Tag Archives: Flowers

Green Point Urban Park Cape Town

I have just completed my second walk around Green Point Park, which is situated right next to the new Cape Town Stadium.

One of the many types of simple exercise apparatus available for all to use

Natural grassland at the entrance to the park

This place is well worth a visit. Not only are there 3 well laid out paths to follow but there are also some well thought out themes.

As you enter the west gate near the light house, (entrance is free!) the area on the right is left as natural grass land with the grass at this time starting to go to seed. This area is home to small rodents and birds, who obviously enjoy feeding off the grass seed. On the left of this is an area with many simply exercise  machine suitable for the whole family.

Travel further along the path and you arrive at a building housing really spacious  public conveniences at one side, and a future restaurant or shop at the other.

Two children’s play areas are currently being completed, one for the younger folk and one for the older children, resplendent with very natural looking play equipment. The ground around the swings and climbing apparatus has been paved with a kind of cork silicone mixture in the interests of safety.

Older children's play ground

Soon to be completed children's play centre

In the centre of the park adjoining the golf course is wonderful stretch of water that brings back a bit of Cape Town history.  In the 1800s, there was a large lake covering a wide area which was eventually filled in for health and sanitary reasons. Around the rim of which are areas subdivided into: a biodiversity area, a natural food area, and a natural plant medicine area. Also on show is a area illustrating how nature is being destroyed by farming, housing and fires.

All the plants are very well marked and details of their uses are giving, very educational in a friendly and informative way.

I particularly liked the metal statues depicting various animals to be found naturally.

Metal tortoise

In the lake were Canada Geese and Coots both with very young chicks, they obviously feel safe in these surroundings as there are plenty of reeds for them to nest in.

Canada Goose and family in the very large pond

Walking further towards the City, one crosses the Stepping Stone Bridge. On the left hand side is a big metal water wheel which works when a pump is switched on by an electronic timer.

An auditorium with grass seating is situated at the top end of the park, complete with stage lighting. Presumably concerts will be arranged there, in a similar way to those held at Kirstenbosch.

The whole park has been very well planned and laid out and should become a valuable asset to the residents of Green Point and Cape Town.

An ideal place to come and relax in the sun or to jog around the many paths.

Security appears to be good, the park closes at 7pm and all the gates are locked so no vagrants will make their home there!

I hope the folk in Cape Town treasure their park and avoid any vandalism or littering.

Well done to Cape Town City Council making good use of some of the revenue they received from the Football World Cup.

More images from the park

Colour in the park

Colour In the park


Destruction of natural lands by farming


Well laid out signage

Beaded fish

Information by way of signage  

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Wild Flowers

It is now nearing the time to start thinking about visiting areas in the Cape well-known for their wild flowers.

The season can start a early as the end of July and go right through until     the end of August, depending, of course on the weather conditions. The       flowers like plenty of rain during the winter but warm sunshine in          spring.

If you are planning to visit the flowers please bear in mind that they do not open during overcast or wet weather. The best times for visiting are generally after 4 pm in the afternoon when it is warm. Try to approach the flowers with the sun behind you as the flowers always point towards the sun. You will see the colours much better.

Close up of flowers

My recommendation is that you spend at least two days in the area in case the weather is not perfect, that gives you a better chance of see the blooms in all their splendour. If possible try to arrange a private tour or drive yourself, so much better than in a crowd on a bus.

If you are contemplating taken photographs of the flowers take a wide-angle and a telephoto lens along with a good tripod.  You can get some amazing shots with a 200 or 300 mm lens, focusing on one flower and letting the background blur. Also don’t be afraid to get down on your hands and knees for low down flower level shots.

Some of the best places to visit are:

For one day trips all along the west coast, particularly the West Coast National Park, and the Darling and Hopefield area. The flowers can be good but possible not as go as further north, and it can become very crowded over a weekend.

Yellow flowers and sheep on the West Coast

For longer tours Calnwilliam can be the starting point. The area around Clanwilliam Dam are often covered with a carpet of white flowers. It is not unknown to have white flowers in the valleys and white snow on the mountains.

As you go further east past Clanwilliam, off the Wuppertal road you come to a turnoff to the Bidouw valley, it is possibly best to drive this road in a 4X4 although a bakkie with a high ground clearance is also suitable. A very careful driver in a car can also manage it but very slowly.

Further north along the N7 you will eventually arrive at Kamiskroon, this is the start of the spectacular flower area, particularly around the Skilpad flower reserve. There is also a small hotel at Kamiskroon, but you have to be very quick to make a booking because it soon fills up with visitors over this period. As a diversion from the flowers you can also visit Leliefontain a missionary village surrounded by farmlands which also boast flowers and windmills, always a good combination photography wise.

Flowers at Skilpad

Going further up the N7 to Springbok, the flowers grow into the centre of this town, the Goegap National park also boasts truly wonderful flowers in the right season.

Purple flowers

Before you embark on any trip it is worthwhile enquiring about the conditions and flowers a good place to start is flowers

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The First in Series on South Africa’s Famous Passes

The Swartberg Pass.

The Mighty Swartberg Pass

Carriages on the Pass circa 1880

This is the king of passes in the Cape. The Swartberge pass also known as the Zwartberg Pass and The Great Zwarte Pass is situated between Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn. This was the masterpiece of that remarkable and brilliant engineer and road builder, Thomas Charles Bain (1830 – 1893). This is also the last of the seventeen passes he built in the Cape Province.

The Eerstewater today

On entering the gorge from the Prince Alfred side, one is overwhelmed by a feeling of insignificance as one travels between towering, rugged, sheer cliffs. An ice-cold mountain stream greets the traveller at Eerste Water (First Water) – Bain’s camp was situated there. In later years it became known as Die Danssbaan (dance floor), as many young people came from afar to waltz under the stars. As the road snakes higher and higher, around hairpin bends, one becomes aware of the crisp, clear air filled with the scent of Proteas.

Modern Images at the start of the pass

From the summit at “Die Top” the view is breath taking.

A spectacular zig-zag in the Pass- an irressistible subject for photographers for over 100 year- This photo dates from 1910

Work was started by a John Tassie in 1881 but after 13 months of heavy work using 100 Mozambicans from Delagoa Bay he had advanced only 6 kilometres. Tassie was declared insolvent and work ceased until Thomas Bain took over in November 1883, using 200 to 240 convicts, using picks, shovels, sledgehammers, and gunpowder. Boulders were spilt using fire to heat the rocks and then doused in cold water. The smaller rocks were carefully dressed by the convicts and used to build impressive retaining walls that support the road against precipitous slopes. A century later travellers still marvel at this feat.

The Swartberge Pass is the last of the great passes built in the nineteenth centaury and is of great historical interest. Originally the routes through Meiringspoort and Seweweekspoort were the only link between the port of Mossel Bay and the towns and villages of the Great Karoo. The road through Meiringspoort was constructed by Adam de Smidt and was officially opened on the 4th March 1858. These routes were frequently closed due to flood damage and rock falls. Heavy flooding during 1875 closed both roads for weeks.

Looking down from close to Die Top

Bad weather made construction difficult. A group of convicts died when the roof of their hut collapsed during a snow storm. During May 1885 heavy rain caused mudslides, which almost destroyed the convict camp and severely damaged the nearly complete road. The same rains washed away the road through Meiringspoort.

Two dates can be seen chiselled into the rocks in the Pass: 1884 was chiselled into a large boulder near Fonteintjie on the Prince Albert side near Die Top of the pass. In the high retaining wall near Boegoekloof on the Oudtshoorn side of the mountain you can see the date 1886. More than thirty curves and drifts in the Swartberge Pass have been named and each has its own interesting history.

