THE KALAHARI, THE NAMAQUALAND AND THE CEDERBERG
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TRAVEL DIARY IN SOUTH AFRICA
ITINERARY OF THE TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA: NORTHERN CAPE
- August 15 KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK (150 km) Exploration inside the park along the beds of the dry rivers Auob (up to Auchterlonie) and Nossob (up to Melkvlei). Crossing between Melkvlei and Auchterlonie. 4×4 route between Leeuwdril and Houmoed. Overnight at: Twee Rivieren Resort Bungalow
- August 16 KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK (340 km) Exploration inside the park along the beds of the dry rivers Auob (up to Mata Mata) and Nossob (up to Dirkbaardskolk). Crossing between Urikaruus and Dirkbaardskolk. Overnight at: Twee Rivieren Resort Bungalow
- August 17 KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK-AUGRABIES PARK (350 km) Kgalagadi Trasfrontier Park, short route to Leeuwdril. Upington. Augrabies waterfalls. Overnight in: Augrabies Park Bungalow
- August 18 AUGRABIES PARK (50 km) Excursion inside the park to admire the landscape of the Orange Gorge. Overnight in: Augrabies Park Bungalow
- August 19 AUGRABIES-NAMAQUA PARK-KAMIESKROON (450 km) Augrabies, Springbok, Namaqua Park, Kamieskroon. Overnight at: Kamieskroon Guesthouse
TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA: August 15th Clear and cold wind
KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK, SOUTH AFRICA (200 Km)
We leave early in the morning for the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (ex Kalahari Gemsbok) which is only 30 km from where we slept. Our first goal is to find accommodation for the next two nights at the park lodge in Twee Rivieren. Eric returns with a smiling face. We have the room!
So now we can devote the whole day to exploring the park. In the morning we make a path of about 140 km which passes partly inside the dry bed of the Nossob river, which acts as the border between South Africa and Botswana, and partly along that of the Aroab river. We observe several animals including a large herd of Springbok (Gazelles), many Gemsbok (Oryx), Gnu (Wildebeest), Jackals, Falcons, a huge Owl, very small and very tender Grysbok, maguste, many varieties of birds including the huge Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius).
After lunch and a short siesta, at 15.30 we leave for a 4×4 route between Leeuwdril and Houmoed through the dunes of the Kalahari desert covered with grass, we pass through beautiful undulating landscapes and we observe other animals including the Cape Fox.
TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA: August 16 Clear
KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK, SOUTH AFRICA (330 Km)
Today we have the whole day to observe the fauna in the park we would like to see the Giraffes and the Lions, but it seems that the latter are difficult to observe because of the vastness of the park. We leave at 7.30 am and we travel, inside the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the bed of the Aroab river between Twee Rivieren and Mata Mata on the border with Namibia.
THE ANIMALS OF KALAHARI: GNU, GAZELLES, GIRAFFES AND SURICATES
Today we were lucky enough to observe the Suricates (Meerkats), their organization is really interesting, there is a lookout that checks the situation while the other animals in the group eat, they are really nice animals.
On our way we see large herds of Springbok, Gemsbok and Gnu. We observe many species of birds of prey (Eagles and Falcons), the park is famous for the great variety of birds of prey present, it is very nice to see them circling in the blue sky of the Kalahari. Not far from Mata Mata, we finally spot the Giraffes! They are really impressive animals for their height, their long necks emerge from the plants. There are a dozen animals, including some small and other huge adult Giraffes, very touching was the scene of the little Giraffe who approached the mother who he immediately pampered her with his head. After about 3 hours we arrived in Mata Mata, where yesterday they had sighted some Lions, but we don’t see any.
We go back and after a quick snack, we take the road that crosses the desert dunes, here the landscape is very beautiful with red dunes covered with vegetation, we see some small Gazelles (Grysbok), but not even the shadow of lions.
THE ANIMALS OF KALAHARI: THE LION OF KALAHARI!
We get to Dirkbaardskolk along the road to Nossob, then we go back to Twee Rivieren, about 10 km from Twee Rivieren camp, a Wild Cat crosses the road. Eric stops and goes down to see the Cat’s footprints on the sand, he noted something. He tells us that there are Lion’s footprints, but they could be old, he gets back in the car and after a minute we see in the distance a police car from the park that comes to meet us with the flashing lights on and flashes us, we stop. Eric speaks with the park guard who informs us that a few hundred meters ahead there is a big lion lying down on the roadside!
We travel a few hundred meters and on the left of our off-road vehicle there is a huge young male Lion lying on the roadside, sleeping peacefully, he opens his eyes to look at us and closes them, he has huge legs, a real machine of prey, even if seen in this way, you would want to caress him! We stop a couple of meters from the Lion. After observing the Lion so closely we continue towards the field, Eric notices other traces of a smaller Lion, probably a Lioness, but we cannot see it. Before returning to Twee Rivieren we also see a pair of Bat Foxes (which eat insects). We are really satisfied and we really had luck!
TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA: August 17 Clear, very hot
KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK – AUGRABIES NATIONAL PARK (340 Km)
Today is the last day with our Namibian guide Eric, and we are very sorry, because we felt very comfortable with him, you can see that he does his job with passion. We leave at 7.30 for a last brief visit to the Kgalagadi park, we cross the dry course of the Nossob river (the road continually crosses the border between South Africa and Botswana, signaled only by stones bearing the abbreviations of the two states) and we reach where we had seen the Lion yesterday, but we can’t find it, we spot several other animals including a Cape Fox.
We then leave for the Augrabies waterfalls. Along the way we cross the red dunes of the Kalahari covered with vegetation and stop at a hut of the San (Bushmen), where some of their handicrafts are on sale.
We then skirt some Pan (dried up lakes) and reach Upington, a modern town, where we have lunch. Upington, thanks to its position on the Orange River, is located in the center of an important agricultural area, we see vast expanses of vineyards, mainly table grapes and raisins, but also wine grapes; in addition to other various types of crops.
Being this the first true city of South Africa that we could see on our trip, the first impression I had, is that South Africa seems to be a very rich country with huge pockets of poverty in the majority of the black population. Upington seems like a normal European town with industrial areas, nice neighborhoods of houses, wide streets, with shacks in some peripheral areas. The final stretch that leads from Upington to Augrabies is along the Orange River valley, characterized by a very rich and fertile countryside, thanks to the exploitation of the river waters.
In the early afternoon we reach the Augrabies National Park, where we stay in the Lodge of the park, immediately we make a short visit to the waterfalls that make a jump of about 60 meters in a spectacular gorge of granite rocks, which beyond the waterfall form a canyon, 240 deep meters and 18 kilometers long. Before dinner we meet Sabine, our new South African guide, with regret we have to say goodbye to Erich, who returns to Windhoek.
TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA: August 18 Clear, very hot
AUGRABIES NATIONAL PARK (40 Km)
Today is dedicated to visiting the Augrabies Falls National Park. This morning we take a short walk along the Dassie path, then we go back and decide to take our new vehicle, a green Volkswagen bus, to visit the rest of the park which extends for 820 square kilometers along the course of the Orange River.
This is a highly recommended excursion because the landscape of the park that can be admired is truly amazing, to begin with we have to wade two small arms of the Orange River, the second is longer but despite the dark appearances, the depth does not exceed 20 centimeters, so we pass without problems.
The first place we visit is the Moon Rock, a huge circular monolith from which you can admire a wonderful panorama of the arid surrounding landscape. We continue taking all the detours that branch off from the main road and we come to breathtaking views of the Orange River Canyon in particular the gorge seen from the panoramic points called Oranjekom and Ararat is very beautiful.
In the late afternoon we walk to the really powerful waterfalls. At sunset we are surprised by the return to the bush of many swarms of small birds that fly over the walkways at low altitude where we walk in view of the waterfalls. We have dinner in the restaurant of the Lodge.
TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA: August 19th Clear, very hot
AUGRABIES NATIONAL PARK – NAMAQUALAND NATIONAL PARK – KAMIESKROON (400 Km)
This morning after a quick breakfast we leave Augrabies and leave for the Namaqualand park. The visit to this park was one of the many reasons that led me to make this itinerary a bit unusual between Namibia and South Africa. I had read about the flowered desert, but I never expected such a spectacular landscape, truly a wonder of nature.
The first part of the route is quite monotonous, then approaching Springbok we start to see the first flowers along the way. At the gates of the town is an explosion of colors. The sides of the road and part of the hills around Springbok are covered with flowers.
We stop in Springbok to check the bus that seems to be experiencing problems with the gear and in the meantime we take the opportunity to have lunch, after lunch since the bus problems seem to be solved, we leave for Namaqualand National Park, which is located about 90 km away.
INFINITE DISTENS OF FLOWERS
The closer we get to the park the more the density of the flowers increases, a truly unthinkable thing. There are yellow, blue, orange, purple, white, blue flowers that literally cover the hills. We enter the park, an unforgettable experience, I take hundreds of photos. Flowery Namaqualand is truly one of the most exciting shows that South Africa has to offer.
We were really lucky, from what they told us it was more than 40 years that there was no flowering of these proportions. In fact, to allow wild flowers to bloom in this landscape, which is desert for 11 months a year, good winter rains and a not too hot climate are necessary to keep the flowers longer. In addition, to observe them at their best, a beautiful sunny day is needed which allows the flowers to open, the best hours to observe them are between 11 and 15.
This evening we are in the small town of Kamieskroon, which is located a few dozen kilometers from the park. We sleep at the Kamieskroon Bed and Breakfast run by a distinguished and kind lady of English origin (Popie).
TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA: August 20 Clear, hot
KAMIESKROON – CEDERBERG WILDERNESS AREA (380 Km: on asphalt road (300km) and on dirt road (80 km))
This morning after breakfast we leave Kamieskroon at 8.30 and head towards the Cederberg mountains. Along the way the flowers continue to accompany us, the colors change, yesterday predominated orange, today yellow and white.
We pass through grandiose landscapes of mountains and green valleys along the valley of the Olyfants river, for lunch we stop in Clanwilliam. Then we take a dirt road and we go into the Cederberg mountains, between majestic landscapes, here and there green valleys, mountains and rocks open from the bizarre forms, to which still flowery traits alternate.
