Friday, April 3, 2009

Oudtshoorn (Part one of eleventy-six)

So, a day or so back I hopped onto the Baz Bus, radically changed my plans and took a shuttle to Oudtshoorn for a few days instead of going with my original George – Mossel Bay – Swellendam idea. Then I arrived in Oudtshoorn, realised that I'd stumbled in just before the annual Kunstefees (good luck, international readers) and decided to stay for a few days longer.

I'm currently residing at Backpacker's Paradise. It is damn awesome. Before now, my favourite residence was pretty much the Dijembe lodge in Storms River, but this place blows it right out of the water. With dynamite.

Well, dynamite and African charm.

Backpacker's Paradise really lives up to its namesake. This place is apparently ranked as one of the top ten in the country, but it's still a respectable R90 a night and offers pretty much everything you'd expect for twice the price. It has the typical game room, bar and lounge area, but also sports an itty-bitty swimming pool (though it may just be a really large jacuzzi), a nice garden and even its very own curio shop (I absolutely despise African curio shops, but it's a nice touch anyway).

Backpackers get discounts on just about every tourist attraction in Oudtshoorn. Doubly awesome because this Klein Karoo settlement has been by far the cheapest way for me to see sights and go on adventures. Instead of paying hundreds for a single shoddy expedition, I'm able to do a lot of genuinely interesting stuff for around R50 a pop. And if you successfully prove that a crocodile at the Wildlife park has chewed off one of your limbs, you could probably negotiate a complete refund too.

So, with all this awesomeness there absolutely must be a steep downturn when it comes to facilities, right? Wrong. Even the dorms have en-suite bathrooms and quite possibly the largest beds out of any backpacker establishment that I've stumbled upon so far.

No commentary here: just soak in the magnificent view.

These beds are pretty damn fantastic. They get 9.5 out of ten. Minus half a point because one of the blankets isn't quite to my liking – screw you, blanket.

Unfortunately, the massive popularity of this place combined with the looming Kunstefees spells doom for my hopes of staying in the dorm beyond a few precious hours this morning. I was only able to book a two-night stay (they're otherwise fully booked until April 11th) but using my resourcefulness, roguish charms and map-reading ability, I was able to secure myself a tent and sleeping bag from a nearby shop for a grand total of only R350. Now I'll be camping at the lodge for a few extra days at a considerably reduced rate – go me!

I sure hope that the tent gets a bit bigger once I've pitched it.

I'm looking towards my camping plan tonight with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Mostly apprehension. In fact, I don't know how excitement even crawled in there. I seem to vaguely recall a total and all-consuming hatred for camping. But at least it'll be cheaper.

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