Category Archives: Flowers

A hike in the arid Robertson Karoo

Beyond the Boland and Riviersonderend mountains of the Cape, the rainfall becomes much less which results in the dominance of more hardened, water conservative ecosystems. Many species of succulents  together with numerous dwarf trees and shrubs make this region their home. On higher slopes and ridges one can find patches of renosterveld and along the (mostly seasonal) riverbanks, groves of sweet thorn trees grow.

The succulent karoo is a spectacular ecosystem because it gives one an appreciation of nature’s ability to adapt to harsh climates and still flourish.  The land here is home to various elusive creatures who mainly come out between dusk and dawn like the duiker, cape mountain leopard, porcupine, pangolin and grey rhebok. I’ve heard a interesting theory from a farmer once – he said the reason why mammals like the rhebok, duiker and leopard weren’t hunted to extinction when the Europeans came was because they are elusive and nocturnal animals. This is probable because one never sees any signs of life during the daytime unless you stumble upon a duiker resting in the shade or such.

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve is situated between the towns of Robertson and McGregor in the Breede River Valley. It hosts various facilities and trails – worth the visit! The Rooikat Trail is a 19km route taking you up the Elandsberg mountains offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. There’s no water along the way, the route is strenuous, takes about 8 hours to complete and you’re in the sun the entire time = come early and prepared!

What makes this trail unique is its remoteness and length. Nowhere in the popular routes will you have the privilege to spend a day out on the trail by yourself (plus your companions) in the company of only the stillness of the views and the beauty of mother nature. At the end of the day everyone’s feet are aching and tired but there is a mutual feeling of gratitude to be able to live on and experience such a wonderful Earth.

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Bloupunt Hiking Trail

On Route 62 (South Africa) lies the town of Montagu. It lies in a type of basin surrounded by mountains with the most intricate geological shapes and formations making it a heaven for rock climbers and anyone with the adventurous streak. It is actually one of the world’s top rock climbing destinations. Montagu is also known for its muskadel, dried fruits and rich cultural history.

On a warm, humid winter morning before the next cold front, Andreas and I set out on the Bloupunt 16km trail.

As if for the first time, we were blown away by the pure undistilled beauty of the Earth. We started off in a grove of eucalyptus trees and entered the ravine (Donkerkloof) were we saw large blooms of arum lilies and patches of small cobra lilies.

We were talking lazily until the ascent started which took us out of Donkerkloof, 400m up onto the Langeberg mountain range. There we were surrounded by the famous Cape fynbos. We saw a variety of protea: waboomlaurel and sugarbush protea. These attracted many sunbirds which accompanied our trek through the fynbos.

While traversing the Southern slope, we had amazing panoramic views of the vineyard country below. Upon summiting, we had a lunch break while taking in the views. We also inspected the sundial and found the visitors book missing unfortunately.

The descent back into Donkerkloof was quite steep and tough on the knees. This hardship was contrasted by the intricate rock patterns of the opposing cliff face. While staring at these folds in the mountain, millions of years in the making, I noticed a large shadow skidding across the rock face which turned out to be a black eagle gliding close by.

Before long we were plunged back into the damp, dark and muddy arena of the ravine. Back on level ground and with the knowledge that there was no more mountains to climb, we had a new spring in our step and avidly started exploring the three waterfalls along the ravine. I was surprised that the river was still going strong despite one of the biggest droughts South Africa had faced in years. In one of the waterfalls there was a cave with a colony of bats.

The last few kilometers of the day were spent in bittersweet moments of gratitude for not having to hike another 15,6 km and the privilege we had to have had such an amazing experience of nature!

Up Arangiekop again!

With my first year of university behind me, it’s time to return to Arangieskop. What a spectacular hike it was!  

Arangieskop is a peak of the Langeberg mountain range (literally meaning long mountains) near the town of Robertson, Western Cape. The ascent is steep but takes you through pristine mountain fynbos and through a ravine where you can stop for snacks and take a swim! You overnight on the very snug hut on top of the mountain. Day two you summit and take the long and steep decent down to the Robertson wine valley below.

The morning of the final ascent, we saw the most beautiful sunrise above a blanket of clouds covering the valleys below.

Enjoy the video and if you ever get the chance, endeavor to ascent this peak!

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For more info click on the link: http://www.campingandhiking.co.za/jl2/index.php/hikes/weekend-hikes-menu/arangieskop-robertson-march-10-menu

Table Mountain

On a clear, cool winters morning what’s better to do than be in the mountains? Where a better place to be than on Table Mountain, one of the new seven natural wonders of the world.

This is the first time I’ve hiked up Table Mountain. I realized why it’s one of the natural wonders of our world. We went up with Platteklip Gorge and down via the India Venster route.

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Three of us on top of Platteklip Gorge.

In retrospect we were actually surprised of how fun the trails in the mountain really are. I’ll recommend hiking up Table Mountain to everyone and not taking the cable car!

Kogelberg rehiked with a new twist.