We stop to visit the paintings of the Bushmen (San) in a suggestive cave in the Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve from which you have a wonderful panorama of the surrounding area. Still in the same area we visit the Stadsaal rock formations, so we are going to leave the park, but upon reaching the entrance gate we realize that we have been locked inside the reserve, a large padlock separates us from freedom!
We try to force it, but we can’t open it, we are in a wasteland, but luckily a couple arrives in an off-road vehicle, who stops and with a big hammer manages to force the gate lock, we are free!
Finally we arrive at our accommodation, a beautiful chalet inside the Mount Ceder farm, located above a river with the Cederberg peaks in front, an idyllic place.
TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA: August 21 Clear
CEDERBERG WILDERNESS AREA
This morning we get up at 8 and appreciate the tranquility of the place where we are, our cottage in the mountains. We have a hearty breakfast and then we leave for a relaxing walk along a short path that leads us to see some paintings of the Bushmen (San), along the path we admire the local vegetation full of shrubs and flowers, these paintings are very beautiful and describe scenes of hunting, it seems that they were made several thousand years ago.
After lunch we allow ourselves a relaxing reading under the veranda of our cottage.
Around 4 pm our guide Sabine comes to pick us up and we take a nice walk in the mountains from the Grootrivier pass (988 meters) to the belvedere at about 1,200 meters. The route, between return, takes about 1 hour and a half.
The walk takes us to admire the Cederberg mountains with its strange and particular rocky conformations.
TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA: August 22 Cloudy and Rain (morning), Clear (afternoon)
CEDERBERG-WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK-YZERFONTEIN (300 km)
This morning the weather turned bad, a strong wind blows (which started during the night) and there are big black clouds but also flashes of blue sky. After a hearty breakfast we leave the Cederbergs and we move on to more European South Africa. Along the way we see immense crops of fruit trees (pears, apples, apricots, peaches etc.), especially in the surroundings of Ceres. Continuing along our road we pass a few kilometers from Tulbag where we see many vineyards and some olive groves, the towns we pass through are very beautiful and well maintained.
THE WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK
Our destination today is the West Coast National Park located along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. We enter the park, characterized by low Mediterranean vegetation, and the first animal we see is a small terrestrial turtle that crosses the road. Then we see ostriches, Eland antelopes and several species of birds.
The park is formed by a peninsula that juts out on one side over the Atlantic Ocean and on the other on the lagoon, the most beautiful part of the park is certainly the one called Postberg, very rich, in this period, of wild flowers, here unlike the Namaqualand where orange dominated, yellow and white colors predominate. It is a wonderful sight, completed by the white sand dunes and the sea.
We have lunch on the sea where dozens of seagulls eat food from the day trippers. Let’s take a nice walk on the beach, there are granite rocks with very beautiful shapes. Finally, we also visit an ancient demarcation stock of the Dutch East India Company (VOC).
Today we are sleeping in Yzerfontein, a small center along the coast a short distance from the park, our accommodation, the Harbor View Guesthouse is really nice, located in a privileged place, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, they tell us that even today whales are seen, but we cannot see them.
The journey continues: the Cape vineyards, Cape Agulhas, the whales of Hermanus, Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope >>>>
ITINERARY OF THE TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA: WESTERN CAPE
- August 20 KAMIESKROON-CEDERBERG (380 km) Kamieskroon, Clanwilliam, Cederberg. Overnight at: Mount Cedar Lodge
- August 21 CEDERBERG (10 km) Walks in the nature of the Cederberg. Overnight at: Mount Cedar Lodge
- August 22 CEDERBERG-WEST COAST PARK-YZERFONTEIN (300 km) Cederberg, West Coast Park, Postberg Section, Yzerfontein. Overnight in: Yzerfontein Harbor View
- August 23 YZERFONTEIN-STELLENBOSCH (170 km) Yzerfontein, Paarl, Franschhoek, Boschendal Estate, Stellenbosch. Overnight at: Stellenbosch Eendragt Hotel
- August 24 STELLENBOSCH-DE HOOP NATURE RESERVE-ARNISTON (250 km) Stellenbosch, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Arniston. Overnight at: Arniston Hotel
- August 25 ARNISTON-HERMANUS (220 km) Arniston, Cape Agulhas, Hermanus. Overnight at: Mitchell Street Guesthouse
- August 26 HERMANUS-CAPE TOWN (130 km) Hermanus, False Bay, Gordon Bay, Cape Town. Table Mountain. Overnight at: Panorama Guesthouse
- August 27 CAPE TOWN (150 km) Groot Constantia, Muizenberg, Boulders Beach, Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope. Overnight at: Panorama Guesthouse
- August 28 CAPE TOWN (20 km) Fort Orange, Company Gardens, Bo-Kaap, Kirstenbosch Garden. Overnight at: Panorama Guesthouse
- August 29 CAPE TOWN (80km) Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Waterfront. Flight Cape Town-Europe
- August 30 Flight to Europe. End of the trip.