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 Post subject: Ebb & Flow - A Winter Experience
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:45 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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We returned from a 10 night camping holiday at Ebb & Flow yesterday. What an experience!!! I'll give a full report within the next few days. All that I can say at this moment is: 10 out of 10 to the facilities in this park. We camped on the bank of the Touw River in South Camp and enjoyed every moment of it - even the two days of real windy/rainy weather. The bird life is absolutely magnificent. This is paradise in the Wilderness.

But more of it later.

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 Post subject: Re: Ebb & Flow - A Winter Experience
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:30 am 
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When we left home on Thursday 5 August we did not know where we are really going to. The only decision was to drive in an easterly direction on the N2. Originally we were booked for 2 nights each in Karoo, MZNP, Addo, Storms River Mouth and Ebb & Flow. But that was cancelled when I was informed by my employer that I'll have to host some overseas colleagues from 6 - 9 August. When their visit was postponed, we decided that we will still hook the caravan but then do the route in the opposite direction as Karoo was fully booked for the long weekend. Looking at availability on the web-site, we decided not to make any reservations. What a good decision!!

We arrived at Ebb & Flow in the late afternoon on a beautiful sunny winters day. Instead of paying for 2 nights only (as originally planned), we decided to stay there for the long weekend. And to make a long story short, eventually we stayed at Ebb & Flow for all 10 nights of our short break. The reasons will follow in my next post. I firstly have to save some photos to Photobucket so that I can place them here.

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 Post subject: Re: Ebb & Flow - A Winter Experience
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:17 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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:thumbs_up: Stoffel - one of the best campsites in SA by far! We tend to favour the North camp but overall whether staying in a chalet or camping - in either section of the Park - I agree, Paradise at it's best.

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Munchkin = Our Persian Cat - Sadly Munchie no longer with us.

AGULHAS REST CAMP : Sat 14 June 2014 - Mon 16 June 2014 (Our first visit!)


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 Post subject: Re: Ebb & Flow - A Winter Experience
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:54 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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We opted for a plot with a river view in the South Camp - No 14. The first night my wife woke up when the dust-bin fell over. I slept like a baby and the few times I was slightly awake, I just listened to the calming sound of the rolling waves on Wilderness beach - maybe just more than a kilometre away. But we were woken just before sunrise by the everpresent flock of guinea fowl all around our caravan. When I got up to make us coffee, I noticed the turned-over dust-bin. And that sight greeted us most of the mornings. It was only when I went to Reception the next day to get a copy of the local bird list that I saw the notice on the counter that due to the present drought conditions, bushpigs come to the camp at night to raid the dust-bins. Talking about drought in that area - I can understand the seriousness of the condition, but it is rather uncomfortable for campers not to have any taps nearby. A decision was taken by the Eden Municipality that all taps outside of buildings should be removed. We had to walk quite a long distance to fill up our water containers at the kitchen facilities next to the one ablution block. But thanks to the drought I saw my first ever bushpigs. I was surprised by the size of them. They are really big. We watched them from the safety of the caravan each night they came to throw our dust-bin over. Unfortunately it was not possible to take pics of them. Oh well, maybe it was possible? But I was to scared to sneak onto them as the sign at Reception warns guests not to get near to them as they are very dangerous animals. When I still lived in Tzaneen I once saw a little Fox Terrier on a farm that was attacked by a bushpig. Not a pretty sight.

But the highlight of our holiday was the bird life - on the river and in the camp. Next time I'll share on it.

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 Post subject: Re: Ebb & Flow - A Winter Experience
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:27 am 
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The bird life at Ebb & Flow is great. I sat for hours each day in front of my caravan and watched the antics of the aquatic birds. Ebb & Flow South Camp has (what seems) a resident pair of Egyptian Geese. And it seems their territory stretches a way over the bridge into the North Camp side. I presume that further upstream some more Egyptian Geese inhabit the river. But to get there, they have to fly over South Camp. And boy, what a commotion every time one or two Egyptian Geese would dare to fly over. The resident pair takes off with a lot of noise, normally the female in front, and chase the intuders until they are out of sight, and come back immediately. By the way, for those who do not know, the female is the one with the loud voice (like in humans :D ) and the male has the husky voice. Probably one of the major reasons for their aggressive behaviour is the fact that it is presently the start of the breeding season. We saw the pair mating in the water. Every now and then they would come to the caravan and beg for a few bread crumbs.

