Ostriches and Caves

Trip Start Jan 04, 2008
Trip End Jan 31, 2008

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Monday, January 28, 2008

Today I headed inland about 80 kilometers to the town of Oudtshoorn in the Karoo province.   The drive through the mountain pass was amazing as there was low lying clouds covering the green, treeless hills.  It kind of reminded me of Scotland.

My first destination today is the Kango Caves.  These caves are about 5 km in length, but only 2 km of the caves are open to the public. There are two tours available for the caves...  the standard tour and the "adventure" tour.  A sign next to the ticket booth warned that overweight people are not allowed to go on the tour.  Thankfully I a dropped a bunch of weight earlier this year (thanks Lisa!) so I could go on the adventure tour.

The adventure tour was a quite a small group with only 7 people.  It started off pretty easy.  Walking through the caves using paths and stairs.   Halfway through the guide told us the easy part is over and it will start to get more difficult.   Difficult was an understatement!  I was crawling though slivers in the rocks barely wide enough for me to fit through!   On part I had to climb up a shaft called "the Chimney" for about 20 feet.  There was a point where I thought I was stuck.  My damn shoulders are too wide!  The guide told me to wiggle back and forth and slowly climb.  Finally, inch-by-inch I reached the top.  I was exhausted, sweaty by excited that I managed to get though. One poor woman had to go back because she was too "boobish" to fit through one of the shafts.

After the Kango Caves, ostrich farms are the next biggest attraction. Did you know that 80% of the world's ostrich farming occurs in Oudtshoorn?   Neither did I.

I took a tour of the oldest ostrich farm in the world, Highgate Farm.   They go though and explain the whole process about raising these birds.  The ostrich egg is quite large, and I actually stood on one without it breaking!  But the real excitement of this tour was getting to ride an ostrich.   A fully grown bird towers over me, buy about 4 feet. I needed a ladder to just get on.  Once on the ostrich, the thing takes off!  There I was sitting on the back holding on for dear life.  They are not like horses... there is no way to control which way they go or how fast. They can go up to 80 KM per hour.  I rode around for about 10 minutes completely amazed at the power this bird has! Luckily I didn't fall off!

And of course, for dinner tonight I had Ostrich. (not the same one I rode earlier).   What did it taste like?  Not chicken, but beef!  Yes, ostrich meat is leaner than beef and tastes just like it.  I will have to see if I can get this at home!

Tonight I am staying in a little cottage just outside of town.   It is quite comfortable with a nice hammock out front.  After all of the excitement from today, I can't wait to sit in the hammock with a beer and watch the stars!
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