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Friday, June 9, 2017

Video Cape Town Storm Chasers having some family fun

We headed over to Cape Town CBD on 7 June 2017 to go and view the spectacular waves hitting the shores.  The wave swell was 11m during it's peak and the wind gusted over 50 knots.

Hope you enjoy our video footage of the storm in this post!

Click here if you cant view the video below : Cape Town Storm Chasers Video

Cape Town Storm Chasers June 2017 from Alex Aitkenhead on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sante Hotel and Wellness Spa in the Paarl Valley

After receiving an email from one of the investors at Sante Health & Spa Resort, we were commissioned to take some more photographs of the beautiful surrounding environment.  In general this location is picture perfect, however the wind and dry weather can make it a more challenging shoot.

On the day of our shoot for the client it happened to be one of the windiest days of the year, even the worlds largest time trial, The Cape Town Cycle Tour was cancelled on this specific day of our shoot.

Regardless of the wind and the weather, we managed to capture some lovely moments and also added a few from a photo shoot a few years ago. 

An evening star for another awesome setting of the Sante Hotel and Wellness Spa.
Looking at the iconic Simonsberg Mountain is probably the most photographed mountain in this special valley home to many of the best wine estates in the world.
The full moon rising on a wind still moment had us running around trying to capture the moment.
The architecture of the hotel allows one to capture some amazing images.

Private residents on the estate.

After the photograph was taken in 2012, we returned in 2017 and it was very sad to see this Willow Tree chopped down.  It could have died and they simply removed it.  Another post card image looking across the mirroring water of the Cape Fold mountain range.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Champion Tree River Red Gum Stellenbosch

The Eucalyptus camaldulensis, known as a River Red Gum in Stellenbosch is listed as an official Champion Tree of South Africa, located at the local Bergzicht Market.
This beautiful specimen was planted in 1880.

Champion Tree Lombary Poplar in Aukland Park Johannsburg

Populus nigra. (Lombardy poplar) Rush Fischer Tree. Lothbury Avenue Aukland Park, Johannesburg 

Beautiful beaches of Cape Town - Big Bay

Big Bay Beach is known to be one of the many beautiful beaches around Cape Town.  It is located on the West Coast of Africa and is known as a blue flag beach.  This status has however been criticised by the local community due to the excessive pollution that is out of control and should be under control by the local government.  It is one of the top 10 destinations for kite surfing and wind surfing in the world.  Having said this, this beach is a very popular surfing beach too.
Every now and again you get pre-frontal fleece clouds that sweep in from the north creating dramatic skies assisting any landscape photo.
Table Mountain is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, earning it's rightful place.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Wild Side of Cape Point National Park - Part 2 of 2

 We have a lot more exploring to do in and around the Cape Point National Reserve, as well as a few more remarkable hikes to complete and cannot wait to add them to our portfolio of visiting this unique historical destination.
Vasco da Gama cross at Cape Point, South Africa
By the time Vasco da Gama was in his 20s, the king's plans were coming to fruition. In 1487, John II dispatched two spies, Pero da Covilhã and Afonso de Paiva, overland via Egypt to East Africa and India, to scout the details of the spice markets and trade routes. The breakthrough came soon after, when John II's captain Bartolomeu Dias returned from rounding the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, having explored as far as the Fish River (Rio do Infante) in modern-day South Africa and having verified that the unknown coast stretched away to the northeast.

An explorer was needed who could prove the link between the findings of Dias and those of da Covilhã and de Paiva, and connect these separate segments into a potentially lucrative trade route across the Indian Ocean.

Mediterranean Pine Tree, Cape Point National Park
Black Girdled Lizard
Girdled lizards are crevice species, but there are a few exceptions. The black girdled lizard is locally abundant in rocky areas from sea level up to mountain tops, including on Table Mountain. It is an agile lizard that is active during sunny weather and it often gazes in the direction of the sun, which is why they are called sonkykers (sun gazers) in Afrikaans. Another apt Afrikaans name is ouvolk (direct translation: ‘old folk’), which alludes to their ancient, crocodilian appearance. At the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden black girdled lizards are often seen just above the cultivated garden where they take shelter in cut-down Eucalyptus (blue gum) stumps.

