Welcome to another edition of The Shape of The Cape with your tour guide Julescape. The more I explore these vast untrammeled shores of the southernmost African coastline, the more impressive and awe-inspiring they become. Today I have found one of my biggest finds yet in this lovely region of South Africa called the Garden Route. I have found some real caves and the chances are that they could well be the caves in which pirate Captain Kidd hid his vast treasure stash in the 1690s, over 300 years ago.
It took me several days to get to this point in my explorations because there are very few paths, zero people and a lot of wide open space and shoreline. Still I sailed forth ever keen in the hope that I might be able to find the treasure for which we all so eagerly yearn. The rumors of hidden treasure that I learned from the locals of this fine shore have grown on me, and perhaps I am chasing a dream. It’s hard to tell any more just what is fact and what is illusion as you listen to the stories told by other landed sailors in the village.
The lure of treasure is strong in all of us and today my search has borne fruit. I have made it further down the cliffs than usual, having found a second route to the lapping ocean waves from high up on the ridge. I first noticed the potential treasure caves from a distance, while still up on the cliff tops. Life on the edge can be exiting though it’s not for everyone, and the edge of those cliffs is really precarious, particularly with the gale force winds that seem to spring out of nowhere. The sea lies bare and open for any bold diver who wishes to immerse himself in her moist absorbing waves, for therein could be treasures, me hearties.
From up top I saw two massive looking cave structures, one a solid black mass of darkness and unimaginable possibility, while the other, further out on the seaward side appeared to actually be an arch, where it was possible to see right through to the ocean on the other side. Take a look at the photos from the cliff tops and you will see in the distance below the cave and archway carved out of the mighty rock of Africa as it reached out to sea like the foot of a giant, or in fact the entire continent. This toenail of the African landmass has protruded further out than most, and those caves were just too inviting to miss the opportunity of what may lie within.
I saw the caves in the distance on an initial hike, but had to plan a return trip more carefully for the next day so that I had enough time to actually climb all the way down to them and have enough time to make my way back up before sunset. With the suitable weather conditions, I climbed down to the shoreline the next day and landed on the rocky, pebbly beach with expectant jubilation. I still had to do a little more climbing along the shoreline itself, just around a ridge to the next bay, and when I saw it, I was not disappointed.
What an awesome and powerful place it is, with the wild and untamed sea crashing noisily up against the raw African rock face. And there they were, those very caves I had seen from way up on the cliff tops the day before. And boy did they look inviting. I could hardly see the arch though, as massive as it is, because it is just out of reach and out of sight, around yet more rocks. It looks like I might never be able to get there. In fact even the cave before me was still separated from me by sea, and it was impossible to reach it directly.
The cave entrance is in the sea, and there is no way to climb to it since the rock above it is way too steep, with a sheer diagonal drop from above, right into the wild waves crashing below. It looks like the only way to access the cave itself is by sea, by swimming there. What intrigue and excitement, to be so close to the prize, yet so far. The last leg presents quite a hurdle and will put me against the elements like seldom before. I’m not that young any more admittedly, so as much as I love hiking and trekking along any new and unexplored terrain, I have to be more careful.
Nevertheless, the rumors of Captain Kidd’s buried pirate treasure call me ever onward. I will need to obtain a diving suit, or at least a pair of goggles, snorkel and flippers ideally, so that I can jump into the sea and actually swim among the crashing waves to reach the cave entrance. One could possibly reach it with a little boat, but that will entail a long ride from the launch point a few kilometers away, so might be out of my league. However, a little swim of no more than 100 meters might be possible. The water is not too cold, but it is rough as it crashes against the rocks. And, most uncertain of all...there may be sharks.
So the potential of treasure lies still unattained, and in wait for me to return once more with diving kit. This time everything will have to be just right for the mega challenge. The weather needs to be calm of course, the tide preferably low by the time I reach there, implying perhaps a new moon visit. And I will need to set out early, take provisions and waterproof my smart phone camera. While in Thailand once, on a previous trip, I bought a plastic waterproof cover for the camera phone, they were on sale at all the seaside tourist spots, and I liked the concept. I have seldom used it, but this may finally be the opportunity to put it to the test.
Once I reach the cave, I will be able to use the torch on my phone for light, since it looks pitch black from my current perspective. And then of course, I will be able to take photographs to show you guys, to prove that I was there. And most of all – if I just happen to encounter Captain Kidd’s treasure troves - I will be able to bring back photographic proof. And even if this is not the exact cave where he hid the treasures he had raided from other ships back in the 17th century, still I will have had an amazing experience, and also found this treasure of a location, with all the power of nature to inspire awe and wonder as well as a sense of humility in the face of such power. So stay tuned for the next episodes where I may well have even more incredible footage for you, that will hopefully inspire you to also come exploring along this vast and awesome shoreline on the Garden Route coast of South Africa.