South Africa - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 28
Wednesday 9th April
A definite pattern is now starting to emerge as far as our daily activities are concerned. Recently, our days seemed to be planned around what tourist activities there are to do in the town where we currently are. Perhaps it is because we are doing the very touristy Garden Route.
We left Knysna this morning after a trip to the doctor for Sandy’s benefit. The exertions of the past week or so along with the constant drain of travelling life have taken their toll and some minor ailments have set in. Nothing too serious but a quick trip to the local doctor seemed like a good idea. The half an hour consultation with the too of us, examination, prescriptions and medication, altogether came to just R550 ($68). The health insurance should cover this so I will send the receipts off to Jacqueline when we get to Cape Town. The doctor prescribed, amongst other things, Cipro. We already have this in our medical kit but we bought the prescribed tablets anyway so as not to deplete our own supply as it’s best to keep them for emergencies only.
We returned from the doctor’s office, which was just down the road, packed our things and were on our way out of Knysna. We enjoyed our three, relaxing days there but it was time to move on. We headed for Oudtshoorn where Ostrich riding, a predatory cat breeding farm and caves are the attractions.
Since the staff at Peregrine had highly recommended a place called Backpackers Paradise, we went straight there and checked in. It’s a nice place and, once again, we have a very large double room all to ourselves. We didn’t wait long after checking in before heading straight out again to see the Cheetah cubs, Lions and other cats at the breeding centre just up the road. It’s a relatively small place but nicely laid out and with some fabulous animals. Although the animals are in enclosures, they are fairly big and the place doesn’t seem too much like a zoo. I don’t like to visit zoos as a general rule since I’m not too keen on seeing animals kept in restrictive captivity. I don’t go to circuses with performing animals for the same reason. All the animals that we saw this afternoon seemed to be very content and well cared for. There were mature and immature Cheetahs, Lions, Jaguars, Pumas and Tigers. There were also plenty of other animals such as Alligators, Crocodiles, Snakes, Prairie Dogs, Emus, Birds and so on but the large cats are what most people come for, I think. The highlight of the day there was when we got to go inside the enclosures to see the Cheetahs. We got right up close to them and were able to pet and stroke them even. After some pleading, we managed to convince the guide to take us into both the mature and immature Cheetah enclosures and we got scores of fantastic photos in both. It was a real treat to sit next to a Cheetah and to hear and feel it purring with my hand on its side. Other that the domestic house cat, the Cheetah is apparently the only other Feline species that purrs. We continue to pick up a fantastic amount of this type of trivia as we travel through the continent.
Whilst we were waiting to go into the Cheetah enclosure, another family asked if their ten-year-old son could go in. They were told that this was not possible because the Cheetah might eat the small child. I’ve heard children being told this type of thing in the past in other circumstances back home in Europe and it’s always been used as a kind of excuse to scare the child or whatever. The funny thing here is that they actually mean it – literally. The Cheetahs will see the small child walking about and instinctively start to stalk him or her in preparation for an attack. They told us the same thing at the De Wildt Cheetah farm back in Hartbeespoort also and we actually saw the Cheetahs there stalking children walking up and down outside the enclosures. So strong is the instinct to go for the weakest of the herd that no children are ever allowed near a Cheetah without a strong fence between them.
After the cat farm, we went a little further up the road to the Ostrich show farm. The countryside in this part of the country is littered with fields full of Ostriches. We saw literally hundreds of them on the hour and a half drive up here from Knysna this morning. As was the case with the cat farm, we received a backpacker’s discount for the entrance fee. Our tour guide explained to us just about everything you’d ever want to know about Ostriches. We learned all about their feathers, the leather and meat that they are farmed, their breeding habits and so on. Then, we went on to see them up close where we learned all about their anatomy. And then it came time to actually get on top of one and take it for a ride about the courtyard. I still can’t believe that we both did this. It was a lot of fun and will certainly be a memorable experience for the both of us.
At the end of the day, we went to a nearby Internet café to try to upload another three batches of photos. Unfortunately, the uplink speed was rather slow and the connection failed a couple of times causing iPhoto to have to re-start sending the photos again. This happened a couple of times and it was looking like we would end up spending a fortune (although that’s a relative term) to get everything squeezed through their small pipe so we called it a day after tending to some bits of e-mail.
Tomorrow holds the promise of the exploration of some nearby caves to round out the activities that are worthwhile doing here in Oudtshoorn. After that, we are on to Cape Town to ditch the rental car and cell-phone and to arrange our passage to Namibia. The local travel agent here in town seems to think that a one-way ticket from Cape Town to Windhoek will cost around R2000 ($250) per person. The guy at Peregrine seems to think that this can be done for less than R500 ($62) per person so we’ll just have to see once we get to the Cape. In addition to the bus, we may also be able to hitch a ride with some other travellers that are going in that direction. This can often be done by sharing the costs of whomever you are catching a ride with. If we can get a cheap flight, this will be our ‘A’ option.