My experiences living in Cape Town and travelling in Africa

Posts tagged “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…)


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.

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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…)


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


On the eve of the 2014 Argus Cycle Tour

2014 Argus Cycle Tour advert

Paging through the official event magazine for this year’s Cycle Tour I came across this advert for the West Coast National Park and just thought I’d share it because, well, the image is a photograph I took on a clear morning back in 2012 just after sunrise.

2014 Argus Cycle Tour advert

That aside, I have oiled my chain one last time and my bicycle is in the car ready for the World’s Largest Timed Cycle Race tomorrow, the 2014 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour, known to most simply as the Argus. It’s a 109km cycle race around  the Cape Peninsula and every year approximately 35000 cyclists take part. For years after moving to Cape Town I would go out and watch the seemingly endless stream of cyclists whizzing past when I decided I’d really like to be one of them and I was hooked. I feel like you can’t call yourself a Capetonian if you haven’t ridden the Argus. I have missed the past couple of years, having been out of the country or travelling so I’m looking forward to being back on the road again. Despite starting in the third last group, because I didn’t do any of the seeding races, the weather forecast is looking favourable. It isn’t going be too hot and the dreaded south-easterly wind is supposed to not be gale force. I am known for never doing much training for events like these but I feel like I am fitter than I’ve been for a while and I will be aiming for a sub 4hr 30min time tomorrow. See you on the road Cape Town…

Update: The official results are in and even though the wind made for tough conditions on the day I achieved my goal finishing in 4 hrs & 26 mins with an average speed of 24.58 km/h and finished 21st out of the 518 in my start group. I even had time to stop and chat with my friend Guy McDonald who was MC at the Tsogo Sun supporters spot in Camps Bay and took this pic of me with some of the cheerleaders on the side of the road. All in all a good Argus and a time to beat for next year.

Argus Cycle Tour 2014


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


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.

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


Supermoonbow

I wasn’t in a position to photograph the supermoon rising last night but did venture out into the garden later in the night when it was high in the sky. Looking up I was amazed to notice a large ring around the moon in the high cloud that was sitting above the mountain. This phenomenon of a rainbow created by light reflected by the moon, rather than direct sunlight, is known as a moonbow. Less colourful than their daylight equivalents they are much rarer and so even more special when you get to see one.

Rory Alexander Photography

Did you see the moonbow over Cape Town last night?


Addo to Oudtshoorn

Cango Caves

After a fantastic few days in Addo it was time to head back to Cape Town, this time via the scenic Route 62 (R62) but we had one last stop on the roadtrip, Oudtshoorn. You may be asking yourself what there is to see and do in Oudtshoorn.

Cango Caves

Probably the most well-known attraction just outside the town of Oudtshoorn is the Cango Caves where you have the option of a standard or adventure tour to explore this incredible cave system. As long as you aren’t claustrophobic I would highly recommend the adventure tour as you get to see a lot more of the cave system. While the caves are impressive the place we visited next was turned out to be Oudtshoorn best kept secret… find out more + 8 photos


Morning, afternoon & night game drives in Addo

Rory Alexander Photography

What’s a safari without a game drive? Even though you can drive yourself in Addo with tarred roads near the main rest camp and well maintained dirt roads throughout the rest of the park, there is something about going on a guided game drive. There’s the belief that the guide knows where the animals are and will be better at spotting them, the benefit of an elevated viewing position above the height of the shrubs  and of course not having to focus on driving so that you can have both hands on your camera and be ready to get ‘that shot’.

Rory Alexander Photography

But the best part of the game drives we did was the knowledge of the national parks guides. Even though I have grown up in Africa, and spent a fair amount of time in the bush, I learnt so much about the characteristics and behaviour of the various animals we saw as well as the history and management of the park. Different animals are active at different times of the day and so to cover all our bases we went on a variety of game drives during our five-day stay. The sunrise game drive meant a very early and continue reading + 10 photos


Taking a ride on the wild side

Rory Alexander Photography

Rory Alexander PhotographyI had a bad experience with a horse when I was younger and for years I wouldn’t go near one. I have since gotten over that and now jump at every chance I get to ride. In Addo you can ride in either the Nyathi or Zuurberg sections of the park.

