Friday, August 29, 2008


We spent a day at South Africa's West Coast National Park, where there are a couple of bird hides that allowed us to sit and watch the tide come in. The tide pushed the birds toward us, so we got a good look at some shy shorebirds.

For most of the day, our view looked like this:

And this:

And this:


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cape Agulhas

We drove to the southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas. As far as either of us could remember, we had never been to the furthest extremity of any contintent before. I particularly liked the little signs on the bottom of the marker. They helpfully pointed east to the Indian Ocean and west to the Atlantic.

We couldn't help but notice that there were at least twenty or thirty feet of land south of the marker, so we climbed out onto the rocks and stuck our hands in the Indian-Atlantic water.

After that, we climbed to the top of the Agulhas Lighthouse. Evidently "agulhas" means "needles," and Cape Agulhas got its name because the compass needles don't work well in the area. It's the site of many shipwrecks.

This is the lens of the lighthouse. Andy says it's called a Fresnel Lens.

And this is the lighthouse's shadow.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Attempted Wildlife Photography

The wildlife at De Hoop was spectacular. I'm afraid that my photogrophy skills weren't quite up to the challenge, so you'll have to rely on the narration in this post.

We saw an ostrich poking around in the grass, with a little cattle egret chasing it around and presumably eating the bugs near its feet. The ostrich is, fuzzily, kind of in the middle of this picture.
Herds of eland and bontebok were grazing all over the park. Unfortunately, my pictures of them are kind of hard to appreciate:

Best of all, we saw about a dozen southern right whales. They were floating right off the coast. Periodically, one of them would start breaching. I've wanted to see whales breaching almost as long as I can remember, so I was thrilled.

I wanted to share that experience on this blog, but my camera always delays for a second or two before snapping a picture, which makes it a bit hard to catch gigantic sea mammals suspended above the water. So, just to prove that I really, really tried, I'm posting all the pictures I took right after whales breached, or right when I thought one was about to breach. If you look closely, you might see a fin.

I did manage to take two photos of animals that are actually recognizable. The first is of some blue cranes, which are South Africa's national bird:

The second is of a Cape francolin that wanted to eat our lunch for us. Up close,
these birds make litte beeping noises. They sound like robots in 1980s sci-fi movies.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

De Hoop Views


De Hoop Nature Reserve

We took a trip to De Hoop Nature Reserve. South Africans pronounce the name of this park in two different ways: duh-HOO-ihp or duh-WIHP. We stayed on a beautiful farm outside the park.

The apartment they gave us was so nice that we first thought we might be in the wrong place.

But then we saw what they had on the shelf,

and we knew we were home (for the next three days anyway).