Ten lucky walkers enjoyed some perfect Autumn weather for their hike in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve this morning. We climbed up the front of Kanonkop and joined the Jeep Track, which we then followed to the top of Adder’s Ladder. This brought us back down to the Visitors’ Centre, after a couple of hour of walking and around six kilometres covered.
We spent Tuesday morning birding at Strandfontein, after a quick foray into Rondevlei. The latter is being drained and undergoing some upgrades, so there were not that many species around, although we did see many Avocets.
At Strandfontein there were the usual large flocks of birds, especially Sacred Ibises, as well as many gulls, one flock of Greater Flamingos, many Pelicans and a plethora of various ducks, but very few small waders. It was nevertheless, an enjoyable outing!
Our walk to Mooiwater, which John has been promising for the last few years, eventually materialised this morning. It was worth waiting for, as eighteen Hurriers discovered on arrival. We were greeted by Nicky with tea and coffee, after which we set out up a stream to the source of the farm’s domestic water. The weather was perfect and we were treated to a view of four Klipspringers on the mountainside above us.
On our return we gathered next to the dam and enjoyed our picnic lunch, before returning to Hermanus. The promised swim in the dam did not occur as it was a bit chilly, but the surroundings were beautiful!
There were only six of us walking in Fernkloof this morning. We decided to follow the Contour path westwards in order to see the Moraea pyrophila, which is blooming after the recent burn. There were many in flower, but spread around, and it was interesting to see how quickly the veld is regenerating. After a stroll of a couple of kilometres we turned back and followed the Klipspringer Trail around Kanonkop, before returning to the Visitors’ Centre. There were many people out enjoying the mountain on a fine, warm morning.
It was just spitting rain when we met at Kraal Rock at 06.30 but the weather forecast was for a cool, partly-clouded day and so it turned out to be.
On Wednesday 27 Feb we had mix of participants somewhat different from the normal turnout for a Hurriers walk; 10 persons made up of 5 married couples and including some faces not seen on the walks before, probably unique.
We all knew it was going to be long day with lots of driving but we did not bargain for a major motorcycle accident on the road between Franschhoek and Paarl and later a long stretch of single-lane traffic due to roadworks on the R45 before getting back on the N2 at the end of the day, all of which extended the driving time by more than one hour. Hats off to the drivers.
Walking across the vlakte to the MCSA hut we had great views of the surrounding peaks of the Wemmershoek, Limietberg and DuToitskloof mountains in the Hawequas range but were pleased to get to the hut to enjoy our somewhat delayed morning tea. We set off for our walk up the valley to a waterfall but after the turn-off for Kromrivier Dome the track deteriorated and was almost non-existant. Continuing along it for a while we realised that with the delays already experienced it would not be possible to get there and back in time for the party to get back to Hermanus for planned evening activities so we cut short the walk and returned to relax at the pools and at the hut.
The walk was advertised as an excursion to the country so we just enjoyed a relaxing day with lots of chatter. Someone stated for a fact that if you get 10 people together then it is 25% certain that two people will share a birthday. The odds increase proportionately to 95% certianty you have 30 persons. A quick check revealed that 5 of the group were Aries and that two share the 9th of April as their birthday. Feeling put out there were some who thought this was all a bit fishy and some thought it was a lot of bull !!
The area of the walk was new to most of the party. Piet and Martha found a record of their first visit to the Kromrivier Hut in April 1958 in the Hut Book and Dave remembered climbing DuToits Peak and visiting the hut more than 20 years ago. The Hurriers visited here in March 2014 but stayed for two nights enabling them to do much more walking. All agreed that the area was well worth a visit and there were several options of a variety of walks. This is for the future.
We were back at the cars just after 2pm after what all thought was an enjoyable and relaxing day in the mountains.
Submitted by Piet van Zyl. Jenny Fynn supplied the photographs.
After leaving Van Staden’s, we set off for Cradock and the adjacent Mountain Zebra National Park, where we spent four very comfortable nights in one of the new Rock Chalets. The park is set in Karoo mountains with extensive surrounding plains which abound with Mountain Zebra, Springbok, Black Wildebeest and many other species. We were concentrating on birding as 1 March was the starting day for our Big Birding Year Southern African Challenge.
On our first morning we went on a three hour walk in the park commencing at first light. Imagine our surprise, on rounding a bend in the path, to find a pair of Buffalo bulls glowering at us! We quickly made a detour around them and set off up a mountain. It was a stiff walk, but did not produce much more in the way of animal confrontations, but we really enjoyed every minute of it and manged to see a few good birds and animals.
Our days were spent driving through the park looking for good sightings of the local wildlife. Birding was a bit disappointing, in that we only achieved 83 species in four days of intense searching, but we nevertheless got some good species.
A night drive on Sunday was interesting in that we saw no less than four Aardwolf, a relatively shy and seldom seen member of the Hyena family. We also saw many other small nocturnal animals, but only one owl.
On Monday last week we drove to Cedar Farm where we met Richard and Jeanette. It is a quaint farmhouse up a valley in the Baviaanskloof and we spent two nights there, giving ample time to explore the surrounding area. Walks up the kloof revealed amazing rock formations, but our path was eventually blocked by a pool which required swimming to traverse, so we went no further.
The actual drive out of the Baviaanskloof on our third day was quite an experience with very rough road conditions and some deep water traverses where streams had to be forded. Luckily we had appropriate vehicles and this made for relatively comfortable, albeit very bumpy conditions. We emerged from the mountains on Wednesday evening and made our way to our overnight stop near Van Stadens river, prior to setting off for Cradock on Thursday. Our hosts appeared confused by our arrival although we had paid in full in October 2018. Luckily they had rooms for us!!