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Mission Impossible! An epic road trip in search of some of South Africa’s rarest mammals

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kittykat23uk

 

Mission Impossible! An epic road trip in search of some of South Africa’s rarest mammals

- with my mum!

 

When people have asked me how my last safari went, I reply,

“We saw lots of amazing wildlife, but we had to sack the guide!”

 

Obviously, this is not a statement I ever expected to open with, but it was sadly true with this safari. We were let down, badly.  The company we used was Kalahari Safaris based in Upington. It has received plenty of good reviews prior to our trip. We had been planning this trip with Kalahari Safaris for nearly a year and had naturally requested a wildlife guide with broad knowledge of the flora and fauna. A couple of names had received good reviews and we stated a preference for one of those guys to guide us. This didn't happen.

 

For those of you who are familiar with British sitcoms, what we ended up with was the South African equivalent of an ageing Basil Fawlty! This guide, Mel, turned out to be a city tour guide and, yes B&B owner, based in Cape Town. Whilst clearly very passionate about his home town, he was not a naturalist guide, and, despite some pre-tour email exchanges to clarify our expectations for the tour which were initially quite reassuring, it quickly became apparent that he was not prepared to handle a tour covering nearly 4000km to our expectations. It was not until two weeks into our three week tour that we were able to replace Mel with a different guide, Jeanrie Goosen. Whilst still not a naturalist guide (he specialises more in 4x4 tours and PH work), he was a significant improvement and we were able to end our tour on a high point with him.  

 

At the present time Kalahari Safaris has sent me a written apology stating that he regrets employing Mel for our tour, that he was not up to standard but no offer of recompense has been forthcoming.. 

 

I will make reference to issues that forced us to curtail planned activities and/or make alternative arrangements for our activities where this is appropriate. My mum also fell ill with a nasty cold.

 

Despite all the issues we had, we did see lots of amazing wildlife and my mum definitely got the safari bug and is keen to travel with me again!   

 

Our original plan was:

 

  • 15 Sept- We arrive 2120 overnight at Road Lodge Cape Town International Airport
  • 16-18 The Cape Peninsula.  Simonstad Seadeville BB (Simonstown) http://www.seadevilla.co.za/simonstown-activities.php . Visiting some of the main botanical and natural history destinations such as Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Point and the south-western tip of the African Continent, Betty’s Bay, Stony Point, Boulder’s Beach and others. Possibly Table Mountain, depending on weather.  Staying in Simon’s Town.
  • 19 and 20 Swellendam and the Agulhas Plain. Swellendam BB Aan de Oewer BB http://www.aandeoever.com to visit Bontebok NP and De Hoop NP.
  • 21 Karoo National Park.
  • 22-24 Dunedin Farm (double room on this farm) - Riverine Rabbit Retreat
  • 25-27 Marrick safari camp & Mokala Park
  • 28 – 29 Kamfers Dam then Augrabies Falls National Park.
  • 30 Sept  Kalahari  trails meerkat sanctuary (morning walk with meerkats) .

 

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

 

  • 1 Oct Twee Rivieren
  • 2 Oct Mata Mata riverfront lux chalet
  • 3 Oct Kalahari tented camp unfenced 3 km from Mata Mata
  • 4 Oct TBC  Hopefully Nossob
  • 5  Oct  tbc
  • 6 Oct  Jo & Mum depart on the 17:10 flight from Upington to Johannesburg SA8770 to connect with the 2315 from Johannesburg KLM 592.
     

What we ended up with was:

  • 15 Sept- We arrive 2120 overnight at Road Lodge Cape Town International Airport
  • 16 Sept- West Coast National Park (our choice) overnight Table View B&B (FOC)
  • 17 Sept- Whale watching out of Gansbaai with Dyer Island Cruises (our choice,  booked directly ) and evening trip up Table Mountain - overnight at Simonstad Seadeville BB (Simonstown) http://www.seadevilla.co.za/simonstown-activities.php
  • 18 Sept - sightseeing,  Groot Constantia, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Point,  overnight at Simonstad Seadeville BB (Simonstown) http://www.seadevilla.co.za/simonstown-activities.php  (breakfast only)
  • 19 Sept Boulder’s Beach, drive to Swellendam. Overnight Swellendam BB Aan de Oewer BB http://www.aandeoever.com
  • 20 Sept  Witsand, De Hoop NP. (Breakfast only)
  • 21 Karoo National Park (self catering )
  • 22-24 Dunedin Farm (double room on this farm) - Riverine Rabbit Retreat
  • 25-27 Marrick safari camp & Mokala Park ( full board)
  • 28 – 29 Kamfers Dam then Augrabies Falls National Park. (Self catering )
  • 30 Sept  Kalahari  trails meerkat sanctuary (self catering ) .

 

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park all self catering.

