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Goronta's Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean. Golden Gate NP, July 2014.

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Goronta
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Goronta's Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean. Golden Gate NP, July 2014.

Unread post by Goronta » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:56 pm

A long count down of 333 days and South Africa was there at only 118 km :clap: :clap: :clap:




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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:43 pm

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We were approaching Jo'burg OR Tambo airport this friday morning of july 25th after a long and quiet night flight aboard the Airbus A380.


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The plane was as usual full but you can't imagine you are 516 passengers on the two floors of this massive aircraft.
While the plane was landing I remembered my first visit to South Africa 14 years ago.
I could not believe this year would mark our 12th visit to this beautiful country becoming year after year an adoptive home.
Usual formalities, cash withdrawal (a nice rate for us from Europe this year...) a short visit to the car rental floor (again this year ,although it was a different rental compagny, we've got a Nissan, frankly speaking not my favorite carmaker but a 4x4 offered when I booked only a 2x4, then no reason to complain. :dance: )
On the road we we're ,so happy to open a one month trip from one Sanpark to another Sanpark.
This year we've chosen to visit the smallest parks of South Africa, first time visiting this country without staying in Kruger or Kgalagadi.
Was it really a good decision ? Too early to say this morning of july.
Our first stop was Golden Gate National park, first time for us and a new road to drive.
Quite easy drive of around 300 KM from Jo'burg by N3 to Harrismith and then R712 to Golden Gate Highlands National Park
" A Golden Promise".
The first landscape was really amazing :big_eyes:


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I read in the leaflet given at the reception of Glen Reenen restcamp the following :
"Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north eastern Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp."




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After reading TT on the forums,a lot of information from different sources,discussing with 'mites what a pleasure to see finally this road sign :dance: :dance: :dance:

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TBC :thumbs_up:
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august 2017: Booking done for KTP (K.K,Twee,Nossob,Gharagab Grootkolk,KTC ) and Namaqua :thumbs_up:

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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:54 pm

We arrived at the gate at around 5pm, a little bit tired after the night in the plane and the drive from Jo'burg but so excited to be on holidays in South Africa. :dance:
It was rather warm with a clear sky and a nice african sun.
Just a few kilometers to reach Glen Reenen rest camp where we will spend the next 3 nights.

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Our first sundown,Yes we were really starting our holidays ! 8)
A nice road through the hills without any car or one or two.
What a big change after Paris and Jo'burg traffic jams :big_eyes:


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Quick check in at the reception.We were allocated the cottage 28.
It was rather dark and we could feel the night will be chilly.
A little bit later we were fully asleep dreaming of all the sightings ands events we were going to experience :D
One of my first on the wishes list was this guy :

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TBC... :thumbs_up:
Carpe diem

august 2017: Booking done for KTP (K.K,Twee,Nossob,Gharagab Grootkolk,KTC ) and Namaqua :thumbs_up:

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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:17 pm

Thank you all of you to join me through a Golden gate. :clap: :clap: :clap:
We will walk slowly but surely to the Ocean ,crossing a lot of beautiful places and sharing very pleasant sightings (in a few occasions a little bit less... :big_eyes: )

anne-marie That was also my feeling to arrive on the Moon ,a "lunar landscape" rather windy,colorful,cold as you can imagine in winter,no trees or just a few in the valley. :)

Kaapsedraai, Welcome on board, I do appreciate your comments.I learnt the name of Maluti when arriving in the park. I only knew Drakensberg and didn't know the Maloti (Maluti) range was part of the Drakensberg system. :thumbs_up:

umtali1 Glad to see you could stay aboard the A380.Thanks to you I learnt two new words: wryneck and "jinx"
I hope going through a Golden gate will not put a "jinx" on me. :tongue:

MM Welcome,I was waiting for you as I was sure you will not miss a departure :k

Grantmissy Welcome and thank you for your support :gflower:

isinkwe Welcome aboard,I was wondering if you have time to be part of this trip :thumbs_up:

Carol g Welcome,the bus ,this time, is a big one (even if the Golden Gate roads are narrow),so don't worry there is always a seat for you :D

norms Welcome aboard.
Ground woodpeckers are beautiful birds and since I saw this bird for the first time in a beautiful TR by Bushbuddies (Bushbuddies's Autumn in Golden Gate: May '14), they were high on my list of wishes :D


After a long and cold night sleeping like a log we were ready for our first drive in the park.
While S.O was still in the bathroom, I went out around the cottage to see if there was any bird or animal waiting for me and my camera :cam:
It was a misty morning and the view from the camp was magic !


