Up early again today to meet our guide, Thabo, who drove the three of us out from Cape Town toward the east across the mountains. We went through town, out into the area known as the Cape Flats, where we passed large township areas that are made up of very crude shacks cobbled together, some areas obviously with no utilities, some with power. But you can also see lager numbers of houses the country had been building over a number of years to move people out of the shacks and into better housing. It’s a huge undertaking. We continued to drive east heading into the mountains going through Sir Lowry’s Pass, then through the Houwhoek Pass, with amazing views of False Bay.
We headed for the town of Hermanus and just outside of it we came to the SA Adventures. We came to zip line! They started us out by cladding us in harnesses and safety helmets and showing us how the gear operates on a small section of line. Once two other pairs of fellow adventurers were outfitted and trained we all climbed into a rustic trailer with benches along the side pulled by a tractor. They drove us up the hillside over very rough paths then had us disembark and hike up the rest of the way. At that point I was ever so glad I’d done so much hiking of late, though it was rather awkward with the weight of the line equipment dangling off my chest. We finally reached the top line, the first of ten we rode down the hillside. We had a guide zip down first and the second one stayed with us to hook us each up in turn. It was amusing to hear them whistle to each other to give the alerts for when they were ready – it sounded just like the local birds. One by one we took off getting the feel of the gear and the speed. It seemed counter intuitive to not hold on tight and pull down on the handle, which instead was what braked it. In any case, with each successive line we all became more confident. Except the two twenty-somethings from Dubai. My first clue was that one of then had her phone out and was recording the hike up but somehow couldn’t manage both things at once so one of the guides had to hold her hand up. Hmmmm… Then she asked at each successive line “How do I brake?” By the fifth line the English guy with us turned to me and said “10 Rand says she’ll ask how to brake”. Ha! I told him he had too much of a sure bet. Ah, to be that self-centered age. No way. But I was especially proud of Dana who is afraid of heights yet she did the entire thing with us with no fuss. We zipped through a forest of mostly eucalyptus trees, and just as in Spain, they were brought into the country and have taken root. Thanks to our charming guides, led by Nkosa, who was equal parts expert and comedian, we all survived and enjoyed it immensely.
Afterwards our van driver/guide, Thabo, suggested that we go to a local winery he’d taken other visitors to for a wine tasting and possibly lunch. We drove further inland through an area referred to as Heaven to Earth and reached Creation winery. It was a lovely spot and they found a table for lunch for us. A bit more involved than we expected as they prided themselves on marrying their wine with food so they had a set menu of just a few choices. None vegetarian. However, they were willing to accommodate me, and we proceeded with a three course meal along with six different wines. Oh, my. My favorite was the Sauvignon Blanc, which I purchased to have in the evening back at the hotel. Lovely.
The lunch though took longer than we expected so we had to scurry back toward town to be able to see the Cheetah Outreach, which was planned for the afternoon. This is a place that houses a number of cheetahs and a few other type of animals that are endangered in an attempt to increase awareness and funding to preserve those in the wild. We got there just 40 minutes before closing, but still got to do the up close and personal with the cheetahs. They first have you put all your belongings in a locker and hand over your phone or cameras to the volunteers, so not to have anything drop and scare the animals. Then we had to sanitize our hands and dip the soles of our shoes in a bath so we didn’t introduce anything untoward to the animals. Then we dutifully followed the volunteer into a large pen area with a cheetah named Ebony. We were allowed to pet him together and singularly, while the handler kept hold of the animal. It was amazing to be that close, to hear him actually purr and to feel the coat! They are beautiful creatures and while I hate to see them penned in captivity, that’s how they were raised so they wouldn’t able to fend for themselves in the wild. If it makes more people aware of their predicament then hopefully good will come of it.