Boulder’s Beach – January 2016

“The most beautiful in the world is, of course, the world itself.”

Wallace Stevens

Boulder’s Beach is home to a breeding colony of Jackass Penguins or African Penguins, these penguins are only found on the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia. The penguins were originally called Jackass because of the donkey like braying call they make.  However as the penguins make a similar sound too several South American penguins they were renamed African penguins as they are the only penguins which breed in Africa.  The penguins are on the verge of extinction, it was estimated in 1910 to have a population of 1.5 million, but by 2009 it was down to just 26 000 and due to harvesting the penguin eggs for food and guano scraping. 

Boulder’s Beach began with two breeding pairs in 1982 and it is believed that the colony has grown to about 2 100 penguins  in 2011. The penguin population growth is due to a decrease in commercial trawling in False Bay, which has increased the supply of pilchards and anchovies, the diet of the penguins. 

The area is managed by the Table Mountain National Park who have established a penguin viewing area and three boardwalks around Foxy’s Beach which allow you to see the penguins nesting and moving around without getting too close. Boulders Beach is surrounded by boulders and protected from the wind and large waves, so it makes it a great place to swim with kids, if you can stand the cold water and offers the unique opportunity to swim in close range of penguins.  The beach only allows a certain number of people in at a time and the day we went it was already full.  While we did not do it, you can organise a tour at the main visitor center, where I imagine you will learn more about the penguin project. 

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This is a sign you don’t see very often.  Unfortunately as the area is surrounded by residential homes penguins are often hit by cars or run over in car parks when sheltering from the sun under cars.

We went to Boulder’s Beach in early January, to see the penguins with Totem and Morning Glory.  While the kids wandered were busy chatting we all enjoyed the beautiful views afforded from the boardwalk, the sunny weather and of course the penguins.

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Andrew joked that although they are very cute, he was disappointed that they weren’t dancing around like in the movie Madagascar.

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As you wander the boardwalk you can see the nests that the park has installed but it appeared that some of the penguins preferred to create their own on the beach, where we saw quite a few empty eggs. There main nesting period is between February and August, so we were a bit early to see the nesting.

Boulders Penguin Colony Tourist Information

Entry Fee:

  • South African Citizens and residents with ID – R39 per adult/R20 per child
  • SADC Nationals with passports – R76 per adult /R39 per child
  • Foreign Visitors – R152 per adult/R76 per child

Note child is 11 and under

Opening Hours

  • Winter: April – September – 8 am – 5 pm
  • Summer: December – January – 7 am – 730 pm
  • February – March –  8 am – 6.30 pm
  • October – November –  8 am – 6.30 pm

Further information can be found by either clicking on this link or going to the following website: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/tourism/attractions.php#boulders

Information on prices and opening hours updated April 2019

Cape of Good Hope – 29/1/2016

Cape of Good Hope was first named the ‘Cape of Storms’ by the first European to reach the cape, Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias on the 12th March 1488.  It was later renamed by John II of Portugal, to the ‘Cape of Good Hope,’ because it offered a route for ships to reach India and the East and so many trading opportunities. In 1580, Sir Francis Drake described the cape as the ‘Fairest Cape in all the World,’ during his circumnavigation of Earth.  Judging by the number of shipwrecks that scatter around the cape, I imagine it provoked fear and anxiety among many, even modern sailors.

The Cape was an important stopping point for trading ships sailing between Europe and the East and allowed Europeans to barter with the local Khoikhoi people for food and water.  Eventually the Dutch East India Company established a small provisioning station in 1652, that was sheltered in the bay behind the Cape peninsula and establishing the first European settlement in the region.  Today Cape Town is still a stopping point for boats sailing around the world and some clipper races.  

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The area surrounding the Cape became a national reserve in 1938 and in 1998 it became the Cape Peninsula National Park, later being renamed to Table Mountain National Park. The park incorporates 7750 hectares, including 40 kilometres of coastline stretching from Schuster’s Bay in the West to Smitswinkel Bay in the East.  At the Southern most point of the park are the cliffs that tower 200 meters above the sea and include Cape of Good Hope, Cape Maclear and Cape Point. It is a common misconception that Cape of Good Hope is the most southern tip of Africa, but in fact that title belongs to Cape Agulhas about 150 kms to the east-southeast.

