Tag Archive: Western Cape



This blog was written some months back. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how I missed publishing it. I beg your indulgence. This “back blog” completes my series on South Africa’s Western Cape.

 

 

This morning, we bundled and layered up good for a cold day at sea. No matter how cold it gets, we were ready for the whales. Humpbacks or Southern Rights, we’re eager to see them whales. The sun was out. But the water’s far from calm. Our premium whale-watching cruise was cancelled for safety reasons.

 

 

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We were hoping till the last minute. Quite frankly, I hardly paid attention to the majestic seascape offered by Plettenberg Bay as I mulled over the idea of seeing them Southern Rights in their own territory. All too often, our sleepy demeanor was disturbed whenever our coach coasts along the Adriatic and Indian Seaboard while our Tour Director points somewhere off the blue waters. A whale? Where? I couldn’t trust my eyesight and I simply obliged by snapping photos here and there. Upon review, I was dismayed to find nothing other than what looked like rocks off the ocean.

 

 

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Well, no whales today. And we leave tomorrow for our safari. Tough luck. Instead, we headed for the Birds of Eden to while away that frustrating afternoon. On other days, this could have been an interesting afternoon. The photos speak for themselves. Those are beautiful birds. But. They. Are. Birds. 🙂

 

 

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As we exited the bird sanctuary, we found a Monkey park right beside it. Also baboons right outside the bird park. They all looked busy. Either they found something to eat and share among themselves or they are simply on a “stroll”. Either way, they scare me. They look very aggressive. So unlike the safari “beasts” who didn’t seem interested in humans.

 

 

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And so, the day ended with some despair over the botched whale watching adventure. Coming on the heels of another botched adventure (cable car ride to the Table Mountain, no less!), we knew we just had to find our amusement elsewhere. Like a food adventure? Very well. Thank God South African cuisine didn’t disappoint.


The view takes your breath away. And that’s not an overstatement!

 

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Oh, that lonely bench again! I see it everywhere. With a promise of a perfect view!

 

Knysna Heads. Imagine pre-steam ships going through that gap sailing into the lagoon. I can sit here all afternoon till sundown just staring into those breakers, watching the tides flow without breaking a stride to spill out into the vast Indian Ocean. Truly, an impressive view especially when the tides lift and flow over the rocks and sandbars.

 

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Walking Towards the Rocks and the Lighthouse

 

The scenery before we stopped to appreciate this lagoon view somehow prepared us. My, this is really prime property with this premier view! The rocks, the tides, the lighthouse. Sitting on that bench with a cup of good brew or a flute of champagne should complete the deal. And don’t tell me it’s too early for my bubbles!

 

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The Lighthouse

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Framed by the Bus Window. So Lovely On This Wintry Day!

 

So, what did we miss? This foodie missed something big time. We passed it on our way to the lighthouse. Didn’t give it much attention as we were eager to see the views from the rocks. Read about it. But it didn’t stick. Aaahhhh….. This old hag must be losing it.

 

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I want to cry. Waaaaahhhhh!

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And we just passed it without giving a hoot! Waaaaahhhhhh.

 

And it’s just not the view. Breakfast all day in this cafe. Good coffee and wine selection. No pretensions. Just good home-cooked comfort food. EASTHEAD CAFE. Yay! Knysna truly surprises. The lagoon, the waterfront, the quays, the lighthouse, the quaint cafés and bistros. I can live here!

 

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The Coffee Connection in Old Knysna

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Lemon Meringue Pie and a Frothy Coffee @Coffee Connection

 

You lose some. You win some. In the “Old Knysna” I didn’t miss checking out Coffee Connection. This social hub has the best lemon meringue pie I ever tasted. Climbing up the stairs to go to the loo, I noticed how quaint the staircase, flooring and restrooms are. As it turned out, this 20-year old coffee hub is housed in an 18th century building which has since become a landmark in the “Old Knysna”. Nice. I got my frothy coffee, the best pie and the old charm of an 18th century landmark edifice. Swell.

 

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SAY THAT AGAIN!

 

 

Easthead Cafe just had to wait for my next visit! Maybe I can spend more time here in Knysna. Charming place. Good food. My neighborhood!


