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 Post subject: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 1:33 pm 
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The morning of the 14th September saw Wandering Wendy, Ambling Anne and myself leaving Cape Town for Namaqualand. We were on the road by 06h00…that would give us plenty of time to stop and explore along the way. One must remember that I had Wendy with me...she cannot go from point A to point B without exploring all options. :wink:

The weather to put it bluntly was awful…bad mist just after Piketberg and then rain. It didn’t really dampen our spirits though…we were off to see the flowers.
The fact that various members of my party had left their wine and chicken for the braai behind didn’t dampen our spirits either…we would just have to stop somewhere to buy some more.
Our first stop...

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We emerged armed with oranges and dates but no wine or chicken. :roll: Nevermind we would stop again …much to Wendy’s delight.

Another stop….this time just to enjoy the vistas...

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We eventually arrived at our last port of call at 12h15.

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Here we were able to replace the forgotten wine but not the chicken. Wandering Wendy and Ambling Anne had a little look around the hotel and shop while I investigated outside.

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Watching this hairy worm having his lunch

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made me realise that I had a hunger pang of note and that together with the following notice painted on the hotel wall made me hurry everybody along ….it was time to get to our final destination.

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Namaqua National Park is about 17km from Kamieskroon. Not far but the road was badly corrugated and potholed ..so progress was rather slow….but the magnificent scenery made up for that.
Eventually after driving 518km we arrived at the park and checked in. Here a bit of confusion reigned because the free entry that we were expecting because of SANParks week was only for day visitors. :huh: If one was staying in the park the conservation fees had to be paid. This did not affect me as I have a Wild Card but it did seem a bit silly to me. Anyway we continued to our chalet. There were beautiful flowers everywhere but more about that later. The chalets in Namaqua are really fantastic..the view is absolutely spectacular. We had been allocated no 1.

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The chalet consist of a bedroom with 2 single beds , a lounge with a sleeper couch and an enclosed verandah with lovely big windows . No matter where you are in that chalet you can see out and enjoy the view. :thumbs_up: There is also an indoor braai and a very well stocked kitchen including a stove and microwave. Just perfect !!!!

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16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:22 am 
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A quick unpack was in order and then lunch ..at last the hunger pang was satisfied. :clap: I then walked around the chalet taking a few photos while Wendy and Anne sorted the kitchen. Their reasoning being that seeing that I was the driver I was relieved of all kitchen duties ..I had absolutely no problem with that! :dance: The clouds were beginning to move in :roll: …..but I tried some photos anyway. Again I have tried to identify the flowers but I am open to correction.

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Morea..not sure which one. It is a member of the iris family.

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Ferraria variabilis
Yellow spider-iris, geelspinnekopblom. The flower only lasts one day. I did not know this at the time but when I went to see if I could improve on my photo the next day the flower was shriveled up. Now I know why.

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A Watsonia of sorts. There were not many of these around at all. By now the wind had come up and it was extremely difficult to photograph the flowers. This one kept on being blown out of my picture. :roll:

The following are both of the pelargonium family but again as to which is which I have no idea.

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16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:08 am 
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It really is amazing how many flowers can be seen around the chalets. I started counting but I kept losing track because something or other would distract me.

When Anne and Wendy were finished playing " housie housie" we decided that an amble and a wander around the Skilpad loop was next on the list.

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17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:30 am 
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Unfortunately the weather was not on our side but I persevered with the camera.

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I have no idea what this hairy caterpillar is ..but it was pretty enough to have it's photo taken.

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and I have no idea as to what this flower is either!

But soon I had to give up on the flower photography and turn my attention to the dassies or were they klipspringers… :wink:

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Oh well at least we were soaking up the clean fresh air (as well as a few raindrops) and getting some exercise. Being amongst all those beautiful flowers and magnificent scenery was definitely food for the soul. My hunger pang had been satisfied in more ways than one !

On the way back to the chalet we saw some meerkats in the distance. :dance: They were in a hurry though..no doubt they wanted to get to their burrows before the rain came down
We had a brief glimpse of a steenbok as well.

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By the time we got back to the chalet the mist was very thick and the view nil!
Unbeknowns to me until a few days before we left Cape Town, Tent Trash (our campanions from our KTP trip) were also booked into Namaqualand. I had conned Tent Trash ♂into braaiing for us all. This is where the indoor braai came in extremely handy.
We had a wonderful evening ….
My last thoughts that night…Rain, Rain Go Away!!! Come back another day !!!!

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16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:59 am 
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Quote:
Caracal on the road again

Had you not promised to ring a bell?


Oops sorry Micetta :redface:
Actually the chicken was quite a funny story !
Anne had forgotten her chicken for the braai but Wendy proudly came to the rescue and announced that she had enough braai chicken for both. BUT when Wendy unpacked she realised that she had left the chicken for our next evening's meal behind :roll: ...that problem we would solve the next day though :D There is just never a dull moment is there ????

