke through the fencing and were killed by nearby farmers. Bulelo, Jabari and Malaika are each about 15 years old (which is still very young for an elephant, as they live upwards of 70 years). We were able to walk with the elephants in the bush, feed them, and even pat and hug them. The elephant experience was definitely one of my favorite things that I’ve done in Africa.
After the elephants, we drove to Wilderness National Park to canoe down the Touw River.
After the canoe trip we headed to the destination that I had been dreading. Bloukrans River Bridge is the highest bungee bridge in the world, towering over 200 meters (over 700 feet) above the Tsitsikamma River. A seemingly endless metal grated walkway (where you can’t help but stare down below at the drop) leads to the jump site. Terrified, I somehow managed to get myself to walk out to the edge and jump. The moments before I felt the bungee chord catch were by far the most panicked moments I have ever experienced.
Filled with adrenaline, we headed to our second hostel on Myoli Beach in Mossel Bay. We enjoyed pizza and drinks on the beach before retiring early after a VERY long day.
After breakfast on the beach, we headed to Botlierskop Private Game Reserve for the safari that I had been looking forward to since deciding to go to South Africa. We spent 2.5 hours driving around the 10,000 acre reserve with our guide, passing just a few feet away from rhinos, zebras, lions, buffalo, kudu, elephants, and springbok in the African bush. I only regret that my camera didn’t have better zoom quality.