Classes are slowly coming to an end in the next few weeks in Stellenbosch as the month of April is flying by between all of the work for class and all of the exciting things I continue to do here.
Over a week of this month was spent on spring holiday during which Adrienne and I backpacked (both of us with more backpacks than we could carry) through the Garden Route, beginning in Port Elizabeth and ending in Oudtshoorn before heading back “home” to Stellenbosch. We had quite the eventful journey, and I discovered just how diverse and beautiful this country really is. I was also convinced to jump off the highest man made bungee jump in the world despite my incredible fear of heights; so yes, if my friends jump off of a bridge I will apparently jump off too.
After a 12-hour bus ride overnight from Stellenbosch to PE, we spent the day in Addo Elephant Park and Schotia Private Game Reserve where we took multiple game drives, seeing many of the well known animals native to the country as well as a few others in Schotia. Late in the evening on one of our drives, we sat between a lion and lioness as they roared back and forth to one another with nothing but an open jeep standing between the lions and us. After hours of driving throughout the reserve, we ended the day with dinner in a huge, open hut around a few campfires before heading back to the hostel.
The next few days were spent in Storms River Village in Tsitsikamma. This is where most of our adventuring took place with the bungee jump, zip lining over waterfalls and even an off-roading segway tour thanks to our new friend, Candice, at Tsitsikamma Backpackers whom we became very close with after spending an entire rainy day in the hostel without any electricity. The bungee jump, at 216 meters from the ground, was both the most terrifying and most incredible experience I have ever had. The view of the rolling, green mountains divided by the river far below the bridge was absolutely breathtaking, and we got to fly through the air among it. The experience is nothing I can thoroughly describe in words or even photographs, so you’ll have to go there and jump yourself!
After leaving Storms River, we traveled to Knysna where we spent the day kayaking and exploring town and the evening in what I believe to be the strangest bar I will step foot in in the world. That experience I can definitely not relay through this blog nor do I ever think I can relive such a night.
From Knysna, Adrienne and I retreated to our honeymoon treetop suite where we spent a romantic evening over popcorn and wine. In the morning we woke up to a magnificent view over the treetops and beyond to the rolling valleys and hills; a view we could continue to enjoy as we got ready that morning thanks to our outdoor bathroom (Adrienne’s favorite part).
Finally, we ended our adventure in Oudtshoorn where we explored the Congo Caves and the annual Karoo Festival in town. This time, I did not give into peer pressure and, due to my claustrophobia, took the elderly/children’s tour of the caves while Adrienne crawled, slid, and climbed through a more extensive (and incredibly tight) area of the caves. The Karoo Festival was one of the more interesting experiences of the trip since we were unquestionably out of place. Most people we encountered were quite confused why there were two Americans in the area and often took a few confused responses from us to switch to English. It was the first place I had been in this country where most things were not in English in addition to another language. Nearly everything was entirely in Afrikaans including the few concerts we attended both evenings we were there. Even with the slight language barrier, the festival was a ton of fun. We may have even improved our Afrikaans skills by the end of the weekend!
Overall, the trip down the Garden Route was filled with fun and adventure, and we both arrived home quite exhausted. We meant so many new people along the way and discovered the true diversity of the country traveling out of the Western Cape for the first time. It will most definitely be a spring break to remember.