Looking for a microadventure that won’t break the bank? Look closer to home and you’ll be amazed what’s lying on your doorstep. For a quick getaway, check out the caves above Kalkbay. These caves were first truly explored and documented by Johan Meyer between 1924 and 1950 and make for some budget friendly exploring today.
Leading you to some of these caves is a venous network of paths just above Boyes Drive, you just need to know where to turn off as the caves aren’t well marked (or at all) . Its best to explore the caves with a guide; besides being hard to find, actually navigating inside the caves can be tricky, even dangerous, due to the tight bottleneck twists and turns which lead you deeper underground. If you are claustrophic or panic quick, give this one a miss.
One of Meyer’s best discoveries was a curious small hole in the ground: “With the help of Phil Hitchcock and Basil Harris they rigged the entrance with a rope ladder, and descended 10m into a large chamber. Three passages lead off from the chamber. One ended in a very narrow passage, the second ended in a low, sandy-floored chamber that became known as Annie’s Hall, and the third lead to a boulder-strewn chamber that became known as the Grand Hall. On a subsequent visit, Phil Hitchcock and Basil Harris opened a narrow crack in Annie’s Hall, and gave the cave a second entrance. ” (ref: www.darklife.co.za/caves/1.Western_Cape/Kalk_Bay/Significance_of_Kalk_Bay_Caves.htm)
Rustling up two friends at short notice: Warren, Evan (www.evanhaussmann.com), my two dog’s (Turbo and Tequila) and I, hit the trail around 17h00 in the afternoon. We were hoping to link up with a snaking burrow called Boomslang, but our navigator’s (Warren) internal GPS’s was some what flawed and we ended up aborting the search. To be fair, he had last explored the caves, around two years prior to our current outing.
As usual, I was pretty unfit and already fatigued at this point, when one of my Jack Russel’s decided, “stuff this for a laugh I’m heading back down the mountain.” Leaving my backpack with my mates, I gunned it back down the path in search of the fury felon as he made his jail break.
I called after Tequila to no avail. A lady running up the mountain towards me said: ” I hope you not looking for your dog, he’s just about back on the main road”. Thanking the bearer of bad news while cursing the little flea carrying curd, I picked up my pace, as my dog has about as much sense of traffic, as I do about astrophysics.
Around 30 minutes later, I located my mischievous mutt, just as he was making a bee line down a steep flight of stairs that leads to the harbour. He’s lucky a family was in the vicinity, as I might not have restrained myself so well when I found him. He knew he was in kak, as he flattened his ears and tucked his stub of a tail between his legs and looked very sheepish when I called him over.
I must admit, I was rather relieved that he was okay and that I didn’t have to inform my girlfriend that I lost our dog. After another trek up the mountain I reached my compadre’s, who were quite relaxed and puffing on a rollie. While I on the other hand, looked like I had just completed a half Marathon; red in the face, out of breath and soaked through with sweat. I plonked myself at their feet , while they had a good chuckle at my expense. Evan commented, “Its going to be a long cycle tour”. He was referring to my ambitious adventure planned for March 2014, where I hope to cycle 4000km with my dogs (see www.seanfraenkel.com/barking-mad/ ). I think he may be right!
I had barely recovered, before they set off again at a brisk pace, while I muttered under my breath (or lack of breath as it were). Adding insult to injury, Warren’s backpack was about the size of my lunch box, so I had to carry most of the gear as well. But, its my own fault: I tend to pack everything I might require to survive the aftermath of the next nuclear holocaust. ‘Be prepared’ is the boy Scouts motto, but I highly doubt I would require my inflatable kitchen sink for this one nights camping. Evan suggested I read up on Andrew Skurka ( http://andrewskurka.com/) for lessons on minimalist trekking.
Once we crested the steep path, we came upon an open expanse called the Amphitheatre: essentially a tennis court sized sand box, surrounded by sandstone boulders and cape fynbos. I dropped my pack and pretty much insisted, ” That’s it boys, we camping here tonight!”. Considering I like to call myself an adventurer (albeit a ‘wannabe’ adventurer) , I’m pretty much a woes when its comes to expending more energy than required. And when I find myself between a rock and a hard place, you will invariably find me soon after at the next corner, thumbing a lift to the closest Mac D’s, or some other toxic fast food establishment…….and I wonder why my girlfriend’s brother in law calls me Burgerboy? Anyway I digress…
I secured my dogs to my pack to prevent them from scampering off into the dark and quickly brewed a hot choc laced with Amaralu. While the warm liquid soothed our bodies and numbed our senses, Evan being the relative Grandfather (sorry Ev) of our trio, he regaled us with tales of conscription and how he got away with doing as little as possible, while his comrades in arms kakked off in the mud.
As we chowed down on our camp food and enjoyed another dop, we were treated to a show as well: Hundreds of fireflies tried to prove to their prospective mates, that the sun literally did shine out of their own backside’s.
We had to move camp as dew soon soaked us and our belongings. With headlamps on, we sliced though the darkness in search of more suitable lodgings. Literally a stone throw away we found a large boulder with room for three bodies to slide in underneath.
After what can only be described as torturous nights rest, I was more than happy to get going early in the morning. As my dogs don’t go camping very often, they were extremely restless during the dark hours and prevented all of us from getting any sleep. Again I attached their leash to my pack; resulting in all three of us getting a paw in the face at some point during the night, as the dogs tried to move around on their short tether.
Evan’s premonition seems correct; I’m up for a really long cycle tour next year with these two furry companions of mine. Feeling like I had a hangover due to dehydration and lack of sleep, we skipped exploring anymore caves and headed home, where a sausage and egg Mcmuffin was calling my name.
Adventure does not have to involve some big expedition to a far flung jungle where the locals speak in a series of incomprehensible clicking noises. Adventure is about attitude and how you perceive the world.
List of Kalk Bay caves: http://cpss.caving.org.za/caves/western-cape/cape-peninsula/kalk-bay
Definition of a microadventure: http://seanfraenkel.com/microadventure/