  • 1 Oct Twee Rivieren
  • 2 Oct Mata Mata riverfront lux chalet
  • 3 Oct Kalahari tented camp unfenced 3 km from Mata Mata
  • 4 Oct  Twee Rivieren
  • 5 Oct Twee Rivieren
  • 6 Oct  Jo & Mum depart on the 17:10 flight from Upington to Johannesburg SA8770 to connect with the 2315 from Johannesburg KLM 592.

 

All meals, accommodation, guiding fees and fuel were to be included in the cost of our tour, including all daily game drives in the national parks, and all transfers between sites. We also agreed that at the Riverine Rabbit Retreat the guide would take us out for sunset/night drives as well as morning excursions, as the farm does not normally run organised night drives. Kalahari Safaris also agreed they would organise a spotlight for this activity.

 

We agreed we would pay for park/entrance fees and any additional costs of excursions such as the boat trip and night drives at Marrick and in the national parks.

 

I can provide quite a detailed breakdown of costs:

 

We paid Kalahari Safaris: £7106 approx between us. (Paid in Euros)

Of that, the total accommodation bill, including any accommodation and meals booked for the guide amounted to: £1860 based on an exchange rate of 16 Rand to the £.

 

Kalahari Safaris paid the guide approx £3125 to cover all fuel/transport, food not already paid for in the accommodation and guiding fees. Mel paid Jeanrie about £625 to cover our last six nights of guiding. Both guides were expected to provide their own transport for the tour.

 

No discussions were had with us about the guide’s accommodation, as this was left to Kalahari Safaris to sort out the details. We did state our expectation that we would make the most of dawn and dusk wildlife viewing and our expectation therefore was that the guide would naturally be co-located with us at all times.

 

However, to keep costs to us down, at most of the places we stayed, we discovered that the guide was expected to either make their own arrangements for accommodation (where we stayed in B&B), or camp (at most national parks). The exceptions to this were Riverine Rabbit Retreat, Marrick, and two nights in Kgalagadi where a room was provided due to a lack of camping spaces. Lack of guide accommodation and food budget became a major source of disagreement between Mel and Kalahari Safaris.   

 

Park fees came to R4478. I was planning to buy a wild card, but was advised against doing so by Mel on the understanding that paying as we went along would be cheaper. This advice turned out to be incorrect. It would have cost only R3455 for the Wild Card.

 

We booked night drives most places we could, including three at Marrick. For the first two nights there we had to pay the whole cost of R2700 between us each night. On our third night we were able to share the cost with another couple.

 

We booked our own flights routing from Norwich via Schipol Flights to Cape town, and back via Upington, Jo'Burg and Schipol.

 

I had hoped to write this sooner, with the help of my Mum but unfortunately my Granddad passed away shortly after we returned and so Mum has naturally been tied up with all the outfall of that. 

 

So onto Day 1.

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Tdgraves

Dear Jo, so sorry to hear your tale of woe and bereavement. We had a similar tale, such that I have also only just started my TR. I have no experience of in country TAs, but I would suggest keep plugging away at them. I’m sure that they do not want the bad publicity....

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kittykat23uk

 

16/09/17 West Coast National Park

 

37108698213_5080e67b57_c.jpgP9160006 Mum photographing West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

After a pleasant flight the day before, changing a little cash and a bit of faffing around when our transfer didn’t seem to have been arranged, we finally checked into Road Lodge just by Cape Town Airport around 11 PM. On arrival we were advised that Mel had rung to say he would be late collecting us at 9.00 instead of the agreed time of 08.30. So we had a more leisurely start than planned.

 

Ahead of our arrival Mel had informed us that he had swapped our accommodation for the 16th from Simonstown to his B&B at Table View at no charge to us, as it was more convenient for where we wanted to visit on our first two days. I thought this was kind of him and good planning on his part.  He then informed me that as it was very windy around the Cape and the sun was shining, West Coast National Park should be our target plan for the day. This suited us just fine as I knew that Mum would be delighted to see the flowers in bloom and we should also have a chance of seeing some of the mammals, such as Cape Mountain Zebra.

 

37108560443_e9760d0522_c.jpgP9160011 West Coast National Park Flower by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

I was somewhat staggered to see that we had a minibus for our tour, being only two guests! I began to wonder how this vehicle would cope with the sand that we would face in Kgalagadi as well as the possibly rugged terrain in the Karoo. Mel explained that his normal bakkie had developed a fault and he’d had to make other arrangements. We had a hairy moment when the back wheel hit a curb on a busy road on our first day, it certainly put the wind up my mum!

 

After dropping our bags at their B&B and picking up Mel’s lovely wife Pat, we were finally on our way to West Coast National Park. The entrance to the park is some 100km north of Cape Town, off the R27 highway. Most internal routes are tarred.

