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 Post subject: Dikkop Round trip South Africa Mar 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:27 pm 
Hi everybody

I’m a reader of the forum since many years and a regular visitor to KNP and KTP and more seldom to the smaller parks in South Africa.

Thanks to a lot of luck and a lot of work I will be able to interrupt my every day live and travel two month through South Africa. I will stay most times in National Parks in chalets or bungalows or in guest houses for a stop over. All accommodation in the parks is booked and confirmed. My rented car is a Nissan X-Trail 2x4, I’m travelling alone (that’s part of the recreation) and I’m absolutely excited!

Here is my schedule:

18 March: Flight from Zurich to Johannesburg
19 March: Johannesburg to Kuruman for a stop over
20 March: Kuruman to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Twee Rivieren for 3 nights
23 March: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Nossob for 2 nights
25 March: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Mata Mata for 3 nights
28 March: Augrabies Falls National Park for 2 nights
30 March: Clanwilliam for a stop over
31 March: West Coast National Park (Duinepos) for 3 nights
3 April: Cape Town for 6 nights
9 April: Wilderness National Park for 3 nights
12 April: Tsitsikamma National Park for 3 nights
14 April: Addo National Park, Matyholweni for 2 nights
16 April: Addo National Park, Addo Main Camp for 2 nights
18 April: Bloemfontein for a stop over
19 April: Golden Gate National Park, Glen Reenen for 3 nights
22 April: Giants Castle Game Reserve for 3 nights
25 April: Durban for 2 nights
27 April: St. Lucia for 3 nights
30 April: Umfolozi Game Reserve for 3 nights
3 May: Hluhluwe Game Reserve for 3 nights
6 May: Nelspruit for a stop over
7 May: Kruger National Park, Crocodile Bridge for 2 nights
9 May: Kruger National Park, Olifants for 3 nights
12 May: Kruger National Park, Satara for 4 nights
16 May: Kruger National Park, Skukuza for 5 nights

What do you think? Should I learn how to write a TR after my return? I don’t take my laptop with me (that’s also part of the recreation) but I will write a diary (by hand!) and my camera is always with me…

I’m looking forward to my round trip through South Africa.

dikkop :D


Last edited by dikkop on Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:56 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Round Trip Through South Africa
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:42 pm 
Hi everybody

I’m back! My two month stay in South Africa was amazing and I’m still trying to handle the huge mass of memories, experiences and of course photos and come back to my “normal live” at the same time.

In a short time I will start my TR. Until now, I have no idea how to upload photos to the forum. I read a lot about that on the forum but I’m still not sure about the easiest way. There is almost too much information on the forum. But I’m confident that I will learn it over the weekend.

Only to remember, that was my planned trip:

18 March: Flight from Zurich to Johannesburg
19 March: Johannesburg to Kuruman for a stop over
20 March: Kuruman to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Twee Rivieren for 3 nights
23 March: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Nossob for 2 nights
25 March: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Mata Mata for 3 nights
28 March: Augrabies Falls National Park for 2 nights
30 March: Clanwilliam for a stop over
31 March: West Coast National Park, Duinepos for 3 nights
3 April: Cape Town for 6 nights
9 April: Wilderness National Park for 3 nights
12 April: Tsitsikamma National Park for 2 nights
14 April: Addo National Park, Matyholweni for 2 nights
16 April: Addo National Park, Addo Main Camp for 2 nights
18 April: Bloemfontein for a stop over
19 April: Golden Gate National Park, Glen Reenen for 3 nights
22 April: Giants Castle Game Reserve for 3 nights
25 April: Durban for 2 nights
27 April: St. Lucia for 3 nights
30 April: Umfolozi Game Reserve for 3 nights
3 May: Hluhluwe Game Reserve for 3 nights
6 May: Nelspruit for a stop over
7 May: Kruger National Park, Crocodile Bridge for 2 nights
9 May: Kruger National Park, Olifants for 3 nights
12 May: Kruger National Park, Satara for 4 nights
16 May: Kruger National Park, Skukuza for 5 nights
21 May: Skukuza to Johannesburg and flight to Zurich
22 May: Return home

During my trip, I met a lot of wonderful people (and some idiots as well), I managed to avoid cold fronts and heavy rainfalls and had wonderful weather, I enjoyed the beauty of the flora and fauna, I admired the big effort for nature conservation in the national parks and game reserves and mostly I appreciated to have time. There was no need to rush, a lot of time to relax and I could really dive very deeply into another world.

