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.
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…)
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!
Who are these fearless four?
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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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…)
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.
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
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.
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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?
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 Disa in full bloom on the back of Table Mountain
A panorama of Lake Hawea, one of the most breathtaking views I came across while travelling around (more…)
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.
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
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.
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