Birds, Baby Zebra and Lions (Safari 4)

So today’s post finishes off my trip to South Africa. I hope you have enjoyed it all?

Again, our final morning began at 4:45 am (which actually worked in our favour because it meant I was so tired that I actually slept on the plane flying home), followed by our last safari drive at 5:30 am.

We had a beautiful sunrise to finish off our last morning in South Africa.

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Within a few minutes of leaving camp we came across a pack of 11 wild dogs. This time we actually saw them running around, and wow do they move fast! This was a different group of wild dogs to the ones we had previously seen. We didn’t spend too long sitting with them though as it was everyone’s final drive so we were trying to find new things.

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Next up we found an elephant in the trees. I love this photo, I’m not sure why!

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After the elephant we continued our drive and found several birds. Firstly some vultures. We’d seen vultures previously but I’d never managed to get a photo of them. They are absolutely massive! :O We then came across Zazu… Well kind of. This is a yellow-billed hornbill rather than Zazu who is a red-billed hornbill. We also found some African Spoonbill birds feeding 🙂

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From the birds Kyle had been asked if he could help track something as we were close by. Turns out we were following the tracks of 2 young male lions. They didn’t take long to find 🙂 They were absolutely massive! These 2 males were around 2 years old and they don’t grow their full mane/start a pride until they’re around 8 years old. For the next 6 years they’ll fend for themselves and once able to, these two brothers will begin their own pride.

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We were starting to come towards the end of our last drive and were on the way back to camp when we came across a group of zebra (called a dazzle). We’d seen one or two zebras during our trip but never a dazzle. It was so sad seeing one of the zebras injured and limping around and knowing it wouldn’t last long out here like that. But that’s nature! We also found a couple of incredibly cute baby zebras!

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After seeing a couple more animals we were back at camp for our last breakfast.

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It was then time to pack up to leave. We drove back to Hoedspruit airport enjoying our drive back through the reserve looking out for more animals 🙂

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We then flew back to Johannesburg airport and after an 8 hour wait we were on our way home.

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All in all I had an incredible trip and I can’t thank mum enough for taking me (I promise I’ll start paying you back when I get a job!). It was educational for me seeing so much conservation in action and I loved seeing all of the wild animals, and I really hate to say it but having the privilege of seeing some of these animals before it is too late.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my holiday 🙂

Find my other South Africa posts here:

Part 1 – Arriving in Cape Town

Part 2 – V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Two Oceans Aquarium & Cape Wheel

Part 3 – Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Bo-Kaap & Camps Bay

Part 4 – Simon’s Town & Seal Island

Part 5 – Penguins, Baboons, Ostrich & Cape Point 

Part 6 – Kirstenbosch & Chapman’s Peak

Safari 1 – Safari Experience, Wild Dogs & Sunsets

Safari 2 – Giraffe, Elephants, Hippos & More

Safari 3 – Lions, Cheetahs & More

Safari 4 – Birds, Baby Zebra and Lions 

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Lions, Cheetahs and More (Safari 3)

Our second full day on safari again started at 5:00 am! It was far too early but the excitement of what we could see woke me up. Again, I quickly got ready, covered myself in sun cream and mosquito repellent and was ready for our morning game drive.

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We headed out and again, guess what the first animal we saw was?!

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The giraffe are everywhere!!!

Anyway, remember I said we were tracking the lions the previous day? Well, quite soon in to our drive another car from one of the other safari lodges had found the lions. So we quickly drove round to find them. They were really tucked away right at the edge of the reserve! For a while I thought I wasn’t going to see lions here, but thankfully we found some!

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See the cubs look almost black? Yeah that’s blood. We could hear them eating away at something, but sadly we couldn’t get to it to see the kill!

We spent quite a long time just watching the lions before trying to find some more animals. This morning the animals were obviously awake and before long we found 2 white rhino having fun in the mud.

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This was the only point of the safari that I got a bit nervous! They came so close to the car, but thankfully they weren’t interested and just walked on by.

We then came across 2 wildebeest. They are the most bizarre looking animals!!!!

