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 Post subject: Caracal- blows the whistle on SANParks !!!-Aug 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:07 pm 
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Hmmmmm :hmz: ...I bet that got your attention...and indeed it was supposed to. :D
I just need a little while to gather my facts and my photos before I split on SANParks....
OMW..you are just so busted SANParks....just so busted indeed ................. :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal blows the whistle on SANParks !!!
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:42 pm 
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Oh... so you want me to spill the beans do you ???? :D


First of all does SANParks really think they can keep this “place “ a secret :naughty: …it may be tucked away right down near the very most southern tip of Africa…but there is no ways they can keep it a secret….not after I have been there !!!!

Can you imagine spending a night in this little chalet

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Or this one ??

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Or this ???

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Can you imagine walking out of your little chalet and chatting to this pretty little fellow….

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Or these pretty little fellows….

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And just nevermind the most spectacular things one can see on the way there….

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Oh no SANParks don’t think you can keep this a secret….. :naughty: :naughty:

Hmmm..on the other hand maybe I should keep this very special park a secret..... :hmz: ..maybe I should !!!! :D


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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal blows the whistle on SANParks !!!
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:54 pm 
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It seems I will have to tell you where we went for the weekend…otherwise somebody else will. :D

Let me start at the beginning. About two weeks before the unofficial long weekend in August I decided that we needed to go away( again :D ). The beautiful flower photos taken in Tankwa Karoo NP put the ever busy cogs in my mind in motion but of course by then Tankwa Karoo was fully booked.
:hmz: ..where else? Agulhas National Park grabbed my attention. It suddenly dawned on me that in all the years I have lived in Cape Town I have not ever set foot on the most southern tip of Africa. :shock:
I managed to get two nights at Renosterkop and one night at the new log cabins. Two different places…nevermind I thought…it will just help me on my fact finding mission. :thumbs_up:
We left on Saturday morning and took a slow meander via Caledon, Napier, Bredasdorp and Struisbaai. The countryside was truly spectacular..green wheat fields interspersed with bright yellow patches being that of the flowering canola fields.

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There was a definite chill in the air…I guess the snow on the mountains could be blamed for that.

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My booking form informed me that we had to check in at reception which is in Main Rd Agulhas. The offices in actual fact are just below the car park at the lighthouse. You cannot miss them.
Here a very friendly and efficient Betsie checked us in. She gave us perfect instructions on where to find Renosterkop as well as showing us on a map. We in actual fact had to backtrack a bit out of Struisbaai and take a turning left to Elim/Die Dam, thereafter another left and after a couple of kms we found the gate to Renosterkop with this plaque just outside the gate.

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The gate is locked but we were given a key. In other words it really is only for overnight visitors.

As we drove along the dirt road a Black Harrier came to welcome us….of course my long lens was still in the boot. :evil: It was my best ever sighting of a Black Harrier. I was beginning to like this place. :thumbs_up: Renosterkop consists of three cottages only( see photos on first page)….I suspect we had the smallest one.
But it certainly was adequate.

Imagea dinky little kitchen with a tray on the table all set for tea and coffee. All I had to do was put the kettle on

The kitchen was equipped with a fireplace…

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as well as a portable stainless braai that could be wheeled outside.

A dinky little bedroom with two single beds….

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The wheelchair friendly bathroom had an enormous shower...I am sure that anybody wheelchair bound would be perfectly comfortable in this unit.

The unit is solar-powered with gas fridge, geyser and two-plate burner.. I did see some plugpoints but did not have the need to use them.
After a quick unpack I was off to explore. By now it was past 16h00 and the wind was really nippy. Birds that popped up on my walk were Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Robin, Malachite Sunbird, Wattled Starlings, Pied Starlings, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Francolin, Fiscal Flycatcher, Hadeda, Cape Crow, Grassbird and Cape Batis.

Image Grassbird.

Image Streaky-headed Canary.

Image Fiscal Flycatcher.

Image Malachite Sunbird.

I also met up with three scruffy looking sheep.

