Monday, 6 February 2017

Caves and Ostriches

We reluctantly left Knysna's idyllic setting.  We were really wishing we could have stayed longer...but Oudtshoorn was calling so we left for the two hour drive.

The drive was very interesting as we travelled through a pass in the mountains we had been admiring all along the coast.  It was raining all the way through the pass but when we crested  the mountain a huge semi-desert stretched out below us.  The sun was up and hot and the scenery was beautiful.
We found ourselves in a flat valley trapped between two mountain ranges, with rich reddish soil and desert like plants growing.  It was such a surprise to see this after the rainy conditions a few short miles away.

We soon arrived at our accomodations, a working ostrich farm called La Plume.  We were amazed to find a large and rambling main building, furnished with beautiful antiques and equipped with several cottage style outbuildings.  It was spectacular and very like stepping back in time. 

We spent a quiet afternoon and evening watching the Ostriches in their enclosures running to and fro as they were startled by the odd motorbike zooming by.

Our next day started early with a visit to the farm with the owner.  He explained the economics of the farm and raising ostriches through time up to the present.  He explained that in the past thw feathers had been very popular in women's hats but today are proved for use in entertainment for costumes, in parade floats, and for the manufacture of feather dusters.  The most lucrative part of his business is the production of ostrich meat, exported mainly to Europe, and finally leather production for the high end leather market, purses and boots mostly.  He showed us the Ostriches and explained that they were sporting their bikini look, having just had some of their feathers removed...a painless process he claimed was like cutting finger nails.  It was very interesting as these curious birds came right up to the fence to check us out!

In the afternoon we went to the local Cango Caves...a vast cavern system which has been carved out of the limestone caves.

Finally, we stopped at a local restaurant in a nature reserve and as we were eating  our meal we saw elephants being led by on their way to the watering hole.

The mountains were spectacular and the scenery breathtaking as we made our way back to the tranquility of La Plume.

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