Highlights of Cape Road Trip June, July & August 2019


Trip & Stopover


Sunday 30 June

We were on the road by 7:30 am. The temperature was only 9 degrees, but Terry’s comment was that we will probably long for the day again when it will be that warm that early in the morning! The trip was an uneventful one and we took a break at Bloemfontein, before detouring to the Gariep Dam in order to use up some time.

We then crossed the Orange River and made our way to Orange River Lodge (it was a little further from the river than we had envisioned, but this was not an issue for us).

The room was lovely with electric blankets and heaters in place. We dressed warmly for dinner, which was made up of “egte boerekos”. The starter was a lamb and vegetable soup with mosbolletjies. We then had a choice from a buffet that included roast lamb, bobotie, chicken pie, pumpkin fritter, vegetables and salads. Our meal was delicious! Terry tried the peppermint crisp pudding with ice cream (they twisted his arm), while I had coffee.

Monday 1 July

We both slept well and woke early. When we went for breakfast we realized that it was raining – in the Karoo, in winter! After a lovely breakfast we made our way to Beaufort West, passing the turn-off to New Holme Lodge (our final destination on our road trip). We started to see blue skies just before we arrived at Beaufort West. There we stopped at 4 Sheep and bought some lamb chops and ribs, plus some cheese wors to braai in the park. We also bought some KFC so that we had an easy lunch and supper while we unpacked and settled in.

Karoo National Park

The gate for the park was not very far and the reception/camp only a little further on. We checked in and found our cottage (number 25) and started unpacking. We managed one load each and then the heavens opened. Again, very unseasonable rain for the area (which doesn’t get much to start off with!) We ate our lunch and then rushed out when the weather cleared a little to bring in the rest of our things. The weather was truly bad – cycles of rain, then sun and then a blowing gale before it started with sun again. We thought that we would probably not get out, but the sun stayed out in the late afternoon, so we headed out for our first game drive up Klipspringer Pass.

The views were beautiful and we were spoiled with sightings of antelopes and birds as we drove up to the top of the pass and then continued further on the loop. The highlight was an African harrier hawk and a pair of Verreaux’s eagles at the summit of the pass.

We had a really cold night, sleeping in thermal underwear. No electric blankets but I did find us some hot water bottles. We thought the heater was on, but found out the next day that Terry had inadvertently pulled out the wrong plug! The wind was also howling through the openings on the side of the wooden sliding door and, to a lesser degree, the window between our beds.

Mammals: Baboon, eland, red hartebeest, black-backed jackal, klipspringer, kudu, oryx, grey rhebok, springbok, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Ant-eating chat, Verreaux’s eagle, African harrier hawk, ostrich

Tuesday 2 July

As a result of the chilly night, we were awake early and jumped into lovely warm showers. We went for breakfast (part of the package at this camp) before taking another drive.

We again went up Klipspringer Pass and found a kudu bull standing in the road on one of the loops.

By 9am it was only 7 degrees and we did think longingly of the Joburg temperatures!

We continued on to the Doornhook picnic area, where we stopped for a comfort break and a quick look around to do some birding. From there we made our way to the Afsaal loop, passing by the Afsaal cottage. It looked lovely and is probably one of the better places to stay if you want to get onto the 4x4 routes early in the day.

A highlight was a lovely sighting of the Karoo korhaan. It was much better than our first sighting in Addo – closer and clearer.

Back at camp we stopped to buy charcoal and then had some tea and hot chocolate to warm up. We sat outside in a sunny patch, while Terry prepared the braai and made lunch.

After a nice relaxing afternoon, we got ready for our night drive – many layers (I had 5!). The guide (Gregory) drove us to Lammertjieleegte but it was too windy. So we turned back and drove through camp to the Potlekkertjie Loop, where we turned onto a no-entry road and made our way towards a boma. Other than the lions waiting to be relocated to Addo, all that was on offer with the bad weather was some scrub hares, but we did manage to see a Cape eagle owl.

Mammals: Eland, scrub hare, red hartebeest, black-backed jackal, klipspringer, kudu, vervet monkey, oryx, grey rhebok, springbok, steenbok, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Bokmakierie, African red-eyed bulbul, Cape bunting, black-headed canary, familiar chat, Karoo chat (L), sickle-winged chat, pied crow, Cape turtle dove, common fiscal, African dusky flycatcher, fiscal flycatcher, greater kestrel, Karoo korhaan, white-backed mousebird, ostrich, Cape eagle owl, African rock pipit (L), Karoo prinia, Cape sparrow, pale-winged starling, Layard’s tit-babbler, mountain wheatear

Wednesday 3 July

We went to breakfast early again and then made our way out for a drive. We drove Klipspringer Pass again (it was fast becoming our favorite drive) and further onto Potlekkertjie Loop. We did some good birding as we made our way to the picnic area and then continued to one of the 4x4 loops (Nuweveld).

We drove passed the Kookfontein kiln, stopping to appreciate the stonework of both the kiln and the wall of the old market place. We then took a few turns to make our way back passed Afsaal cottage and down on the other side of Potlekkertjie Loop.

We had a lovely sighting of an ostrich sand-bathing.

Our lunch of leftovers was eaten on the veranda – sitting in the sun again.

Later on we took a drive around Lammertjiesleegte Loop, stopping at Bulkraal picnic spot to see what it was like.It is a popular area for day visitors from Beaufort West. We were astounded to find a family had just finished swimming! They were frozen as they rushed to change into dry clothes.

Once finished we had time to drive the loop a second time (without the stop at the picnic area) and we were very pleased that we did, as we saw herd of nearly 50 eland. There hadn’t been a single one visible on our first drive around. We also watched a kori bustard walking in the road.

Dinner that evening was at the restaurant – a chance to have some local lamb again! Terry had skilpadjie and poachers pie, while I had crumbed mushrooms and lamb shank (the special). Everything was delicious.

Mammals: Baboon, eland, red hartebeest, black-backed jackal, kudu, vervet monkey, oryx, grey rhebok, springbok, steenbok, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Pririt batis, African red-eyed bulbul, kori bustard, white-throated canary, Karoo chat, mocking cliff chat, Cape turtle dove, Namaqua dove, common fiscal, fiscal flycatcher, Karoo korhaan, eastern clapper lark, Karoo lark, common moorhen, ostrich, African rock pipit, Karoo scrub robin, South African shelduck, house sparrow, pale-winged starling, Layard’s tit-babbler, Cape wagtail, southern masked weaver

Thursday 4 July

We had a slightly later start, going for breakfast before we left for our drive. This time we turned onto the Potlekkertjie Loop just after exiting from camp. We were pleased that we did as we heard a bird whistling and looked for it – it was a lifer, the Karoo long-billed lark. We were able to identify it successfully from both seeing it and hearing it!

We had been seeing a lot of ostriches but this drive we came across a group of 20 of them.

After stopping at Doornhoek again, we made our way to Klipspringer Pass and drove down it (instead of up as we usually had).

Back in camp we visited the Interpretive Centre. We were pleased that we had as we picked up another lifer, the Namaqua warbler.

We also drove around the camping site briefly and then walked the fossil trail, not tarrying for long as the wind was picking up. As well as the fossils, we saw a large leopard tortoise walking on the pathway. We popped into the Hide too, not staying too long due to the wind.

The wind worsened as the day progressed, so we did not go out for an evening drive.

Mammals: Baboon, eland, red hartebeest, oryx, grey rhebok, steenbok, springbok, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Cape bunting, kori bustard, white-throated canary, familiar chat, Karoo chat, pied crow, Cape turtle dove, red-eyed dove, rock dove, Verreaux’s eagle, red-headed finch, helmeted guineafowl, common fiscal, fiscal flycatcher, Karoo long-billed lark (L), brown-throated martin, common moorhen, ostrich, Karoo scrub robin, Cape sparrow, house sparrow, pale-winged starling, dusky sunbird, Cape wagtail, lesser swamp warbler, Namaqua warbler (L), common waxbill, southern masked weaver, mountain wheatear

Other: Leopard tortoise

Friday 5 July

We had a much later start, only going to breakfast at 9am. As we made our way out of the park, we drove the Lammertjiesleegte Loop, where we again saw a large herd of eland.

We left the park just before 11am, making our way to Beaufort West to fill up the vehicle.

Mammals: Eland, springbok, steenbok, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Cape bunting, white-throated canary, familiar chat, Karoo chat, Cape turtle dove, Verreaux’s eagle, common fiscal, pale chanting goshawk, Karoo long-billed lark, white-backed mousebird, ostrich, Karoo scrub robin, Cape sparrow, pale-winged starling, red-winged starling, southern masked weaver

Sutherland & Surrounds

We decided to travel to Sutherland using gravel roads off the beaten track, so we turned off the N1 and followed the western fence of the park via Oukloof towards Fraserburg. It was really beautiful and apart from the scenery, the highlights were some lark-billed buntings (a lifer we have spent a lot of time looking for in Mountain Zebra national park) on the walls of a reservoir on a farm and a klipspringer standing on the rocks in the open.

As we took a left at the junction in Fraserburg, we noticed the name of a local business – “KaRoux” (it appealed to us as my sister and her husband are le Roux’s).

The R356 (also gravel) took us past the SAAO (and SALT), where the road became tarred, and into Sutherland.

There we drove to Sterland to find out about our accommodation at Doekvoet cottage and went back into town to move into the cottage. Once we had moved our luggage in, we walked into the main street to find a very late lunch. We were sent to Oppie Stoepie at the Food Zone. There we were able to order toasted sandwiches and hot drinks.

Back at the cottage, we unpacked and then relaxed. As it got colder, we pulled out blankets and added them to our beds, switching on the electric blankets too. We were at least warmer than we had been at Karoo National Park.

Mammals: Rock hyrax, klipspringer, springbok

Birds: Bokmakierie, Cape bunting, lark-like bunting (L), black-headed canary, Karoo chat, pied crow, speckled pigeon, South African shelduck, pale-winged starling, pied starling

Saturday 6 July

We both woke up at 5am, but we switched on our electric blankets and slept for another few hours. After breakfast, we decided to do our shopping for Tankwa Karoo (fully self-catering and no shops). We went to the butcher and OK Foods. Once everything was in the fridge and freezer, we drove to Ouberg Pass. It was really beautiful and not nearly as bad to drive as the research had indicated.

Back at the cottage we had a light lunch (everything in town was already closed when we got back!) and then relaxed.

Mammals: Baboon, rock hyrax

Birds: Cape bunting, jackal buzzard, white-throated canary, ant-eating chat, familiar chat, Karoo chat, pied crow, yellow-billed duck, Verreaux’s eagle, common fiscal, grey-winged francolin, Egyptian goose, pale chanting goshawk, hadeda ibis, greater kestrel, large-billed lark, white-necked raven, Karoo scrub robin, South African shelduck, Cape sparrow, pale-winged starling, rufous-eared warbler

That evening we visited Sterland for the star-gazing evening. We dressed with many layers, but by the end of the evening we were still cold! There were close to 90 people there. The evening started with a talk and a slideshow on stars, followed by a video about Sutherland, which gave Jurg time to set up all the telescopes. We then divided into groups and made our way to the telescopes. Jurg would position each telescope and then the group would walk around and take turns to see the stars and the moon. It was a little cloudy, but fortunately not enough to prevent us from seeing the stars. At the end, he offered to take a photo of the moon through the telescope for those who wanted, so we stayed for that.

Back at the cottage, we ate a light supper and then dived into our warm beds!

Sunday 7 July

We had a nice relaxing morning, even eating a very light breakfast in bed! Later on we walked to Sutherland Hotel to have lunch in Karoo Kombuis, one of the main restaurants in town. The main street of town was dead – no people except us and only one car parked on the side. Terry ate lamb shank and I had an eisbein followed by a cappuccino.

We spent the rest of the day packing and relaxing. Supper was rolls with leftover lamb shank (Terry had two on his plate at lunch!)

Monday 8 July

We were awake earlyish so that we could pack up before making our way to SAOO (the South African Astronomical Observatory). The tour was fascinating and we even went into SALT (the Southern African large telescope).

Once it was over, we made our way back to Sutherland to fill up, buy wood (we decided that we were not sure whether there would be some available at reception) and to get pies for lunch from Oppie Stoepie (which was also a home industry shop).

We ate lunch as we drove out of Sutherland towards Matjiesfontein. We turned off onto a gravel road (the same one that we had driven back on from Ouberg Pass).

Tankwa Karoo

We eventually came across a sign saying Tankwa Karoo National Park, but there was no gate or fencing. We reached a T-junction that told us that it was 24km to Roodewerf Office (basically reception). But the road was really bad and it took us a couple of hours at least to get there. When we got to reception they had tried to call us to see what time we would be there, but we had no reception and they got voicemail so they assumed that we were on our way.

From the office we made our way to Elandsberg. The roads were a little better than the main road, but it was really just a matter of relativity!

At the camp, we found our cottage (number 5) and moved in and unpacked. We then sat and had drinks, finding a bush Karoo rat (something we had never seen before) as we watched the birds around the pool and in front of our cottage. We obviously had no intention of using the pool in the middle of winter!

The sunset was really pretty and we sat watching an oryx move really close to the cottage in the half dark.

We had quesadillas for supper. We then remade our bed using the extra sheet and blankets and hoped that we would not get too cold, as there were neither electric blankets nor hot water bottles. The cottage did not even have curtains, lovely for enjoying the view but a concern in terms of keeping warm at night!

Mammals: Eland, oryx, bush Karoo rat, springbok

Birds: Cape bunting, yellow canary, sickle-winged chat, Cape turtle dove, Egyptian goose, pale chanting goshawk, speckled mousebird, Karoo scrub robin, South African shelduck, Cape sparrow, pale-winged starling, black-winged stilt, southern double-collared sunbird

Tuesday 9 July

We were awake reasonably early the next morning and were pleasantly surprised to find that we were both warm enough in the night. We decided that we were going to spend the day enjoying the camp and braai’ing our lamb from the Sutherland butchery.

First though we ate breakfast, outside. We were joined by sickle-winged chats and sparrows who wanted to get into our bowls to eat the muesli and yoghurt!

After showering, we then moved into the lounge, turning the sofa around so that we looked out of the window and could see the birds drinking from a small rivulet that ran from the swimming pool. There we relaxed and read.

After 1pm, Terry prepared the braai and we prepared the meat together (deboned leg of lam, lamb ribs and cheese sausage – we were planning for leftovers for the next few days!) Terry cooked the sausage and ribs first and then the roosterbroodjies. He then put the leg of lamb on to cook, while we ate our lunch. It was delicious!

By the time the leg was cooked, we were too full to do anything but have a small taste. Wow!

We then moved our chairs into the sun, beside the swimming pool. Once the shade took over, we moved back inside to the sofa. During our afternoon vigil we spotted another new mammal – a four-striped grass mouse. It was really cute, as long as it stayed where it belonged (not inside the cottage!)

We stayed on the sofa past dark, watching for nocturnal animals, but there were none to be seen. So we had rolls with lamb (of course!) for supper and then made our way to bed (the warmest place) to read and sleep.

Mammals: Four-striped grass mouse (L), bush Karoo rat, springbok

Birds: Cape bunting, yellow canary, sickle-winged chat, pied crow, rock kestrel, Karoo lark, rock martin, Karoo scrub robin, Cape sparrow, house sparrow, southern double-collared sunbird, Namaqua warbler

Wednesday 10 July

I was awake early (5:30!) and the stars in the sky were beautiful.

A little later, we decided to get up and get ready – only to discover that the gas geyser was not working. There was no gas left – and hence no hot water. The water was freezing! Not a good start to the day. Especially as we could not even drink anything hot to warm up.

Left a note on the door regarding the gas bottle as we were told that someone would check in with us every day (that is how isolated we were) and then stopped at the emergency radio to let the office know that we had no gas. We then continued on our way up Gannaga Pass. It was again a beautiful pass. As we reached the summit, we watched a bird fly up in to the sky clapping its wings and then “parachute” down whistling. And we knew that we had found our lifer – a Cape clapper lark. We also took some time to look carefully at the “Karoo” chats and found our tractrac chat – another lifer.

We then turned around and moved back towards Tankwa, stopping at Gannaga Lodge for lunch. We had lunch sitting at the bar – hamburgers, being regaled by stories from the bar-lady (in reality she was telling them for the benefit of three guys drinking at the bar, but she included us). She was a real character!

We made our way back down the Pass and towards Elandsberg. As we drove along some of the lesser roads closer to camp, we noticed some small birds flitting from bush to bush. Luckily we took the time to have a closer look at them, as they were Karoo eremomelas – another lifer!

We were back at the cottage just after 4pm and luckily there was a new gas bottle connected for us. We sat in the lounge enjoying the birds, before preparing food for an early start the next day. Supper was braai leftovers.

Mammals: Baboon, eland, oryx, bush Karoo rat, springbok

Birds: Pied avocet, bokmakierie, Cape bunting, jackal buzzard, yellow canary, Karoo chat, sickle-winged chat, tractrac chat (L), Verreaux’s eagle, Karoo eremomela (L), common fiscal, greater flamingo, grey-winged francolin, spur-winged goose, pale-chanting goshawk, rock kestrel, Cape clapper lark (L), Karoo lark, spike-heeled lark, rock martin, ostrich, Karoo prinia, Karoo scrub robin, Cape sparrow, house sparrow, pale-winged starling, black-winged stilt, southern double-collared sunbird, Namaqua warbler, rufous-eared warbler, capped wheatear, mountain wheatear

Thursday 11 July

We were both awake well before our alarm the next morning. Once ready, with breakfast packed, we hit the road – it was still dark, but we were within the allowed driving hours. The sickle-winged chats were sitting on the road, having to fly out of our way as we drove.

Maansdam was beautiful in the dawn light. We ate our breakfast of toasted sandwiches and strawberries as we drove.

We turned onto the main road and headed passed Roodewerf and crossed over the Rhenoster River into the Western Cape. We then crossed the Tankwa River bridge and made our way further down until the turning for Oudebaaskraal Dam.

Terry had suggested that we make this drive rather than exiting the park that way. As he drove though, he acknowledged that he had forgotten how bad the road was – and now we need to drive back on it too!

The dam was lovely. It was a large expanse of water and we saw something that we never expected to see in the middle of the Karoo – flamingoes, lots of them. We were also able to make out the black-necked grebes (using both binoculars and the birding scope) – another lifer and the real reason that we had gone to the dam. There were some waders on the far side of the dam, but they were to far away to identify, even with the scope.

We drove back, crossing into the Northern Cape and stopped at Roodewerf to look around for birds (and have a comfort break).

We then made our way back to camp, arriving at our cottage just after noon. We were pleased to still have time to relax, after our lunch of leftover braai and veggies. While we sat outside, the sickle-winged chats tried to convince us that they were hungry too!

We then moved back inside to the sofa where we relaxed, read and watched the birds. We hadn’t felt cold enough to warrant a fire yet, so we lit one later to use up the wood that we had bought. It was lovely to sit in the lounge, enjoying the flames and heat. We even ate our supper while sitting there.

Mammals: Black-backed jackal, oryx, common reedbuck, springbok

Birds: Pied avocet, Cape bulbul, Cape bunting, white-throated canary, yellow canary, sickle-winged chat, tractrac chat, pied crow, African black duck, black-chested snake eagle, common fiscal, greater flamingo, pale chanting goshawk, black-necked grebe (L), Karoo lark, large-billed lark, ostrich, speckled pigeon, Karoo prinia, Karoo scrub robin, South African shelduck, Cape sparrow, house sparrow, pale-winged starling, black-winged stilt, Cape wagtail

Friday 12 July

We were both awake before 6am and we could clearly see Orion in the night sky. As the sun came up, the clouds moved in.

We left the cottage and made our way along another road towards Calvinia. It was a longer route for us in terms of kilometers, but would be shorter in time we hoped (by avoiding the really bad main road). We exited the park just before 9am.

Just beyond the park, we found five sheep that were standing at the fence and turned to watch us (watching them!). We travelled until the R355, turning towards Ceres (which was still 190km away). It was still a gravel road, but much better than the others – it was almost like driving on a highway!

We crossed into the Western Cape and in the middle of nowhere we saw a “No swimming” sign. There was not a drop of water to be seen anywhere. We had a good chuckle.

We stopped at Tankwa Padstal. When we arrived we were the only people there, but after having some tea there were at least 3 or 4 other groups too.

We continued on our way turning towards Katbakkies Pass. It was another pretty pass, but unfortunately we didn’t find or hear the birds we were looking for. We eventually came to the R303 and turned onto it and continued through to Ceres, passing through Prince Alfred Hamlet. It was our first tarred road in a long time! Not long after we joined the tarred road, we came across a Verreaux’s eagle being mobbed by two pied crows.

Mammals: Baboon, rock hyrax, springbok, steenbok, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Bokmakierie, Cape bunting, white-throated canary, yellow canary, Karoo chat, tractrac chat, red-knobbed coot, white-breasted cormorant, pied crow, Cape turtle dove, yellow-billed duck, Verreaux’s eagle, common fiscal, Egyptian goose, pale chanting goshawk, black-headed heron, hadeda ibis, sacred ibis, greater kestrel, rock kestrel, Karoo korhaan, blacksmith lapwing, large-billed lark, rock martin, ostrich, Karoo scrub robin, Cape sparrow, Cape spurfowl, pied starling, malachite sunbird, common waxbill, Cape weaver

Worcester & Surrounds

From Ceres we drove through Michell Pass and turned onto the R43 to Worcester. We arrived at De Bergen (a B&B) just before 3pm.

After we had checked in and unpacked for the night, we drove to the Karoo Desert National Gardens and spent a couple of hours walking around the gardens enjoying the plants and looking at birds. As we made our way to the restaurant inside the grounds we stopped to look at the various metal sculptures of insects that were on the lawn.

We had an early dinner (late lunch?) at the The Kokerboom. Terry had chicken livers and a surf & turf basket, while I had tempura prawns and a pulled pork & pine burger. Both meals were delicious.

We made our way back to the B&B where we could relax.

Saturday 13 July

We were awake early the next morning but had a nice relax as we had only organized breakfast for 8:30am. It was brought to our room in a picnic basket.

We filled up as we left Worcester and then made our way via the R43, passing and crossing the Theewaterskloof Dam. We also drove past the Nuweberg Dam. Both dams were looking reasonably good in terms of levels.

Cape Town & Surrounds

After Grabouw we joined the N2, driving over Sir Lowry’s Pass and we got our first sight of the sea. We drove to Somerset West and took the R310 into Cape Town. We had been in communication with Sally from Blue Yonder in Fish Hoek (our home for the next two weeks) and she arranged to meet us just after 11am.

There was some unfinished work in the one-bedroomed flat, so we stayed in the two-bedroomed one. It was great for us as we wanted to empty the whole vehicle and get some washing done and that flat is at the top – one level down from the street parking, not three levels down. It also had a washing machine so we could start sorting out our two weeks’ laundry immediately!

We went to Simon’s Town for a late lunch at Bertha’s in the Boardwalk Village. It was a beautiful sunny day, and they had a winter lunch special. So, we ate fried calamari with marsala coating followed by a jubilee platter (fish, calamari, prawns and mussels). It was delicious.

It was then time to do some shopping at Harbour Village (a new shopping mall at Glencairn, between Simon’s Town and Fish Hoek). Back at the apartment, we finished some more laundry and then relaxed.

Our whale watching got off to a good start too – we saw two southern right whales in the bay just after 5pm.

Sunday 14 July

We were awake early and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise, before doing the last of the laundry.

We then took a drive to Hout Bay via Chapman’s Peak, turning around and driving Chapman’s Peak again to meet Jen & Nick (our niece and nephew) at The Foodbarn in Noordhoek Farm Village. There we had a lovely lunch – another winter special but this time with wine pairings for 3 of us (Terry abstained). Terry and Jen had had flash fried squid, Nick tartiflette and I duck breast salad (a warm salad) for starters. We followed this with mains – bouillabaisse (Terry, Jen and me) and lamb cutlets (Nick). For dessert, we ate apple tarte tartine (Nick, Jen and me) and granadilla brûlée (Terry). It was a wonderful chatty meal, as we all had lots of catching up to do. We only left just before 4pm (and both Nick and Jen had to go home and do some work!)

Back at the apartment we sorted out the laundry and put everything away – a big job! Then we relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Monday 15 July

We spent the morning in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – a first for both of us. It was lovely. We walked various pathways, looking at the plants and flowers and doing some birding (or probably the other way around!) We also walked the Boomslang (boardwalk) and meandered on the path towards Skeleton Gorge and down alongside the Nursery stream.

We then made our way to Sea Point and had lunch at Mojo Market (a recommendation from friends back in Johannesburg). We shared original hot sauce wings with blue cheese dip from Vlerk, a pork belly wrap from Vagabond and dim sum/Asian tapas selection from Tao’s. We washed this down with juices – Terry’s turned out to be a little too green for him!

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing (mani/pedi then coffee for me and a Thai massage for Terry). By the time we finished we hit peak hour traffic, but at least there was a view as we drove. We even stopped at a lookout point over Hout Bay to enjoy the sunset.

Supper was a takeaway pizza from Earthfire Pizza at Mojo Market. It was delicious too, even cold.

Tuesday 16 July

We were awake early again and enjoyed watching the sunrise.

Later on we made our way to Cape Point. We stopped to admire a Cape sugarbird and an orange-breasted sunbird on our way to the actual point.

We went directly to the funicular and travelled to the top. There we walked the trail towards the new lighthouse. We stopped and read the signboards that tell visitors about the animals that can be seen. We read about a resident peregrine falcon – and we saw it fly up onto a tower – and a special lizard called a black zonure. We saw two of those!

As we made our way back along the trail, we watched a flock of about 500 cormorants flying low over the sea. It was amazing to see.

Back at the start of the trail, we climbed the steps to the new lighthouse and then made our way down to two different lookout points.

The funicular took us back down to the parking, but we made a quick detour to the shop to see if we could find a map book (which we did). Our next stop was the Cape of Good Hope lookout. There we watched some Cape fur seals romping in the waves. We then went on to Platboom lookout.

We made our way back to the main road just in time! There was a stop-go and it was going.

We took the road to Olifantsbos and back and then made our way out of the park and on to Scarborough. We had lunch at Camel Rock. We had fish and chips as usual (but personally I didn’t think it was as good as the last time we were there).

We took a slightly different route back to Simon’s Town – via Red Hill Road. It had a lovely view looking over Simon’s Town and the harbor.

After a quick visit to the shops at Glencairn, we prepared some jalapeno poppers. We tried to sit outside, but the wind was too cold so we moved into the lounge.

For supper we had the poppers and some crab salad.

Wednesday 17 July

We had a late start, as it was very windy out. In fact, it was too windy to really be out and about doing things. So, we drove along the coast and Terry dropped me at the V&A Waterfront. He then went to Green Point to have a massage. I shopped and had some coffee.

We made our way back along the coast afterwards and stopped to have a light lunch at Tiger’s Milk in Camps Bay. We shared some tapas. We then made our way back to the apartment over Chapman’s Peak.

We were back on Chapman’s Peak that evening in order to meet Jen and Nick at Cheynes in Hout Bay. We shared some prawn crisps while we decided what to eat. There was another winter special of 3 plates each. So, we decided to each order one from the different categories: Sea – calamari (Terry and Jen) and hake (Nick and me); Earth – potato and coconut dumplings (Terry), potato pave (Nick) and aubergine tempura (Jen and me); and Land – pork belly (Terry and Jen), lamb dumplings (Nick) and Mumbai chilli beef (me). The three of us (not Terry) also shared a lovely bottle of wine (Journey’s End Haystack). We then decided that the meal needed to be rounded off with dessert and we all selected something different this time – crème brûlée (Terry), chocolate fondant (Nick), apple crumble (Jen) and sago pudding (me). It was a really lovely meal but we didn’t linger too long as some of us had to go to work the next day!

We drove Chapman’s Peak for the third time that day in order to get home.

Thursday 18 July

It was a miserable, grey day, so we climbed back into bed and relaxed. Eventually we went out to buy some chocolates to take with us to friends that evening, but we made our way quickly back to the apartment and spent the rest of the day relaxing.

That evening we made our way to Pinelands to fetch an old family friend (from her retirement home – it was the first time we had seen her since she had lost her husband and moved to Cape Town) and then drove to Fresnaye to have dinner with her son and his partner. There we met Buddy – a 2.5-year-old Great Dane.

