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Clivia and Cycad in Camphor Avenue
On Wed I collected an excited family of five from Atlanta Georgia USA for a iconic two day hike up and over Table Mountain overnighting at the dramatic Overseers Cottage at the De Villiers Dam on the back Table...
We made an early start at Kirstenbosch after sending our food and excess luggage up ahead with the Sanpark rangers...an hours orientation to these magnificent gardens turned up a Spotted Eagle Owl Chic on the ground near the Cycads with its concerned parents keeping an eye from overhead....The Pincushions are in full bloom in the Gardens as is South Africa's national flower the King Protea with its dinner plate size blooms...

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Castle Buttress towering over Kirstenbosch
It was a gorgeous sunny day and the imposing backdrop of Castle Butress made a dramatic setting for the start of our two day hike.
Leaving the Gardens we made our way out via the Dam that draws water from the streams above and looped out on a segment of the Yellowwood Trail until turning up at Skeleton Gorge to join up with the Contour Path....
We stopped to view the breathtaking waterfall at the start of the Smuts Track and then turned South on the contour path to join Rooikat Ravine which then makes its way steeply up through Cecelia Ravine and past the beautiful Cecelia Waterfall

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Skeleton Gorge Waterfall
We stopped for a refreshing shower under the pristine falls and then carried on up to the Bridle Path which makes its zig zag way ever upwards until reaching the The De Villiers Dam which is the first on the Back Table...
Vast areas have been cleared of alien pines and gums in recent times and this has afforded magnificent views of the Southern Peninsula and False bay while tackling the slog to the top

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The smaller of the two Overseers huts
The steep climb finally levelled off at the Steel Bridge which marks the start of the back table and we reached the dramatic Overseers Cottage at about 1pm.....This overnight cottage is placed almost on the edge of the cliffs and affords the most amazing views specially at night when the lights of the City below are quite a spectacle!!
The Cottage is a home from home and far from basic...in fact its level of comfort, setting and facilities is about the best you can get for such a hike!!

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De Villiers Dam
After a good rest and some delicious Woolworths sarmies we set off for an afternoon loop around all five Dams and then had a look at the old equipment at the Waterworks Museum all used when the dams were built in the late 1800's.....
We then followed the track of the old railway to the dramatic outlook over Kasteelspoort down into Camps Bay....
A rest and off again on the walk back this time over the wall of the Woodhead Dam looking down into Orange Kloof and Disa Gorge and then back to the Cottage for a relaxing evening after 22kms of great excercise and wonderful sights...

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The dramatic view from Kasteelspoort
After a good nights rest and a great meal supplied from Giavannis Deli we set off early for the 12km push towards Maclears Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain and then finally the Cable Car down....
The day dawned misty but it cleared to become the most ideal warm hiking day...the Smuts track over the tops of Nursery Ravine, Skeleton Gorge and Fernwood Peak affords the most amazing views and passes through almost surreal jagged Sandstone rock formations...The Fynbos was as good and as colourful as you could see with everlasting Paper flowers in abundance....We gingerly bypassed a commotion of Cape Robins in a bush alongside the path as I spotted a Boomslang snake being harrassed by these birds deep in the Pincushion bush!!

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Table Mountain from Lions Head
We arrived elated at our highest point of Maclears Beacon at 12 noon and after admiring the view and a rest we finished the two days by walking on the Western Table route vie Platteklip Gorge to the Upper Cable station ...
The Cherry on the top of course was the Cable Car ride down as having hiked up to the top this was a first for all in this family!...
We were down by 1pm and my Atlanta Family were tired but totally gobsmacked by their experience over one of the worlds most beautiful two days of hiking that a person can do!!

 
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Pincushion Proteas on the upper slopes
On Tuesday I collected an excited group of Australians for a mid morning start to Kirstenbosch and then out to the Cape Winelands....Our midwinter weather could not have been more perfect and we did a one hour orientation walk from the top gate with Castle Buttress forming a dramatic backdrop for a great start to the day!!....A highlight was the Spotted Eagle Owl showing well in a low branch above the Dell and the Aloe Ferox in full bloom.....My guests were fascinated to hear about the magnificent Forest Fever Tree in the Dell and the origins of Colonel Birds Bath!!....

