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.
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.
A tranquil scene on a temporary lake
Indulging in a morning preen
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!
A Patchwork of colour with farmhouse in background
A Grey Heron with an identity crisis – He is impersonating a swan
Capped Wheatear posing obligingly
Flood water creating a lovely scene
Mommy sheep with twins
Spurwinged Goose, Two Cape Shovellers and A Yellow-billed Duck
The proteas in the park were in full bloom
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
Ostriches out and about
Cape Mountain Zebra
Male and Female Eland
Our close cousins
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
This cheeky chap demanded crumbs but we declined to indulge him.
The trees were full of noisy birds eating berries
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.
The Bay was full of Southern Right Whales
On our way out the baboons once again amused us.
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