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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

19 August 2010

Rain, cold and whales

Last night it absolutely tipped down with rain, and this morning it is cold. Our B&B room is large and well furnished, but shares with all other South African accommodation a complete disdain for anything as wussy as heating. “It’s only cold for five or six weeks of the year” as our host pointed out. Not wanting to get out of bed has been a common theme! But we did anyway, to look for otters at dawn on the coast. None apparent.

Yesterday was a bit of a travelling day. We started out at Potteburg B&B, a very nice farmstay near De Hoop nature reserve, and drove into De Hoop early for a hike up to see the rare Cape Vulture in the high hills. Hiking for 2 hours up a steep and rocky trail on a single biscuit and a cup of coffee is foolish. But at least we saw the vultures! Anyway, then we had to drive back past the B&B in order to continue on to the Garden Route, and the bloody vultures were circling above the farm.Cape Vulture

Proper breakfast was at the Breede River Trading Post, a shop and cafe in the middle of nowhere on dirt roads which nevertheless made a fantastic breakfast – I’m pretty sure all the makings came from nearby farms. Then an hour of driving on dirt roads (at 60mph in a 1.4 Polo, great fun for the boy in me) to get back to the main N2, including a ferry over the River Breede that is only big enough for 2 cars and is pulled across by hand – more accurately by two guys with strong legs.Breede River Ferry

It began raining as we drove the Garden Route, and we ended up in Knysna. Spent the usual hour or two hunting around for a place to stay that would give us a good deal. Splashed out on a seafood dinner at Sirocco and retired to catch up on internet activities.

So where have we been in the last few days? Well, plenty of walking and watching for wildlife on the Cape Peninsula (if we didn’t enjoy walking and watching wildlife, I’ve no idea how we’d stick to our budget – there aren’t many other completely free activities!). Cape Town itself hasn’t really marked itself indelibly on our memory; maybe it’s a city for sunny summer days? So we headed east to Hermanus, where the whale watching is truly amazing.

A whale tail, from shoreBreaching whaleStop and watch for five minutes and you will see whales. The closest are pretty much in the breakers, some perhaps only 50m from shore. And every now and then one of them (usually further out) will breach, i.e. leap out of the water several times. And Hermanus is a pleasant and touristy little town, so you can watch this while eating an ice cream. Further east is the lovely De Hoop nature reserve, which brings us up to date.De Hoop nature reserve

7 Responses to “Rain, cold and whales”

  1. Christel says:

    I did mention the ‘no heating’ situation to Carey and he had a big laugh… “Why do you want heating man? It’s only for a few weeks…” Grin and bear (skin) it… The whales sightings must have been heart-warming though… Pics a great. Cx

  2. Nessa says:

    If it makes you feel any better, August in London is feeling remarkably like October or November so you aren’t missing lovely hot days at the moment at least! We were in Bath today and driving home it was pouring with rain and last night it felt really cold. xx

    • shortclaws says:

      Aww… Bath. Would have loved to be there. Well, yesterday morning there was a frost when we went out walking at 6:15… but it was 30C by midday, so that made up for it! ; )

  3. Dave says:

    Wow you’ve done well to find a spot where you can whale watch from the shoreline, last time we went whale watching involved a stomach churning catamaran trip on grey seas of concrete of Kaikoura, NZ…

    • shortclaws says:

      You have a way with words. I’ve definitely been on a whale-watching trip on “seas of concrete”! And I’d entirely recommend a trip to South Africa in September – you’ll have warm weather, the floral display in Namaqua will be epic, the shore-based whale watching will be fantastic, and the vines in Stellenbosch will probably just be greening.

      • Nessa says:

        You should try swimming in the concrete seas off Kaikura in April… I think hypothermia was close to setting in but swimming with the dolphins was worth it!

        • Dave says:

          Swimming in concrete now that’s one for the list, we were there at the height of summer in November admittedly so I think come the Autumnal bleakness of April it would be pretty frosty, ok Nessa, I’ll let you have that one!

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