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16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:55 pm 
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salamanda wrote:
Lovely pics again Caracal (are you using a macro lens for some of these?) and I am enjoying this look into an area that I don't know but would love to visit one day. Even in the rain it looks pretty appealing!


Thanks salamanda..yes most of the pics were taken using a Canon 60mm 2.8 macro lens. It really is a super lens !!!!

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16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:14 pm 
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My hopes and wishes were not answered...we woke up to rain and mist. :cry:

We could do one of three things.
1. Stay in the chalet, mope and lose our sense of humour!
2. Drive to Soebatsfontein and back
3. Drive to the Goegap Reserve near Springbok.

No 1 was definitely not an option :tongue: and neither was no 2. Soebatsfontein is 20km away with no turning point. Tent trash had come in on that road and it was in a bad way. They got a puncture and to add insult to injury there were no flowers or animals to be seen either. I decided that it would be a pointless exercise especiallyas we were now dealing with mist as well.
That left us with option no3. Tent Trash had been to Goegap the day before and they told us that the flowers were finished there as well. As a matter of fact the only place that they had seen flowers was at Skilpad. We decided to drive to Springbok anyway..even if it was just to buy chicken for supper.
While Wendy hustled up bacon and eggs I pottered around outside. It was indeed a futile exercise…I was just getting soaked.
After taking a few photos I headed back inside.

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After breakfast we set off for Springbok…with Wendy singing.. "We’re all off on a summer holiday". She sure had the tune right :thumbs_up: but there was something seriously wrong with the season. :roll:
But her enthusiasm worked it’s magic and before long we saw the sun peeping out. :dance:

A view of Kamieskroon.

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and the fields.

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We enjoyed our drive to Springbok but Tent Trash were correct...the flowers were sparse. :cry:
We found Checkers and some chicken, :thumbs_up: filled up with diesel and left again. We were now anxious to get back to Skilpad..the sun was shining ! :dance:

Again we stopped to take photos.

The building under the trees is the reception to the park.

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and another vista of the park.

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Wendy and Anne popped into the little shop while I played outside.
It was still a bit cloudy and overcast and the gazanias had not opened fully.

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Other daisies had opened though.

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There were many Foam Grasshoppers around but as you all know I am not keen on getting too close to them. :shock:

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Apparently these grasshoppers are slow moving and flightless and secrete a foamy poisonous substance when molested. I was not convinced about their tardiness though… to me they moved along at a rapid rate...okay so they cannot fly but I bet you they can jump !!!!!!

A view of the park.

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When Wendy emerged from the shop she spotted the following sign.

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Of course Wendy being Wendy she wanted to explore further but I flatly refused :rtm: ….how would I ever explain that one to her SO. :big_eyes: He would never let her go away with me again !!!! I bundled her back into the car and headed for the chalet…I had a hunger pang again !!!!

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16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:13 pm 
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Lunch was had and again while the kitchen staff :wink: were busy I occupied myself outside.
The flowers had dried out somewhat ….
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Something I enjoy doing is to take a random pic of the flowers and then to see how many different flowers are in that pic. The above pic has 6 different flowers in it !

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The above flower is a Ornithogalum polyphyllum..feel free to pronounce it whichever way you wish :wink: …in other words it is a large striped chincherinchee. I had not noticed this flower the day before and I must have walked past it a dozen times. Just goes to show how many different flowers are lurking amongst those orange daisies.

I didn’t miss this pretty fellow though

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When the kitchen staff had finished their duties :thumbs_up: we drove down to the Skilpad loop.
There were quite a few dassies running around on the rocks.

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Wandering Wendy and Ambling Anne were going to do a walk around while I stayed at the car and tried to get a few scenic shots. I could see the clouds/mist were once again moving in…

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I will leave it up to Wendy to show you how much we were enjoying our surrounds.. :D

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At 17h00 we decided to do the Korhaan walking trail which starts down at reception. Just as I got out of the car I saw a Booted Eagle swoop down and catch a mouse that was running across the pathway. It all happened so quickly but I was thrilled….a Booted Eagle is a lifer for me ! :clap:
By now I felt like a walk so I left all camera equipment in the car. Not that my camera is that heavy it is just that if I have a camera in my hand I don’t get very far….. That was a bit of a pity though because I saw many different flowers that I had not seen up at the chalet or along the Skilpad route. The light was low and not really conducive to photography anyway. Next time I am in Namaqua I will remember to do that walk at a better time of day. There were plenty of middens and antelope hoof prints around but we only caught a glimpse of a steenbok.
50 mins later found us back at the car...a bit out of breath but exhilarated . :dance:

One more drive around the Skilpad loop was next …we were hoping to see a bat–eared fox but no such luck. We did see another steenbok though.