The average student needs some time off every now and again. After a week of studying for a chemistry test, we thought it’s time to treat ourselves. Consequently we let ourselves loose on the Kogelberg 24km trail!

As seen in the video it was a clear and hot day. By the time we arrived at the beach our feet were aching and we were in desperate need of some refreshment before the last push home. Jumping into the cool mountain water after the long hike was a feeling I’ll never forget.

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Another special sighting we made was of the Red Cluster Disa (Disa ferruginea) hidden between the fynbos adjacent to the trail. Being a big fan of orchids, I considered myself very lucky to see this scarce and special flower.

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I hope you enjoy the video and the photos. Feel free to comment, like and subscribe. 

Experiencing the KingsRiver Kloof

Ever been on a trail with no definite path, where you have to make route decisions and face their consequences? At times your safety rests on a knife edge. Mother nature is up close and personal. It’s only you and a trusted friend, together you need to face whatever reveals itself around the next bend and overcome the obstacles together. 

That’s what you get on the KingsRiver “Trail”!

This seldom ventured trail winds through the KingsRiver Kloof near the sleepy village of McGregor. For the adventurous – it’s an extremely enjoyable 5km trail.

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An attempt to portray the beauty of the kloof.

It involves lots of river crosses, easy rock climbing sections and path making. On the trail we saw a pair of klipspringers, the aloe aloe comptonii in bloom and a massive ancient San cave.

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The swim near the end is always a highlight! 

You can also view an older video I made of the KingsRiver Trail on youtube. I made it for my 16’th birthday.

Experiences such as this one will remain locked up in one’s memories and they’ll be cherished till old age. That is why it’s so important to life a full and exciting life!  

 

 

Disas of Leopard’s Kloof revisited

Happy 2016 to all readers! May it be filled with lots of wonderful experiences!

Grandpa, my sister and I went on our annual expedition up Leopard’s Kloof to view the Red Disas in flower. See my previous post on Leopard’s Kloof to find out more about this stimulating route.

The Red Disas grow in the moist moss which covers the rocks surrounding the Leopard’s Kloof waterfall. We spotted one in bloom close to the base of the fall. This is considered lucky because in the past there were many more Disas at lower levels of the fall which have now gone because of environmentally harmful activities like the picking or total removal of these flowers.

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Orchids (like this one) are some of the most beautiful creations on Earth. Seeing the Red Disas again was an amazing experience. A good kick off  to 2016!

Kogelberg 22km Hike

A mental and physical challenge made easy by beautiful surroundings! 

Kogelberg 22 km trail (roughly 13,6 miles) meanders around the steep and high Platberg, 910m. What made this route special was how we hiked through different ecosystems including forest, mountain, plateau and river. Needless to say, the fynbos always provide ample photo opportunities. Among other things, we encountered the Red Crassula, the Inkflower, lots of Ericas and the Cape Everlasting. Another special experience I’ll never forget is spotting a beehive.

Interesting fact from Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve: Scientists believe that the amazing fynbos’ biodiversity is the result of the southern tip of Africa having escaped the last ice age that destroyed numerous plant species around the world. As such, many of the 8,560 different plant species found in the Cape Floral Kingdom are literally ‘living fossils’. The Cape Floral Kingdom also has more endemic species for its area than anywhere else in the world … some 5,800 species.

The location of this trail is the same as the Palmiet River Hike, in Kogelberg Nature Reserve.The reserve lies between the towns of Kleinmond and Betty’s Bay and is easily accessible via a paved road. Permits cost R40 per adult. Wear comfortable shoes, appropriate clothing and water.

Nature will always provide with a memorable experience, no matter where you are or what you’re doing!

Leopard’s Kloof

A ravine forest. Streams the color of black tea.Twisting past yellowwood and hard pear, towers of the forest. The thundering waterfall displays the red disa along the rock face.  

The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden (located in Betty’s Bay, South Africa) features the magnificent Leopard’s Kloof Trail. The garden has a rich diversity of cape fynbos, including the renown marsh rose. Pay it a visit any time!

Leopard’s Kloof is a refreshing 3km walk in a ravine and turns around at a waterfall where the red disa can be spotted in December. The route has a few wooden ladders, but is otherwise quite easy. The forest is full of ancient, endemic trees like the yellowwood, hard pear and cape beech. A couple of waterfalls comes by where (if the sun doesn’t shine) one can take some beautiful long exposure photo’s. Look out for the metallic glint of the sunbirds in the garden and the small cape batis in the forest.

 

 

 

A place to replenish the soul. Make it one of your destinations! 

Disa species I’ve photographed.

All the different species of disa one can find amazes me. Keep an eye out for these pretty orchids!    

There are still many I wish to find. Keep a look out for the disa in December. Its important to know which disa  you’re looking for, some grow on sandstone slopes while others grow on wet cliffs. A field guide to the fynbos of Southern Africa helps a lot.

I’d like to see your disa photos and where you took them.