It was a wonderful time.

Dikkop :D


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 Post subject: Re: Round trip through South Africa - the TR begins (page 3)
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 5:15 pm 
Hi everybody

Eventually, my TR starts. Please excuse my (sometimes) bad English; I hope I will nevertheless be able to express my thoughts, my experiences and my sentiments.

I will divide the TR in different chapters and will start with the prologue.

Prologue - How everything begun

Before I start with the TR I should explain how I could spend two month travelling through South Africa. I didn’t win a lottery, I’m not rich, I have to work for my money like everybody else and normally I have barely enough time for normal holidays. So what happened?

My last job was a special one: I was employed to realize a single project and had a contract for two years. Shortly after starting this job I realized that the project was nonsense - not well planned, not necessary, too expensive and in the best case useless, in the worst case a financial disaster for my employer. After explaining that to him we found a good agreement for both of us: he stopped the project, what saved him a lot (really a lot) of money and he paid me a nice compensation for cancelling my contract untimely. Fortunately I found a new job immediately but not until July. So I was unemployed (but well paid) for three month and was absolutely relaxed because I knew that my professional (and financial) future was secured.

Now the big discussion begun: What to do with the money and what to do with the time? A lot of ideas were around: a new car, the overdue renovation of the house (and the time to supervise the workers), an extra payment on the savings account and a lot more rational thoughts. But how boring were all these ideas…

Soon a much better idea appeared. Why not take the money and the time and spend some time travelling? I realized how much I was in need of recreation. My work-life-balance was definitely not in a good balance over the last years. But could I really be so selfish and travel alone (of course nobody else had two month time spontaneously)?

A lot more discussions started and eventually even my SO forced me to see this special situation as a wink and that I should look for the place on earth were I would like to travel mostly, don’t think about him or the new job and just go.

Finally, I accepted my fate…

As I’m a regular traveller to southern Africa I soon decided to choose South Africa as my destination for two month. It’s a country that I know, where you can travel alone, a country that offers amazing national parks, wonderful landscapes and friendly people. I needed one night to work out my itinerary, to book the necessary accommodation with SANP (and a few days more with KZN Ezemvelo and some hotels and guest houses) and my excitement grew more and more… In this night I really realized how much luck I had!

The time before my journey was quite stressful – finishing the old job, preparing everything for the trip and counting days impatiently. But finally the day of my departure arrived. I worked in the morning, rushed at home, said farewell to friends and family, jumped on the train to the airport and caught the flight from Zurich to Johannesburg in the evening. I was a bit nervous, we all know what can go wrong on a flight: the flight is cancelled or delayed, the luggage flies to Hawaii instead of South Africa, you sit next to a fat, smelling and snoring passenger, the reservation for the rented car couldn’t be found anymore and other complications.

Believe it or not: nothing happened! The flight was in time, next to me sat a very slim and friendly woman, I had a seat at the emergency exit where I had a lot of space for my long legs, my luggage was one of the first that appeared on the carousel and it took only 5 minutes to pick up my rented car.

I left the underground parking at the airport in Johannesburg and the journey begun…


To be continued…

Dikkop :D


Last edited by dikkop on Sat Jun 04, 2011 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Round trip through South Africa - the TR begins (page 3)
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:40 pm 
O.k., I understand that you are impatient... But don't start fighting for the places in the first row, there is a seat for everybody on this TR. So I will at least finish the prologue today.

