Tag Archives: Flowers

Skeleton Gorge with Meridian

Skeleton Gorge and the Aquaduct – Red & Blue Disas and more

Meridian Skeleton Gorge Feb 2013_046

Red disa – Window Gorge Stream

Saturday was a perfect Cape Town day for a hike up the southern side of Table Mountain, in search of the Red disa (Disa uniflora). These magnificent flowers only show themselves towards the end of January and usually fade away around the end of February. How quickly time flies when one wants to do something like this, before you know what has happened they have disappeared for another year. This year I have been lucky to see them in two different places, Myburgh and Disa Ravine, but they are always most prolific in the Window Gorge Stream and Aquaduct areas.

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Meridian Hiking Club on Aquaduct Path

The weather was a bit cooler than it has been lately, with a little bit of cloud around to bring the temperatures down. From Cecelia Forest we headed up to the Contour Path and on to Skeleton Gorge. It was a fairly strong Meridian Hiking Club group, so the pace was reasonably good. We soon reached the top where there were a few of sort after flower hanging from the cliff face. Further down Smuts Track, at the Window Gorge stream there was a much more abundant display, with their red reflections in the water doubling the effect.

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King Protea on Nursery Ravine

Along the route we were lucky enough to spot quite a few Blue disa (Disa graminifolia) and the occasional display by the red Cluster disa (Disa ferruginea). Up in the Aquaduct there was evidence of what must have been quite a magnificent exhibition of the Red disas, but most were now past their best. There will probably still be a few around this coming weekend, but that will probably be the last opportunity of the season.

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Crossing the Aqueduct – Disas below

We continued our walk down the valley towards the reservoirs where we had our picnic lunch, before heading back through Nursery Ravine. About half-way down Nursery there is the most wonderful show of King Protea (Protea cynaroides). Even though this is not my own favourite route down (or up) the mountain, it is worth the effort just to see this.

It was good to get on to the contour path and head back for Cecelia Forest and the inevitable cold beer at the finish.

Meridian Skeleton Gorge Feb 2013

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Myburgh Ravine Red Disa Hike

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Myburgh Ravine Family Hike, a set on Flickr.

With my sister out from Canada and Lindsay about to start a new job on Friday, we decided to take the opportunity on Wednesday to hike up Myburgh Ravine to see the red disas (Disa uniflora). These beautiful flowers are only seen between the end of January and the first few weeks of February and only in few locations on Table Mountain and some of the surrounding mountains. Inevitably unless you make a plan and get out and see them, the time passes quickly and they fade and are gone before you get there.

It was a misty morning, but cool and beautiful for walking. I had not done the route for quite a while and was pleased that Peter, who had done it the week before, had decided to join us. Starting in Hout Bay we had initially planned to hike up to the point where we had already established that the disas were blooming and return the same way. Getting to the start of the ravine is an easy and pleasant walk of about an hour through high stands of proteas. The start of the ravine is shady a shady section of afro-montane forest and there is a short scramble out of the ravine at one point, to get around a rock face, before returning the main path in ravine. This was a bit more challenging than anticipated, particularly having made the mistake of bringing dogs with us.

Once past this point it is a climb up over a boulder strewn section, not difficult, but uneven and a bit of a scramble over and around the rocks. With the mist and even light rain at times, it was quite slippery in places. Suddenly we were at the point where the disas were blooming. There must have been about thirty or more blooms of the delicate red and pink flowers. Most of the party had not seen these iconic Western Cape flowers before, so it was very rewarding and well worth the effort. We spent a bit of time just enjoying the spectacle and taking the obligatory photos of flowers and family.

The earlier scramble had proved more difficult than expected and we decided rather to continue up the ravine and return over the top, past Judas Peak and down Llandudno Ravine. The walk up through the rest of the ravine, is quite spectacular, with high cliffs either side. At the top, the route out itself is not that easy, with a very steep, sandy and rather degraded path. It has to be climbed very carefully and although there is a rocky alternative, on the day this was wet and slippery and not a viable option. Once at the top it was a stunning walk through the misty surroundings before heading down the steep Llandudno Ravine. Unfortunately the mist stayed down until we got quite close to Hout Bay, so we did not see the views of the Atlantic coast that you always get from on this route. Quite a tough day for family members not used to hiking, and a few sore legs the next day.

Warning: Not a hike to be undertaken without someone who knows the way. There are some fairly challenging scrambles where a head for heights is needed. The path at the top is quite badly eroded with a steep drop below. Not a route for dogs – a mistake that we made – adding to the challenge.

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In search of the Red Disa

Red Disas - Window Gorge, Table Mountain

Disa uniflora – the Pride of Table Mountain

The red disas (Disa uniflora) have started to make their annual appearance on Table Mountain. Although I have not seen them myself as yet, a friend was up in Myburgh Ravine yesterday and confirmed that they are already out there. The red disa is the largest of the South African orchids and only flower for approximately three to four week during late January and early February.

 There are a only few locations around Table Mountain and a few places close by, such as the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (Betty’s Bay), where they can be seen. I will be doing a number of hikes over the next few days to have a look at the various locations. Once I know that they are in full bloom, anyone wishing to join day hikes to view these striking flowers can contact me on hostnet@mweb.co.za or complete the TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM .

 

For DAY HIKE RATES click here.

 

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Posberg Nature Reserve – Aug 2012

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Posberg Nature Reserve – Aug 2012, a set on Flickr.

For guided day tours from Cape Town (Aug / September) – hikes or drives contact Frank: hostnet@mweb.co.za

Posberg Nature Reserve – drive or hike

The first thing that comes to mind when the name Posberg is mentioned is flowers. The reserve is a privately owned piece of land within the boundaries of the West Coast National Park. It is managed by SA National Parks, but is accessible to the public only in August and September each year when it is opened to show off the magnificent array of flowers.

The best way to visit the reserve is to set a day aside, park at the gate and follow the Klipspringer hiking path up on to the ridge. This way you get to see both the detail of the individual flowers, as well as the incredible flower carpeted expanse of open veld and the views to the sea.

If you are on the ball and book early, you can also arrange an overnight hike in the reserve during this time. The trail follows a circular route and the overnight site is close to the beach at Plantjies Bay. You will need to bring your own tent and food supplies, but it is a beautiful experience to spend the night under the stars.

For those that do not have the time or the inclination to walk it is possible to drive the scenic routes. It can be done in an ordinary saloon car, although a high clearance vehicle is preferable. At various parts of the route you will be able to see the Atlantic Ocean, Saldhana Bay and the port of Saldhana, Langebaan Lagoon and the West Coast National Park.

Within the West Coast National Park, on your way back, you can visit the site of the discovery of “Eve’s” footprint at Kraalbaai. Dated at 117,000 years old it is proof of human habitation of the area during the Halocene Age.

For flower tours, both hiking and driving contact info@afrukaecotours.co.za or frank@slackpackersa.co.za. We cater for tours for one up to ten people or complete the contact form and we will get back to you.

Visit our web site at www.afrukaecotours.co.za.

Contact Frank: Cell 082-8824388

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Posberg Private Nature Reserve – Flower Walk

Posberg Private Nature Reserve 16 Sept 2011

Hearing that the flowers on the West Coast were wonderful this year we decided to take advantage of the perfect weather on Friday to head of to Posberg. There have been good rains in the area this year, as well as further up in the Clanwilliam and Namaqualand, but this is the closest toCape Townone can go to get the real wild flower experience.

Posberg is a private nature reserve within the boundaries of theWest CoastNational Parkand managed by SANParks. It is only open to visitors in the flower season of August and September each year. It has an extensive network of roads for drivers, but you only get the true benefit of the beauty of the flower by walking. They only allow 20 hikers on the day route, so it is advisable to get there early, particularly if you are going on weekends. 

The nature reserve is set on a peninsula that sometimes can leave one a bit disorientated, with the sea on one side and the Langebaan Lagoon, that links with the sea, on the other. It almost feels like being on an island and leaves you wondering how you got there. There is really has a bit of everything from crashing waves and beaches on the one side to still calm waters on the other, animals, rock formations and of course – flower. The walks are easy, with only one short climb on the day route (14km) that we were doing. There is also an overnight route that is booked up well in advance. For this you would need to carry your own tent. There is a small variety of game, with Zebra, Eland, Bontebok and Kudu being the most prominent.

The flowers did not dissappoint, with carpets of white and blue stretching across the flat areas, punctuated by patches of orange. This is the macro view however and there are many more beautiful flowers would simply miss if you don’t get out on the walking paths. The bright orange and white of the daisies is the most dominant, but there are the pinks of the Oxalis, the reds and blues of the Gladioli, the very prominent blue irises and the yellow, orange and blue of the vygies. There are of course many others and it is very rewarding to spend a day of easy walking through this magnificent Park.

At this time of the year one needs to keep a good look out for snakes – we came pretty close to stepping on a puff adder and were lucky enough to be able to get a photograph before it slithered fairly slowly away. There are also masses of tortoises and if you look at the photographs you will see a sequence of a fight between two males, with the one tipping the other over on to his back and then biting his legs every time he tried to right himself. Needless to say, he was rescued by the interfering humans.

The day hike finishes with a short walk along the beach and back along the road to the car park. All in all a very satisfying days outing, but I did feel sorry for those who can only do it from a vehicle.

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The Tortoise Fight – Posberg

The Tortoise Fight

We came across these two adversaries having a fight for domination, while hiking in the Posberg Private Nature Reserve. The dominant tortoise turned the loser on to his back and then bit at his feet every time he put them out of his shell to try to right himself. We watched them for about ten minutes while the winner watched over the one on it’s back. Eventually we did intervene and helped to poor guy, who scurried away quickly in to the undergrowth.

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Drip Disas

The first Drip Disas are out on the Aquaduct on Table Mountain. One of the most beautiful flowers to appear at this time of the year. These photos taken on a hike from Junction Peak on the Aquaduct path. There are quite a few more that have not flowered yet so they should be around for a month or so. Worth a visit.

Of course there were plenty of other interesting and wonderful flower, fynbos, views and the hike itself. For guided hikes to this area contact me – frank@slackpackersa.co.za

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