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Immediately I saw some movement on the roof of a nearby cootage and here she was.
Amazing the first bird I saw in the camp was the Ground woodpecker I wished so much :big_eyes:
What a lucky start !

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Not the best background with this chimney but never mind this Ground woodpecker female was there :dance:
Strange in fact : a Ground woodpecker on a roof :hmz:

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TBC :thumbs_up:
Carpe diem

august 2017: Booking done for KTP (K.K,Twee,Nossob,Gharagab Grootkolk,KTC ) and Namaqua :thumbs_up:

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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:45 pm

Thank you dear 'mites it's always a pleasure when we start a TR to see we have some passengers willing to come on board :clap: :clap: :clap:
First of all,sorry Lion queen I left you by the road yesterday when welcoming in the bus Grantmissy and Isinkwe ,sorry for that :gflower: Yes it will be and it was a golden trip and the mist every morning added a touch of mystery :D

umtali1
Thanks for your comments on the :cam:
When we look at the rocks in this park it's like reading a book of geology :think:

M. M
Ground woodpecker are so interesting.I like the way they look at you with an "arrogant" eye.
They could be an american cartoon character :thumbs_up:

Carol g

Indeed Golden gate is more a park with stunning landscapes than a game park even if, we will see, we can spot here and there some animals and birdies. :cam:


anne-marie

Yes I was lucky to see from the first morning a Ground Woodpecker.I was able to take picture of this bird twice during my stay in Golden Gate :dance:

Mellory Welcome and thanks a lot for your kind words Yes , definitely it's a place to be :thumbs_up:


Our first drive was on the Blesbok loop,a one way road of 6,7 km.
In fact it's quite easy in Golden Gate there is the main road crossing the park from eastern entrance (not far from Basotho Cultural village) to Western entrance (road to Clarens) , two loops on a nice tarred road (Blesbok and Oribi) and a lot of day trails.
The Blesbok loop is close to Glen Reenen camp.
Our first stop on this beautiful road was at Langtoon Dam.

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As often in the mountains after early morning mist,the sky was clear and blue,the blue color you find at high altitude 8)

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A small stream flowed down the mountain to feed the dam

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But it was still windy and a little bit chilly even with an african sun :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
The view from the top of the loop was :big_eyes: .
Nobody,no car,no bird,no animal, another planet :thumbs_up:

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From there we went down and crossed the main road to Oribi loop,also a one way road of 4,2 KM (compare to Kruger,distances are distances we could walk...)
Our next stop was the Vulture restaurant.

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We spent a long time in this hide few times a day.

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What a nice feeling to be seated inside with a cup of coffee,relaxing,listening to the wind, staring at the mountain range with a beautiful view of the Drakensberg in the distance and sometimes.....

TBC :thumbs_up:
Carpe diem

august 2017: Booking done for KTP (K.K,Twee,Nossob,Gharagab Grootkolk,KTC ) and Namaqua :thumbs_up:

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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:42 pm

Dear passengers, thank you for your comments :gflower:

umtali1
And when you say chill air ,it was really chill air :mrgreen: but with a nice fireplace at night ...
lion queen
It's another reason,if needed,we love this continent :D
anne-marie
Thank you,when you will see the menu of the restaurant yes indeed a scavengers business :big_eyes:
Carol g
Thank you Carol g :k


And what can we see at the Vulture Hide ? :hmz:

:thumbs_up: Vultures :D

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Vulture alone ...

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TBC :thumbs_up:
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august 2017: Booking done for KTP (K.K,Twee,Nossob,Gharagab Grootkolk,KTC ) and Namaqua :thumbs_up:

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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:29 am

lion queen
It seems so easy when you see them playing with the currents :clap:

anne-marie
I like them also even if they have a bad reputation :D

Pumbaa Welcome :thumbs_up:
I still have a lot of birdies to share :cam:

umtali1
Thank you :thumbs_up:

M.M
:k

isinkwe
Glad you love the landscapes because there are still a lot to come :thumbs_up:

JeanniR Welcome to Golden gate
It's really peaceful and the 3 days we stayed in this park passed so quickly :cry:

Kaapsedraai

You should share your experiences of GG with us.It's always a pleasure to compare the way we see the same landscapes :thumbs_up:

hilda Welcome,there is still a lot of seats and this bus is a slow one 8)

I don't know if it because it was cold outside or because we were alone in this hide most of the time but it became very quicly our second cottage in the park during the day.


