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Western Cape 2018: New Year with Friends and Birds


xelas
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One of Cape Town's top attraction is Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It is located at the foothill of the Mountain Table and encompasses an area large enough that is difficult to explore it all in one day. It is easily reachable using M3 highway from Marina De Gama. We have started very early and arrived when the main entrance was still closed. A parking attendant directed us to the second entrance; this one is mostly for early hikers and joggers, and there was no parking lot there. So after a brief confusion, we bought our tickets and drove back to the main entrance and parking. The guy was still there, the sign "No Entry" up but we just drove by.

 

Kirstenbosch is a beautiful place, very much nature-like and pristine, as other Gardens in South Africa. It is also huge, and there is a steady incline from main entry gate towards the top of the garden perimeter. All the lawns and paths are perfectly groomed, plenty of benches under shady trees, but walking uphill was a bit demanding task, specially after the sun started to work full force. Yet with so many shady areas, and patches of old trees, one can always find a spot to cool down. It was summer so most of the flower plants were resting, and thus also the birdlife was a bit less visible. However we have been busy all day long!

 

On our way towards the upper part of the garden

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Brimstone Canary

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Juvenile Cape Robin-Chat

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Olive Thrush in deep shade

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Omnipresent Cape Bulbul

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Around noon we have descended back to the bottom of the garden as it was time to replenish our energy tanks. There are two options; The Kirstenbosch Tea Room and Moyo restaurant. First one we encountered was Moyo, large and very nice looking one. For sure is not among the most affordable eateries we have been to, yet as it was almost the end of our trip, it was also time to splurge a bit. The food was really good, and the air conditioned hall helped us cooling down a bit ... plus the ice cold beer!

 

Moyo Restaurant

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My meal ...

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... and Zvezda's

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Edited by xelas
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After the lunch, and full of newly acquired energy, we have walked up the slope again. My plan to reach the outer perimeter path was quickly dismissed by Zvezda's decision to occupy a bench under a shady tree with a great view towards Cape Town below. While she was writing our last batch of postcards, I have conducted a very scientific research about the sound that grass makes when growing :D. I have not been able to detect any sound but Zvezda, she claimed that she surely heard some strange noises coming from my general direction :unsure:. After this much needed rest stop, we have explored some more of the garden. One of its top attractions must be the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway; it is a metal construction but beautifully designed and engineered and it almost makes part of the forest where it is located. Highly recommended to anyone visiting Kirstenbosch. It was almost closing time (the park is open 08:00 - 19:00 in summer) when we ended our splendid day at this fantastic place.

 

View towards Cape Town

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From the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway

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Speckled Mousebird

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Karoo Prinia

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Common Waxbill

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Peter Connan

All beautiful photos, but especially beautiful capture of the Waxbill!

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On ‎3‎/‎23‎/‎2018 at 11:19 AM, xelas said:

As much as "walking with penguins" were nice, the real attraction of this day was having a lunch with Dave and his wife Pippa! The idea of meeting with Dave was born when I have read his first trip report here on Safaritalk and grew stronger with reading his other reports. After exchanging a few emails our visit to their home was quickly arranged. What to say about these two extraordinary persons?! I was that impressed that I have even forgot to take the usual photo of us together. So instead of this I am posting the link to heir blog: http://stuckinthemud.co.za/ . Dave and Pippa, thank you again for your warm welcome into your home! We have enjoyed talking with you two very much, and hopefully, we will join you on one of your travels in the future!

 

Thank you very much for taking precious time out of your travels to visit us Alex. Pippa and I both thoroughly enjoyed our time together with you and Zvezda. Thanks also for your kind words. It's a good thing you forgot to take photos...I'm much more comfortable behind a camera! :D

 

We've both really enjoyed your report and all the excellent photos. 

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Wonderful story and pictures (as always). I miss South Africa, my favorite vacation spot so far. This brings back fond memories of some places we also visited and puts on the map some we haven't. But that's a great reason to think of a next trip :-)

You were lucky with much better weather in Cape Town. Kirstenbosh is much quieter when cold and windy, but a nice place to visit anyway.

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And so our last day in South Africa, of this trip anyway, has arrived ... way to quickly for both of us. Our flight home was only in the evening, and as this was Sunday, we have persuaded (with not too much effort involved) Elsa to join us on our last birding excursion. Strandfontein Sewage Works was our destination again, as it is really close to Marina De Gama. It was another lovely day in Cape Town, sunny and warm (although we would not be unhappy if a torrential rain would be on this day ... Cape Town and its residents really needed a good rain).