 

37778375571_45231fb2c5_c.jpgP9160013adj Angulate Tortoise by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

About West Coast National Park

 

Description from Sanparks website: Though the thousands of migrating birds is one the main reasons for the conservation of the West Coast National Park, the showy plants of the area, usually growing on granite or limestone rocks, especially during spring time, are what attracts most of its visitors to this fascinating park.

 

37108556843_cd452ca908_c.jpgP9160031 West Coast National Park by Jo Dale, on Flickr

WCNP contains mostly strandveld vegetation (24,025 ha), which was previously classified as West Coast Strandveld and Langebaan Fynbos /Thicket Mosaic. In recent years the park has expanded incorporating substantial areas (6,382 ha) of an additional vegetation type /broad habitat unit i.e. Hopefield Sand Plain Fynbos, previously called Coastal Fynbos. Both these habitat units were given a 50 % irreplaceability rating, however, sand plain fynbos is regarded to be of higher conservation value than strandveld, due to very little being formally conserved and it being more threatened by alien plant invasion.

 



The strandveld vegetation of WCNP occurs on the Langebaan peninsula and east of the Langebaan lagoon on deep calcareous sands of the Langebaan formation. Sand plain fynbos occurs inland of the strandveld on deep acidic light-grey to pale-red sands of the Springfontyn formation. Extensive marshes, dominated by Sarcocornia, Salicornia, Spartina, Limonium, Phragmites, Typha, Juncus, and Scirpus species, occur on the fringes of the Langebaan lagoon.

The vegetation of the park, excluding the newly acquired properties such as Van Niekerks Hoop, Kalkklipfontein, Langefontein and Elandsfontein, may be divided into 36 associations (or communities), having some 482 plant species (including salt marsh species), of which 21 are Red Data Book species. A further 14 Red Data species have been recorded, or are likely to occur on the newly acquired sections of land.

 

We arrived around 11:40 and spent a lot of our time around the dunes, which were covered in a variety of flowers.

 

Much to our surprise, Mel and his wife stayed with the minibus whenever we stopped to look at all the wonderful flowers. As a result, I have no idea what any of the flowers are called, and it was quite disappointing not to have a knowledgeable guide to show us around the lovely park. Perhaps someone on here could help us I.D. them?

 

We stopped in at the Geelbek visitor centre to look at Eve’s footprints. Discovered in 1995 at Kraalbaai, these are unmistakable human footfalls in rock (formerly sea sand) and are said to have belonged to a young woman who lived 117 000 years ago.The original footprints are housed at the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town, but a replica can be seen inside the Visitors Centre.

 

Close to the Visitor Centre are a couple of bird hides. Mum and I decided to investigate. The one hide we visited was accessible via a boardwalk that goes out over the marsh. We saw a few nice birds, including Great White Pelican, Great White Egret, Black Harrier, Yellow-billed Kite,  Black-winged Stilt, Curlew Sandpiper, Greenshank, Kittlitz Plover, Blacksmith Plover, Cape Wagtail and Lesser Flamingos.

 

37779831521_64319838ae_c.jpgP9160009 adj Kittlitz's Plover by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23927131588_c51f693287_c.jpgP9160026 adj Lesser Flamingos by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37731337566_8f5e728710_c.jpgP9160036 Little Stint & Curlew Sandpipers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37731331676_62e1fe9570_c.jpgP9160075 Black-winged Stilt by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748270822_3b0eff99d3_c.jpgP9160115adj West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

Other than the distant flamingos, not much was visible from the hide, the walk up there being more productive. The tide was probably a bit too high to get many waders, except for the few on the saltmarsh.

 

Having looked in the bird hide we continued on, A Small Grey Mongoose ran across the road.  Stopping at a little tuck shop for a few bits to tide us over, only really crisps and chocolates were on offer there, so we missed having a proper lunch, but our breakfast had been filling.

 

37778372031_cf26f3523d_c.jpgP9160032 adj West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37778368871_c09d3b432c_c.jpgP9160037 West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We almost turned back before the famous Postberg section, thankfully I took time to consult  the map and asked advice from the staff at the little snack shop, from which we were directed to the jewel of the park.  Around 14:30 we reached the Postberg section. This area was carpeted in swathes of pink and yellow flowers.

 

37778364681_0e22abdd33_c.jpgP9160043 West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37746903172_771ffe7d19_c.jpgP9160044 West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37520274920_0b0455ce0a_c.jpgP9160048 West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37746910102_f7868bf6f0_c.jpgP9160054 West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37778502001_0ce3bfb9ef_c.jpgP9160055 West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

37746888912_01832b2125_c.jpgP9160060 West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37069420774_d5e1d961e1_c.jpgP9160064adj West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37520258780_8365762369_c.jpgP9160067 West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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kittykat23uk
kittykat23uk

A few more birds:

 

23927117048_e66cb30548_c.jpgP9160145 Cape Wagtail by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37731327816_274682a78c_c.jpgP9160121 adj Cape Bulbul by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37110015413_36dc329880_c.jpgP9160154 Black-headed Canary by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

In the distance we could see some game, including my first lifers of the trip, Cape Mountain Zebra, behind them, Springbok and Bontebok. Ostrich were also present.  