Nearly a half hour’s drive from the principal town of Oudtshoorn lies the limestone mountains of the Klein Karoo. The Cango Caves claim to have one of the biggest stalagmite formations in the world. Now, I’m not a big fan of caves and stalagmites or stalactites, but thought the supervised tour would be a good opportunity to spend a “productive” hour or so.

 

 

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This is the “atrium”. Looks like a hall waiting for a concert to commence!

 

 

The caverns and tunnels opened up to “atriums” like the photo above. Like there’s a big hall ready for a concert. The stalagmite formations are very impressive. I had to deliberately stop snapping photos after convincing myself that one can only have so many photos of these natural wonders.

 

 

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Dripstone caverns. Cango Caves claim to have the largest stalagmite formations in the whole world.

 

 

An adventure tour is available where one can view more drip stone caverns while fumbling on all fours. Not for me. As we walked through the tunnels and passageways, I was peeling off layers of shirts I earlier put on as the cave temp rose. Besides, I was quite content to see and photograph “Cleopatra’s Needle”. All of 9 meters and “only” 150,000 years old. Easily, it’s the main attraction inside the Cango Caves.

 

 

 

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The many drip stone formations which took millions of years to form are breathtaking. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t dig caves and stalagmites/stalactites. Amazing how these caverns can exist beneath these limestone mountains! As we were leaving, I reviewed some interior shots and found this. I couldn’t make heads or tails off the last photo. Can you?

 

 

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BOO!


You don’t go to Africa to visit a zoo, right? But then again, you may not get so lucky with your safari drives so…… consider this a “preview” of what’s good to see. This is Cango Wildlife Ranch just outside Oudtshoorn, the principal town of the Little Karoo.

 

 

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Cango Wildlife Ranch in the outskirts of Oudtshoorn. South Africa

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The leopard we missed in the safari.

 

 

As it turned out, we missed 1 out of the Big 5. The LEOPARD was very elusive. We saw the lions, cape buffaloes, elephants and the rhinos. Four out of 5 ain’t bad for a first safari adventure. More so if one has seen more antelopes that one can name, plus the cheetahs, hippos, baboons, wildebeest, warthogs, crocs (or were they alligators?) and many bird species.

 

 

 

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Simba’s Dad?

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In the animal kingdom, I’ve got to admit the male lion with his lovely mane is so much lovelier than the lioness.

 

 

It was a cold, rainy day when we reached the Wildlife Ranch. Protected by disposable raincoats, we passed the hanging bridge and boardwalks to view the many animals, crocs and birds. I was reminded of “Residence Inn” in Tagaytay, only better. At least the lions, tigers and leopards freely roam around a rather limited but adequate space rather than put in cages too small to drive them crazy over time.

 

 

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The wildlife ranch (zoo to many) is well-kept, clean and nearly odorless. And the guides are very very good.

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No tigers in Africa. But there’s one here in Cango Wildlife Ranch.

 

 

Some visitors came for photo ops with the beasts. There was a man looking a tad tentative for his pictorial with a cheetah. The beast must be fed well to be so unmindful of visitors and obedient to its trainers or zookeepers. We had a very playful guide touring us around. Twice, on a bend, she hid to surprise me with a tap on my shoulder or a “bite” on my leg. Each time, it earned a mild scream from moí. She was good!

 

 

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Cold and rainy day.

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To this day, I wonder what he’d do if that cheetah so much as roared.

 

 

Small and manageable, the ranch must be a hit with children too young for safaris. The flamingos, bats, vultures and other birds look happy residents. The ranch is well kept, clean and nearly odorless. The visit is best combined with a visit to the Cango caves some distance from the town, if you have time to spare. But don’t forget to leave some time for wine tasting in this wine region. There are a number of wine estates here with superb dining outlets. Now, wouldn’t that complete your day!

 

 

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Now, that’s a real vulture!

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Friends who know me know that I don’t have much interest in shopping. I do not begrudge those who do, but I’m always armed with a good book (or even a map!) to while away the time while my buddies do the shopping. A good brew or a glass of syrah helps too. My family would always spot a good corner in some cafe or bar where they’d deposit me while they shop.