Addo horse trails

These depart from the main rest camp in the morning or afternoon and are two hours long.

The Nyathi section is home to the Big Five so it is recommended that you have a moderate level of experience and be confident that you can control a horse. They can accommodate all levels of rider though so just discuss with the park staff when booking.

People say that the great thing about game viewing on horseback is that the wildlife aren’t as afraid of the horse as they view them just like any other antelope walking through the bush and don’t see the people on their backs.

For those of you concerned about the safety of horse riding in an area inhabited by lions, rest assured that the game rangers monitor the whereabouts of the predatory animals and will move the rides to a different section of the park if there is any concern about safety.

Having met our guide and been introduced to our horses we saddled up and headed out on what was a beautiful morning for a ride. continue reading


Finding Africa in Addo

Cape Town is a great place to live except that for someone like me, who loves the African bush and wildlife, it is thousands of kilometres away from any wildlife parks that boast the Big Five. I was fortunate growing up in Zimbabwe where we often went away during the holidays to the various national parks across the country where rhino were plentiful. Every time friends from abroad come to visit and say they want to go on a safari and see lions, the conversation starts to resemble what one might hear in a courier dispatch office trying to get a package overnight from Heathrow, road freighted to Kruger and back, before same day delivery to Cape Town.

There is one alternative though, Addo Elephant National Park! Situated just outside Port Elizabeth, Addo is a mere 819km from Cape Town along the beautiful Garden Route. While not the typical African savanna vegetation that I know and love, Addo does have the Big Five and is also a non-malaria area. I had heard lots of good reports about Addo and so I thought it was about time I went to see it for myself.

Rory Alexander Photography

While you could drive from Cape Town to Addo in one day, it is quite far and there are so many great places to stop along the way, like we did in Tsitsikamma (read more here),  and it’s worthwhile breaking the trip if you’ve got the time. After a quick stop in Port Elizabeth to stock up on provisions, we arrived at Addo mid afternoon. Having checked in we went straight to the underground bunker at the main rest camp for our first glimpse of game and weren’t disappointed. We found a

read more + 3 photos


Where the two oceans DO meet

Sundays are supposed to be for sleeping in which is what we did. And flapjacks, which is exactly what we found when we eventually got to the breakfast table. After the girls had finished oohing and aahing at the presentation we all tucked in and yes, they tasted as good as they look.

Rory Alexander Photography

Needing once again to walk off our overindulgence we made our way to the Southernmost Tip of Africa, the official meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Rory Alexander Photography

We were met at the newly constructed boardwalk by continue reading + 5 photos


Arriving at Agulhas National Park

In the continuation of series of weekends away with SANParks our group was reunited on Signal Hill where we loaded up the trailer and started out on our journey to Agulhas National Park.

Rory Alexander Photography

April in the Cape can be a bit of a gamble weather wise, it’s either cold and wet or it’s warm and sunny. As you can see it was absolutely stunning as we left Cape Town and just three hours later we arrived at Lagoon House, where some of us stayed whilst others were in the Rest Camp. The location of Lagoon House is read more + 6 photos


Finally hiking Hout Bay Corner

I don’t like doing hikes that I haven’t done before, I prefer to tread paths that I know. Last year I broke with tradition and was reminded of why this is, after following a path that came to a dead-end and retracing our steps several times decided the prudent action would be to go down the way we’d come up. I look up at the Twelfth Apostle mountain every day from the garden and for the last 10 years have wanted to climb up the back to the top and come down the front. And there is a path, I just didn’t know where it was until now.