We had a lovely evening and dropped Auntie Maureen off in Pinelands again on our way back. It was already after 10:30pm and she was inviting us in for coffee! (She definitely had more energy than we did!) We declined and promised instead to see her again before we left Cape Town.

Friday 19 July

We drove out to Kommetjie to do some birding and look for the tern roost in the morning. We did some good birding but the tern we were looking for was nowhere to be found.

We drove back to Fish Hoek via Soetwater and Misty Hills. After some tuna salad for lunch at the apartment, we spent the afternoon relaxing.

That evening we visited Mike and Janice (Terry’s cousin and his wife) for dinner. Mike’s mom wasn’t there – she said it was too cold and too late for her. We had another late night but it was great to catch up.

Saturday 20 July

Given the clearer weather, we decided to sneak in some laundry and get it hung outside. We drove into Simon’s Town and stopped at the flea market, but the bakery stand wasn’t there this time (we had bought a lovely loaf of sourdough bread the week before). We then decided to pop into Harbour Village shopping centre and we bought some special dog biscuits for our visit that evening.

We then drove back to Kommetjie to see if the terns were there this time. They weren’t. (We later found out – via Facebook – that those terns were in Jakobsbaai on the West Coast this winter).

We drove around Fish Hoek to look at the different houses and then made our way back to the apartment. There we watched some kite-surfers and saw some whales in the bay again.

We had a relaxing afternoon and then made our way to Jen and Nick’s house for dinner. It was lovely to see Bella and Mercedes and they were happy to see us too (the biscuits helped!) We could also see their renovations firsthand. The house was looking lovely. Dinner was a real spoil that included salmon and ice cream from The Creamery.

And we had our third late night in a row. This was aggravated by the fact that our laundry was lying on the bed and we still had to pack it away!

Sunday 21 July

After finishing some more laundry and having breakfast, we made our way along the coast towards Hermanus. At Rooiels, we stopped at an area that we had read about that was good for the Cape rockjumper, a bird we had not seen yet. It was a lovely day and we walked along the pathway enjoying the view – mountain to one side and houses and sea to the other. We did some good birding but did not find our lifer.

We continued through to Hermanus, where we went to B Tapas for lunch. Terry ate chicken livers, while I had a calamari roll.

After a stroll along the sea front, we thought we might go through to Gansbaai to see if we had any luck with whales; but a stop-go on the main road changed our mind. Instead we headed back for Fish Hoek, taking the inland route (which was a little quicker). As we drove, we watched about 10 hang-gliders above the mountain slopes near Houwhoek Pass. By the time, we made it to Sir Lowry’s Pass some of them were directly above us.

Mammals: Baboon, rock hyrax

Birds: Cape bunting, familiar chat, Cape cormorant, white-breasted cormorant, pied crow, rock dove, common fiscal, greater flamingo, Egyptian goose, Hartlaub’s gull, kelp gull, black-headed heron, hadeda ibis, sacred ibis, black-shouldered kite, ostrich, speckled pigeon, white-necked raven, Cape robin-chat, Cape siskin, Cape sparrow, house sparrow, common starling, Red-winged starling, Cape sugarbird, orange-breasted sunbird, Cape rock thrush, pin-tailed whydah

Other: Blue-headed agama

Monday 22 July

As the weather wasn’t great, we had a lazy day.

Terry had a massage and I had a 30-minute back massage before going for coffee. We then made our way to Tiger’s Milk at Camps Bay, where we had a lovely lunch: Terry had Mac n Cheese bacon bombs and I had Awesome cheese balls as starters. We both had Showstopping Sliders (basically 3 mini burgers) and shared some cheesy fries.

Back at Fish Hoek we relaxed for the rest of the day.

Tuesday 23 July

The wind was still howling and it had started to rain overnight, so we used the time to catch up again with an old family friend. We fetched her from her retirement home in Pinelands and then made our way to Ou Meul Bakery (Jenni had told us about it – she used to work in Pinelands).

We sat chatting over coffee and then had an early lunch – toasted sourdough with bacon, cream cheese, jalapenos and mozzarella for both of us (it tasted like a popper; delicious!) and a croissant filled with bacon and melted Mozzarella for Maureen.

We took her home just after 2pm and made our way home to relax for the rest of the day.

Wednesday 24 July

The weather was still grey and overcast, but it was a little less windy, so we decided to have a slow start to the day and then make our way to Strandfontein Sewerage Works (the places we birders go!!!)

We had a lovely time at Strandfontein. We didn’t see any lifers, but we had great sightings of birds that we don’t get to see very often – such as maccoa duck (we had only seen once in the distance in Wakkerstroom), African marsh harrier and southern pochard.

We watched a black-headed heron catch a mouse, which we watched squirm and heard squeak before it disappeared down the heron’s gullet.

We went to Glencairn to do a little shopping and then shared a sandwich back home. Terry went for another massage while I relaxed at home as the rain came pouring down again.

When Terry got back, we mad our way to Jakes on the Common for an early dinner. We shared a starter tasting platter – it was really amazing. Then Terry had port and blue cheese rump, while I had crispy hake and chips.

Birds: Cape bulbul, Levaillant’s cisticola, red-knobbed coot, Cape cormorant, white-breasted cormorant, pied crow, maccoa duck, yellow-billed duck, western cattle egret, common fiscal, greater flamingo, fiscal flycatcher, Egyptian goose, spur-winged goose, little grebe, helmeted guineafowl, Hartlaub’s gull, kelp gull, African marsh harrier, black-headed heron, grey heron, glossy ibis, hadeda ibis, sacred ibis, blacksmith lapwing, rock martin, common moorhen, speckled pigeon, southern pochard, white-necked raven, Cape shoveller, Cape spurfowl, common starling, black-winged stilt, white stork, southern double-collared sunbird, African purple swamphen, Cape teal, red-billed teal, Cape white-eye

Thursday 25 July

We used another day of bad weather to visit and catch up with some family. First we went to Kirstenhof to visit Terry’s aunt. We had a lovely time catching up. Terry also showed her some old photos that he had from his mother and she was able to tell him who everyone was (mostly). It was something he had wanted to do for a while.

After our visit we drove to Sun Valley, where there is a Dis-Chem and we could pick up medicine before we left Cape Town. We had a light lunch of sushi at Best of Asia and then made our way back to the apartment to relax.

In the evening, we met Jenni & Nick at Jakes in the Village (at Tokai). Each couple shared a starter tasting platter. Then we ate hamburgers (Jen & Nick), chicken schnitzel (Terry) and eisbein (me). Terry had fried ice cream, Nick apple cinnamon crepes, Jen hot chocolate and I had a cappuccino. We had a lovely evening.

We said our goodbyes before making our way back to Fish Hoek.

Friday 26 July

We used the slightly drier weather to do some last laundry before we left Cape Town.

We then drove through to Kommetjie to take a last look at the terns, before making our way to the V&A Waterfront. There we met an old friend that we hadn’t seen in about 20 years. We chatted up a storm, catching up with what had happened in each other’s lives.

Afterwards, we made our way to Sea Point, where I had a mani/pedi and Terry a Thai massage.

On our way back to Fish Hoek, we stopped at Karbonkelberg to watch the sunset. On Chapman’s Peak, I saw an owl in some trees so we turned around and went back to look for it (it was close to the end of the drive). We saw it fly across and sit on the other side of the road (closest to the sea). We stopped at a parking area and could sea it clearly with our binoculars – it was a Cape eagle owl.

Saturday 27 July

We were up early the next morning. We had breakfast and hung out the washing that was still damp, leaving the apartment just before 6:15am to go on a pelagic trip.

We met up with everyone at the wharf in Simon’s Town. Almost everyone was on time, but the boat ran a little late so we only left the harbor at just before 7:30am.

Everything was fine until we got past the Point and into what the locals call the “washing machine”. And that was the end of me – I suffered from severe seasickness for the rest of the trip.

Unfortunately, we did not find any trawlers out at sea – usually the sea birds hang around them. We did however come across a raft of birds on the sea and moved in closer to have a look. That netted us a total of 6 lifers (Terry had been hoping for a lot more)! In fact, the local guys who go out regularly were quite disappointed with the day’s outing.

Except for my being ill, the trip was a good one. We had clear sightings of the birds we saw (luckily as I wasn’t doing too well with binoculars). The anti-seasick tablet that I had taken was making me feel very sleepy and woozy.

When it was confirmed that there was no trawler within a big radius of the boat, the skipper turned around and we made our way back to harbor. En route, we encountered some Cape fur seals and a humpback whale that was clapping its fins on the water surface.

We got back to the harbor just before 3pm and made our way back to our apartment. En route we saw some southern right whales in the bay outside Fish Hoek.

A nice hot bath (shower for Terry) was all we needed to get warm. Also, a banana and a cup of green tea was enough to ensure that I felt human again (also ravenous!)

So, after putting our clothes in the wash to get rid of the salt and water, we made our way to Glencairn. There we popped into Woolworths to get a few things for the next stage of our trip and Terry popped in to a barber to get a haircut.

We then had an early supper at SAV Café. We both had a calamari and ribs combo (I added a rocket salad on the side). The meal was delicious. As we watched the bay from our table, we could see a whale splashing in the water in front of us.

Back home, we started packing for our trip the next day.

Mammals: Cape fur seal, humpback whale, southern right whale

Birds: Black-browed albatross (L), Indian yellow-nosed albatross, shy albatross (L), bank cormorant, Cape cormorant, crowned cormorant, White-breasted cormorant, Cape gannet, Hartlaub’s gull, kelp gull, African black oystercatcher, African penguin, northern giant petrel (L), pintado petrel (L), southern giant petrel (L), white-chinned petrel, Wilson’s storm petrel, Antarctic prion (L), sooty shearwater, subantarctic skua, Arctic tern, swift tern

Sunday 28 July

The next morning we got up and finished with our packing before having some sandwiches for breakfast. We packed the car and left the apartment at about 9am.

We decided to drive along the coast to Hermanus again, and to give Rooiels another try. The weather was overcast and misty in places, but we still at had a good drive.

At Rooiels, we walked even further along the pathway, seeing many of the same birds as we had the previous week. Eventually though we found a Cape rockjumper on the rocks just in from the pathway. It was a male so we could admire his beautiful color and markings. In fact, as he jumped from rock to rock it was like he was turning around so that we could admire him from all sides! We were thrilled.

We drove through Hermanus without stopping and made our way through the stop-go to De Kelders. There we stopped and we saw some southern right whales (they didn’t perform for us like the last time we were there though). We also saw a pod of bottlenose dolphins surfing the waves.

We stopped in Gansbaai and bought ourselves some KFC for a late lunch. We drove to Danger Point. On the way there we saw a southern double-collared sunbird displaying – his yellow feathers were totally puffed up! We also drove to the harbor at Kleinbaai too, before we continued on our way towards Agulhas.

Mammals: Baboon, bottle-nosed dolphin, eland, small grey mongoose, springbok, southern right whale

Birds: Southern boubou, Cape bulbul, Cape bunting, jackal buzzard, brimstone canary, Cape cormorant, white-breasted cormorant, pied crow, Cape turtle dove, little egret, common fiscal, greater flamingo, fiscal flycatcher, Egyptian goose, helmeted guineafowl, Hartlaub’s gull, kelp gull, African hoopoe, hadeda ibis, sacred ibis, giant kingfisher, speckled mousebird, neddicky, ostrich, African black oystercatcher, Cape robin-chat, Cape rockjumper (L), Cape spurfowl, common starling, red-winged starling, orange-breasted sunbird, southern double-collared sunbird, Cape rock thrush, African pied wagtail, Cape wagtail

Agulhas & Surrounds

We continued on the R43 and then turned off onto a gravel road towards Wolvengat, with the intention of using back roads in order to make our way to Agulhas. It was lovely to take the time to drive off the beaten track and we could spend time birding and admiring the proteas flowering on the side of the roads.

The sun only came out at 4pm. We saw a Denham’s bustard (we had seen another one earlier on the drive), but this one’s colors showed up beautifully in the sunlight.

We joined the R319 (a tarred road) and made our way past Struisbaai and on to L’Agulhas. We reached there just before 5pm, which meant that we could pick up our key (check in was only 4pm). We had to collect the keys at the café. While there we bought some firewood and water.

We found the house and then moved into the upstairs flat. This meant parking our car down near the basement entrance and carrying everything up two floors to the top level – our home for the next few nights.

Once we had unpacked, we sat in the lounge relaxing and enjoying the view over the Agulhas National Park, which was just beyond the boundary of the house. We could see the sea and also the lighthouse off to one side.

Terry made a fire and we had KFC for supper.

We made up the bed with extra blankets and put hot water bottles in to warm it up. We had decided to sleep in the double bed in the open plan area as it meant that we could see the view and enjoy the remnants of the fire; it also did not have the streetlight shining straight in like the small bedroom.

Mammals: Springbok

Birds: Bokmakierie, Denham’s bustard, jackal buzzard, white-breasted cormorant, Cape crow, Cape turtle dove, red-eyed dove, fork-tailed drongo, yellow-billed duck, western cattle egret, common fiscal, greater flamingo, Egyptian goose, spur-winged goose, helmeted guineafowl, kelp gull, sacred ibis, rock kestrel, black-shouldered kite, blacksmith lapwing, three-banded plover, Cape shoveller, Cape spurfowl, common starling, pied starling, wattled starling, African stonechat, Cape wagtail, Cape weaver

Monday 29 July

We were awake early and lay in bed reading. Once up and bathed (unfortunately there was no shower in our apartment), we had breakfast and cleaned up.

We made our way to the Southernmost Point. On the way, we saw a Cape spurfowl male doing a courtship display to a female. It was beautiful. We visited the Southernmost Tip Monument and then walked to the Relief Map of Africa – where Terry climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the easiest way!

We drove further into the reserve and found an old shipwreck. It was the Meisho Mara, a Japanese fishing vessel that ran aground in 1982. It made for some lovely photographs and as a result we visited it often taking in the different moods of the sea and sky and the different tides.

We then drove to De Mond Nature Reserve. There we walked on a bridge over the river and made our way to the river mouth (which is closed off by dunes), where we could again see the sea.