Prologue (2) - on the road

I left Johannesburg at 11.00 am. It was a cloudy and cool morning (it was the 19 March) what I thought would be fine for the long drive to Kuruman, where I had a reservation in a guest house. Shortly after leaving Johannesburg I realized that it must have rained like hell the days before: The N14 wasn't a national road anymore but a national river. Long stretches of the road were filled with water so deep that I lost control over my car a few times - I had to teach my car how to swim! :big_eyes: But that wasn't enough: There were so many road works, detours and road blocks that I nearly went mad. :wall: To make it worse, many of the traffic signs were blown or washed away so in some places nobody knows where to drive (sorry, swim). So I needed a lot more time than expected. And of course I was absolutely tired after the flight in the night and the long drive. I hoped to reach Kuruman during daylight but I couldn't make it. I had to drive the last hour in absolut darkness and the last 140 km from Vryburg to Kuruman were endless. Cows appeared on the road, people drove like crazy and I had some difficulties to find my accommodation in Kuruman. But eventually I arrived... :dance:

But another surprise waited for me: The owner of the guest house welcomed my very friendly only to tell me that my room was ready but unfortunately it has running water only until 9:00 pm (it was 8:30!) and it won't return until the next morning 10:00 am. So if I want to take a shower, I should have it immediately. In the morning I have to use water from a bucket and of course he can't prepare any breakfast for me in the morning. Normally I would complain :rtm: or leave the place and look for another accommodation, but I was so tired that I accepted the room without running water and without a chance for breakfast in the next morning. At least the room was clean and tidy, so I took a fast shower and felt in my bed. I think I slept before I touched the mattress...

The next morning I felt well-rested, left the guest house early (without breakfast :( ) and reached Upington quite early. I did the necessary shopping and left Upington in a northerly direction. Kgalagadi, I'm on my way! :dance:

Two and a half hour later, in the early afternoon, I finally reached the reception in Twee Rivieren. I checked in, occupied my chalet, had a coffee or two and started for my first short game drive. That was the moment when my holiday really begun.

And what happened in the Kgalagadi? You will read it in the next chapter (and you will see a lot of photos as well) :cam:

Dikkop :D


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 Post subject: Re: Round trip through South Africa - the TR begins (page 3)
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:43 pm 
Chapter 1
Kgalagadi - Animals for a second


The first game drive was only a short one to Leudrill. It was wonderful to see the landscape (green, green, green), to smell and to breathe the air of the Kalahari and to see some animals as well. It took only a short time and my adrenaline and my pulse came back to a normal level.

My first animal in the park:

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And this kori bustard gave me a good foretaste how difficult it will be to spot animals after all the rain in the last summer:

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I could watch this family of ostriches for a long time. They enjoyed their dustbath!

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The secretary bird looked for some food...

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and the springbok enjoyed the fresh green gras in the warm afternoon:

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I drove back to my chalet, lit a fire for my braai, prepared my dinner and opened a can of ice cold beer... I know, that sounds not very "ladylike", but it's the way I like it...

The day endet with this view and a very happy dikkop was looking forward to 9 days in KTP :dance:

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Dikkop :D


Last edited by dikkop on Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Round trip through South Africa - Chapter 1: KTP (page 4
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:41 pm 
Chapter 1
Kgalagadi - Animals for a second (2)


This trip to KTP was my third one so I knew a bit where to drive, what to do and what to expect. But of course there were a lot of surprises as well.

I spent 3 nights in Twee Rivieren, 2 nights in Nossob and 4 nights in Mata Mata. I will tell a bit about the camps and describe some experiences but most of all I will show some photos.

Something very well known was the problem with the bats in the chalets in Twee Rivieren. Already in the first night I wasn't alone in my room... I'm not scared of bats (actually, I like them) but I don't like the droppings in my bed. Thats one reason why I travel always with my mosquitonet. I don't like to share my bed with any critters and creepers or even the droppings of any animal. So I fix my net in every chalet and sleep very comfortable and well protected under it. And so I listened to the wing beat of the bats and slept deep and unworried.

Some photos taken around Twee Rivieren:

A pygmy falcon

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Then the first lion...

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joining his family...

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and carrying the rest of his dinner into the high grass.

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Some red hartebeest and some oryx...

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and a friendly ostrich that made himself a bit smaller to fit into the picture...

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and of course a lot of raptors. A steppe buzzard (not sure) ...

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and a very close tawny eagle.

