I am going to try and not write as much today after yesterday's epic entry!
Today we left Knysna and travelled through the Outeniqua Pass as we made our way to our next stop - Oudtshoorn. The temperature is cool with a lot of low-lying cloud, giving the mountains a very atmospheric view. As we pass over the Outeniqua Pass we make a quick photo stop then move on to an ostrich farm.
Now I have been looking forward to getting a photo opportunity of these wonderful birds. They are absolutely huge - much taller than myself, and they are almost comical to look at with their two toes, beautiful feathered bodies and long long necks.
But it's the funny face that captures me most...
.....and I manage a couple of portrait shots, including this 'Mouthy Bird' (well we all know one!).......
.........and a little Emu for good measure!
After taking a tour of the farm the group are led into an enclosure and people are given the opportunity to either sit on an ostrich and have their photo taken, or indeed ride one (such is the size and strength of these birds). Now the guide has assured us that there are no issues in respect of animal cruelty, with animal cruelty prevention officers regularly checking the farm. All of the birds are said to be unstressed and well looked after.
Regardless I find the whole thing a little uncomfortable. The birds have a bag put over their head to keep them calm as people climb onto their backs, and when being ridden their 'brakes' involve the rider pulling their flexible necks back. I immediately stop clicking the camera and sit quietly, looking forward to the end of this visit. I will rest content with my couple of portrait shots.
We stay on the farm for a bite of lunch before climbing back onto the bus for our next stop of the day, the Cango Caves.
The Cango Caves are one of the world's great natural wonders. Sculpted by nature through the ages, they comprise of spectacular limestone caverns that go many hundreds of meters under ground.
We take a route that goes 50-80 meters under ground, and the viewing is quite spectacular - incredible formations, some of which have been built up over 1.5 million years!
We move down through the caverns, which get narrower the further in we travel. It also gets significantly more humid (it regularly reaches 99% humidity).
Taking photos in the caves is a challenge because it is so dark. Even with the flash on, the ISO on the camera needs to be up at almost 2000. But I manage a couple of shots that I am pleased with.
There are a lot of steps in the caves and, by the time I collapse back onto my seat in the bus, I reflect on just how active this holiday has been. I can't remember it being advertised as such, and I think it may have caused a couple of people in the group a little difficulty.
Our hotel for the night is in Oudtshoorn - the Queen's Hotel - so named because 'Princess Elizabeth' and her mother visited it many many years ago for afternoon tea. It is a lovely hotel, the lounge having quintessential english furniture and sofas. Home from home........... if I wasn't Scottish ;-) The group have a nice meal in the Colony Restaurant and I finish the day by having a little glass of vino too many......... well I'm on holiday after all!
Thank you for reading.