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This steenbok was very far away and the photo is very much cropped and lightened but if you look carefully you will see that it has something between it’s horns. :hmz: At first I thought it may be dried mud..maybe from digging in the ground with it’s horns….but I realised that the horns were not even in size and also not straight. Maybe it was a growth or something. :huh:
When we got back to the chalet it was time for sundowners as well as time to set up the tripod for some sunset photography.
While I was doing this I noticed a hare hopping around outside. It disappeared very quickly but I went into to stalk mode and managed a proof pic.

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It really made for a pretty picture…a pity the light was so low!

The sunset looked like it was going to be spectacular but it fizzled out very quickly.

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The problem being that the sun sinks behind the bank of mist coming in from the sea…it certainly was good enough to accompany our sundowners though. Again the verandah came in handy because by now it was blowing a gale outside and it was chilly! I now know why the chalets have been designed the way they have.

Wendy cooked up a storm in the kitchen…Thai Chicken. :dance: It certainly was worth the drive into Springbok to buy that chicken. :thumbs_up:

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16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:37 pm 
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We were up bright and breezy the next morning. I tried to get a few more photos before we left but I gave it up as a bad job...it was far too windy and overcast. :roll:
We had to vacate the chalet by 09h00 and after a slow drive around the Skilpad Loop we checked out and hit the road home.
We had no sooner driven through the park gates when I spotted a couple of meerkat. :dance: I had to stop and try get a photo..even though I had my macro lens on my camera… :doh:

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We waved them good bye and continued with our journey. We had a pleasant drive home…with many stops of course. :lol: The most exciting one being this one just before Piketberg...again I had to stop to photograph the birds with my macro lens!

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I always think it is quite special to see Blue Cranes in the fields. We made it home by 17h30…..1233km’s later.

Bird sightings and summary to follow.

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16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:54 pm 
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Bird Sightings

I don’t have any photos of the birds but here is a list of the birds that I saw

Helmeted Guineafowl
Namaqua Dove
Blackshouldered Kite
Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk
Booted Eagle
Common Fiscal
Cape Crow
Pied Crow
Bokmakierie
Karoo Thrush
Cape Robin-Chat
Familiar Chat
Anteating Chat
Glossy Starling
Pied Starling
Karoo Prinia
Layard's Titbabbler
Cape Clapper Lark
Greybacked Finchlark
Southern Doublecollared Sunbird
Malachite Sunbird
Cape Sparrow
Cape Wagtail
Cape Weaver
Yellow Bishop
Cape Bunting

A first for me was the Booted Eagle, Cape Clapper Lark and Layard’s Titbabbler…3 new ticks !!!! It was fascinating watching the Cape Clapper Lark call…wing-clapping as it flies straight up into the air followed by a loud whistle as it parachutes down to the ground again. I also enjoyed watching the Layard’s Titbabbler building a nest in a shrub right next to the chalet. I never did see the nest but I presume that all the feathers and bits and bobs that were being transported into the depths of the shrub were being used to build a nest.

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17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal in Namaqualand
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:26 pm 
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Thanks salamanda and Elzet..I am pleased you enjoyed the report. :thumbs_up:

Summary.

Namaqua NP is a great place to visit during flower season. I would recommend at least 3 nights though. I should think the best time to visit NNP is at the end of August. The flowers were mostly finished in the area of Kamieskroon and Springbok but there were still plenty up at Skilpad and that is because Skilpad is higher up in the mountains. The mist has probably got something to do with that. We were a bit unlucky with the weather but that really only affected the photography side of things. It is still a truly awesome park to explore. The walking trails are really beautiful and if you feel like a day out there are many day drives that can be done from the park. Many of those roads do require a 4 x 4 though. It is worthwhile to walk the trails ..don’t be fooled by those carpets of orange daisies. Look closely and you will be amazed at what you see growing amongst the daisies.
The chalets are just perfect but I was quite amazed at how much the shrubs surrounding the chalets have grown in the past 2 years. We had chalet no1 which was lower down and therefore the bushes tended to obstruct the view a bit. No 4 was a bit higher up and therefore the view was a bit better. But really this is nit picking…the view from all the chalets is stunning. There are only 4 chalets so it is pretty peaceful and quiet.
The larger animals seemed to be a bit scarce on this trip….but we saw plenty of meerkat, yellow mongoose, dassies, 1 gemsbok and tortoises. The red hartebeest, springbok and bat-eared foxes eluded us this time round :cry: ….I won’t even mention the caracal. :twisted:

Thank you to those that have read this brief report and thanks for all the lovely comments. :D To those that have not seen the flowers this year I hope my photos have given you some idea of how spectacular the flowers are and will maybe encourage you to plan a visit next year. :thumbs_up:

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16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
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