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A cosy place


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With visitors like this big guy a White-necked raven

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Not ready to share with vultures

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TBC ... :thumbs_up:
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august 2017: Booking done for KTP (K.K,Twee,Nossob,Gharagab Grootkolk,KTC ) and Namaqua :thumbs_up:

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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:52 am

All of a sudden birdies were organizing a meeting :hmz:

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I don't believe it was to share this smiling zebra rather clean to the bones

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I understood when we saw this car

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It was a shopping day with delivery of carcass :lol:

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A calf rather tubby

The scavengers already knew ...


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Even Mister Jackal was around

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And a Cape Longclaw was on alert


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In the distance two zebras were peacefully grazing...

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If it 's not yet Paradise,we are certainly very close...
TBC ... :thumbs_up:
Carpe diem

august 2017: Booking done for KTP (K.K,Twee,Nossob,Gharagab Grootkolk,KTC ) and Namaqua :thumbs_up:

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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:47 pm

M.M
We were pleased to see the rangers with the carcass as we knew this does not happen every day.

hilda
It's exactly what we thought ...


Melda30 Welcome , we still have some seats available.
Golden Gate is definitely a different place :thumbs_up:

Pumbaa
Thanks, I didn't know Golden Gate was also a birding place as we will see later

anne-marie
It was really exciting.We thought it would be a perfect occasion to see bearded vultures :cam:

umtali1
Longclaws were very active and zebbies in the Golden light were a real gift


Once the rangers left,I was ready with camera,lenses,bean bag for a festival of vultures swooping down upon this tempting calf :D ,jackals running,birdies fighting,hyenas,caracals and all predators I could name.
I think I'm a litlle bit exagerating :redface:
Sitting quietly in the hide ,two of us and a cup of coffee, we started waiting...

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Fifteen minutes nothing,30 minutes,45minutes, one hour, one hour anf half no move,no predators,no vultures NADA !
I went out of the hide to check if they were not hiding somewhere,looked at some beautiful flowers (no idea at all of ID...)

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I found some strange stones which could have been carved

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The wind was still blowing through this empty plain but nobody seemed to be interested by this so appetizing veal.

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After 2 hours we decided it was time to leave and come back later
We left the hide,stopped at the near view point to enjoy this stunning landscape on Drakensberg mountains


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We too the road back to the picnic site by the little Caledon river to see the Van Reenen Family Graveyard and the Golden gate dam where we could maybe spot some birdies. :D

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TBC :thumbs_up:
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august 2017: Booking done for KTP (K.K,Twee,Nossob,Gharagab Grootkolk,KTC ) and Namaqua :thumbs_up:

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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:38 pm

Nature decides and we should accept :D

umtali1
Agree, just sitting and gazing can make the day
The markings are indeed strange: fossilised markings could be an option
I know there are a lot of fossils in Golden Gate.

anne-marie
When I saw the stones I wondered if it could be bushman artefacts :hmz:

Carol g
Waiting in this beautiful hide was rather pleasant.No noise, no visitors (I mean the human ones...) and a nice cup of coffee with shortbreads :great:

Stampajane Welcome aboard
The smell was not a problem as it was winter and during the days we stayed in the park it was rather cold and windy :wink:

M.M
You're right Mother Nature decides ! as anne-marie said ,it's really lunar but a moon we would like to inhabit :D

Hippotragus Welcome to Golden gate
I'm sure you will enjoy and Spring must be wonderful in the Maluti :thumbs_up:

JeanniR
Well the vultures were not so far but no sot hungry :mrgreen:
I don't know if we have geologist mites who could give us some hints on the markings :hmz:

Kaapsedraai
Thanks for your kind words :thumbs_up:
We saw a lot of vultures and crows flying but not so lucky to take picture of one bearded vulture we spotted the first day :|


It didn't take long to go down to the picnic site, on the left side when you're facing the road and the mountain

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The Golden gate dam on the right side

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and the Van Reenen graveyard in the middle

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The Van Reenen family as you may know was farmers who were travelling to their farm in 1878 and named the location "Golden Gate" when they saw the last rays of the setting sun fall on the cliffs.
The graveyard is still opened and we saw recent burials of the family (a tragic death of a young boy murdered in Durban quite recently)
Two others graves are according to a story I read in Lightning History in RSA due to another tracig event :

