My experiences living in Cape Town and travelling in Africa

Posts tagged “travel

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…)


Countdown to Scoot West Coast

Scoot West Coast

What is Scoot West Coast?

The Cape West Coast is a region of contrasting landscapes that conjure up evocative images in one’s mind. Stretching over 400km from south to north, the area offers an amazing variety of experiences and destinations, all with a special West Coast flavour. Scoot West Coast is the epic adventures of four friends on two wheels journeying through this region, rediscovering the West Coast and its hidden gems.  When we aren’t on our scooters we will be learning about culture, photographing birds, trying to stay upright on SUP boards, tasting bokkoms, sampling wines,cruising down rivers, and for some, skydiving in Malmesbury will mean rediscovering Fears!

Scoot West Coast

Sponsored byCTWC-logo-green

 

Who are these fearless four?

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The light at the end of Africa

Cape Agulhas Lighthouse

A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to visit Agulhas National Park for the third time in as many years. (see my previous trip here) The occasion was the official opening of their new Rest Camp chalets and I must admit there was something quite nice about being the very first person to stay in one of the new thatch-roofed log cabins. The crisp new linen and fresh, fluffy towels. Carbon copies of the existing chalets they have added several extra single and double room units with a few modern improvements like fancy fireplaces to keep you warm in winter and sealing around the edges to ensure the wind doesn’t sneak through under the thatch (a fix they will be applying to the older units as well now).

My only criticism of the chalets is that they are built quite close together and some of the new ones have been built behind the old ones, but if you can get one of the front units and even better one of the units on the end you can wake up to uninterrupted views like this everyday so my advice would be to call the SANParks booking office after making your booking as ask if one of the front units are available when you go.

Agulhas National Park Accommodation

Agulhas might not have the big five like Kruger but it has its own unique appeal. Less than 3 hours drive from Cape Town at the southernmost tip of Africa. You can explore the coastline or follow the hiking trails through the fynbos or just sit out on the deck of your chalet and finally finish that book you started reading weeks ago.

A visit to Agulhas wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the southernmost tip of Africa, which is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

The other must do in the area is to visit the Cape Agulhas lighthouse which was built in 1848. Rather unfortunately the lighthouse was built from sandstone which doesn’t last very long when exposed to the elements. It has however undergone extensive renovation and is now open again and inside is a great museum with the history of the lighthouse and is well worth a visit. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not one for history and museums but tourism officer Maureen Fourie gave us a fabulously succinct history of the area and tour of the museum. Her passion for the area is palpable and she summed up the significance of where we were as she explained that when you stand at the southernmost tip looking south, “you have two oceans in front of you and over your shoulder, behind you, is AFRICA.”

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Something I’ve never been able to do before and which I would recommend is climbing up to the top of the lighthouse. To get to the top you ascend three very steep wooden ladders that creek and groan followed by an even steeper final steel ladder, the walls of the tower close in around you. Emerging through a heavy hatch at the top you are treated to a 360 degree view of Cape Agulhas and if you look closely, you can even see the bulb that is responsible for  helping so many ships navigate safely past this treacherous piece of coast.

If you’ve never been to Agulhas, or like me, have been but never had the chance to go up the lighthouse then why not plan a trip to southernmost tip of Africa. And whether it’s a weekend away or part of a longer Garden route road trip you can rest up in the serenity of Agulhas National Park.


Zimbabwe 2014: The Great North Road 

by Pauline Alexander, photos by Rory Alexander

It’s so interesting to ponder just what things signify ‘home’ – an incandescent sabi star, a group of kudu staring you down through a veil of thicket, recognising that impala are indeed different from springbok or Mr Chameleon pointing us North.

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Giving way to wildlife on the road to Mapungubwe

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Dawn overlooking the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers makes your heart leap. The Shashe’s sands are markedly pink and the Limpopo is indeed green and greasy and set about with fever trees. Tales of gold from across the river on the mount of Mapungubwe turn our thoughts to our own majestic place of stones and wonder at their place in that early trade with the East.