After making our way back to reception and our vehicle, we took a back road to Arniston. On our way we came across a flock of 25 blue cranes in a pasture with some sheep. It was lovely to see so many at once. We then noticed that there was another three on the other side of the road. There were also lots of spur-winged geese.

We watched a crop-duster flying over some fields spraying the crops, as we drove by. There were also fields of Canola – their mass of bright yellow flowers were a beautiful sight.

We stopped at the Arniston Hotel just after 1pm and had some lunch. We had the restaurant to ourselves, but the service we got was really good. We shared some Thai fish cakes and Mac n cheese balls to start, and followed this with calamari (Terry) and a pint of prawns (me). Everything was delicious.

We drove around the Arniston streets just to have a look around. Terry’s aunt (who we visited in Kirstenhof, Cape Town) and her late husband used to visit Arniston and stay at the hotel so we were interested to see what it was like. The beach area was really pretty.

We drove back to L’Agulhas via tar roads, stopping to take photos of the Canola fields and to enjoy the birds. We saw a Denham’s bustard again and some more blue cranes.

At Struisbaai, we stopped to look at the harbor and walked along the pier. There were lots of cormorants around, mainly on the anchored boats, but a white-breasted cormorant was sitting on a light above us as we walked along the pier.

When back in L’Agulhas, we decided to drive back into the reserve and continue on past the wreck. There we found another village, Suiderstrand. There was lots of development going on, and it appeared to actually be inside the reserve. We turned around and made our way back to the apartment.

Once there we climbed up to the flat roof (which was accessible from the top apartment only – but only by climbing through a window at the top of the stairs). It was too windy to hang out for too long, so we made our way back downstairs. We sat in the lounge relaxing. Later, we took drinks and snacks onto our veranda and watched the sun set.

Terry made a fire while I prepared the hot water bottles. We had a light supper and then continued to sit in the lounge, reading, while we enjoyed the fire. The wind was really blowing outside – the weather reports said it was gale force. In fact, we could see the sliding door windows almost buckling!

Mammals: Bushbuck, yellow mongoose, grey rhebok

Birds: Red bishop, yellow bishop, bokmakierie, Cape bulbul, Cape bunting, Denham’s bustard, jackal buzzard, brimstone canary, Cape canary, white-throated canary, grey-backed cisticola, Cape cormorant, white-breasted cormorant, blue crane, Cape crow, pied crow, red-eyed dove, fork-tailed drongo, yellow-billed duck, little egret, western cattle egret, common fiscal, greater flamingo, Egyptian goose, spur-winged goose, sombre greenbul, kelp gull, helmeted guineafowl, black-headed heron, grey heron, hadeda ibis, sacred ibis, rock kestrel, pied kingfisher, black-shouldered kite, blacksmith lapwing, large-billed lark, speckled mousebird, ostrich, speckled pigeon, white-fronted plover, Karoo prinia, Cape robin-chat, Cape sparrow, Cape spurfowl, house sparrow, common starling, pied starling, malachite sunbird, southern double-collared sunbird, Swift tern, Cape wagtail, Cape weaver

Tuesday 30 July

We had a late start to the day, lying in bed reading and listening to the wind still howling. We sat in the lounge for a while after breakfast too.

We eventually went out just before 11am. We drove to the wreck first and then made our way to Struisbaai. There we drove along the streets and beaches. The sea was very choppy. We drove to the harbor too, but the weather was too inclement to walk on the pier again.

We made our way to Struisbaai-Plaat, where we had read that there was a tern roost. It started to rain though, so Terry quickly went to see if anything was visible (the book said it was 200m from the parking). He didn’t see anything and ran back as the rain got even heavier.

Our plan had been to drive to Elim and meander along the back roads birding, but the rain got heavier and the wind buffeted the car, so we decided to turn around. We stopped to buy wood and then went to L’Agulhas Seafoods for lunch. Terry had calamari, hake and chips and I hake and chips.

It was only raining lightly as we went back to our car, so we drove to the wreck again. We also went to the lighthouse. We paid to go in and climbed three flights of very steep steps. The next flight to get outside was an upright ladder! I opted out, but Terry climbed up. He said that it was so windy that I should be pleased that I didn’t go out. He took some photos and quickly made his way back inside. We climbed back down and paid a quick visit to the museum, before making our way back to the apartment.

We saw two rock kestrels clinging to the side of a house on our street. They were obviously trying to get shelter from the wind.

Wednesday 31 July

We left the apartment just before 9:30am, all packed and ready to go. We took the keys back to the café, and then drove to the shipwreck for one last time. We also stopped in at Struisbaai harbor, before making our way towards Bredasdorp.

There we filled the car before continuing on to Swellendam. We turned to De Hoop/Malgas – on a gravel road. It took us a while to work out whether the town was Malagas or Malgas as the signs had both. A little “chat” with Google and we discovered that the correct name is Malgas. It was previously called Malagas and that is why the hotel still used that in its name.

As we drove past different farmlands, we did some good birding. We saw another Cape clapper lark displaying and plenty of blue cranes (usually in pairs), but the highlight was a new lifer – the Agulhas long-billed lark.

We also came across a large flock of sheep in the road. Two dogs and two vehicles were herding them. We moved forward slowly and eventually made our way through. This is the kind of traffic jam that we find more tolerable than the nasty ones back home!

Birds: Red bishop, Cape bulbul, Cape cormorant, white-breasted cormorant, blue crane, Cape crow, Cape turtle dove, common fiscal, Egyptian goose, spur-winged goose, helmeted guineafowl, kelp gull, black-headed heron, hadeda ibis, rock kestrel, blacksmith lapwing, crowned lapwing, Agulhas long-billed lark (L), Cape clapper lark, long-billed lark, red-capped lark, rock martin, ostrich, speckled pigeon, Cape sparrow, house sparrow, Cape spurfowl, common starling, African stonechat, malachite sunbird, Cape vulture, Cape wagtail, Cape weaver, capped wheatear

Malgas/De Hoop & Surrounds

We turned off to De Hoop and made our way through the gate. We drove through to reception and booked a boat trip for the next morning. We then drove to Tierhoek picnic spot and around the circular drive back to reception. We had a lovely drive, stopping for birds.

We then made our way to Koppie Alleen, turning first to Die Mond. We stopped at the lookout points to look over De Hoop vlei and take in the numerous water birds. We then continued on to Koppie Alleen. It was raining by this time, so we didn’t get out of the car or climb to the top of the dune. As we drove back, the sun came out. We saw two southern right whales in the distance from a section of the road that looked over the dunes and the sea.

We left the reserve and continued on to Malgas. We came across a flock of more than 100 red bishops.

We reached the Malagas Hotel just before 4pm and checked in. We then unpacked the car and moved it to the parking area. We unpacked and settled in to room 32.

After spending some time relaxing, we made our way to dinner. We ate pea and ham soup, fried mozzarella, fish and chips (Terry) and pork chop with vegetables and salad (me), followed by ice cream and chocolate sauce (Terry) and sago pudding with custard (me). We decided to skip the traditional course or we would never have managed the mains and dessert.

Mammals: Bontebok, eland, yellow mongoose, grey rhebok, steenbok, southern right whale, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Red bishop, yellow bishop, bokmakierie, Cape bunting, brimstone canary, white-throated canary, yellow canary, white-breasted cormorant, blue crane, Cape crow, African darter, Cape turtle dove, yellow-billed duck, western cattle egret, common fiscal, greater flamingo, Egyptian goose, spur-winged goose, helmeted guineafowl, kelp gull, African hoopoe, glossy ibis, hadeda ibis, sacred ibis, blacksmith lapwing, crowned lapwing, Cape clapper lark, ostrich, Kittlitz’s plover, Karoo scrub robin, Cape shoveller, African spoonbill, Cape spurfowl, grey-winged spurfowl, common starling, pied starling, black-winged stilt, Cape sugarbird, malachite sunbird, southern double-collared sunbird, Cape teal, caspian tern, Cape wagtail, southern masked weaver

Thursday 1 August

We were awake early the next morning so that we could get to breakfast first thing and make our way back to De Hoop for out boat trip. It was very misty as we left Malgas, but fortunately the mist lifted before we got to the turning to De Hoop. We saw blue crane again and another Denham’s bustard.

Once at reception, we walked down to the vlei and climbed on the boat. We were the only two people other than our guide. It was really lovely. The vlei is quite large and there were water birds everywhere. As we launched, we saw a flock of about 50 reed cormorants flying over.

We had fun watching the greater flamingoes and great white pelicans. We also saw baboons looking for crabs on the banks and watched a flock of coots “run” on the water as they took off. We had hoped to see all three grebes, but we found lots of little and great crested grebes, but no black-necked ones.

The highlight though was our sightings of Cape clawless otter. The guide noticed them running up the banks to the trees – they apparently sleep in the shade in the middle of the day. Terry saw them originally but I was obviously looking in the wrong place and I missed all of them. As we motored back, however, another one moved up from the water and took a long zigzagging route – and I saw it clearly!

From reception, we then drove to Koppie Alleen and walked up the dune to the lookout point. We saw about 10 – 20 whales over the time we stood there and watched. Some of them were lobtailing.

We then walked down to the beach area and walked along a boardwalk. When we got back to Bites (the tuckshop in front of the beaches), we saw a whale breaching. We ate a snack lunch on our way back to the gate. (We had intended to get something at Bites but there was nothing to choose from as they were sold out of almost everything.)

We made our way out of the gate. It was a glorious warm day – the temperature reached 20 degrees. We saw a flock of 19 cranes in a field as we drove. We made our way to the Potberg entrance, We didn’t have time to do much as the gate closed earlier than the main part of the reserve. We were quite confused and disappointed by what we found. There were no signposts and all we could find were old dilapidated buildings. So, we turned around and made our way back out again.

Instead of driving directly back to Malgas, we continued to Infanta at the mouth of the Breede River. There we drove along the seafront before making our way to a viewpoint over the river. We could see Witsand on the other side of the river. We both commented that there wasn’t much white sand!

We made our way back to the hotel, where we relaxed and read until it was time for dinner. There were more people at the hotel than the previous day. We had mushroom soup, springrolls and chicken schnitzel. We again skipped the traditional course. Terry had lemon pudding and custard, while I had some coffee.

Mammals: Baboon, bontebok, eland, rock hyrax, yellow mongoose, Cape clawless otter, springbok, steenbok, southern right whale, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Pied avocet, red bishop, yellow bishop, bokmakierie, southern boubou, Cape bunting, Denham’s bustard, brimstone canary, yellow canary, red-knobbed coot, reed cormorant, white-breasted cormorant, blue crane, Cape crow, African darter, Cape turtle dove, red-eyed dove, fork-tailed drongo, yellow-billed duck, African fish eagle, little egret, common fiscal, greater flamingo, Cape gannet, Egyptian goose, spur-winged goose, great crested grebe, little grebe, helmeted guineafowl, grey-hooded gull, Hartlaub’s gull, kelp gull, black-headed heron, green-backed heron, grey heron, African hoopoe, glossy ibis, hadeda ibis, sacred ibis, pied kingfisher, blacksmith lapwing, crowned lapwing, Agulhas long-billed lark, red-capped lark, Cape longclaw, brown-throated martin, speckled mousebird, ostrich, great white pelican, three-banded plover, Karoo prinia, white-necked raven, Cape robin-chat, African snipe, African spoonbill, Cape spurfow, common starling, pied starling, red-winged starling, black-winged stilt, African stonechat, Cape sugarbird, malachite sunbird, southern tchagra, Cape teal, Caspian tern, swift tern, Cape wagtail, Cape weaver, capped wheatear

Friday 2 August

We had a lazier start to the day, and took a walk into the gardens after breakfast. We watched two cars go across the river on the pont.

We left the hotel at 9:30am and made our way to Swellendam using back roads. As we travelled, the sun started to break through the clouds.

We visited Bontebok National Park (once we found the new gate) and drove most of the roads, stopping at lookout points on the river. There, we saw Cape batis, African olive pigeon, Cape robin-chat, Cape white-eyes, olive woodpecker and olive bushshrike.

As we drove around the rest of the reserve, we saw bontebok, red hartebeest and grey rhebok. We saw a Cape clapper lark displaying right beside the road, and we were thrilled to see a secretarybird.

We stopped at Die Stroom. It was really pretty but quiet. We imagined that it would be very busy in summer since there are areas to braai and you can swim in the river if it is hot.

We then made our way back to the gate and passed a bontebok with a very strange horn.

We returned to Malgas via the Napkysmond road. We saw a Denham’s bustard and lots of blue cranes along the way.

Back at the hotel, we relaxed and read until it was time for dinner. We ate vegetable soup, samosas, steak & kidney pie (Terry – it was from the traditional course but he requested it as a main) and roast sirloin (me). Terry also tried the berry mousse.

Mammals: Bontebok, red hartebeest, small grey mongoose, yellow mongoose, grey rhebok, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Cape batis, red bishop, yellow bishop, Cape bulbul, Cape bunting, olive bushshrike, Denham’s bustard, jackal buzzard, Cape canary, yellow canary, familiar chat, white-breasted cormorant, blue crane, Cape crow, Cape turtle dove, laughing dove, yellow-billed duck, Verreaux’s eagle, common fiscal, fiscal flycatcher, Egyptian goose, spur-winged goose, Cape grassbird, helmeted guineafowl, hadeda ibis, black-shouldered kite, Karoo korhaan, crowned lapwing, Agulhas long-billed lark, Cape clapper lark, large-billed lark, red-capped lark, brown-throated martin, rock martin, speckled mousebird, neddicky, African olive pigeon, African pipit, long-billed pipit, Karoo prinia, white-necked raven, Cape robin-chat, Karoo scrub robin, secretarybird, Cape sparrow, Cape spurfowl, common starling, pied starling, African stonechat, malachite sunbird, southern double-collared sunbird, Cape weaver, capped wheatear, Cape white-eye, olive woodpecker

Saturday 3 August

After late breakfast, we made our way to De Hoop, leaving the hotel just after 9:30am. We made our way to reception as instructed at the gate as there was a trail race on and no one could drive to Koppie Alleen. There were shuttles provided from reception. So, we took the shuttle. We saw a large herd of eland (40-50) on the way.

