Dave and Josh are…
Bungee jump safari-ing.
Well, Josh isn’t bungee jumping. I am the only one who did that.
I’ve never bungee jumped before, never really felt a tremendous urge to do so. I generally wouldn’t call myself an adrenalin junkie. (Though once, a number of years ago, I tried to skydive with Sully but Pablo put an end to that real fast.)
Still, bungee jumping is a lot more attractive when it’s this cheap, and even more so when it’s the world’s highest commercial bungee jump. The drop is 216 meters off the Bloukrans River Bridge and you free-fall for six seconds.
We went first thing in the morning so I got out there pretty quick. They marked me for death,
and kitted me up (look Ma, that’s all that kept me alive!)
I was extremely dubious about the Lady Gaga.
The operation was pretty impressive, incredibly professional and efficient which was confident inspiring. They were also clearly used to people having second thoughts when faced with the precipice cause they did not give you much of a chance to dwell on what you were about to do. In fact they did everything they could to make you desperate to jump. Right as I got across the walkway that runs under the bridge to the jump point they started blasting Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”. I asked if they had anything else and one guy said, “Yeah we have the whole album.” I wanted to elbow people out of the way to jump.
Luckily I got to go first. They strapped in my feet and helped me hop to the edge. I confess I did have one moment of fear as they helped me inch my toes over the edge, but unfortunately they didn’t let me have more than a split-second to savor that thrill of “what the fuck am I doing” before they started a loud countdown.
And then suddenly I was airborne.
It may have been five seconds but it went by way too fast. It was pretty sweet, the whole gorge rushing by and then feeling the cord catch, extend and snap back sending you careening again through the air.
When I finally stopped bouncing I got to hang upside down looking down the gorge towards the ocean for about a minute (you can just see me as a tiny red dot at the end of the cable)
until a guy could be lowered down to turn me right-side up and hook me to be winched back to the bridge.
Afterwards I wasn’t hopped up on adrenalin the way I assumed I’d be but it definitely beats coffee or Red Bull in the morning. Then, having gotten my activity of choice for the day done, Josh and I hit the road pretty hard to ensure we’d make the game park before the afternoon safari.
Josh, understandably, really wanted to see some wildlife while in Africa; unfortunately there aren’t any national parks with any serious wildlife (serious like Big 5) any closer to Cape Town than the elephant park at Addo. There are, however, some private game parks offering varying varieties and numbers of animals on various sized expanses. Some are closer to zoos than safari parks, but this one was supposed to be not bad, and was certainly right on our way back to Cape Town.
Driving hard we got there just in time for the 2pm safari (though not in time to eat at all. We were starving.)
The two hour safari wasn’t too bad. Loaded up in one of those open topped safari bokkies and led by a very informative Afrikaner we cruised around the small park.
We came across the rhino almost immediately. Male, female and the kid.
Turns out rhino’s have a rape problem. The female had no interest in mating with the male, who pursued her for a long time. It wasn’t until she broke her horn, and lost her means of defense, that she gave up and acquiesced to mating.
The whole Rhino Raper thing aside, these animals are pretty phenomenal. They can get to be two tons and all just from eating grass. Grass is something like 98% of their diet, the other 2% being protein, which they get by accidentally eating ants while grazing. Of course to get that size on nothing but grass they have to graze something like 16-17 hours a day.
In that same area we saw small herds of zebra, as well as impala and wildebeest.
Shortly thereafter we came across the giraffe. The thing I found funny about them is that they give birth standing up so when the baby is born it falls all the way to the ground. Nice welcome to the world.
The lions were kept in a separate enclosure, which unfortunately did feel pretty zoo like, especially because the lions were gargantuan fat. They don’t have to hunt, the game park drops off dead horses and animals periodically for them to eat, so the animals are fat, slow and unable to sustain themselves.
But going to see them required going through a double gate that got Josh humming the Jurassic Park theme song.
The park also has two elephants, these two kept in a separate enclosure which not only was unfortunate because it created more of a zoo feel but also unfortunate cause it was too near civilization. Unlike other areas of the park there were power lines and fences visible in the background. There was also the highway, which clearly causes some problems which we witnessed as cars have a tendency to slow down when they suddenly notice an elephant outside their window in the Western Cape.
The elephants, one male, one female, are both between 14-17 years of age. They spent most of the time we were around making out. The male apparently is pretty interested in advancing the relationship but he’s too young, he won’t get to full size till around age 30 and until then he won’t be big enough to be able to mount the female. Our ranger told us, that the ambitious chap tried anyway and ended up falling over onto his back. Of course the bloody female won’t help him out by kneeling or anything, no that’d make things too easy. Poor bastard. She’d rather see him with a 15 year case of blue balls.
Still, it’s nice to see something with even less game than me.
The one animal from the Big 5 that we didn’t see was the leopard, which is the one that usually gets missed. Guess it’s a lot easier to hide when you aren’t several meters tall and weigh several tons.
We moved on down the road trying to find a place that could offer food and a place to sleep that would put us in good position to jump off to De Hoop Nature Reserve, We found one in Swelledum. Quite literally one. We drove through town, and granted it was a Sunday at maybe 5pm but the entire town was shut down. We passed restaurant after restaurant without one being open. Thoroughly starving and doubling back down the town’s one main commercial avenue for about the third time we stopped at a posh looking place, purely because it appeared to be the only place open.
It was posh; it was also silent as a tomb and filled with about as many candles as you’d see in a typical crypt. The atmosphere was really bizarre. Josh and I sat there, uncomfortable and confused about this place and the town in general, until the waitress, in taking our order, told us it might be slow as with the power outage they were having to cook by candlelight.
Ahhh, one of RSA’s blackouts. All became clear. And the power returned shortly thereafter which helped reduce the cryptmosphere. And when we were leaving it was my turn to have a waitress hit on me. The lady expressed serious concern about how tired I looked and was extremely solicitous of my well being. She made no comment on the incredibleness of my eyes though.
The hostel for the evening was a pretty small place and we were the only occupants of the dorm, which was a corrugated tin roofed shed out back. But the waitress must have been right cause despite the conditions I was passed out about as early as I have in a long time.