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After the Wildebeest Kyle and Joe picked up the tracks for something. They worked out which area it was in and told us to keep an eye… but they didn’t tell us what we were looking for. They just told us it was something exciting… far more exciting than the elephant I pointed out! I had to admire their bravery though as Kyle and Joe ventured off in to the bush at one point to try and find any more signs of what we were looking for.

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Eventually they let on that they’d picked up the tracks of a female cheetah and her 4 cubs. I immediately got excited! After an hour or so of searching with the help of another lodge we had to give up for the morning. It was getting too hot anyway so they’d be unlikely to move anywhere now until later in the day. So we headed back for breakfast.

After breakfast we again sat around in the communal area watching the waterhole, but very little came to drink today. It was too hot. It was around 35 degrees in the shade…. I think this picture that my mum took says how I found the heat!

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Anyway, very little came to the waterhole, but we did have 2 Nyala come and drink from the swimming pool today which was funny! At least they didn’t get in the pool!

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Around 3pm we had our late lunch and were tucking in when one of the other safari guides came over and told us there was a large herd of buffalo at the water hole drinking and sitting in the water! It was typical that we’d spent all day sitting there watching and the moment we left another animal turned up!

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I’d now ticked off 4 of the 5 Big Five (the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot). The last one remaining was a leopard. A couple of hours before our afternoon drive two of the people who had arrived that afternoon told us they’d seen a leopard just lazing by the side of the road on their way in. Kyle knew exactly where they were talking about so we headed off to try and find this leopard…. Sadly it had gone by the time we got there and I didn’t get to tick off all of the big five. 😦

But we did see some more Impala!

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Anyway, we got back on the case of the cheetah. We were searching and before long the call came in from another car that they’d found her. Usually, to protect the animals they only let 2 (maximum 3 if the space is really open) cars in at a time. Since we were the first car to start tracking the cheetah that morning we had “priority” to go in and see it. I think Kyle had heard that the cheetah looked like they were about to head off again, so he drove so quickly to get us there to see them. It was amazing!

At first we only saw a small glimpse of them peeking out from the top of the grass and I was worried that was all we were going to see of them.

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But then they got up and moved. It was amazing to see. Although I took loads of photos I actually just sat there and watched the animals without the camera, occasionally looking through the binoculars.

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It was incredible. There right in front of us the fastest land mammal in the world. Along with 4 healthy cubs.

Before long they’d disappeared back in to the bushes, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the cars that were just turning up to see her.

After the cheetah guess what we found…. More giraffes!

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After sundowners we didn’t find any more animals the rest of the evening and headed back to camp, pretty smug that we’d seen a cheetah and ready to wind Dad up that I’d seen one and he hadn’t.

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Find my other South Africa posts here:

Part 1 – Arriving in Cape Town

Part 2 – V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Two Oceans Aquarium & Cape Wheel

Part 3 – Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Bo-Kaap & Camps Bay

Part 4 – Simon’s Town & Seal Island

Part 5 – Penguins, Baboons, Ostrich & Cape Point 

Part 6 – Kirstenbosch & Chapman’s Peak

Safari 1 – Safari Experience, Wild Dogs & Sunsets

Safari 2 – Giraffe, Elephants, Hippos & More

Safari 3 – Lions, Cheetahs & More

Safari 4 – Birds, Baby Zebra and Lions 

Giraffe, Elephants, Hippos & More (Safari 2)

Our first full day on safari began with my alarm going off at 4:45 am, followed by Kyle knocking on the door at 5 am. I was soooooo tired having not slept very well thinking about all the creepy crawlys and insects that were outside and inside the mosquito net… as well as the possible snakes and scorpions lurking close by!

When I woke up it was still pitch black , but I couldn’t believe that by the time I looked outside at 5:10-5:15 it was light. It got light so quickly there! Despite being tired the excitement of the day drove me out of bed. I covered myself in sun cream and mosquito repellent and got ready for our morning drive.

As we opened our door we were thankful for the cool breeze that hit us! It was so lovely and cool outside compared to in the chalet! Anyway, there waiting for us right outside our chalet was a Nyala.

