I'm finally taking the opportunity to drive the Garden Route for the weekend and bungee jump. I found Abdullah, a guide that would drive us and take care of our accommodation, so I made a few phone calls and set us up with a sweet deal. We ended up getting a deal for 1360 Rand and we would take care of all our activity fees.
We set out Friday morning for our first activity north of Oudstroom, the ostrich capital of the world. We drove straight through the day to arrive by 3:40 at the Cango Caves. We toured the caves and saw some mega sized growths of rock that took millions of years to form. It was a beautiful bit of geology.
After the cave tour, we hit the road again for Knysna, a small town right on the coast with a big lagoon. It looked nice and was quite quaint. We had our accommodation set up there and it turned out to be very nice, with all of the girls staying in a dorm upstairs and Dan and myself sleeping downstairs below them. We had a kitchen to prepare our own breakfast in the morning, and we were provided more there than we are at home so it was a treat.
Saturday morning we woke up early and had a hearty breakfast in anticipation for the big rush we would have a few hours later. We were driving an hour east to Bloukrans Pass to jump off the largest bridge in Africa, the tallest bridge bungee in the world at 216 meters. We were pretty excited, well at least I was, as some of the girls were very scared about what they were headed to do. This is one of the "must-dos" on my list of things I had to accomplish while here in South Africa.
We get there and get weighed, then strap up in our safety harnesses. We unfortunately were there extremely early so we had a long wait before the jump, and by the time I was strapped up I wanted to jump off the bridge. A quarter to ten, we were briefed and then made the walk across the frightening bridge to the jump spot. Some say this approach is more thrilling than the jump itself, as you can see straight down below you and you are walking on grated metal that seems somewhat flimsy. For some reason, after walking about half the distance I just came to peace with where I was, the fear left me and I could walk fine the rest of the way. I settled with where I was and looked down the rest of the way admiring the hight I was at.
When it finally came time for us to get strapped up one at a time and jump, I was 6th to go. I was frustrated that I wasn't first, because for some reason I wanted to be the first in the group to have the thrill. Dan went first, and he jumped well, but he ended up hanging there for a long while, longer than what I expected. Maybe that was a consequence of being first. The music is blaring on the bridge to get the jumpers hyped, and most probably to jade their thinking patterns and take their mind off the jump ahead of them. But we dance to it anyways, because it's something that would blast in the clubs. I try to escape most everybody for a bit before my jump so I can get a good look at the scenery around me, I want to soak in the valley I'm jumping into to have that engrained in my mind. I'm also trying to suppress the adrenaline, because I want my head to be clear when I jump off the bridge. I want to make sure my jump is good, not a flop off the edge. If I can make it 216.5 meters I want to. "Jumper 6, are you ready?" Of course I am. I sit down and await my ankles getting tied up, and all I can do is soak in the music and put a smile on my face. It was strange how comfortable I was with what I was about to do.
I'm strapped in, they get me to stand and enter the jump area. As they are running through everything again, I'm trying to get a glimpse of the ground below me. I'm excited to get up to the edge, and when I finally do I look straight down. MY GOODNESS. This is ridiculous. But here we go, I know the countdown is coming and I'm still jumping out to make this thing pretty. 5-4-3-2-1-Jump. It's immediate silence, the world around me comes to a complete stall for a fraction of a second and the adrenal rush is immediate. I start my five second free fall and I can't think at all. It's just green and blue. Water - brush - sky. My legs finally are jerked and I know I'm safe. It's a pretty good jerk, but I think it may be the best jerk of my life. I start to bounce and I'm just cracking a smile at this point. It's quiet, the Indian Ocean can be seen on one side of me and green mountains on the other. After a bit I'm looking up my line to see where the guy was who retrieves me. Now blood is rushing to my head from hanging and I'm ready to be upright again.
I'm retrieved, and I make it up safely. The harnesses are removed and there's a small celebration with the people I'm with. What a thrill - now a line can be put though that one.
We move on from the bungee to Monkeyland, which is a makeshift forest in which monkeys are allowed to roam freely. It's pretty awesome actually. They would run up to the group if they were curious, or in one instance the monkey forced his way through the group as we crossed a bridge. We can definitely say there were some close encounters to primates.
Moving on, we found ourselves in Plettenberg Bay at a game reserve. This vast amount of open land was tucked away from the highway a good bit, but I was somewhat surprised to see the beauty of it. We toured the area for a little over 2 hours looking at the different species across the reserve. We ran across springbock, waterbock, rhinos, hippos, lions, giraffes, wildebeest and more. I went a little crazy trying to capture some good shots of the animals hoping that one or two might turn out okay.
We wound down for the evening with dinner on the Knysna waterfront and then moved on to a pub close to our B&B to watch the Champions League Final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich. It was a riveting match, and Chelsea departed the victors after a penalty shootout. It was fun to mess with Dan and root for Bayern Munich, because he would cringe at the thought of them losing.
We popped up Sunday and headed to the Knysna Elephant Park to get a little personal with some friendly giants. We were able to feed them a bit and then after a while roam the park with them, just following their movements. Where they go we go. We could touch them and get close, but since they are so massive we did have to keep a precautionary distance and never were supposed to step directly in front of them. They were playful with each other, so we just watched them do what they do.
Before too long, we hit the road again back to Cape Town. We had to make it home somewhat early to make another drop-off at the airport. Once again we were saying goodbye. Short and sweet is how I’ve approached the goodbyes, so I did it again here.
We made it home after a hectic and adventurous weekend filled with activity. The group we went with was good; everybody made the trip a breeze. We agreed on almost everything and if not, weren’t afraid to voice opinions. It helps to be upfront on this type of thing, and I really tried to accommodate to the best of my ability everybody’s wishes. I kind of played tour guide this weekend, and people ended up being pretty thankful for my input and work. Maybe I have a new calling, but who knows? Tour Africa at the expense of others, oh I don’t know, that sounds pretty dreary.