Today has already been fantastic and it's only 11am!! But I'll start with yesterday. We hopped back onto the baz bus to journey down the coast about 150km to an area called Nature's Valley. And it sure is! We are in the heart of the garden route now, right in the middle of a huge national park which stretches miles down the coast. Our hostel is on the end of a dirt track, on a hill and we are surrounded by trees. We cannot see the sea but we are a 2hr hike away from it through the forest, don't know if we will get there though,it's so peaceful here you could lose yourself for days without going anywhere!
Yesterday we walked up to the dairy farm at the top of the road, with a bottle in hand,and filled it up straight from the cow. How cool is that! They also had loads of calves and we got to watch one that was minutes old trying to walk and wobbling all over the place!
After we went for a walk in the woods, went madly off course and ended up hiking through scrub and long grass to get back to the path. Great walk and some gorgeous scenery and colours, with the wild heathers and ferns but as always nothing comes without a price! James ended up transporting a huge tick home with him, when he saw it on his arm, it looked pretty big and was crawling around. So gross, did this mean it had just eaten or was looking for a nice juicy vein? Anyway it took a huge flying adventure back to wear it came from and we preceeded to strip off in search of any other hitch hikers! Fortunalty there were none!
And so to today. This morning we were up at the crack of dawn to go to the elephant sanctuary down the road. The sanctuary has taken in 6 nellies, all of whom have been rescued from horrible situations and their goal is to release them back into the wild when they are about 30 yrs old. At the moment though they range from 8 to 17yrs and so the sanctaury has opened its doors to visitors to raise awarness about the animals and to generate a bit of income. They allow you interact with the nellies, feed them, stroke them and take them for a walk.
Sounds weird but its true. We got to be part of the herd and we walked in front of the nellie and held our hand out behind. The nellie found your hand and held it with its trunk while we all took a short walk all in a row. It was so cool, we did get covered in ellie snot, but it was worth it. In the wild they walk like this, holding each others tails, if the terain is hard or dangerous, so it is natural behaviour for them.
The handlers also told us alot about the nellie, and we got to look at and feel them. We also got to hug their trunk and feed them, which was quite funny, they love carrots! There were 3 nellies in our 'herd' and you have to feed them all at the same time as they can be very competative! I let James take on the task of feeding 2 at once! He got a few pokes with the fingers of their nose when he wasn't fast enough but he did great and everyone got their share of the treat!
They are such huge animals but so gentle and intelligent, it was definatly an experience of a life time!
We have decided to stay here a few more days for some r and r. However the locals are putting on a concert tonight that we are invited to and tomoz night our hostel is hosting some sort of hostel convention so I think we are for a few celebrations as well!