103 posts in this topic

@Atravelynn - Apologies for the slow response. Thank you for the kind comments. It really was kitten overload! I'm not sure that I want to see the ladies that have that lions hair do!

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Posted (edited)

Apologies for all that were following....it's been a long time since my job has afford me the time to complete my report.

 

I wanted to finish this report off by highlighting the best kept secret of the Cape of Good Hope National Park, the lessor known parks of the Western Cape and the joy of birding in Zululand. 

 

Best kept secret

 

Most visitors to the Cape of Good Hope National Park (part of the greater Table Mountain National Park) understandably see it as a day trip, taking the main route through the park to Cape Point, the walk to the lighthouse and then down to the small beach for the obligatory photo near the sign.  

 

Fo those of you with more time though it doesn't have to be this way. The park has no accommodation with one notable exception, Olifantsbos Cottage.

 

large.DSC_6341.jpg.b82316f12c4310048628e3c62a9cf780.jpg

 

The Oifantsbos Cottage is a large beautiful white washed cottage sleeping 6-12 in two separate buildings. What really makes this place special though is it's unique private location.

 

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It's located at the end of the Olifantbos Loop on a private road accessible only to those renting the cottage. Giving the cottage several kilometres of private beach in either direction, complemented by one of the few waterholes in the park, hidden just in front by a small rise.

 

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View from the front porch

 

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View from the WWII lookout posts located on the hills above the cottage

 

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The small waterhole

 

The combination of the beach, sea and waterhole creates some magical scenes as mixed groups of Eland, Ostrich, Bontebok, Baboons and Mountain Zebra traverse the beach and surrounding mountain to come visit the waterhole.

 

The Ostrich were particularly captivating as they cross the beach with the pounding Atlantic behind.

 

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There aren't too many other places where you can see Bontebok and Ostriches sharing the same view.

 

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Unlike the other animals the Baboons don't keep their distance. There was at least one large troop always around the cottage.

 

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These are the first Mountain Zebra which I have seen in a long time. They didn't come often but when they did we were afford some lovely close-up views of these typically shy animals.

 

large.594ed326bcfe1_v141.jpg.bdbe18d6a9a186177bd542463885c5d4.jpg

 

Edited by lmSA84
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We spent three days at the cottage, spending our time walking on the beaches, in the mountains and visiting the Cape Point. 

 

What I love about this coast line, is that regardless of the weather there is something to see. Even on a gloomy day you get these wonderful ghostly effects with the shipwrecks, bleached whale bones and bird life.

 

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Posted (edited)

On sunny days it's a complete contrast. The below is from just below the cottage and the bottom of the Cape Point.

 

large.IMG_2434.jpg.6ec0da83222ac4fcb2bb209d6fa04cad.jpg

 

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Old shipwrecks

 

large.595293ea459b2_v190.jpg.70951a721a63c49165494460222cb14d.jpg

 

The sun also brings out all the game, small and large, and of course the fynbos birdlife...

 

large.595293d15ab35_v170.jpg.1fb9ed6204dc07e58250e7274732ccd5.jpglarge.595293be08746_v160.jpg.376178e98228dcdbd3c02a9f156d6576.jpglarge.59529401e01c8_v199.jpg.9b9b7d0dc79f62c21e3d23ff232771fc.jpg

 

The Bontebok photos are all from in and around the cottage

 

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I think the above is an Angulate Tortoises 

 

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Cape Bunting

 

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Male Malachite Sunbird (outside of breeding plumage)

 

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Cape Bulbul

 

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Cape Grassbird

 

large.59529407a5392_v277.jpg.971b41cc7e5a470a70c71e38f7fd7956.jpg

 

Familiar Chat

 

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Brimstone Canary

 

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Barn Swallows

 

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White Fronted Plover

Edited by lmSA84
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The final benefit of staying in the park is beating the crowds to Cape Point. The below is rarest photo you may ever see....a completely empty Cape Point car park

 

large.595293c0ced5b_v161.jpg.28dd29afe436333d622f713f4ee5ba19.jpg

 

In fact we had nearly 2hrs before the first coach load was allowed in

 

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Cape Point

 

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The plentiful seabird life at the bottom

 

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Swift Terns

 

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White Breasted Cormorants

 

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African Black Oystercatcher

 

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@lmSA84 Thanks for the words and images of the Cape National Park. i spent a wonderful day there a few years ago and really enjoyed the unspoilt and empty hiking opportunities with abundant wildlife.

