Jill's African Adventure
* Hiking in Nature's Valley and Hogsback
* Adventures in Oudtshoorn
* Cape Town
* The Problems of Zimbabwe
* Visiting Isabel
* A Day by the River
* Practical Stuff (But please read!)
* The Elephants Don't Want Me to Eat
* Its a Small World (Blantyre and Beyond)
* The Night Bus: From Nkhata Bay to Zomba
* Lake Malawi
* Reflections on East Africa
* The Long Road to Malawi: Part 2
* The Long Road to Malawi: Part 1
* Parc National des Volcans
* Kibale Forest
* Back and Forth from Kampala
* Rafting the Nile
October 15, 2005
Adventures in Oudtshoorn
After getting in three weeks of relaxation in Cape Town it was once again time to hit the road. My first stop heading northeast along the southern coast of South Africa was an interesting town called Oudtshoorn.
The Cango Caves
The next chamber we went into had a number of columns, where stalagtites and stalagmits had joined each other. There was even a double column -- two columns right next to each other which had merged together. The columns were very weird-looking, but beautiful in their own way and, unfortunately, nearly impossible to describe. The dripping that somehow formed the columns had created repeating patterns on their surfaces that made the columns look carved. There was also a stalagmite that was thick, and which reminded me of a rounded spiral of soft-serve ice cream. The caves looked like a sort of Dr. Seuss fantasy land, only all in white rather than in bright colors.
On the Way to the Ostich Farm
As I was riding I saw a car on the other side of the road suddenly move to the center of the road for no apparent reason - for a second it seemed like the car was coming at me. Quickly, however, it went back into its own lane. As I got closer to where the car had been I realized that the driver's seemingly irrational behavior had actually been due to the presence of a long, dirty-yellowish colored snake in the middle of the road. So, snakes being interesting and me not having seen many of them on this trip, I naturally stopped to take a phote. Before I got my camera completely out and ready, though, another car dove by it and the snake was not pleased. It reared up, flared out its hood and struck at the air where the car had just been. It then quickly slithered away into the bush on the othe side of the road.
This is what I was thinking as all this was going on: Wow! Cool! It must be a cobra. I wonder how poisonous it is? I didn't know snakes could move that quickly. Darn, its disappearing into the bush -- I'm not going to be able to get a picture of it. I'm glad it didn't come in my direction, because if it had... Maybe stopping to take a photo of a potenitally deadly snake was not really a smart thing to do...
I later was able to identify the snake as a Cape Cobra, which is indeed very poisonous. More poisonous even than the black mamba, which I had previously thought was the most deadly snake in the area.
The Ostich Farm
The sun rose higher and there five of us waited silent and still for the meerkats to emerge. The ait would have been boring, but Grant seemed to everything about meerkats and was giving us quite an interesting education.
And then -- a head peeked out of the burrow and looked around. Soon the first meerkat scampered out of the burrow, stood up using his tail for balance, continued looking around, his belly to the sun to warm him up. He looked back down into the burrow a few times and then another meerkat came up. Over about the next ten minutes all the meerkats emerged one by one until all eight adults were out of the burrow. As each emerged it stood up, facing the sun, warming itself. One by one, the meerkats went down on all fours and ran into the bush to forage for breakfast. It was a bit of a disappointment when the last meerkat left the burrow area -- since no one had stayed to babysit it meant the new babies, only two weeks old, would, for at least one more day, stay in the burrow.
We followed the meerkats a short way over to where they were foraging. sometimes one would stand out on a rise, standing guard. When there was no meerkat on the rise, every now and then, quite frequently, on or two would stand up on watch, look around for a few seconds, and then go back to foraging. Too soon, the meerkats disappeared over the rise and our viewing time was over.
Posted by Jillian on October 15, 2005 05:20 AM
Category: Southern Africa
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