Once at the parking area, we could hear the noise of the spectators down near the beach area. We walked up to the lookout on the dunes. It was less windy than the previous time we had visited and the sea was flat. We could see quite a few southern right whales in the bay. We watched a mother and calf gliding over the swells. It was lovely.

We walked back to the parking area (avoiding the crowds) and had to wait for a shuttle – somehow they got themselves out of sync and both arrived within minutes of each other. We saw the eland herd on the way back – if anything it looked like there were even more antelope spread out over a slightly bigger area, including the road in front of us.

We bought some cold drinks at the shop next to reception and then drove the circular drive near the picnic area. We then left the reserve and made our way back to the hotel. On the way we saw a flock of 26 blue cranes. We were amazed by how many we had seen over our time in the area – 26 sightings with a total of 117 birds.

We did some packing and then relaxed until dinner. There were even more people (the numbers had increased each day) and dinner was a buffet. We had pea & ham soup, chicken livers (Terry), green bean bredie (me), roast lamb and chicken (Terry) with sides (me). Terry had some choc-mint mousse. We chatted to the cooks and Terry told them how much he had enjoyed the pie the night before.

Back in the room, we planned our route for the next day.

Mammals: Bontebok, eland, yellow mongoose, grey rhebok, southern right whale, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Red bishop, yellow bishop, bokmakierie, southern boubou, Cape bulbul, Denham’s bustard, jackal buzzard, brimstone canary, white-breasted cormorant, blue crane, Cape crow, Cape turtle dove, yellow-billed duck, western cattle egret, common fiscal, greater flamingo, Cape gannet, Egyptian goose, spur-winged goose, helmeted guineafowl, kelp gull, hadeda ibis, blacksmith lapwing, crowned lapwing, large-billed lark, Cape longclaw, speckled mousebird, ostrich, speckled pigeon, Cape robin-chat, African snipe, Cape spurfowl, common starling, pied starling, African stonechat, southern double-collared sunbird, Cape weaver, capped wheatear

Sunday 4 August

We were awake early the next morning and made our way to breakfast and to settle our account. Terry drove the car to the area in front of our room and we packed our luggage into the car. It was 8:15am when we drove to the pont (which is right next door to the hotel) across the Breede River. We had decided to take our vehicle across, as we had not done that when we stayed in the area for the FNB ATM conference (many years before). It is the last man-powered pont in the country and soon this will no longer be the case. From November it will be automated.

It was fascinating to watch the two men link their chains to the cable and literally walk the length of the pont, before going back and doing the same. So, we were literally “walked” across the river. They have both worked there a long time – 7 and 10 years respectively. What we were pleased to hear was that they would still be involved once the pont is automated. One told us very proudly that he would be the driver.

Once we climbed back into the car on the other side of the river, we had a good chuckle – the GPS was confused as it still showed us on the other side of the river. Terry admitted that he had a soundtrack running in his head: “Don’t pay the ferryman, until he gets you to the other side…” But there was nothing to pay!

We turned onto a tar road and came to Buffelsjagrivier, where we filled up. From there we drove on the N2 and turned of to Suurbraak/Barrydale.

R62/Oudtshoorn & Surrounds

At Suurbraak, we took the R323 to Barrydale via Tradouw Pass. It was a lovely drive and the pass itself was really beautiful.

At Barrydale, we drove through town and admired a beautiful old church. We then made our way back to the R62 and stopped at Country Pumpkin. There we had lemon meringue pie as recommended by our Farmstall book. It was delicious.

We then walked around and had a look at Diesel & Crème and the Karoo Moon Hotel (which are often featured in articles on the R62.) There were lots of people, many of them from tour buses.

We made our way along the R62 and eventually found Ronnie’s Sex Shop, but we didn’t stop. We continued on to Ladismith admiring Towerkop as we got closer. We had hoped to buy some local cheese, but nothing was open. We were very disappointed.

We passed Zoar and then turned off towards Seweweeks Poort. What an amazing drive! The scenery was stunning, and the red rock cliffs looming over the road were really beautiful. Some of the time we couldn’t even tell where the road was going – it looked like it had disappeared ahead of us. Once we were through the pass, we turned around to drive back to the R62. It was no less awe-inspiring the second time although that initial wonder of seeing it for the first time was obviously less (we knew what we would experience). But we will definitely go back and drive it again some time in the future.

Back on the R62, we drove the Huisriver Pass and on to Calitzdorp. It was also a bit disappointing as again everything was closed. It appeared to us as though Route 62 was more about Barrydale than anywhere else (Terry later read that Montagu and earlier sections of the Route are also a bit more geared up for visitors).

We made our way into Oudtshoorn and out to Old Mill Lodge where we were staying. We checked in to Cottage 2 after making a reservation for dinner (there was no lunch option available). After unpacking, we sat outside and had a light snack. Once it was cooler, we moved back inside.

We walked down to the restaurant for an early dinner and both had ostrich cheeseburgers. We didn’t stay long, as we were both tired after our long and exciting day.

Monday 5 August

We were awake at 7am and made our way directly to breakfast once we were ready. We had a lovely breakfast, which included vetkoek, curried mince and venison mince. We even had crumpets – Terry with syrup and I had one to try the quince jam. Everything was delicious.

We checked out and left the lodge just before 9am, making our way north on the R328 and turned to Swartberg Pass (a change from our original plans, but one that we were very pleased that we had made). It was windy.

Swartberg Pass was also amazing, in a totally different way to Seweweeks Poort. In the latter we drove in between the cliffs with them towering over us, but the Swartberg Pass climbed up and over the mountains and then winded down on the other side. We thought it was beautiful on the way up, where we stopped at Skelmdraai to admire the view. But once we drove over the top the other side was even more spectacular. We could see the road winding ahead of us with many hairpin bends. We took time to admire Droe Watervaal and the stream at Malvadraai.

Once out of the pass, we turned towards Prince Albert to have a quick look at the town. We stopped for a quick comfort break and then turned around and drove in the opposite direction towards Klaarstroom. We then made our way to Meiringspoort. It was also lovely although in a much more civilized manner – tarred roads, a visitor’s centre with bathrooms and a walk to a waterfall. (We didn’t do the latter as we still had the trip to Mossel Bay ahead of us.)

From De Rust we made our way through three stop-go’s to get back to Oudtshoorn and complete the Swartberg Circle Route as per the map given to us by the lodge.

We found the R328 and made our way southwards.

Mossel Bay & Surrounds

We drove through Robinson Pass and got a glimpse of the sea as we made our way down towards the coast. We could see Mossel Bay in the distance too.

At Mossel Bay, we made our way to Bar-t-Nique and checked in. We unloaded our luggage and decided to unpack our clothes and sort out the laundry. We took the latter to Auntie Norma’s cottage and left it there as the three of us made our way to the point. There we had a very late lunch (an early supper for Norma!) at Kingfisher restaurant. We sat outside on the veranda originally and enjoyed watching a southern right whale in the bay. But before our food came, we moved inside as it was too windy outside to be pleasant. Norma ate a platter with mussels, fried calamari and prawns, while we shared a platter with mussels, calamari (both grilled and fried), hake, prawns and salmon/cream cheese springrolls. Norma had a Dom Pedro, Terry crème brulee and I had a cappuccino to end off the meal.

We watched some dolphins as we left the restaurant. We drove along the point and saw a Cape fur seal in the waves and some rock hyraxes in the parking area.

Back at Norma’s cottage, we put on a load of washing and put some of it into the tumble drier to dry. We then made our way back to the B&B.

Tuesday 6 August

We were awake early, but relaxed and read until breakfast at 8am. We drove to look for the meeting point for Terry’s excursion the following day. Then we made our way to Norma. There we sorted out the dry washing, went to fill the car and then made our way to George.

We found the right road to take us onto the Seven Passes Road. We traveled Kaaimans and Silver River Passes, both of which winded through forest.

We turned to Wilderness Heights and visited the Map of Africa. The lady who keeps the area clean told us that lots of people think that it looks more like a crocodile head. She was quite informative and she sent us to the other side of the road where we climbed over a fence (using benches) and walked a short way to a beautiful view of 18km of sandy beaches.

We drove Touw River, Hoogekraal, Karatara and Homtini Passes. The interesting thing was that unlike the mountain passes that we had been travelling previously, all these passes were about getting down to the rivers to cross and then making our way back up the other side.

We drove back into forest and made our way to the Phantom Pass (named for the phantom moth). That ultimately took us back to the N2.

We drove to Sedgefield and then continued on to Wilderness. There we had lunch at Salinas beach restaurant. Terry had Cajun-blackened fish and Norma and I both has Caribbean spare ribs. We all raved about our food. The ribs just fell off the bones and the fish was the best Terry had eaten on the trip.

We continued back to Mossel Bay, driving over the new Kaaiman’s Pass. Back at Norma’s we put the rest of the wet washing out to dry and then sat down to chat and relax. Terry went for a Thai massage, while the ladies had coffee. In fact, my cousin visited and had coffee too. They worked out that they had not seen each other in 45 years! He then popped out to pick up his wife and came back so she could meet us. They had to leave though before Terry got back. We emptied the car so that we were ready to take it for its service the next day, leaving our things in Norma’s cottage.

We chatted some more and tumble-dried the last of the washing. We left Norma at about 6:30pm, stopping at the Spar to get a sandwich and some yoghurt for a light supper.

Wednesday 7 August

We were awake at 5am but only got up just before the alarm. We left the B&B just after 7am and dropped Terry near the harbor where he was meeting for his shark experience. I then took the Fortuner in for a service and waited for Norma to fetch me.

Once she arrived, we drove to Langeberg Mall (just down the road) and had breakfast at Mugg & Bean. We then walked around the mall and did some shopping, before going to a local beauty salon to get manicures and pedicures. Unfortunately though there was a misunderstanding and one person seemed to be doing everything so it took ages (over 4 hours).

In the meanwhile, Terry finished his shark experience and walked up to the B&B where he relaxed – exhausted from his time with the sharks and the steep walk uphill. He had a great time though. He saw 7 different great white sharks ranging between 2 and 4 metres in length. He saw a predation of a seal and another unsuccessful attempt – where the seal eventually swam behind the shark nipping its tail. When he was in the cage, he witnessed 10 approaches. It was definitely the best shark cage excursion he had been on.

When we had finished at the salon, Norma dropped me at the garage and I waited for the vehicle. I then drove to the B&B to collect Terry, and we drove to fetch Norma at home. We then went to Gannet Café for dinner. Terry and I shared jalapeno poppers with chorizo stuffing, while Norma had snail cigars. We all then had pizza – blue cheese and bacon (Terry), feta, avo and bacon (Norma) and olive and anchovy (me). We took our leftovers home with us.

Back at Norma’s we put everything back into the car, did some more washing and hung it out on a drying rack inside. We then made our way back to the B&B.

Thursday 8 August

We had a late breakfast and then made our way to Norma’s. We drove to Dana Bay to have a look around. We then continued to Gouritsmond, where we saw my cousin’s old house (he had sold it recently).

It started raining, but we continued on to Stilbaai. It continued to rain on and off, but we drove around stopping at the small harbor and making our way through Skulpiesbaai Nature Reserve alongside the beach. We had lunch at On the Rocks. Norma had a mini surf and turf, while both of us had mixed baskets, which included ribs, calamari, onion rings and chips.

When we exited the restaurant, it had stopped raining. We drove back to the N2, passing an elephant in the grounds of a game lodge on the side of the highway. We almost couldn’t believe our eyes. We also saw a signboard for Jakkalsvlei (I had enjoyed some wine from there that I was given as a gift and hadn’t been able to find it at any shop – but it was too late to make plans to go there as we were leaving the next day! Next time…)

We dropped Terry off so that he could have another massage and then went to Langeberg Mall where I bought a leather cross-body handbag. We had coffee at Mugg & Bean and then went back to collect Terry.

We finished the last of the laundry and then visited with my cousin and his wife who came around so that they could meet Terry. I then hung out Norma’s own washing on her inside rack.

We went back to the B&B where we sorted out all of the clean clothes and packed bags ready for our next few stops. We had leftover pizza for supper.

Friday 9 August

The next morning we picked up Norma and went to Santos Express for breakfast together. We went back to her cottage, chatted for a while and then continued on our journey at about 10:30am. We drove to Diaz beach where we could see just how close Shark Island is!

We then continued our journey on the N2. We turned off to Victoria Bay but the beach area is closed off and there was very little parking available and lots of people (we remembered that it was a public holiday), so we turned around and continued to Knysna.

Knysna & Surrounds

We arrived at Knysna just before noon and made our way to the lookout points over the Heads. We walked to admire the views at all of the lookouts and then made our way down to the heads, but the parking was too busy and we made our way to Brenton-on-Sea instead. Before we got there, we stopped at a lookout point where a whale-watcher was directing the whale-watching boat to a southern right whale and her calf. We watched the whale for a while and then continued on to Brenton on the Rocks, where we checked in (room B3). It was a lovely room and we even had a garage to park in!

We unpacked and then drove down to the beach area, where we had a late lunch at Butterfly Blu. Terry had seafood curry and I had pork belly. Afterwards, we bought some milk tart and blueberry cheesecake from the deli. We walked down to the beach to look around and then made our way back to the B&B, where we relaxed and ate biltong and our deli purchases for supper.

Saturday 10 August

We made our way to Sedgefield just after 8am. Our destination was the Wild Oats Farmers’ Market. We wandered around first and then went back to stalls to buy bread rolls, cheese, cold meats, yoghurt and berries. We then had breakfast – potato parmesan fritter (shared), cheese and sweetcorn springrolls and breakfast egg rolls. We also shared a fresh orange juice. It was a lovely breakfast, eaten at a shared table while sitting on tree trunk stools.

We then popped in to Mosaic Village Market right next door to where we parked. We wandered around but bought very little.

After returning to Knysna, we took the R339 to De Vlugt. We stopped at Angie’s G spot for a comfort break and then took Kliprivier Road along the Keurbooms River to the N9. We turned on to the R62, where we saw an emu with 2 chicks in one of the fields. While we drove, we ate some quiches and a pretzel from the market for lunch, followed by some lovely strawberries.

At Avontuur, we turned back onto the R339 and drove back to De Vlugt via Prince Alfred Pass. It was not as scary as we remember (from over 30 years ago, driving a small golf!) but it was still pretty. The mountains were high, but much greener than some of the other passes we had travelled.

