Best Feeling in the World!

We had a free morning in Jeffrey’s Bay to relax and do as we wish before heading out around noon.  Jeffrey’s Bay is essentially where I was volunteering at about a week or so ago so I knew the area decently well or at least what it had to offer.  Being completely deprived of horses for far too long, I decided to book a ride along the beach.  So I was up in time for the gorgeous sunrise before heading to the stables for the morning ride… they let Machiel go for free (oh the perks of being a tour guide!) so it was nice to have some company, along with the guide himself, while on the ride.  There was also another couple from England, both of who rode, so the entire group was pretty experienced riding-wise.  I rode Aster, a gray quarter horse.  The 15 km (~9 mile) route took us about two hours to complete.  The first half was in a forest area with trails and the second half was wide-open along the beach… basically a free for all.  For the most time along the trails, we kept it at a walk as we talked and enjoyed the views.  We took the “advanced” route where we picked up the speed a little and cantered (ran) most of the stretch that ended with a huge sand dune… the view from the top was remarkable with all of the sand dunes along with the ocean in the distance.  We rode up and down the sand dunes to the mouth of the ocean then along the beach back towards the stables, about a 7 km stretch.  This is where the fun began.  Sure, the walk was very relaxed and enjoyable… and don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved being back in the saddle but I love the speed and speed is exactly what I was craving!  It was a perfect combination as the beach was a wide-open stretch and both Aster and I were ready to go!  So, we took off down the beach at a full-out gallop, going as fast as Aster could go… which surprisingly was pretty darn fast.  Sometimes I forget how much I love riding, especially when speed is involved, but seriously… it is the best feeling in the world!  Of course riding in the sand is a lot of work for the horses themselves so we took a few breaks along the stretch and walked them a bit to keep them from overheating… let’s just say they certainly got their workout for the day!  Riding is definitely one of my highlights of the trip thus far and it fulfilled a little bit of my horse deprivation!

After the ride, we made our way towards Sedgefield where we are staying tonight.  We stopped near Plettenberg Bay along the way and visited Monkeyland, a monkey sanctuary that has more than 400 apes, monkeys, and lemurs freely running around in the park.  We saw baby Cotton Top Tamarin monkeys that look similar to Albert Einstein… literally.  These little guys are unfortunately on the list of the top 25 most endangered primates around the world as there are only about 2,000 left that live in Columbia.  We saw spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white raft lemurs, ring tailed lemurs, and Capuchan monkeys just to name a few.  Supposedly Capuchan monkeys are extremely intelligent and trainable… they can even learn how to make a cup of coffee… I just have to figure out how to take one of these guys home!  Attached to Monkeyland was Birds of Eden, the largest free-flight aviary in the world… and it was massive!

The weather here has taken a complete change for the better the past two days as it has been quite warm and sunny!  The best part is that it hasn’t even rained so we have been fortunate to have two great days near the beach!  As we passed through Knysna on our way to Sedgefield, we stopped at the same lookout point that I did about a week ago to see the heads and the lagoon area.  It was nice that the weather was cooperating as it made for another gorgeous view of the city below!  Just a short drive from Knysna was Sedgefield, our last and final stop on the trip.  We arrived just in time to take a stroll on the beach and enjoy the sunset… once again the warm weather made this much more enjoyable!

I can’t believe that it is already the last night of the trip but we have seen and done a lot over the past week.  I have enjoyed getting to know the couple along with Machiel, the tour guide.  I got all of my information for this upcoming semester at the University of Cape Town in regards to where I am staying and such and I actually move in on Sunday!  I have four roommates, two boys and two girls that I am living with in a house that is very close to campus.  Although it makes for a short summer, I am extremely excited for school to start and to meet everyone!

Riding on the beach was hands down incredible and most certainly a highlight of the trip thus far!  Plus I got in some needed horse time as it had been far too long!  Tomorrow night I’ll be in Cape Town, my new home (yay!!!) until November… maybe December… we’ll see but I’m so ready!

~Susan

I really can’t even begin to describe how wonderful this was 🙂

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