One of the first ‘high-profile’ highly-publicized lightning deaths in South Africa: The two , Valerie Wilcox (22) an Johan De la Harpe (21) must have set off on the morning of the 18 Dec 1932, probably in love, and together they spent the day climbing and working their way up to the top of the Mont Aux Sources. The weather closed in and things must have got stormy so they probably held each other for comfort and this was when tragedy stuck. On the 18 December 1932, Valerie Wilcox and Johan De la Harpe, both died after being stuck by lightning. Quite sad that they were so young still.
These graves are located near between Clarens and Harrismith in the Golden Gate National Park (Van Reenen family Cemetery, just passed the picnic spot).
There are so many tragic stories like this in our country which are hardly publicized.


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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:48 pm

On the wall of the Van Reenen family graveyard familiar birds were hopping

A familiar chat

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A white-browed scrub robin
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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:18 pm

umtali1
It's always interesting to link names on a grave with events .
Here we have Romeo and Juliet tragedy of Golden Gate :(

M.M
Agree that a blue sky,beautiful mountains and the bush may help.
We have to live each new day as if it was the last one.
Carpe diem :D

lion queen
Welcome back
So do I, when I traveled, I like walking around in the graveyards.We can learn a lot on the countries.
For the vultures, maybe they were not pleased by the menu :D

JeanniR

Thank you :gflower:
The story of Valerie and Johan adds something special and emotional to this small graveyard in a manificent environment

hilda
When I see oodles of the bones left by the hide, I think that they could be overfed :tongue:

isinkwe
You should go.I met a lot of bikers in the park and it was winter.Summer must be nice in the mountains and :cam: is a must :thumbs_up:

Pumbaa
I was surprised by the number of birds although there are almost no trees.A few more to come :cam:

Elsa Welcome aboard the Golden Gate local train
I do like the stark beauty of the landscape and if you add the sound of the wind and a biting cold.... 8)

ruthp Welcome ruthp
Yes you should visit the hide.It's really a nice one and moreover in winter we felt so well inside when the wind was blowing.(And no smell from the carcasses :dance: )

I was so interested by this small grayeyard and all the birdies around that the small coffee break became quite a long shooting session :cam:
I struggled somehow to get a decent image of a very active stonechat

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Flying
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Landing

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Landed

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I tried to read the mind of this beautiful angel,Van Reenen family cemetery custodian, when this impudent LBJ landed on the his head. :D
"Rude bird, show some respect !

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"You're not going to....no...no;.."

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"He did it...,I can't believe it !"

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:D TBC... :thumbs_up:
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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Sun Sep 21, 2014 4:34 pm

umtali1
You're right ,in Paris for example ,big cemeteries are stray cats meeting point and birding place :)

anne-marie
Some birds have no education :lol:

JeanniR
Yes here LBJ means Little Bird Jeering :wink:

lion queen
That's the benefit of a digital camera: a lot of shots to retain one or two rather acceptable... :cam:
I imagine the cost of this just a few years ago :big_eyes:

isinkwe
Thanks

:funny:

hilda
:k Thanks for your kind words

MM
I will follow your advice and will make a stop at Pilgrims Rest graveyard next occasion.
One more on my NTTSL (Next Time To See List)
Thanks hilda ,I remember reading something on Robber's grave :hmz:


After this long break at Van Reenen grayeyard, we went back to the rest camp.
A quick glance at the cottage roof where birdies were still on duty

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I thought this bird was a Cape Rock -Thrush, what I still believe, but wondering at the same time if a Mocking Cliff Chat could be an option :hmz:

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Before dinner a short drive to :

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Nice cliff with stunning colors

Back home,it was becoming cold and so lucky to enjoy ...

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It was the end of our first day in Golden Gate and Vultures were on my mind and even in the cottage

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Nice air vent

After such a busy day, Time to go to bed.
Tomorrow we will go out of the park and visit Clarens
I want to try the nice adresses PM par Kaapsedraai :thumbs_up: and that night my first dream was...


