Ecotourism & Accommodation in
South and Southern Africa
Photographic Wildlife & Scenic Safaris
To be a successful outdoor photographer, you need only two things: The will to do it, and some money – although a bit of obsession also comes in handy! For outdoor photography is nothing more than a mix of time spent in the outdoors, the will to be there, some equipment and the experience you get from photographing there.
If you’re a serious photographer, don’t book tours to destinations where you share a coach with 40 other people - it never works. Travelling with 40 other tourists on a tight schedule is never going to give you the opportunity to get anything other than snapshots taken at the wrong time of day. What is the best way to do it, you ask? WITH US! We conduct exclusive tours to the game reserves and scenic destinations in South Africa. We like our clients to be able to make the most of their experience, hence the dedicated private tours where the agenda of others does not impair on your photography. For wildlife photography it’s very important to work with a guide – this holds true for scenic photography too! If you want to maximize your time in the field, that is, find animals fast, then you must work with someone who knows the territory. Go it alone and you could spend many hours or days looking for wildlife. Sure, a guide will cost extra money, but you have to realize that it’s a very good investment in your photographs. Our guides will also take you to some great locations for landscape and seascape photography.
Imagine this: You show up for a wildlife photography shoot in Africa. An expert guide with a vehicle meets you. Several padded, easy-open cases for long lenses are mounted inside the vehicle. Beanbags are handy for supporting cameras and lenses in a hurry. You have plenty of film. Perhaps best of all, you have three months to shoot! A dream come true? It sure did, for National Geographic photographer Chris Johns, one of the world’s premier wildlife photographers. That’s how he travelled while shooting his cheetah story for National Geographic. Well, I don’t know about you, but most people don’t have all the aforementioned luxuries of time and money. However, one can still get good wildlife pictures, and very good wildlife pictures: and you can, too. Here are some tips…
Choose your lenses carefully. For animal portraits, basic lenses are 70-200mm zoom and 100-400mm zoom. When an animal is far away, use a 1.4x or 2x tele-converter on a 100-400mm zoom, which when set at 400mm gives an effective focal length of 560mm and 800mm respectively. For pictures of animals in their habitats, use a 17-35mm zoom - when you can get fairly close. If not, use a 70-200mm zoom. Don’t forget a beanbag, you bring an empty one (empty they take up no space) and once here you fill it, they are indispensable for use in the vehicles with your long lenses. For scenery and landscapes / seascapes, a shorter focal length will do – in most cases you have already tried your hand at this type of photography and have the necessary lenses to do this.
Batteries. Bring more than you think you’ll need. Auto focus lenses and motor drives, essential for wildlife photography, use up battery power fast. Don’t be caught without power. Pack a lot of batteries or don’t forget your battery charger!
Study your subject. Each species of animal has its own habits, and lives in a select habitat. If you know where to look and what to look for, you’ll have a better chance of getting a behavioural photograph - a picture in which the animal is doing something that is part of its life. Find out as much as you can about the wildlife you’ll be photographing.
Know The Basics:
If you are new to wildlife photography, there are a few basic shooting techniques you should know:
For animal portraits, use long lenses set at wide apertures to blur the background.
Use a fast shutter speed (1/500 of a sec or faster) to "freeze" action; use a slow shutter speed (1/30 of a sec or slower) to blur motion.
Shoot in the early morning and late afternoon, when you get more saturated pictures, as well as more animal predation.
Focus on the animal’s eyes. Miss that focus and you miss the shot.
Take lots of pictures of the same subject. Just like people, an animal’s expression can change in an instant. Animals also blink. If you shoot several frames in rapid succession, you’ll get a flattering picture of your subject.
One final tip: Respect the animals you photograph, as well as their habitats, many of which are dwindling.
We will try and shoot wildlife as often as we can from hides, but this is not always possible or desirable, most of the time we have to get out there and shoot from the vehicle. Vehicles make great, in fact excellent, mobile hides for photographing birds and mammals, and many photographers support their telephoto lenses on beanbags resting on the car door. For the scenic shots a tripod is essential.
Listed hereunder are some of the photographic destinations that you can choose. They range from wildlife to cityscapes to land and seascapes, but remember, this is only a selection of what is on offer! We can recommend something that is particularly suited to your needs.
Game Reserves: National, Provincial and Private.
