Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blyde River Canyon part 2

On Monday morning, we all woke up bright and early, ready for another day of fun. Darin was still feeling pretty tired out and sore from our big day on Sunday, but for the most part, he sucked it up. After breakfast, we left our cottage and headed out to see the sights. Our first stop was the Pinnacle, a large rock rising up from the canyon below. It was pretty impressive, but there was only a tiny railing to keep my precious children from falling to their death, so I was not really having the best time. We looked at the big rock for a while and then Darin held the kids hands so they could peek over the edge at some waterfalls and then I fell over dead from a heart attack. Ok, I didn’t really, but man, do I hate having my kids up high!!! 

We piled back into the car and headed to God’s Window. We started walking to get to the lookout point and were confronted with stairs, lots of stairs. The kids took off running up the stairs, so we had to follow. Each time we got to the top, there would be even more stairs. I think we made it up 2 levels, then decided we had seen enough of a view to appreciate God’s Window : ) Next we went to Bourke’s Luck Potholes, which was amazing! There were pools of water and little waterfalls and such smooth rocks. It was just so beautiful. The kids loved looking in the small pools and seeing all the tadpoles and little fish. My mom and I sat with our feet in the water for a while. It was beautiful out. By this point, we were all very hungry and tired, so we asked if there were any restaurants around. We ended up going to a Forever Resort and had a huge buffet lunch. It was amazing. Salads, cheeses, soup, bread, drumsticks, pasta, potatoes, pork loin and dessert! It was so good. When we arrived there wasn’t anybody there, but by the time we had filled our plates once, the place had filled up with a bunch of different tour groups. We ate and ate and ate. It felt so good to sit and rest and eat in the air conditioning. 

After lunch we headed back out to see a few more sights. Our first stop was the Three Rondavels, which are three large rock formations that look like traditional round huts. Then we did a little shopping and Jori sat with some women and watched them make bead necklaces. Dear Darin was ready to be done, so we headed off for one more stop, which was just a lookout point with another view of the canyon. There was a lady crocheting hats out of plastic bags, and the kids just plopped right down to watch her. They love seeing how things are made and it was fun seeing them interact with this lady. After this stop, we headed back to our lodge. Darin stayed in to relax a bit and the rest of us headed down to the pool. The water was so cold, but I told the kids I would go swimming with them, so I did. 

After swimming, the kids found something to keep them occupied until bedtime-grasshoppers. Very large grasshoppers, or locusts, or katydids, which is what the kids called them. They had 5 of these creatures that they put in a plastic bag. Then they named them-Hopper, Hoppy, Una, Blacky and Bacon. Yes, Bacon. They seriously played with these things for hours. They wrote all the names in a notebook and were being very secretive about it all. Jori was trying to train them to jump on a piece of cement. They even ate their dinner outside so they could monitor what their new buddies were doing. Before bedtime, all 5 climbed up on the wall of our chalet. The next morning, 2 of them were still there, and the kids played with them for another hour. Who knew that bugs could be so entertaining?

On Tuesday, after the kids played with the bugs, we headed to the pool for one last swim. This was around 7 in the morning. My mom and I watched them swim while the guys started packing up the car. After having breakfast and second breakfast, we headed out for the last day of our trip. We drove for about an hour and arrived at our first, and final, stop-Sudwala Caves. We walked up many stairs and were greeted by a very cool breeze coming out of the opening of the cave. We had to wait a bit for our tour to begin, and while we waited, we were told that a huge black mamba had been spotted under the deck earlier in the morning. Black Mamba’s are deadly snakes, unless you happen to be very physically fit when they bite you. Sadly, I don’t think any of our group would have survived a snake bite. Maybe my dad, but the rest of us would have been goners.

Our tour guide, Victor, arrived and we started our tour of the cave. It really was pretty amazing. He told us that long ago the cave was used as a hide out for a Swazi prince and his followers. We saw a lot of interesting rock formations and learned about stalagmites and stalactites. We crouched down through low passageways and climbed on slippery stairs. I don’t think any of us thought the tour would be as interesting as it was. Victor started the tour by telling our kids that if they touched anything or didn’t listen to him, they would be thrown down into a pit, and they listened better than they ever have before! I wish Victor could come and live with us full time : ) When our tour was finished, we stopped and ate lunch at the restaurant that was on site. There was a pet parrot in the building and the kids had fun listening to it say “hello” and “bye-bye”. 

After lunch, we decided to check out the Dinosaur Park, which was right next to the caves. Tyson loves dinosaurs, so it was fun to walk around with him as he saw all the sights. There was also a real live crocodile in a big tank. The poor beast was so hot it just lay in its little pool of water. We did see it move its eyes a few times, so we know it was alive. Our trip was almost over, but we wanted to have one more new experience. Between the cave and the Dinosaur Park we had walked past some pools with little fish in them. These fish were brought over from Singapore and if you wanted, you could pay to have these fish nibble on your feet. All of us, except for Darin, thought this would be a fun thing to try. So we had our feet washed and then we stuck our legs into the pool. At first the fish just swam away from us, but then they started nibbling. It was such a weird feeling. We were all squirming and laughing and shrieking. 

The kids’ legs were too short, so they weren’t getting nibbled on at first, but then the giggling started. Well, Jori was giggling, but Tyson was not really into the fish nibbles. He was moaning and groaning, and it just made the whole thing funnier. We sat with our legs in that pool for 30 minutes and walked away with the smoothest feet in South Africa! 

Then it was time to pile into the car again and begin the drive home. We started out the drive with Jori saying her stomach hurt. We were ready to pull over and then she just fell asleep. Tyson watched a DVD and the rest of us talked, looked out the windows and slept. We made it back to Pretoria and stopped for dinner at McDonalds. Then we finished our drive home. We would love to go back to the Blyde River area again as there were many things that we did not get to see and other things that we’d love to see again.


trombonejo said...

it sounds like such a blissful holiday! I'm so glad you all got time out as a family to enjoy the beauties of South Africa, hope you feel blessed and refreshed when you get back into the swing of 'normality' and that it feels like coming home.

Anonymous said...

What a fun trip! And I have to say, the line about "second breakfast" cracked me up! Not sure I could handle the fish nibbling on my feet, but smooth feet would be nice.

Anonymous said...

What a riot! So many fun adventures and so many new experiences! Not sure I could let fish nibble on my feet and pretty sure I wouldn't jump off a cliff. Way to be such a brave mommy, Jonna! Jen

Barb Buteyn said...

Hi back to you. We did not even know Jan and Brad were in Africa until I read your blog. I enjoy reading your blog. Brings back lots of memories and the realization that Africa is so similar no matter which country your are in.
By the way, the Dutch BINGO can go farther because Darin and I are distantly related through the De Boer family.
Prayers for all of you.

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