The Twelfth Apostle above Llandudno Beach

The Twelfth Apostle above Llandudno Beach

My dad saw an advert in our local community newspaper to join The Peninsula Ramblers on a guided walk up Myburgh’s Kloof, known as one of the few spots to see the Red Disa flower, continuing to the top known as Judas Peak and then down Hout Bay corner. This was exactly the hike I had wanted to do before and so I was very keen to go along and finally learn the route. continue reading + 10 more photos


An afternoon overlooking Bitterpan – Timelapse

On a recent holiday in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park we decided to give ourselves a break from sleeping on inflatable mattresses and stay at the Bitterpan Wilderness Camp. This exclusive camp is elevated above the red sand dunes of the Kalahari and situated on a one way only 4×4 route. Half way between the Nossob and Mata-Mata, this camp is in the center of the wilderness and seemingly in the middle of nowhere. About a two and a half hour drive from Nossob, up and over dune after dune, we couldn’t believe our eyes as we pulled up to this tented camp. Looking out over this brilliant white salt pan surrounded by red dunes was just surreal. Watching the clouds grow and dissipate over the pan I thought it would make a great timelapse so set up my camera to take a shot every 15 seconds for about 5 hours from mid afternoon till after sunset.

NB: Look out for the pride of lion that cross the pan to come to the water hole and their attempt to catch a lone eland about half way through the video.

For more photos from the Kgalagadi, click here.


Beginning 2013 on a high!

What better way to start the New Year in Cape Town then a hike with friends for a champagne breakfast on top of one of many mountains we live beneath.

Rory Alexander Photography

Cheers to that and if this view is in any way indicative of things to come it should be a great year!

Rory Alexander Photography


Looking back at Rory in South Africa during 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Going for a quick flight over Riebeek Kasteel

I have always had a love for aviation and a few years ago I took a step towards something I had always thought I wanted to do which was getting a pilot’s license. I started flight training with a friend of mine, Hilton Mundy at a little airstrip called Delta 200 out near Melkbos, up the West Coast from Cape Town. For various reasons I stopped my training but Hilton carried on and while it was a long road he eventually got his Private Pilot’s License (PPL) about 5 months ago. Having followed his progress and sharing a love of aviation, ever since I have been looking forward to going flying with him.

Rory Alexander Photography

It was a couple of weeks ago that the weather was favourable and we were able to get up in the air. Taking off from Morningstar Flight Academy, where Hilton completed his license, we pulled the Ikarus aircraft out of the hangar and after a bit of trouble continue reading + 5 more photos


It’s official, Table Mountain is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature

This morning I was privileged to attend the inauguration of Table Mountain as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The one thing about nature is that we can’t control it and the weather wasn’t the best with Table Mountain shrouded in cloud this was the view from Tafelberg Road at 6:45am as we arrived for the plaque unveiling at the Cableway’s lower station.
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The low hanging cloud didn’t dampen the mood though as  Bernard Weber (Founder-President of New7Wonders) spoke about how the voting process had been continue reading + 4 photos


Garden Route Rally 2012 – Photo Essay

A couple of weekends ago I was invited to the Garden Route Rally with stages being held over two days between George and Knysna. This was the final round of the South African Rally Championship and I was lucky enough to follow Jon Williams and the Sasol Racing Team who took 1st and 3rd in the overall for the year. The spectator points could have been better but thanks to the wonderful hospitality from the Sasol team it was still a great weekend and I did get quite close to the action on a few of the stages as you will see. Enjoy.

see 11 more photos


Waking up in Wilderness

Last weekend Guy McDonald and I travelled to the Garden Route area for the final round of the National Rally Championship. Friday’s stages were in George while Saturday’s were to be in Knysna so we decided to stay in Wilderness, right in the middle of the action. Set behind the seaside village, along the banks of the Touw River is the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park where you can either camp under the stars or stay in the log cabins like we did.

There is something about the smell of a log cabin that reminds me of continue reading + see 13 more photos


Touring Table Mountain National Park

On the third of a series of weekends away with SANParks we did a tour of Table Mountain National Park including some of the lesser known attractions of this diverse and rather spread out park. Although we all live and work at the base of Table Mountain there is a lot more to this National Park that stretches all the way from Signal Hill to Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope. Once again transport was provided by the Green Cab meaning we could sit back and enjoy the views as we made our way to our first stop Boulders Penguin Colony.

We were shown around by the Section Ranger for Boulders who told us a little more about the penguins, in particular how some of looked a little unkempt with fluffy feathers and even patches of no feathers. However this is perfectly natural when they malt and starve for 2-3 weeks while they can’t fish because of continue reading + 15 more photos