The canals at St Francis

Manuel de Perestrelo, a Portuguese explorer weighed anchor in a sheltered bay in 1575. He was struck with the natural beauty of what he saw and named it Bahia de Sao Francisca after the Patron Saint of Sailors, St Francis of Assissi. As legend has it, the landward side reminded him of the beautiful cloisters of the 14th Century Gothic monastery of St Francisca, at his hometown of Santareme. Little did he know that over 400 years later a unique village…

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Elephant and snowy mountain

One day when I'm big I would love to see elephants walking on the plains of Kenya with a snow capped Mount Kilimanjaro in the background. The closest I got to that scene so far was visiting Samara Private Game Reserve outside Graaff-Reinet recently after a cold front that brought snow to the mountains of the Karoo Heartland. At least I can say I've seen an elephant with a powder of snow on a mountain top in the background.

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Blue mountains of the Karoo

There is an Afrikaans folk song made famous by Johannes Kerkorrel that starts off mentioning the blue mountains. "Al lê die berge nog so blou,al lê die berge nog so blou,al lê die berge nog so blou,haar woorde sal ek steeds onthou."Whenever I see the blue silhouette of mountains on the horizon this song always pops up in my head and it was no different while driving through the Eastern Cape's Karoo Heartland on my way to Graaff-Reinet. This time…

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Lion paw prints

Going on a game drive is nothing like visiting a zoo. The animals in a game reserve are free to roam all over which means there's never a guarantee that you will see them. A recent game drive I went on produced everything we wanted to see except for lion. I have a question though. How do you know the lion crossed the road if nobody saw him? He leaves his footprints. As we were watching a couple of giraffe…

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The Cape St Francis Lighthouse

There are 49 lighthouses (according to Wikipedia) along South Africa's 2800 km long coastline. The oldest is the Green Point Lighthouse built in 1824 while the newest one was built at Groenrivier Mouth in the Northern Cape in 1988. I have a thing for lighthouses and wouldn't mind traveling from lighthouse to lighthouse one day when I'm big to be able to tick them all off as visited. The lighthouse at Seal Point in Cape St Francis was complete in…

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Blue Cranes at sunset

As the sun was setting in the west after an amazing game drive at Samara Private Game Reserve near Graaff-Reinet, we stood with gin and tonics in hand enjoying the end of another stunning late winter Karoo Heartland day. Suddenly we heard a noise over a nearby rise. The 'krraaarrr krraaarr’ call of blue cranes. Not one or two, but a flock of at least 60 or 70 coming in to overnight at the nearby waterhole. They first did us…

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A Nieu-Bethesda fossil tour

Many many millions of moons ago the Karoo was an inland sea which over time slowly started to shrink. About 265 million years ago, the Beaufort Group of rocks within the Karoo sequence was beginning to be deposited by massive rivers draining into the shrinking inland Ecca Sea. As these rivers filled the basin with sediment that entombed the remains of land animals that lived around them. This period is known as the Permian Period and took place around 50…

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A Gamtoos Valley outing

The Gamtoos Valley with it's citrus farms, beautiful scenery and interesting little corners is one of our favorite day excursions to just get out of the city for a bit. The advantage is that it is nice and close to Port Elizabeth, so you are in the valley after like only a 40 minute drive. We try to see and do something different every time we go which is probably two or three times a year. Our latest outing produced…

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