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The shop in Twee Rivieren is always a bit special. The staff isn't really unfriendly, but they don't talk - no hello, no good bye, it's always a very silent shopping... My neighbours for the first two days were a bit strange as well. It was a middle aged couple. As the woman realized that I was travelling alone she asked me with a very worried facial expression: Are you o.k.??? I don't know what she expectet - a crying lonely woman or some kind of a witch but definitely not a happy and self confident woman... As I tried to explain that we live in the 21st century and women are allowed to travel without a man she looked quite scared - perhaps because I wrecked her view of the world ? :wink:

This martial eagle has definitely the right view of the world...

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To be continued... with more cats (visible and unvisible...) :hmz:

Dikkop :D


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 Post subject: Re: Round trip through South Africa - Chapter 1: KTP (page 4
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:06 pm 
Chapter 1
Kgalagadi - Animals for a second (3)


After 3 days I left Twee Rivieren and moved to Nossob. With every kilometer to the north the grass was higher and higher. In Twee Rivieren it was high enough to cover a kori bustard, close to Nossob it was high enough to cover an oryx...

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Sometimes it was like driving through a tunnel: the very deep roads and the very high grass made it extremly difficult to spot animals. Difficult, but not impossible! A secretary bird with some food and a special hair style...

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and than two kinds of road blocks that I like very much:

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Not only that the grass was higher around Nossob it was also extremly hot these days. So the lions became more and more lazy...

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But before everybody falls asleep - this sighting will wake you up...

First hidden in the grass...

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than observing all the cars...

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and finally leaving the scene quite unimpressed.

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Lions, cheetahs, ... whats about the third of the big cats? Will KTP deliver a leopard for me as well?

Who knows... :huh:

To be continued...

Dikkop :D


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 Post subject: Re: Round trip through South Africa - Chapter 1: KTP (page 4
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:05 pm 
Chapter 1
Kgalagadi - Animals for a second (4)


Before I disclose the secret about the leopard, some comments about the camp in Nossob. The welcome at the reception was very warm and friendly, I was greeted with: Nice to have you back! My last visit is three years ago so I was pleasantly surprised that the guy at the reception still remembered me. It was really hot in Nossob, the temperature in my chalet in the night was 29° C… I would really appreciate if SANP could install fly screens in front of the windows (like in Kruger) to allow you to leave the windows open even with all the insects that were around. But I won’t complain about the heat - I like high temperatures more than low ones (freezing is something that I can do at home…) and nothing is better than sitting in your car at a waterhole in the shadow of a tree, being lazy because of the heat and enjoying the luxury of having time to sit there for an hour or two.

And I had some strange neighbours in Nossob as well: At the first evening I had to listen to my neighbours to the left how they talked about the “good old times in Rhodesia…” and remembered the times when live was easy and you could identify by the colour of the skin if somebody was a guest or a member of the staff… :evil: I was thinking about arguing with them but I realized soon that I won’t change these people. And as I looked a bit closer I saw that this problem will be solved in a natural way shortly. They were definitely older than 80 years. :whistle: So I relaxed and listened to the barking geckos instead. Definitely more intelligent creatures…

But don’t think that I had only strange neighbours in KTP: The last evening in Nossob I had a wonderful chat with a South African family about our sightings during the day, we had the same sense of humour and we all were grateful that we could be at this wonderful place. And we shared some cans of beer as well… :roll:

But I won’t keep you in suspense any longer, here comes the leopard!!! :dance:

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You can’t see it? That was my problem as well… :huh:

I swear an oath that there is a leopard in the grass under this tree. I saw it for a second (and people in two other cars as well) and than he laid down and wasn’t seen anymore. We waited for a long time but nothing happened. And this short glimpse was my only leopard in KTP this time. :wall:

And this episode was typical for my time in KTP and is the reason for the title of this chapter: Animals appeared on or next to the road for a second and disappeared in the high grass immediately afterwards. I saw many animals only for a second and couldn’t grab my camera fast enough, so I have only memories of bat eared foxes, hyenas, suricates, jackals...

But in some cases I had good luck:

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After two days in Nossob I moved to Mata Mata. I saw more animals around Mata Mata, but the problem with the high grass was nearly the same as in Nossob. All animals stuck to the rule that they have to disappear after a second.