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Plus ca change, plus la meme at Beitbridge, but not even an encounter with state ‘crime’ can stop our hearts from lifting as we gaze out at the landscape of dwalas and trees, the bare swept earth around the huts and the anticipation and activity of the many bus stops. The one big difference is that it is now, indubitably, the Great North Road. Not ‘great’ in the sense of wide and worthy, but ‘great’ in the visibly increased (more…)


Being a tourist in my own city – Cape Town

Selfie on the Cape Town Red Bus tour samsung

Last weekend I got the chance to be a tourist in my own city with a good friend Nicole Biondi, the chance to explore Cape Town without the usual responsibilities of making sure I had enough milk for breakfast, remembering to switch the geyser back on and having to hang out washing. Yes, it’s not having to worry about these everyday things that makes one feel like they are on holiday. What better way to start the adventure then a city sightseeing bus tour. Starting in Seapoint we wound our way along the coast to the Waterfront on what could only be described as a beaut of a winter’s day.

Selfie on the Cape Town Red Bus tour samsung

The Cape Town Red Bus makes several stops along its route but it was Kirstenbosch where we planned our first hop-off. Not only was it a perfect day to wonder through the botanical gardens but I hadn’t yet seen the latest addition, the tree-top walkway otherwise known as the Boomslang. Rising up several metres of the ground you walk out above the tree tops with fantastic views over the gardens and greater Cape Town. True to its name the Boomslang does wind back and forth between the trees and even sways like a snake does as it moves from branch to branch. So much so that if you’re prone to continue reading + see 9 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.

 

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.

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


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


Accommodation in Addo

Rory Alexander

Originally the plan was to camp all the way on this road trip to save on cost but I was a little nervous about the weather along the Garden Route in winter and wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of having to put up tents in the rain. Also when it came to packing the car I don’t think we would have had enough space for all the camping equipment anyway. A search on the SANParks website, however, revealed the next best thing, Spekboom Tented Camp. Here we could camp, in the middle of the bush, without having to carry loads of stuff with us in the car.

Rory Alexander

What more could you ask for, arriving with your tent already put up. Inside are two beds with mattresses and enough blankets to keep you warm on even the coldest of nights. A braai, outside table and even   read more + 7 photos


A bet, a bridge and my first bungy!

That’s right it all started with a bet in New Zealand. Known as the home of bungy, everyone I met was amazed that doing a jump was not on my list during my six-week tour of New Zealand and my retort was “if I’m going to bungy, I want to do a big one”, and of course I cited the Bloukrans back home in South Africa. The truth was that I’ve always been a bit of a sceptic as to the safety of bungy and its effects on our anatomy! Then in a bar in Queenstown fed up with justifying my position I came up with an ultimatum, which I thought was fairly safe bet, that if any of them came to South Africa in 2013 then I would do the world’s highest bridge bungy at Bloukrans.

Rory Alexander

I have stopped and looked at people jumping off this bridge before and thought no way would I do that. This time I was there looking at the same view but knowing that I had made a bet and I was going to have to do it. So after watching a few people jump we went to sign up only to be told they were fully booked for the rest of the day. Was this a sign or just a test of my nerves? click for more


Time out in Tsitsikamma

Last month I took a few weeks off and with a friend embarked on a road trip along the Garden Route. An early start from Cape Town and 5 hours later we stopped in Knysna for lunch at the Heads before carrying on to the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. We had planned to camp but I was little nervous of the winter weather along the coast and so opted to stay in the Forest Cabins. Nestled in amongst the dense foliage they don’t have a sea view but you are only 50 metres away from the Indian Ocean crashing against the rocks of this rugged coastline.

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I had never been to the Tsitsikamma National Park before and I have to say it was spectacularly beautiful. We met a couple in the caravan section who said that they’ve been coming to the park every year for a week they love it so much. You might not be able to go on a game drive or see any of the big five in Tsitsikamma but what you can do is continue reading + 7 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


Of the Black Oystercatcher, a watermill and an old clock

Rory Alexander Photography

There is something about fresh sea air and the sound of waves breaking that guarantees a good nights sleep and that is exactly what we all got that night. As a photographer though I resisted the urge to sleep in and went out early to get some shots in that lovely early morning light and Agulhas didn’t disappoint.

Rory Alexander Photography

Once everyone else had woken up we went into Struisbaai for breakfast at Pelican’s Harbour Cafe. It’s not gourmet but what was impressive was that every part of our cooked breakfast was hot which everyone commented on. Then we lost half of our group who went off to read more + 10 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


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.