The neighing quiver of the dabchicks formed a very integral part of each day. A pair of them was diving, chasing and "running" on the water each day. What a beautiful little bird. A colony of Whitebreasted Cormorants was to be seen every day. So was the little Reed Cormorants. And did both of them had a feast among the little fish in the river!! They are fantastic fish hunters. On one occasion we watched a Reed Cormorant really struggling to swallow a small eel it caught. Occasionally the odd African Darter would fly over. However, we never saw them "fishing" like the cormorants infront of our caravan.

Quite a few Grey Heron were to be seen along the river. I believe it was the same one that we saw every day near our caravan. He was a good fisherman himself (or was it a "she"), but boy, was he an opportunist. If he sees another bird catching a fish, he's like a real bully - always trying to confiscate the other one's catch. We witnessed a few good fights. But then we also saw him struggling for litterary hours to swallow a fish that was actually too big for him. A Yellowbilled Egret also visited the small island in front of our caravan from time to time. But he never stayed long.

The Hadeda Ibisses (like in the rest of South Africa nowadays) was omnipresent. I know some people don't like them because of their noisyness. But to me that is one of the typical sounds of Africa - like the pair of Fish Eagles we heard regularly but never saw nearby, except for circling very high in the air. But it was beautiful to listen to their 'kiow-kou-kou" duet. Oh well, I am privileged where I live to hear and see them from time to time. But at Ebb & Flow it was just so more special to hear them while staring over the indigenous forest against the hills on the northern side.

Yellowbilled Ducks are common on the Touw River. Many mornings we were woken by their quacking (once again - the females are the ones with the loud voices while the male only utters a hissing sound).

In the next report I'll share something more of the other bird life (away from the river) and the rare sightings we had.

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 Post subject: Re: Ebb & Flow - A Winter Experience
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:49 am 
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Unfortunately I am quite a poor photographer. Firstly I do not have the best equipment, and secondly I have not learned how to take a decent picture. I have read a lot about composure etc. Perhaps it is time that I start doing something about it. But nevertheless, a few photos will follow. And Terry, no, we did not visit any of the hides. We were just plain common lazy and experienced Ebb & Flow from the "stoep" of our caravan.

Image

Image

Image

As you can see in the first photo, the local flock of guinea fowl (or at least some them) were around the caravan most of the day. These guys are so used to being fed by the visitors (remember - this resort is seen by many visitors only as their seaside resort and not a National Park). Even if you empty a glass of water on the lawn they come running up hoping it is food. They can become a bit of a nuisance sometimes as you have to tread very cautiosly in order to miss their droppings. But the Rednecked Francolins are a pleasure to watch and especially to listen to. There is at least four different sub-races to be found in Southern Africa. If I am correct it is the castaneiventer sub-race that you find in this area.

We saw the odd Redknobbed Coot in the river in front of us, but Common Moorhens are quite common. They would come and "graze" among the water grass right in front of our caravan, but most of the time they kept in the thicket of reeds on the other side of the river. A pair of Blacksmith Plovers (or how are they called nowadays?) were also around the caravan each day. So was a few Kelp Gulls. Their sound is also one of the more beautiful bird sounds to listen to.

Image

Rock Pigeons, Redeyed- & Cape Turtle Doves were everywhere. But one of the highlights was to watch the Knysna Louries which occur in relatively large numbers. What a beautiful bird!! I was not aware that some Klaas's Cuckoo overwinter in South Africa. I always thought it is an exclusive summer visitor. But when I heard the typical sound of one, and eventually found it perched high up in a tree, I thought that this one just took an early trip to the south. It was only when I paged through my Sasol Bird Guide that I noticed some of them overwinter locally.