There are few better places to be at one with nature, and to photograph this, than in South Africa. Home to the 'Big Five', a visit to any one of our many game reserves will ensure that you see lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo (the Big-5) as well as a myriad of other animals. Bird lovers, don't despair! South African game reserves are teeming with endless varieties of birds – we have over 950 species! From the lightning fast falcon, to the dainty sunbirds, fans of our flying friends will not be disappointed. Enjoy a game drive and see nature's beasts of the field in their natural habitat. Here you get to choose from any number of game reserves, both the National and Provincial Game Reserves, through to the very impressive private game reserves, such as the Sabi Sands, Phinda and many, many more.
Kruger National Park: Kruger National Park is arguably the emblem of South African tourism; the place that delivers best what most visitors to Africa want to see - scores of game roaming the savannah. A narrow strip of land hugging the Mozambique border, Kruger stretches across the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces, an astonishing 414-kilometer drive from Pafuri Gate in the north to Malelane Gate in the south, all of it along tar, with many well-kept gravel roads looping off to provide routes for game drives. The real draw-card of South Africa's east flank, and one of Africa's best game parks, Kruger occupies most of Mpumalanga's and Limpopo’s borders with Mozambique, and covers over 20 000 square kilometres - an area the size of Wales or Massachusetts. Here too are many hides from which we photograph birds and animals, but just driving in a vehicle offers some really good opportunities for wildlife photography.
The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park of nearly 2 million hectares is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies. Truly the flagship of the South African national parks, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.
Apart from the tempting magnet of big-game country, the area also has some stunning scenery in the mountainous area known as the Drakensberg Escarpment, (or Panorama); a couple of hours drive west of the Kruger and easily tacked onto a visit to the park. The most famous viewpoints - God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes and Three Rondawels - are along the lip of the Escarpment, which can be seen on a one-day drive.
Addo Elephant Park:
Addo Elephant Park is an elephant sanctuary that offers the densest concentration of these animals in Africa. This assures that you'll take many great elephant pictures on your expedition. Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant National Park. Here, the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolin's call heralds each new dawn. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace. The original Elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area - today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 420 elephants, Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo.
Mountain Zebra National Park:
Now boasting healthy numbers after being close to extinction, the mountain zebra share the park with rhino, buffalo and numerous antelope species that graze the beautiful plains and deep valleys of the area. The craggy heights of the Mountain Zebra National Park's Bankberg embrace rolling plains and deep valleys, and have become an entrancing preserve for the Cape mountain zebra. The proclamation of the park in 1937 saved these animals from extinction, and currently their population stands at 300. Other mammals found here include Cape buffalo, black rhino, eland, black wildebeest, red hartebeest and gemsbok, while mountain reedbuck and grey rhebok frequent the higher areas. Caracal occupies the niche of primary predator.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park:
This destination in the Free State Province is breathtakingly beautiful. There are various walks and trails in the area, and the colours and textures of the sandstone rock faces will enthrall nature photographers. The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp.
This 11 600 hectares of unique environment is true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals – black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell's zebra - and birds, including the rare bearded vulture (lammergeyer) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening.
West Coast National Park:
This is a watery wonderland of sea and sand, with wetlands in between and is paradise for birders who can spot penguins, gannets, cormorants and flamingos along with thousands of water birds and waders as they feed in Langebaan Lagoon. Migratory birds from the Arctic Circle also visit the area. Just inland from the secluded harbour of Saldanha Bay one finds the azure waters of the Langebaan Lagoon, focal point of the West Coast National Park. Thousands of seabirds roost on sheltered islands, pristine golden beaches stretch endlessly into the early morning mist and brooding salt marshes are home to vast concentrations of migrant waders from the northern hemisphere. During the spring the strandveld is embroidered with a tapestry of multi-hued flowers, while in the Postberg section many antelope are to be seen in a setting that is as unique as it is idyllic.
Tsitsikamma National Park:
Also known as 'the place of clear water', it is a combined marine and forest park protecting offshore reefs and virgin coastal forest. It's a magical place of deep ravines, cool rivers, misty forests and a magnificent rugged coastline. Conveniently situated just 200km west of Port Elizabeth, this magical park is a year-round destination for walkers, hikers, nature lovers and photographers. Here where the booming breakers of the Indian Ocean relentlessly pound rocky shores, where temperate high forest and fynbos roll down to the sea in an unspoilt verdant carpet, where ancient rivers carve their paths to the ocean down rocky ravines. This, "the place of much water", is the Tsitsikamma National Park. The heartland of the park stretches some 5 km to sea, protecting a wonderland of inter-tidal life, reef and deep-sea fish. Dolphins frolic in the breakers, surfing and playing for the sheer joy of life, and the gentle giant of the ocean, the southern right whale visits here, coming inshore to breed.
Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve:
Set in the heart of Zululand, the oldest game reserve in Africa where Zulu kings such as Shaka hunted and put in place the first conservation laws, where today the "Big-5" of African legend stalk the verdant savannah. Established in 1895, game viewing is the prime attraction. As the home of Operation Rhino in the 1950s and 60s, the Park became world renowned for its white rhino conservation. The Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park covers some 96 000 ha and contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora.
The northern Hluhluwe section is characterised by hilly topography, and is noted for its wide variety of both bird and animal life.
Today more than 1700 White and Black Rhino are maintained in the reserve and a variety of antelope species, buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and cheetah also occur. In the south, two viewing hides overlook pans and waterholes enabling visitors to see and photograph animals at close range.
Mkuze Game Reserve:
This is where photographers from all over South Africa (and abroad) flock to the spacious hides to get stunning photos as animals come down to the waterholes to drink. A place of great beauty and high contrasts, Mkhuze is renowned as a mecca for bird lovers, with more than 420 bird species on record.
The reserve has an astonishing diversity of natural habitats, from the eastern slopes of the Lebombo Mountains along its western boundary, to broad stretches of acacia savannah, swamps and a variety of woodlands and riverine forest. A rare type of sand forest also occurs in the reserve. Two beautiful pans, Nhlonhlela and Nsumo, lie in the north and east respectively, home to communities of hippo, crocodile, pink-backed and white pelicans, as well as a diversity of ducks and geese that gather in spring.
Mkhuze Game Reserve constitutes the northwestern spur of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, a recently declared World Heritage Site.
The Mkhuze River curves along the reserve's northern and eastern borders with a fine stretch of fig forest along its banks. Fish eagles swoop over the pans, snatching prey spotted from their perches in the fever trees. Other animals to be found in the reserve include black and white rhinoceros, elephant, giraffe, leopard, buffalo, nyala, blue wildebeest, warthog, impala, kudu and other smaller antelope. Rare species occurring are cheetah, hyena and suni.
Photographers enjoy excellent animal and bird photography from the hides in the reserve.
UKhahlamba Drakensberg Park:
The world is yours to wonder at in the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, one of South Africa's prime ecotourist destinations and a World Heritage Site.
In this awesome mountain range you can savour the ultimate freedom of great open spaces in a world of gigantic peaks and buttresses, of towering sandstone cliffs and hidden valleys, virgin forests and crystal clear rivers.
The diverse scenic splendour includes the famous Amphitheatre at Royal Natal and the magnificent southern Drakensberg scenery at Cobham and Lotheni.
This park is home to black eagle, bearded vulture and herds of eland, besides the priceless legacy of many other indigenous plants and animals.
A wealth of recreational opportunities matches the scenic splendour around you.
A host of pastimes includes camping, hiking, bird watching, swimming, riding, photography, painting or simply revelling in the clear mountain air while you take in the breathtaking vistas around you. The Giants Castle area is home to a variety of animals and birds including the Mountain Eland and the rare Lammergeyer Vulture. Here there is the most perfect hide to photograph these rare and beautiful birds, as well as other raptors, in the seclusion of this mountain top hideaway
The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park:
The St Lucia Lake is a paradise for nature lovers. Pods of hippo wallow in the shallow waters and numerous crocodile inhabit the pools and river mouths. On the shores there are a wide variety of antelope and the area is well known for its bird life. Natural lakes in KwaZulu-Natal are confined to the northeast coastal plain and all of the water bodies large enough to warrant this description are contained within the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park. The park system extends from the Mozambique border for more than 220 km south to St. Lucia. The width of the land portion varies from 1 km to 24 km. A Marine reserve component of 5km wide extends 155km along the length of the coast. The Park comprises the last remaining subtropical area containing its original diverse components of wild plants and animals on the southeastern coast of Africa, and one of the last remaining in the world. Landscapes are outstanding and the geomorphologic processes by which they are formed are believed to be of universal importance given their evolution subsequent to the fragmentation of the Gondwana super-continent.
The five interlinked ecosystems found in the park are:
1) a marine system characterised by a warm sea, the southernmost extension of coral reefs in Africa, submarine canyons, and long sandy beaches;
2) a coastal dune system consisting of high linear dunes, sub-tropical forests, grassy plains and wetlands;
3) lake systems including two estuary-linked lakes, St Lucia and Kosi, and four large freshwater lakes, Sibaya, Ngobezeleni, Bhangazi north and Bhangazi south;
4) the Mkhuze and Umfolozi swamps, with swamp forests, extensive reeds and papyrus swamps;
5) an inland system that includes ancient shoreline terraces and dry savannah woodlands.