 

23927111438_a01a1eb6fc_c.jpgP9160191 Ostrich by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37778418211_aca97aa180_c.jpgP9160316 West Coast National Park by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37778410721_d7768dfe04_c.jpgP9160335 West Coast National Park Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37779811271_4fd6bb1548_c.jpgP9160214 adj Cape Mountain Zebra by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37110006773_44fa6cf31e_c.jpgP9160328 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Driving around we were able to approach the Zebra herd more closely, they were clearly a frisky bunch with a couple of them rearing up, biting and chasing each other.

 

37779795711_9509e31a28_c.jpgP9160580 Cape Mountain Zebra by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748244902_03571fb3f3_c.jpgP9160607.-1 Cape Mountain Zebra by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37779789571_695ac099c7_c.jpgP9160613 Cape Mountain Zebra by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748255332_6a17120b5f_c.jpgP9160735 Cape Mountain Zebra by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37731301106_66ac792462_c.jpgP9160985 Cape Mountain Zebra by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We also spotted our first Eland of the trip, these being of the pale form seen along the south and west coast. With these sightings in the bag we began our journey back to Cape Town.

 

23927074308_891d77df86_c.jpgP9161148 adj Eland by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37779766931_2ee171af91_c.jpgP9161240adj Cape Sparrow by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748238332_df029c4c10_c.jpgP9161243 Eland by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Mel took us to one of the local restaurants, Catch 22, for dinner with his wife. I had the Kingclip in a shrimp and brandy sauce with a cold savannah cider, which was very tasty. Mel said he wanted to “treat us” as a kind of welcome dinner,  although given we had already paid for all meals, this seemed a little odd.

 

After dinner, we retired for the night as we had an early start the next day in order to get to Gansbaai for our whale watching trip.

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Towlersonsafari

Very sorry to hear of your loss and of the problems you had on your trip but hopefully those problems were overcome! Looking forward to reading about the good things you saw @kittykat23uk

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Treepol

@kittykat23uk so sorry to hear that your Granddad passed away recently, very sad news.

 

Wow, Mel was certainly bad news for your safari. I can read your disappointment regarding the bad experience with Mel, and this choice of guide for your safari does not reflect well on Kalahari Safaris. 

 

What beautiful photos of WCNP, my favourites are the zebras against the background of pink/purple and yellow flowers.

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janzin

You certainly timed it right to catch the wildflowers! When we were there, it was mid-August and everything was blooming then, so it can really be variable. Wonderful photos.

 

What a total bummer about the guide, though, especially after all the planning that went into this trip. Hopefully you were able to make the most of it, lemonade out of lemons as the saying goes. I look forward to more...

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Geoff

That West Coast National park looks lovely. The plant with the bright pink flowers and yellow centres are a species of carpobrotus. Also known as pigface.

 

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kittykat23uk

Thanks all, especially @Geoff for help with the flowers. Yes I was incredibly upset about the way we were treated. This was my mum's first ever trip to Africa and our only long haul holiday together plus a milestone birthday for her whilst we were there. 

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Kitsafari

beautiful shots of the zebras! and west coast national park looks enchanting. 

 

So sorry to hear about your granddad, and that the guide fell short of your expectations. 

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Peter Connan

So sorry to hear about the dual misfortunes of an ill-fitted guide and your grandfather's passing!

 

Beautiful photos already, thank you.

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kittykat23uk

Thank you everyone! Much appreciated. I treated myself to the new OMD-EM1 Mark 2 for this trip. Most of the animals and birds are shot with this camera paired with the Panaleica 100-400 (I got rid of the rubbish filter this time, photos are much improved over Borneo, no PP needed on most. The scenery and flowers were mostly shot with the EM1 mark 1 and the 35 mm 4/3 macro. I gifted my mum my old E-620 and she mainly used the kit lens 14-42 and for animals/birds the 70-300. 

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kittykat23uk

17/09/17 Gansbaai and Table Mountain

 

We had kept our plans for our first days around the Cape quite open, as many of the excursions we wanted to do were weather dependent, like West Coast. It was just over a month before our trip when my mum decided that she would actually like to do the whale watching trip. Until then, she had been on the fence about it because she doesn’t much care for being out on the open water after a terrifying childhood experience on a river in India.