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


Flying over Mossel Bay

A couple of weekends ago Hilton Mundyand I drove up to Mossel Bay to cover the PetroSA Cape Regional Aerobatic Competition 2012. The weather didn’t exactly play nice for the practice day on the Friday with pilots waiting in Oudtshoorn for the clouds to lift so they could sneak over the mountains which they eventually did. On Saturday the sun rose to reveal clear skies and the competition was on!

The rest of the competitors flew in from Cape Town and Stellenbosch that morning. There may have been clear skies but there was also a strong wind blowing which made some of the pilots anxious to compete but by mid-morning the wind had changed and after a short briefing the action all started. After very little action the day before we were busy the whole day filming the aerobatic displays and all the action on the ground but I did get a chance to go up with the competition director, Hans Potgeiter, of Mossel Bay Aero Club in his Cessna 337, which is a rather unusual looking continue reading + 2 potos & a video


There is more than you’d expect at Butterfly World

Last Saturday after taking my new car for a spin in the mountains behind Paarl and taking in lunch at a wine farm we were on our way back to Cape Town on the N1 when on the spur of the moment we thought we would visit Butterfly World just off the highway.

As you enter the greenhouse you are hit by the humidity and warm temperature that the butterflies are dependent on but you soon forget about this as you are surrounded by hundreds of butterflies from very colourful ones to ones with transparent wings (see above). They flit about seemingly unperturbed by your presence and some may even land on you although you are cautioned not to touch them as they are very delicate. It’s not only about these winged insects though as through the next door is the continue reading + 7 more photos


Sunrise over Hout Bay

It feels like  only just got back from my trip to America and now I’m off again but locally this time – more to follow in future posts.

The States was great though and if you haven’t seen any of my photos yet be sure to check out my post on Chicago’s buildings and skyline , a time-lapse of the six days of flying at Oshkosh and why it took me an hour to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. After three weeks of summer in America it has been quite a shock coming back to winter in Cape Town and even more so when the deck outside my room was covered in hail.

Winter in Cape Town is not all bad though as in between the cold fronts and rainy days we do get some absolutely glorious days when there is no wind, the sea is calm, the air is clear and the sky is blue. It’s days like these that make you forget all the rain and damp. It’s days like these that remind you just how magic a place Cape Town is to live. It’s days like these that even driving to work one just has to stop and admire the city in which we live. And it’s days like these that I have to stop and take a photo to share with you.

Panorama looking back towards Hout Bay from the Chapman’s Peak viewpoint at sunrise

Do any of you have a view like this too, on your drive to work?


I’m going to America !

That’s right, later today I leave for America. This will be only my second time visiting America and considering my last visit barely lasted three days I can hardly contain my excitement as this time I will be spending nearly three weeks in the USA while visiting as many different states. And yes, you guessed it. I’ve started another blog where you can follow my adventure so check out Rory in America.

Why am I going to America? Primarily for Oshkosh.

Like most of my friends over the past few weeks you’re probably wondering what the hell Oshkosh is. Well, in a sentence, it’s the greatest aviation show on earth. Those of you who know me and have been following me will know that I am a little obsessed with anything to do with flying. I even book international plane tickets not based on the most direct route or the cheapest ticket but by aircraft type. Seriously, who does that? Well me,  and so I will be flying with Emirates from Cape Town to Dubai on an Airbus A340 so as to be able to fly on their A380 from Dubai to New York before catching an internal flight to Chicago.

I teamed up with my friend Hilton Mundy, who founded ShortFinal.TV, last year to film a behind the scenes documentary called In the Jump Seat during the 2011 Ysterplaat Air Show. We have just finished the editing of this and it is in production so if you haven’t ordered your copy yet then do it now – here.  We are both passionate about aviation and so it didn’t take long for Oshkosh to appear on our radar (excuse the pun). Hilton had decided he was going and it didn’t take a lot of convincing to get me on board. We are joining the guys from Air Adventure Tours who take over other aviation enthusiasts from South Africa and organise everything including catered camping on the airfield a mere 5 minutes walk from the flight-line.

Just like visiting New Zealand last year, this is going to be another dream come true for me and so come fly away with me on my new Rory in America blog.


I will miss you Cape Town

It is days like these during the winter months that make you feel like there is no greater place to live. The reason I’m going to miss Cape Town is that tomorrow I am heading overseas (more about that in my next post) but I will be back and hopefully by then the weather will have improved and everyday will be like today.