Monday, January 11, 2010

The Cango Caves, South Africa

Now what would a visit to South Africa be without a stop at the world famous Cango Caves??
The Cango Caves are located in Precambrian limestones at the foothills of the Swartberg range near the town of Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
The principal cave is one of the country's finest, best known and most popular tourist caves and attracts many visitors from overseas.
Although the extensive system of tunnels and chambers go on for over four kilometers, only about a quarter of this is open to visitors.

Since we have been to several caves around the world, we will make this stop over a quick one....

We are taking the "Adventure Tour" which consists of crawling through narrow passages, climbing up steep rock formations guided by small lights...and then WOW, spectacular halls!!

The cave is 1,5km wide and almost 16km long and has magnificent dripstone formations.

The dimensions of the cave are impressive too. Being more than 5km long, it contains the largest underground chamber in the country, measuring 220 x 35 x 35 m.

Hey Marti, did you know that the limestones were formed by chemical processes about 750 Million years ago?

The Khoisan used the entrance area of the cave as shelter. They never went deeper into the cave, as no human remains were found inside.

The entrance to the caves was originally rich in bushman paintings, but with time these have been damaged.

The San left this area and their cave approximately 500 years ago.

Cango Cave is the most visited show cave in South Africa.

Sita has been nagging me all day...she wants to see some Ramzi, not "chicks"....birds of the feathered variety!!

Okay Sita......we will go to the OSTRICH capital of the you know where that is??

Yes, Marti, you are right.....its the Oudtshoorn district of South Arica.

These ostriches ( have been bred hereabouts since the 1870s, and at the turn of the 20th century fortunes were made from the fashion for ostrich feathers.

Oudtshoorn boomed, and the so-called 'feather barons' built the grand houses that lend the town its distinct atmosphere today.

The town still turns a pretty penny from breeding the birds for meat and leather

Did you know that during the first decade of the previous century, ostrich feathers gained record prices on foreign markets, ranking 4th on the list of South African exports, after gold, diamonds and wool??

Oh, Marti is really excited because we are at an Ostrich Show Farm, an operating farm where we see large flocks of ostriches at different stages of development in the surrounding fields.

A guide has explained every aspect of ostrich farming, from breeding to rearing.

The eggs, incubators and chicks ..... really interesting.....

Did you know that an OSTRICH EGG is equivalent TO 24 CHICKEN EGGS?? Marti got to test the strength of the eggs by standing on them!! Well, they are the world's largest eggs!!

Ramzi is gazing into their eyes....he says that they have eyes that make you want to fall in love and hug Sita is brave enough to hug and kiss one whilst Nopi hand feeds a few!!

Feroz decided to ride an ostrich ---the weight limit being its a good thing Feroz is in shape!

He challenged us to a our tour ended with an "Ostrich Derby" and Marti won! This was too cool!

We then visited the curio shop. The ostrich egg shell has become a very popular curio because of the endless uses thereof.

Their shells are ideal for artwork, engraving and decoupage. Shells can also be mounted in different ways and make attractive lampshades.

Hahaha, Nopi bought a handmade ostrich feather boa for her Grandma and an ostrich egg shell bra! One size fits all!!

Of course the rest of us bought ostrich leather bags and biltong......

Marti really enjoyed her short visit to the ostrich farm and even bought an ostrich egg.....she figured that ONE would be enough to make an omelette that would feed all of us.....bon appetit!