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:lol:


TBC :thumbs_up:
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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:45 pm

umtali1
It's a real luxury when travelling to come back "home" at the end of the day and be able to enjoy a nice fire :thumbs_up:

Carol g
I stopped moving too fast :D In the moutains, you have to adapt your pace to improve your respiratory capacity. :lol:

anne-marie
You will soon discover this cottage was not only a "vulture hide" but Noah's ark :wink:

M.M
I could have both gluwine and Melktart :whistle:
I was surprised to find those different air vents(I will post others soon) in the cottage.I hope they will keep them when they will restore the camp one of these days !

C.o.S Welcome aboard and thanks for your kind words :gflower:

hilda
Yes I think also we have a Cape Rock-Thrush
I could not find melktart in Clarens but enjoyed a lot of good food.
Nevertheless,on the road between Golden Gate and Cambedoo I had a real festival of melk tart :big_eyes:

JeanniR

The scenery must be wonderful now in Spring and our feathered friends must be very active :D

Pumbaa
A lot of birds in Golden gate but not one single Pumbaa :wink:


After a long and peaceful night (no hyena call during the night in Golden Gate ) ,we spent a nice day in Clarens
Back to the park after a brief stop at the rest camp

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we took the road to the Vultures hide wondering how the calf carcass could be...
The mountains were still beautiful under a clear winter sky

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birdies were looking for insects

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And the carcass was still there but what a big change compared with the eve :big_eyes:
I don't believe that the mischievous act's perpetrator was this gentle Cape Rock Thrush. :naughty:

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I would say jackals and vultures waited for us to leave the hide and took their time to enjoy this so delicate dish with such a rich aroma. :sup:

By the hide, the sun was slowly going down and mammals were walking in the distance
A nice lonely eland

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Three big guys

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Zebras were grazing in the same plain

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It was time to go down to the cottage, to lit up the log fire ,prepare a nice dinner,have a look at the air vents

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and dream that tomorrow will another day :D

For our third day in Golden Gate what about a nice walk to Echo Ravine ...

TBC :thumbs_up:
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august 2017: Booking done for KTP (K.K,Twee,Nossob,Gharagab Grootkolk,KTC ) and Namaqua :thumbs_up:

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Re: Through a Golden gate, a winding path to the ocean...

Unread post by Goronta » Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:55 pm

Kaapsedraai
No problem, I knew you were not far behind :thumbs_up:
You know, there was a TV in the cottage but every night Iwas studying the air vents in each room under S.O's questionning look :D

umtali1
The pong was not so terrible in fact as it was rather windy. :mrgreen:
To enjoy this diversity in each park,you need to take your time,what I try to do year after year :D


anne-marie

Elands are always impressive and moreover it was a first for me to see them in the mountains setting :D

Trrp-trrrrrrrr
Welcome :clap: still a lot of seats on the bus :D
You're right : you have to put high on your list this beautiful park now that winter is over :thumbs_up:


Stampajane
I was wondering also what could be the story of the air vents,who made these artifacts ? why,when ? :hmz:
If any mite has information on this story it would be nice to share :dance:

hilda
Just a few seconds and we will go for a nice walk to Echo ravine :dance:


"Morning has broken like the first morning" :dance:
It was our third day in the park.We did not hurry this morning walking around the camp,enjoying sun,drinking coffees and after reading the different hikes we could do ,we've chosen Echo ravine, a 1.30 hour or 2 hours walk.
We were pleased and curious at the same time Echo ravine....,it sounds good. :D
A little moment with this doggy :wink: ,rest camp staff's pet,and off we were...It was strange to see dogs in a camp in a national park but it's not Kruger ! :rtm:

A busy dog

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"But for nice and friend ly tourists I will make some effort"

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A look at some birds in the camp site , I should come back after the walk with my bigger lens, it seems to be a good place for birding...

A cute Crested Barbet, alittle bit to far

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A Fiscal Flycatcher cleaning the braai

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We crossed the small footbridge on Little Caledon river and started walking.
It was a sunny day with a clear blue sky. :cam:

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All hiking trails start from the same place on the other side ot Little Caledon river from the campsite.You can leave your car in the restcamp and it'sa 5minutes walk to the hiking trails :thumbs_up:

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Difficult to choose ? :hmz:

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The landscape is as always in this park really stunning.Some caves can be seen in the cliff and could have been used by the Bushman groups living there.

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A nice small stream on the red rock !

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TBC... :thumbs_up:
Carpe diem

august 2017: Booking done for KTP (K.K,Twee,Nossob,Gharagab Grootkolk,KTC ) and Namaqua :thumbs_up:


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