When I grew up I always heard my parents’ legendary stories about their epic road trips. They had photos of them driving through the empty Free state and having padkos in a desolated, tumbling down house. They talked about campfires and sleeping under the stars.
Since then I have always dreamt of having my own adventures. Recently I have reached the age of being able to drive and being responsible enough to take care of myself, so I have reached a stage where these things are now possible. I recently did a weekend trip with four friends to Buffelsbaai.
The first day we drove through to Robberg Penisula Nature Reserve for a hike. It was a beautiful South African day with blue skies and sunshine. We made the rookie mistake of going around the wrong way when we did the Witsand route. It was exquisitely beautiful but going up the large dune in the middle of our hike was the bane of my existence.
The next day we braved the Cango caves. On the drive there it was amazing to see the change in landscape as we went over the mountain. From a semi-forest, green and lush environment to a barren and semi-arid expanse of hills. Suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by ostrich farms and little oases along thin branches of fanning rivers.
At the caves we opted for the adventure tour. This required us to leopard crawl, squeeze through a tunnel of love (so-called because it hugs you from almost all sides), climb up a small, steep tunnel, question our sanity and understanding of the human condition and admire very old, intricate mineral formations.
The day thereafter we went for a hike and swim in the Knysna forest. Having read various books by Dalene Matthee I could envision the woodcutters trekking along the narrow riverbeds, hauling wood with their oxen, always watching out for the forest elephants. Our hike took us to some rock pools in the river where we had a quick and refreshing swim. The rock pool in which we swam was at the bottom of a series of mini-waterfalls and rapids. We decided to explore a bit further and at the top of the chain was a large and magnificent waterfall. We climbed up to the slippery rock and just stood under the cascading water, taking in the forest in awed silence.
Being back in the real world, the whole trip seems quite far away but it was definitely a trip that I won’t forget.