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Sunday, December 14, 2014

De Hoop Nature Reserve

The De Hoop Nature Reserve (World Heritage Site) was first brought to our attention by Scott Ramsay and later promoted by Peter Chadwick who was the former manager of the reserve.  As South Africans, we have never really seen this reserve being promoted in South Africa.  We did not expect much but were keen to see what the park had to offer.  

It became evident that the park is successfully promoted to foreign tourists who out-numbered the South Africans by at least 90%.  One wonders if this also contributed to the outstanding service levels offered at De Hoop Nature Reserve?
The closest town to this reserve is Bredasdorp, which is about 50km away.  Once you leave the comfort of the tarred road, be prepared for a bumpy ride, especially inside the park.  This is not always a bad thing as the cityslickers have no choice but to slow down, and helps towards the safety of the animals all over. The wildlife seemed very relaxed and it was a pleasure to view them from close up all over the park.
Cape Mountain Zeebra

The main restaurant (Figtree) recently burnt down, and they did a make-shift restaurant / bar in the Cloete Manor House.  This has worked out even better for the reserve and they are planning to keep it this way.  A new reception will take the place of the old restaurant.  One will see why the restaurant is called the Figtree as here you will find the most beautiful specimens of these beautifully shaped giants in the gardens surrounding the main buildings.
A well maintained tennis court and swimming pool is located on the premises for the active visitors and their children.
A 17km vlei (wetland) stretches accross the reserve, which is on the RAMSAR list of wetlands of International Importance.  This is a birders paradise with a wide variety of birds - from waders to vultures - can be seen in and near the De Hoop Nature Reserve.
Activities available for the visitors are the following:
  • Guided Bird Walk
  • Self Guided walk around the Reserve
  • Guided Mountain Bike Ride
  • Guided Eco Quad Bike Rides
  • 1-3 Day hikes
  • Whale watching
  • Interprative Marine Walks
  • Pre-arranged picnics
  • Wine Trail
  • Star Gazing & Identification
  • Beach walk to view the beautiful rock pools
  • Wedding and Conference Facility
We did not have time to get to all these activities, so spending 2 days here is just not enough to enjoy everything that this reserve has to offer.
260 Bird species and 85 mamals have been recorded.

We had a go at one of our new macro lenses, and this is the start of many more fun images to come to our blog.

Aerial map of De Hoop and Koppie Alleen
De Hoop Self Catering Accommodation
 The accommodation is varied, here we stayed in a 4 bedroom bungalow, but had to make use of ablutions and a lovely shared kitchen.


Pied Starling

The Meeting Tree

Klaas's Cuckoo
This was a rare find! and everyone was very excited when he showed himself to us.
De Hoop also has a rich cultural heritage history dating back to the Stone Age.  Hunter-gatherers who lived off the veld and coastal resources in the area thousands of years ago. The 'middens' of the nomadic homestead of the earliest regsitered owner, Peter Lourense Cloete, still stands and forms part of The Opstal accommodation establishment.
Self Guided Route on De Hoop

De Hoop FIGTREE Restaurant and Bar
Grey Heron

Scrub Hare

African Hoopoe

Koppie Alleen Whale Watching House
Another must-do spot is for the visitor to go to Koppie Alleen.  This is a 30 km drive on a 'not so good' road, but once you are there, you will be pleasantly surprised by the shear beauty of the environment.  Here you can take an easy walk to the beach and walk along the dunes and the rock pools, while watching the whales breach in the sea nearby.  Again, we loved it here, but did not allocate enough time for a proper visit.  Its best to go early and explore without having to be rushed to get back to camp before 6pm.

African (Black) Oyster Catchers

Caspian Tern

We were lucky enough to spot a family of Cape Clawless Otters who aparantly are locals to the reserve, but are not often seen by the visitors.  At first they were seen on the grass patch at number 8 of the self guided walk, and then they swam across the vlei as seen in the pic above.
Spurwing Geese

De Hoop Die Melkkamer
Die Melkkamer (the milk room) is a sandstone building on the opposite side of the vlei.  It was once the original center of the farm 'The Hope' or 'De Hoop' .  The name is probably derived from its original use for milking cows by the Cloetes, who owned the property more than 200 years ago.  Today The Melkkamer has been fully restored and forms part of the De Hoop Collection.  Visitors can stay there upon request.
 The park is perfect family getaway!
We found out that there was a breeding colony of Cape Griffin vultures at the nearby Potberg Mountain range and took a 30km drive to the parking area.  From there is an easy walk via the Klipspringer trail to the lookout point, and this is where you can witness these beauties flying above you in the thermals of the mountain.  This was undoubtably a highlight of our trip.  The next time we go, we will go much earlier during the day, because starting in the heat of the day (11h00) is never a good time to take a walk onto a mountain on a very hot summers day.
Fig Tree
Cape Spurfowl
We enjoyed this park dearly and would like to revisit it again one day soon.  It was fairly affordable and is a great family destination in and near Cape Town.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hoedspruit Glencoe Baobab

We had the most tasty pancakes on the Glencoe farm, just outside Hoedspruit (Limpopo Province), whilst enjoying this breathtaking view of the Drakensberg and this beautiful baobab.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Romantic sunset with Table Mountain

Table Mountain and a beautiful sunset from the beach offers any romatic couple the perfect place to get cozy

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Commander the beautiful stallion

Commander showing his good side at our wedding venue Langkloof Roses in Wellington Western Cape.  He is such a sweet animal, we loved having him there

Sabi Sabi overrated and full of politics

We went to visit the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve. On all the websites for the Sabi group, you are told that you are visiting this sabi game reserve "Unfenced. Part of Kruger National Park. #Luxury. Bla bla bla" , but what they dont tell you is that there are huge politics amongst the unfenced reserves within the reserve, and if you are visiting one place (in our case we went to Umkumbe), you are not allowed to put your big toe on any of the other reserves. Because they are so full of #politics, the Sabi Sabi Game reserve has literally littered their entire bordering section of their reserve with these signposts. So you go on this 'luxury' excursion, but all these signs are in the way when you want to take photos. It looks terrible. The energy on this reserve between the people is not good and we can see that its not heading in a good direction. Alex wanted to make sure this message is loud and clear. Its not what they make out to be. 

Storms River in the Tsitsikama National park

these bungalows are right on the edge of the water. They are perfectly located for a stormy experience on the shore of the Storms river mouth, Tsitsikamma National Park.

another national park that so much to offer , we had a short stay but very special indeed , we walked day one of the otter trail to soak up this coastline Tsitsikamma National Park

 one of the most beautiful and scenic walks in the comfort of a well manicured and fun walkway that takes you across the Storms River and right to the top of the hill on the other side. Perfect to get the heart rate up after a long drive to get there. Tsitsikamma National Park

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

leopard kruger national park

we had the privilege watching this young leopard interact with an older and more heavy set male leopard , wow what a highlite this was . photo taken near lower sabi  , july 2013