We went with Totem on the 29th of January to the Cape of Good Hope. We took the Flying Dutchman Funicular up to the lighthouse which has stunning views of the cliffs. The funicular which opened in 1996 was named the Flying Dutchman after the legend originating in the 17th century during the golden age of the Dutch East India Company.  Legend has it that sailors reported a ship said to glowing with ghostly light heading for the Cape, but never reaching it. If the ghostly ship was sighted it was said to warn of impending doom. Today however, the Flying Dutchman is a peaceful 3 minute ride that saves the uphill walk to reach the lighthouse.

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Turns out the original lighthouse at 262 metres above sea level wasn’t very successful for two main reasons, firstly that it could be seen too early by ships rounding the point causing them to come too close and secondly during foggy conditions it couldn’t be seen at all. It was both of those reasons which caused the Portuguese liner, Lusitania to wreck just south of the Cape on April 18th 1911 on the bellow rocks.  The lighthouse was relocated to only 87 metres above sea level and can’t be seen from the West until boats are a safe distance South.  The lighthouse sits on Cape Point and is actually pretty picturesque, more so than Cape of Good Hope.

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We caught the funicular back down and then did a 3 km round walk to the Cape of Good Hope.  We saw small herds of eland, lizards and the rock hyrax or dassie.

Entry Fee

  • South African Citizens and Residents with ID – R76 per adult/R39 per child
  • SADC Nationals with passport – R152 per adult/R76 per child
  • Foreign Visitors – R303 per adult/R152 per child

** A child is considered 11 and under.

Opening Times:

Park

  • Summer (October – March) – 6 am – 6 pm
  • Winter (April – September) – 7 am – 5 pm

Flying Dutchman (funicular)

  • Summer (October – March) – 9 am – 5.30 pm
  • Winter (April – September) – 9 am – 5 pm

For further information either click on the link or go to the following web page:  https://www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/tourism/attractions.php#tablemountain

Entry Fees and opening hours last updated in April 2019

Kgalagasi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park

The Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park is located in Southern Africa, in a large sand-filled basin known as the Kalahari, the meaning in Kgalagadi is ‘the land which dried up’.  The park is a wildlife reserve and covers parts of both South Africa and Botswana. The park is 38 000 km, 3/4 of the park is Botswana land and 1/4 is South Africa’s land. Kalahari National Park is made up of red sand dunes, very little vegetation and a few trees and little rivers or streams.

The National park has many animals like, mammals, birds and reptiles. The most amazing animals to see would be, lions, hyenas, cheetahs and leopards. The most common animals that are seen are, wildebeest, springbok, eland and vultures.

I think that the national park was amazing but very dry. I thought that the lions with the black manes were also very cool. We saw a female lion trying to get into some sot of animal like maybe a tortoise.

Day 1

After leaving Windhoek we arrived in the Kalahri Transfrontier Park, as we first entered we watched a string of giraffes slowly ambling along with the red desert sands in the background.  There had been recent rain, so there was new fluorescent green grass.  There was also herds of springbok, which kept us entertained with their bouncing around and headbutting.  Its amazing how both the giraffes and springbok blended so well into the Kalahari colours.

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Giraffes ambling along

Herds of very cute springbok

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Twee Rivieren Campsite

Day 2

We got up bright and early for a game drive.  There was much excitement when we spot this small group of adolescent lions.

Everyone was amazed as we came across a second pride of lions that had not one, but two male lions with the black manes.  There seemed to be no animosity between the males.  One of the male lions relaxed beside a female with two young cubs, it almost looked like Dad was on babysitting duty while mum slept.

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Nearby the first male was a second one, he seemed quite happy to relax on his own.

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We had one very curious adolescent lion who seemed to spot Max and Ava in the RV sitting on the main bed looking out the window.  He/she was quite keen to get a closer look.

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Another lion found what at first glance looked like a coconut but was actually a tortoise curled up in its shell.  She eventually gave up and left it alone.  It was still alive.

As there had been recent rain, there wildflowers out in parts of the park.

