Wednesday, 31 August 2011


What a beautiful area this is. Home to our beloved cricket and rugby teams!

W-P Jou Lekka Ding!

The hike is about 6 and a half kilometers long. We, however only had access to one car and was therefore forced to hike both there and back. No Problem. 6 and a 1/2 plus 6 and a 1/2 makes 13km! Definitely do-able. :)

Start at the parking area next to the main gates of Newlands Forest off Union Avenue. Dogs are welcome on this route and Newlands Forest is very popular with our K9 friends.

The up to the contour path can be a bit confusing. I would strongly recommend getting hold of some kind of guidebook. :) (Evil Grin)  I used Mike Lundy's 'Easy Walks in the Cape Peninsula.

The walk through the forest of pine is absolutely amazing. I felt a little bit like red riding hood, minus the big bad wolf.

Newlands forest was filled with runners and happy people walking their dogs. We could feel our spirits lifting with every passing step. Gaining strength for the week ahead.  The smell of pine filled the air and we played a game of peek-a-boo with the autem sun catching only glimpses of it through the branches above.

Newlands Forest lies at a natural transition zone between endangered Granite Fynbos and Peninsula Fynbos, in an area that also originally supported large indigenous forests. In the late 1800s, much of the indigenous forests were felled, and the fynbos cleared, to make way for commercial pine plantations, which still remain and account for the remainder of the land.

As we started to leave the pine forest and heading towards the contour pathe we could se more and more of the world famous landmark. I little piece of rock we like to call Table Mountain.

A couple of steps and a couple of bends later we reached the contour path. 'That wasn't so hard!' We now faced our first watering hole and we wasted no time in sampling the sweet nectar. :)

This part of the route passes through the dense indigenous forest and winds its way in and out of ravines such as Dark Gorge and Newlands stream.

 The Contour Path really is amazing. Around every corner the views surprise you, inspires you and takes your breath away. I loved this walk and almost every inch of it is covered in glorious shade.

Every now and again as you round a corner the dense forest will open and reward you with glorious views of the Cape Flats. We even spotted Newlands and Newlands. :) (Rugby and Cricket

Looking back we caught a glimpse of Devils Peak.
This hike was full of surprises. Just look at this flower... A solitary splash of purple in an otherwise green mass of moss, fallen leaves and foliage.

   This fallen tree made the perfect home for mushrooms. We spent quite a while trying to practise our macro photography. Some of our images were more successful than others. ;)
The hike ends with a knee jarring descend down to Rhodes Memorial. (Which in our case marked the half way point.)  Cecil John Rhodes was an English-born businessman, mining magnate, and politician in South Africa. He was the founder of the diamond company De Beers, which today markets 40% of the world's rough diamonds .
The architect, Sir Herbert Baker, allegedly modelled the memorial after the Greek temple at Segesta although it is actually closer to the temple of Pergamon in design. Another proposal after his death was to place a 50 storey high 'Colosus of Rhodes' statue on top of Lions head! Thank goodness that never happened.
The view from the monument is far reaching and we enjoyed a lovely lunch and a couple of ice cold beers at the restaurant before we headed back the way we came.

Back at newlands gardens the sun was just starting to disappear behind the mountain. What a lovely hike this is. One I would definitely do again.

Scorched Earth

We really enjoyed the palmet river hike a lot. That is why, the very next weeken, we planned to revisit the area. Armed with picknic baskets and swimming parafanalia.

On the way to Kogelberg we stopped to enjoy the view. We were in high spirits. :)

When we arrived we were shocked with what we found... During the past week a fire spread through the area. This particular fire aparently deliberatelly started!
There was absolutely nothing left of the beautifull landscape that greeted us just one week ago!

Absolutelly nothing was spared. The water in the streams evaporated from the devastating heat.

The bushes, treas and srubs were now devoid of all and any greenery!

In the distance we could see the fire still smouldering high up in the mountain.

How sad that some selfish fool could single handedly destroy so many plants and animals. Our only consolation was thet most of the fynbos need the heat of a fire to germanate their seeds and that they will grow back, stronger and more beautifull than before.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Palmiet River Day Hike

We set out early heading in the direction of Kleinmond. The sunrize was excuisite as we rounded the mountain. The Kogelberg sighnpost crept up on us and we nearly performed a handbrake-turn off the highway and onto the gravel road that leads to the reserve.

Region: Overberg
Nearest Town: Kleinmond
Trail Distance: 18km (3-7 hours)
This palmiet river day hike is within the Kogelberg Nature Reserve and is often considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, because of the exceptional quality of its fynbos. The reserve lies within the Hottentots Holland mountain range.
Kogelberg is situated some 90 km south-east of Cape Town, and comprises a core area of 18 000 ha and several smaller fragments. The reserve is sign-posted from the coastal road (R44), and a gravel road leads for 3 km through private property to the entrance. The coastal town of Kleinmond is about 8 km south-east of the reserve.
We checked in at the small office, soon we were on our way.
With mountains on either side of us we reached the palmiet river.  The Palmiet River is a typical Western Cape river, experiencing winter rainfall. It has a small catchment area with five irrigation and hydro-power dams along its length. It provides water for agricultural and industrial uses, as well as to the city of Cape Town.

Soon we came across our firs swimming hole. The water looked inviting but we only spent a few minutes there admiring the views and filling up water bottels. The Sewejaartjies was everywhere. They are a nuturally occuring part of the fynbos of the Cape. They are a very important part of the dried flower industry and were once used to stuff matresses. The more common one is white but there was also a "Strawberry" Everlasting but this is now very scarce
I don't know if these qualify as the strawberry kind, but they were beautifull. These were not the only fynbos that we encountered.
From the 'watering hole' we turned a little bit away from the river. The path is very good and the scenery is absolutely fantastic.
The blue mountains in the distance were majestic. The fynbos surrounding us filled our nostrils with that distinctive smell. The smell that reminds you that you are outside in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom.
We came across this beautifull Protea-bus. About to bloom. If you think that these buds are beautifull;  just imagine how special they will be when the flowers are in full bloom!

The route is very flat and very easy to hike. Soon we approached another swimming spot. This time we did not let the oppertunity go to waste. 

We descended apon the perfect swimming hole complete with it't very own beach. :) We were al alone just the two of us surrounded wiht the beautifull landscape. The water was freezing but the day was hot. It is a bit intimidating swimming out to the center of the 'pool' not knowing how deep the water is or what is lurking in the depths below!
We saw some tracks in the soft sand down by the water. I thought that it was probably baboon tracks but Stiaan was convinced that is was leopard! At the time I smirked and mumbled that he is crazy, BUT then I read an article on a leapard sensus held in this exact area and they counted no less that 18 cape leopards in the area!

The Cape Leopard is smaller than it's northern cousins, but a leopard is a leopard and... "if you come across one in the bush unexpectedly you don't stop to count it's spots!" - Herman Charles Bosman

After a lovely swim and the slightly worrysome discovery  we headed further along the path.
Soon we came across this beautifull dragonfly,

And a quick look back, what a view!
This tree showed signes of a fire in the area last year. It is amazing how these plants recover and even trive after a devastating fire.

A couple of more views of the palmiet river before we turned back and headed towards the car once more.
This was a beautifull hike and I would definatelly do it again and again!
We ended this perfect day with a ice cold beer at a seefront restaurant in kleinmond.