Kirstenbosch and Claremont

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places on earth. It touches me every time I visit. Fog is back in the Cape, mysteriously draping itself over Table Mountain – yesterday was a great day to see the garden.

It’s hard to say which Kirstenbosch delight is best – fragrant gardens with pristine fynbos, forested areas, dramatic mountain views, gourmet restaurant, exotic birds, stone sculpting, or the gallery of South African artists. It’s a big dose of beautiful!!

James Yates – Namaqualand in Bloom

I visited the art gallery and especially liked the landscapes of James Yates. The current exhibition – Professional Cape Artists – features paintings, ceramics, and wooden sculpture of popular local masters. The exhibition is on display between 16th February and 11th March.

Cape Dutch Manor House

Dutch Colonial House

Southey Cottage Claremont

Cape Dutch Manor House

Cape Dutch Manor House

Other favorite artists include Bill McGill, Mieke Teijema, Lionel Smit, and Tony Butler. It was too much trying to sort names with each piece. I took the curator’s card.

James Yates

I hiked a close-in trail, had lunch, and enjoyed the spectacular stone sculptures perfectly placed throughout the grounds. Families were relaxing and picnicking on a lush carpet of grass.

Bill McGill

Kirstenbosch’s water shortage isn’t as dire as Cape Town’s. Its irrigation flows from a different source – surface runoff and streams in Window Gorge and Nursery Ravine.

Gorges, Buttresses, Ravines Table Mt.

Nelson Mandela by Tony Butler

Chemicals aren’t used in Kirstenbosch’s drinking water. It’s “extracted from boreholes that tap deep into the Table Mountain Aquifer 200 ft. below ground level”. The drinking water from the aquifer is of “such high quality it could be bottled”!

Everyone is taking the drought very seriously. It was nice drinking fresh spring water, washing my hands, and flushing the toilet without feeling guilty. Most public toilets in Cape Town have hand sanitizer dispensers. Sink water is turned off.

James Yates

James Yates

James Yates

This trip I’m exploring Claremont – a leafy suburban neighborhood 6 miles south of Cape Town. Although nothing beats the energy and excitement of Cape Town, I wanted to experience  a new area.

Lionel Smit

My B&B is between Claremont and Rondebosch, both are growing suburban areas surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and Cape Dutch architecture. The University of Cape Town is nearby. It’s quite a change from the daily city chaos in Maputo!

Cape Town – MOCAA and Magic Club

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

I drove from Hermanus to Cape Town Monday to run errands before exploring the Garden Route later this month. The scenery along the way is wonderful, but driving over Sir Lowry’s Pass isn’t my favorite. Drivers are erratic and aggressive, and most of the N2 is not divided, so there’s no median strip to separate opposing lanes. It gets to me every time, especially when it’s windy.

Zeitz Interior

Zeitz Hotel

Zeitz Interior

Zeitz Exterior

Zeitz Exterior

Cape Town is one of my favorite places (no surprise to anyone), not only because of its exceptional beauty, but also its special charm, energy, and friendly vibe of the people. It was nice to see Table Mountain, visit friends I haven’t seen for a while, and eat at favorite restaurants. The two days were fun but hectic, and I stayed overnight at a B&B.

Garden at Sea Point B&B

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

The only disappointment was not being able to visit the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) which opened on September 22. The museum is closed on Tuesday and free to the public on Wednesday. I peered through the windows, walked around the exterior, took a few photos, and hope to visit the MOCAA soon!

Cape Town Waterfront Silo District

The unique museum has a five-star hotel and features African artists like Nandipha Mntambo and Nicholas Hlobo. The Silo District is Cape Town’s newest art, culture, and design area. It sounds like the opening event was quite a soirée!

“The Zeitz-Mocaa building is in a converted grain silo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The area was regenerated 30 years ago for retail, real estate, and tourism. Development was on the remnants of two dilapidated 19th-century harbour basins (Victoria and Alfred). The silos were built over coal sheds that once supplied steamships. They were part-funded by capital from slave compensation received after slavery abolition in Cape Colony.”

Elgin

Elgin

Elgin Cafe

Elgin Landscape

Cape Town Magic Club

Since I was in town Monday night, when many performing arts venues are closed, I decided to attend a Cape Town Magic Club performance. The show is in the “original basement bank vault of the 5-star luxury Taj Cape Town”. The small creative theater has a back entrance and is especially set up for each magic performance. The venue allows the audience to sit close to the magicians and interact with them.

Three magicians performed, and it was clear that they loved what they were doing and put their heart and soul into it. The show included two young, talented magicians:

The third seasoned magician / mentalist was impressive Larry Soffer. His magic and synergy with randomly selected members of the audience was mind-boggling!

Zeitz Exhibit

Zeitz Exhibit

Zeitz Exhibit

“Larry Soffer is one of the most influential names in magic across South Africa. As his brand grows, he’s fast earning an exceptional name abroad. Larry has performed for royalty, celebrities, politicians, and sports stars. His popular live show and corporate event performances inspire his audiences to ‘Believe to See’ instead of ‘Seeing to Believe.’ In so doing, he truly opens their minds to new possibilities by believing in the impossible and thereby creating their own dreams.”

Magic Show Crowd

Magic Show Crowd

Taj Cape Town

Back Entrance Taj Cape Townb

Back Entrance Taj Cape Town

Taj Back Entrance to Magic Show

I sat next to a fun woman – Portia – and her husband. It was their first time at the Magic Show. Portia’s husband interacted on stage with magician Josue Musenge. The exceptional magic delighted the audience and blew us all away!

Nandipha Mntambo Artist

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“The Zeitz-Mocaa is in a converted grain silo overlooking the Atlantic on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront……”

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Table Mountain Backdrop to Silo District

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Boats Silo District

Garden Route and Durban

On the way back to Hermanus I took a break in the lush Elgin Valley. Found out about a four-day slackpacking trip along Green Mountain Trail in the Kogelberg Biosphere.

Nicholas Hlobo Artist

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Larry Soffer inspires his audiences to ‘Believe to See’ instead of ‘Seeing to Believe’.

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I’m anticipating a slackpacking adventure somewhere along the Garden Route, if I can find an affordable one. Slackpacking is “enjoying the benefits of a multi-day hike, beautiful scenery, and fresh air – without carrying a heavy backpack”.  Sounds great – but some of the trips are pricey.

Back in Hermanus, I’m concentrating on planning the solo Garden Route drive beginning October 25th. Decided to take the N2 coastal route with a few inland side trips. I’m booked to arrive in Durban November 1, leaving 7 days to explore!

Fernkloof Nature Reserve Hermanus

Maanskynbaai from Fernkloof

Fernkloof Reserve is one of nature’s bright gems, and it’s a short 15-minute drive away! I’ve hiked the waterfall trail and am learning other routes. Fernkloof trails are gentler than Table Mountain with spectacular views of Walker Bay, Hemel en Aarde Valley, and Maanskynbaai (Moonshine Bay)!

Erica Annectens

Cliff Hanger Heath

Mountain Pride Butterfly

Fernkloof has four “routes” – green, red, blue, and orange. I’m working up to the more challenging orange route and its inner and outer circuits.

Fernkloof covers 7 sq. miles in the Kleinrivier Mountains. The reserve includes 37 miles of hiking trails, flowering fynbos, thick shrub vegetation, forests, and secluded dams where you can swim on hot days.

Sugarbird

De Bos Dam

Fernkloof’s luxurious fynbos is magnificent! The word fynbos derives from the Dutch word ‘fijn bosch‘ or fine bush. It’s a “collective name for a myriad of evergreen shrub-like plants with small firm leaves, including woody plants with hard leathery leaves”.

Fernkloof is known for around 500 varieties of Erica. Colorful ericas (Cape “heath“), disas, and proteas are endemic to South Africa.