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Posted (edited)

@ImSA84 thatOifantsbos Cottage is indeed the best kept secret in the park! we spent an entire afternoon exploring the small lanes off the main route for bonteboks and I didn't even see the signs of a cottage. we even took time to have our sandwich lunch at the Oifantsbos carpark next to the beach. 

 

now I know where to stay when I get into Capetown in the future! thanks a million for sharing! you do know that you are very likely to have started a trend with your TR of STers who will stay there . :)

 

oh, and very much enjoying your journey and the photos too!

Edited by Kitsafari
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Beautiful photos - the ostriches against the surf are especially captivating for their uniqueness.

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@pomkiwi - thanks for the comments. I love that once you get away from the Cape Point its a pretty empty park


@Marks - thanks for the kind comments, it's certainly the first time that I had seen it. 

 

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@Kitsafari - Thanks for the comments and I hope it creates a trend! I honestly had never heard of it until my mom's BF (who lives in Capetown) found it. Sanparks barely advertise it. There is small locked gate just past the turning when you went into the car park which would have taken you to the cottage. It's about a 5min drive further along  the coast from that car park.    

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Posted (edited)

Garden Route

 

Like a string of pearls, Wilderness National Park, Goukamma Nature Reserve, Robberg Nature Reserve and Storms River (park of Tsitsikamma) stretch down the coast of South Africa’s Garden Route from George to Storms River.

 

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Over a four day period we visited each one in turn, spending the day walking through the park and taking in the sights. The first three we visited while using Knysna as our base and Storms River was visited whilst on our way to Jeffrey’s Bay.

 

If you’re staying in the area of Knysna and self-catering I would really recommend Woodlands Knysna. It’s a beautiful series of small chalets, overlooking a private valley of woodland about 20mins outside of Knysna on the way to Rheenendal. One of its best features is that the braai is set over the balcony, overlooking the forest.

 

Mid air braaiing

 

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Wilderness (part of the Garden Route NP)

 

I’ve always considered Wilderness and Storms River to be the “must visits” on this coastline. I think they’re both spectacular and particularly for any birders, they and Nature’s Valley are the crown jewels in the crown.

 

Wilderness is a deceptively big, disparate park of thick forest, lakes, rivers and waterfalls . The best things to do are camping, kayaking and walking. I would really recommend the kayaking out of the Ebb and Flow camp - you can rent all the gear there, it’s very relaxing and you get a different view of the park. We unfortunately couldn’t partake this time on account of travelling with our 6 month old. We instead walked the Kingfisher trail. There are five walking trails in the park of which the Kingfisher Trail is by far the most popular – this is on account of its location next to the main camp, moderate-easy difficultly and the relaxing waterfall / pools at the end.  

 

Kingfisher trail

 

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One of the few open sections on the walk

 

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The prize - the waterfalls

 

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It’s also a prime birding and Blue Duiker route. The Duiker are wild but they see so many humans that they have grown to completely ignore us. I had my 200-500m lens and on the narrow path I couldn’t move further away from this Duiker to get a full shot – that’s how oblivious of me it was!

 

Its very dark in the undergrowth so hence the crazy high ISO.

 

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Birdwise I had three big targets – the Knysna Turaco, Chorister Robin-Chat and Narina Trogan. The first two are easy enough but the third one is my nemesis bird. So much so that while searching for this elusive bird a couple came up to me and asked me about my camera – they then went on to describe how when kayaking to this spot, they came so close to a red and green bird that they took a cell phone photo – they showed it to me and of course it was a Trogan.

