Thursday, October 21, 2010

Leaving Mossel Bay and Time on the Beach

Tuesday, Oct 19  South Africa

This reminded me of Cushing with all the oil storage tanks!
Pickup Load!
Seal Island in Mossel Bay
Seal Island is located in Mossel Bay and the seals have adapted somewhat to the sharks in the area by going out to feed after dark and coming back before it gets daylight.  We were watching a special on the "South Africa Discovery Channel" about this, and it was interesting that the sharks are adapting to the seals feeding, and they have begun feeding at night when the seals are out.   Here at Wilderness Dunes is the first time we've even had tv.  We watch it in the early mornings or late eves - mainly getting up and going to bed.  Most of the time we are out and about.

After Arriving back to our chalet today...we managed to navigate our way DOWN 263 steps to the beach.  Our own 63 and then we saw a note on the handrail that read 200 steps... hey, we are getting used to them by now.  Beach was sandy, except at the point which was quite rocky. There were thousands of little snails feeding all along the beach as the surf came in and out.
The beach was covered in these snails...
We also found this creature that had floated ashore.  It was a cross between an air-filled cellophane small balloon-like creature and a jelly fish... was so weird.  It was mostly a bluish clear and had tentacles.  It was barely moving, but we could tell it was something alive.
I found out this is a Man-of-War and is venomous...even if dead!
Good thing we didn't touch it!
We also came across another weird substance, at first again we thought it was a jelly fish of some sort, but the more we looked at it, we think it was some kind of plant. It was a big firm blob of gelatin like substance.  The snails seemed to like it.  There were little pieces floating around as the wave came in and out.
Anyone know what this is?
I have to laugh, it doesn't take much to entertain us sometimes.

While we were strolling the beach, we also saw a guy at the top of the ridge with a parasail, so we hung around that area until the wind was finally right for him and he jumped off and sailed along the bluff's edge above the beach.  Looked like fun.  He sailed out towards the rocky point and then made a turn and headed back up the sandy beach area to land quite nicely, never missed a step!

We hung around the beach until sunset and then trekked back up the steps to finish the sunset from our deck.

I had only taken our small pocket camera with us to the beach and I wanted the bigger camera for the sunset... in-fact I wished I had had it for all the strange creatures and plants we ran across.  Oh well, nice afternoon on the beach.

Great White Shark Feeding

Tuesday, Oct 19 in Mossel Bay Area  South Africa

Time to head out on the boat... Zip-on / Zip-off Legs are nice!
We took a chance on booking this adventure... they had not seen sharks for 7 days, but had been advised by the scientists who have helicopters that they had moved to a specific bay.  So they felt good about going out to find them.  I'm thinking we have been pretty lucky so far with the many things we are seeing, so I was thinking positive we would find the sharks.

They drove the boat to the area they thought the sharks were and anchored sideways in the current, which created an extremely rocky situation. You had to hang on ALL THE TIME!!! ...and could barely do that.  We had 8 in our group and 3 of them got nauseated.  Dennis and I were fine.
Ready to See the Sharks!
They began scooping chum into the water which consisted of tuna scraps and the key to the chum was the oily substance that floated on top and drifted.  Tuna is on their diet.  Sharks favorite is whale and seal meat, but they are not allowed to use those two as bait.  So our wait began...

Maybe after an hour, we finally had our first sighting, yeah for finding sharks!  The water was very clear so you could see it swimming around scoping things out.  They had a rope with big fish tied on it and used that as a bait to get them closer to the shark cage and boat so we could really see them.  They would throw it out in the water and just when the shark was ready to grab it, they would yank it up or in, it would keep the shark coming back.
He's scoping it out
Going for the kill
Sometimes he got it...
Sometimes the guide would jerk it away
Typical shark fins on top... and here is cage against the boat
Three people in the group got on wetsuits and got in the shark cage.  Another girl chickened out and one other guy had gotten sick.  The cage was tied to the side of the boat and with a mask you just held your breath and went underwater to see them.  While I was not afraid of being in the cage, I did not want any part of the freezing water -- with or without wetsuit!  The guide told us we actually see more from the boat anyway.

The guide said we had a total of four different sharks that came for viewing.  We had two students on the boat as well and they were charting information as to what sharks, water temp, etc.  I could tell some of them apart myself.

It was interesting as one shark was there and headed for the bait and all of a sudden he seemed spooked and darted away from the bait.  Then in seconds, another huge shark appeared.  I guess the big one ruled!  Dennis thinks he was probably 18 feet in length.

While we saw lots of sharks and got some pretty good pics, there was one time that neither Dennis or I were ready and a shark came from the deep straight up out of the water and grabbed for the bait.  His mouth was wide open and head was out of the water, but we didn't get the picture. :-(   we saw it though!

Most of the sharks would swim around at the surface before attacking, but every now and then they would come straight up from the deep and it's not as easy to spot them until bam... there they are.

So, it was a fun afternoon and seeing them in the open ocean was great.  But, I'm not kidding when I say the boat was rocking, to the point I thought it was literally going to tip over -- I could SEE US being the shark bait!!

It was very difficult to hold the camera with one hand and hang on for dear life with the other.  We were on the top viewing deck, so we had more movement than on bottom deck.  Just when you would aim the camera to click the wave would take your view to another place -- this really was difficult for picture taking.  Ashley, I held on to the camera no matter what though!

