Monthly Archives: January 2010

A Safari close to Cape Town

Safari close to Cape Town

This one calls for an early start. The Inverdoorn Private Game Reserve is situated a 230 km drive from Cape Town, on the edge of the semi-desert Karoo. The route includes some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the Western Cape, winding past towering peaks, through vineyard covered valleys and over passes originally constructed over 150 years ago, breaching the barrier to the hinterland. The clear morning air highlights the crags and crevices, giving them a daunting and impregnable presence.

After leaving Ceres, the tar road ends, replaced with a good gravel surface as the hills fall behind. The drier, flatter scrubland stretches out ahead. The turnoff to the reserve appears suddenly and within minutes you are being welcomed by enthusiastic staff, clearly ready to make sure you have a good experience. It may be a good idea to pack a costume as quick dip in the sparkling pool might be welcome after the hot drive. Breakfast is served on the buffet, with Cape Bunting and Cape Canary hovering in the trees behind, ready to peck on the muesli, toast, croissants and fruit on the table as soon as there is no one to chase them away.

Soon after breakfast, the game drive vehicles depart. The rangers have already done an early morning drive and have a good idea of where the game can be seen. First stop is the cheetah enclosure – part of the reserves cheetah breading program (read more http://bit.ly/4NtQ4b). It is difficult to believe that these beautiful, but lazy looking cats can accelerate up to 120 km per hour in less than 60 seconds.

There is open scrubland and bush, herds of eland and springbok are plentiful. More elusive on the day are other antelope such as the blesbok, red lachwe, kudu and impala. The ranger tells excitedly of a leopard kill nearby, obviously made the night before . Unfortunate for the zebra, but this is good as the threatened cape mountain leopard are indigenous to the area and it a step towards restoring the natural balance.

In the shadows of the bush the striped shape of a zebra appears, sheltering from the harsh sun. As the vehicle moves closer the herd materializes and then moves off, deeper into the bush. The rhino teases with views of tracks, but they are hiding in there somewhere. Blesbok, buffalo and black wildebeest show themselves at the water point and one of the hippo shows it’s head above the water before disappearing with a mouth full of something growing on the surface. A few minutes later the dark outline reappears for the next mouthful.

The elegant giraffe poke their heads above the trees and two walk arrogantly across the open veld in front of the vehicle, before breaking into a slow gallop to join the rest of the herd. On to the lion enclosure, where three lion, rescued from a ‘canned lion hunting’ facility (now illegal), spend their days at leisure. Having been born and reared in captivity these lion can never be released back on to the wild.

Back to the lodge for lunch – laid out under the trees. This feels fairly colonial, with attentive staff and colorful table settings. The lunch is simple but tasty, chicken casserole with fresh salads and fruit salad for dessert – an excellent finish to good morning. There is time to relax and have a quick dip in the pool before heading back to Cape Town.

Of course there is the option of staying overnight and doing an evening and morning game drive. 

See itinerary details Cape Town – Day Game Safari

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My South African Top Ten

Hoerikwaggo Trail, Table Mountain National Park

Three days and nights hiking from Table Mountain, through the national park and culminating on Noordhoek Beach. We covered more than 60km and stayed in tented accommodation along the way, hiring the services of Frank Dwyer of Slackpacker SA (www.slackpackersa.co.za) to have a cold beer in the fridge and some meat on the braai for when we arrived. The trail is built on an ancient Khoi path and, when completed later this year, you’ll be able to hike from the Point right into Cape Town – a five night, six day hike of more than 100km.

Orangekloof Camp

Noordhoek Beach

Slangkop Tented Camp

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Safety Guidelines for Hikers

  1. Never hike alone. A minimum of four is essential.
  2. Choose your route according to your ability and fitness and that of the group, of the group.
  3. If you don’t know the route go with somebody who genuinely knows the way, join a hiking club or find a professional guide.
  4. Take enough food and more than enough water for the route you are too follow, plus a bit extra for emergencies. (Minimum of 2 lt).
  5. Tell someone exactly where you are going and stick to this plan.
  6. Ensure that at least one member of the group has a fully charged cell phone with emergency numbers for the area saved on it, also the number of a friend or family member who knows where you are going.
  7. Always go prepared for bad weather – windcheaters, cold weather clothing and rain gear (it can get cold on top of the mountain in the middle of summer).
  8. Apply sunscreen before you hike and carry extra.
  9. Travel at the pace of the slowest member of the party.
  10. Never split up and go in different directions.
  11. Do not push on into the unknown. If you get lost, retrace your steps.
  12. If you are unsure of what to do, find shelter, especially from the wind,
    and stay put.

Essential Equipment

  • Hiking boots/shoes & hiking socks (good sole support for longer routes).
  • Comfortable day pack
  • Sun block (apply before you start & re-apply during the day)
  • Wide-brimmed hat (with fastening chord, for the wind)
  • Warm clothing, suitable rain jacket/wind breaker (the temperature often drops unexpectedly on the mountain, even on the hottest day)
  • Layers of clothing, gloves & beanie (in winter)
  • At least 2 to 3 litres of water (depending on distance & weather)*
  • Food & snacks – consider distance/time & allow extra for emergencies
  • Cell phone – fully charged, on silent, with ICE numbers (In Case of Emergency)
  • Personal medication & relevant medical information
  • Personal first-aid kit (if you’re prone to cramping, speak to your pharmacist about suitable emergency medication)
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Small, reliable (preferably head) torch, with extra batteries
  • Whistle (from a toy or sports shop)
  • Copy of driver’s license or ID
  • Plastic packet for used tissues and other litter

 

Optional extras:

  • A set of walking poles. Used properly, they (a) go a long way towards avoiding knee problems (made worse by excessive strain on the knees & tendons during the ascent, which causes tenderness during the descent), (b) spread the load & workout between the upper & lower body & (c) minimise erosion-causing impact when descending a loose path.
  • A hands-free water system or bladder

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Welcoming 2010 from the top of Table Mountain

So the weather threw us a bit of a curve ball – from Klaasenskop to Pile K and probably Reserve Peak and further – covered in cloud, shrouded in mist. No sunset view over Orangekloof and Hout Bay, no full moon or eclipse sighting, not even a peak of the sunrise of 2010. It was all there, but not for us to see. Good humour, good company, good food and a warm and comfortable cottage saved the day, supported by a good few bottles of J.C. le Roux. At midnight we stared into the impenetrable fog, heard the sound of fireworks in the city below and celebrated the arrival of 2010 anyway.

An hour or two later and some good conversation we retired to bed, with ever hopeful Kevin setting the alarm for 5 a.m. sunrise call. It went off we looked at the white wall from the deck and returned to the comfort of our duvets and pillows.

Breakfast was late and leisurely, with a bit of bubbly to go with the Mango Juice. Once on top there is no avoiding a stroll on the Back Table, cloud or no cloud. There are definitely dams there, quite spectacular views in clear weather, even a railway museum, but regrettably the cloud was stubborn and the view of the Atlantic seaboard was not going to open up. Even the eventual descent down Skeleton Gorge was foggy until three quarters of the way down. Kirstenbosch Gardens and a picnic lunch was welcome before re-uniting with luggage and cars.

Thanks for your help Kevin and Afruka Eco Tours. Maybe 2011 will be better. We will definitely be there. Slackpacker SA 02 January 2010.

P.S. To cap it all camera battery packed up – photographs from the others will follow.

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