Today was really nice. The first place we went to was the Cango Wildlife Ranch. This place was more like a walk through zoo. It had loads of animals and lots of opportunities to meet and play with animals. Although this place had tones of different types of animals I was mostly interested in the big cats. They had several tigers, and lions, and cheetahs on the premise and I needed to play with them. By the end of the morning I played with four cheetah cubs that were 3 months old and three tiger cubs that were 8 months old. The tigers were actually pretty big already but they still had so much growing to go. I was talking to someone later in the day about the cats I played with any they found it really surprising that I wasn’t terrified of them. I guess it’s kind of odd that I’m not scared of lions, or tigers, or cheetahs (all animals that could easily kill me if they wanted to, but yet I’m scared of spiders. I’ll also jump out of plane or jump off a bridge with no hesitation but if there is a fake spider on the ceiling watching me, I won’t take my eyes off it until I have confirmation that it’s actually fake. I suppose my new fear might just be… The fear of being scared of the wrong things.
Our next stop was The Cango Caves. This excursion had us deep in the depths of a cave that was millions of years old. You have to remember I’m in Africa and not the USA so the rules and standards are a lot different. They had us crawling through tunnels that were 27 centimeters in height. The things we did and the places they took us were amazing but would absolutely not fly in the US. I loved it but it was actually terrifying at times when you squeezed your way through a small opening into the darkness knowing that you were going to have to come out the same way. To make things even crazier we went 1.4 kilometers into the mountain and the only fresh oxygen was from the very initial opening. By the time we got to the furthest point (about 30 minutes of climbing and crawling) the humidity was 98% and the air was very difficult to breath. We were all sweating which I guess helped us slip through some of the openings. There was a guy that was with us that was a bit large and when we got to a certain point he had to turn around and head back by himself because there was no way he was fitting through. Kind of stinks for him because he paid for the whole journey and barely made it half way through. At least if he had gotten stuck he would have made it into the news paper like the plus size American woman that insisted on going through.
After the caves we went to what Oudtshoorn is known best for, their ostrich farms. While here we learned all about the ostrich and it was actually quite fascinating. They basically use every part of the ostrich and the leather is very expensive if it’s cured for properly. I got to feed some more ostrich this day and I even got to ride one. The whole event was hilarious. First they have to bring an ostrich in and they do that by blind folding it. A lot of animals are very calm when they are blind folded (just as Soap for more details on that). When they are walking the blind folded ostrich over it resembles a really awkward bird that has recently just joined the KKK and is still a bit uneasy about it. Such a stupid sight, that it was hilarious to watch, and watching people ride them was even funnier. I went into the gift shop afterwards to check out some ostrich products. A purse made from ostrich leather can be up to R9,000. That’s over $1,000 American dollars. Can you believe that?
When we were finished with the ostrich we made a stop at a game reserve. Isaac had mentioned that he has taken guests there before to do encounters with the elephants. So we went there with the idea we may ride some elephants. When we got there we went around back to the restaurant that was right on the water where the animals drink from. It was a beautiful place where guests can stay in permanent tents set up along the lake. Rather than paying for another safari we just ate some lunch there and took in the sights. We got really lucky because a guide walked by and heard us talking about the different animals. He spent the next half hour with us answering any questions we had about animals. He also helped us spot a lot of them from where we were sitting. On one side of the lake there were elephants roaming around and on the opposite side there was a lone giraffe making its way to the water. He ended up taking us in a golf cart type vehicle. He brought us to the far side of the lake were we spotted hippos in the water. These enormous animals were just meters away from people’s residents. It would be pretty amazing staying at this place being able to watch animals at all times of the day.