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Fairviews Famous Goat tower
Then it was off on the N1 for a 40 min. drive to Fairview near Paarl for some great late morning Wine and Cheese tasting....Famous for its Goats cheeses my guests just loved Fairviews iconic Goat tower with its resident Billys sleeping near the top!!....After some exceptional tasting it was into the Goat Shed Restaurant for a lunch which concentrated on some excellent South African dishes on offer while sitting on the patio with a view all the way to Table Mountain

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The view from Delair Graff
Into the car and up the dramatic Helshoogte Pass to the breathtaking setting of the Delaire Graff Estate deck overlooking the Banhoek Valley where my guests settled in for some serious and very relaxed tastings of the Estates exeptional wines....this is where my first problem of the day arose....!!....I simply could not tear my Oz visitors away from this setting so decided to bypass Stellenbosch where I had intended to take them into Oom Samie se Winkel which is stocked and laid out just as you would have expected of an 18th Century General Dealer Store.....

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The Scarecrows of Mooiberg
Then it was off down the R44 to the Mooiberg Farm Stall where the Zetler Family and their Berry Farm workers have created the most astounding array of Scarecrows and metal sculptures ....People come from far and wide to see these brightly coloured creations which are unique......

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The Beduin Tent at Moyo on Spier...
Finally it was down the Annandale Road past vast Berry fields to Spier Estate for an interactive visit to the Cheetahs which form part of Spiers outreach programme, a look at the Turkish Anatolian Shepherd dogs that are being bred on the Estate and finally some coffee and a beer or two in one of the spectacular tree top dining areas are Moyos African themed restaurant at Spier......My guests watched a red Cape sunset over the vinyards while reflecting on a great day.....

 
Well as you can see from the pic above Kirstenbosch is in full Aloe bloom season right now and what a spectacular display they make!!....The pic above is of a Kranz or Cliff Aloe and shows the back of Devils Peak in the background with a very unseasonal South Easterly cloud scudding over the top!!
On Thursday last week I took some visitors from Boston USA on a Scenic Peninsula trip and the weather could not have been better!!....At the Cape Point Ostrich farm a male Ostrich approached one of my male guests...and promptly went into a frenzied mating dance which seemed clearly directed at my guest!!....One very confused Ostrich and one very embarrased but excited guest who nevertheless kept his camera going full speed!!....
Although lots of people were at the Old Lighthouse lookout point above the Furnicular at Cape Point, I spotted a Southern Right whale wallowing and relaxing just inside the point which nobody else had seen.... I promptly showed my visitors with the Binocs which I always carry!!....Also drew my guests attention to a Peregrine Falcon coursing along the cliffs and the colony of breeding Cape Cormorants below!
At the Boulders Penguin colony much of the main beach where the colony normally hang out has been eroded by big seas so only a small patch of nests remain...as a result many of the colony have moved up into the bushes and can be seen from the Boardwalk to the colony....My guests were amazed by the danger signs on the Simonstown main road warning motorists to be on the lookout for Penguins crossing and indeed we did see a couple of Penguins in the roadside vegetation on the MOUNTAIN side of the road...once again great excitement!!....
The Story of Able Seaman Just Nuisance on Jubilee Square Simonstown always fascinates my guests!!...
Unusually we did not come across any of the resident Baboon troups either at Cape Point or at Millers Point!!...As I had promised my guests Baboons as a last throw of the dice I turned up towards the Tokai Arboretum and sure enough we soon parked off in the middle of at least 35 of the Tokai Troup who seemed to be trying to raid a rangers house at the time...lots of barking, screaming and general Baboon Aggro and mayhem with all the large Males trying to show off!!.....It was all I could do to keep my guests securely locked in the car with all windows up!!...They were all for going up through the sunroof to take pics but for sure a large Baboon would have ended up in the car in a flash!!....
Through UCT and a short cut to avoid the rush hour traffic up to Signal Hill to watch a balmy very red Sunset over a calm Sea Point sea rounded off a great day ....A final drive through Bo Kaap and some very tired but happy guests were dropped off at their Waterfront hotel!!...

 
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    I just love to see the faces of my guests when I share my passion for all that is Cape Town with them!!

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    Picture
    Pincushions in Kirstenbosch
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    Constantia Valley from the Bridle Path
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    The Overseers Cottage
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    The Track crane from 1880 at the Waterworks museum near Hely Hutchinson Dam
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    Everlasting Flowers on the Smuts Track
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    Maclears Beacon, the highest point of Table Mountain
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    The Cable Car