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It was a bit weird being so close! I wasn’t too sure how it was going to react but it was more than happy and just let us walk past.

We got in the car and went out at 5:30 am on our first morning drive. Sadly it was a bit of a quiet one (as Kyle said the animals must have all been having a lie in this morning).

We found some giraffes “necking” basically practice/play fighting. It was pretty cool to watch. Apparently it is really unusual to see it. It is so weird seeing the giraffes throwing their necks around. They don’t look like they should be able to… But they can!

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As I said, the morning drive was a bit of a quiet one with not many of the bigger animals around. We saw some birds, hippos, antelopes and squirrels, but not much else in the morning.

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When we arrived back at the camp (at around 8:30) we had a lovely breakfast (I loved the pancakes!!! 😀 ) before setting ourselves up in the communal area watching the water hole for the rest of the day. I decided to stay in the shade! I don’t do well sat out in the sun!

During the rest of the morning and the afternoon we enjoyed watching the animals come and go. We had more Nyala in the camp, as well as watching some leap over the electric fence! There was also a lot of activity at the water hole where Warthogs, Impala and Zebra visited. The Warthogs definitely stole the show, they are absolutely hilarious to watch!

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One thing I was absolutely desperate to see while on safari was a giraffe bending down to drink. And late in the afternoon a giraffe appeared at the waterhole. It stood there for ages thinking about it and eventually it decided it wanted a drink. It was amazing to watch.

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At around 3 pm we had a light lunch/snack to keep us going before getting ready to go back out on game drive again. Just before we headed out 2 male elephants appeared at the waterhole. It was so exciting to see elephants again. They’re such amazing animals. As they were still there at 4:30pm when we went out on drive, Kyle drove us around to the other side of the waterhole to get a better look at them.

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From the elephants we went just around the corner again and found the pack of wild dogs we’d found the previous day. This time it was a better view of them but it was still too hot for them to be doing anything but laying down!

After we’d rejoined the main tracks we soon found a large group of elephants, including an incredibly cute little 1 month old baby elephant! They decided they didn’t want us to get through as we were laughing at the “African roadblock” that appeared in front of us.

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After seeing the elephants we picked up some fresh lion tracks, so we started following the lion prints in the sand. We tracked the lions for a good hour and finally found the area they were hiding in…. But we didn’t see them. The area was too thick for us to get in there. We stopped for our evening drink, and again, I laughed as Kyle asked us not to stray at all far from the car tonight knowing there were lions VERY close to where we’d stopped!

After drinks we tried to track the lions some more but had to stop as it was getting dark and we had to head back to the camp for dinner. But we decided we’d try and pick up the lion tracks again in the morning.

Once we’d had dinner I was so tired even though it was only around 9pm, so I decided to head to bed. It was safe to say that as soon as my head touched the pillow I was fast asleep!

Find my other South Africa posts here:

Part 1 – Arriving in Cape Town

Part 2 – V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Two Oceans Aquarium & Cape Wheel

Part 3 – Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Bo-Kaap & Camps Bay

Part 4 – Simon’s Town & Seal Island

Part 5 – Penguins, Baboons, Ostrich & Cape Point 

Part 6 – Kirstenbosch & Chapman’s Peak

Safari 1 – Safari Experience, Wild Dogs & Sunsets

Safari 2 – Giraffe, Elephants, Hippos & More

Safari 3 – Lions, Cheetahs & More

Safari 4 – Birds, Baby Zebra and Lions 

The Safari Experience, Wild Dogs and Sunsets (Safari 1)

After 6 nights in Cape Town it was time to head off on safari. I was incredibly excited for safari and seeing conservation in action.

We got up early and had a really nice breakfast on our last morning. I have to show this breakfast because it was amazing! The homemade corn fritters were really tasty!

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There are several places you can go on safari in South Africa, but we decided to head up to the Kruger Park area to one of the private reserves. We drove back to Cape Town Airport and flew up to Hoedspruit in the North East of South Africa. The flight took a couple of hours and it was my first time flying in such a small plane. Let’s just say, I didn’t like it very much! :O

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Not very often you see this anymore!