We did an organised game drive on our last night at the park.  It was a little disappointing as we had hoped the guide would know great spots to find some of the big game animals.  We did see this brown hyena, which was the first one we had seen in southern Africa and very different to the ones mum and dad had seen in eastern Africa.

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Tourist Information on the Kalahari Transfrontier Park

Cost for Conservation and Entry Fees: 

  • South African residents: Adults – $82, Children -$41
  • SADC residents: Adults – $164, Children – $82
  • Foreign visitors: Adults – $328, Children – $164  

Opening Hours – The gate opening and closing hours vary each month.  To find out the monthly times use this web address: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kgalagadi/tourism/get_there.php#gate

Accommodation: Below is a brief outline of the accommodation available in the park, for more information on the cost and to book click here.

  • Twee Rivieren – Accommodation includes family cottages, chalets and campsites.  Facilities include a shop, fuel, restaurant, information centre and pool.  The campsite also has 24hr electricity and cell phone reception.
  • Mata-Mata Rest Camp – Located on the western side of the park and borders Namibia.  Accommodation includes chalets, family chalets and campsites.  Facilities include swimming pool, shop and fuel facilities.  The camp has electricity for 16 hours a day, but no cell phone reception.
  • Nossob Rest Camp – Located on the dry riverbed of the Nossob.  Accommodation includes two guesthouses, cottages and campsites.  Facilities include a swimming pool, information centre, shop and fuel.  The campsite has electricity for 16 hours a day but no phone reception.
  • Bitterpan – Accessible by 4 x 4 only and guests must be over 12 years of age.  The camp is unfenced.  There is no shop or fuel facilities at the site and guests need to bring their own water and firewood.
  • Grootkolk – The campsite is in the dunes overlooking a waterhole.  Guests must be over the age of 12 as the campsite is unfenced. Accommodation includes 4 x 2 bed chalets.  Facilities include a commnal kitchen and braai.
  • Kalahari Tented Camp – Located 3 km from the Mata-Mata Rest Camp. Guests must be over the age of 12 as the campsite is unfenced.  Accommodation includes luxury honeymoon tent, 4 family tents (two beds and a stack bed), 10 two bed tents.  Facilities include a swimming pool, waterhole, although there are no shops or fuel onsite, they can be accessed from the Mata-Mata Rest Camp 3 km away.  Guests need to bring own drinking water and firewood.  There is gas for hotwater and cooking and solar for lighting.
  • Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp – Located 50 km from Twee Rivieren in a sunken sand dune.  As the camp is unfenced guests must be over 12 years of age.   Accommodation includes 3 dune cabins and 1 cabin adapted for mobility impaired.  Each cabin has two single beds, bathroom and kitchen.  Campsite uses gas for hotwater and for fridge/freezer, solar for lights and has braai facilities. There is no shop or petrol supplies the closest place for them is at Twee Rivieren.  Guests must bring own drinking water and firewood.
  • Urikaruus Wilderness Camp – Located 72 km from Twee Rivieren on the road to Mata-Mata.  Accommodation is in one of the 4 riverside stilted cabins.  EAch cabin has two single beds, bathroom and kitchen.  The fridge/freezer and hot water are run on gas and the lights run from solar power.  Braai facilities are available.  There is no shops or fuel station, the closed to ones are at Twee Rivieren.  Guests must bring own drinking water and firewood.
  • Gharagab Wilderness Camp – located on the far northern region of the park.  Guests must be over 12 years of age as the campsite is unfenced.  The camp is accessible by 4 x 4 only.  Accommodation includes 4 log cabins, each with two single beds, bathroom and kitchen.  The fridge/freezer and hot water is run on gas and there are solar powered lights.  Braai facilities are available. There are no shops or fuel facilities at the campsite, the closest ones are at Nossob, 164 km away.  Guests must bring own drinking water and firewood.
  • !Xaus Lodge – The lodge is run by the Khomani San and Mier communities. Accommodation includes 24 bed thatched safari lodge, overlooking a large salt pan.  Facilities include a plunge pool and curio shop. Guides are available for walking tours and game drives.  You can also meet the bushmen.  For information and booking for this privately owned lodge, click on the link here.

Official Website:  https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kgalagadi/