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Old 4 Mar 20, 07:16 PM  
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ali-s
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Deserts and daisies days 14 - 16

Deserts and daisies days 14 - 16

We leave Clanwilliam today. After one last yummy breakfast in the gorgeous garden and a little souvenir shopping in the B&Bs gift shop ,we pack up and head off on the R364. No mongoose in this area, but we have encountered several tortoise trundling across the roads. Luckily the roads are so empty and straight it's easy to spot them in the distance.



On our flight from Johannesburg to Upington I read an article in the inflight magazine on Bokkomlaan which seemed to be a road fronting the water in a town called Velddrif . I had found Velddrif in our road atlas and it was on our way to our final stop, Langebaan. This seemed serendipitous so I decided we would stop there for lunch. Velddrif was easy enough to find but we stumbled upon Bokkomlaan by accident after driving along the waterfront admiring the flocks of flamingos .



Bokkomlaan used to be the heart of the Velddrif fishing industry, basically a dirt road alongside the Great Berg river. There are restaurants, a few gift shops and a couple of boat trip operators but it is decidedly un touristy. We had a very good, reasonably priced lunch of fish and chips, (my small portion was huge) while watching kingfishers, ibis and herons, just feet away at the waters edge.





We then wandered down the track, past the fish strung up to dry under netting, to a jetty where the next boat trip was advertised for 2pm. It was 2.09 but a boat was just pulling in with 2 people on board, when they had disembarked we asked if this was the 2pm boat trip? Yes, it was,we were the only passengers, R100 each for a 1hour private boat trip . Loads of birds to see out on the river but flamingoes were everywhere . A few fishermen bobbing about in row boats and we saw the longest train in South Africa /the world? on it's way to a nearby port. I gave up trying to count the wagons but it took several minutes to pass. It was a thoroughly enjoyable stop on our way to Langebaan, so pleased I picked up that magazine.









We arrived in Langebaan at 4pm exactly. We were renting an apartment on the seafront and the owner was supposedly meeting us outside. We'd told her we would arrive between 4 and 5pm , no sign of her so we went to sit on the beach and wait. We could see the apartment from the beach , literally about 50ft away, at 5pm we were still waiting. I sent emails and texts but had no call time left to phone her. Was getting rather fed up as we had been bang on time. Decided to beg the use of a phone at a nearby guesthouse, as we were crossing the road the apartment owner appeared, she only lived next door! No apology for keeping us waiting and as with so many houses in South Africa we couldn't get to the front door to knock or ask without a code to get through the alarmed security gates. Anyway. The apartment was lovely. It had a little courtyard area with outdoor shower and seating surrounded by high walls and an alarmed gate, alarm on the door and 2 panic buttons I could take into the bedroom at night if I wished. I'm sure the latter were supposed to be reassuring but they actually made me feel anxious when I hadn't before. The panic buttons stayed in the kitchen. I can't imagine living your day to day life feeling the need for such measures .
Dinner was at a restaurant a few minutes walk down the road ( and yes, we felt perfectly safe walking in the dark ) our most expensive meal so far, but we were probably paying for the view of the sunset over the water


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Old 20 May 20, 07:14 PM  
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Deserts and daisies Days 14 - 16

We are visiting the West Coast National park today , and I'm anticipating a flower fix. But first, a breakfast of leftovers. David has coco pops with custard ( we have no milk left ) and I have dry granola and flapjacks .
It's a 10 minute drive to the Langebaan gate at the Northern end of the park. There are only a couple of cars in the queue , we don't have to wait long.
The park forms a rough horse shoe shape around the Langebaan lagoon , we are at the top right, the Postberg section of the park where we expect to see flowers, is top left . It only opens to the public in August and September and can get very busy with people wanting to view the flowers.
We have plenty of time , so stop at all the viewpoints on the way. First is Seeberg viewpoint . It's very windy , we have to hold on to our hats. We have a good view across the bay and using the binoculars I spot some Eland at the bottom of the hill. Closer to us is a large, prehistoric looking black lizard. There is a trail to a bird hide we plan to walk on the way back.



