Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Great Constantia

Groot Constantia is the oldest wine estate in South Africa and a national monument. Since we live in Cape town, on the doorstep of the Great estate of Constatia we felt it our duty to visit!
Groot Constantia was established in 1685 by the Dutch East India Company Governor of the Cape of Good Hope Simon van der Stel, and was used to produce wine as well as fruit, vegetables and cattle.

There is a huge lawn in from of the house with a oak-tree lined road leading up to the front door.

The ancient oak trees provide shade to visitors. The children play on the lawn while the adults enjoy a wonderfull lunch at the Jonkhuis Restaurant.
Back to the trees, they are magnificent...

They seem to recicle themselves in a never ending cycle of life and death. :)
In 1925 the manor house was severely damaged in a fire. From 1927-1952 the house was restored and refurbished under the supervision of the architect F. K. Kendall, and with items donated and bought solely for this purpose by the art collector A. A. de Pass.

I can only thank these great protectors of history! We were not allowed to take any photographs inside the house, but i can reccommed a strowl through this beautifull manor.
The Cloete Cellar, the original wine cellar, dates back to 1791 and houses a Wine Museum, exhibiting various wine making equipment and especially wine storage and wine drinking vessels. The beautiful pediment gable above the cellar is one of sculptor Anton Anreith's masterpieces.
The views all around the estate is breathtaking. You can hire a picnicbasket from any one of the restaurants and enjoy a sunday afternoon lunch on the lawn.

Random Pictures-December



Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dikkop Hike: Koeberg

Dikkop(Spotted Thick-knee): This bird can reach up to 18 inches in height, has long legs and a brown-and-white speckled coat. It ranges widely through sub-Saharan Africa, where it occupies dry grasslands and savannas. The spotted dikkop's brown, spotted feathers provide camouflage, making it difficult to spot in the grasslands where it lives.

Koeberg: Koeberg nuclear power station is the only nuclear power station in South Africa and the entire African continent. It is located 30 km north of Cape Town, near Melkbosstrand on the west coast of South Africa.

Ok, now that we are all on the same page we can start our hike. :)

Distance: Anything from 4 to 24km (We did the 24km hike)
Difficulty: Easy although most of it is done in thick loose beach sand. We were tired after this hike!

We had some trouble getting to the starting point even though we did extensive research before we went! The problem was that we went on a Sunday. The regular visitor centre to the Power Plant is therefore closed. We arrived at the gate, proudly announced that we were there to do the Dikkop hike and the only response we got from the guard at the gate was... Huh?
He could for the life of him not understand why people would walk for fun. The funny thing was that he let the mountain bikers in with a wave and a smile! After we educated the guard we finally arrived at the visitor centre and the start of the hike...
You start the hike by walking under these massive power lines. Feeding electricity to our country and even some of our neighbouring countries. It was quite scary walking underneath them. You could hear the crackle of kilo volts of electricity running above your head.
The whole route is well marked and we even managed to pick up a map at the visitor centre.

The reserve is home to quite a few antelope species and some zebra. We managed to see Springbuck, Eland and some Zebra. We also saw a wide variety of plant species typical to the area and of course I could not help taking a few photo's

The sun was hot, and the road was very long. The sand however sometimes proved to be to much for us... Nothing beats going at it barefoot in the loose sand. :)

There are also 2 beautiful rest spots along the route. We grabbed the opportunity with both hands and waisted no time in unpacking the snacks and taking a load of tired feet to enjoy the area and the sounds and smell of the ocean near by.
Just before we moved on again I made a thorough study of the map, just to make sure we were still on the right track. :)

Another highlight of the trip was the bird hide. It did look a little spooky with the fog drifting in off the ocean, and when we visited there were not many birds around but i am sure that it is a fabulous place when the whole dam is aflutter with all kinds of birds.

After a long slog trekking through the thick sand back to our car, we rewarded ourselves with an ice cold beer. The perfect medicine to make you forget about the heat, and the sand.