 

 Although not seen on below photo but many ponds have lost a sizeable amount of water in just two days! So instead of water birds we have concentrated, well, Zvezda and Elsa have concentrated their efforts on shrubs and reeds this time.

 

Another fantastic sunny day ... for visitors

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This one was still full of water and birds

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Cape Weaver

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Levaillant's Cisticola

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Cape Longclaw

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Black-shouldered Kite

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African Pipit

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Black-headed Heron

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Jackal Buzzard

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That's it, Folks! Another trip, another trip report, another fantastic time spent in an incredibly interesting and various country, and the best of all, we have spent quality time with old friends and new friends! We thank you all, those that have given ideas about where to go and where to stay, all the wonderful hosts, and each and every person that has dedicated her or his valuable time to share it with us. And thank you too, The Reader, for the likes and the comments; it means a lot to me, and your interest will keep me posting more trip reports in the future.

 

Safe travels to everyone!

 

Zvezda & Alex

Edited by xelas
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@xelas thank you so much for this excellent TR - I have bookmarked it for future itinerary ideas, especially Kingfisher Country House and birding with Peter Ginn. I'm fairly sure that we will make it to the Brass Bell Restaurant this August though after a morning at Harold Porter.  

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Do book Brass Bell in advance. You will enjoy both KCH and the company of Peter Ginn. And I wish you that you will find Narina Trogon! Get one photo for us, please :).

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@xelas thank you for a wonderful trip report. Very enjoyable writing and the usual superb photos from you and from Zvezda. A real pleasure to read (and learn from).

And finished just before you set off gain!

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Towlersonsafari

a very jolly report, hurrah!@xelas

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michael-ibk

Just in time, @xelas, bravo for concluding this just one day before your next adventure! Again, a really enjoyable report with lots of great pictures by Zvezda but also yourself, it was great fun following along, and lots of interesting destinations to consider in the future. Have fun in Botswana!

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3 hours ago, TonyQ said:

@xelas thank you for a wonderful trip report. Very enjoyable writing and the usual superb photos from you and from Zvezda. A real pleasure to read (and learn from).

And finished just before you set off gain!

 

Thank you, Tony, and I do hope your upcoming trip will be as filled with birds and fun as ours was!

Almost last minute:  029 hours till lift-off :).

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1 hour ago, Towlersonsafari said:

a very jolly report, hurrah!@xelas

 

We did have a jolly good time so that is why also the report is jolly good :D!

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1 hour ago, michael-ibk said:

Just in time, @xelas, bravo for concluding this just one day before your next adventure! Again, a really enjoyable report with lots of great pictures by Zvezda but also yourself, it was great fun following along, and lots of interesting destinations to consider in the future. Have fun in Botswana!

 

I need to thank you, Michael, for your great description of De Hoop! Our next trip to that corner of the world will be in winter (southern hemisphere winter) so we will get some flowers in the mix! And yours?

 

Botswana will be filled with fun ... and mud :P!!

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Elsa Hoffmann

@xelas you might as well move here... 

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14 minutes ago, Elsa Hoffmann said:

@xelas you might as well move here... 

 A very tempting offer ... but I would miss the 4 seasons we have in Slovenia ... and of course all the snow shuffling ;).

But visiting you, even for longer period of time, is entirely doable :lol:.

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Elsa Hoffmann

@xelas hahaha I don't know what you are on about - we have 4 seasons in a day here in Cape Town 

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Peter Connan

Thank you both for another wonderful report. I wish I could have joined you.

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37 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

Thank you both for another wonderful report. I wish I could have joined you.

 

Next time, Peter, there will be many opportunities, South Africa (with Namibia and Botswana and Zambia) is a huge destination to be explored in future years :).

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@xelas

Another very enjoyable report to read from you and Zvezda.

Have a great time in Botswana.

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3 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

@xelas

Another very enjoyable report to read from you and Zvezda.

Have a great time in Botswana.

 Thanks for tagging along! I will, and hopefully there will be so many adventures to be written about :o:D.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I enjoyed this a lot - great variety of birdlife and a vicarious sense of camaraderie and fun.

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On 4/6/2018 at 2:10 AM, Marks said:

I enjoyed this a lot - great variety of birdlife and a vicarious sense of camaraderie and fun.

 

Thank You for your kind comment, @Marks!

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