We continue on round the 'horse shoe '. We see our first bontebok with their white faces, zebra and ostriches. And an Eland,grazing in the scrub right beside the road. I wouldn't have spent so much time peering through binoculars if I'd known they were going to pose for a close up .






We stop to buy drinks at a refreshment hut. It's hot , 38 Celsius according to the car . So many people are expecting to pay by card, but there is no signal for a card reader, it's cash only. I feel sorry for them but also rather smug that I'd remembered the advice on TripAdvisor to bring cash.
It's 1pm by the time we get to the Postberg section , and what a disappointment. It's obvious that we've missed the flowers by at least a week. At every picnic stop and viewpoint people are asking ' where are the flowers?' ' have you seen any flowers?' We take all the turn offs just to be sure. The best we find is one patch of daisies about 10ft across. People are pulling over to have their photos taken with them. I'm so pleased we saw flowers at the Skilpad reserve in Namaqualand.With no flowers there's not much reason to stay in the Postberg section , we head back the way we came stopping to paddle at one of the beaches, a few people are swimming but the water is freezing.








Around 3.30pm we reach the Geelbek restaurant , the one and only restaurant in the park. We sit in the shade and order iced water AND slushies, it's so hot it's impossible to have too much ice I have snoek balls and David has a chicken mayo toastie, both are delicious. Beside us weaver birds are drinking and bathing in the water pooled at the base of the downpipes. It hasn't rained recently and I wonder if the staff are kind enough to top up the puddles for them.
It's 5pm when we leave the park. We have decided against walking the bird hide trail , instead we get back to the apartment in time to go to the beach for a quick dip before the sun goes down. The sea is considerably warmer here than earlier in the park.

Dinner tonight is more leftovers for me , I have the tuna pasta meal Air France gave us when we were delayed ( must be the most well travelled airplane meal ), with a tin of bean salad , David wants chicken strips, which we find at a bar down the road, I have a gorgeous 'artisan' gin while he eats .
Back at the apartment I make a start on the packing while finishing the amarula, one of the better leftovers
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Old 5 Aug 20, 04:17 PM  
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Deserts and Daisies days 14 - 16

I didn't sleep too well last night. Probably a combination of gin, amarula and anxiety about the drive to Cape town airport . I can drive around country lanes and rural roads no problem, but hate driving around cities, especially ones I'm not familiar with.
We are packed up and ready to hand the keys back by 10am. I had to nip to an atm to get cash to pay our balance, the machine inside the supermarket wasn't working, so I used one in the carpark, I parked as close as I could but was still paranoid about getting mugged in the 10 seconds it took me to walk back to the car . That's what security gates and panic buttons do to you
Our flight is not until late evening, so we have a whole day to fill. I had originally planned to go back to west coast National park, but lack of flowers has scuppered that. My new plan is to head to a place called Yzerfontein , as the online flower guide says the flowers bloom later there. Then we'll go on to Darling, their annual flower show is next week, so surely they will have flowers .
At the turn off to Yzerfontein there is Weskus Padstall (West coast farm stall) with an 'info' sign at the entrance, so we pull in . The information kiosk is closed, but the farm stall, which is actually a restaurant , is very busy. They are doing a roaring trade in 'weigh your plate' breakfasts. I had hoped to ask someone about flowers in the area, but the staff look rushed off their feet. Out behind the restaurant they have a large aviary with all sorts of colourful birds and parrots. We buy coffee and cola so we don't feel guilty about walking around the aviary and using the loo, then back in the car it's only a few more kms to Yzarfontein . We fill up at a petrol station on the outskirts of town, right beside another closed information centre ( why are they all closed ? ) As usual, the town has no identifiable centre. We take random turns until we end up in a residential area of very nice, modern houses overlooking the sea. There are flowers blooming in the vacant lots and on the sand dunes. We park and wander a little way , it's deserted and the view is lovely , but I'm mindful that our luggage is in the car, so we don't go too far.






