January - February 2017
  • Day19

    Underberg Day 1: Lesotho

    February 3, 2017 in Lesotho ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    On the other side of the Pass it was clear although still very cloudy. Stuart stopped at all the good places to show us Drakensberg siskin, dark-capped yellow warbler, mountain wheatear, and even Cape vultures later in the day. We must have travelled about 30 km into Lesotho before turning around at about lunch time.
    Birding was terrific with a proper birder to point everything out and the scenery was again stunning.
    The Lesotho side of the Pass is tarred so much easier to negotiate.
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  • Day19

    Underberg Day 1: Sani Pass UP

    February 3, 2017 in Lesotho ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Stuart McLean, our guide for the day, arrived sharp at 06h00 to pick us up in his Toyota Land Cruiser RV (nice car!). We piled our warm gear, walking sticks and munchies into his car and set off.
    It was cloudy and as we drove up the mountain we entered the mist. This meant no good mountain views this side of the Sani Pass 😞
    Of course we had to stop at the top for the obligatory photo but since we hadn't cycled up (which with the road condition should be impossible) we didn't need to drink lots of beer.
    It was too darn cold anyway 🌬☁
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  • Day18

    Oribi Gorge to Underberg

    February 2, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We left Beechwood Cottage and said goodbye to their myriad dogs at 07h30. We're getting better and better!
    POps drove the first bit to Kokstad while I clicked away with my phone - not very successfully at 100 kph...
    There was a looong Stop/Go just past Harding which took 30 mins to negotiate. Then we went back to Pick 'n' Pay in Kokstad to replenish stores. Left Kokstad about 10h30.
    Then we started entering the mountains and the Ukahlamba (? Barrier of Spears) was very obvious. Never seen it from this angle before!
    (I was driving so couldn't take pictures 😐).
    Of course we got to The Old Hatchery at 12 - Just in time for lunch. Lamb shank and Rainbow trout - delicious.
    This is really a fishing spot with self-catering cabins. The cabin is just a box but is very well designed so there seems to be lots of space.
    It has rained on and off all afternoon so we've really done nothing except record a few birds.
    Tomorrow is the Big Trek with a bird guide up Sani Pass.
    Watch this space!
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  • Day17

    Oribi Gorge Day 2 pm

    February 1, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    About 4 pm we decide to have one more search for that elusive bird. The Gorge was great again but there was no Trogon 😣.
    The sky was fairly clear in the evening so I tried (not very successfully) to get a picture of Venus and the crescent moon.

  • Day17

    Oribi Gorge Day 2

    February 1, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    The weather was better this morning, so after breakfast we set off up the road to Lake Eland Game Reserve 16 km away (8 km from the Gorge). It seems to be mostly a place for adventure seekers: 18 zip lines (2 1/2 hours of it we were told); mountain bike and 4x4 paths and hiking trails. The country is at the top of the Gorge with some viewing points into the Gorge.
    The roads are really 2x4 or 4x4 stuff anyway - up and down and round and round the hills. There's a large lake at the end which obviously gives its name to the place.
    We saw blue wildebeest and impala and blesbok and waterbuck, several giraffe and even kudu. Birds were also plentiful - a pair of purple-crested turaco but no Narina Trogon. Not the right habitat really.
    By the time we got back to the Reception it was lunch time, so we had lamb curry in the restaurant. It was very good.
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  • Day16

    Oribi Gorge Day 1

    January 31, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    This morning dawned cloudy and misty. It must have rained quite heavily during the night but we missed it! We were up at sparrows and into the Gorge by 06:30. As expected our birding list grew quite a bit - a third long-crested eagle and a trumpeter hornbill ( heard not seen) Were specials. We took pictures but the light was VERY bad
    Perhaps it will be better tomorrow.
    Late afternoon we drove the full circle clockwise - short drive (11 km) to the N2 past a huge quarry and its accompanying cements making factory, back along the N2 towards Paddock, and down the Gorge again as we did yesterday. Light was still bad, so I took no more pictures - but we did see a purple-crested turaco fly into a tree. We couldn't stop 'cos at the crucial moment there was an oncoming car and no place to pull off the road!
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  • Day15

    Oribi Gorge

    January 30, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    We drove through the Gorge to get to Beechwood Cottage at the top near the Oribi Gorge Hotel. It's hot and humid - we have a fan going flat out 😓
    The Gorge is lovely, choc-a-block with birds we could hear but not see. We identified 2 I think... and no Narina Trogon.
    BUT just before we got to our turnoff there was a little vlei - with a pair of grey crowned cranes and a chick; and a pair of fan-tailed widow birds. Cool.
    Our accommodations are very comfortable and we feel our bird list will benefit very well in the next few days.
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  • Day15

    Hotter and Hotter...

    January 30, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We have dropped from the Eastern Cape Highlands to the KZN Lowlands - Just past Harding and about 800 m altitude.
    The last of the East Griqualand hills; the Ingeli Natural Forest; a bluegum and pine plantation and sugar cane fields.

  • Day14

    Kokstad

    January 29, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We spent the night at Lindela House, a lovely Victorian house. Breakfast in the fancy dining room, and POps found the bookshelf!
    It was not far to Oribi Gorge, so we did some shopping at Pick 'n' Pay in the Rosewood Square shopping centre. (Here and several other places in the E Cape the toilets were R2.00 pay - but they were good and clean.)
    Then we set off for the lower regions...
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  • Day14

    Rhodes to Kokstad

    January 29, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Another day of adventure and climbing to the Top of the World for the 3rd time. We were told the road to Mount Fletcher beyond Naude's Nek was fine, and it was - at least it was better than the road over Naude's Nek!
    So lots of 4x4-ing and an excellent birding day (a pair of blue cranes with 2 chicks and a pair of secretary birds at the same spot) later we arrived at Kokstad for an overnight stay. We press on to Oribi Gorge tomorrow.Read more