 

I contacted Pieter at Kalahari Safaris in advance and asked him if he could book us the whale watching trip or if we should ask our guide to do that for us. He advised we should ask our guide and it was around that time that we were introduced to Mel. Unfortunately, the early communication I had was with his wife Pat who advised that Mel was away guiding another group. As availability was fast diminishing, I asked Pat if we should book it directly and she advised to go ahead and get the booking in. Once I’d done that, I let Mel know what date we’d booked for.

 

We left Table View at 0615 after a light breakfast of muesli and yoghurt. A few birds were seen en route including Hadedas and our first sighting of Blue Cranes. We drove via Hermanus to Dyer Island Cruises in Gansbaai. This is the same company my Dad and I used for our shark dives in 2010. We had some light refreshments and a video presentation before getting sou'westers and lifejackets and boarding the boat.

 

There was quite a swell on the ocean and my mum was clearly perturbed by this, clinging to me like a limpet! The crew put down a cover over our side of the boat to avoid the worst of the spray. We first stopped by the shark divers, but no sharks were seen at that time. So we carried on along the bay east until we came across our first of several groups of Southern Right Whales. Sadly the whales didn’t breach, but a few times we saw a significant part of the head and upper body above the waves and a few occasions of tails coming out of the water as these ocean giants dived down. The swell did make photography more challenging than my last whale watching trip in Hermanus and I don’t think I managed to get any better shots.     

 

37086356914_bd79e31732_c.jpgboat & gulls by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37795805521_e9f505e9fa_c.jpgP9170038 adj Southern Right Whale by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37795801801_fdd4b0cc11_c.jpgP9170065 Southern Right Whale by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37125692603_26bcf24462_c.jpgP9170075 Southern Right Whale by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37537521740_ceec300810_c.jpgP9170191 Southern Right Whale by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37125679953_489310391c_c.jpgP9170293 Southern Right Whale by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37125675253_cb5171d5d1_c.jpgP9170351 Southern Right Whale by Jo Dale, on Flickr    

Edited by kittykat23uk

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kittykat23uk

I sadly missed the only humpback dolphin sighting (but have seen these before in Mozambique).

 

We stopped off at the Cape Fur Seal colony at Dyer Island and made a couple of passes to watch the thousands of playful young seals in the ocean, and larger adults resting on the rocks. Sadly no “air jaws” moments presented themselves (much to mum’s relief).  

 

37537511880_4f76575d39_c.jpgP9170452 Cape Fur Seals by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37763938562_f8df075411_c.jpgP9170466 Cape Fur Seals by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23942963838_a376299687_c.jpgP9170469 Cape Fur Seals by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37763936312_0b1591b591_c.jpgP9170487 Cape Fur Seal by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23942957148_b23db172b5_c.jpgP9170536 Cape Fur Seal by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37747209186_60ee57ffb8_c.jpgP9170585 Cape Fur Seals by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37125701283_c8d4d00db8_c.jpgP9170023 Cape Fur Seals by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37086327784_22feee995d_c.jpgP9170597 Cape Fur Seal by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37086326104_420afbd0b6_c.jpgP9170640 Cape Fur Seal by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23942943548_8ee4d7502e_c.jpgP9170646 Cape Fur Seal by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23942938888_45c6a27b4d_c.jpgP9170663 Cape Fur Seal by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23942930988_5895f12da1_c.jpgP9170696 Cape Gull by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23942934588_12385eb9cf_c.jpgP9170695 Cape Gull by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We did see a single Humpback Whale, only the small dorsal fin and part of the back was visible.

 

37537483770_c06aece2d9_c.jpgP9170732 Humpback Whale by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37537477040_b20bf68ee3_c.jpgP9170741 Humpback Whale by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We then returned to the cage divers, where it wasn’t long before there was some action, not just a Great White Shark, but also a Bronze Whaler Shark visited the bait when we were there.

 

23942914658_33f5ca05f4_c.jpgP9170793 Shark cage divers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37747174386_8fab0c0589_c.jpgP9170795 Shark cage divers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23942907588_64284942eb_c.jpgP9170804 Shark cage divers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37086311674_3d567998e8_c.jpgP9170818 Shark cage divers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Cape Gulls, Bank Cormorants and a Sub-antarctic Skua were also seen. We didn’t see any albatrosses this trip as we didn’t do a specific pelagic tour, unlike last time.

 

We arrived back later than expected at around 12:50. Dyer Island Crusies include a light lunch of soup and rolls, (while they edit the souvenir video that they like to hawk to punters), but we were hurried out by Mel who wanted to get us up Table Mountain that afternoon. We managed to grab a few bread rolls and, with a bit of cheese from Pat, that was our lunch for the day.