Hoedspruit airport is tiny and we walked straight off our plane, grabbed our bags and collected our hire car. Mum and dad had been to the safari lodge we were going to before and from previous experience a small car to drive off road is not the way to go! So we ended up paying a bit more for a bigger, higher car. It was a lovely car!!

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It took us around an hour to drive from the airport through to the safari lodge, and on the drive we saw warthogs, baboons, zebra and lots of antelope animals. We eventually got to the Tangala gate (the entrance to the safari lodge we were staying at) and drove through. We were soon met by some elephants and rhinos! Let’s just say, it was slightly nerving driving ourselves through!

We then arrived at Tangala Safari Camp and were met by our Safari guide Kyle and tracker Joe.

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Kyle & Joe

We didn’t have much time between getting to the lodge and the afternoon game drive. We had a drink and something to eat and went to see our room before going out on drive.

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Our chalet

 

 

Tangala is one of the more basic safari lodges out in the Thornybush reserve. It has quite recently been upgraded to have electricity in the chalets provided by solar power, as well as now having Wi-Fi (for around £6 a day) should you want it. We were thankful for the fan provided in the bedroom as it was so hot (especially at night)!

At Tangala there are 4 chalets (which we were staying in) and 6 tents. Each sleeping 2 people, meaning the maximum number of guests would be 20 at any time (which is quite small for safari lodges). We were quite lucky in that the number of guests while we were there was never more than 8. Anyway, there is a main communal area with plenty of seating, a bar (you pay for what drinks you have), swimming pool and loungers where you can sit during the day. Tangala is quite a unique safari lodge in that it faces out on to a large open area with a water hole, meaning that during the day between game drives you can sit and watch the animals come and go. As part of the price you also get 3 meals included a day where at breakfast and dinner (weather permitting) you can sit out on the deck and enjoy watching the world pass by.

 

 

At 4:30pm we headed out on game drive and I was quite excited to see what we could find.

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Before we went out, Kyle (our guide) asked us if there was anything in particular we wanted to see so that him and Joe could attempt to find it for us. I was quite keen to find some African Wild Dogs and since they’d found them that morning we headed out to find them (the animals don’t move much during the day because it is too hot for them).

Within our first hour we’d seen lots of antelopes (Nyala, Impala, Kudu), giraffes, birds and a fish eagle before coming across the Wild Dogs.

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Around half way in to our drive we stopped for a drink (sundowners they call it). A chance to get out of the car (in the middle of the bush, obviously in an open place for safety) and watch the sunset.

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I can honestly say this sunset was perhaps the best sunset I’ve ever seen! It was amazing!

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After sunset we carried on the drive for around another hour looking for nocturnal animals before arriving back to the camp at around 7:30 ready for dinner. Once getting back to camp the mosquito net was down in our cabin and the oil lamps were lit.

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After dinner Kyle took us out on a little scorpion hunt around the camp. Scorpions glow green when under a UV light, so we had fun walking just a few metres from where we were sitting and finding around 20 scorpions lurking by the path and in the trees! The stars were also amazing!

After dinner and the scorpion hunt we decided to head to bed ready for our 5am wake up in the morning.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post? What animal would you love to see on safari if you could? 

I apologise for the quality of the photos, they don’t look so good. I’ve almost run out of storage space so have played around with resizing images. Are they OK?

Find my other South Africa posts here:

Part 1 – Arriving in Cape Town

Part 2 – V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Two Oceans Aquarium & Cape Wheel

Part 3 – Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Bo-Kaap & Camps Bay

Part 4 – Simon’s Town & Seal Island

Part 5 – Penguins, Baboons, Ostrich & Cape Point 

Part 6 – Kirstenbosch & Chapman’s Peak

Safari 1 – Safari Experience, Wild Dogs & Sunsets

Safari 2 – Giraffe, Elephants, Hippos & More

Safari 3 – Lions, Cheetahs & More

Safari 4 – Birds, Baby Zebra and Lions 

 

Kirstenbosch & Chapman’s Peak (Cape Town 6)

Our last day in Cape Town 😦 (before moving on to safari), but also the hottest day we’d had. It was a little more of a relaxing morning before heading off to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for a walk.