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Once you have arrived at Renosterkop there are no more roads for you drive on….one can walk and walk and walk though.. :D There is plenty of bush clearing going on at present…I suspect it may be bushes that were burnt in the fires that are being cleared. All in all a very peaceful place to be …..it gets my vote anytime.

To be continued.


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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal blows the whistle on SANParks !!!
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:10 pm 
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It soon got very nippy and windy in the late afternoon so that put paid to my photographic excursions around Renosterkop. We lit the fire early and I sat like a proper old granny crocheting “granny squares” in front of the fire. I thought it quite appropriate that the blanket I am crocheting for the poor folk in Welkom KTP should be made in another SANPark….hopefully I will get it finished on my trip to Namaqualand next week. It has become known as my “sanparks blanket”

We were not in too much of a hurry to get up the next morning. The sun was shining but the grass was very wet with dew so that sort of ruled out a morning walk. Once up and about we decided to explore the surrounding countryside. I know we are not supposed to talk too much about non-SANParks related things but I think in this case it is relevant. Exploring the surrounds is very much part of a visit to Agulhas NP…at least in my opinion it is. We decided to meander our way to Bredasdorp and visit the Shipwreck Museum.

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This museum is the only one of it’s kind in South African and displays and extensive collection of artefacts from wrecked ships along the coast. Not only that there are a couple of rooms dislaying old kitchen ware, furniture from wrecked ships as well as a bedroom displaying bedroom furniture, clothes etc. There is a shed outdoors displaying an old fire-engine, horse drawn hearses and carriages and a couple of old farm implements.This museum is not to be missed…it is extremely interesting and I really felt like I had stepped back in time. When I was outside I heard the adjacent church bells strike 12….now when last had I heard that. Oh the wonders of being in a small town. :D

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After the museum we decided to find our ourselves some lunch….our search ended in Napier…
Here we found the most delightful restaurant

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Which produced some really good food and some really interesting décor

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Well satisfied we meandered back to Renosterkop.

I could not resist a quick photo shoot of the canola fields. I was finding it very difficult to find a scene that did not have any electricity pylons or telephones poles in it so eventually I decided that I would just have to keep them in my photo...if you cannot beat them join them.

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We enjoyed a really pleasant drive back and once again I went walking around Renosterkop. Photographing the white chalets was quite challenging..the sun always seemed to be in the wrong place :evil: but I persevered anyway.

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Eventually I was frozen to the bone and my fingers had no feeling left in them.
Again we settled in front of the fire…a bit like “Ouma en Oupa sit op die stoep” and once again I crocheted myself into a coma…and of course Doug did what he does best…he produced a braai of note.


Last edited by Caracal on Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal blows the whistle on SANParks !!!
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:17 am 
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8 August.

Again we had a bit of a lazy morning but we did have to be out of the cottage by 10h00
Seeing that we could only check into our next chalet at 14h00 we decided to go on a voyage of discovery again. Instead of turning right when we left Renosterkop we turned left and followed the signposts to Brandfontein. This road is a cul de sac. Obviously Brandfontein is private property but if you keep left you end up at a beautiful beach.
Again we pretty much had the beach to ourselves apart from a few fishermen. We went for a walk along the beach…

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And then I spotted the Oystercatchers :clap: ..but I only had my short lens with me. :( It always happens …..when I have my short lens slung over my shoulder the birds really come out and taunt me. :evil: Doug’s look said it all though…No he was not going back to the car for my long lens…No he was not going to guard the birds while I went back to the car to get my long lens…..You do not have to photograph every blessed bird you see !!!! :evil:
Well I do :tongue: …but sometimes I cannot :( ….. so the Oystercatchers, White-fronted Plovers, Cape Wagtails and Kelp Gulls went unphotographed !

But as it always happens it was time to move on….we had to hand in our key at reception by 13h00 and we still wanted to take a drive to Elim


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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal blows the whistle on SANParks !!!
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:30 pm 
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As promised...a bit more.... :D

We continued with our explorations towards Elim. What a quaint village..and it happens to be the oldest village in the Strandveld, founded by Moravian Missionaries in 1824. The photographic opportunities are endless…but we were just on a quick drive through….