Trail3Trail28Uphill Trail

The climate is “Mediterranean with cold wet winters, hot dry summers, and strong south-easterly winds”. I can vouch for the extraordinarily “strong” winds!

Caterpillar Photo from Fernkloof Website

Fynbos

Fynbos

Orange Disa

Pincushion Protea

Disa

Fynbos Brush

Protea

Yellow Disa

Fynbos

Fynbos

Disa Uniflora Bergius

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“There is no other place on earth where so many distinct fynbos species grow in such proximity. More than 1250 species of plant have been collected and identified in Fernkloof.”

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During my hike yesterday, I didn’t see any large mammals but enjoyed birds, mountain pride butterflies, unusual beetles, and lizards. There are several creeks and waterfalls, and I heard, but didn’t see, frogs. Hikers are known to encounter interesting species of turtle plodding along the trails. It would be thrilling to see an elusive Cape Leopard.

Lizards and butterflies are too fast for photos, but I followed a lizard to a rock outcropping near “Adder Ladder”. Considering the name of the trail, I retreated.

Rock Hyrax – Dassies

Beetle, Locust, or Alien Creature?

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Grey rhebok, Cape grysbok, klipspringer, baboon, mongoose, and dassie are present in small numbers. Nocturnal animals in the Reserve are seldom seen but include the porcupine, genet, hare, and Cape Mountain Leopard.”

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I plan to hike Fernkloof often not only for the exercise but because the refreshing, pristine environment is uplifting and makes me feel happy and content!

Table Mountain Hike Devil’s Peak

Cape Town Vista

Yesterday was wonderful hiking Table Mountain for the first time since returning to Cape Town – a euphoric day! I was feeling tired from recent travels, but my friend Jenny encouraged me to join the hiking group – so glad I did!

Jenny and Willemien

Sue and Jenny

It was perfect hiking weather and an easy-going group. We missed substantial rain on Friday and it’s raining lightly today – a welcome phenomenon for everyone!

The hike began at the Devil’s Peak trailhead. We climbed to the contour path enjoying spectacular panoramic views of Cape Town and the coast. The hike wasn’t difficult, but trails on Table Mountain are strewn with boulders and loose rocks.

Next week I head to Hermanus Bay – about a 1.5-hour drive from Cape Town. Hermanus is famous for the migrating whales that visit to have their calves in the safe, peaceful bay. July is a few months early for whale watching season, but the beautiful Bay is always active with dolphins, seals, and other sea life.

Cape Town Magic Club

Magic Club Theatre

Magic Club Theatre

It was a magnetic performance last night at Cape Town Magic Club! When the evening began I had no idea what to expect. As the show progressed I was riveted by the sensational trickery of three seasoned magicians. The tiny dark theatre with a mysterious layer of theatrical smoke and a few well-placed mirrors made it tough to catch a clever magician’s sleight of hand.

Magic Club Lounge

Magic Club Lounge

The informal club operates in City Centre in the cellar of The Cape Town Club. It seats less than 50 people. I won’t elaborate on specifics of the magic performed last night but highly recommend the Magic Club – a fun and entertaining evening.

Magic Club Bar

Magic Club Black Bar

The spring evening was cool and mysteriously misty. I parked on Keerom Street, a dimly lighted cobblestone alley behind the theatre.

Keerom Street

Keerom Street

Cape Town Club was created in 1976 by merging two of the city’s oldest clubs from the 1800s – the City Club and Civil Service Club. The stylish Club is near beautiful Company’s Garden and the Cape Town High Court. The restaurant, QVS18, has views of Table Mountain and a balcony overlooking Queen Victoria Street.

Foyer Cape Town Club

Last night the three performing magicians were Marcel Oudejans, Greg Gelb, and Ryan Jones. Each magician was phenomenal. They kept the audience totally engaged and on the edge of our seats!

Marcel Oudejans – Magician, Producer and Host

“Marcel is highly regarded for his comedy-infused magic and has performed professionally as a corporate event entertainer for well over a decade.