Girdled lizards are popular in the pet trade and are also used for traditional medicine. The black girdled lizard is listed as Near-Threatened (NT) in the Red List (Mouton et al. 2014).


The black girdled lizard is a medium-sized lizard (~7 cm long), with a depressed head and smooth head shields. It is distinguished by its pitch or jet black colouration and large-girdled, dorsal, well-armed scales with pierced nostrils in the nasal shields. The upper (dorsal) scales are square and imbricate (like a tile roof) and are arranged in more than 22 regular rows. The lower scales (ventral) are also square and are in regular transverse series. The limbs are moderately long and have saw-edged scales.
Alex daring the sheer cliff face to enjoy the excitement of viewing this rugged coast line from high up above. 
Kelp Gull, Buffels Bay, Cape Point.
The day we stop enjoying the beauty of our natural world, is the day we might as well stop living.

Champion trees: at Paul Roos Gymnasium Lemon Scented Gum

A true champion, Paul Roos gymnasium, 39m tall and planted around 1885 they are remarkable, Myrtaceae : Eucalyptus citriodora (Lemon Scented Gum) smooth bark with a strong sweet scent, another champion enjoyed and logged thanks to Juanita Aitkenhead for enjoying this beauty with me.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Wild Side of Cape Point National Park - Part 1 of 2

There is never a dull moment when you visit Cape Point.  Whether you come to this venue for a hike, a beach walk or simply visiting the tourist hot-spots, there is always something special to see and witness.

Where the two oceans meet, depending on where you live in South Africa, as some believe it is actually at Cape Agulhas, the true southern most tip of Africa.  Even though this is not the most southern tip of Africa, this is where the two oceans meet with a combination of hot and cold currents.  This being the warm Indian Ocean or the cold Atlantic ocean.  It is this meeting of the two oceans that makes navigation around this Cape Point so dangerous.
Olifants Bos section with its beautiful array of natural flowers.
Orange Breasted Sun Bird

Da Gama Cross

Buffels Bay looking across towards Smuts Winkel Baai

Buffels Bay Beach break

Friday, January 13, 2017

Marakele National Park Part 3 of 3

Marakele Plans for the future:

  • 30 Bedroom Lodge location has been identified.
  • Large development of the road network to increase access to the park.
  • More short 4x4 routes to be opened soon.
  • 2 New picnic sites to be created, modeled on the popular Kruger Park concept.
  • Tourism Hub to be established at the Main Gate.
  • Activities center to attract more Day Visitors, which will include a swimming pool and braai area.
  • Adventure Activities will be outsourced for mountaineering and kloofing.

Most of the above items listed are set to be implemented in the next 5 years.

The Kransberg Loop takes you to a lovely viewpoint overlooking the Tlopi Campsite and dam.

Mocking Cliff Chat

While walking with our guide, it was great fun to explore the little things about this lovely park.

The true value and success of the environment is totally underrated as to what value the dung beetle brings to the bush.  There are a few species and here we have the Small Green Dung Beetle (Gymnopleurus humeralis), family scarabaeidae and had a special value in the Egyptian era too.

The diversity of this park is wonderful and varies between woodlands and highveld bushveld.  The road networks in the park were in good condition, and we have been advised that they have recently opened many more roads for greater exploration of the park.  It is not uncommon for a public road to not be marked, so you can venture almost anywhere at the moment.  Unfortunately at the time of our visit most of the 4x4 routes were closed due to water erosion.
The Alarm of the Bush - Natal Franklin.
Our alarm call for Marakele, a wonderful wakeup call every morning.

Mom and baby

Shongololo as we know it.

No bush experience would be complete without a wonderful evening fire to mark the end of another great day in the wild.

In addition to the Tlopi Tented Camp and the Bontle Campsite, Marakele offers the brand new exclusive Trails Lodge in their Marataba section of the park.

Accommodation is suited for 10 guests.  The Trails Lodge specialises in short and longer hiking trails.  They also offer a unique water safari which is a romantic sunset cruise on the Pithon Dam in the Matlabas River on the MS Mara.

Directly adjacent to the Park is the Welvonden Private Nature Reserve, together these three parks form a golden horse shoe of a protected area in the Limpopo Province.