On the morning after the wedding we checked out from the brothel and jumped into our crappy little car ready for a long ride on the infamous “route 62”. Despite the fact that we very specifically asked for a car with air conditioning they had managed to give me another car without A / C , although I had paid extra for A / C … that's the last time I trust Herz .
This meant that we drove through the desert with air temperatures of 40 C + with none other than the heat (and noisy) wind from our open windows
It was a really enjoyable route, slightly different from the Norwegian or English nature which I am familiar with. I have never seen straighter roads than here – 20-30 km straight road with huge mountains in the background and millions of cactus plants on the sides.
Most of the scenery was just desert, Not too much wildlife, other than the occasional snake(I wish..)
After about 3 hours of driving around at 140 km / h we arrived at the ostrich capital of the world – Oudtshoorn. It is a simple village with some small shops, a shopping center and an extremely long main street with lots of guest houses and B & B. We had plotted our GPS directly to the hostel which was recommended in Lonely Planet.
I've had more than enough times where I've come to a city with no idea where to stay,completely lost. I then wandered for hours among different hostels to try to find the cheapest and best value option only to end up with the crappiest hostel that is conceivable. So these days it's easier to just go by the book.
there was only dorm space left, so we checked in., dumped our luggage and went straight to the ostrich farm.
At the ostrich farm, they had organized tours to learn more about the birds and about the practicalities of rearing them.. The best part about the tour is that the people who dare are allowed to ride them for a quick trip for an extra fee.
I was deeply disappointed when I found out that we would not be able to ride them because it was too hot for the birds to have any passengers that day.
There's not many places in the world where I will ever get the chance again!
The trip was interesting nonetheless, We got to hold the small ostrich babies, and I could squeeze some of the more docile ostriches. They are wonderful animals, they are unlike any other animal I've ever seen, looks more like today's Dinosaurs.
However, they are dumber than your average wheat bread. Brain size is the size of a chicken, even if their body is enormous, often 2.5 metres tall.
Ostriches can be quite frightening, They can easily kill a grown man, as their kick is furiously fast and hard, and they have sharp claws that can open a person's chest straight up.
The guide told us that if we are attacked by an ostrich, we should keep a stick in the air. They will not attack as long as the stick is held above their head, probably because they think that you are a bigger ostrich than they are. as I said: they're not very smart.
They had some nice good sized enclosures where they could roam around. On ostrich farms they separate the males and females in different enclosures, otherwise they will just fight battles for dominance and for women, just like people would really..
In the last enclosure they had saddles on some of the birds, and these were the birds that they would normally let people ride free of charge.
Unfortunately I was only allowed to sit on one of them because of the warm weather. To Ride the bird was just like sitting on any other chair, except that it was a bit more feathery and had more attitude than my couch at home.
We were also allowed to stand on ostrich eggs as they are enormously large and can hold the weight of a grown man.
So we went back to the hostel where we had the most amazing ostrich barbecue for dinner, and some ostrich Biltong for snack.
We went to bed in the dorm around about 23:00 and surprisingly found out that all the other people in the dorm were sleeping, even more surprising to find that the air was really stuffy and no fan was turned on.
I went to bed, and it was only about 10 minutes before I had to turn on the noisy fan to get some air circulation.
I do not understand how others could go to sleep without proper air.
There was a guy in bed next to me who made the most horrible guttural sounds. It sounded like the mating cry of a horny walrus.
The snoring plagued many people in the room … I heard one of the girls whispered and cursed “shut up bastard!”, However, to no avail as the sounds continued.
I tried to go to kick the guy, but it was very dark.. I actually think I kicked the wrong person..
The fan was stopped after about 10 minutes, and it was not possible to resume, it just stopped working.
I had to put on my mp3 with loud music to reduce the snoring sounds.
So there I was lying in a rock hard bed with my ears filled with loud techno music (which was all that I currently had on my Mp3) and the air was so thick and nasty that you could cut through it with a knife.
I did not sleep a minute that night, worst dorm experience ever!, and I have been on hundreds of dorms.
Ironically I have tried to convince Torunn to live in the dorms with me because of the superior social experience compared to the double rooms … and this was the first dorm we had stayed in together. It is safe to say that she was not convinced.
Our planning for this trip has been very sporadic, most of it has been done on the road. After some discussion, we decided to travel an additional 400 km to get to a national safari park. Addo Elephant Park is the third largest park in South Africa and a very worthy objective of any road trip in the area.
We spent many days in the car, but it was still pretty fun just to be able to explore the country from the car.
From Oudsthoorn we left to see the famous Cango Caves – a vast system of caves that stretch 5 kilometers inside the mountain. Torunn drove too fast and we ended up with a speeding fine that is going to be sent to our soon-to-be non-existent address in England; good luck with that South Africans ! !
In the caves you could choose between the standard tour and the adventure tour. Adventure tour takes people several kilometers into the caves through some very narrow tunnels. The tunnels are so narrow that people regularly get stuck in them, but they obviously do not let fat bastards go on these trips.
We went for the standard trip due to time constraints, and a mild condition of claustrophobia.
This is without doubt the most spectacular caves I've ever been inside. The chambers that they took us through was absolutely enormous, and the stalactites and stalagmites were as beautiful as they are old. Stalactites grow by around 3 mm per hundred years. Amazingly enough in one of the chambers, there are no stalactites left because tourists have picked them off as souvenirs. How stupid can people become?….my god..?
Imagine having a stalactite on the shelf and proudly announcing that this was stolen from a South African national monument.
The caves were really worthy of a visit.
After the caves we drove on some rough roads into Schwarskopf pass, which is an incredibly cool mountain pass in the desert. On the way we saw grazing ostriches and baboons, not a typical view when I'm driving in Bergen.
It is one of the most scenic areas in South Africa, and without doubt the the greates mountain pass. Our car was a crappy little Fiat Punto, so not exactly a terrain car, but it survived.
We kept on driving for hours through the desert topography along the route 62. The roads are incredibly straight, usually 10-20 kilometer straight roads, then a small turn and new 10 miles of straight road. In Bergen, you can't even drive 50 meters with rett vei. On these roads, you can pretty much drive as fast as the car goes, and that was exactly what we did. Hence the speed penalty that we ended up with…that we are probably never going to pay.
Most spectacular was the difference between the Western Cape and Eastern Cape. Suddenly the desert was gone, and the area was lush green and full of vegetation. The topography changed drastically with the local fauna. Suddenly, we saw groups of monkeys along the way, birds we had not seen before, and at one point I had to stop to let a giant leopard tortoise cross the road.
the change of weather was equally drastic – from the burning sun to misty rain and slightly cooler temperatures.
It would unfortunately remain like that even on the day of our big safari..