All animals? No, not all… :naughty:

To be continued…

Dikkop :D


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 Post subject: Re: Round trip through South Africa - Chapter 1: KTP (page 4
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:33 pm 
Chapter 1
Kgalagadi - Animals for a second (5)


In Mata Mata I stayed in one of the new River Front Chalets. They are really wonderful - a lot of space in the chalet, a large veranda and a lot of privacy. The distance between the chalets is so big that you don’t see your neighbours (but sometimes hear them). The small new waterhole in front of the chalets was nothing special, I saw no animals there. And in the front of the camping area was still a lot of water (and animals as well) so during my stay there was no reason to be jealous. Unfortunately, the chalets are already a bit damaged and not well maintained. The entrance door was scratching the floor with every move, a tap was loose and other smaller damages. I reported it at the reception and hope that everything will be repaired, but my concern is more that this shows some kind of carelessness. Normally it should not be necessary that the guests report these things, the staff itself should notice a scratching door - they use it every day during the cleaning of the accommodation…

The shop in Mata Mata is like we know it - not very well stocked and no fresh products. That’s o.k. for me, I knew that in advance and brought everything with me. And in my opinion it can stay like that, it is quite impossible to transport fresh food up to Mata Mata every day. Only one advice: SANP should be honest and write on the homepage that you can’t expect too much of the shops. Instead of that I read this on the homepage:

Shops in Twee Rivieren, Mata-Mata and Nossob sell commodities that you would find in your local supermarket, including fresh meat, milk, cheese, eggs, bread, wine and beer.

This information is definitely not correct and could confuse and disappoint first comers. :wall:

But all this didn’t spoil my stay in Mata Mata. I enjoyed the comfort of my chalet, read a lot of good books, sat on the veranda listening to the birds and of course went out for game drives every morning at gate opening times and again in the afternoon as long as possible.

As already mentioned, it was difficult to watch game around Mata Mata as well. But I had some good sightings. A rednecked falcon (a first for me):

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More cute chicks...

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and springbok in the warm afternoon light

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Most of the animals showed themselves only for a few seconds with the exception of...

CHEETAHS! :dance:

I've never seen so many cheetahs in KTP like this year. There was no day in Mata Mata where I missed them. Unfortunately not at a kill, but only observing these elegant animals walking through the grass or in the road was amazing. Some examples:

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O.k, I won't bore you with cheetahs any longer...

After 4 wonderful days in Mata Mata my stay in KTP came to an end. I saw not as many animals as in former years, but I had a wonderful time. Even if there was no spectacular or dramatic event (no story like “7 lions chasing 3 springbok right through my kitchen” or stuff like that) KTP was exactly what I needed after a lot of stress and trouble at home. I calmed down during sitting at a waterhole, drinking my coffee and reading a book while waiting for the animals to come for a drink. I slept a lot (something that I missed sadly the months before) and enjoyed the immeasurable luxury of this journey: really having a lot of time…

So I left KTP and hit the road for the next chapter: Augrabies National Park

To be continued...

Dikkop :D


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 Post subject: Re: Round trip through South Africa - Chapter 1: KTP (page 4
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:30 pm 
Hi everybody

Thanks a lot to everybody for your friendly words. I appreciate every comment. :clap:

I left Mata Mata in the early morning, had a wonderful last drive through KTP and left the park in Twee Rivieren. There was no fuel at the filling station and a lot of angry people... :evil: I reached Upington with the last drops of fuel around midday, stocked up my supplies and drove further to Augrabies National Park.

Chapter 2
Augrabies National Park - in the heat of the day


My last (and only) visit to Augrabies is nearly 15 years ago. So I was really interested if the park was like I remembered it. I arrived in the early afternoon and the first impression was: It's HOT! :tongue: The thermometer showed 37° C in the shade and who has been to Augrabies knows that there isn't much shade... But the landscape was wonderful and after unpacking and drinking a cold coke I walked from my chalet to the falls. I saw the photos of the falls during the floods in January and February and was quite curios how high the water will be.