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I am not done with Elim… I need to explore it some more. :thumbs_up:

We backtracked to Agulhas with a quick stop at Struisbaai harbour…what an idyllic scene…I am not done with Struisbaai harbour either… :D

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Eventually we arrived at Sanparks reception, handed in our key from Renosterkop and checked in for our new destination…the chalets at Agulhas NP Rest Camp.

But the lighthouse grabbed my attention. One has a perfect view of it from Reception.

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We decided to visit the lighthouse…
The entrance fee to the lighthouse is not covered by your wildcard but paying R17.00 will give you entry to 71 steps of sheer torture. :big_eyes:
Previous lighthouses that I have visited had spiral metal staircases that can be climbed with ease…not this one! :evil:
The steps consist of wooden stepladders that are almost vertical with nothing much to hang onto. I am afraid I did not fair very well…I bashed the back of my head which then led to me bashing my forehead on the ladder…my knees were wobbling…I was hyperventilating…and when I saw the final few steps I opted out!!! Too many people in too small a place… :evil: I no longer needed that photograph from the top of the lighthouse!!!
Needless to say I am done with the lighthouse !!!! :evil:
By the way this is the second oldest working lighthouse in Southern Africa…just an interesting little fact for those of you that wish to visit 71 steps of hell !!!
Once outside the lighthouse I pulled myself together and took the most amazing out of focus photographs of the view from the lighthouse…. :roll: I was obviously still shaking more than I cared to admit. I am seriously done with that lighthouse. :evil: :evil:

As we drove along the coastline I calmed down somewhat. We stopped to photograph this shipwreck

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This wreck is that of a Japanese ship, Meisho Maru 38, which ran aground in 1982. All 17 crew members managed to swim safely to shore. Looking at this wreck made me realise how important lighthouses are and made me little more forgiving of the 71 steps of hell…I am still done with the lighthouse though !!!

At last we arrived at our little destination….and OMW how awesome is this rest camp.
SANParks you have really done yourselves proud. A beautiful log cabin :dance: …I must admit I am partial to wooden cabins…. :D

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A well- planned kitchen/lounge stocked with everything that you should require…again a very well stocked tea tray awaited us!!!

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A super bathroom….again we had the wheelchair friendly chalet…

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And a bedroom…..

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(to be continued)


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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal blows the whistle on SANParks !!!
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:43 pm 
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You pose a difficult question Indiajane.... :D
Some things to consider...Renosterkop is cheaper than the sea facing chalets.
Both accommodations were great..Renosterkop took me back in time ( only solar electricity and gas)...the sea chalets brought me right back to the present( electricity , microwave, TV). I enjoy walking and exploring...I found Renosterkop more enjoyable in that respect...more birds,caterpillars flowers trees etc. Bearing in mind I walk with my camera and "enjoyable" to me means that there are more photographic opportunities.
I am more of a landlubber than a sea-farer so I think the smell of the bush excites me more than the smell of the sea air. It was a beautiful day when we arrived at the sea chalets but the next morning we woke up to rain...it was misty and cold. Although the sea chalets overlook the sea there is still a little walk to get to the "beach". One just has to follow the tar road which then becomes a gravel road. I do not think the sea in that area is good for swimming but if you have kids with you they would definitely enjoy exploring the rocks. The road to the sea chalets is only for overnight visitors and the road becomes a dead end there. But when down at the beach one encounters many people/ fishermen that I think have walked from nearby Pebbles beach. Whereas at Renosterkop you should only meet up with the folk staying at Renosterkop. A very difficult choice..why not try to spend one night in each place... :D :D


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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal blows the whistle on SANParks !!!
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:29 am 
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This is very cool!!!

I've had the privilege to "move around" the Agulhas National Park "freely" in 2008 - before they did anything to Renosterkop. It seems that they did a great job with it.

For reference, this is what it looked like in 2008 before any renovations.