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kittykat23uk

We got back to Cape Town, Mum had come down with a cold and wasn’t feeling too well so Pat took her to a Pharmacy to stock up on flu remedies. We carried on to Table Mountain arriving around 17:00. The queue to get up there was horrendous and we almost decided to give it a miss. But we did persevere and eventually got to the top around 1800. There wasn’t much time to walk around before the sun started to set. Mel stayed behind at the cafe near the cable car whilst we explored the trails, admired the stunning vistas as the sun set.

 

37749695802_377349e0b9_c.jpgP9170055 Scenic views around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37749694882_41d1688513_c.jpgP9170057 Scenic views around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37749693802_a760832039_c.jpgP9170059 Scenic views around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37523096500_ece57a3dd6_c.jpgP9170060 Scenic views around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37072009074_695735782d_c.jpgP9170062 Scenic views around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37523092340_08a40bbfa5_c.jpgP9170063 Scenic views around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37072005964_866bd3aa30_c.jpgP9170071 Scenic views around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37072003924_5dc2975387_c.jpgP9170088 Views from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37072002394_0dd19f927b_c.jpgP9170090 Lion’s Head Mountain from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37523080990_3e0b8f6655_c.jpgP9170102 Views from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37071998034_c68174be01_c.jpgP9170107 Lion's Head Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37071996724_fc6f68253d_c.jpgP9170108 Views from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37111442503_dfe2e35363_c.jpgP9170111 Views from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37764241282_d22a8cbd42_c.jpgP9170850 Red-winged Starling by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37764239422_242ef5c968_c.jpgP9170856 flower by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37732657616_66a64d3ebe_c.jpgP9170116 adj Sunset Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37071990214_3d5e3e544f_c.jpgP9170117 Sunset Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

It was no surprise that the queue to get down was just as horrendous! Despite the lengthy wait, everyone was in a really jovial atmosphere with lots of spontaneous singing as we queued to get down. We finally made it back down at around 2015. From there we still had a long drive to get to Simon’s Town. We stopped for a KFC before struggling to find our B&B, spotting an African Penguin in town.

 

37732655896_bbb3c9cd10_c.jpgP9170121 Table Mountain top by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37071986694_858ef49dc6_c.jpgP9170123 Table Mountain top by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37732653936_d9b4927481_c.jpgP9170124 Lion's Head from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37781312771_3029d0dd69_c.jpgP9170128 Sunset on table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37796126481_f719aa9bfa_c.jpgP9170889 Red-winged Starling by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37071979624_e00d3954a4_c.jpgP9170147 Sunset from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37781306351_efcc8c2e9c_c.jpgP9170150 Views from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37071973884_a5a162bd4e_c.jpgP9170162 Sunset from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37071972444_a546a97b1d_c.jpgP9170196 Sunset from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37732638226_e220ce1eab_c.jpgP9170205 Views from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37071969444_4c8c88de8f_c.jpgP9170209 Views from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37523054560_87d51341ea_c.jpgP9170212 Views from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37523050520_4621f74c31_c.jpgP9170245 Views from Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37523105000_b8046c2f8c_c.jpgP1018698 Long queue to get down Table Mountain by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Tiredness was clearly getting to Mel and he bumped the curb several times trying to manoeuvre the bus up the windy road as he attempted to locate to our B&B. We arrived around 2130. Our accommodation was stunning and turned out to be just in front of Port of Call, where my Dad and I had stayed last time we were there.

 

Mel dropped us off unceremoniously and headed back to Table View. I was rather shocked about this as I expected our guide to be located with us to make an early start the next day. We collapsed into bed, but sleep didn’t come easily for me.

Edited by kittykat23uk

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SafariChick

@kittykat23uk Sorry to hear about your Grandfather, I did not know that.  How frustrating this all sounds about Mel - I would have been alarmed at that vehicle as well. You sound like you took it all in stride at the beginning, I might have started freaking out a bit sooner.  Definitely would have been upset when he didn’t get out to go with you to see the flowers! Something like what happened to us at Nice when we hired a guide to take us to several spots near Nice and he didn't get out of the car with us at any, just told us where to look around while he parked the car!

 

Love the “mossy thing” but agree with @Treepol favorite is zebras with yellow and pink flowers That was very funny about him “treating” you to a meal when you’d already paid for meals! The seals were very cute. I am not sure if I'm seeing this correctly but in post 15 - is one collared? seem to see something blue thing around a neck.

 

Lovely sunset pics at Table Mountain. Look forward to more and hearing how it all turns out!

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janzin

Wow, that's a lot of seals! More great photos! And the whales too!  Look like you had great weather, at least so far.

 

But you can already tell that Mel isn't a good fit... :(

 

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Geoff

@kittykat23uk   Cape Gulls?   They look like Kelp Gulls to me. Are they a subspecies?

 

 

EDIT: Yes they are. I just looked them up. Interesting.

Edited by Geoff

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penolva

Sorry to hear about your grandfather. You did so well rescuing your trip from Mel. How he could take you to WCNP and not mention Postburg is a disgrace. Pen

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TonyQ

Sorry to hear about your Grandfather. Your photos are beautiful -especially the wildlife in flowers. Great to see the whales and seals, and amazing views from Table Mountain. Already Mel does not sound like a good guide......

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kittykat23uk

Thanks all. 

 

18/09/17 Kirstenbosch and Cape Point

 

I woke up at 0300 worrying about how the rest of the tour would go. Our guide had already been making some worrying complaints, particularly around what was and wasn’t included in our tour.

 

So I drafted and email to the safari company asking him to speak to our guide to clarify what we had already paid for in terms of meals and to ensure that our guide was happy with his accommodation arrangements.

 

I also raised concerns about the suitability of the minibus and reiterated my expectations for the spotlight and night drives that we would need our guide to conduct at Riverine Rabbit Retreat.


Afterwards, I tried to get back to sleep, but eventually gave up and got up around 7 am.  I watched the dawn break over the ocean whilst scanning for cetaceans.

 

37764767622_3c4f6c675a_c.jpgP9180016 Sunrise, Simon's Town by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

As the sun rose, the birdlife got going, and I managed to photograph some beautiful sunbirds, including orange-breasted sunbirds, Southern Double-collared sunbirds and Malachite sunbird, the latter being a lifer that I’d failed to nail last time I was here. Also present were Cape Sugarbird, Helmeted Guineafowl, Common Waxbill, Speckled Pigeon, Cape Bulbul, Speckled Mousebird, Karoo Prinia and Pin-tailed Whydah.  

 

23944162548_fef64e491a_c.jpgP9180193 Cape Sugarbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37538636110_834b422683_c.jpgP9180243 Southern Double-collared Sunbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37087347484_f588bd6840_c.jpgP9180344 Helmeted Guineafowl by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37538627910_c8465651bc_c.jpgP9180362 Helmeted Guineafowl by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37796916521_3ae79f54d8_c.jpgP9180377 Lizard by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748330556_2ae92b4605_c.jpgP9180389 Orange-breasted Sunbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37764970492_3977fe834b_c.jpgP9180464 adj Malachite Sunbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37087325764_3e02084e33_c.jpgP9180477 adj Malachite Sunbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37764966612_bd3ab9cfe3_c.jpgP9180498 Catterpillar by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37764963742_bb6870ef9d_c.jpgP9180550 Common Waxbill by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23944123048_d0da4b2438_c.jpgP9180596 Speckled Pigeon by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23944121308_545d54d62b_c.jpgP9180615 Cape Bulbul by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23944120118_44fb7815b2_c.jpgP9180628 Speckled Mousebird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23944118668_1c7f300f07_c.jpgP9180652 Flowers by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23944117238_96cbff9e79_c.jpgP9180656 Cape Girdled Lizard by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748310306_86bfe97f0b_c.jpgP9180670 Karoo Prinia by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37126688183_cee7f05477_c.jpgP9180782  Sunbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

Edited by kittykat23uk

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kittykat23uk

We enjoyed a leisurely, and indeed deliciously plentiful, breakfast whilst we waited for our guide to arrive. We finally got picked up at 09:45. Our guide stopped off a few times to point out some of the historical sights of Simon’s Town and the Cape.

 

37086783084_0faeae9430_c.jpgP1018709 adj by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23943551828_bfea6aaa5a_c.jpgP1018712 adj by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We were booked onto a motorised tour at Kirstenbosch at 1100, so our guide was really just killing time before taking us there. We had expressed an interest in doing a wine tasting and our guide drove us to Groot Constantia to show us around.

 

23943551218_bacc6b9ca7_c.jpgP1018715 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

One of the buildings was displaying a beautiful gallery of wildlife art, which I enjoyed viewing. Given that the sun was not yet above the yardarm and given my mum was suffering from a heavy cold, tasting wine was not really top of our minds and we really only had time for a flying visit, so I felt sorely disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to sample any of the local grapes. We almost came a cropper leaving Constantia as we very nearly collided with a coach heading down the winding exit lane.

 

We arrived about 15 minutes before our tour was scheduled to depart so we had time to collect our tickets before boarding the little buggy. The carpets of flowers were truly spectacular. We were shown some of the sculptures that are dotted around, firstly Nelson Mandela. A bust of Nelson Mandela stands beside the pepper-bark tree (Warburgia salutaris) that Nelson Mandela planted on his visit to Kirstenbosch on 21 August 1996. The bust was sculpted by John Francis Gardner and donated to Kirstenbosch by the sculptor in January 2010. It portrays Nelson Mandela during the pivotal years of his presidency and captures his radiance and generosity of spirit the world has grown to love. Mandela's bust and tree can be found just inside the Visitors' Centre entrance to the Garden, at the bottom of the main lawn.

 

37764451842_1668d774aa_c.jpgP1018722 Nelson Mandela & Pepper bark tree by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37796353341_201b35bdb6_c.jpgP1018724 Kirstenbosch by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37764438182_2606c7a1bb_c.jpgP1018725 Kirstenbosch by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37796350081_45ec62d139_c.jpgP1018728 Kirstenbosch by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23944000808_206e533e8f_c.jpgP9180023 Kirstenbosch by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748177006_145975bf13_c.jpgP9180027 adj Kirstenbosch by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748541546_b97252f684_c.jpgP9180828 Protea by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We also saw “Cheetah Sitting in a Tree” by Dylan Lewis, a beautiful bronze statue.

 

37764828942_62e010e06d_c.jpgP9180028  “Cheetah Sitting in a Tree” by Dylan Lewis by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748167136_abe85f2e99_c.jpgP9180030 Kirstenbosch by Jo Dale, on Flickr


I expressed my interest in birds to the guide who said he had something special in store. I pretty much knew what that was going to be and sure enough, we were soon enjoying views of the resident Spotted Eagle Owl.

 

37748537016_93d911cf5e_c.jpgP9180860 Spotted Eagle Owl by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748535056_97107b863d_c.jpgP9180869 Hadeda Ibis by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Stopping at the protea garden, I spotted another Cape Sugarbird and made a swift exit to snap off some shots.

 

 

37765198662_84e91a1d8e_c.jpgP9180899 Protea by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23944343888_72b28210f4_c.jpgP9180941 Cape Sugarbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37765196562_2747ddc57f_c.jpgP9180969 Cape Sugarbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23944341148_682a74d04b_c.jpgP9180976 Cape Sugarbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37765193892_722467dc96_c.jpgP9180983 Cape Sugarbird by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37764824332_ee304c9d44_c.jpgP9180031 Kirstenbosch by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37538071820_fabb1d8730_c.jpgP1018757 Kirstenbosch by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Taking the motorised tour is a good way to get an overview of the main gardens of Kirstenbosch, but it didn’t allow much opportunity for a deeper exploration of the park, except when we were encouraged to walk the “canopy walkway” bridge which was quite impressive.  

 

37764448112_8c63a9b269_c.jpgP1018759 Kirstenbosch canopy walkway by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We stopped for coffee and cake, expecting to explore the park further on foot, but our guide urged us to press on, as it was already 13:40, so that we could fit in Cape Point and even Boulders Beach that afternoon. In hindsight, as we never made it to Boulders that afternoon, an extra hour or so at Kirstenbosch wouldn’t have impacted too much on our schedule and Mum’s biggest regret of the trip was not being able to explore these gardens in more depth.

Edited by kittykat23uk

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kittykat23uk

So we took the scenic route via Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak, stopping in Hout Bay for fish and chips for lunch. Then it was on to Cape Point for the rest of the afternoon.

 

23943669948_7415eebfa4_c.jpgP1018762 scenic drive around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37086873744_420a885b50_c.jpgP1018763 scenic drive around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37086871934_f192c492fd_c.jpgP1018764 scenic drive around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23943665308_d4dc3890c8_c.jpgP1018765 scenic drive around the Cape by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37087682434_d5b922ee96_c.jpgP9181074 Hartlaub's Gull by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748607406_5c97dd8b95_c.jpgP9181089 Cape Gull by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37748605146_0d39a16ea5_c.jpgP9181096 Hartlaub's Gull by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23943662238_20fcf31d21_c.jpgP1018787 distance marker by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

23943659078_008cc016bb_c.jpgP1018797 Cape Point Lighthouse by Jo Dale, on Flickr
 

We entered the park and immediately encountered a large troop of Chacma Baboons, we enjoyed watching the troop cross the road in front of us, especially the little babies riding on the backs of their mothers.

 

37748604336_b82e61b69c_c.jpgP9181134 Chacma Baboon by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37087670144_ef8e39198b_c.jpgP9181168 Chacma Baboon by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

37538125000_13702a896f_c.jpgP1018809 Me & Mum by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

A Small Grey Mongoose and some unidentified rodents were also seen along the way. We stopped and took a ride up on the flying Dutchman Furnicular to see the lighthouse. White-breasted Cormorants and Cape Cormorants nest on the cliffs around the lighthouse.

 

37765260612_0994661d58_c.jpgP9181257 White-breasted and Cape Cormorants nesting on the cliffs by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37538925350_d3eb2a7abe_c.jpgP9181268 White-breasted and Cape Cormorants nesting on the cliffs by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37087660164_2d4eca7435_c.jpgP9181278 some sort of daisy? by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

37538920650_92a8623fe6_c.jpgP9181315 White-breasted and Cape Cormorants nesting on the cliffs by Jo Dale, on Flickr

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