Tuesday, 27 September 2016

South Africa, February 2015, part 4.

After Botlierskop, we stayed in Knysna for the night and then made our way back to the Cape Town area

We went to the very vibrant waterfront area in Knysna where these children were fishing
in the late afternoon sun.

We stayed in the Cambalala Guest House which was exceptionally high standard 
and very modern. The owners are charming and the rooms a very good size
 with good views over the harbour.

Apart from the views - breakfast was excellent.

We drove back to our friends house in time for another spectacular sunset over Gordon's Bay.

Next morning as there was no cloud we went to Table Mountain. Very clever
cable cars that rotate as you go up, so everyone gets a good view.

The view over cape Town is breathtaking. You can see for miles. This is looking north, over the city.

On the top, if you are lucky you see the unofficial mascot of Table Mountain,
a Dassie - or to give it it's proper name a rock hyrax, which is related to the elephant
even though it is only a foot long and furry.

After the mountain, we drove to Franschoek and had lunch at the Kitchen. It is the
restaurant part of a small wine producer. There is a small menu of very high
quality produce and some excellent dishes - many cooked in the wood oven. How
the chefs work close to that oven when the ambient temperature was
38 deg C in the shade, I do not know.

The next day, we drove along the coast road past Gordon's Bay to Cape Hangklip and on to Hermanus.
The drive is stunning.

The purpose of the drive was to visit a wine producer just north of Hermanus called
Creation Wines, a small producer of mainly French varieties but outstanding quality.
They have a tasting menu with about 8 tasting tapas type dishes and 8 of their
wines. Lets just say it was another memorable lunch!
Here you see the vines receiving some attention.

Another view of the coast road on the return journey.

We had seen quite a few groups of baboons but hadn't managed to photograph any.
On the coast road we came across a group in a car park. They are playful but
very destructive and dangerous to get too close.
The baby below had climbed up its mother's tail and back to get on the roof of the
car while mum tried to remove the vent in the door!

Back at our friends we had a BBQ and had this moonset following the exact path of the sunset 10 minutes earlier.

Monday, 25 July 2016

South Africa, February 2016, part 3

No trip to South Africa would be complete without seeing some of the wild animals.We decided not to fit a safari into the schedule as it would have required a trip to the north of the country but we did spend a night at Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, not far from George. It had been recommended by  a friend from SA and we would highly recommend it. The accommodation (we had a "tent" by the river) is excellent and the staff are very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. After a superb meal, we retired to our tent by which time it was well after dark and the noise of the animals, birds & insects was incredible and it continued for quite a time.
Next morning we were picked up for a coffee and pastry before starting the safari just before dawn. It was a good job we remembered to take our coats as it was the only time on the whole holiday we felt cold!. I was not sure what camera gear to take so I took the X-T1 with a couple of lens but only used the excellent 55-200mm zoom. Before the sun came up the ISO had to be raised to 100 but as the light improved I took it back in stages to 200. The quality at 1600 was barely different to 200 provided the exposure was correct. Luckily, it was quite cloudy with occasional brief sunny spells so I didn't have to worry about the lighting too much.
All the animals fend for themselves and find their own food with the exception of the lions which are fed although they have plans for the lions to hunt for their food.

This was taken the previous evening on my iPad and shows the arrangement for getting to our tent -  literally 6 oil drums with a platform  strapped to them & you pull yourselves across using the ropes. A buggy picks you up on the opposite side as there are liable to be wild animals there!

The noise of this lioness tearing the flesh off the leg of this animal was incredible.

This is a 4 year old elephant which was being bought up by its father (below with the big tusks) as its mother had died. The father was also looking after a 1 year old baby which is the last elephant image.

After the large animals it was a change to see this small wild tortoise crossing the road a few miles away from the reserve

Friday, 29 April 2016

South Africa, February 2016 part 2.

We had arranged to take a road trip into the Little Karoo, via Swellendam and Oudtshoorn with our friends, They then returned to their house & we went to the Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. An incredible drive through landscape neither of us had seen the like of before. We included a trip to Prince Albert over the Swartberg Pass which must be one of the world's great drives.

The view from the terrace for breakfast, overlooking Gordon's Bay

We stayed a night in Swellendam and this Bourganvillia was outside our
cottage. As it was well into their summer there were not too many flowers
to be seen but this was impressive

Knowing how he likes hydrants, this one is for Ian Wilson!

A very typical gum tree bark.

Not a bad backdrop to a house! This is Swellendam. It seems incredible
 how green the mountain tops are in such a hot climate and this was
after an exceptionally dry summer.

We drove over Tradouw's Pass and went down into the Little Karoo and
Barrydale. A fascinating, small town on route  62 which  I do not think has
changed in decades. 

On the outskirts of Barrydale, on the main route 62 road is the charmingly
 named cafe "Diesel & Creme". A converted garage it oozes character
and offers customers some very innovative and tasty fruit cocktails

A fascinating wine producer, specialising in sweet wines, also had a small shop selling local foods - a magnet for Kate & Gill.

You cannot go all this way and not try the wines!

The Swartberg Pass is an impressive drive, 27km in all, unmade, very poor
 condition in places, steep inclines but sensational views and scenery,
especially on the north side.

Within sight of the top is this small area where you can stop and there were three
cyclists who had just spent nearly 4 hours cycling up the 4500 plus
feet of the climb. They looked and sounded quite fresh after the climb. Even at this height is was still nearly 30 deg C. 

The view looking south from near the summit (there is nowhere to stop
at the highest point). Just two more mountain ranges stretching into the

A view looking back showing the road coming up the mountain.

Some of the rocks on the north side are very impressive and have the richest
terracotta colour I have ever seen. This doesn't show the size very well.

Looking down at the road we will take. To give an idea of the scale, if you look
carefully you can just see a car on the track above the boulder towards the
left of the image.

This view gives some idea of the landscape in the more cultivated parts of
the Little Karoo - scrubland, although there are olive trees here. 40 deg C
when this was taken.

We did a loop over the pass to Prince Albert and then back on an ordinary
road and even here the scenery was spectacular. The main roads are
good with little traffic. Driving is a pleasure. 

We stayed in the game reserve in a tent by the river - admittedly a
posh tent, with outside shower and the most incredible noise from all
the animals and insects after dark. We had dinner in the main
building which had a log fire. It was so inviting Gilly checked out the
area on her iPad for some time sat in front of the fire.

More to follow