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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal blows the whistle on SANParks !!!
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:07 pm 
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As usual it didn’t take us long to unpack and after a quick bite to eat I was off on my voyage of discovery. :thumbs_up: I was undecided as to which lens to put on my camera but opted for the short lens..for once I tried to forget about the birds ! :roll:
It is a short easy walk down to the beach.
Along the way I spotted a few flowers….

Image Katnaels ( I think) as well as some or other yellow daisies.

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I walked down to the lagoon..very peaceful indeed…

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Across the lagoon one can see “ Lagoon House” . This also belongs to SANParks and it must be awesome( if you are a group of people) to stay there. All in all there are 4 bedrooms and it has the most amazing 270° seaview.

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Of course on the way down to the beach I had seen plenty of birds….Brimstone Canaries bathing in a puddle in the road, Cape Bulbuls, Cape Wagtails to mention but a few.

Around the lagoon I spotted White-fronted plovers, Cormorants and Oyster Catchers. But it was only this gull that was close enough to capture.

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I decided to walk back up to the house to fetch my long lens.
A front view of one of the chalets.

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Of course once I had fetched my long lens all the little birds had disappeared into thin air. :evil:
I had to make do with Cape Wagtails bathing in the puddle…the Brimstone Canaries were nowhere to be found.

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Down at the lagoon I managed to get a White-fronted Plover….can they race along the sand at one almighty speed !!!! :shock:

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The oystercatchers as well as the cormorants had disappeared. But I managed a pic of what I thought was a Hartlaub’s Gull at the time but now I think it may be a Grey-headed Gull because when I zoom in on the photo it seems to have a light eye.

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It was getting a bit misty and hazy down at the beach and I was convinced I heard the kettle calling…. :wink:
After spying on the fishermen I decided to walk back up to the chalet…

Image.


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 Post subject: Re: A Caracal blows the whistle on SANParks !!!
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:36 pm 
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Ah ....thank you LizzieO, Anne-marie, Micetta, Vlakvarkvrou and Dotty...together you make a wonderful page turning team !!!! :D :thumbs_up:


And to continue!

I enjoyed a good cup of tea on the balcony. It was chilly but there is nothing better than a good fresh sea breeze to blow the cobwebs out of one’s brain.
Once again the birds were taunting me….White-backed mousebirds and a Bar-throated Apalis stayed out of my reach but I was thrilled when a Bokmakierie sat on a bush right under my nose.

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He did not sit still for long ..he was in search of a late afternoon snack. He disappeared into the depths of the bushes but soon reappeared with a caterpillar in his beak.

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He must have done this about 12 times and each time he caught a caterpillar he had to sit and eat it right on top of a bush for all to see.
The Cape Bulbuls were vying for my attention as well.

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One by one the birds disappeared..the sun was setting…it made for a beautiful, tranquil scene .

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I was just about to pack my cameras away when I heard a bird chirping right next to me….it was a Grassbird. I have never seen a Grassbird so close before. It was fairly dark by now but I grabbed my camera , upped the ISO and took my final photo for the day.

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Again we ended our day with a braai…..

I was up fairly early the next morning because I wanted to get some last minute photos before we had to vacate the chalet at 10h00.

Much to my dismay it had rained sometime through the night….it was cloudy , chilly and overcast..and the blessed wind was blowing !!!

A quick photo of the view from our balcony….

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And a quick shot of a Brimstone Canary

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Before we knew it it was time to say goodbye to our seaside chalet…..the miserable weather made it a bit easier to leave though.

We stopped at the beacon demarcating the most Southern Tip of Africa …..

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The wind was almost blowing me over so it was a very quick photoshoot . On the way back to the car I took a photo of the lighthouse…..

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Such a dismal looking lighthouse compared to the photos I got the previous day….

And then we hit the road home….

I am absolutely enchanted with Agulhas NP…I cannot believe that we have not explored this area till now. The SANParks accommodation was topnotch … :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up: .

And although I am done with that %^$&* lighthouse :evil: I am not done with Agulhas NP. :whistle:

Thanks again to all that have read and commented on my trip report :D :clap:


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