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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.




Sunday, December 10, 2017

Holiday Time Hiking The Cederberg

During January 2017 the Cederberg experienced a massive fire and destroyed much of the Wolfberg Cracks and Wolfberg Arch hiking route, which was our main hike mission for this trip.  The route was then closed and all we could do was fill our days with alternate routes around the area.

The Sanddrift Camp Site early morning warm sun shines onto the visitors, while the charred mountain about prepares for it's slow recovery.
The Maltese Cross is a 4 hour route there and back and worth visiting when going to the Cederberg.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

West Coast Flowers Season 2017 Tinie Versveld and Yzerfontein

This time of the year we head off to find some flowers.  The rain has been very scarce and most extreme drought in a very long time.  It has been almost 5 years since we have had an average rainfall season pattern.  For this reason, we decided to find a local flower spot to enjoy the arrival of the Spring season.



Tinie Versveld reserve dam with the beautiful yellow flowers contrasting off the blue sky.

The flowers as enjoyed by both young and old at Bokbaaivygie Reserve near Yzerfontein.

Picture taken by Keanin Welgemoed






























Saturday, August 12, 2017

Old Groote Schuur Zoo New and Old Photos


We often spend our weekends doing long distance hikes, burning off the carbon and enjoying the great out doors, but this time we decided to do some exploring that was more like a picnic in the park.







The old Groote Schuur Zoo was started by Cecil John Rhodes around 1896 and his legacy left to the state was for all to have free access to his pride and joy zoo.  Unfortunately as we have become more civilised in animal welfare, zoo's have become less popular.  In this case, this zoo was only financially supported by the government until 1980, accompanied by the increase in animal welfare laws, which declared this venue not fit to hold these animals, and it was closed down somewhere between 1980 and 1985.















We suggest that when you come visit, you do not come alone, as the venue is open access to anyone and can be a bit creepy inside the lions enclosures.









Apparently there were two Tahrs that escaped from this zoo onto Table Mountain.  These two Himalayan mountain goats bred like wild fire and they remained on the mountain for almost a century.  In 2000 a decision was taken to remove all of them, but there are still some hanging around the slopes as we have seen for ourselves, if you look carefully, you will see them too.



Around the area are lovely trees and some lovely spots to enjoy a nice picnic with a view.  Stop over here and enjoy the energy that was felt by the creator himself, but do not forget that these wild animals did not ever live a happy life behind bars.

The following images were found off various sites regarding the zoo , that do not belong to us, but we thought they were important as part of the story and worth a share: