Best of Cape Town’s Table Mountain National Park

unique family traveler

Planning your “bucket list” safari to South Africa? Make sure to include a stay in Cape Town, the country’s coastal capital, where African, European, and Asian cultures meet. This city, positioned on the Cape Peninsula, is also (allegedly) where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. This dubious distinction actually goes to Cape Agulhas, which lies further along the coast to the east.  But, despite this cartographical clash, Cape Town and its peninsula remain a “can’t miss” destination, not just for its cultural offerings, but for its abundance of natural attractions.IMG_3892Table Mountain National Parkstretches across the Cape Peninsula from city-centered Table Mountain in the north, to Cape Point in the south. A string of white sand beaches line its 40 kilometer coastline, which meanders along the Atlantic Ocean on the western side to False Bay on the eastern shore.

IMG_3857This 7750-hectare preserve is exceptionally…

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Kirstenbosh in Pictures

Wings and Wilderness

The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are a without a doubt the most beautiful gardens in the world. Nestled at the foot of Table Mountain, these gardens display the best that the Cape Floral Kingdom has to offer and in doing so provide a haven for wildlife. On a recent visit to the gardens we were in for a treat. Every Leucospermum one could imagine was covered in a rich bouquet of incandescent flower heads. The Cape Sugarbirds delighted in this bounty of nectar and provided ample photographic opportunities.

DSC_5915 Painting with fynbos

dsc_5715 A Cape Sugarbird eyes us cautiously

DSC_5917 The hybrid pincushion “Leucospermum glabrum x tottum”

DSC_5802 A Cape Sugarbird hiding among the glowing “Leucospermum cordifolium” blooms

DSC_5936 The bud of another hybrid pincushion – “Leucospermum conocarpodendron x glabrum”

dsc_5734 Cape Sugarbird perched on a pincushion flower

dsc_6133 The elegant Marsh Rose (Orothamnus zeyheri)

dsc_6450 “Leucospermum bolusii”

dsc_6469 Yet another hybrid pincushion

dsc_6438 “Leucospermum grandiflorum”

dsc_6445 Silver and Gold | The mystical…

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Birding and Botany in the Darling Hills

Wings and Wilderness

Last week a group of us headed out to the Darling Hills on a road trip filled with birding and botany. The Western Cape never fails to amaze me with its charming destinations and endless secrets. The day yielded a lifer (Curlew) and four new species for my birding year list. On top of this we were treated to an unbelievable variety of plant species with diverse morphologies.

Along the Darling Flower Route 

dsc_6731 The upside down blooms of Albuca flaccida

I was enchanted by these tiny purple flowers that belong to a Diasca sp. If you look closely they appear to each contain a tiny orange-snouted dragon whose head and neck rear out from the depths of the bloom.

dsc_6743 Diasca sp.

We were very excited to find at least three Babiana ringens plants on the trip. This fascinating species has a very peculiar flower structure and at a glance it is difficult to determine the…

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Silvermine Revisited

Wings and Wilderness

Last week Mayur and I returned to the Silvermine Nature Reserve to try hunt down some orchids up Steenberg peak in Silvermine East. Unfortunately the season was too early for us to catch the species we were after but nevertheless we were treated to some lovely finds.

The sandy flat areas as well as the rocky slopes were full of Sundews (Drosera). Along the hike we found 4 species – D. trinervia, D. cuneifolia, D. cistiflora and D. hillaris.

We were enchanted by the delicate pink patterns on the petals of the Painted Lady (Gladiolus debilis) as well as the vibrant orange anthers of Aristea spiralis. China Flowers, a porcelain-petalled member of the Buchu family, were common throughout the hike.

Despite not finding the orchids we were after, we found a total of 6 species. Satyrium bicorne, Pterygodium catholicum, Satyrium odorum and Disa bracteata were common along…

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Orchid-hunting by Elephant’s Eye

Wings and Wilderness

Last weekend it was off to Silvermine again to go orchid-hunting. Our aim was to scour the cliff-faces on the south-facing slope beside Elephant’s Eye and find some new orchid species. It was a hugely successful day and we saw a total of 9 species, 4 of which were new to my list.

When we woke up it was rainy but (perhaps against our better judgement) we decided to still head out to Silvermine early in the morning. On arrival at the gate it was obvious that the weather was suboptimal to say the least, the wind was gusting and the rain was pouring down in torrents. We sought shelter in the small visitors room at the gate and waited out the rain for an hour. Luckily I had some books on my phone so I entertained myself by reading The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating aloud to Mayur…

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