Categories
Flowers Travel Western Cape

A trip to the West Coast National Park

The west coast of South Africa is a dry semi-desert region with an average rainfall of 280 mm (12″). For most of the years the vegetation is low scrub and thorn bushes with patches of dry dusty ground. In August after the winter rains things change dramatically. The flower come out in raging colours. This display lasts three months and by the end of October the flowers are gone and the dry dusty veld is left.
We drove up to Langebaan in mid August after good winter rains and enjoyed the glory of the flowers

The flowers spread across all the open ground and wild profusion. If you drive through quickly you only see the carpet of flowers. If however you stop and look, there is a wealth of beautiful flowers hidden within the showy flash of white, yellow and orange.

Categories
Europe Travel

The Normandy Landing Beaches

A visit to the Invasion Beaches and my tribute to the men and women who landed on those beaches. Many did not make it.

In 2019 we traveled to Europe. Included in the itinerary was a visit to the Normandy Landing beaches. Guided by a very competent guide, we saw and walked on Juno, Sword and Gold beaches. What I saw there stunned me and for the first time I understood the shear horror of those landings. I understood the blind courage required to leap out of the landing craft into the ice cold sea and wade ashore into a hail of bullets. Come with me on a personal trip to those beaches.

Phoenix bridge. Not a good picture but it needs to be here.

Phoenix Bridge: Allied Commandos were instructed to take this bridge at all costs. Three gliders landed nearby and then according to the tour guide three soldiers stormed across the bridge to silence a machine gun nest at the other end.

Phoenix Bridge from the side.

You can get an idea of just how long that bridge is.
I asked the guide if the bridge was wider in those days but he said, “Narrower.”
I cannot imagine storming a machine gun down a narrow alley of steel and hard road surface.
I have no idea how they survived that crazy run.

A landing craft

The landing craft were mainly wood with the front door being steel and the soldiers packed together shoulder to shoulder inside.
On an aside note, this is the landing craft that was used during the filming of “Saving Private Ryan”.

The beach.

The tide was out when I was there so the run was longer than during the invasion but as you can see that there is no cover whatsoever.

Gunnery emplacement

The guns were positioned to fire directly along the beaches, not down them. There was thus no way of a soldier further down the beach from evading or stopping the the fire.

A memorial to the fallen.

There are memorials all along the beach.

A memorial statue of a charging soldier
Categories
flower Flowers Photography Travel

Maartblomme

Once in about a decade the March Flowers or Maartblomme rise out of the harsh Tankwa Karoo soil and bring colour and life to the dry and harsh landscape. We were fortunate to make the 5 hour trip from Cape Town to Nieuwoudtville to see them.

A glimpse of the harsh Tankwa Karoo

The flowers seem to congregate in patches as you can see from this picture.

The flowers put out a spike covered by

Categories
pass Passes Photography Travel

Sunset near Komani

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 dam here is the Cacadu Dam
Cacadu which means “Bulrush Water” and is the Xhosa name for the White Kei River
Part of the cutting of Nonesis Nek Pass
Categories
Hiking kloof Trail

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:

 

Categories
Birding flower Kruger National Park Photography

Visit to Kruger Park

In early September and before the rains, we visited the Kruger National Park. The grass was low and the animals plentiful. Here are a few of our pictures.

Lowveld Sunset

Nyala

The original cliched lowveld sunset picture.

Blue head

African Hoopoe

Spotted Hyena and pup

Goliath Heron

Terrapin

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Categories
Astro-photography Photography Travel Western Cape

Astrophotography in Grootvadersbosch

We spent a weekend in Grootvadersbosch and the second night was really good for astronomy. Clear and near windless. Beautiful!

Categories
Photography Travel Western Cape

Clouds over Grootvadersbos

We went to Grootvadersbos recently and were treated to an amazing sunset as an electric storm raged just over the mountains.
I missed the lightning but got some really great pictures.





Categories
De Hoop Temenos Western Cape

Some Pictures from Our Holiday

De Hoop and McGregor

 

Categories
flower Travel

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.