Of course the falls weren't as big as one or two month ago, but they were still impressive:

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As impressive as the falls were the damages that you still could see everywhere in the park, mainly around the falls:

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It was so hot this afternoon and didn't cool down in the evening that even having a braai (with a lot of very cold beer) made me sweat. But despite the heat I was strong-wild to hike the dassie trail in the morning, so I set my alarm clock half an hour before sunrise and used the aircondition for the first time in the night on this journey. In the night I listened to really strong thunderstorms around the camp and was curios how the trail will look the next day....

To be continued...

Dikkop :D


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 Post subject: Re: Round trip South Africa - Chapter 2: Augrabies (page 6)
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:14 pm 
Chapter 2
Augrabies National Park - in the heat of the day (2)


I left my chalet in the next morning at 7 o’clock and it was already quite warm. The thunderstorms in the night brought no cooling-down. The air was humid and the sky was blue – so I knew it will be a hot day again… :tongue:

I started the dassie trail and was accompanied by some baboons and of course some dassies. I met only two other people at the beginning of the trail, the rest of the trail I could enjoy the nature and the silence by my own. The landscape is awesome – a lot of rocks, small streams, plants that manage to survive in this dry environment and again and again the view in deep gorges. Unbelievable how powerful water can be…

The trail is not very strenuous, but you have to be able to jump over stones in the rivers, sometimes you have to use your hands while climbing over bigger rocks, but you don’t have to overcome great heights. The trail is very well marked so you can’t get lost. Nevertheless I would recommend telling your neighbours or the reception that you are on the trail and report when you are back, especially if you hike alone. Some of the stones in or next to the streams are slippery and after a thunderstorm you really can’t avoid to get wet feet. I needed 2 hours to hike the trail, plus some time to rest or to take photos.

Some impressions of the trail:

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At last some good pieces of advice for the trail:

- Start as early as possible, especially in the summer. There is no shade during the trail and it will be really hot during the day.
- The sun is exactly behind you in the morning, so protect your neck with a lot of sun lotion.
- There are a lot of insects around and you have to cross some patches of reed, so wear long trousers and protect yourself with a lot of insect repellent.
- Take a lot of water with you, at least 2 litres. You will need it.
- Do it. It’s a wonderful trail and worth the effort. And if you do it in the morning you have a good excuse to be lazy the rest of the day…

I returned to my chalet at 9:30 and the thermometer showed already 30° C. And it climbed up to 42° C in the afternoon. So I spend the rest of the day reading, relaxing and watching the dassies and lizards in front of my chalet. It was definitely too hot for more activities…

And I planned the trip for the next days: Driving southwards, a stopover in Clanwilliam and then: West Coast National Park!

To be continued…

Dikkop :D


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 Post subject: Re: Round trip South Africa - Chapter 2: Augrabies (page 6)
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:33 pm 
Sorry for the week long interruption but the everyday live kept me on my toes…

Chapter 3
West Coast National Park – Never trust the weather forecast


I left Augrabies in the morning of 30 March 2011 and had a long, easy drive to Clanwilliam. No road works, no potholes, no rain, no events. I arrived in Clanwilliam in the afternoon and enjoyed the amenities of a hotel for one night. To beat the boredom in the evening (no animals to listen, no neighbours to chat, no fire to light… :( ) I switched on the TV, listened to the news and to the weather forecast. And the weather prophet said a lot of bad words like “cold front”, “heavy rainfalls”, “strong winds” and more stuff that nobody wants to hear :rtm: . But I was not worried; I knew that I couldn’t expect to have sunshine during my whole trip. And cold weather at the sea is something that I’m very used to. I grew up in the northern part of Germany and my family spent every holiday and every long weekend at the North Sea. I have a lot of photos of myself as a small child, wearing a bright yellow rain coat, bright yellow rain boots and a bright yellow rain hat, carrying a small bucket and a small spade and building happily small sandcastles at the beach – often in the pouring rain…

So I unpacked my rain clothes, had a long sleep in the hotel and started the next morning, curios what the coast will offer to me. The morning in Clanwilliam was still friendly and I decided to drive to Lamberts Bay and then the coast southwards to WCNP. The closer I came to Lamberts Bay, the more fog appeared. Sometimes I couldn’t drive faster than 20 km/h. As I arrived in Lamberts Bay there was fog and mist and you could barely see further then 20 metres. Believe it or not, but I really had difficulties to find Birds Island! But eventually I found it and visited the island in this very special mood that is created by dense fog: everything is silent, a bit unreal, the sound of the waves in the background and nobody else around than me…

