South Africa - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 29

Cape Town

Thursday 10th April

The four-hour drive from Oudtshoorn to Cape Town this afternoon made today a very long day and we are both very tired.

The day started out well enough. We checked out of our Backpackers Paradise accommodation this morning because we were not sure if we were going to return for another night or head straight out from the Cango Caves to Cape Town. On the way to the caves, we stopped off at the Rust en Vrede (Rest & Peace) waterfall. It was quite spectacular, once we reached it, although the R15 ($2) charge to see it was a bit of a cheek, I thought. The Cango Caves themselves were fantastic, not to mention and huge and very extensive. They made the Sterkfontein caves that we visited near Hartbeespoort look like a mere crack in the wall. The only fault (no pun intended) I could find was the fact that the visitor centre and the management of the place were terribly commercial and even a bit tacky. We went in with a group of about fifty people and the guide was mostly interested in pointing out how various stalactite and stalagmite formations looked like funny things. He even dimmed the lights from time to time and started singing, African style. It was amusing for the majority and I’m sure his routine was geared towards maximizing the flow of tips from the punters. There was no serious attempt at educating the group about tectonics, erosion or anything else scientific. It was an enjoyable afternoon nevertheless and we gazed in awe of the natural beauty.

As was the case with the two attractions from the previous day, we received a discount ticket from the backpacker’s front desk, this morning. We had the option of doing the standard tour or the adventure tour. Given that the adventure tour involved crawling along spaces just 28 centimetres high in places, we went with the standard tour. As it was, there were plenty of really nice formations for us to see on the standard tour and we got lots of photos.

Our drive into Cape Town took us through the Black Mountain Pass. In effect, we had to drive up and over one of the mountains to pass through and down to the other side. The scenery was just breath-taking and surpassed even that of the Drakensberg. The difference this time was that we were right up close as we meandered up and over the peaks on the rather uneven and very winding, dirt road. Every hundred yards or so, we had to stop to take another photo and, for the most part, simply could not believe our eyes. I doubt the photos will do justice to the experience but we snapped away happily all the same. We took a lot of photos today; three hundred and fifty seven on my camera and one hundred and eighteen on Sandy’s. Even for us, this was a good day.

After passing over the mountain pass, we headed along the road until we hit the N2 and rode it all the way into Cape Town. Although a long drive, it was very scenic and the time passed uneventfully with the odd stop here and there for fuel and such.

Being a little cranky after the long drive, we took more time than we should have to narrow in on which backpackers place we would eventually stay in. There are lots of them here in Cape Town and we looked at several before choosing the Oak Lodge where we are now happily situated. It’s once again a very large room with a double bed and, at R190 ($24) per night, very reasonably prices for Cape Town. It also happens to be the largest backpackers place in the city. Our room is in a converted apartment building that is situated on a small side road where it is nice and quite.

We had a much-needed evening meal and checked out some of our surroundings this evening before spending an hour or so at a nearby Internet Café. The young man at the front desk is a wealth of information and seems quite happy to go on indefinitely answering all our questions. We will have many more for him tomorrow as we continue our discussions about what to do about getting to Namibia in the next few days. An overland tour is starting to look like a good idea at this point. With the Easter break just around the corner, however, it may be difficult to do much of anything at all since we will be competing with the locals for accommodation and everything else.