BONTEBOK NATIONAL PARK I

Even though the Bontebok National Park in the Western Cape is the smallest national park in South Africa, it is perfectly suited to day visitors. Having said that, I would enjoy spending a few days camping there in order to better appreciate the rich diversity of fynbos growing there – and stand a better chance of seeing a bontebok!

The park was established at the foot of the Langeberg mountains in order to protect the bontebok from extinction: we saw three at the entrance on arrival [lesson learned: have one’s camera at the ready] and from there on saw them only in the distance! There is a lot more to enjoy in the park than the bontebok though and so we marvelled at the scenery, the birds and the flowering plants such as this bitou (tickberry) bush:

Look at this beautifully open vista:

Some visitors enjoy fishing in the Breede River:

Others enjoy walking along some of the trails:

The Breede River flows tranquilly through part of the park:

There is so much to see that this will have to be continued!

HALF-COLLARED KINGFISHER TRAIL PART II

We started too late in the afternoon to reach the end of the trail – and progressed slowly because there was so much to see! The Half-collared Kingfisher Trail is well maintained and includes sandy paths, boardwalks as well as wooden steps, such as these, to help one over the steep sections:

From time to time I would find myself looking up to spot a bird or simply to enjoy the tree canopy above us:

There is a lovely smell in the forest, of damp leaves, herbs, and decomposing logs:

Some of the older trees are quite hollow:

While in several places are thickened vines that have twisted themselves around the vegetation:

There are several places along the trail from where one can get a view of the Touws River that flows alongside it. This is a view of the opposite bank:

What does not show up well in a photograph of this size is that most of those bushes in the sunlight are bitou (tick berry), which are covered in yellow blossoms.

HALF-COLLARED KINGFISHER TRAIL PART I

I introduced the Half-collared Kingfisher Trail after our stay-over at Ebb-and Flow earlier this year.

What follows is only a glimpse of the experience:

View of the rest camp from the path.

Bracken growing in the shade of the forest.

An example of fungus – we saw a great variety growing on decomposing wood.

A very old tree.

Touws River seen through a gap in the trees.

THE VERY BEAUTIFUL KNYSNA TURACO

One of the many positive aspects of spending time at Ebb and Flow is the opportunity to hear the rasping korr-korr-korr calls of Knysna Turacos in the thick forest lining the Touws River. These very beautiful birds abound in this region and it won’t take long for a pair of them to fly across the open lawns of the rest camp either to perch in one of the nearby trees or to disappear into the forest canopy.

This one perched in a Cape Fig (Ficus sur) and appears to be perusing its options – while I admired its striking features.

It did not seem to mind me pointing my camera in its direction – although its mate chose to hide among some higher branches.

The figs were definitely on the menu.

Once the Knysna Turaco had eaten its fill, it wiped its beak carefully on the branch.

It was a most satisfactory meal.

How can one resist the opportunity to photograph such a handsome bird! It certainly was a real thrill to have such a close view of this one for they can be rather elusive.

STOPOVER AT EBB AND FLOW

We so enjoyed our rather serene  stopover after Easter at the Ebb-and-Flow Rest Camp which forms a part of the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park that we broke our journey here again.

Our rondavel was situated in tranquil surroundings next to the Touws River among many beautifully shady trees.

While we had been entertained by a flock of goslings during our earlier visit, this time we were kept company by a pair of Egyptian Geese that were quite at home on the lush lawns.

Later in the afternoon, a small flock of Helmeted Guineafowl picked their way across the grass. They are obviously used to having human visitors around and were not at all perturbed by our presence.

We wondered about the litter lying around – very unusual for a national park – and assumed monkeys had been responsible for tearing open the garbage bags that had been put out for collection. How wrong we were! A pair of White-necked Ravens could be seen pecking and pulling at the plastic bags – one even using its foot for extra leverage – in order to tear them open and inspect the contents. They were engaged in this messy activity for a while until one of the Egyptian Geese bore down on them and chased them away!

Another bird we were privileged to see and hear a lot of was the very beautiful Knysna Turaco. It, however, deserves a post on its own.

So does our walk through the forest.