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Saturday, March 3, 2018

Cape Town delivers a beautiful display of clouds rain and lightning

After a blisteringly hot day in the Cape, I traveled from Somerset West in ore of the beautiful cloud formations that were forming ahead of what turned out to be an electric storm and beautiful display of lightning and clouds.

What a wonderful experience to witness the best canvas that nature can offer, clouds (and much needed rain during the biggest drought in over 100 years that Cape Town has experienced).  The lightning display that followed the rest of the night was just as spectacular.  We were very lucky to have followed this storm.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Redbull King of Air 2018 Kite Surfing Competition in Cape Town

The Redbull King of air kicked off from 27 January to 11 February 2018, and the wind proved to be very good the first week of the window period.  The first rounds took place on Saturday 27 January at the new venue, Kite Beach Table View.

The Finals were held on the 31st of January and although the weather was perfect, the wind was not as expected, which resulted in a rather unexciting finish.  One would hope for an event like this to have our typical Cape South Easter pumping up to 40 knots.  This would allow balls to the wire showmanship that we have come to expect from the Redbull KOTA events.

Aaron Hadlow's kite caddie removing his kite off the beach after his chicken loop snapped.  His other kite caddie (Lewis Crathern) was not concentrating on his role as official kite caddie and was caught napping during this incident.  This resulted in him throwing his iPad to a friend and running up the beach to get a kite for Aaron. 15 kite loops later, he managed to hand over the kite to a rather grumpy looking Aaron Hadlow (rightfully so!)

Awesome support from the Spanish Tourists in support of their man Liam Whaley.  Liam was a stand-out performer during his rounds and we feel he could have won this event hands down, but it would have appeared he simply ran out of steam in the finals.  All the other competitors had been training for weeks prior to the event, however Liam flew in the day before to play cover for Nick Jacobson who had broken his leg (while training for the event)  two weeks prior to KOTA2018.

Jesse Richman getting ready for his heat.  In our opinion he was the stand out performer as always and we were shocked when he was knocked out by Lewis Crathern.  This lead to an extremely poor final which was then won by Kevin Langeree.

Keanin who recently moved from Johannesburg, has become a huge fan of kite surfing (forgetting about malls and xbox) and he is today an even bigger fan of Kevin Langeree.  Keanin and his friends are already starting to kite and they love the vibe that the ocean has to offer.

The winning podium with a super stoked and well deserved win for Kevin Langeree, second place went to Liam Whaley and runner up was Lewis Crathern.

Podium Picture courtesy of Redbull Contest Pool

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve

Trying to find a quick getaway in close range to our home was not that easy at such short notice.  We had our heart set on Grootvadersbosch, but they were fully booked and camping was not an option for us.  A quick scout around for available accommodation gave us 2 days at the less familiar venue of Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve near McGregor in the Cape Winelands.

Very little information about this venue was on offer and we had to go by all the information received on their information brochure care of Cape Nature. Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve lies in the Breederiver Valley, about 15km south of Robertson in the Western Cape.

It was a pleasant and fairly short drive via Robertson and soon we were exploring this reserve.

We were not too happy with the fact that the reserve accommodation and all their excursions is divided between a main road.  This however proved to be no problem at all and we set off to explore it's boundaries.

The accommodation was a luxurious farm-style house, with all the requirements for a comfortable home away from home.  This included the much needed air-conditioning in all the rooms and a bubbling Jacuzzi  next to the braai area outside.  The fencing was very limited with wide open spaces to enjoy a short walk around the venue.

Looking westwards towards the distant mountain ranges, this is the typical Karoo Landscape of the area. 

Upon arrival we got onto our bikes and went to visit the various stops as per the Vrolijkheid map.  The image above is the official entrance to the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve.  Here you will find a picnic spot and a information office, as well as access to all three of the dams, the  circular hiking route: Rooikat (19km), The Heron Trail (3km) and Braille Trail (2km) and the 8km mountain bike route on offer.
This is the exit point for the 8km mountain bike trail out of the reserve on the way back to camp.  This route was very easy to ride and can be enjoyed by the whole family.

We find that the bird hides are not accurately demarcated on their brochure map.  

The bird hides can alternatively be reached by driving to the parking area on the Steenbokvlakte / Stormsvlei road.   At the self-issue  permit hut (not the one at the main entrance gate), you can take a left to the Heron Trail as per the image above, taking you to hide number two - or a right on the wheelchair friendly trail which is the third bird hike, a short walk away.  

This photo showing hide number one, was taken from the dam wall that houses hides two and three.  These two images are of hide number one.

If you had parked at the main entrance, and gone on the Heron / Braille Trail you would end up at hide number one.

Bird Hide number three is also clearly visible due to its unique build for accommodating a wheelchair.

We were blessed to have two days of cloud cover, which allowed for some dramatic images and along with the much welcomed cooler weather and the odd raindrops.  Clouds are always a welcome requirement when it comes to beautiful sunsets.

The dams on the reserve attract a variety of water birds, which made this reserve very attractive for us as avid birders.  Amphibians and Reptiles are abundant, a highlight being the rare Robertson Dwarf Chameleon.

The youngsters needed a lot of cooling off in what proved to be a very hot day as mentioned for this area at this time of the year.

The vegetation in this rocky part of the Little Karoo is known as the arid Robertson Karoo.

One of the highlights of our trip was going out on a night and early morning excursions looking for owls, night jars, scorpions, spiders and snakes.  We saw the resident barn owl a few times, amd showed the youngsters the spiders and scorpions of the area.  Sadly we did see a snake, but it was a fresh puff-adder road kill.

One of the big draw cards for the youngsters in our family was the Jacuzzi.  It did not disappoint.

Five recently refurbished self-catering cottages are available for overnight visitors. Each of these large cottages sleeps up to 8 people in 4 rooms.

Being a fairly active family we loved all the various outdoor activities on hand, amongst others listed was the tennis court, the put-put course and a swimming pool.  It was encouraging to be handed some tennis rackets and balls, along with the put put equipment, which we made use of and enjoyed thoroughly. 

EeOre is 45 years old (just like me!) and is of French decent.  He is retired here and enjoys a good ear rub by the visitors.  He is accompanied by at least 20 other rescued donkeys from all over South Africa, who find sanctuary at this wonderful 'resort'.

Other points of interest in the immediate vicinity was the quaint historic town of McGregor and the lovely Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary.  Here we enjoyed a tour of their local residents and a most welcome farm style lunch and hospitality.