Marcel Oudejans

Marcel Oudejans Magician

Marcel performs internationally and throughout Southern Africa, recently in Ukraine and Namibia. He represented South Africa at India’s Vismayam Magic Convention.

Marcel’s clients include hundreds of blue-chip corporate audiences, high-profile executives, international conferences, casinos, and luxury hotels. He also produced and performed three one-man shows (Sleight of Mouth 1, Sleight of Mouth 2, and Curious Things) at the annual National Arts Festival Fringe and Cape Town Fringe Festivals.

Audience participation forms an important part of his magic shows. Volunteers become instant partners in his astonishing act. During the show Marcel produces objects, reads minds, and helps volunteers perform magic of their own. Long after the event is over and audiences leave the performance they are still laughing from sheer surprise and enjoyment of the show.”

Greg Gelb Magician

“Greg has wooed people with his magic and humor since he was 9 years old. Born and bred in the heart of Cape Town, he grew up with no formal magical training. Self-taught, he learned the craft and began reading books about magic from cover to cover, practicing on anyone who would stop and give their attention to his magic.

Greg Gelb Magician

Greg Gelb Magician

Greg has the chops, personality, and warmth that make for a great stage presence. He takes you on a mystical and mysterious journey. Remember the amazement felt when you watched the magician at the Spur pull a coin from your ear? Remember the feeling of astonishment when you saw your first magic trick? Those feelings are what you feel when you sit down with Greg. Nothing matters except you and the tools he uses to blow your mind.

QVS18 Restaurant Cape Town Club

Greg has worked for many corporations. Most recently he is the resident magician at The Thirsty Scarecrow in Stellenbosch. Greg performed at the Cape Town Magic Club in April 2016 as a guest performer, and he has returned to the scene for season 2. Be prepared to be amazed, amused, astonished, and astounded as you join Greg on his journey of magic and mystery.”

Ryan Jones Magician

“An award-winning graduate of the College of Magic Ryan Jones is a mysterious and unique performer involved in the world of magic for more than a decade. At a young age, he jetted off to Las Vegas, the world capital of magic, to perform for celebrities.

Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones Magician

Ryan is a full-time Industrial Designer and his creativity shines through in all his magic. Ryan seeks to amaze, puzzle, and shock his audiences. He will leave you at the edge of your seat wanting more! But be careful, the closer you look, the less you will see…”

Oranjezicht Cape Town

Protea Fynbos

Protea Fynbos

The hikes this weekend were urban outings in Oranjezicht and Bo-Kaap. Oranjezicht rests on the lower slopes of Table Mountain, and I think it’s one of Cape Town’s most beautiful neighborhoods. The name Oranjezicht means “orange view” in Dutch.

Wooded Area

Wooded Area

We began our hike at the entrance to Van Riebeeck Park and followed a gentle trail toward Table Mountain. Part of the uphill was in a small, narrow ravine along a wooden Plankiespad (boardwalk) which passed the Lower PlatteklipStroom (stream). On the way down the mountain we hiked through a wooded area called “Tooth Fairy Ravine”.

Wild Peach Tree – Kiggelaria Africana

Castle of Good Hope

I’ve been lost in Oranjezicht and have difficulty pronouncing the name – or ren ya zicht. This is a link for the correct Afrikaans pronunciation. Driving through Oranjezicht’s winding, wooded streets it doesn’t seem possible that it’s so close to Cape Town’s Central Business District.

Van Riebeck Park

Van Riebeeck Park

Many of Oranjezicht’s houses are striking Cape Dutch architecture. Some newer, modern homes have over sized-windows, taking advantage of big skies and dramatic views of the Bay, Table Mountain, and surrounding fynbos vegetation.

Tielman

Guide Tielman Haumann

The neighborhood lies on the site of Oranjezicht Farm – fertile land at the foot of Table Mountain. In the 1700s the farm supplied the Castle of Good Hope with fresh produce.

Wild Peach Leaves

Wild Peach Leaves

Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company – Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) in Dutch – built the Castle of Good Hope to support ships passing Cape Town en route to the lands of tea and spices. The Castle is the oldest colonial building in South Africa.

