Tierkloof Hiking Trail – Gammkaberg

Some 30 km outside of Calitzdorp in the Western Cape is the Gammkaberg Nature Reserve, run by Cape Nature. There are a number of trails in the park, the longest (two days) is the Tierkloof Trail that runs up the Tierkloof canyon stops at Oudkraal, an over night camp and then returns to the base camp the next day. Both days distance is about 14 km. The scenery is magnificent and the going moderately hard. The first day ends with a climb of about 450 m over 3 km. The second day is easier with a sharp down hill and then fairly flat all the way home. I recently hiked this trail and it is, as claimed one of the more beautiful hikes in the Western Cape.

The base camp.

Setting out

The trail is built on and around the river that carved the klook (canyon). The river does not run often so this is not a problem. It could get tense though….

Elements of the Cape Fold Mountains can be seen.

Thorn trees growing in the riverbed.

Trail markings are very good, this is an informal one that took my fancy

At Overhang, about halfway there and back.

Overnight camp – Oudkraal.

Sunset is a special time

And the stars are spectacular

Down again.

And relax

Enjoy the sunset

Before the long road home

More pictures here:

 

New Floor in the Riviersonderend House

The floors in our house in Riviersonderend were rotting so we needed to replace them. Follow us on a floor replacement journey with Tertius and Reggie.
Starting the lift.


The dry rot is easily seen here:


Building the pillars and cutting the joist holes


Bitumin and plastering.

Then sand and more bitumin

Plastic and lime, then the bearers


Nearly finished the bearers

Finishing touches

And it was snowing outside.

Birding on the Symphonia

We went on a cruise with 2000 other birders looking for pelagic birds.

We got some really great shots and had a really good time. We left Cape Town in the late afternoon

Lions head and Table Mountain

The sunset was marvelous

Then next day, the birds

And then back again.

There is a video here

 

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Casspir Project – SA National Gallery

Amanda and I ended up going to the SANG today and found the most amazing military vehicle. A Casspir, completely covered in bead work with a Bible quotation to justify the work. Absolutely beautiful, and in another sense horrible.
You decide.
Photo credits to Amanda and I as I am not sure who shot which image.

But first a description of the art work by the gallery

 

A trip to Namaqualand

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.

Birding Trip Down the Cape Peninsula

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.

Only to find that the tented camp was back up the slope and 2 km further. Please note that the bay is a jealously guarded piece of property and visitors are not really welcome. So we climbed back up, drove the 2 km and found the tented camp.

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