The Oudtshoorn Courant of the 16th September 1886 published this telegram: The Zwartberg Pass is now open to Wagons on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – the Government taking no responsibility. On the 5th May 1888 a notice was given of a toll to be imposed at the summit of the pass. A toll fee of four pence per wheel and one penny per animal. The toll official was responsible for collecting the toll and maintaining the road.

Dry stone walling from the original construction

In 1879 Bain estimated that the pass would cost 20 000 pounds on the 14th July 1887 Bain reported that the total construction cost was 14 000 pounds.

A cape Cart at the clear stream at Eerstwater. 1890. Today there is a low water bridge across the stream.

Over six hundred plants have been identified in the Swartberge Nature Reserve. A large, colourful variety of Proteas, tolbosse, pincushions, Ericas and shrubs can be seen. Klipspringer, Vaalribbuck, duikers, baboons and dassies and more than 130 bird species have been recorded.

There are signboards placed along the road through the pass the following signs can be seen from north to south.

  • EERSTEWATER (First Water)   Draught animals could be outspanned and watered there before starting the ascent of the pass.
  • TWEEDEWATER (Second Water) Older people in the village remember waiting for the water level to drop before they could cross this drift. A low-water bridge was eventually built.
  • MALVADRAAI (Geranium Bend) Geraniums grow luxuriously here. They can’t be missed.
  • BLIKSTASIE (TRONK) (The Jail) look up and you will see the remains of a stone and clay jail where convicts were confined at night, during the building of the pass.
  • DROEWATERVAL (Dry Waterfall) During the rainy season water cascades down this rock face but it is dry for most of the summer.
  • Droewaterval no water running at this time

    TEEBERG (tea Mountain) Here you find the well known honey tea bush, much sought after by earlier inhabitants, From this point the summit of the pass is visible and if you look down into the chasm you should recognise Malvadraai far below. The view across the Karro plains to the Nuweveld Mountains 120 kms away is spectacular

  • GAMKASKLOOF 38 KM (The Hell) the sign indicates the Otto du Plessis Road (opened in 1962) which leads to Gamkaskloof also called The Hell.
  • FONTEINTJIE 1884 (Little Fountain) this fountain forms a beautiful little waterfall and the thirsty traveller will always find crystal clear water here.
  • OU TOLLHUIS (The old Tollhouse) On this site the old Tollhouse was erected. The foundations of the original House can still be seen. In 1827 the experimental pine plantation was started.
  • DIE TOP (The Top) The summit of the pass is 1 585m above sea level Views all around are magnificent.
  • DIE GROOT KLIP (The Big Stone) a wonderful view site.
  • BOEGOEKLOOF 1886 (Bachu Kloof) In former times this was the area’s medicine chest. Several types of Bachu grow here. Bachu is a well-known medicinal plant.
  • SKELMDRAAI (The Tricky Bend) To the traveller from the north the road seems to come to an end- but it makes a sharp left turn. Drivers ascending the pass were faced with a very steep left turn.
  • FONTEINTJIE (Fountain) on the s0uthern slope a perennial stream flows from the high peaks to revive tired travellers from Prince Albert who would leave a watermelon in the stream to enjoy on their homeward journey.
  • HOTELLETJIE (The Small Hotel) After completion of the Swartberge Pass a postal service was instituted between Prince Albert Road and Oudtshoorn. The hotel was built of offer overnight accommodation. Some maps still refer to the ruins of this inn as Victoria Hotel.
  • PLANTASIE (The Plantation) another experimental pine plantation dating back from 1927.
  • WITDRAAIE (The white Curves) The name derived from two hairpin bends cut into limestone deposits.
  • STALLETJIE (The Stables) the horses and mules used to draw the mail coaches were fed and watered here. Fresh horses would be harnessed for the journey north or south.
  • NEVILLE SE DRAAI (Neville’s Bend) a sharp bend on the plateau on the top of the mountain was named after John Fitz Neville. Clerk of works during the construction of the pass. It is too dangerous to erect a sign here but the name commemorates Neville, who was killed here on the 8th March 1888. Some people believe he was killed in a dynamite explosion, others that he was thrown from his horse.