King Protea

King Protea

Ship’s officers, burghers, and their families visited Oranjezicht Farm to wander through the lush gardens and fill their baskets with fresh fruit and vegetables. “Produce was brought to a cobbled yard and weighed on a scale hanging from a large oak tree. With exotic flowers adding colour to the scene and abundant trees providing shady walks, fruit and vegetable shopping was a pleasurable occasion for all.”

African Monarch Butterfly

African Monarch Butterfly

Our well-educated leader, Tielman Haumann, is a Cape Town native. His family’s South African roots date back many generations. Before the hike, Tielman emailed hikers a list of the area’s indigenous plants and fynbos – which most of us found a bit intimidating. However, there were no worries since Tielman knew the trees and plants well. To our delight another member of the group was a butterfly expert – lepidopterist.

Wild Peach

Between descriptions of the plants and butterflies, and fascinating folklore stories, it was an educational and entertaining outing. I spent a few minutes chatting one-on-one with Tielman who had visited Oregon. He liked Portland and enjoyed hiking in the Pacific Northwest and beautiful Cascade Mountains.

Fynbos

Fynbos

Of course birds and butterflies play a significant role in the local ecosystem and propagation of Table Mountain’s fynbos. We spotted several African Monarch Butterflies. These glorious orange butterflies are poisonous.

Molteno Dam and Lion’s Head

Our expert said the way to spot a poisonous butterfly is to watch its wing patterns upon landing. Non-poisonous butterflies slowly open and close their wings when they land. Poisonous butterflies leave their wings spread wide open. I never knew there were poisonous butterflies, let alone how to spot one!

Cape Ash Berries

Cape Ash Berries

Oranjezicht’s most abundant trees include the Wild Peach (Kiggelaria Africana), Wild Olive (Olienhout), King Protea (Protea Cynaroides), and Cape Ash (Ekebergia Capensis).  We saw, and tasted, several varieties of wild berry.

Oranjezicht City Farm

The oak trees that grow in South Africa have weak wood so oak used for building construction and wine casks is imported from Europe, mostly France. Some of the non-indigenous trees and plants are from Australia, Europe, New Zealand, Mexico, Tasmania, and the Mediterranean.

Indigenous Bush

Indigenous Bush

We passed by the Sayed Abdul Matik Kramat and took a peek inside where several Muslims were praying. Kramats are holy burial sites of notable Sheikhs, called Auliyah in Islam. The Cape Peninsula has 20 recognized Kramats – three nestled in isolated outer districts that are difficult to reach.

Cape Ash – Pappea Capensis, Habitus Zoutpan

Oranjezicht History

Tielman told us a new local book about Oranjezicht was recently published. The neighborhood’s history is compelling and affected greatly by Pieter van Breda. In 1719 van Breda sailed on the ship Spieringh from Flanders in northern Belgium to Cape Town. In 1731 van Breda acquired the Oranjezicht Estate which remained in his family for two centuries.

French OakTree

Oak Tree

“Oranjezicht was named either because it overlooked the Oranje bastion of the Castle of Good Hope or due to the sight of abundant orange trees growing in Table Valley.” As time passed, the van Bredas increased their land holdings growing their Oranjezicht Estate to cover the largest part of Table Valley. Terraces were built for cultivating vines, but the estate’s main source of income came from the sale of fruit and vegetables.

Fynbos

Table Mountain Fynbos

The van Bredas were known for their hospitality and entertaining guests on their lavish estate. “Pieter had his own house orchestra of 30 flute and violin players in uniform. They performed in one of many gardens on a raised bandstand encircled by trees.”

Entrance to Kramut

Entrance to Sayed Abdul Matik Kramat

The demise of Oranjezicht began in 1877 when the Purchase Act enabled the Municipality of Cape Town to buy more than 12 morgen on which to build water reservoirs. Today the water reserve is called Molteno Reservoir. Five years later another Municipal Act claimed more of the opulent van Breda estate and their right to impound water from the farm’s many springs. Without water the farm became useless.

