This pass crosses the Hottentot Holland Mountains. It separates Cape Town from the Boland.
The Houwhoek Pass is a small, fairly insignificant pass just outside Cape Town. In the following video we are approaching from Bot River and heading toward Cape Town
Or Queenstown as it was known previously
The pictures were taken from the top of the Nonesis Nek Pass on the Road between Komani and Cacadu (Lady Frere)
The Western Cape was hit by a crippling drought. The level of the main storage dam, Theewaterskloof dropped to 25% and vast tracts of it were just dust and loose sand instead of water. I had this poem rattling around in my head and it just demanded to be written.
Dust bowl dam. Sun light glitters, stark on pale
Bone white surfaces, black stark tree skeletons,
Dry shod, heat struck, sand blasted we cross
The sparkling dam that once was and is no more
Oven heat scrapes roughly across our exposed skin
Slitted eyes blink against the wind hurled dust
No breath to spare for the pointless vital question
What have we done? What have we left our children.
Many years ago, I announced my intention of going to Verneuk Pan. A friend, on hearing this idea asked me to go to Granatsboskolk as it was in the same area.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I read an article and the writer said finding Granaatsboskol was like finding the foot of the bed with your bare toe in the dark.”
How could I resist?
“Bring back pictures.” he said
In Brandvlei, I went into the pub called Die Windpomp and asked for directions to Granaatsboskolk. I was greeted with a stunned silenceand then someone asked.
I didnt explan and eventually someone issued directions.
Just as an aside, Die Windpomp is on the N7 and serves ice cold beer and huge slabs of very edible ribs. Stop in and enjoy!
So, join me on a trip to Granaatsboskolk and decide if finding it is like find the foot of the bed with your bare toe.
Get onto the N7 and turn left at the sign. Easy enough.
Drive 40 km along the road.
Cross the Sishen Saldhana Railway line. If you are lucky you will see the 1 km long ore trains. Breaks the monotony.
When you stop seeing a sign to Granaatsboskolk, you are there
Welcome to Granaatsboskolk
Well? Was it worth it?
We went on a cruise with 2000 other birders looking for pelagic birds.
Lions head and Table Mountain
Then next day, the birds
There is a video here
This web page shows a few of the 600 odd pictures we took on our wandering through Namaqualand in Apri 2006.
A typical Namaqualand scene. Miles and miles of apparently nothing.
And yes, the road do just go on for ever. A bad picture. In the distance partially obscured by the picnic shelter is the Gifberg over Van Rynsdorp.
It seems as if there is nothing, but if you stop and look. . . .
The plant you are looking at is smaller than the palm of my hand. Approximately 5 cm across.
And it all grows in the impossible soil!
Like this! Baba boudjies no bigger than the tip of a small finger.
The sunrises are beautiful – Hondeklipbaai.
Quiver trees dot the landscape. The eland apparently like the leaves. You can see the trampled circle where they walk around and around the trunk getting at the lowest branches.
Communal nest are every where that is even vaguely elevated.
These Eland wouldn’t stand still for me to get closer. The eland? Those little dots in the middle distance!
Who says nature isn’t geometrical?
Rock formations are many and varied. The bones of the earth stick out all over. This one was interesting, not only for the layers of strata but also because it rang when hit with a hammer.
Messelaars Pass. All dry wall supports. A work of engineering in a dry, dry land.
This poor guy had lost a leg. Maybe one reason he stuck around to be photgraphed.
“If I lie still enough you won’t see me. At worst case you will see my gaudy tail!” This was one of many lizards that inhabited the walk to the most inhospitable setting for a jail that I can imagine.
The Jail. Again dry wall with a bit of mud work here and there. In summer the area soars to well ove 45 degrees centrigrade and this is in a valley. It must have been terrible in mid-summer and of course the winters aren’t exactly warm either. This is winter rainfall region.
I must admit, I did not expect to see quiver trees flowering. How I thought that they reproduced, I am not certain. The pollinator? Lots of little birds, but if you need to know aim that question at a botanist.
Me! Looking far too pleased with myself. The silence, the beauty of the area and the company made for a wonderful trip.
The company? Amanda, who is very easy to photograph!
Lunch in Springbok. Don’t you like the vivid colours. Possibly a buffer against too much dry dun coloured Namaqualand.
A broken flower. A pity, but a wonderful photo opportunity.
Here is a whole one. Amazingly they stand in this desert type sand and blaze out of the dun coloured landscape. The leaves don’t appear till after the flower is dead. Kinda back to front, but there.
The Kroon. The mountain that gives this little dorp its name. Kamies was apparently a chief in the area and the top of the mountain reminded his people of his hat. Hence Kamieskroon.
On the way home. Gifberg near Van Rynsdorp. If you are wondering about the colouring, it is because it was raining. Amanda snapped this one through the rain and it is a beautiful shot.
We did the laze around in hot water for Amanda’s Birthday Weekend at Citrusdal. A wonderful place to completely relax.
On the way we stopped at a farm stall to stock up on cheese for me and retail therapy for Amanda.
We met this rather inquisitive ostrich who thought that my ring was food and made a number of strong bites at it to get it off my finger. Don’t believe that an ostrich can’t bite hard, it can.
A slave bell in the church at Citrusdal. I was intrigued by the “wings” on the top of the structure.
The original Dutch Reform Church has been desanctified and turned into a museum. They used, as you can see the sand stone from the local mountains.
Fighting with the new camera. Far more knobs, buttons and knurled wheels than I am used to.
A plough! As if you didn’t know. I just liked the symmetry. Or asymmetry if you like.
Autumn leaves. I loved the colours!
In the museum was a beautiful Japanese vase, mug whatever.
Fiscal shrike or jackie hangman. The “new” camera has nice telephoto capabilities.
Aloes are beautiful, aren’t they?
In the background of the next picture is the road we followed on the Monday after checking out of the The Baths. Note the winding nature of the road. It is a wonderful switch back road. The Subaru loved it.
Looking toward Clanwilliam. In case you are interested, this picture and the two previous macro shots were taken with by Manda with her cell phone. The quality of the pictures from cell phone cameras always amazes me.
In The Baths premises they have some really interesting and picturesque plants.
And of course the hot water springs. This picture taken in the warm outside pool. The water is a bluish colour so it just adds to the existing colour.
Wille Dagga plants. Used by the original settlers and inhabitants for relief from chest congestion, they make a lovely show and the sunbirds love them.
Amanda had to try out the trampoline!
Being winter it was cold, but there was a fire place and no reason not to warm the place with it. We ended up sleeping in front of it. Lovely.
We “discovered” a set of coolish pools above the top victorian homestead. Hidden under trees they are really rather lovely.
This wild olive really had something mystical about it.
Patterns of fallen leaves. We just liked the look of it.
We took a walk on one of the local scenic walks. It was a wonderful climb. Slowly rising above the resort and providing beautiful views not only of the resort, but also of the Olifants River Valley.
Lots of fynbos too.
On the hiking trail.
Back to the “Art Shots” section. The trellis and the ivy just looked right.
The birds love this plant, but they tend to drop the results of their meals on cars, tents and anything underneath.
More “Art Shots”! Blame it on the new camera.
And of course the lovely alien invasive morning glory. It is such a beautiful flower and such a pest.
And of course the sunbirds were there for lunch.
A coral tree flower. Yes, yes, I should have used filler flash!
More autumn leaves.
And more pictures of flowers. Indigenous and exotics.
And the weavers came for bread.
Monday came far too soon and we headed out. We took the long way home, via Oppieberg and Ceres.
Self portrait. The wind was far too cold for Amanda, so I went and took this one looking back toward Citrusdal. It is hard to believe that Citrusdal is just behing the range of mountains you can see behind me. You can just see the Citrusdal road to my right.
We disturbed this black shouldered kite during lunch. He was not well pleased.
And this rock kestrel who would just not oblige by coming out from behind the wires.
Start of another hair pin bend. Heading for Ceres, still on the dirt.
Clouds and autumn leaves. Now on the tar road. Lots of good places to stop and take pictures.
A grey heron, we were driving and trying to take the picture. Not a good combination, but still.
Red coniferum. There are beautiful stands of them all the way across the plateau.
Jagged vistas of the Cedarberg.
Broken by the symmetry of deciduous fruit farms.
And then, Gydo pass. The south easter was adding a touch of drama as well by then.
Subaru heaven – long kilometres of sweeping bends and spectacular scenery.
The walls of the Breede River rift valley provides a spectacular back drop, especially when the table cloth is around.
To the top of Bains Kloof pass.
And then down Bains Kloof and back to Cape Town.
Of course Cape Town was not going to be outdone by anywhere we had been on the weekend and provided a spectacular sunset. Our picture does not convey the beauty of that sunset.