In the February issue of Firefly the Travel Guy’s Encounter our Eastern Cape Travel Letter
Meet Samara Private Game Reserve tracker Klippers Pietersen
The Dutch Reformed Church in Kareedouw
Jump into the river pool at Jan se Gat outside Jbay
Download the Amazing Addo wildlife checklist
Find the cathedral mice in Grahamstown
Video – Algoa Bay Whale Heritage Site
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Tracking and double tots at Samara near Graaff Reinet
Rangers are like the cowboys of a game reserve with their game viewing vehicle as their steed, a cap rather than a cowboy hat and bino’s at their side in the place of a revolver. But what about the dude sitting on the bonnet jump seat? Is he the Tonto to our Lone Ranger? Who is the guy with the thing in his hand that looks like a tv aerial? What is he supposed to do? Why does he get a prime viewing seat and I’m sitting in the back?
Setting off on our afternoon game drive at Samara Private Game Reserve outside Graaff Reinet, the guy on the mentioned seat was Elroy “Klippers” Pietersen. Eyes like a hawk, memory of an elephant, patience of a hunting leopard, intensity of a lion, endurance of a buffalo and ears of a rhi … Let’s not insult the man, his ears were covered by his beanie on this chilly winters afternoon. But I’m sure they were scanning like two satellite dishes.
Elroy is a Samara man, born and bred. He was born on one of the farms that now make up Samara, and has been part of the team for 18 years. He started off in the maintenance department and in 2019 he graduated from the Tracker Academy and now works full time at Samara as a tracker.
As I was saying. We set off on our afternoon game drive with Klippers swinging around his tv aerial and giving our Lone Ranger instructions on where to go. It wasn’t long before he pointed at the female cheetah having a dos under a bush with her springbuck kill nearby.
As the ranger gave us instructions on how we were to conduct ourselves while approaching her on foot, Klippers said something to him and disappeared down the road. Wait what? On foot in a big 5 game reserve. Did he take a gun? Maybe he did, or not. Suddenly I moved him into the Chuck Norris category in my mind as well. While Klippers went off to who knows where, we enjoyed the cheetah sighting from about 20 meters away. What an unique experience and not something one gets to do every day. After we had our fill of cheetah, we went off in search of more animals… and probably Klippers.
We found him literally kilometers away. This guy must be like a tank. He keeps going and going and going and he didn’t even look out of breath. I heard him mention the word Ndlovu and knew what we were in store for. It’s ellie time. It wasn’t long before one of the reserve’s bulls came swaggering up the road and past us to the waterhole. What a sight!
With the elephant gone it was time to dismount… disembark… get off the vehicle to stretch our legs and enjoy sundowners. You know, watch the sun go down and wash the dust from out throats. This was where we learn another of Klippers’ special talents. Pouring gin and tonics. Those who asked for single gins just got a sideward glance and this was when we found out that in his book there is no such thing as a single gin. That side of the measuring tool doesn’t work. Double tots all around! Now there’s a man who knows how to satisfy his guests.
How could I not grab a picture with Klippers after all that? Oh and chatting to him I became a distraction and he nearly missed the other elephant bull trying to sneak up to us. In the little time we got on board in a flash he had the whole sundowner setup packed and was jogging next to the vehicle with two cooler boxes as the ranger pulled away in a hurry.
Elroy “Klippers” Pietersen truly is one of those Karoo Heartland personalities that one won’t forget in a hurry. How about another G&T?
Kareedouw Dutch Reformed Church
Kareedouw is the first town you encounter when you travel into the Langkloof on Route 62 from the Port Elizabeth side. The name is thought to come from the KhoiSan word !karegadaob which means “A road past many Karee Trees”.
Kareedouw was established in 1905 as a Dutch Reformed Church congregation. The church can be found on the southern side of town with the Tsitsikamma Mountains right behind it. Next to the church is a small “heroes’ acre” where you will find the grave of Balthazar Johannes (John) Vorster, who was the prime minister of South Africa from 1966 to 1978.
A short mountain pass just to the west of town links the town with the Oudebosch area of the Tsitsikamma.
Jan se Gat – Jbay’s secret hangout
Jeffrey’s Bay is famous for its magnificent beaches and surf breaks, the shell museum, surf clothing shops and nature reserves, but one of its popular leisure spots is less known by outsiders. Jan se Gat, or the Waterfall as some people call it, is located on the Kabeljous River just outside town. Hidden away in a little valley is a beautiful deep river pool with flat rocks all around to relax on. Climb down for a swim, or if you are adventurous, try the foofy slide or do one of the jumps from the surrounding cliffs ranging in height from 6 to 12 meters. The spot is on private land, but the entrance fee is nice and cheap.
Contact Jannie at 083 230 7790 or email@example.com for more info
Amazing Addo Wildlife Checklist
Addo Tourism has a comprehensive wildlife checklist on their website with all the animals you will be able to find in the Greater Addo Elephant National Park. If you are interested in trying to see how many more animals than the Big Five elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino and leopard you can spot, then make sure you download this PDF and keep it on hand on your next trip to the park.
Cathedral mice in Grahamstown
The Cathedral of St Michael and St George is the most prominent building in Grahamstown and is visible from just about everywhere in town. The church is an Anglican Cathedral and this is where the Bishop of Grahamstown keeps his throne. Construction on the building was started in 1824 and finally completed 128 years later in 1952. The reason for the double name of St. Michael and St. George dates back to the early days of the church when the Dean excluded the Bishop from St. George’s Church and the congregation split between St. George’s Church and St. Michael’s Pro-Cathedral, where the 4th Bishop set up his throne. The breach was healed in 1885 after the death of the Dean when St. Michael’s congregation moved, with Bishop Webb, back to St. George’s. It was decided to keep both names as part of the healing process.
The building is Victorian neo-gothic in style, with a granite and sandstone exterior, plastered interior walls and marble pillars. The building of the cathedral was finally completed in 1952 with the addition of the Lady Chapel and can accommodate about 500 people. The cathedral contains many memorials to fallen soldiers of the conflict between the European settlers and the Xhosa. Many of these memorial refer to the Xhosa using terms which are no longer acceptable in the Rainbow Nation of South Africa. This lead to one of the interesting features of the cathedral where certain offensive words and phrases on these memorial plaques are covered as an acknowledgement of the diversity in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
The cathedral has two carved memorial plaques done by the well known North Yorkshire furniture maker Robert (Mouseman) Thompson. He got his nickname from the fact that he carved a mouse in every piece he did and visitors can take on the challenge to find the cathedral mice..
A New Future for Tourism :
Algoa Bay, South Africa
Whale Heritage Sites are a global accreditation scheme developed by the World Cetacean Alliance and supported by World Animal Protection, that recognise a community´s commitment to respect and celebrate whales, dolphins and other cetaceans.
Port Elizabeth, where Algoa Bay is located, is a hidden gem in South Africa for whale and dolphin watching, and other wildlife viewing, with seasonal visits from southern right whales, humpback whales and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. They have the largest breeding colony of African penguins in the world. Other resident species include bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, Bryde’s whales and Cape gannets.