Ctirusdal Baths

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.

Fynbos lace.

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.

A trip to Niewoudtville for the Spring Flowers

Where is Niewoudtville?

Simply put, it is about 5 to 6 hours drive up the West Coast. As you travel the country dries out. The plants become drought resistant and eventually you find yourself in, what has been called “big sky country”. The horizon is far away and shimmers in the heat.

Niewoudtville is known for its flowers. It sells itself as the “Bulb Capital of the World” and rightly so. It also has a an amazing waterfall and so we are first going to visit the waterfall and then get to the flowers.

The waterfall is about 7 km out of Niewoudtville on the road to Loeriesfontein and would probably be more famous if it were not for the fact that it only has water for a short period in spring and early summer.

It kinda sneaks up on you. One moment you are walking through open veld,

Then a noisy, boisterous river appears but you stil cannot see a waterfall.

Then a couple of small waterfalls do appear.

You tend to be disappointed and to think, “Is that all?”

As you pass the small waterfalls you realise that the noise of falling water is not coming from the falls you can see. And then the world kind of falls away in front of you and you have reached the waterfall.

And then you are standing looking down 100 m (about 300 foot) following the water cascading into the gorge below.

And then it just ambles away without anymore fuss.

I found this lovely little waterfall that trickled its way to the edge of the canyon and then just disappeard.

We aslo found plenty of green slugs. They are remarkably difficult to photograph. If you think a slug moves slowly, try to take a picture of it with your camera set to Macro. But in the end perseverance paid off.

But you cannot go far without seeing the spring flowers.

Before we hit the flowers we stopped to fulfill one of my ambitions. To see the glacial pavement that was ground down when South Africa was part of Pangea and was at the south pole. The temperatures that day were not south pole values, but it wasn’t warm. Notice the jacket!

And then we headed out to see the flowers that colour the landscape of Namaqualand.

Bird Tree – Groot Brak

We went to Groot Brak River to attend a bird identification course. Before leaving we wandered around town and found this amazing tree. The tree is a huge Norfolk Pine just near to the river. In day light it appears as if it is dying. All the top leaves are stripped off.

However at night, the tree is alive with birds. The following pictures were taken in the early evening.

From a distance it doesn’t look like much. However, the closer you get, the more amazing it becomes. I estimated 100 birds. I was wrong. I will leave you to count.

There are at least 11 occupied nests in the tree. The following sequence is of a heron approaching its nest.

Riviersonderend Flood Detour

How do you know when you have inadvertently done something kinda stupid and gotten away with it without breaking anything? Easy, you see this in your rear view mirror.

How did we get into this situation? Simple, we didn’t want to turn around when the road looked like this.

But then it got a bit more tense — note the whirl pool on the left bottom of the picture

And then we decided to investigate

And the road went ever onward and turning places became less obvious. And road kinda disappeared at times.

And then we were out

Interesting trip

Gannaga Pass

I love passes, mountain passes that is. Just recently we traveled up the Gannaga Pass which is on the eastern edge of the Tankwa Reserve.

It is a spectacular pass carved the Master Artist of Passes, Bains. The man had an eye for sweeping, spectacular lines and his passes show his skill. His dry walling is spectacular too. Join us on a trip up and down the Gannaga Pass.

The Guardian of the Pass. Looking like an escapee from a SciFi movie, this rock formation faces up the pass.

The pass sign board. You gotta have this picture to show you were there!

Botter Bos halfway up the pass which you can see sweeping down the right of the picture.

Life clinging to the rocks

Framing


Those Bains dry walls still standing.

Gannaga Lodge at the top with a nice storm cloud.

All the modcons

Looking back at the Lodge.

Looking down

Amanda at the top.