I've done the big 5. This is off course important if you are visiting South Africa. I had my big 5 planned with a couple of days between so I would have time to overcome the bewildering experience and recover enough to be up for the next in row.
You can't safely claim you' ve completed the big 5 without a guide or you will end up in indentifying 2 scuba divers as seals landing on the beach. Preventing this type of screw ups was Binny. A wonderfull women that stirred me clear of any mishaps. Above all she was keeper of the coffee break and lunch rucksack. Somehow she was able to keep pulling out food, snacks, selfbaked cake, fruit and liquids that you wondered once on display how it fitted in the rucksack in the first place.
As you all know it is best to synchronize your watches with nature, which basically ment that I had to rise at six, drive at seven and arrive at an rendezvous point at eight. Nature doesn't wait and don't like anybody calling in late.
The first planned encounter was a famous and nerve-braking one: Maclear's beacon on top of Table Mountain ( I guess you get a hint now where this is going to. Wait till you read about the elephant). Although I made some decent walking kilometres in the Netherlands the going-up muscles gets never trained. And you'll start to feel them when you climb-up Skeleton Gorge. When you arrive at the top an stroll in the park gets you to the eastern table where you find Maclear's beacon, the highest point of Table Mountain. (To be clear: That is NOT where the cable car ends). The down route followed the Platteklip gorge and the hike ended at the lower cable station.
Here is the prove (and the only "i was here" photo):
Table Mountain is not just an handy hook to attach the cables of the cable car to, it is an enourmous mountain, consisting of several rock formations. Second encounter with Table Mountain had to be with the Twelve Apostels on the west side of the mountain facing the atlantic. Going up this time via Kasteelpoort (One reason I love the country is the dutch words you can put in whenever you want and still everybody understands what you're saying). After reaching the plateau we hiked to the waterworks museum. Finding a steam train at the top of a mountain is still akward.
As I said earlier you need some time to recover, specially from going up and down over and over again. To break-away from the daunting table mountain massiv the third hike is a river hike. The Palmiet river in the Kogelberg nature reserve. Starting at the Kleinmond side of the river a cozy path lines the river. Everybody can do this hike, even if you more like a beach lover.
On the beach you might detect all kind of wild-life that occupies the nature reserve. Binny pointed out Fish Otter, Small antilope and even a leopard left it footprints in the wet sand on the beach. When you push on you are rewarded with beatifull sights and a real sense of remoteness as even the cell-phones lose connection.
Fourth in row was the so called Panorama Trail. Layed out in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve just west of Stellenbosch. The Panorama Trail gets you in a circular route rather gently up hill and then fiercly down at the "kurketrekker" (corkscrew). On this hike the over-warned snake danger popped up. First on the road a puf-adder was trying to get its body temperature too such level that it could start moving and later at the day early-warning system Binny warned (others on the hike made different comments) everybody for a snake. As this one had laying baking in the sun wholeday it definitely went in attack mode. Animals nor woman where hurt in the accident.
Ending my BIG 5 experience was at Cape of Good Hope. Although full of wild things (baboons, but aboveall homo sapiens) it is still posible to have a good hike there. On the way you can admire the new and old light house, men on wooden shoes, fynbos, and a wide variety of birds. The wind was very, very mild for december at the cape so the experience was awesome.
On the next photo you can clearly spot the blue touched sapiens, hugging the hill.
And last but not least, as promised, the elephant: