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All creatures small and beautiful - Tswalu-Cape of Good Hope NP


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@@TonyQ thanks! Ive changed it from private.

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Those lions put in a wonderful display for you. I love the landscapes, so serene.

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@@Kitsafari The pride of lions looking towards you was a perfect finale for your trip to Tswalu Kalahari.I can't wait to read your report to Cape town. Cape town is one of my three favorite Cities in the world.

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@@twaffle that's a perfect word for it - serene. I think the lack of vehicles and just the prevailing dominant quietness enhanced the serenity of the place.

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Flying over Tswalu reserve:







As a rule, my OH and I had decided since our first safari that we would spend all our time in the bush and spend as little time in the cities as much as possible. It is not that we are not interested in the culture or history of the countries, but coming from a city like ours and having only limited vacation days, spending time in the bush is very precious for us.


My first view of Capetown's surrounding region through a not-too clean plane window





I made an exception for Capetown. I had to see for myself why everyone recommended I had to go there, and why it is one of the, if not the, most beautiful city in the world. I can’t argue with that based on my first sunset and my first dawn in the city.


Dusk over V&A pier







and then dawn over Capetown






The famous Table mountain:






Table Mountain behind the aptly named Table Bay Hotel where they serve a truly delicious and cheap (relatively to my city) cape malay lobster curry.




V&A harbour





My first impression of Capetown is one of pleasant surprise at how clean and organised it looks, almost like what Singapore is, but less clinical, and far more complex. But what is more impressive is the mountain range that shields the city that gives it such a beautiful backdrop. Although I'm told that Capetown is far cleaner and better structured and organised than other towns in South Africa, I am advised not to venture on my own beyond the V&A area. I did not have time to do a city tour as I would be out for the full-day tour.


In my chats with my transfer driver and later on Tania who brought me to the Cape of Good hope, i get a sense of dichotomy and a lost sense of belonging. I know this is not a platform for political discussion but I was drawn to the fact that both were white Africans and both come from generations which have lived there for years. South Africa where they were born and grew up is the only home they know but there seemed to be an underlying sense of displacement after apartheid ended (which they both were pleased with) and ANC took over. I was so intrigued that I bought two books on South African politics – RW Johnson’s “How long will South Africa survive – the looming crisis” which sounds rather sensational , and Andre Brink’s “A fork in the road” which I am reading now. The latter was the first Afrikaan to have his book banned during the apartheid era. He died just last year.


But this is safaritalk and not politictalk. So on with my TR!

Edited by Kitsafari
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I had wanted to spend at least one full day in a nearby reserve. In my research, I found out about the bontebok - its story of how the antelope almost became extinct but now is bouncing back enthralled me. I had to go in search of it. I found a local tour agency called Discovery Tours, which came highly recommended in TA, and contacted them and asked for suggestions on how to find the bontebok without travelling too far (Like 3 hours to and from bontebok national park or de hoop for a day trip). Tania from DT said she’s seen them in the cape of good hope reserve and suggested a full day trip there, promising not to leave the park until we see them. That sounded promising to me.


Tania picked me up at 9am, which on hindsight was a little late for a start. Our route was similar to @michael-ibk’s (which he described so well in his TR with gorgeous accompanying pix, to boot here: http://safaritalk.net/topic/16424-blue-cape-white-waters-red-dunes/page-1). We would drive along False Bay to Simonstown where we would pick up a sandwich lunch, and then to nearby Boulders Beach to see African penguins, then to the nature reserve before driving along the coastal road through Chapman’s Peak Drive, Houtbay and Camps Bay to get back to my hotel.


When we reached Boulder Beach, it was fairly crowded but Tania assured me that it would get worse during the peak season. I would suggest going as early as possible to the beach like Michael-ibk did. You will avoid annoying crowds.







the endangered African penguins (there are only 1200 of breeding pairs from millions in the 1930s) has an interesting background. The penguins only started coming to Boulders Beach from 1983 after False Bay was closed to commercial fishing. They drew large crowds but human interference and competition for breeding sites (a boom in residential homes meant penguins had to cross roads to nest in bushes lining residential homes) is threatening their survival at the beach.












the one below was bringing seaweed to build her nest.




such proximity to residential homes



Edited by Kitsafari
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We headed to the cape of good hope national reserve where there are fantastic landscapes. True to her words, Tania avoided the main routes, taking the side roads that took us close to the coast hoping to see some bonteboks. It was a very quiet reserve, and wildlife was really sparse. She took a circular road and bumped into two ostriches, posing against the ocean. In fact, we saw quite a few ostriches in the reserve.










further on, a female ostrich with 4 chicks...






and another family posing against the brilliant blues of the ocean and rolling mountains




more stunning landscapes





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Really enjoyed Tswalu, Kit. That last drive was very rewarding, the lions put on a great show for you. And thank you for the Meerkats, they really cheered me up yesterday (and I needed some cheering up!). Glad to re-visit Cape Town through your report - really like the pics of the Ostrichs against the Ocean. Interesting that you were advised not to leave the waterfront area - we were told it´s no problem walking around Sea Point (and didn´t feel it was).

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Just caught up with the last couple pages of the TR @@Kitsafari - the fox, second pangolin, and aardwolf were so special! And personally I liked the aardwolf video, it wasn't as bad as you made it sound and we don't see those often so glad H made you post it!

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@@michael-ibk i supposed the advice was given by both the transfer driver and the guide because i was a single female traveller and and an easier target.


glad the meerkats cheered you up.

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@@SafariChick thanks for saying that! i thought it was dreadful but you are right, there aren't that many pictures or tapes of aardwolf. i'm really lucky to see one, let alone tape one!

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I got distracted ;last night by a pregnant lioness looking for a den in last night's wildsafari live and couldn't finish the TR, but woke up before dawn this morning. I may as well try and finish up the TR now.


I could feel Tania getting anxious as time passed without seeing a bontebok. But two tiny brown spots in the far distance near the shoreline eased the pressure. We found the bonteboks.


zoomed to the limit with a little of cropping, hence the fuzziness




They were really far, and Tania thought we could go to the end of the road and see if we could get closer. When we reached the carpark, the bonteboks had moved on and were out of sight. We had a quick lunch there. It was pleasantly quiet, just us, and the birds picking among the seaweeds on the shores, and a family (of humans) having a picnic lunch behind the rock.









some sacred ibis, seagulls and ducks (not sure about the IDs) picking morsels among the seaweeds on the beach





Going back the way we came, we saw the antelopes again. This time, Tania suggested we walk to the beach. I was more than game, and we walked along a boardwalk built for surfers right to the beach for a closer look at the brown milky and really very pretty bonteboks. I loved that little jaunt by the way. The antelopes are so unlike the topis or hartebeests or blesboks with their beautiful colouring and they are endemic to South Africa. And posing against the widespread carpet of wild flowers, they look incredibly pretty. After that we got to see the antelopes twice again – which must have been pure luck since there aren’t that many in the park.












a pretty backdrop for the pretty antelope




the beach where they were at









some sacred ibis, seagulls and ducks (not sure about the IDs) picking morsels among the seaweeds on the beach

Edited by Kitsafari
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we saw other widlife as well, albeit in the distance - eland, birds, baboons but the cape mountain zebras eluded us. The sightings were sparse but the reserve is lovely especially against the ocean. and we were often the only vehicle in the roads off the main route. Tourists are usually brought the furnicular or cape point but I didn't want to get crowded in.













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cape fur seals








sacred ibis










Grey heron, standing tall among sacred ibis











missed this pix of elands




sacred ibis take to the skies









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Stunning landscapes along the coastal road back to V&A harbour at Capetown













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I started my trip to Tswalu in Johannesburg on a grey cold wintry morning




but the days that followed were crisp, sunny and cool. On my last evening, the winds picked up, whipping up clouds into town. Capetown still threw me a superb sunset on a cold evening, worthy of all the glorious sunsets I’d seen in Africa, enticing me to return one day soon.







Edited by Kitsafari
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Thank you to @@twaffle @@TonyQ @ optig @@michael-ibk @@Alexander33 @@Tdgraves @@SafariChick @@hannahcat @@AndMic @Thursday’s Child @@Peter Connan @@pault @@AndMic @@mapumbo @@Bush dog @pomwiki @@xelas @@Towlersonsafari and everyone else who had provided great support and encouragement, who commented and corrected my postings, and who gave the thumbs-up and likes to my TR. And thank you to Chalo Africa who quickly booked those Tswalu nights for me, organised my trip and was so patient with me!







When I first started the journey to Tswalu, I knew it would be all about the small creatures which are often overshadowed by the larger and more enigmatic creatures. I started out with a list of nocturnal animals to be ticked off. I knew there would be no battles or hunts, or big dramas involving the larger animals. I had expected a quiet and sparse trip.


And, yet, the trip was never about the animals and that first full day drive, exploring half-forgotten places that saw few vehicles or humankind, drove that home to me.








In the process of writing this TR, it gradually dawned on me that Tswalu was, after all, about a different kind of safari. It was not about ticking off a list of species, it was not about just seeing the special animals, or seeing the red sands of Kalahari, or having the satisfaction of saying I’ve been there or just ticking off safari places. It was about just being in the moment, discovering and realising one’s connection to nature and to the world at large, and revelling in calmness and peaceful solitude in a vast quiet open space.


There are journeys we often take to reach a destination or to achieve a goal. In the end, I discovered, in Tswalu, that the journey is the destination.




Edited by Kitsafari
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Brava! Some gorgeous images on this last page and I love your conclusion - some of that is really good for all of us to remember on any safari!

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What SafariChick said! Very glad you found your Bontebok. Already looking forward to your next adventure.

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Great ending. Some beautiful shots in there of Capetown and the nature reserve. I'll have to get there somettime.

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Well done in seeing the Bontebok - they are very pretty animals against very pretty backgrounds! I also love the Ostrich with the sea behind them.


You have given us a very fine, thoughtful and poetic ending to an excellent trip report. Thank you!

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@@Kitsafari I love Cape Town myself because it's one of the few cities where nature is an integral part of visiting. I'm looking forward to going there next year before and after my visit to Tswalu Kalahari.

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"the journey is the destination" - may I use this line @@Kitsafari ? It fits also us, almost perfectly :) !

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I'm slow as usual, but just wanted to say, page 6, that bat eared fox family is amazing! Kawaii!


I think I must be a sucker for anything with long ears: the roan is terrific too, and I don't think I've seen many pictures of them before. Thanks for adding them to my wish list, and for reminding me that traveling without a wish list might just be the best way to travel. :D

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Lovely scenes / settings in post #48. I love the contrast of red soil against the green foliage and blue skies.

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