To me the all time highlight of my visit to Ebb & Flow was to see a pair of Narina Trogons while paddling in a canoe on the Touw River (to be rented from Eden Adventures in the Park). A variety of kingfishers can be seen. We saw Giant-, Pied- and Halfcollared Kingfishers daily. However the Malachite- & Brownhooded Kingfishers eluded us.

Next time I'll share something about another "first timer" I experienced (and my struggle to identify it).

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 Post subject: Re: Ebb & Flow - A Winter Experience
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:25 pm 
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For some or other reason my wife refers to it as a woodpecker. But African Hoopoes are also seen regularly. Beautiful to listen to their deep "hoop-hoop" sound. But the Forktailed Drongo's really crept under my skin. As with the case of the guinea fowl, one can see that these little guys are used to being fed by the holidaymakers. You will see one sitting on our dish washing rack on the top photo (previous post) like this one too:

Image

While my wife was on the computer (unfortunately she had some work to do from time to time) these two little fellows flew into the caravan to come and steal some cheese that was left over from a sandwich she enjoyed. Although not as tame as the Drongo's, the Cape bulbuls were also fairly undaunted in their actions to beg for food. So was the little Cape Wagtails that would walk right underneath your chair - not even slightly bothered by your presence.

Image

Not a single day passed without hearing (and seeing) the Blackheaded Oriole's 'pooodleeoo'. What a beautiful bird!!

In the north-eastern corner of South Camp you will always find Olive Thrushes on the lawn. On two occasions I saw the most gorgeous bird amongst the thrushes. But just a very short glimpse of it. And then one day I took my binoculars and sat off for that corner - hopeful to see it again. And luck was on my side. Very shy, it kept on trying to hide behind a branch or leaves. But fortunately my patience (which I am not known for) paid off and I could identify my first ever Chorister Robin (no photo unfortunately). Cape Robin is also seen regularly.

Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape White-eye, Fiscal Shrike and Southern Boubou also played a role in remembering the 10 days at Ebb & Flow as a bird lover's paradise. Although I never saw bokmakierie, we heard their duet everyday. It was an eye-opener to watch the craftsmanship of the Cape Weaver males, building their nests opposite Reception. It is actually unbelievable to see their skills in "knitting & weaving" their masterpieces.

I find rest for my soul in places like Kruger and Kgalagadi. But if you need rest for soul, mind and body - visit Ebb & Flow. I don't think I'll like to be there in the December/January or the Easter holiday period. But if you are in a position to visit in the off-season, you'll hardly find a better place just to switch off. Looking forward to my 43rd visit to Karoo at the end of September.

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Last edited by Stoffel on Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ebb & Flow - A Winter Experience
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:15 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Kaapsedraai wrote:
We did the hiking to the waterfalls ...... Next time, we will stay there in one of the log cabins - look so cosy.


Our first stay at Ebb & Flow (March this year) was in a Log Cabin in South Camp. We enjoyed it. We then rented a canoe from Eden Adventures (in the park) and paddled upstream till where you reach the little pontoon. From there we walked up to the waterfall with the Giant Kingfisher Trail - what a great experience! We saw bushbuck and baboon during our walk and lots of Knysna Louries.

The pontoon:
Image


The pools (where you can swim) just below the waterfall:
Image

Our log cabin:
Image

A view over Ebb & Flow (South Camp) from the Hoekwil road:
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Ebb & Flow - A Winter Experience
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:34 am 
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I am sure you recognize this :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Ebb & Flow - A Winter Experience
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:23 pm 
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I do. Yours is a much brighter picture, but look at the difference in the water colour. While we were there during our recent visit, we noticed the water becoming more clear during the 10 days we stayed.

One of the local workers told me that there's quite big sea fish in the river - spotted grunter, white steenbras and kob (kabeljou). You are allowed to fish in the river if you have the necessary permit.

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