My experiences living in Cape Town and travelling in Africa

Posts tagged “wildlife

Shark diving, without a cage

Scuba diving with cow sharks in Cape Town

One of my main goals during my visit to Thailand in November was to scuba dive and get my PADI Open Water Certification which I did and ever since all I’ve wanted to do is dive. The only problem with diving in Cape Town is the cold water of the Atlantic Ocean compared to the balmy 28 degree water of the Similan Islands off Thailand. Nothing a wetsuit (or two) could remedy but it takes a lot more effort. I booked the dive with Pisces Divers in Simon’s Town where you can rent all the gear you need (if you don’t have your own) and off we went to the boat launch at Miller’s Point. As I stood on the jetty I couldn’t help but ask myself if it was worth all the effort. Wearing a full wetsuit, booties, gloves and a second short wetsuit and hood over the top it was hotter than the sauna at my gym. Not to mention carrying the air tank, mask and fins.

Scuba diving with cow sharks in Cape Town

Once we were on the boat motoring to our first dive point, the cool breeze and excitement of diving underwater again made me forget about all the gear I was wearing. We arrived at our first dive spot which was Partridge Point, known for the colony of Cape Fur Seals that live there and after a safety briefing our skipper counted us down three, two, one … read more + 11 photos

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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


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


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


Touring the Bontebok National Park

 Once again I was up early. I opened up the curtains to see clear skies and quickly got ready to explore one of the hiking trails while the others slept late. Although the grass lining the path was wet from the overnight rain and my pant legs were soon soaked it was too nice a morning to turn back early. The path soon opened up and I managed to make it to the viewing deck, on the Bushbuck trail, where I took some time to just sit in the stillness of the morning watching the fish feeding in the shallows while the rising sun bathed the opposite bank in light – a peace that you can’t find in the city.

I would have stayed longer but our tour was due to start at 9am and I still had to get back to the chalets. While it might not have the big five, one of the attractions of the Bontebok National Park is that you can walk freely without having to worry about dangerous wild animals as well as being able to get up close to some of the fynbos. It is also one of the last remaining ‘renosterveld islands’ with several endemic plant species.

Back at the chalet, while I was packing the last of my things, this opportunistic little bird was hovering around on the balcony waiting to be invited in for tea. Quickly reaching for my camera, I caught this interesting shot as he continue reading + 5 more photos


Bontebok Breakaway

It was the coldest and wettest day we’ve had this winter in Cape Town and there was some doubt as to how enjoyable our weekend away was going to be at the Bontebok National Park, just outside Swellendam, but I for one was looking forward to getting away and the chance to unwind, whatever the weather. While it rained for most of the 240km journey out along the N2 and was still drizzling when we arrived, all of our spirits were lifted as we were dropped off at our awesome wooden chalets overlooking the Breede River and we were excited to see that they had heaters in them too.

The chalets at Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp are fully equipped and are ideal for two adults but can accommodate more by use of a sleeper couch. Each one has an outside deck with covered braai area and the hiking trails start at your doorstep.

Having unpacked, settled in and put on another layer of warmth we headed to Die Stroom function facility, where we had a braai with Bulelwa, the Park Manager and some of the rangers. As we sat around the table we got to know more about the park and continue reading + 2 more photos


Serenaded at the Strandloper

It was a beautiful morning and so we decided to earn our breakfast by walking from our accommodation at Duinepos to the Geelbek Restaurant. We had only just started walking along the road when we saw a group of ten eland that crossed the road in front of us. We experienced that special something of being able to walk freely amongst nature and wildlife; as we stood watching them, they stared back at us. Eland are the largest antelope with a shoulder height 1,5 to 1,75 m and can have a mass up to 900 kg.  Both sexes have horns, which have one to two tight spirals. They seemed to be hungry too and after checking us out returned to browsing the fynbos as we continued on our way.

At Geelbek we met up with and were introduced to Eddie who was going to be our tour guide for the day. Eddie has in fact just retired as a ranger from the West Coast National Park but having worked there 22 years he knows the park like the back of his hand and who better to show us around. continue reading + 7 more images & a video