Garden Route

Quinn Doyle
February 4, 2015

I have been in Cape Town for a week and a half and everything has been an absolute blur, in the best way possible! I feel like I’ve been here forever but at the same time I feel like I just got here and I still have so much to do! This city continues to amaze me with its beauty and vibrance every day, which I know sounds cheesy but it is so true. I’ve only been here for 11 days and I’m convinced that Cape Town is the best city on earth. I know that even though I get to be here for five months, I still won’t be able to do everything that the city has to offer. It’s impossible to be bored in Cape Town.

This past weekend we had a 3 day field trip to the Garden Route of South Africa, which consists of hundreds of miles of mountain scenery, animal sanctuaries, vineyards, hunting, and other amazing nature activities along the Western Cape of South Africa. I don’t think I have ever seen so much beauty in my life. Every new place we went was take-your-breath-away worthy and we all had so much fun. Our IES program has 80 people in it (which is the biggest IES Cape Town has ever had) so it was a lot of fun to do activities with everyone and actually get to know people outside of my house.

After a long but scenic 6 hour drive, our first stop was to Cango Ostrich Farm where we had a lunch of ostrich and chicken kebobs. It was surprisingly good, although I wouldn’t say it was good enough that I would go out of my way to eat ostrich again in the future. I have also decided that ostriches are my new least favorite animal. I was very creeped out by them; they look like big freaky alien birds. Not a fan.

Following the interesting experience at the ostrich farm, we explored Cango Caves, a beautiful set of caves that is millions of years old. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. One of the girls in our program is an Opera major so she sang opera for us in the largest chamber of the caves, which was AMAZING. Finally after a long day of activities, we settled into our beautiful hotel which was in an adorable little valley surrounded by mountains, so peaceful and serene and a perfect way to end the day.

The next morning we went to a wildlife reserve that had dozens of different kinds of animals, basically like a smaller but fancier zoo.  Next, we went on our hiking and canoeing excursion, which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We hiked up to this stunning railway bridge over the ocean. The view from the top of the bridge was incredible, although it was pretty scary to be standing on a very old bridge many feet above the shallow water below. Next to the railway bridge was a massive sea cave that a man named Clifford converted to a home for himself and for homeless people that need a place to go to get back on their feet. The sea cave was decorated with thousands of sea shells, knick knacks, and other found decorations. It was the most unique place I’ve ever been, these people literally live in this cave! They all have beds and decorations and seashells everywhere, it was truly an indescribable place to be and I’m so happy that we got to have a tour of the cave.

From the cave we hiked back down some rough boulders to the river where we canoed to a waterfall! We all hopped out of our canoes and swam under the giant waterfall and just had an amazing time together. It was one of those remarkable moments where I couldn’t help but think how amazing South Africa is and how unbelievably lucky I feel to have the opportunity to be here. It was really one of the best days of my life!

Oh and on the last day of our trip I went to an ELEPHANT SANCTUARY and got to ride, walk, pet, and hug elephants. What an experience! The elephants were such beautiful, gentle, and smart creatures. We told the workers at the sanctuary that they have the best job in the world getting to hang out with elephants all day! I’m so happy we got the opportunity to go on this Garden Route trip. I feel so lucky to be in South Africa and I’m beyond thrilled that I get to live here for five months and really soak in everything Cape Town has to offer. The adventure has officially begun! 

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Quinn Doyle

<p>My name is Quinn and I am a junior at the University of Mary Washington majoring in Psychology. After undergrad, I hope to get my masters in school counseling. I enjoy reading, cooking, spending time with friends and family, and exploring new places. I cannot wait to see what is in store for me during my semester at the beautiful University of Cape Town!&nbsp;</p>

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