I tried to capture this mood with some photos:

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I left Lamberts Bay and drove this small private road that leads to the south directly at the coast. Still a bit unreal: you couldn’t see the sea but it was very close. At least you could hear it. Later I returned to the public roads and made short stops in Elands Bay, Paternoster and Langebaan. And with every kilometer that I came closer to the park, the weather became better and better :dance: . My lunch in Paternoster was already at a sunny beach and in Langebaan all the clouds were gone… I entered the park and drove straight to my accommodation, the Duinepos Chalets. These chalets are really a gem: very simple, but well equipped and maintained, nicely decorated and (at least my one) hidden in the high reeds. So you have the sound of thousands of birds the whole day and you hear no cars, no other people, nothing.

Here are some photos of my chalet:

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In the evening I had a wonderful braai (it was really a relief after the heat in Augrabies to be forced to wear a light jacket in the evening), planned my activities for tomorrow and was curios if the weather prophet was right or not. I was prepared for nearly everything!

To be continued…

Dikkop :D


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 Post subject: Re: Round trip South Africa - Chapter 3: West Coast NP (page
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:43 pm 
Chapter 3
West Coast National Park – Never trust the weather forecast…


I woke up in the morning, expecting heavy rainfall, strong winds and a cold front. I opened one eye – could it be…? I opened my second eye and saw… blue sky and sunshine… :huh: O.K., there were some clouds at the horizon, but it looked like a perfect day for a hike or two. So I put on my hiking boots, left my chalet with my raincoat in my backpack and drove to the visitor centre, where I get very useful information about the day hikes in the park and received a small map. You are allowed to walk short parts of the two day hike that starts at the visitor centre. I walked approximately 7 km of the trail south of the visitor centre. It’s a very easy trail, no heights, the trail is well marked and I was surprised how much game I could see. A lot of eland (very close), kudu, ostriches, red hartebeest and of course thousands of birds. You walk through dune vegetation that hides a lot of birds, so you don’t see all the birds but you hear them constantly. I met no other people; it was absolute quiet and peaceful.

Some pictures of this hike:

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In the afternoon (after a lunch in my chalet) I drove to Tsaarsbank and spent hours walking at the absolutely amazing beach, watching the seabirds, fighting against the wind and soaking up the sun – still no rain, no cold front…

Some photos:

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Some pictures of the lagoon as well:

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The next morning the same: no rain, no cold front… :clap: So I put on my hiking boots again, walked the trail around the Duinepos Chalets which is a little bit more demanding because you walk up and down through the dunes and sometimes through soft sand. But it is still an easy walk, very relaxing and really a delight for all senses – the fresh, salty air, the sounds of the birds and the endless horizon… The rest of the day I visited all the bird hides in the park. It’s a bit challenging to find out the right time because it depends on the tide how far away the birds are. There are actually only one or two hours per day where the birds are so close to the hide that you can take good photos. So it is very advisable to pick up a tide table at the visitor centre before you start. An exception is the hide at the waterhole at Abrahamskraal, this isn’t a tidal pool, so you can watch birds the whole day and for me it was very productive.

Some photos taken from the hides:

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West Coast National Park was a new park for me and I can really recommend it. It may be more exciting during the flower season, but even out of this season it is a wonderful place. I didn’t see many people, most of them behaved well (around Kraalbai I met some speeding idiots, but in the other areas of the park it was absolutely quiet) and you can spend two or three days in the park hiking, bird watching, sunbathing and reading with a free concert of thousands of birds in the background. When you are in the park it is quite unbelievable that Cape Town is only 150 km away. So if anybody is unsure about visiting the park: Do it, it’s worth a visit even (or in particular?) out of the flower season.

And if the weather that I experienced in the park is called a “cold front with heavy rainfalls” I definitely want more of that – my raincoat stayed in my backpack the whole time… :dance:

I spent the last evening in front of my chalet with my braai and a good glass of south african red wine, making plans for my next step: Cape Town!

To be continued…

Dikkop :D


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