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 were approached to test an app for logging birds during a competition. The organisers needed people to log birds from all over the country in an arbitrary manner. We volunteered.
My wife Amanda and I live in Cape Town on the slopes of Table Mountain.
Table mountain is the base of a triangle of land, a peninsula and being really original, we call it “The Peninsula” but we may on occasions refer to parts of it as the “South Peninsula”.
The first European name of “The Peninsula” was the “Cape of Storms” so named by a very wind blown Portuguese explorer who was blown past the tip of Africa and had to beat his way back to find land again. This picture of a yacht under a single genoa sail and trailing a sea anchor will give you and idea of the power of our local wind.
Winds can gust up to 70 km/h which is when the harbour is closed, people get blown off their feet and buses get blown over. Cape Town is beautiful, but you do not really want to go out in one of our serious gales. You can see pictures of a serious winter storm here. We did, and survived. We reserved tent in the Smitswinkel Tented camp for Saturday evening and set out at 12 on Saturday morning to our first stop, Milnerton Lagoon. The mountain on the right is Devils Peak
It doesn’t look windy but at that stage it was blowing at about 30 km/h. The white spots you can see in the water are Greater Flamingos. In the following picture, Pied Avocecs work the mad flats.
Having scored about twenty bird species we moved on to Intaka Island and still in sight of a bit ofTable Mountain and Devils Peak through the construction site. The cloud you can see is the Table Cloth and only arrives when the wind is really moving.
Intaka island is a water reclamation site for Century City. It really is a special place surrounded by the city and is open to the public. You can take a ferry from the big shopping centre and cruise at your leisure around the whole area. Read more about Intaka here. We scored the cute picture of the day here too.
Red Knobbed Coot chicks just starting to fledge.
Bath time, weavers in partial mating plumage. We moved onto Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens where we “knew” there were baby owls to be seen. No such luck they had moved on. But the scenery and the flowers made up for it.
The top picture is a Mountain Dahlia and the bottom one is an unusual picture of a King Protea. Normally they are shown fully open. This one is partially open which, I think makes a nice difference. Kirstenbosch is in the Fynbos Biome which has the most species of plants (9000 ) in any biome but it is also the smallest biome in area. See more on Kirstenbosch here.
We moved on towards Smitswinkel bay and we both assumed we knew where the tented camp was. Down by the sea, at Smitswinkel bay.
You can see the settlement with the end of the peninsula, Cape Point, in the distance. The only access is down a gravel path so we loaded our bag with sleeping bags, dinner and a bottle of bubbly and set off down.
Nestled in a grove of wind blasted flowering gums, it is one of the overnight stations for the four day Hoerikwagga Hiking Trail which traverses the Table Mountain chain.
The accommodation is basic, but comfortable. Problem is that when the wind is blowing the tent thunders quite dramatically.
By this stage we had gotten 44 birds and were seriously considering going straight home, but the Cape Point Nature reserve was right next door, so next morning we headed that way.
Looking back toward Cape Town, the sea blown flat by the howling wind. The wind was really strong, we watched with some amusement as a Cape Longclaw flew up, was blown backwards, gave up and took to walking.
Everlastings. The hillside was covered in them.
A Black Headed Heron caught and lost a snake, then stood staring into the bush the snake had vanished into for a long while before giving up and moving on.
This is a screen shot of the BirdLasser App we use for tracking our sightings. A great app, limited to South Africa.
In all we got 62 birds, which considering the wind was not a bad score
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.
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.
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.
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