Women’s Day Weekend in Struisbaai – Part One

After a rainy and cold week we find ourselves here in Struisbaai once again.   A text from our rental agent warned us that there might be road closures due to the recent heavy rains and flooding.  Really?  We didn’t give it too much thought and set off with Tony and Sharon at about 3:30 yesterday afternoon.  “I’d better just phone and check,” I said.   “It would be a pity to get to Bredasdorp only to find that road closed.”   Sure enough, we were warned that only twin cabs and 4X4s were able to make it through.  “Huh?”   No problem for us as fortunately as we drive a Fortuner!  I still didn’t believe that it could be that bad but it was!   There was a virtual river running across the road halfway between Bredasdorp and Struisbaai.

Will the big truck get through  - Yes indeed so we should too.

Will the big truck get through – Yes indeed so we should too.

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Fellow travellers forging the river

It was dark and cold when we reached our house and we put on the gas heater the minute we’d unpacked!    Then after a glass of wine and chat we set off to Agulhas to seek a place to have dinner.  To our horror Seagulls was closed – apparently taking advantage of the quiet season to get away for their annual holiday.  So we settled for Zuidste Kaap Restaurant (Most Southern Cape Restaurant) which had a fire in a huge hearth and very good food.  (The fire did very little to warm the place though)  Earl had Eisbein and Sharon and I had Vegetarian Pasta and Tony Rainbow Pasta.   All excellent.

We slept snugly and rose this morning to a unique “Early” breakfast. Nobody else can possibly compete with whatever it is he does to make this the most delicious breakfast in the world.  (Thanks my darling)

We then packed up and took ourselves off to De Hoop Nature Reserve – a very special place about an hour or so away.   The results of the recent rains were evident everywhere and had attracted a variety of waterbirds not usually seen in the area.

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A tranquil scene on a temporary lake

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Indulging in a morning preen

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Aren’t we beautiful

From Bredasdorp we take the Swellendam Road and then 6km out of Bredasdorp we take the dirt road to Malgas travelling about 40 km before turning right to De Hoop.  En route, we stop of course, to observe birds and take scenic photographs.

Now we know why it is so cold - Snow on the Caledon Mountains!

Now we know why it is so cold – Snow on the Caledon Mountains!

A Patchwork of colour with farmhouse in background

A Patchwork of colour with farmhouse in background

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A Grey Heron with an identity crisis – He is impersonating a swan

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Capped Wheatear posing obligingly

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Flood water creating a lovely scene

Mommy sheep with twins

Mommy sheep with twins

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Spurwinged Goose, Two Cape Shovellers and A Yellow-billed Duck

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The proteas in the park were in full bloom

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Although it was still chilly we the sun was shiny and there was good light and after the rain everything looked bright and clear.  The birds and animals in the park clearly thought today was the day to make an appearance and we found them everywhere. All were enjoying the sunshine and the abundance of water.

De Hoop Nature Reserve is 34 000 ha in size and the largest natural area managed by Cape Nature.  It is a good place to go if you enjoy hiking, cycling, bird watching and of course whale watching.

It forms part of the world’s smallest and most threatened plant Kingdom – the Cape Floral Kingdom. Fynbos is the dominant vegetation group. The Bredasdorp / Agulhas and Infanta area has an estimated 1500 plant species of the approximately 9 000 species found in the Cape Floristic Region.  We live in a beautiful part of the world and have such interesting flora and fauna.  What a privilege to have such easy access to it.  Not only can we see the rare bontebok and other mammal species here but it is adjacent to the De Hoop Marine Reserve too and at Koppie Alleen there is an opportunity to see whales and other marine life too.

Cape Bulbul catching some rays

Cape Bulbul catching some rays

Common Fiscal

Common Fiscal

Smart Ostrich

Ostriches out and about

Zebra/Kwagga

Cape Mountain Zebra

Large Eland Male

Male and Female Eland

Bontebok

Bontebok

Our close cousins

Our close cousins

Bokmakierie

Bokmakierie

We have often dined at the restaurant in the park and can highly recommend it.  Sharon and I had traditional South African fare in the form of Bobotie and Tony and Earl indulged in Mussel Chowder.

The Four of us Indulging in good South African food

The Four of Us Indulging in Good South African Food

This cheeky chap demanded crumbs but we declined to indulge him.

Cape Francolin

Cape Francolin

The trees were full of noisy birds eating berries

Cape Bulbul

Cape Bulbul

Mousebird

Mousebird

After lunch we drove to Koppie Alleen to see if we could spot a whale or two.  We were not disappointed.  There were dozens of Southern Right Whales in the bay which were seen clearly with the aid of our binoculars.    It was bitterly cold on the dunes so we didn’t spend too much time before we were driven back to the warmth of our vehicle.

Koppie Alleen

Koppie Alleen

Whale Watching

Whale Watching

The Bay was full of them

The Bay was full of Southern Right Whales

On our way out the baboons once again amused us.

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Daddy Baboon

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Mommy and Baby

After a great day out we returned to our cosy cottage and Chef Earl produced a wonderful braai – chicken wings on sticks, skilpaaidjies (not real tortoises honestly – just liver wrapped in sheep fat) lamb chops, vegetables in foil and  Sharon’s Coleslaw.   To finish a stunning lemon meringue from Checkers’ Bakery.

The Indoor Braai

The Indoor Braai

Yum!

Yum!

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