Once through De Vlugt we continued back up the pass, driving the way we had originally got there earlier in the day (R339). We stopped at Spitskop viewpoint – it is really amazing and gives a 360-degree view, from the top. It was possible to see both Knysna and Plettenberg Bay in the distance.

We got back to Knysna just after 4pm and stopped so that Terry could have a massage. I read in the car.

We then drove to Belvidere and had dinner at The Bell Tavern. We started with a small portion of the special – coconut, chilli and ginger mussels. Then we both had pot pies (as recommended to us) – steak (Terry) and braised venison (me). Everything was really delicious.

As we made our way back to Brenton-on-Sea, we stopped to take photos of the lagoon with the lights of Knysna.

We prepared breakfast and put our things out, ready for an early start the next day.

Sunday 11 August

We were awake early enough to eat our breakfast in the room rather than on the road. We left the B&B just before 7:30 and made our way to the meeting point (Sasol garage at Harkerville) for our Forest tour. We stopped on the way to take photos of the rising sun over the lagoon. We were still early, so we filled up and checked with the attendant where we would actually meet. He chuckled as he said that the guide was always early and no one had ever got there before him!

We had just parked in the place indicated when Hardy (our guide) arrived. We were the only group for the day. He gave us a handheld radio and then switched on his to test that we could hear him and him us. And then our Secrets of the Forest tour started with us following his landrover.

We drove back on the highway and turned off into the forest behind the Garden of Eden. Not long after, we turned onto a side road and drove through a gate (which Hardy had to unlock for us to get through). We stopped to look at the different vegetation – cold bark tree (redwood), cinnabar fungi, shelf bracken, carrot hair ferns, black stinkwood and yellowwood.

We drove through the valley of ferns and stopped for a break at a small stream. There was a Cape holly tree lying across the stream. It had adapted by having branches shoot out of the side and upwards to the sky.

We stopped to look at a 150-year-old eucalyptus tree. It was big and you could smell it from the side of the road. A little later we stopped for a 500-year-old Outeniqua yellowwood. It was obvious that it grows much slower than the eucalyptus.

We drove out of another locked gate, and made our way to Diepwalle Station for a light lunch of vetkoek, mince and salad. After thanking the lady who made our food, and saying goodbye to Hardy, we made our way back to the R339 and back on to the N2. We turned onto Ou Kaapse Weg and drove to the top, where we turned around and drove back to Brenton-on-Sea. On the way we saw a forest buzzard.

We were both tired, so we relaxed and read for the rest of the afternoon. We drove to Butterfly Blue for supper – stuffed calamari pasta (Terry) and kingklip (me). By the time we left the restaurant, it was raining.

Monday 12 August

We had a relaxing start to the day, breakfasting on berries and yoghurt from the market with some muesli.

We made our way through Plettenberg Bay to the Keurbooms River. We had hoped to go out on the river, but it was too windy and no ferry was running. We were disappointed but knew that we really didn’t have any other day that we could do this. Next time!

We went to the whale-watching point in Plettenberg Bay, where there were some bottlenose dolphins swimming in the waves. We also drove to Beacon Isle and had a quick look around the Plett area.

From there we made our way to Robberg Nature Reserve, our first ever visit. It was too windy to walk the trails, so we just went to the two viewpoints that were close by.

We drove back to Knysna and across to Thesen Island, where we had lunch at Tapas. We shared oyster tempura, nachos, chicken tenders, calamari rings and mussels. It was nice but not really what we had expected, so we were a little disappointed.

We stopped at Sea Shop in Brenton-on-Sea and bought some things we needed and an ice cream each. Back at the B&B, we went to the front of the “house” to admire the view, but it was so windy that only Terry stayed there to eat his ice cream (he had a jacket on). He then also beat a hasty retreat indoors.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing (Terry popped out for a massage). Later we had a supper of ciabatta, cold meats and cheese (all from the market).

Tuesday 13 August

After breakfast, we had a short game with Bobby, the Border collie, and his tennis ball, before making our way to Knysna. We drove to Thesen Island to book a boat trip. We had planned to do the eco trip, but found that they only do that when it is not whale season. So we booked a whale-watching trip instead. The first boat had not gone out as the sea was too rough, but they were convinced that it would be okay by the time we were due to go out.

We went to the Heads and this time we could get parking and walk along the pathway to different lookout spots.

We then went to Leisure Isle where we drove around the island.

It was then time to go back to Thesen Island to Ocean Odyssey for our boat trip.

We rode the waves near the Heads for a short while before the skipper motored us through the Heads and out to sea. We saw African penguins and Cape fur seals, before we had a brief glimpse of a humpback whale. It then dove down into the sea and didn’t resurface. The skipper thought he had seen a shark, but as we got closer we realized that it was a sunfish. We were both thrilled. Most of the other people on the boat were foreigners and I am not sure that they appreciated the rarity of what they were seeing.

We had a good sighting of another humpback whale before it also disappeared. The skipper was disappointed that we did not get a longer and better sighting and tried a few other places, before we had to make our way back into the lagoon so that the next trip could go out too. The best news was that I wasn’t seasick this time, even though there were plenty of other passengers that were!

After handing our life jackets back at the Ocean Odyssey office, we went to Sirocco for lunch. We shared aroncini and smoked snoek springrolls to start and followed this with feta & jalapeno sirloin (Terry) and tropical linefish (kingklip) (me). It was all lovely although a little more expensive than the other restaurants that we had been eating at.

We did some shopping at the chocolate shop and Food Lover’s market before making our way back to Brenton-on-Sea. There we relaxed and had some chocolates as a late dessert.

Later, we prepared food for the next day and had a very light supper.

Wednesday 14 August

We were awake before our 6am alarm and we prepared for our day out, eating some of our breakfast before we left the B&B. We met Mark Dixon, the birding guide, at Belvidere Manor at 7am. The day was grey and overcast.

As we drove west on the N2, we stopped for a sighting of secretarybirds. This was rare enough that Mark posted it on a local bird Whatsapp group and later on got feedback from people who had gone to see them too.

At Sedgefield, he directed us to a heronry (basically two trees on someone’s land) but he was devasted to find that one tree had been removed. There were some black-headed and grey herons nesting in the other tree, but some others that he expected to see weren’t there (white-backed night heron for example).

We looped back to the main road and took the Swartvlei turning, making our way to the hide at Rondevlei. There we saw greater flamingoes (we had seen plenty on this trip), white-breasted and Cape cormorants, red-knobbed coots, little and black-necked grebes. As we sat there patiently, we saw African darter, common moorhen, African swamphen, malachite kingfisher and great crested grebe. So, now we had seen all three grebes in one location!

It was quite funny to watch the coots. One had decided that it was in charge and it chased away anything that came too close to its nest, even the flock of flamingoes.

We drove around Langvlei and then made our way to the Malachite Hide on the side of the vlei. There we saw a really large raft of Cape cormorants. We were pleased to also see a pair of African fish eagles, a pair of malachite kingfishers and a southern pochard.

We then drove to the forest area and walked along a part of the Brown-hooded kingfisher trail. It started to rain, but we persevered as we could hear the Knysna warbler calling. We couldn’t find it but we did see a Knysna turaco – our first in the Knysna area! We turned around and as we got closer to where we had come into the trail, Mark heard the warbler again; so we walked off the path and made our way to some bushes. It was hard work but we eventually found (that was the easier part) and saw glimpses of the Knysna warbler, a lifer for us. It is just one of those birds that doesn’t sit still and likes thick bushes!

We drove to the Woodville Big Tree and walked into the forest. The sun started to come out and we did some lovely forest birding there. It was fun, but a “pain in the neck” – looking into the canopy most of the time. The big tree was also beautiful to see. It towered over us.

We drove to the Hoogekraal River and saw a forest buzzard on the way there. At the low water bridge, we saw some black saw-wings.

We made our way from there to Buffelsbaai, stopping first at the Goukamma river, and then making our way to the beaches to have a look around. We saw a large pod of bottlenose dolphins and a southern right whale.

We dropped Mark back at Belvidere and then made our way to Brenton-on-Sea. There we had an early supper at Butterfly Blu. Terry had pork belly and I had slow braised beef carbonnade.

We got back to the B&B just after 7pm and had some time to relax before we went to sleep.

Mammals: Baboon, bottlenose dolphin, southern right whale

Birds: Bar-throated apalis, Cape batis, southern red bishop, southern boubou, terrestrial brownbul, Cape bulbul, olive bushshrike, forest buzzard, jackal buzzard, brimstone canary, Cape canary, Levaillant’s cisticola, red-knobbed coot, Cape cormorant, reed cormorant, white-breasted cormorant, pied crow, grey cuckooshrike, African darter, Cape turtle dove, red-eyed dove, tambourine dove, fork-tailed drongo, African fish eagle, little egret, western cattle egret, common fiscal, greater flamingo, African dusky flycatcher, blue-mantled crested flycatcher, Egyptian goose, African goshawk, black-necked grebe, great crested grebe, little grebe, sombre greenbul, helmeted guineafowl, kelp gull, African marsh harrier, black-headed heron, grey heron, purple heron, glossy ibis, hadeda ibis, brown-hooded kingfisher, malachite kingfisher, pied kingfisher, black-shouldered kite, brown-throated martin, rock martin, common moorhen, speckled mousebird, black-headed oriole, African black oystercatcher, speckled pigeon, white-fronted plover, southern pochard, Karoo prinia, white-necked raven, chorister robin, black saw-wing, secretarybird, puff-backed shrike, African spoonbill, black-bellied starling, common starling, black-winged stilt, African stonechat, collared sunbird, greater double-collared sunbird, African swamphen, red-billed teal, spotted thick-knee, olive thrush, Knysna turaco, Cape wagtail, Knysna warbler (L), lesser reed warbler, swee waxbill, Cape white-eye, green woodhoopoe, Knysna woodpecker, olive woodpecker

Thursday 15 August

We were awake at 7am and packed before getting ready. We eventually left the B&B at about 8:45am and made our way to Knysna, stopping at the two lookout points on our way.

In Knysna, we stopped at Toyota to fill up and to see if they could remove our wildcard, which had slipped through behind the cupholders in the middle of the lower dashboard. It involved removing part of the dash, but they were able to get it out and then put everything back together – all for no charge!

We continued on the N2 past Plettenberg Bay.

Storms River & The Fernery

We took the R102 to Nature’s Valley travelling the Grootrivier Pass. It was very pretty with lots of big trees. We drove into Nature’s Valley and had a look around before continuing up the other side of Grootrivier Pass.

Instead of turning onto the N2 though, we continued on the R102 to the old Bloukrans Pass. There were fallen rocks in the road, a fallen tree (luckily it only blocked part of the road) and in places it was naturally very narrow. The book had warned that it wasn’t well maintained, and it wasn’t. There were even mounds of soil on the road covered with grass and plants – that is how long they had been there! Nonetheless, it was a pretty drive and there wasn’t a lot of other traffic.

Once back on the N2, we made our way to the turnoff to Tsitsikamma National Park and drove to the Storms River Mouth. We stood watching the waves pound on the rocks, enjoying the spectacular show.

After finding the bathrooms, we walked to the suspension bridge. Climbed would probably be a better description, as there were lots of steps!! We walked across the suspension bridge and then made our way back across, before walking to two new ones (E and W) on the side of the river, which took us to a viewing platform. And I don’t even like suspension bridges – it feels like you could get motion sickness!

From the viewing platform, we climbed up some more steps to the main path and then continued down those steps and back to the parking area. There were no sandwiches as the shop, so we went to Cattle Baron instead and both ate a salad – sirloin, Roquefort and fig (Terry) and chicken, avocado and pineapple (me).

We then made our way out of the reserve and back to the highway. We took a quick drive to the Storms River Village and then crossed the Storms River Bridge before turning off, following the signboards to the The Fernery.

We checked in and were shown around, before being taken to Alikreukel chalet (number 10). The same guy, who showed us around the gardens and main buildings, then cycled to the parking for our cottage with us following him. We thought that was quite clever. It was all very beautiful. The chalet was really lovely, with lots of space.

We unpacked and then each of us had a lovely hot bath. We changed for dinner and then walked along the boardwalk to the restaurant. The moon was beautiful. Terry had pork belly for dinner and I had beef fillet steak. We then had a lovely walk in the moonlight back to the chalet.

Friday 16 August

We were awake at 6am! But we put our electric blankets back on and both of managed to sleep for over an hour longer.

We walked to breakfast. It was a grey, windy day and the temperature had dropped significantly.

After breakfast, we went for a birding walk. The 4-km walk advertised in the brochure was in fact only a 2-km walk and they no longer did drives to the cliffs (which we had thought we might do). We walked from our chalet to the dam and over the dam wall. The trail then moved into the forest area. There was a lot of noise here but very little movement. We went onto the sundowner deck, but there was little to be seen so we continued back to reception, completing the trail.

We then walked along the boardwalk, turning down to each of the other decks – lookout deck, otter’s pool deck, cascade deck and pumphouse deck. The views from the first three were lovely, but there wasn’t much to be seen at the last one.

When we got back to our chalet, the room had not been serviced yet. So, we grabbed some things and made our way to the lounge to relax and read, and enjoy the view. While there Terry spotted a humpback whale out to sea.

We went back to the chalet at lunchtime and had a light snack. It was quite chilly so we put on the heater and I lay (carefully!) under a mohair blanket.

For dinner that night, I had roasted baby beetroot and exotic mushrooms with goat’s cheese, followed by pork belly, while Terry had lamb rump followed by crème brûlée.

Birds: Bar-throated apalis, black-collared barbet, Cape batis, southern boubou, olive bushshrike, red-knobbed coot, fork-tailed drongo, African dusky flycatcher, Egyptian goose, hadeda ibis, speckled mousebird, black-headed oriole, white-necked raven, red-necked spurfowl, red-winged starling, greater double-collared sunbird, southern double-collared sunbird, white-throated swallow, green wood-hoopoe

Saturday 17 August

We had a nice lie in and didn’t even need the electric blanket as the heater had made the room much warmer. We went to breakfast well after 9am. It had rained in the night and early morning, and was again a cold day.

When we got back to the chalet, it had already been serviced so we settled in to have a quiet, relaxing day. We decided against doing another walk, as it was too wet outside.