Map of The Swartberg pass

Sources and Biblography

Helen Marincowitz        The Swartberg Pass

Graham Ross                   The Romance of  Cape Passes

T.V.Bulpin                        Discovering South Africa

Some images Courtesy of Fransie Pienaar Museum, Prince Albert

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Bantamsklip: Eskom’s extremely bad idea

National electricity supplier Eskom has earmarked Bantamsklip on the southwestern Overberg coast as a preferred site for it’s next nuclear power plant. The problem is, it lies within the hottest of internationally recognised biodiversity hotspots. The plant and resulting power lines would destroy the livelihoods of virtually everybody dependent on the natual environment of the area.

Source: Village Life

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Relax on Table Mountain!

Spring is here and the weather is fantastic at the moment. Take two or three hours off and walk one of the contour paths around the mountain. You will feel so refreshed and the exercise will do you good ! have a look at a few of the flowers I saw on my last hike:

Moraea lugubris (Kersblakertjie)

Moraea lugubris (Kersblakertjie)

Moraea ochroleuca  (Aas-uintjie)

Moraea ochroleuca (Aas-uintjie)

Gladolus angustus

Gladolus angustus

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Table Mountain Hikes

by Bryan Chitty

I have just purchased a new pair of hiking boots so have to try them out right away. A very nice short hike 8 kms starts at car park at Pine Ravine. Walk along the Tafelberg Road its a nice walk now that the road is closed because of rock slides. After passing what was the pond on the right hand, it is no longer, it was 17 metre deep but after the rains it has been completely filled with rocks washed down by the flooding waterfall. The second pond has not been affected. Walking on uphill passed the gum trees with the bench next to them. We arrive at a footpath on the right leading up hill, below the peak Oppelskop Ridge we are now on the Lower Traverse. An easy path takes us below the Woodstock Cave. The wild flowers now started to show up its going to be a good flower season this year. However the seasonal waterfalls have taken a bit of a battering with the rains this season and the path has been partially blocked where they cross the streams. Oxalis and Morea plants are in full flower show off their magnificent colours look but don’t

Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Path up to middle traverse

Looking down towards the harbour you will see the old cannons and further along the ruins of the Queen’s Blockhouse. The Queens Block House will remain a ruin but should be preserved as part of the Military History Trail which would be created to link the sites. Strangely it was probably the most impressive of the three block houses but the ravages of time have left it in ruins for more than a century. Road access to the site is very difficult and it is unlikely that services could ever be supplied to the site.
Below the blockhouse lies the shooting range and the Devil’s Peak Forest Station. Next to the forest station is the Price Of Wales Blockhouse.
We are now walking beneath Minor Peak and passed Woodstock Cave after ten minutes we arrive at our destination the Kings Blockhouse. The King’s Blockhouse is on the highest point of the ridge, just below the rocks of Devil’s Peak. It is an eight-metre stone tower with gun embrasures on the top it was built around 1780. Fifteen metres down the slope are two old cannon standing next to a stone wall- all that remains of a cottage. This cottage

Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Rockfalls into Pine Ridge Waterfall

was built for Frank Jarman, the first forester stationed on the mountain in 1893.
A short rest and we can return along the way we came, altouh it is possible to take the lower path below the Woodstock Cave and thence onto the Tafleberg Road.
A very nice afternoon walk which is not too strenuous.

Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Morea collina Tulp these flowers only flower after a fire
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Oxalis pes-caprea Geelsuing
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Oxalis purpurea Grand Duchess sorrel
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Moraea collina Tulp on rocky ledge
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Seasonal waterfall below Woodstock Cave
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Moraea orchroleuca Aas-uintjie with Bee
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Rockfall from waterfall below Manor Peak
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Hikes to the blockhouse Table Mountain
Waterfall and rockfall at 12 o’clock hole. This hole was 17 metre deep

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