We were having a wonderful time with Grandma Karen, but were eager for Grandpa Rick to arrive. After a quick stop in Germany for business, Grandpa finally arrived on Wednesday, December 11 and on Thursday the 12th, we headed to Magoebaskloof for a holiday.
We arrived at the Magoebaskloof Ruskamp late in the afternoon after a few stops along the way for food and bathroom breaks. We picked up some groceries and got settled in. Tyson and Jori were eager to explore and were running all over the property. It was nice and quiet as the weekend hadn’t quite started.
On Friday we headed out for our canopy tour, anticipating some fun, some thrills and some fearful moments! We experienced all of that and more. First, we were fitted out with helmets, gloves, a harness and a variety of cables and ropes. Then we followed our guides down a steep trail until we reached the first platform. This is where the action began. Tyson, Jori and Darin were thrilled. Grandpa was happy. Grandma and I were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. We all lined up and were hooked on to a cable, which would keep us secure if we were to slip off of the platform. Hooray for safety. Then, one by one, we were hooked on to the cable that made up the first leg of the tour. We subsequently rode on 12 more cables, moving from platform to platform over the river, passing waterfalls, huge rocks and tall trees. It was amazing. Once I was over my initial apprehension I actually enjoyed myself. I did continue to have an irrational fear that my children were going to plummet to their deaths, but I kept the crazy at bay and thoroughly enjoyed the morning. Jori screamed like a typical girl on each cable and Tyson was just a smooth character the whole time, taking everything in stride. Even Grandma had a wonderful time and would happily go again if given the chance! After our canopy tour was complete, we had a fabulous lunch and enjoyed looking out over the valley. Then we headed into a small village for some sightseeing. We found a used bookstore, where I could have spent the whole holiday and all of our money, but we kept moving (after Darin let me buy 2 books), enjoyed an ice cream treat, then headed back to our cottage to enjoy the rest of the day.
On Saturday we headed out to see a few more local sites. First, we went to see a giant Baobab tree, estimated to be over 6,000 years old. This thing was HUGE. How huge is it? Well, it is big enough that the inside has been carved out and has a small bar area and another little “room” as well. These are not big spaces, mind you, and the smell was horrible, but it was in a tree, which was pretty cool. The outside of the tree was even more amazing and our kids had a great time climbing high up onto its wide branches. After seeing all we wanted to see of the giant tree, we headed to Debegeni Waterfall for a picnic lunch and some waterfall fun. Tyson and Jori jumped right in, even though the water was freezing. There were some pools that they splashed around in, and a sloping rock that was like a rock-water slide. They had fun slipping and sliding down that and landing in the water below. They would have happily stayed swimming all day, but the rest of us were ready to move on. Instead of heading back to our cottage, we decided to check out the Pekoe View Tea Estate, which had been recommended to us by someone at church. I’m so glad we went as it was amazing. We had to drive up a long, winding road, past thousands and thousands of tea plants. The higher we climbed, the more amazing the view. We finally reached the top and decided to go in for some dessert. This was a good decision on our part. The adults could sit and enjoy the view, and our food, while the kids watched a fish pond being cleaned out. Good times for all! We headed back to our place and the kids swam and did some more exploring. They know how to keep themselves occupied.
On Sunday we packed up to head back to Hammanskraal. We did make a few stops on the way. First we went to an organic farm where cheese was made by hand. It was fun tasting the different cheeses and seeing the different animals on the property. We also enjoyed swinging on their awesome rope swing. After buying some cheese, we headed out to our next stop, a blueberry farm. Now, these were definitely NOT Michigan blueberries, but they were pretty tasty! We bought some berries and some blueberry syrup, then packed back into the car for the rest of the drive home.
We had a wonderful time and would definitely go back to the area. It was beautiful and there were so many things to see and do. We are so thankful that we have been able to enjoy so many of the beautiful places in South Africa and are especially thankful that we’ve been able to share so many of our travel experiences with family.
**pictures will be up soon on Picasa!