My experiences living in Cape Town and travelling in Africa

Photography

Where to find the best West Coast flowers

A field of flowers in the West Coast National Park during flower season

Earlier this week I was invited by SANParks to take a trip out to the West Coast National Park, just an hour and a half away from Cape Town to see the famous flowers that burst out of the ground at this time of year. You could trawl along the various roads heading north out of Cape Town in search of these wild flowers but for a guaranteed sighting why not head straight to the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park, which is open for flower season during the months of August & September.

A field of flowers in the West Coast National Park during flower season

I have been to the West Coast National Park every year for the last five years and I can safely say these are the best flowers I have ever seen both in quantity and variety.

 

And the Postberg section is not just about the flowers, if you follow the road right to the top (more…)

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Ascension isn’t for everyone…

Hiddingh Ascension that is. One of the lesser known routes up Table Mountain and also one of the most difficult. I had heard about it from a colleague at work and asked him to let me know when he did it again as it is definitely not a route you should even think about attempting unless you go with someone who has done it before.

Hiddingh Ascension-0749

 

From the start in Newlands Forest the first trick is finding the turning off the contour path which is only marked by a small rock cairn and a vague path leading up through the trees. It is a steep scramble until you are in the river bed itself which you follow up the ravine.

Hiddingh Ascension-0753

Hiddingh Ascension-0760

You continue up the rocky riverbed until the ravine narrows and a large cairn signals where you must turn right and traverse along the bottom of a cliff face. Once around the cliff face you (more…)


Why drive to lunch, when you can fly?

My friend Hilton called and said that he and a mate wanted to fly to the Black Oystercatcher for lunch and was I keen. Of course I was, not only because I love flying but because I had also visited the Black Oystercatcher before and know they have some great wines and a delicious lunch menu. While it would probably take around two hours to drive there from Cape Town, our flight time from Morningstar was going to be less than an hour.

Hilton and Sarah took off first as their Decathlon didn’t quite have the same cruising speed as the Paul’s RV 7 that I had the pleasure of flying in. We gave them about a 15 minute headstart before we powered down the runway and took to the skies on what was an absolutely perfect autumn day in Cape Town. After take-off Paul gave me the controls for a couple of minutes while he programmed the Black Oystercatcher GPS co-ordinates into the Easyplan App. Paul did quickly remember to point out that the controls of the RV 7 are much more sensitive and responsive than a lot of the other light aircraft I’ve flown, it was incredible, the lightest of touches and I turned us left to follow the N1 towards Franschhoek. Paul then took back controls and I got my camera out to capture some of the unique vistas.

We caught up with Hilton just after Caledon and then had one small mountain range to get over before descending to a gravel runway.  (more…)


Hiking a charred Chapman’s Peak

Hiking up Chapman's Peak above Hout Bay

Hiking up Chapman's Peak above Hout Bay

I had wanted to hike on the mountains above Cape Town since the fires last week to see first hand the extent of the damage and seeing as I had never climbed Chapman’s Peak before it seemed like a perfect opportunity to do so. A new friend from China asked if they could join me and I don’t normally like taking people on hikes that I haven’t done myslef before but after checking the route and map in Mike Lundy’s Best Walks in the Cape Peninsula it looked straight forward enough. So after an early rendezvous in Hout Bay, and a despite a cloudy start to the day, we took our first steps along the ash covered path.  It wasn’t long before we saw our first signs of regrow. The hike was very easy, possibly aided by the lack of grow along the path as a result of the fire damage and we made it to the peak in under an hour. The visibility wasn’t the best with cloud hanging over table mountain so we couldn’t see across to Gordon’s Bay but Noordhoek Beach and Kommetjie were bathed in sunlight and the view back towards Hout Bay is much like what you see when driving over Chapman’s Peak Drive, only


My failed attempt to reach the wreck of the BOS 400

BOS 400 wreck hike

I have been wanting to try this for a while now, that is hike to and photograph what remains of the BOS 400, a French derrick barge that ran aground in 1994 after it’s tow rope broke in heavy seas. I got up at 5:00am and set off towards Sandy Bay beach in the darkness with a headlamp hoping to reach the Oudeschip Peninsula at dawn and then make my way around Maori Bay to the shipwreck at sunrise to make use of the best light for photographs. Things did not go according to plan however….

BOS 400 wreck hike
I made it to Oudeschip and across the bay I could now see the wreck of the BOS 400 but where I thought the path would continue around along the coast around the bay, it didn’t. I scrambled over the rocks thinking I could find my own way until the boulders turned into sheer rock faces and I could go no further without jumping read on + see 8 more photos


Flying over Langebaan Lagoon

langebaan lagoon from the air

Last week I was lucky enough to go flying again with my mate Hilton Mundy, this time in a Sling 2 light sport aircraft. We had planned to fly around Cape Point for me to take some pictures but the infamous south-easterly was howling across around the peninsula so we discussed some alternate routes and decided to head up the coast to Yzerfontein and West Coast National Park and then come back along the beach.