Oranjezicht City Farm

Oranjezicht City Farm

Gradually more land was sold but members of the van Breda family continued to live on the land into the 20th century. In 1947 the Cape Town City Council purchased the van Breda house which was demolished in 1955 to make way for a sports club. In 2013 Oranjezicht City Farm (OZCF), a community farm, replaced the club.

Stream Crossing

Stream Crossing

Saturdays the OZCF hosts a community farmers market at V&A Waterfront for independent local farmers and local artisan food producers. Customers can purchase fresh vegetables, fruit, bread, organic dairy, free-range eggs, honey, and muesli. You can also sample cooked and raw foods, edible plants, and seedlings. In addition to food, the OZCF sells compost and gardening supplies. Haven’t made it to the market yet, but it’s on my “must do” list.

Oranjezcht Poster

Oranjezicht Poster

Mouille Point and Bo-Kaap posts to follow soon….

Jonkershoek Nature Reserve South Africa

Pink Proteas

Pink King Proteas

For several months I’ve been hiking Table Mountain and Cape Town’s outlying nature reserves. The Western Cape has so many beautiful reserves it will take a long time to visit them all! Last weekend the hike was at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve near Stellenbosch.

Jonkershoek Hills

Jonkershoek Hills

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“Jonkershoek is one of four nature reserves that form part of the greater Cape Winelands Biosphere – a World Heritage Site registered by UNESCO in late 2007. The Biosphere reserve is gorgeous – beautiful is an understatement.”

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Sunbird

Sugarbird

Jonkershoek Reserve is surrounded by the Jonkershoek Mountains, a part of the larger Boland Mountain Range, which in turn is part of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. The area is strikingly beautiful with hiking trails embraced by magnificent blue jagged peaks. Thick fynbos vegetation is heaven for sunbirds and sugarbirds.

Theewaterskloof Dam near Villiersdorp

Blaauwklippen Valley

There are two major waterfalls in the Jonkershoek Reserve. The hike to Tweede Waterval (second waterfall in Afrikaans) flows along the fertile hills of Guardian Peak (Blaauwklippen Valley in Afrikaans). Guardian Peak, also called the “Hidden Valley”, is well-known for its popular restaurants and wine estates, including those in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl.

Hikers

Hikers

The ascent to the waterfall was steep, windy, and rocky. The scenic trail was bordered by bud-laden protea forests, mountain fynbos, and rock pools ending in a wooded cove near the base of Tweede Waterfall. I’m fascinated by exotic Cape Proteas! Hundreds of different protea types flourish in South Africa’s rich fynbos.

White Pincushion Protea

Yellow Pincushion Proteas

Fynbos

Pink Proteas

If you wanted to get closer to the waterfall, you were sure to get wet. Some in our hiking group removed their boots and climbed to the base of the waterfall barefooted. Others stayed behind in the cove and enjoyed more distant views. After climbing in the cool spray over a few slippery boulder-sized rocks, I decided it was too risky, wimped out, and returned to the cove.

Sue Waterfall Cove

First Waterfall

Tweede Waterfall

First Waterfall

Smaller Waterfall

Taking a leisurely pace, we returned via Jonkershoek’s first waterfall – also impressive. The brisk clear winter weather was perfect for hiking. After a peaceful, inspiring day enjoying nature we stopped at an outdoor café for well-deserved cappuccino.

Boland Region Western Cape

View from Franschhoek Pass

Helderberg Mountains

Franschhoek Farm

Gordons Bay

Fish Hoek

Hermanus Bay

Somerset West

Franschhoek Winery

Boland Valley

Hout Bay

Franschhoek Winery

Guardian Peak

Now that I’ve been in Cape Town for almost six months am considering moving to a less-populated outlying suburb for contrast. Stellenbosch and Somerset West near the Helderberg Mountains, Hout Bay, Gordons Bay, Fish Hoek, and Hermanus are interesting possibilities.