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Inspired somewhat by @Swazicar's current trip report and some excellent BBC footage I am seriously considering a 7-10 day trip to Alsaka next year. I would like to spend time observing and photgraphing bears but would also like to take to opportunity to observe whales and orcas if possible. There a number of operators availble from an internet search but would be grateful if anyone had any specific recommendations. I have had a look at the trip reports forum and there are a couple of helpful reports there but with the exception of the report from @Spalding there is not too much that is recent.
3rd Oct 2010 Cape Town to Gansbaai Trip Participants: Jo Dale and Helen Dale Today didn't quite go according to plan. We arrived into Cape Town in glorious sunshine, just about on time despite an hour's delay leaving London Heathrow. Whilst admiring the view of Table Mountain without its "table cloth" we picked up our hire car, an Opal Corsa and quickly realised that any plans to stop off en route to Gansbaai would be hindered by the fact that a lot of our luggage was on display. Consequently we put plans to stop at Rooi Els (to look for rockjumpers) on hold. We stopped briefly at a quaint little art cafe in Betty's Bay for a coffee on our drive along the scenic coastal route of the R44 and R43. We arrived and checked into our comfortable self catering accommodation at Gansbaai, which Helen had arranged over the internet. An interesting observation, coming from the UK, is that we were a bit stumped by the lack of facilities. We stayed at Air del Mar, in a twin bed self catering studio room on the ground floor with a sea view. The rate quoted on the website was R490 per unit. The studio was equipped with a fridge/freezer, microwave oven and utensils sufficient to prepare a light meal. I think we wrongly assumed that self catering here would be the same as in the UK, where we'd expect to get a hob and an oven, but to be fair we probably just didn't pay enough attention to what the facilities would be like. The owner was very friendly and even supplied us with some fresh milk for tea. There's supposedly a communal braai but we did not make use of this owing to the weather. We had hoped to arrive in time to arrange a whale-watching excursion, but this plan was scuppered by a rather inclement storm front that quickly closed in, whipping up the sea in the process. This, coupled with the scenery, made us wonder if we'd got on the wrong plane and found ourselves in Scotland! Cape Agulhas Not wishing to waste the day, we quickly decided that the best course of action would be to head down to Cape Agulhas, since that excursion wasn't weather-dependent. This was not ideal as we'd done the coast road down to Gansbaai and so it was a long drive for Helen on the first day. The most direct route turned out to be along a series of easily navigable gravel roads. This actually seemed to be a nice area to do some birding, but given it was now late in the day and we had a lot of ground to cover, we didn't stop very often. We did, however, make time to watch a slender mongoose attack a rather dead and smelly Puff Adder, dropping his prize as he crossed the road in front of us. We also observed a Blue Crane, Denham's Bustard and Cape Long-claw. Several raptors were also seen, including Yellow-billed Kite, Steppe Buzzard, African Marsh Harrier as well as Ostrich. We arrived at Cape Agulhas and walked to the southern-most tip of Africa, admiring the view out onto a fairly rough sea. It was quite chilly with the wind and drizzle so we didn't linger long. We took a different route back along the tar road, which was much longer, but also quicker. We stopped off in Sandford for a delicious meal of BBQ ribs and chips before heading back to Gansbaai. It was with a sense of foreboding that we retired to bed. Looking at the weather we didn't expect that our dive with the sharks would be going ahead, despite assurances from Marine Dynamics that they were expecting us bright and early the next morning. Bird list: Cape Wagtail White-necked Raven Pied Crow Cape Crow African Pied Starling Blue Crane Denham's Bustard Ostrich Helmented Guineafowl White-breasted Cormorant Brimstone Canary African Marsh Harrier Egyptian Goose Steppe Buzzard Cape Long-claw Mammals: Chacma Baboon Slender mongoose S AFRICA JO 005 dev Blue Crane by kittykat23uk, on Flickr S AFRICA JO 015 Brimsone (Bully) Canary by kittykat23uk, on Flickr S AFRICA JO 021 African Pied Starling by kittykat23uk, on Flickr S AFRICA JO 024 Cape Wagtail by kittykat23uk, on Flickr shark dive 028 To the Southernmost tip of Africa by kittykat23uk, on Flickr shark dive 012 Cape Aghulus by kittykat23uk, on Flickr
Summer is here and before it gets too hot I took a couple of short breaks south of Perth, WAs capital city where I live. First stop was Mandurah, a large Estuary/canal tourist town, about an hours drive south. For me, the drawcard here is Dolphins. There’s a lot of them, some literature says about 100, so you would be unlucky not to see them. I took a little boat ride out into the Estuary, problem was they were so close it was impossible to fit them into the frame. We ventured a little further out to where three rivers converge into the Estuary. Osprey towers seem to be going up everywhere now so seeing them is easy too. The next morning we had breakfast on the Boardwalk in town, again the Dolphins kept us entertained as we enjoyed our Lattes. My next stop was Dunsborough, a gorgeous tourist town about three hours South. The beaches are pristine, clear blue water and white sand, and you can always find a deserted one outside the busy Xmas/Easter holidays. It is also on the path of the “Humpback Highway”, the route the Humpback Whales take on their annual migration to and from their Antarctic feeding grounds. We spent a few hours on a Whale watching Tour. Geographe Bay Whale watching Boat to the right Firstup, more Dolphins Then we locate a couple of Mother and Calf pairs So we didn’t see any exciting breaches, tail slaps etc, but heck, just to see these Mum and bubs relaxing in these resting grounds was great. They did go right under the boat at one point and popped up the other side, they were pretty relaxed. As we left the beach later I noticed and Osprey pair on the nest with a pair of chicks. Our Osprey sure are doing well. Dunsborough as well as being coastal sits amidst some beautiful bushland, so we get some really nice birds and some are terrific singers. These are three of the best and its not unusual to have them all singing at once. Grey Shrike Thrush Rufous Whistler Golden Whistler No singing from this one though, just speed and stealth, Collared Sparrowhawk The garden is also home to two types of Lizards The Bobtail The Skink
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