Bontebok National Park:
Sheltered by the rugged bastion of the Langeberg Mountains, and bordered to the south by the peaceful Breede River, the Bontebok National Park provides a refuge for not only bontebok, but also for other species such as Cape mountain zebra, red hartebeest and grey rhebok. The park is situated within the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest, but richest of the world's six floral kingdoms and is a sanctuary for these striking animals that used to roam these coastal plains in droves. Cape mountain zebra live alongside bontebok and are joined by grey rhebok, red hartebeest and Cape grysbok - making for unusual antelope sightings. The park is noteworthy as an excellent place to see Stanley's Bustard. Other large and visible species include Blue Crane, Spurwing Goose, Secretary bird, and Black Korhaan. Malachite and Lesser Double Collared Sunbird should be seen at the reception building, while the campsite attracts a number of species. Prominent among these are Fiscal Flycatcher, Klaas's Cuckoo (summer), Pied Barbet and Redfaced Mousebird. Pearlbreasted swallow are regularly seen. Swee Waxbill frequents the dense riverine bush adjacent to the Breede River, while Water Dikkop are regular along the river's shoreline.
Bird Island lies about 100 metres offshore of Lambert's Bay on the Cape west coast. The island, almost three hectares in size, is connected to the mainland via a breakwater. It is an important breeding and roosting site for seabirds, particularly Cape gannet and cormorant. African penguin used to be common on the island, and Cape fur seals still frequent the rocks on the sea side of the island.
The island has been developed as a tourist attraction, in association with the local community. In the modern gannet lookout, visitors can get close to the birds and witness the unique mating dances and vocalising of the thousands of gannets on their nests. Bird Island is one of only six sites worldwide where Cape gannets breed, and it is also the only breeding site easily accessible to the public. Photography here is adequate with a 300mm lens. Penguin occur on the island, but their numbers declined severely during the period when guano was collected. Today, artificial structures are provided for the penguin to encourage them to breed. There are now about 60 penguin on the island.
Rocherpan Nature Reserve:
Rocherpan Nature Reserve lies 25 km north of Velddrif on the Cape west coast, and comprises 914 ha. The reserve, which was established in 1967, consists largely of a seasonal vlei that is usually dry between March and June. The adjacent section of the Atlantic Ocean was declared a marine reserve in 1988. The combination of land, vlei and marine environments provides ample breeding and feeding habitats for various birds. A total of 183 species has been recorded, of which about 70 are water birds. White pelican and greater and lesser flamingo, all of which are listed in the Red Data book for endangered bird species, are often seen at Rocherpan. Large numbers of these birds, as well as many thousands of waders and duck rely on the vlei as their major source of food, particularly when the water levels drop. Ostriche occur on the flats surrounding the vlei.
Rocherpan is one of the Cape shoveller’s most important breeding and moulting sites. The reserve provides a sanctuary for Southern Africa’s second rarest coastal bird, the African black oystercatcher. Southern right whales may be sighted in the marine reserve and along the coast from June to September.
Besides springbok, there are smaller mammals such as duiker, steenbok, water mongoose and African wild cat. Reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates are numerous. In spring a mass of wildflowers is an attractive feature of the reserve. There are two bird hides and vehicles and visitors on foot are restricted to the vehicle tracks.
The Sabie Sands area is where the first private game reserve lodges were established, and still offers the finest game photographing experiences. Leopard sightings, usually the most elusive of the Big Five animals, are most often achieved here, with some lodges managing a sighting five nights out of seven, and this is the place to be if seeing these magnificent animals is your primary goal. The 65,000ha privately owned Sabi Sands Game Reserve shares a common 50 km unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park to the east. Two perennial rivers, the Sabi and Sand Rivers flow through this Game Park, sustaining the diverse fauna and flora of the area, which enjoys one of the highest and most bio-diverse wildlife populations of any area in Africa. It has arguably the densest population of leopard in the world. Such is the integrity of the environment that there is consistently a year round population of animals that remain within the area. There is migration between this, the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park, ensuring genetic diversity with an integrated biodiversity within the entire protected area.