We were visited by a couple of vervet monkeys and we could hear them running across our roof most of the afternoon.

For dinner, I had vitello tonnato followed by kingklip, and Terry had the pork belly again. It was so good that one of us had eaten it each night we were there!

Sunday 18 August

We were awake early but lay in for a while before getting ready and packing up. In fact, we loaded the vehicle and drove to reception so that we could leave from there after breakfast and checking out.

We left The Fernery and made our way back to the N2, following the directions back very carefully. We had to stop for a Cape cormorant. It was walking in the middle of the road in the middle of the forest plantations. We decided that it was a little lost!

Back on the N2, we headed towards PE, driving past a large wind farm. At Humansdorp, we turned onto the R102 and drove past another wind farm.

Seaview & Port Elizabeth

We stopped at Jeffrey’s Bay, going to look at Diaz Beach, Marina Martinique and Supertubes.

After getting back onto the N2, we took the turning to Blue Horizon Bay and drove around having a look at what was there. We then drove to Van Stadens River Mouth to have a look. We turned around and took the Draaifontein Road, turning to Greenbushes. As we drove, we saw a crowned hornbill – our first hornbill for the entire trip!

We turned to Maitland River Mouth and then drove down to Maitland Beach. At Beachview we drove around to look at the houses, in particular the one we have fallen in love with. We then drove around Seaview.

We drove into Port Elizabeth and went to Woolworths to buy some food for supper and breakfast. We bought some KFC for lunch and ate some on our way back to Seaview.

We checked in at Casa Seaview and met the owner who showed us to our room. It was far from the car, down at the very bottom of the property – but once we saw the view, we realized that it was worth all the hard work of carrying all the luggage down there.

Once the car was unpacked, we ate the rest of our lunch while sitting outside and enjoying the view.

We then unpacked everything and sorted out the laundry that we needed to get done.

We sat out on the veranda some more, before moving inside when it got cooler and having a light supper.

Monday 19 August

It was too windy for a boat trip, so we had a relaxing day – first getting laundry done, then having a massage (Terry) and mani/pedi (me) and then going to lunch with Terry’s aunt. We went to Barney’s Tavern and ate ribs (Terry) and eisbein (me & Eileen). It was nice to catch up.

We could see more than 50 chokka boats anchored just offshore, which gave an inkling as to why there was no boat trip for us. Even the fishermen had come in to seek shelter.

After dropping Terry’s aunt back home, we fetched the laundry and did some shopping, before going back to the B&B. It was still very windy, but we sat on the veranda and had a drink and the dropping temperature forced us back indoors.

Tuesday 20 August

We were up early in order to make sure that we got to the yacht basin. In the end, we were the first there as the traffic was not that hectic. Of concern was the fact that it was very grey with heavy clouds.

Everyone was on time for the trip, so we were out in the harbor nice and early and we were rewarded with a pod of bottlenose dolphins. We saw another pod near the harbor entrance and these dolphins stayed with the boat for a while. In the distance, we could see a third pod! PE was living up to its name as the dolphin capital!

We cruised towards Coega passing Jaleel Island. This was a different route to our last trip, but it was very interesting to be able to see the new harbor from closer.

We then made our way to St Croix Island where there was a large pod of dolphins. The waves around the island were bigger than the last time, but we could still appreciate the island, birdlife and dolphins.

As we moved away from the island towards some large ships out at sea, we saw a minke whale. We continued out from the bay, hoping to pick up some passing humpback whales. We stopped to watch some chokka boats fishing. They use hand lines. It was really interesting to see. As we continued, however, the wind shifted and started blowing quite strongly. So the skipper had to change his plans and moved towards Cape Recife instead.

It was lovely to see the lighthouse from the sea. We then moved along the shoreline and back to the harbor.

After saying our goodbyes, we went to the Boardwalk and had lunch at Yi Ping (a favorite from our last time in PE). We shared crispy beef, salt and pepper calamari, twice-cooked pork and a small egg-fried rice. We had dessert at Wakaberry.

We drove to Schoenmakerskop and then on to Seaview. There we returned to the B&B to relax. We were both exhausted – in fact, I even slept (sturgeron – anti-seasickness tablets – seems to have that effect).

We sat outside and had some drinks later, followed by a supper of leftovers from the previous day.

Wednesday 21 August

We had a relaxing start to the day, including a massage (Terry) and some shopping (me). We then made our way to Cape Recife. We hadn’t gone earlier as we were waiting for low tide.

We found the tern roost and spent some time looking for the different terns. We saw common, swift and roseate terns.

We then drove to Richmond Hill and went to Two Olives for lunch. We shared lamb shank springrolls, 3-cheese springrolls, arancini, ribs and Spanish prawns. It was delicious. Terry tried the dessert trio platter, which included deep-fried Lindt balls (I stole one), a Lindt brownie with ice cream and lemon cheesecake.

We made our way back to Seaview via the Old Seaview Road. Back at the B&B, we eventually sorted out our clean clothes and packed bags for the last two stops. We then moved to the chairs on the veranda to enjoy the view and the lovely sunny day.

Terry took a walk down to the rocks, but he said it was really marshy on the way. As he settled back into his chair, he commented on the fact that Seaview had one black mark – no whales. About a minute later, he spotted a whale blowing in the distance. We grabbed our binoculars and watched the humpback whales give us an amazing show – 20 breaches, 10 lobtails, so much pec slapping that we couldn’t keep count. They also showed us their flukes and the spray from their blows many times. They were moving westwards as they played and after the last breach – and then they were gone.

We settled down with drinks and were talking about the magnificent display, when Terry spotted the whales blowing – further west. We watched them move off into the sunset.

We could see a number of chokka boats out to sea – their lights were on. It got cooler, so we moved inside to have a light supper.

Thursday 22 August

We were awake early, but we could hear the wind and the big waves pounding the rocks. We relaxed a while and then ate breakfast outside. Since the sea wasn’t the best place to be, we went inland and visited the Kragga Kamma game reserve.

We had a lovely drive, and we saw quite a bit of game. We also learnt something about the spur-winged goose – it doesn’t honk. In fact, it chirps like a smaller bird. We heard the noise and could find the bird, except there were geese flying over. So, we checked the call and – who knew!

We drove into the cheetah enclosure, and found two cheetahs lying on a mound opposite the camp on our second time around (we had been looking at the camp on the first drive around!)

We then stopped at the Bush Café. We saw some more cheetahs in a smaller enclosure. You can pay to see them fed and even interact with them (I think) – we didn’t.

We stopped at the lion camp lookout point and could see no lions, but we did discover why they were there and in a camp – they were 3 females that had been rescued from a Ukraine zoo by the Anthony Lawrence Foundation. That made sense to us, so we drove around the camp to see if we could find them. Not a glimpse – we can only think that they were hiding from the heat deep in a thicket or in the brick “houses”.

We then continued on the loop back to the gate, and got much closer to a giraffe eating on a bush on the side of the road. It paid no attention to us – the meal was too good. We then saw that there were two more sitting in the veld and we found a female standing in the middle of the road eating from a tree as we came around a bend in the road. She wasn’t interested in moving. We had to wait patiently.

We left the reserve, as a big tourist bus was arriving. Near the Seaview Lion Park, we saw some blesbok.

We drove to look at Maitland Beach and then turned around, driving to Beachview. We drove around looking at the houses.

We popped into the Seaview Spar, before going to Barnacles for lunch. Terry ate chicken schnitzel and I had grilled calamari. The weather was lovely and sunny (if windy), but the sea still looked a little rough.

We went back to the B&B and spent the rest of the day relaxing.

Mammals: Blesbok, bontebok, buffalo, bushbuck, giraffe, impala, small grey mongoose, vervet monkey, common reedbuck, white rhino, springbok, warthog, blue wildebeest, Burchell’s zebra

Birds: Bar-throated apalis, bokmakierie, southern boubou, jackal buzzard, brimstone canary, Levaillant’s cisticola, white-breasted cormorant, Cape turtle dove, fork-tailed drongo, yellow-billed duck, lanner falcon, common fiscal, African dusky flycatcher, Cape gannet, Egyptian goose, spur-winged goose, little grebe, sombre greenbul, helmeted guineafowl, African hoopoe, hadeda ibis, brown-hooded kingfisher, blacksmith lapwing, crowned lapwing, speckled mousebird, ostrich, speckled pigeon, African pipit, three-banded plover, white-necked raven, Cape robin-chat, black-bellied starling, common starling, olive thrush, Cape wagtail, village weaver

Other: Leopard tortoise

Friday 23 August

We were up quite early and we started packing up. Once the car was loaded, we had breakfast on our veranda. Terry asked what the white was on the rock and then we realized that it wasn’t a rock – it was a dead humpback whale. It looked like it had been dead for a while and had been washed in by the storm during the night.

We packed our car and then left the B&B, heading to the N2.

Graaff-Reinet & Surrounds

We took the R355 to Addo, passing the wind farm on our way. We then took the R336 to Kirkwood, before turning onto the R75 towards Graaff-Reinet. We had to wait at a stop-go, but then went straight through the second one. After Jansenville, we had an even longer wait at yet another stop-go. It seemed like they were working on roads wherever we went. In fact, there was a fourth one but we didn’t have to wait too long.

We then got onto the N9 and made our way directly to the Drostdy Hotel. We checked in to room 201, and took our luggage into the room. We then had a snack lunch and unpacked. Terry had found a brochure with information about night drives into Camdeboo so we phoned and booked a drive for the next night. We then settled down to relax.

We left the hotel just after 4pm and made our way to the Valley of Desolation. We drove directly to the lookout deck. We then walked up the path to the main lookout points. It was beautiful. Terry explored a little further and then looped back.

We walked back down to the deck and sat there enjoying the peace and quiet – there had been lots of people at the top, and they were talking up a storm! It was lovely and warm (29 degrees at nearly 5:30pm).

We then drove down to the Toposcope and walked up the path, enjoying the sunset.

We made our way back to the hotel and went directly to the restaurant for dinner (we had made a reservation when we checked in). Terry had biltong and cheese springrolls to start, and I had shredded duck parcels. I then had lamb belly and Terry the trio of lamb (rack, skilpadjie and belly). It was delicious.

Mammals: Giraffe, kudu, slender mongoose, vervet monkey, springbok, warthog

Birds: Blue crane, Cape crow, pied crow, common fiscal, Egyptian goose, pale chanting goshawk, black-headed heron, rock kestrel, brown-hooded kingfisher, ostrich, speckled pigeon, white-necked raven, red-winged starling

Saturday 24 August

We were both awake early, but we dozed some more and read. We went through to the restaurant and had breakfast.

We left the hotel and arrived at Camdeboo National Park just before 10am. We had noticed that the dam was dry the previous day (when we drove to Valley of Desolation) and the veld was just as grey and dry. We went to Khwalimanzi Hide. There we saw some springbok and a herd of blesbok spread out across the dam floor.

We came across a very ironic sign at the one lookout onto the dam – it said “No fishing” but all there was in front of us was sand and dry reeds! It was very sad to see Camdeboo for the first time (we had only been to the Valley of Desolation before) and for it to be in such a bad way.

We left the reserve via a second gate just after 12:30pm and drove back towards town. As we passed the dam, we noticed that there were a couple of greater flamingoes standing in a small pool of water in a dip in the dam. We went back to the hotel and then walked to Polka a little later for a late lunch. We both had lamb burgers. They were really delicious.

We met David McNaughton of Karoo Connections just after 7:30pm for our night drive. He was running a little late, as his light wasn’t working. He managed to find the problem fuse while chatting to us and then we were on our way back to Camdeboo. As we were driving past the dam, he commented on the smell from all of the dead fish.

We drove to the gate to the Valley of Desolation area, but, after unlocking the gate, he drove towards Winterhoek. We saw a number of different antelope, bat-eared fox and a really small springbok fawn that was cowering down in the grass – Mom wasn’t too far away though. It didn’t move even with the light shining near it.

We exited at another gate and made our way across the road to the gate that we had exited from earlier in the day. There we saw black-backed jackal and a fiery-necked nightjar. We asked David about the buffalo as we had seen signs to watch out for them (on the main road too) and we wondered how they were coping with the lack of water. He told us that some had been taken out of the park, but there was still a fair sized group. His parents drive into the park weekly to see if they can find them, but have been unsuccessful recently. Well, we were luckier. We saw some eyes and movement in the distance and eventually drove towards the fence to have a closer look. And there they were – a group of about 30 buffalo. They didn’t seem too happy to be found and moved off fairly quickly. David said that his parents wouldn’t believe him when he told them.

As we continued with our drive, we saw a Cape eagle owl and then, eventually, we found an aardvark on the road as we were heading back towards the gate area. It was lovely to see it out in the open.

Once back on the main road and heading back to the hotel, we encountered a Cape mountain zebra on the side of the road. Its one leg was injured and bleeding. David thought that it could have got caught on a fence while trying to get to some better grazing. He tried to see if he could help but it just ran up the mountain and back towards the Valley of Desolation. He said that he would let the reserve manager know about it the next day.

We got back to the hotel at about 11pm. Luckily we didn’t have an early morning planned for the next day.

Mammals: Aardvark, blesbok, buffalo, common duiker, eland, bat-eared fox, scrub hare, black-backed jackal, kudu, vervet monkey, oryx, grey rhebok, springbok, springhare, black wildebeest, Cape mountain zebra

Birds: Acacia pied barbet, pririt batis, common fiscal, greater flamingo, pale chanting goshawk, black-headed heron, sacred ibis, rock martin, ostrich, Cape eagle owl, fiery-necked nightjar, African pipit, plain-backed pipit, white-necked raven, secretarybird, African stonechat, spotted thick-knee. Karoo thrush

Sunday 25 August

We had a lazy start to the day, going to breakfast just before 10am. We checked out and then took a walk towards the church to take some photos. We drove to the Valley of Desolation and drove to the top, but we didn’t get out or do any walking.

On the way back to town, we stopped to look at the dead fish that we could smell the night before – there were hundreds (if not thousands) of them. We stopped to fill up in town and then made our way out of Graaff-Reinet on the N9.

Karoo Gariep

We drove to Middelberg and then turned onto the N10 just afterwards. From there we made our way towards Hanover and turned onto the N1. We turned off to New Holme Lodge about 20km after Hanover.

