No show flowers

Bontebok

Good grief! I haven’t blogged in almost 2 months – very remiss of me. Winter depresses me, I am not inspired, I sit behind my computer planning for summer and occasionally staring out of the window at the miserable weather, wondering if it will ever be warm again. In typical Cape Town manner it does warm up for a few days, lulls me into thinking summer is back and then it freezes up again. Like today.

But it is officially Spring so a trip to ‘the flowers’ was in order this week, despite reports that this year they are not putting on a good show.

Speak to anyone in Cape Town about ‘the flowers’ and they know you’re referring to the fabulous spring flower display of the West Coast. This is when the arid desert of Namaqualand bursts into endless displays of little flowers that have been hibernating – some of them even save their seeds for several years to ensure there is always life. From all parts of the country, and the world, flower-lovers make the annual pilgrimage to see this miracle. It’s a long drive from the nearest city but it’s worth it to see carpets of flowers as far as the eye can see. The tricky part is to time it well because as beautiful as Spring is in this region, it seldom arrives on schedule. Autumn and Spring don’t really follow man’s expectations in South Africa so one can easily plan and book accommodation, only to find the flowers were better last week or will be next week.

Closer to Cape Town is the West Coast National Park. It’s only an hour away and I love this reserve for its diversity. The flowers are a mixed bunch as opposed to the same type for miles, and there is also game and lots of water. A perfect mix, in my opinion.

My new friend Sheila and I spent a day this week meandering through the reserve. We even did the touristy thing of ticking off every animal species we saw. We didn’t have lunch at Geelbek (as one normally does) but we stopped and ate rolls and other goodies whenever we were hungry. We had an Incident with a Falling Tripod, we rescued a puff adder that was in danger of being run over on the road, we were thrilled to have kudus running across the road in front of us, and we lost count of the many tortoises we saw ‘dashing’ across the road. We also contributed heavily to the Bovril Project. Bovril is a bit like the gnome in Amelie in that he gets to travel to interesting places and have his photo taken for a dedicated Facebook page. All in all we had a fabulous day, despite the fact that the flowers are, as reported, extremely poor this year. Perhaps they’re late but one thing is certain, they’ll be better next year!

Read about the park here and look at photos showing what the flowers are supposed to look like.

Puffadder

The little puff adder that we rescued – by asking someone else to flick it into the bushes.

weaver

I’m a rotten bird photographer so am rather chuffed with this shot of a weaver.

Seeberg

My favourite place in the park is Seeberg with this house built on a rock and with the best views of the lagoon.

zebra2

This is the best I could do with these zebras as they were very far away. The one in front is not dead, his tail was flicking.

Postberg beach

The beach at Postberg.

Gazanias

 

Bov goes West

The Bovril Project

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No rushing through this park

Bov in the flowers

Bov in the flowers

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In the nearby town of Langebaan, surrounded by monstrous displays of bad taste, is this old house – one of only a few that has been preserved.

 

Langebaan Lagoon make-over

seeberg window seeberg door

SA National Parks (SANParks) are very busy in the West Coast National Park. I spent a pleasant day there this week, no rushing, no deadline, and a great lunch with the birds at Geelbek.

The little old hut on top of Seeberg – a large rock overlooking the lagoon and offering the best views – is being turned into an information centre. I wrote about it here and took the pics above just 2 days ago.  Here’s more info – it wasn’t a lookout point, as I originally thought.

I was saddened to hear the houseboats at Kraalbaai are to be removed later this year.  I have great memories of holidays spent on the one my friend Caroline’s parents owned. It was the smallest of them all but we had the biggest parties. It was demolished a few years ago and now they will all go, except for one owned by the SA National Parks which they will rent out. Apparently they will also be building jetties and little houses in the same bay as the present location of the houseboats. I’ll reserve my judgement until I see the results but I hope they maintain the pristine condition of the park.

Houseboats

Soon these houseboats will all be gone.

kudu

This kudu was a rare treat to see.

 

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Lunch at Geelbek. There are warning signs that you need to watch your food because the birds are greedy. This crowd entertained us by fighting over the leftovers. There was a clear winner.

 

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Flowertime

Right, so today was Women’s Day and no clients to worry about so I treated myself to a drive up the West Coast. I had been invited to !Khwa Ttu for a site visit and wanted to see the flowers in the West Coast National Park.

!Khwa Ttu was great – if you haven’t been to this San cultural centre yet you really should go. The knowledgeable guide demonstrated and explained in an entertaining way the history and lives of the San, including some fascinating information about their animal tracking skills and the way they used plants.

There are hiking trails on the reserve and one of them includes a tour of herbs and plants – this one I am going to do another time, for sure. There’s even accommodation, rustic tents or a cottage.

After an excellent eland burger lunch it was time for the flowers. The West Coast National Park was crowded, this being a holiday, and the sun was playing along nicely. I’m not sure I approve of the way people walk all over the flowers and picnic right among them and make children run and jump to pose for photos but that’s what everyone was doing.

We didn’t go all the way to Posberg because I dawdled and spent too much time taking photos and going to my favourite spot, Seeberg, where this photo was taken (and of course I took more of the house and the view), but I can assure you the flowers are showing all their glory even though it’s almost a month earlier then usual.

The coldfront and rain are back for the next few days but as soon as it’s over I suggest you grab the first sunny day and head for the R27 and check it all out!  And my hiking friends will soon be roped in for a hike where there’s a great chance of bumping into zebras.

Phew, I’ve caught up, 3 posts in one go. Don’t know what I’ll post tomorrow, I have lots of work to do and it’s going to rain all day.

Langebaan lagoon

I’ve taken a variety of photos of this old house over the years but this is one of my favourites. The ruins of this one-roomed house are on top of a large rock overlooking the Langebaan Lagoon in the West Coast National Park and is the perfect spot for stunning panoramic views  over the lagoon.  I forget the story of the original purpose of this house but its location means it must have been some sort of look-out. It’s very exposed so it can’t have been pleasant to live there during inclement weather but what a delight on a good day.

The lagoon is renowned for its bird life and spectacular annual spring flower show, and is also home to Eve’s footprint – a fossilised set of female prints found in 1995 and estimated to be over 100,000 years old which makes the owner one of the earliest modern human – that’s old!!

This photo of my son Paul (on the right) and his friends Natasha and Pierre was taken after we had spent a fabulous day at Kraalbaai where the houseboats are located. It was mid-summer, very hot and wind-free; we had a picnic and swam all day and played like children in the sand. For once the beach wasn’t over-crowded and we were even visited by a mouse, several little birds and some pangolin who came very close to us to see what left-overs they could scrounge. Pierre and Natasha were on their first visit to Cape Town and even though they toured quite a lot around the region they both said this was one of the best days they had in the 3 months they spent in Cape Town.

Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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