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve dates back to the 1950's when the landowners initiated the dropping of their internal fences and the sharing of a common environmental management programme. Due to considerate game viewing practices where clients remain within the 'profile' of the open vehicles and the animals have priority, the trackers and game rangers of the various lodges are able to offer exceptional game viewing, and especially photographic opportunities, of all the general game species, as well as the high profile animals. The success of viewing leopard within this area is legendary and allowing sufficient time in this area, such animals as elephant, lion, rhino, leopard, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and a vast variety of antelope and other species, may be closely observed within their own ranges. The rangers are also able to travel off-road in their open game viewing vehicles, tracking the high profile animals and viewing them from up close and personal. This ensures that a good percentage of the normally shy animals are seen, normally from close range.
Phinda Private Game Reserve:
This reserve is situated in the lush Maputaland region in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Bordering the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Phinda comprises 18 500 hectares (45 711 acres) of prime conservation land. Seven distinct habitats shelter an abundance of wildlife including Africa’s Big-5 and over 380 bird species, while the marine diversity off the nearby coast of Sodwana is said to rival the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Phinda Private Game Reserve is home to an incredible diversity of mammals. Predators like cheetah, leopard and lion are tracked on a daily basis and visitors stand extremely good chances of seeing them. The territorial white rhino favour waterholes and wallows. Herds of elephant and buffalo move throughout the reserve and are easily spotted. Impressive nyala antelope feed alongside impala and warthog. Nocturnal aardvark, bushpig and greater bushbaby may be encountered on exciting night game-drives. Mountain reedbuck dwell on rocky slopes, while common reedbuck favour palmveld and wetlands. Tonga red squirrel is restricted to Sand Forest where tiny suni and red duiker are most abundant. The extraordinary four-toed elephant-shrew forages among leaf-litter in forest and thickets.
Guests can look forward to exciting game-drives and photography in open 4x4 safari vehicles led by experienced rangers and Zulu trackers, as well as thrilling optional activities on the water, in the air and on the beach
Amakhosi Game Lodge:
This lodge is located in a blend of savannah, wetlands and mountains. The Safari Lodge is situated on the banks of Zululand's Mkuze River in the 12000-hectare Amazulu Private Game Reserve. At Amakhosi you will discover a new universe, from the incredibly big to the microscopically small. Whether it is the 'Big 5', birding or seasonal frogging, their guides are able to tailor-make special safaris to suit your personal interests. Imagine close encounters with newborn cheetah cubs or being the prime witness to a daring lion fight. At Amakhosi the guides are well qualified and extremely committed to the environment. The experiences and memories of a safari by open vehicle will be as diverse as they are many. At certain times of the year, Amakhosi invites its guests to discover the fascinating world of amphibians.
Home to over 420 species of birds, Amakhosi is perfect for birding enthusiasts.
Bushmans Kloof is a privately owned wilderness reserve and is world renowned for its 130 rock art sites. In recognition of its rich cultural, historical and environmental significance, Bushmans Kloof has been declared a South African Natural Heritage site. Daily guided rock art excursions, botanical tours, game viewing and sunset game drives in open game viewing vehicles with refreshments a well as bird watching, nature trails, mountain hikes, river walks, canoeing, archery, rock climbing, mountain biking, croquet and swimming in crystal clear natural rock pools are among the many activities on offer here. This is a perfect environment for photography, stargazing, picnics, reading and studying the history of the San and their famous rock art and lectures in the heritage centre. One of the highlights of the day at Bushmans Kloof is the sunset game drive in open game viewing vehicles, with drinks and snacks served at one of the many vantage points in the reserve. Knowledgeable rangers lead the game drives where guests can view at close range a variety of game, both large and small, and enjoy the ever-changing vistas and vegetation.
Bushmans Kloof is not only famous for its magnificent wild spring flower spectacular, but also for the exceptional diversity of more than 750 plant species which have been identified in the reserve, and which are accessible throughout the year.
Kagga Kamma Private Game Reserve:
The stunning location of the lodge was once home to the Bushmen, today many of their ancient cave paintings are still clearly visible on the rocks, (some dating back 6,000 years). This spiritual land offers spectacular scenery, majestic mountains, strange rock formations and phenomenal night skies, where the Milky Way, billions of stars, planets, satellites and shooting stars may be seen by the naked eye.
Kagga Kamma Private Game Reserve is located in an untouched wilderness area south of the magnificent Cederberg Mountains, three hours from Cape Town near Ceres. The reserve is well known for its scenic beauty and dramatic rock formations typical of the Cedarberg, and has a rich cultural heritage with hundreds of Bushman/San rock paintings or rock art of up to 6000 years old.
