Busing about Cape Town

Trip Start Jun 07, 2010
Trip End Jul 13, 2010

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Where I stayed
Kirstenbosch Gardens
Bird & Monkey Sanctuary

Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I think just about every city in the world now has those 'Double Decker Open Red Tour Buses.' Im sure you've seen them around Melbourne.
Today I decided to take the southern bus route around some hard-to-reach areas of Cape Town with Lauren from my tour group.
The first stop was Kirstenbosch Gardens, named after the Dutch settlers that landed here in the 18th century. Its essentially like the Botanical Gardens of Cape Town. Very pretty place with lots of nice plants, walks, and GUINEA FOWL. Which were alright.
On from there we jumped back on the bus and headed for the 'Bird and Monkey Sanctuary' (Creatively named indeed). As the name may suggest, this was a giant animal park filled with mostly (yesss!) birds, some monkeys, and other random assorted animals, like emu, porcupines, turtles and a couple Springbok.
This was a very satisfying experience for me.... It was a cool place, because unlike most Westernised zoos, this one allowed you to get up close and personal with the animals. Fencing and grating was minimal, at times not at all existant.
This was especially so, with my favourite birds in the park, the owls. When you first get into a cage with a giant owl, about 30-40cm tall and almost as wide.. you wouldnt be sure what to expect when its literally perched 20cm from your head as you enter.
Sure it seems friendly enough... but its claws are massive... comparible to Raptor Claws from Jurassic Park. These animals were remarkably friendly, relaxed and attentive to us. They were really quite beautiful, with a very gentle nature. There was one owl in particular I befriended. He had pointy ears and huge eyes and seemed to just gaze at me, and was so attentive. When i left, he jumped along his cage, beseiging me not to leave. Alas, we had other animals to see.
There were penguins here again, which you could get very close to.
Another couple of stand outs were the 'monkey jungle' and the porcupine.
The monkey jungle was just filled with tamarins.. frisky little critters running and jumping all over the place. Prior to entering you have to secure everything, at the risk of having them swiped!
I've only seen a porcupine once or twice before, and usually they are sleeping. This guy was hardly sleepy! Doing laps around his pen, even jumping up to say hi! He actually seems rather pig-like, with a cool haircut and heaps of spines!
It was also a bit of a thrill hand-feeding the Maccaws. Despite their huge razor-sharp beaks, they were very gentle, picking the seeds from my fingers with their sticky black tongues.
The last stop of the day was an impoverished township. This was an interesting experience and eye opener. We got a walking tour, but even still there was a feeling of insecurity. Even still, i got my hand painted with the South African flag by some little children running their own 'cosmetics' business. I kept a close eye on my camera bag, and fended away little fingers that were exploring...
The curious thing about this place, was despite less than 1star accomodation, the vast majority of these people still have televisions, mobile phones, and some, decent quality cars!
They dont at all seem to live a 'lesser' life then any of us, just rather, a different one. Everyone seems happy enough in what is obviously a close-knit community. Children seemed happy, allowed to run-amok in an endless playground, with little to know authority to speak of.
The trip back to the hotel along the coast proved for some nice views as the sun set, although atop that bus, let me tell you, it was blisteringly freezing.
What a great day :)
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