Cango Caves & Day Two on the Garden Route

Oudtshoorn Travel Blog

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Our worst weather day in South Africa - cold, heavy rain, & fog.

  We started off our day with our free ostrich egg omelet and then drove up to the Cango Caves, as per our initial plan.  The advice from our man at the hostel proved sagely, as the ostrich farm tour and the wildlife ranch that we did the day before were out of the question in today’s weather, but the caves are the perfect rainy day activity. 

     About the Cango Caves – they are completely worth doing.  There are two tours to choose from, the “standard tour” where you walk along well formed path-ways for 1 hour and see the first four large easy to maneuver thru caverns (boring) or the “adventure tour” where you are guided for 1.5 hours through 1.2 km of small tunnels that you have to contort yourself through in very interesting ways.  Of course we opted for the adventure tour.  The price difference for the tours is less than $2, so unless you are extremely claustrophobic or of a size that may not survive the adventure tour, you’d be crazy not to take it.

  Our tour group consisted of MJ & myself, another couple of similar age, and a school group of 10-12 year olds from Cape Town with a chaperone.  The school group was incredibly well behaved, almost polite to a fault.  One of the kids in the group admitted that he was highly claustrophobic, but instead of insulting him, the other kids in the group were supportive and were actively helping him through some of the diceyer obstacles.  Not what I’d expect from a group of kids that age.

     The tour was fantastic and at no point did anyone in our group get stuck.  The caves were damn warm, and as we went deeper and deeper the amount of available oxygen got less and less, and at our deepest point the simplest of movements seemed like a lot of work.  One thing that was very different from my other caving experiences was that this was a dry cave, so after crawling through tunnels on my belly, I wasn’t dirty in the slightest.

  I’ve been on other cave tours where at the end of the tour you throw your clothes away because the clay will never be fully washed out of them, but this cave was perfectly clean.  It wasn’t truly “dry” however; the humidity reached 95% and everything had a thin film of moisture on it at one point, which made for slippery walking and climbing.

    After the tour we hit the road towards the Garden Route.  This route is one of the most scenic drives in South Africa.  It runs along the coastline and through some really cool beach towns.  Of course, with today’s weather, there wasn’t much scenery to view, and the towns weren’t as attractive to stop and walk around in.  We pressed straight through to Plettenberg Bay, which is a few kilometers from the highest bungee jump location in the world – our big event for tomorrow if the weather cooperates.  Along the way we saw the most bizarre car accident I have ever seen.

  Two cars and a pick up truck were involved.  The cars were smashed up in typical fashion, as if they had sideswiped something large at high speed, but the pick up truck had fully separated in to 2 distinct pieces.  The cab of the truck was in the middle of the road, fully intact but completely on its own.  The bed and the frame of the truck were located about 100 meters away on the side of the road, also mostly in tact.  It looked like the truck got involved with hitting these cars somehow but then flew apart in to two pieces, with the driver of the truck skidding down the road in the cab. I can only imagine the sparks flying off the metal and the pavement and the driver screaming holy hell as he eventually coasted to a stop while the majority of his vehicle was far behind him at a stand still.  There was no ambulance on scene, so apparently no one was hurt, but it was interesting enough and large enough to hold up traffic for a while as the police cleaned up the scene.

     Needless to say, this accident did not inspire MJ’s confidence in driving in this weather, so we stopped a bit earlier than we otherwise would have and decided to call it a day.
  Tomorrow we have another early start so we can get to the bungee jump (first come first served) and then start the drive back to Cape Town, hopefully with some nice weather so we can enjoy the scenery along the way.  The whale watching and shark diving takes place on the return trip, but I have to think that world’s highest bungee jump of 216 meters will be the most exciting moment of the drive.  If the shark diving is more exciting, it probably means something went horribly wrong.  Until then, killing time at the hostel, chatting up fellow travelers and garnishing as much info and first hand accounts as we can muster.  Good times.
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photo by: Stormcrow