During a recent holiday in Port Shepstone, I decided take a break from admiring the ocean view and took a short drive inland to check out the attractions along the Oribi Gorge Route. My main motivation for this was to check out the aptly named Leopard Rock – a single piece of rock which protrudes from high up on a cliff face overlooking the spectacular UmZimkulu River Gorge below.
I’d seen many photographs of this infamous overhanging rock and was determined to sit and dangle my legs over the edge and take in the breathtaking view some distance below.
The area is ideal for adventure junkies with bungie jumping, the wild swing, white water rafting, abseiling, rock climbing and zip-lining all on the menu. However, despite all the adrenaline activities, the area offers so much peace and relaxation with hardly another car on the road and that’s generally the way I like it.
After an easy 20-minute drive from Port Shepstone I arrived outside a rustic and welcoming coffee shop. It is this Leopard Rock Coffee Shop that welcomes guests to the famous overhanging Leopard Rock which is situated on the property. After a warm welcome I was told that entrance to the rock would be R5, which came as a bit of surprise. I’d not expected any charge but I guess it’s a way of keeping people from abusing the area.
So off I went to the cliff face, but as I got to the edge, my nerves began to get to me – this was a little higher up than I expected and I was already feeling a slight bit of vertigo just looking down from a distance. Yes, so I was a little scared, but that wasn’t going to stop me!
So, how to go about this…
I decided to sit flat on my behind, and slowly move closer to the edge, until eventually I could dangle my feet of the edge, act brave for the photo and then quickly get to safety. Nobody would know (until now) that I was in fact c#%ping my pants!
After about 10 minutes of carefully nudging myself forward, I eventually got to the edge. My heart was racing but at the same time, I was absorbing this incredible scenery. Trying to ignore my instinct to look directly down at what seemed a drop of hundreds of metres below my feet,
Eventually, I began to relax. Being an avid photographer, I have come to realise that in these moments, it’s often best to put the camera down for a few seconds and just take everything in. It’s the memories in your mind that stay with you longer than any image captured on “film”.
After a few moments of reflection and acknowledging my own bravery, I began to nudge backwards... Only, as I did, I felt something rub against me and this strange vibration. I almost jumped out of my skin and into the valley below, before I realised it was just a domestic cat from the coffee shop that had come to greet me. So... after a few choice words for this cat, I regained my calm and headed to coffee shop to watch the sunset.
What a magical experience! And one of many I hope to share of my time travelling around South Africa. I highly recommend that anyone who is off to the South Coast this December takes a day away from the beach to go see the sights, sounds and cultural richness of Oribi Gorge. Just watch out for that black cat!