Pre flight checks on the Sling 2 lsa

It was a perfect morning for flying at Morningstar airfield, just as the sun was peeking over the trees we pulled the aircraft out of the hangar, did the preflight checks and we were all set. There was no one else around as we taxied to the start of runway two zero, waited for the oil temp to reach normal and made our final radio call before takeoff. continue reading + 12 more photos


Cambodia & Thailand, the insta-essay

Emirates 777-300

If you don’t follow me on Twitter and, more recently, Instagram then you may not have been aware that I spent the better part of November travelling in  Southeast Asia. A friend of mine planned the itinerary to the very last detail which meant all I had to do was get on the plane and what an adventure it was. Since I’ve been back, things have been a little hectic catching up with work and other boring things so I am still working through all the photographs. In the meantime here are some of the Instagram shots to give you an idea of the trip. To see the description for each photo click on the Instagram logo in the top right hand corner of each image.

The adventure starts now #emirates #Thailand #airport #Boeing #emiratesairline #hellotomorrow

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Took a slow train from #Thailand to #Cambodia today #conqueringCambodia

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Spent today exploring the temples of #Angkorwat #Cambodia #bucketlist

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see 12 more photos


Insta-anxiety, or was it just me?

Augrabies Falls Instagram

So I finally reached the end of my previous cellphone contract and could upgrade from a brand of cellphone that I came to regard with as much superstition as actors do ‘that Scottish play’. Needless to say I have crossed over to the Samsung Galaxy S4 and, as some of my friends have pointed out, I’m all to eager to show it off. Forgive me, it’s new and exciting although I have had several futile debates with iPhone users as to which device is better. Either way, I am happy with my choice and that’s all that really matters.

Th touch screen took some getting used too but was all very intuitive but the app world was a whole other kettle of choices. The camera on the above former unmentionable handset wasn’t worth mentioning but now with 13 mega pixels at hand the Samsung S4 has added another weapon to my photography arsenal. The obvious first step was to create an Instagram account, easy enough, but then the anxiety struck.

What would the first image I shared be of? It has to be good? I don’t have any followers yet but if the first image isn’t good then will anyone follow me?

I also swore to myself that if/when I joined Instagram I wouldn’t share random pictures of plates of food (unless it was really unusual like the time I ate live squid in China), I vowed I wouldn’t take pictures of cups of coffee no matter how creative the design created by sprinkled cocoa on top is. There would be rules, I would only share images that were extraordinary but now where to start.

This had me paralysed for days and my account sat idle, until on a trip to the Northern Cape province of South Africa. We stopped overnight in the Augrabies Falls National Park and as the sun was setting I went off in search of a vantage point of the waterfall in the golden light at dusk and there it was. I took out my phone, played around with the effects, which I still didn’t fully understand, and picked a filter that matched the colours I saw with my eyes and I knew I had my first photo worthy of sharing on Instagram.

A post shared by Rory Alexander (@rory_alexander) on

Did you have similar anxiety before sharing your first photo on Instagram, or was it just me?

Instagram


Capture the Colour 2013

This is not one of my usual travel adventure posts but I you see I was nominated by Kathryn Cooper of Anti-tourist Traveller to take part in the Capture the Colour 2013 photo blogging challenge. Unfortunately I have been on a photo assignment (more on that in another post) so I missed the closing date so I’m not eligible for the prize and nor will I be nominating 5 other bloggers as per the rules but I thought it still share my photographs for each of the five categories.

Red

Red Disa on Table Mountain

Red Disa in full bloom on the back of Table Mountain

Blue

Lake Hawea New Zealand

A panorama of Lake Hawea, one of the most breathtaking views I came across while travelling around (more…)


Weekend away at Olifantsbos Cottage

Last weekend for my dad’s birthday we decided to go away as a family but long car journeys aren’t that desirable an option with two young nephews. Looking closer to home I suggested we try one of the SANParks cottages in the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park, better known as Cape Point. Luckily for us at relatively short notice there was availability and plenty of beds for our whole family and a few friends.

Olifantsbos Cottage

As the weekend neared the weather forecast wasn’t the best but nothing a fireplace and several bags of wood couldn’t fix. The rest of the family all went out on the Friday and I joined them on the Saturday. After lunch and an afternoon nap, there was a break in the rain and so continue reading + 13 more photos