We arrived at the lodge just after 2:30pm. Bianca greeted us. She gave us a choice of a family room in the house or a log bungalow as our accommodation. We chose the bungalow.

We walked across to dinner at 6pm. We helped ourselves to drinks from the honesty bar. Bianca was the cook and she served us dinner. There was homemade bread and cream of cauliflower and broccoli soup with bacon to start. Even Terry enjoyed the soup! This was followed by lamb ribs, stuffed chicken breast, vegetables, potato wedges and a circle of glazed sweet potato. Everything was delicious. Dessert was malva pudding and ice cream.

Bianca told us that we would be going out on the night drive with Styn, the foreman. He was nervous as it was the first time he was going out with guests on his own and he didn’t speak English. (The owner was attending an expo in Johannesburg.)

We walked back to the bungalow and added some layers for the night drive. We were collected at 7:30pm.

And what a drive it was! It just didn’t stop… We first encountered a pair of bat-eared foxes just outside the gate. There were plenty of hares – both scrub and springhares. Over the duration of the drive, we also saw 5 pairs of porcupines.

We saw a “draaijakals” in the distance and we couldn’t work out what it was in English, thinking maybe it was a side-striped jackal. It was just too far for us to confirm that. We continued on and we saw an aardwolf, an aardvark, and a caracal. Styn had noticed that there was a dead lamb on the side of the road and he told us that the caracal would circle around and come back for the lamb when we had moved off.

Then we saw another “draaijakals”. It was a Cape fox (a lifer for us and something that we had been hoping to see earlier in our trip). So we were very happy that we had seen another one close enough to identify properly.

We then saw an African wildcat. It took us a little while to work out what a “gryskat” was, but we could also see its coloring and we knew that it wasn’t the black-footed cat (unfortunately, as that would have been another lifer). But we cannot complain, we had had an amazing night drive!

Back at the bungalow, we switched on the electric blanket and I even had some coffee in order to get warm again.

Mammals: Aardvark, aardwolf, baboon, caracal, bat-eared fox, Cape fox (L), scrub hare, impala, yellow mongoose, vervet monkey, porcupine, springbok, springhare, steenbok, suricate, African wildcat

Birds: White-throated canary, pied crow, African hoopoe, northern black korhaan, large-billed lark, ostrich, white-necked raven, spotted thick-knee, Cape wagtail

Monday 26 August

We were awake before 7am but we lay in and relaxed; only making our way to breakfast at 9am.

After breakfast, we interacted with “Bok-Bok” a young springbok that was being hand reared. We also met the cat – his big buddy (at least he thinks so, the cat not so much). We each fed a calf some milk (from wine bottles with teats attached), while Bianca fed a lamb.

We decided to have a quick walk to look at birds in the garden, but found some eland in one paddock, and a kudu (injured) and a roan antelope in another one behind our bungalow. The cat followed us on our walk and then back to our bungalow, and Bok-Bok followed the cat. He then went under the bungalow, but the cat came up and onto the veranda.

We grabbed our things and sat on the veranda to read and relax. The cat made himself comfortable on a chair next to us. Later trying first my lap, then Terry’s. He definitely preferred the latter and made himself very comfortable! Meanwhile, Bok-Bok came out from under the bungalow and then started running around the garden in big circles, eventually pronking as he ran past the bungalow. It was too gorgeous!

As we sat, two cows came to graze on the lawn in front of our veranda – there is no need for a lawnmower there! They are also the milk providers – for guests (i.e. us) and orphaned animals.

I moved inside to read, and then back outside (as it was warmer). We had a snack lunch and then read some more. When we moved inside later on, the cat was still on the veranda with us.

At 4:30pm we drove to the hippo lookout area. The cat was still sleeping on the veranda when we left! As we went through the gate, we saw a sable antelope in another paddock. There were also lots of Egyptian geese around.

The gate to the hippo area was locked so we drove further to see if we had the wrong gate, eventually turning around and contacting Bianca. She had told us that someone would be working in the area and we could get the key from him. She messaged back that he was on the way with the key.

We drove in, locking the gate behind us and passed a herd of buffalo. We went and sat on the deck on the Seekoei River, watching the hippo pop up every now and again, and enjoying the sunset.

We drove back to the bungalow, and then walked across to dinner. We had curried carrot and apple soup, followed by lamb neck chops, venison cigars, vegetables and mashed sweet potato. Dessert was quince roll with ice cream. We settled our account and said our goodbyes, as we weren’t staying for breakfast the next morning.

We changed into warmer clothes for the night drive. It was quite a bit cooler, so we both put on extra layers. We again saw lots of hares. The highlights of the drive though were another Cape fox and five sightings of lone porcupines. We joked with Styn that they had got divorced overnight (our Afrikaans was working!)

Styn commented on the fact that it was much quieter. Later, though we discussed it and said that anywhere else, the drive would be regarded as a great success. It just didn’t match the amazing one of the night before and that was probably to be expected.

When we got back to the bungalow, we found that the cat was waiting for us! He tried to convince us to let him inside, but we couldn’t (Terry was already reacting to him and having him on the bed would not have been a good idea). We felt bad as we closed the door with him on the other side though. He kept meowing and scratching on the glass door, asking to be let in.

We packed our things and then made our way to bed.

Mammals: Buffalo, Cape fox, scrub hare, hippo, impala, yellow mongoose, porcupine, springbok, springhare, ground squirrel, steenbok, warthog

Birds: Red bishop, bokmakierie, African red-eyed bulbul, ant-eating chat, red-knobbed coot, pied crow, Cape turtle dove, yellow-billed duck, Egyptian goose, helmeted guineafowl, northern black korhaan, blacksmith lapwing, crowned lapwing, white-backed mousebird, Cape robin-chat, red-billed quelea, Karoo scrub robin, Cape sparrow, pied starling, Karoo thrush, Cape wagtail, Cape weaver, Cape white-eye

Tuesday 27 August

We were awake before our alarm and on the road before 7am. As we left the bungalow, we found that the cat was still there. He had slept on “Terry’s” chair all night. He definitely had grown attached to Terry!

The temperature was -1 degrees as we made our way along the farm roads and through the gates (which I had to open in the cold) until we got to the N1.

Trip Home

We continued on the N1, making our way past Colesberg. There were a lot of trucks!

We stopped at Kuilfontein farm stall at Springfontein, hoping to buy some lamb. But it they had none available and would only get again in December (they provide from their own farm and that is the season).

Just before Bloemfontein, we watched a secretarybird fly over the highway and land on the other side.

We filled up in Bloemfontein and got some toasted sandwiches for breakfast, which we ate on the road.

We were home at 2pm but our remote to the garage wouldn’t work! So we had to call our neighbor to ask her to let us into our house.

Once we were unpacked and settled in, we reminisced about our amazing trip. Neither of us could believe that two months had gone past just like that – although when we were travelling it seemed as though we had been away for ages. But it was nice to be home again – and to look forward to our next road trip!

In looking back, we also took stock of all the birds and animals that we had seen. Our trip total for birds was 220, 18 of which were lifers. Even more amazing was the fact that we had seen a number of other lifers too – 3 mammals out of a total of 52, and 2 other animals out of a total of 4. Overall, it had been a really successful birding and game-viewing trip too.


Total Sightings Lists

Mammals

1. Aardvark

2. Aardwolf

3. Baboon

4. Blesbok

5. Bontebok

6. Buffalo

7. Bushbuck

8. Bottlenose dolphin

9. Caracal

10. Common duiker

11. Eland

12. Elephant

13. Bat-eared fox

14. Cape Fox (L)

15. Giraffe

16. Scrub hare

17. Red hartebees

18. Hippo

19. Rock hyrax

20. Impala

21. Black-backed jackal

22. Klipspringer

23. Kudu

24. Slender mongoose

25. Small grey mongoose

26. Yellow mongoose

27. Vervet monkey

28. Four-striped grass mouse (L)

29. Oryx

30. Cape clawless otter

31. Porcupine

32. Bush Karoo rat (L)

33. Common reedbuck

34. Grey rhebok

35. White rhino

36. Cape fur seal

37. Great white shark (Terry)

38. Springbok

39. Springhare

40. Grey squirrel

41. Ground squirrel

42. Steenbok

43. Suricate

44. Warthog

45. Humpback whale

46. Minke whale

47. Southern right whale

48. African wildcat

49. Black wildebeest

50. Blue wildebeest

51. Burchell’s zebra

52. Cape mountain zebra

Birds

1. Black-browed albatross (L)

2. Indian yellow-nosed albatross

3. Shy albatross (L)

4. Bar-throated apalis

5. Pied avocet

6. Acacia pied barbet

7. Black-collared barbet

8. Cape batis

9. Pririt batis

10. Southern red bishop

11. Yellow bishop

12. Bokmakierie

13. Southern boubou

14. Terrestrial brownbul

15. African red-eyed bulbul

16. Cape bulbul

17. Cape bunting

18. Lark-like bunting (L)

19. Olive bushshrike

20. Denham’s bustard

21. Kori bustard

22. Forest buzzard

23. Jackal buzzard

24. Black-headed canary

25. Brimstone canary

26. Cape canary

27. White-throated canary

28. Yellow canary

29. Ant-eating chat

30. Familiar chat

31. Karoo chat (L)

32. Mocking cliff chat

33. Sickle-winged chat

34. Tractrac chat (L)

35. Grey-backed cisticola

36. Levaillant’s cisticola

37. Red-knobbed coot

38. Bank cormorant

39. Cape cormorant

40. Crowned cormorant

41. Reed cormorant

42. White-breasted cormorant

43. Blue crane

44. Cape crow

45. Pied crow

46. Grey cuckooshrike

47. African darter

48. Cape turtle dove

49. Laughing dove

50. Namaqua dove

51. Red-eyed dove

52. Rock dove

53. Tambourine dove

54. Fork-tailed drongo

55. African black duck

56. Maccoa duck

57. Yellow-billed duck

58. African fish eagle

59. Black-chested snake eagle

60. Verreaux’s eagle

61. Little egret

62. Western cattle egret

63. Karoo eremomela (L)

64. Lanner falcon

65. Peregrine falcon

66. Red-headed finch

67. Common fiscal

68. Greater flamingo

69. African dusky flycatcher

70. Blue-mantled crested flycatcher

71. Fiscal flycatcher

72. Grey-winged francolin

73. Cape gannet

74. Egyptian goose

75. Spur-winged goose

76. African goshawk

77. Pale chanting goshawk

78. Cape grassbird

79. Black-necked grebe (L)

80. Great crested grebe

81. Little grebe

82. Sombre greenbul

83. Helmeted guineafowl

84. Grey-headed gull

85. Hartlaub’s gull

86. Kelp gull

87. African marsh harrier

88. African harrier hawk

89. Black-headed heron

90. Green-backed heron

91. Grey heron

92. Purple heron

93. African hoopoe

94. Crowned hornbill

95. Glossy ibis

96. Hadeda ibis

97. Sacred ibis

98. Greater kestrel

99. Rock kestrel

100. Brown-hooded kingfisher

101. Giant kingfisher

102. Malachite kingfisher

103. Pied kingfisher

104. Black-shouldered kite

105. Karoo korhaan

106. Northern black korhaan

107. Blacksmith lapwing

108. Crowned lapwing

109. Agulhas long-billed lark (L)

110. Cape clapper lark (L)

111. Eastern clapper lark

112. Karoo lark

113. Karoo long-billed lark (L)

114. Large-billed lark

115. Red-capped lark

116. Spike-heeled lark

117. Cape longclaw

118. Bronze mannikin

119. Brown-throated martin

120. Rock martin

121. Common moorhen

122. Speckled mousebird

123. White-backed mousebird

124. Neddicky

125. Fiery-necked nightjar

126. Black-headed oriole

127. Ostrich

128. Cape eagle owl

129. African black oystercatcher

130. Great white pelican

131. African penguin

132. Northern giant petrel (L)

133. Pintado petrel (L)

134. Southern giant petrel (L)

135. White-chinned petrel

136. Wilson’s storm petrel

137. African olive pigeon

138. Speckled pigeon

139. African pipit

140. African rock pipit (L)

141. Long-billed pipit

142. Plain-backed pipit

143. Three-banded plover

144. White-fronted plover

145. Southern pochard

146. Karoo prinia

147. Antarctic prion (L)

148. White-necked raven

149. Cape robin-chat

150. Chorister robin

151. Karoo scrub robin

152. Cape rockjumper (L)

153. Black saw-wing

154. Secretarybird

155. South African shelduck

156. Sooty shearwater

157. Cape shoveller

158. Puff-back shrike

159. Cape siskin

160. Subantarctic skua

161. African snipe

162. Cape sparrow

163. Southern grey-headed sparrow

164. House sparrow

165. African spoonbill

166. Cape spurfowl

167. Red-necked spurfowl

168. Black-bellied starling

169. Common starling

170. Pale-winged starling

171. Pied starling

172. Red-winged starling

173. Wattled starling

174. Black-winged stilt

175. African stonechat

176. White stork

177. Cape sugarbird

178. Collared sunbird

179. Dusky sunbird

180. Greater double-collared sunbird

181. Malachite sunbird

182. Orange-breasted sunbird

183. Southern double-collared sunbird

184. White-throated swallow

185. African purple swamphen

186. Alpine swift

187. Southern tchagra

188. Cape teal

189. Red-billed teal

190. Arctic tern

191. Caspian tern

192. Common tern

193. Roseate tern

194. Swift tern

195. Spotted thick-knee

196. Cape rock thrush

197. Karoo thrush

198. Olive thrush

199. Layard’s tit-babbler

200. Knysna turaco

201. Cape vulture

202. African pied wagtail

203. Cape wagtail

204. Knysna warbler (L)

205. Lesser swamp warbler

206. Namaqua warbler (L)

207. Rufous-eared warbler

208. Common waxbill

209. Swee waxbill

210. Cape weaver

211. Southern masked weaver

212. Village weaver

213. Capped wheatear

214. Mountain wheatear

215. Whimbrel

216. Cape white-eye

217. Pin-tailed whydah

218. Green wood-hoopoe

219. Knysna woodpecker

220. Olive woodpecker

Other

1. Blue-headed agama

2. Sunfish (L)

3. Leopard tortoise

4. Black zonure (L)