 

 

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The Exotic Pates of Africa: Crocodile Meat, Impala, Ostrich, Springbok, Kudu Pate.

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Rooibos Tea. No caffeine. Really!

 

 

But I’m a sucker for food items. And if they come in small packages, I’d surely knock them off the shelves. Out of Africa and Taste of Africa offered such African delicacies that I couldn’t resist snatching up bags of the caffein-free rooibos tea. Good and healthy. And how about the pâtés from such exotic meats like crocodile, impala, kudu, springbok and ostrich? Yeah, quite a find! These I most certainly need to bring home.

 

 

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Chair Made With Ostrich Leather!

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Benches Made with Ostrich Leather. Love the Blue Color!

 

 

Small parcels like those pâtés and local teas are fine. But how about the ostrich leather chair and benches from Berluda? I want those! I probably should have purchased one of those ostrich leather bags or purses instead. But retired that I am, I would likely spend more time on that chair than carry a bag to wherever. And so I left without any ostrich souvenir. 😂

 

 

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PLEASE> No more biltongs.

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Love the colors!

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Knysna Quay is a treasure trove of curio shops and coffee bars!

 

 

In Knysna Quays, we did some craft shopping. There are nice beadwork to be found here. Matching African neckwear and bracelets. Got a couple of those. In the Elephant Park, there are more souvenir items like magnets, keychains and headwear. If you’re into safari vests and jackets, you’d find some with the words “Cango Wild Ranch” or “Knysna Elephant Park” emblazoned on the chest.

 

 

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The Knysna Elephant Park Sun Visor (Thanks Beth!)

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Refrigerator Magnets, and other souvenirs.

 

 

In Hout Bay before our boat ride to the Seals Island, there were street vendors with local handicraft for sale. Bulky souvenirs I call ’em. I’d stick to my small parcels of table delights!

 

 

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Craft finds in Hout Bay

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Wooden Bowls from Hout Bay


I was looking forward to visiting Simonstown not only to check out the Jackass Penguins in Boulders Beach but likewise to visit Jubilee Square. Ever heard the story of “Just Nuisance”? That’s the name of the Great Dane who “served” in the Royal Navy back in the 1940s.

 

 

Errrr, do I have your attention now? The story certainly got my attention. You see, Just Nuisance is one very popular and well-loved dog who has become part of the town’s history. Story goes that sailors in the town’s naval station regularly fed this Great Dane who has acquired a taste for fries, beer and other drinkers’ crumbs. When these sailors went for R & R in Capetown, the spoiled canine would follow them, hopping on trains even. For sure, this dog felt he “belonged” to the Royal Navy and counted many sailor friends. So loved was he that a bronze statue in Jubilee Square was made in his honor.

 

 

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Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach. Simonstown. South Africa.

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Jackass Penguins or African Penguins? (Photo Credits to E. Ong)

The Penguins. Not The Dog.

 

But wait. We’re talking about the Penguins here. These tuxedo-ed residents of Boulders Beach have been here for a while. There was an entire colony of these African Penguins just a few meters from Seaforth Restaurant where we had lunch. An entire colony! There they were going about their business, unmindful of us camwhoring tourists. There were signs warning visitors from feeding nor touching them. Good thing they built a boardwalk where we can actually “follow” them, watch them, photograph them, observe them. These look like “happy birds” not “angry birds” who wouldn’t hesitate to interact with humans swimming in the nearby waters. We found some nesting, with those cute-sy “holes” in the sandy beach. Others busily playing by the shore. I can imagine them rolling on beach towels laid out by beach swimmers on some summer days. Happy Feet!

 

 

 

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Penguins Having A Party! (Photo Credits: E. Ong)

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Play Time for these African Penguins!

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African Penguins in Boulders Beach. Some on the boulders. Others a-swimming!

 

 

Check out this video of these charming birds. Just a glimpse of Happy Feet in this penguin colony.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBpz4gZpuvM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

 

 

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That’s the Boardwalk around the Penguin Colony in Boulders Beach

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I wonder what these 2 Jackass Penguins Are Saying To Each Other