Kirstenbosch is in the foothills of Table Mountain, so it is pretty spectacular scenery as you walk around. But it is quite hilly in there! It was 30 degrees the day we went and we went in the morning and we got really hot walking around!

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Unfortunately it was the wrong time of year really to see all the flowers, but it was a lovely day and still a really nice walk. It makes our local botanical gardens look a bit rubbish!

From Kirstenbosch we headed out to a place called Chapman’s Peak, which is a scenic drive along a coastal road. It was really spectacular views again from here!

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After Chapman’s Peak it was still quite early in the day and we had quite a long time left, so we decided to head back down to the V&A Waterfront where we went on our first day in Cape Town. We wandered around the gift shops a bit more before going to get some dinner.

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After dinner we headed back to the hotel to begin the task of packing to move on to safari 🙂

Find my other South Africa posts here:

Part 1 – Arriving in Cape Town

Part 2 – V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Two Oceans Aquarium & Cape Wheel

Part 3 – Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Bo-Kaap & Camps Bay

Part 4 – Simon’s Town & Seal Island

Part 5 – Penguins, Baboons, Ostrich & Cape Point 

Part 6 – Kirstenbosch & Chapman’s Peak

Safari 1 – Safari Experience, Wild Dogs & Sunsets

Safari 2 – Giraffe, Elephants, Hippos & More

Safari 3 – Lions, Cheetahs & More

Safari 4 – Birds, Baby Zebra and Lions 

A Day of Animals: Penguins, Baboons, Ostrich & Cape Point (Cape Town 5)

Today was penguin day. Possibly the day of the whole trip I was most looking forward to 😉 (apart from Safari)! There may be penguin overload in today’s post… But then I am obsessed with penguins! 😀

Anyway, we got up earlier and headed back to Simon’s Town and perhaps it was because we were earlier, or maybe it was because the weather wasn’t so good, but we parked straight away and I soon had my first glimpse of an African Penguin.

I love penguins so much and it has always been a dream of mine to see penguins in the wild. I’ve spent a long time reading about them and studying them that I know how endangered they’ve become. Particularly African Penguins which I spent a couple of months researching during my masters. It was amazing to see them in the wild, as well as being so unfazed by human presence so close to them. I mean you’re not allowed to go touching them or anything, but you can get close to them if you know where to go.

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On Boulder’s Beach (where the penguins are) there are 2 main entry points, the one where most people know to go, where there is a boardwalk to stop you getting close to the penguins. But there is also the main beach area (in the photos above) where the penguins do actually come on to the beach and you can pretty much swim with the penguins.

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Had I been prepared (and had my swimming/snorkelling stuff) I may well have swum out a bit but I wasn’t so I made do with the view I had of the penguins. Besides I wouldn’t want to cause any unnecessary stress to such an endangered species just for my pleasure. Anyway, after our stop off at the quieter beach we walked across to the main viewing area.

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There are far more penguins to see in the main viewing area, but it is more crowded and you don’t really get very close to the penguins.

After we’d finished at the penguins we went to Cape Point, which was probably another 20-30 minute drive on from Simon’s Town.

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Within Cape Point there is Cape Point itself (which genuinely feels like you’re standing at the end of the world), and Cape of Good Hope. The general misconception is that Cape Point is the most southern part of the African continent, but it isn’t. Cape of Good Hope however is the most southwestern point of the African Continent.

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After going up Cape Point I was trusted to drive around to Cape of Good Hope. We’d insured me on our hire car, just in case I needed to drive at all. But at least I can now say I’ve driven in another country 😉

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In Cape Point (Nature reserve I think it is) there are wild ostriches and wild baboons. We’d driven around a bit to no luck, and then we decided to drive off the main route towards one of the quieter bays of the Cape Peninsula. And before long we spotted a troop of around 20 baboons walking along the road. It was pretty fun to watch, especially all the younger ones playing and fighting. Then 2 decided to jump on to the car which was funny, but also slightly terrifying at the same time (mum was very glad she’d paid for the extra insurance on the car at the point)!

