Caves and the Ultimate Adrenaline Experience

The third day of the tour was fabulous and full of adventure—perfect for me as I’m all for any and all adventures!  First up on the itinerary for the day were the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn where we were booked for a guided adventure tour.  There were two tour options: the standard tour or the adventure tour which essentially was an add-on to the standard tour as we traveled into the harder to reach areas further into the cave.  I’m not going to lie, I’ve been on a few tours of caves before in my life so I wasn’t all that thrilled about seeing yet another cave… but I actually thoroughly enjoyed the experience!  The formations in the caves are created by the Calcium deposits from water that seeps through the mountains and into the caves.  There are two basic types of formations: flow stone and drip stone.  There are two varieties of drip stone, Stalactide which grows downwards from the tops of the caves and Stalacmite which grows upwards.  Clearly the Stalacmite grows faster as puddles form on the grounds of the cave allowing for the quicker growth.  If a Stalactide and Stalacmite are close enough, the two can actually grow together and form a column that runs between the floor and ceiling of the cave.  The caves and formation had a very distinctive, gorgeous coloring.  During the standard portion of the tour, we saw three huge chambers within the cave.  Despite the bushmen actually living in the opening of the cave, the first chamber was only discovered for the first time in 1780 as the bushmen were extremely superstitious and believed that their ancestors lived within the darkness of the caves so they never ventured in.  Once we walked through the three chambers on a nice, guided and lighted pathway, we began the adventure portion.  At this point we were 0.6 km into the cave and the adventure portion was another 0.6 km in.  There was plenty of bending, crawling, climbing and pulling ourselves up on the rocks, and even sliding along the second half of the journey as we even had to crawl through a tunnel before sliding head-first through “The Postbox,” a 27 cm opening… a pretty dang small opening.  When we were done with the tour, we were still 1.2 km inside the cave so we had to venture back through the cave to the entrance.  Of course being that far into the cave and with the only air coming from the entrance, it was beyond hot and humid so we were relieved when we finally finished and stepped out of the cave.  Tourists are only allowed into the first 1.2 km of the caves as the humidity and lights lead to algae growth that kills the growth of the formations within the caves but they have actually discovered more than 5.7 km within the caves so far.  The caves were beautiful and the adventure portion was just about as adventurous as caves could offer—certainly worth the time and my favorite caves so far!

We traveled back out of the mountains through the Outeniqua Pass towards the Garden Route, passing by the city of Zebra along the way… ironically we actually spotted some zebras pretty darn close to Zebra (the city).  Random fact: zebras have black skin with white stripes and each zebra has a unique striping patter, similar to the uniqueness of a human fingerprint.  We headed back onto N2, the national road that runs along the ocean, at George where the Garden Route essentially begins.  The Garden Route is a part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest but richest floral kingdom in the world.  The 300 km stretch is only 0.5% of the entire area of Africa but it contains more than 20% of the vegetation found here in Africa.  With all of the rain, the vegetation is very lush and green making for spectacular views as we traveled east along the Indian Ocean towards Plettenberg Bay, stopping at Knysna for a quick lunch along the way.  Plettenberg Bay translates into Beautiful Bay and it surely lives up to its name.  Just outside Plettenberg Bay was the Blaukrans Bridge that stands over the Blaukrans River.  Blaukrans translates into Blue Cranes, the national bird here in South Africa.

I sincerely apologize to all of you as I believe that I’ve had a previous post entitled “Adrenaline Rush to the Max” and in fact I just looked back and indeed I did on May 29th.  Well, compared to my new definition of adrenaline this isn’t exactly accurate.  You see, my previous post described my 111 meter bungee jumping experience at Victoria Falls but it doesn’t really compare to what I did today as the Blaukrans Bridge is home to the tallest bungee jump in the world.  At almost double the size of the bungee jump in Victoria Falls, this jump was massive… but of course I did it!  I mean, when in the world would I be back in South Africa to experience the tallest bungee jump in the world.  So we harnessed up and then walked more than 100 meters on the bridge (which was probably just as scary as the jump itself) out to the middle of the bridge where the jumping platform was.  Of the four in my group, I was the only one who had been bungee jumping before so I was nominated to go first… so after quickly harnessing up my ankles, I was up!  With my toes dangling halfway over the edge, I jumped the 216 meter jump.  The first second is the “oh shit” feeling before you’re actually in the diving position and the jump becomes very enjoyable!  The seven second initial freefall went far too fast but the view of the ocean surrounded by the gorge in which you are jumping was incredible!  This jump is unique as it is built in a pendulum-like manner so the bounce is very smooth and springs you back up more than 165 meters for a second and third freefall… three freefalls for the price of one—what a deal!  Seriously the feeling right afterwards is ridiculous—pure adrenaline and literally the only thing I wanted to do was go again!  Of course the jumping platform was blasting pump-up music as well making for a very fun atmosphere.  So after nearly doubling the height of my last jump and experiencing the world’s tallest bungee jump, I have a new definition of adrenaline… one that could be hard to top in the near future… however skydiving may just do it!  I have been trying my hardest to hold off on the skydiving as I know it something my family wants to do together for the first time (well for David and myself) but it is quite difficult as skydiving is offered pretty much everywhere here!  Oh well, have to save some fun and adventure to experience with the family!

It was definitely a very successful day as I “faced the fear” (the bungee’s slogan) and experienced a new sense of adrenaline as I jumped off a 216 meter bridge.  The caves were quite enjoyable as well, giving just a slight warm-up to the adventure and adrenaline filled day.  I know that I have a plane ticket for home booked for the middle of November but after just my experiences so far… I might just be missing that flight as I kind of just really don’t want to leave!  I guess it’s a good thing I still have a bit more than four months here but really… I’m not going to want to leave!  I’m definitely falling in love… falling in love with Africa J!

~Susan

The Cango Caves

Climbing through the Caves

Getting ready to bungee


Bungee
 Jumping from the tallest Bungee Jump in the world!

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