Next stop is Darling. There is a flower reserve a few miles out of town, the cars parked on both sides of the road make sure we don't miss it. We park and join the dozens of people in search of flowers. There are a few single blooms and a small carpet ( a rug ? )of yellow flowers , nothing fantastic.









Back at the car there are ostriches on the other side of the fence. I spend ages trying to get a close up head shot.



Darling is busier than Yzerfontein and at least has a main street. We try a trip advisor recommended cafe for lunch, but it seems they are serving a very limited meat based buffet, so we follow signs to an info centre in a church, it's actually open. The guy manning it recommends an alternative place for lunch, then another reserve on the way out of town, but warns us 'you're a bit early for flowers ' Can't win !
We have a rather boring lunch of cheese toasties then back in the car to find the reserve. At first it looks as though the entrance is locked, but then I spot a couple inside and realise the chain and padlock aren't fastened. We have a short wander , but there is little to see except for a tortoise who trundles across our path so fast I only catch him disappearing into the undergrowth .


Nothing left to do but head to the airport. Heading out of town there are many clumps of what look like Arum lillies growing in fields and by the roadside, look so odd growing wild.

Google maps does a good job of getting us to the airport. I only go wrong once but the woman's voice doesn't take on a snotty tone like I'm sure our sat nav does when she tells me to turn around The traffic isn't too bad and most people seem to be driving considerately. Driving past a township on the outskirts there are police, an ambulance and dozens of people all milling about on the dual carriageway. No idea what is going on, but our doors are locked, windows up and the traffic keeps moving, and we are soon at the airport, where I take my second wrong turn. I didn't believe the rental car return and exit were the same so did a couple of laps of the carpark . A woman from Avis checks the car over and tells me there will be a valet charge as the interior is dirty, fair enough, we have half the Kalahari on the floor, but I've heard stories of excess charges being applied so we'll see what the final cost is.
I'm so relieved to have got to the airport without incident that I relax my guard for a minute while we get ourselves and our belongings together, big mistake. A 'porter' appears with a luggage trolley before I could actually go and get one myself, he's loading our bags onto it while telling me ' it's a long walk and he knows the quickest way' . I know it's going to cost me , but I let him push the trolley and lead us across the road, instead of the pedestrian walkway, all the time he's telling me a sob story of a sick child and hospital bills and family to feed etc etc. He mentions his fee and I try not to laugh. Needless to say when we reach the terminal and I give him a more than reasonable R50 ( just over 2 )he gets shirty and demands R150 , I tell him ' R50 is more than fair, thank you and goodbye ' . We are so early our check in desk hasn't opened. While we wait we try and drink all our remaining water and soda and eat the odd assortment of snacks that are already opened. Once checked in we have another 3 hours to kill before boarding. We do a bit of souvenir shopping and I try my best to use up my remaining mobile data. We have an uneventful flight home, but KLM have no record of my ordering a vegetarian meal, even though I phoned to do it , and they have no vege meals left. I'm wishing we hadn't eaten our leftover snacks when the stewardess presents me with a tray from business class. It's a bit of a strange meal as she has collected anything vegetarian she can find, but at least I don't go hungry , I do like KLM
So, we've been home 11 months now, and I want to go back. I'm not sure what it is about South Africa, there are so many other destinations on my list I've yet to visit, but I think one more trip, next year, if the virus allows, maybe to Northern Kruger and I might be satisfied.
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Crowne Plaza Universal, Pop Century Nov2004
Homewood suites,RPR,POFQ Oct06
California August 08California without a car trip index
Mexico 2010, Easter in Mexico Trip Index
ESD Pointe Orlando, Palm Pavilion Clearwater, RPR August 2012
Costa Rica July 2015 Pura Vida! trip report
South Africa 2017 trip report

Edited at 04:21 PM.
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