On guided open 4x4 safaris guests can also learn more about the various species of plants and animals that inhabit this arid area, experience the Southern night skies by powerful telescope and enjoy a sundowner with spectacular views from the escarpment into the Ceres-Karoo lying 700m lower. Spend your free time hiking on one of the hiking trails, bird watching or relaxing at the lodge's swimming pool built into the stunning Cederberg rock formations.
Accommodation at the luxurious game lodge is nestled between unbelievable Table Mountain sandstone formations and resembles bushman “caves” and rondawels, all with en-suite bathrooms. In the open-air boma restaurant guests can enjoy sumptuous South African cuisine, including venison dishes, and an excellent selection of wines from the nearby Cape winelands.
Other activities during your stay include a sundowner drink with breathtaking views and morning and night nature/game drives to spot resident species such as Black Wildebeest, Ostrich, Zebra, Springbok, Bontebok, Gemsbok and many other antelope species including the huge Eland.
The Transkei Wild Coast has some of the most remote and uninhabited regions of the province. The coastal area between Qolora Mouth on the Kei River and Port St Johns at the mouth of the Umtamvuma River is possibly the most wild, beautiful and unspoiled coastline along our entire seaboard. Mazeppa Bay is a small resort on the edge of the Manubi Forest famous for its yellowwood and sneezewood trees, shark fishing, giant sand dunes and oyster beds. Northward will lead to Hole-in-the-Wall, a truly remarkable landmark. Years of erosion have left a large hole in this cliff face and this is an excellent area for seascape photography
Graaff Reinet, known as the 'Gem of the Karoo' is situated at the entrance to the awesome Valley of Desolation with its eroded dolerite and sandstone cliffs and columns and endless plains of the Great Karoo. This valley lies within the Karoo Nature Reserve with hiking trails leading through this magnificent wilderness and wildlife ecosystem.
Along the slopes of Signal Hill to the west of the central area is a dense cluster of dainty little single-storey, flat roofed houses built during the 18th century for the Cape Town's cosmopolitan artisan class. The streets are narrow and steep and many of the buildings are brightly painted. The story of these multicoloured houses goes back many years when apartheid was still going strong. The government had declared that all houses were to be painted white - no exceptions! Eventually, when the government changed, the residents showed their rejection of the old government by painting their houses with bright oranges, yellows and blues. It’s quite a sight!
This lovely seaside suburb at the foot of Chapmans Peak is a beautiful stretch of coastline on a windless day. This is a little fishing village and has a pleasant country atmosphere. It has great restaurants, luxury hotels, quaint Bed & Breakfasts and great outdoor activities, such as fishing, horse riding, sea kayaking and hiking. Take one of the many boat trips out in the Atlantic Ocean. Most trips from Hout Bay Harbour go to Seal Island. Once you get used to the smell, the hundreds of seals are actually quite cute, and if you’re there on a wind-still day, it’s possible to get some good photographs of them.
This is according to SA Lifesaving, one of the safest beaches in the country, and it allows for a range of activities from Hobie Cat sailing to surfing, paddling to endurance swimming, snorkelling to walking. Nearby are some lovely coloured huts that make great photographs, as does the quaint little fishing harbour.
The substantial and handsome bay side centre is steeped in naval history; it was founded by and named after the energetic Cape governor, Simon van der Stel, in 1687. It's still very much a naval town but not exclusively so. Commercial and leisure craft crowd the harbour. Souvenir and craft shops abound. The local beaches are very exciting: Sea forth, Foxy beach and their surrounds, offer secluded stretches of sand and inlets. Boulders Beach is famous for its colony of endangered and endearing African (jackass) penguin, which are easily within camera range.
The west coast of South Africa - far-flung, windswept and bordered by the cold Atlantic Ocean - demands a special appreciation. For many years the black sheep of Western Cape tourism (a fact borne out by the eminence of industries such as fishing, and the iron-ore terminal at Saldanha Bay), it has been set upon by developers who seem all too ready to spoil the bleached, salty emptiness which many people had just begun to value. This is a region roughly cut by nature, with sandy soil and dunes harbouring distinctive coastal fynbos vegetation, a coastline almost devoid of natural inlets or safe harbours, with fierce southeasterly summer winds, dank winter fogs, and the ever-miraculous wild flowers appearing in the veld in spring. Some of the more photographic areas here are Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Langebaan, Tittiesbaai and Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, especially during the flower season.
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