 

Knysna Turaco

 

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Fork-tailed Drongos

 

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Even though I missed the Trogan, I did get one consolation prize of an immature Red-breasted Cuckoo.

 

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We also choose to visit the Rondevlei bird hide on the other side of the park

 

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Edited by lmSA84
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Goukamma 

 

Goukamma, meaning small water in the traditional Khoisan language, is a coastal reserve of rivers, dunes, beach and dense sand forest of milkwood, yellowwood and candlewood. Aside from water sports (fishing, sailing, canoeing) the park’s main activity is hiking. There are five, interconnected options to choose from creating hikes of 4-15km in length. I would say that most of them are harder than any at Wilderness, Robberg or Storms River (except the climb up the hill behind the suspension bridge!!) due to the fact most of the walking is on sand.

 

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We chose to do the Bushpig Trail which takes in the river (which you pull yourself across), forest and beaches. It’s a beautiful, empty scenery and as always great for birdlife.

 

View from the trail looking towards the coast

 

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Beginning of the trail

 

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In the forested section we had good views of a number of birds

 

Cape Batis

 

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White-throated Swallow

 

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Karoo Prinia

 

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Scaly-throated Honeyguide - this isn't a great photo but this is a typically hard bird to find

 

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After the forested section you emerge onto the beach and meander back along to the river

 

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This coastline is typically empty save for a few white fronted plovers and blue bottles

 

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large.59649aa273533_v359.jpg.7bd2b6e2135af05b7d3e512194fd853d.jpg

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that's a beautiful forest! very alluring and tranquil looking. 

lovely turaco too. 

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I also like the turaco!

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On 12/07/2017 at 11:48 PM, lmSA84 said:

Birdwise I had three big targets – the Knysna Turaco, Chorister Robin-Chat and Narina Trogan.

 

I am glad to read about how easy is to spot the Knysna Turaco as this is a type of bird I like (big, colourful, easy to ID :D). I have some problems with Trogan until I discovered this interesting piece of trivia:

"Le Vaillant was not only interested in exotic birds; he also had a fancy for native women. Along Le Vaillant’s travels in South Africa he picked up a mistress by the name of Narina: a lady believed to be Khoikhoi in origin. It was after her that he named this beautiful bird. He had seen nothing as beautiful as this green and red trogon and so found it fitting to name it after the lady with whom he had had a short and steamy affair." - copied from http://blog.londolozi.com/2012/08/13/why-is-it-called-a-narina-trogon/ . On a quick sight it almost looks like an immature Resplendant Quetzal.

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@xelas - that's a wonderful quote! I never knew the story.  He still should have named it "no way you're gonna find it Trogan"

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3 hours ago, lmSA84 said:

@xelas - that's a wonderful quote! I never knew the story.  He still should have named it "no way you're gonna find it Trogan"

 

Ha, I will do my best to find the elusive bird for you, @lmSA84 !

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With or without the ostriches, outstanding views.  String of pearls is a great description. 

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Hello @lmSA84 according to the splendid book "Whose Bird "Le Vaillant is supposed to have made up a new name for  the girl, Narina, as he did not like her proper name although at least he used her language for the new name it apparently means "flower"  having said that Jane often makes up new names for me none of them meaning flower

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@xelas -  Ha! I wish you happy hunting and I look forward to the winning shot!

 

@Atravelynn - thank you for the kind words

 

@Towlersonsafari - Great knowledge. I didn't even know that he had a book! 

 

P.s. my wife makes up terms for me all the time - I'm sure they are similarly endearing. 

 

Back to the TR

 

Robberg Nature Reserve

 

Robberg is an ancient peninsular of rock, jutting out into the Atlantic just South of Plettenberg Bay. It's rocks are an example of South Africa’s original coastline, dating back some ~120M years from the break-up of Gondwanaland. The main activity is again walking, with one large circular loop taking you all along the headland and eventually (depending on your route) past caves inhibited over 125,000 years ago. Wildlife wise the highlights are the resident seal colony, dolphins in the bay, Southern Right Whales during the season (June-November), a Herring Gull breeding colony and a host of other bird life.