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Continuing our drive we managed to find a male and female ostrich together which was amazing to see. Today was truly a day of finding wild animals.

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I forgot to show the Dassies we found at Boulder’s beach too!

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Anyway, Buffles Bay where we found the ostriches and baboons was a pretty beautiful place. I can imagine that at the weekends it could get incredibly busy down there (even with the baboons around).

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That was a bit more of a condensed version of our 4th day in Cape Town! I hope you enjoyed today’s post and I’ll be back tomorrow with our last day in Cape Town!

Find my other South Africa posts here:

Part 1 – Arriving in Cape Town

Part 2 – V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Two Oceans Aquarium & Cape Wheel

Part 3 – Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Bo-Kaap & Camps Bay

Part 4 – Simon’s Town & Seal Island

Part 5 – Penguins, Baboons, Ostrich & Cape Point 

Part 6 – Kirstenbosch & Chapman’s Peak

Safari 1 – Safari Experience, Wild Dogs & Sunsets

Safari 2 – Giraffe, Elephants, Hippos & More

Safari 3 – Lions, Cheetahs & More

Safari 4 – Birds, Baby Zebra and Lions 

 

 

Seals Everywhere! Simon’s Town & Seal Island (Cape Town 4)

On our 3rd day in Cape Town we had planned to go and see the penguins. Cape Town has some healthy populations of African penguins which I was desperate to see, but we didn’t realise that on this particular Sunday (which we now know was the last day of the summer holidays) the whole of Cape Town would descend on the beach… Safe to say we turned around and tried again another day.

So instead of the penguins we ended up going to a place called Simon’s Town, around 45 minutes drive from the centre of Cape Town. Simon’s Town is a big naval town, where we enjoyed a walk around the town and the shops.

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I could imagine that Simon’s Town would be a great place for me to go if the timing was right, as loads of shark and whale watching trips go out from there. Sadly we were a couple of months late for both of these! I hope that one day I’ll go back when it’s whale and/or shark season!

One of the things I was looking forward to during our time in Cape Town was taking a look at the African craft markets. In a lot of places through Cape Town you find little market stalls where locals from Townships sell things they’ve made. Some of my favourites were the beaded animals they sell. But it was interesting to hear how they’re made and how long it takes to make them. You’d never realise that some of it is made from old Coca Cola cans and scrap car metal. OK, you’re supposed to negotiate with them a bit on price, but me and mum were happy with our purchases and gave the man a small tip too, which really made his day.

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We enjoyed a walk around the waterfront area while waiting for our boat trip out to Seal Island in the middle of False Bay.

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Cape Town is famous for its Cape Fur Seal population, particularly being famous for their relationship with the Great White Sharks which reside in False Bay with them. I’d heard of Seal Island in the middle of False Bay, which during breeding season is home to around 75,000 seals. I’ve seen seals before and I’ve seen a lot of seals before…. but this was off the scale! We booked on to the boat trip and headed out in to False Bay.

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I can imagine that during the right time of year you’d see loads of whales and possibly a few Great White sharks. But even with my eagle eyes open we didn’t have any luck seeing any dolphins 😦

Anyway, it was quite a rough ride as the wind had picked up but it was definitely worth it to see such a healthy population of seals. But they smelt so bad!

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It had quite recently been seal pupping season so there were quite a few seal pups around 🙂

Today was a bit of a shorter post, but I’ll be back this weekend for the last 2 posts from Cape Town 🙂 I hope you’re all enjoying these posts from my holiday?

Find my other South Africa posts here:

Part 1 – Arriving in Cape Town

Part 2 – V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Two Oceans Aquarium & Cape Wheel

Part 3 – Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Bo-Kaap & Camps Bay

Part 4 – Simon’s Town & Seal Island

Part 5 – Penguins, Baboons, Ostrich & Cape Point 

Part 6 – Kirstenbosch & Chapman’s Peak

Safari 1 – Safari Experience, Wild Dogs & Sunsets

Safari 2 – Giraffe, Elephants, Hippos & More

Safari 3 – Lions, Cheetahs & More

Safari 4 – Birds, Baby Zebra and Lions