 

large.59649a84d8961_v93.jpg.a071c09fc5f1b6d85719bf48c20376a1.jpg

 

large.59649a818c18e_v90.jpg.cf36aeaa31607640f47ebf3d921b520c.jpg

 

We took the long way round traversing the whole headland, watching the dolphins in the bay...

 

large.59649a797a7d1_v86.jpg.256092e8777622fcf6dcef1c947f3e9e.jpg

 

...the seal colony,...

 

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...coastal fynbos and wildlife...

 

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Agama Atra (I think)

 

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Neddicky 

 

large.59649aae394ac_v367.jpg.53cdbad4d9449f131489812e986af704.jpg

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Regardless of which route you take around the headland it coalesces at a grand beach with the resident breeding herring gulls and a haul out for other sea birds.

 

large.59649aa74f379_v361.jpg.10f5410bfae8976a9bf2eb528c145633.jpglarge.59649aa946ea8_v363.jpg.0ef390616d05be953d1de6bb183cba3e.jpglarge.59649aaaeb175_v364.jpg.8e1d4ccc284fa8396f19da88444244ab.jpg

 

The Herring Gull colony is on an thin spit of fingernail rock reaching out from the headland

 

large.59649a6258133_v83.jpg.c9e13227c6b7fd31de3f4d860d4028f6.jpg

 

Immature Gulls

 

large.59649a69f39ca_v84.jpg.c08c81c50aab23351bbcfd31e16ede69.jpg

Edited by lmSA84
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Posted (edited)

Storms River

 

The last pearl in the necklace is Storm' River and arguably it's the most beautiful - certainly it's the most popular! 

 

If you do visit, I highly recommend the 6km Waterfall trail - it takes you along the first 3km of one of the world's greatest hiking trails - the Otter trail. The full trail is 45km and is only permissible to those who have been fortunate enough to win a place in a lottery (such is the demand for places!).    

 

Given we only had a morning and that I was carrying my daughter we didn't go on the Waterfall trail but instead went on the Mouth Trail - a short 2km round trip on a wooden boardwalk. It ends at the eponymous Storms River mouth.

 

large.File_004(5)_84844.jpg.2d0f74bc3e371db3329b6a0292e9ab52.jpg   

If you're feeling energetic you can walk up hill behind the bridge. Be warned though - it's steep and with a baby plus a 200-500 lens it  almost killed me. Still the views and birdlife were good.

 

View on the way up.

 

large.59649a961f582_v104.jpg.7e49006253d9097580baf140b60c6d38.jpg

 

View from the top

 

large.59649a8e9a49b_v102.jpg.76d41d6c4b06f17eeeae4f76c8f5f3c0.jpg

 

Sombre Greenbul

 

large.59649ab26404f_v371.jpg.1d7f193adb39823d1ab1871f86a6e050.jpg

 

Double Collared Sunbird

 

large.59649a9de7ff2_v354.jpg.334b51849109fc00aebe8551140cd137.jpg

 

 

Edited by lmSA84
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@ImSA84 thanks for continuing with your detailed South African TR. The bird photos are fantastic, especially the Knysna Turaco. Its great to hear about these little visited corners of RSA at a slow pace - Oifantsbos Cottage, Wilderness NP and Robberg. Good stuff!

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On Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at 10:25 PM, lmSA84 said:

@Kitsafari - Thanks for the comments and I hope it creates a trend! I honestly had never heard of it until my mom's BF (who lives in Capetown) found it. Sanparks barely advertise it. There is small locked gate just past the turning when you went into the car park which would have taken you to the cottage. It's about a 5min drive further along  the coast from that car park.    

@lmSA84 wow I never knew the park had so much wildlife  ,  we only went to the point with the lighthouse. Is it possible to see more of the park with only a couple of hours, if so, any advice would be welcome. :)

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Those collars on the sunbird are just too ostentatious for decent folk!  Simply brilliant

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