Drive to Mossel Bay

Tuesday, Oct 19  South Africa

Again, such a beautiful sunny day with temps perfect!  I truly feel so blessed to have the opportunity to travel as a couple as we are doing.  So nice to just open the doors to the deck in our bedroom, lay in bed, feel the breeze, listen to the waves, and sip on hot tea.  We always look forward to each day and head out for more adventure.
I think this was the only 10 seconds that wasn't a hat day!
We're driving along the main highway headed back to Mossel Bay to go out on a boat and do a Great White Shark Feeding.  As we're driving along and in the middle of the center median you can see guys working.  They were trimming the bushes with Nippers!!!... I mean the kind of nippers that I would cut one branch with... again amazing the amount of manual labor.

After leaving Plettenberg Bay area where the National Park was and seeing how lush the foliage was, it was not the same in Mossel Bay area... they are in severe drought and maybe 2 hours away.

One section of the highway they had two flagmen directing everyone into one lane with a speed limit of 35mph... we proceeded along for FOUR MILES, and saw no workers, no construction, in-fact the road looked perfect!  The only thing you could see were the cones for the single lane!  Are you kidding me -- 35mph in one lane for FOUR miles for nothing!

Another thing that is done -- guys/gals stand in the parking lot and offer to watch your car for you while you shop or are away from your car, and of course, they want a tip.  In the Crossings Shopping Center in Nelspruit is where we first saw them.  There were lots of them,  one every few parking spaces, each waving their arms trying to get you to park in their area, it's crazy.

 I know we had a pic of the guy with the whisk broom at the turnpike gate, well, we also saw a guy sweeping the city streets with a shop broom, hey, he had the new and updated equipment.
Notice only one guy is working... everyone else is standing watching!
Poor Guy
Interesting, when Dennis got directions as we were heading somewhere, the guy kept mentioning to turn at the robot and then go to next robot... we call them traffic lights!

We were headed to the Post Office to get a Fishing License
and walked by this little girl... she was so precious!

Rotary Club of Mossel Bay

Monday, Oct 18  South Africa

We arrived in Mossel Bay in plenty of time for the Rotary meeting.  Here are a few members getting ready for the meeting...

Everyone was very friendly and welcomed us.  Mika, their president, asked Dennis to tell about the Cushing Rotary Club, which he did and then presented their club with a flag from the Cushing Club.
Dennis with Mossel Bay Rotary Club President, Mika
They have lots of business activities going on, but certainly manage to have fun with what they are doing.  So sad to hear they had just lost a long-time member who was loved by all.  Dennis appreciated being able to attend their meeting.  I enjoyed meeting everyone too. 
Dennis with the Mossel Bay Rotary Project Sign

Cango Cave

Monday, Oct 18  South Africa

Lazy morning, slept-in until 9 a.m., had hot tea and toast on the deck over-looking the ocean... Life is Good!  Eventually hopped in the car, after descending those 63 steps, and headed to Cango Cave
The cave is approximately 600m deep and we probably only went half way.  It has several huge caverns and has tons of formations.  Was very interesting to see.

It is unlike us that we did not take the long "crawl and squeeze through stuff" tour, but we got  a late start and Dennis wanted to be in Mossel Bay by 6 pm for a Rotary meeting.  So we took the short tour, grabbed an ice cream bar at the gift store for lunch... (in fact I couldn't decide which kind, so I just grabbed two) and then we headed to Mossel Bay.

We took a different route back for new scenery and went through this little town called "Oudtshoorn".  It was so nice and clean with everything in bloom.  Roses must have been their theme.  They were in bloom throughout all the medians and landscaping.

We saw several ostrich farms, as well as sheep and goats being raised in this area.  They actually had two adult ostriches... I guess babysitting all these babies, so cute.

These two were in another pasture with many others.
Oh, I forgot, DT bought some Ostrich Biltong in the gift shop... which translates to Ostrich Jerky.  It was really good!

We passed a group of children who had just gotten out of school just be-bopping along the road.

As we headed towards Robinson Pass in the mountains, you could see this wall of clouds hanging in the tops of the mountains... was just a very cool sight.

The closer we got to the top, I thought "we're going to be in those clouds!"

We traveled through the pass without any problems, but if I would have thought to stick my arm out the window I could say "I have touched the clouds"... amazing how high up we were!

This was certainly a scenic route.  We stopped to take a picture of a view out over a valley and RIGHT AS we stopped this bird flew and landed on a roadside flower RIGHT BESIDE the car to get nectar.  I don't know what he is, he's not in my bird book.

It was amazing as if he came and said, "here, take a picture of me and my long tail feathers!"  It was a bird that we had not seen yet.  This one rates right up there for me with my Leopard Pic.

Tsitsikamma National Park

Sun, Oct 17  South Africa

Great scenery driving to the park.
We were on a toll road and again everything along the road and medians was blooming.  There were a lot of scrub bush and bushy plants, but it was still really pretty.  Oh, they also have a tree-like plant called stinkwood and it does stink!  I don't know what it looked like, but you knew you were near it!

How's that for a Park Name!
The park was beautiful!!! Entering we immediately saw three Sharpe's Grysboks grazing along the road.  We saw only one of those while in Kruger National Park.
Sharpe's Grysboks
This Hadeda Ibis was ground feeding among the Grysboks
After just a little ways the flat became a windy road thru rock walls and trees on steep grades up and down.
We also saw a few smaller-like songbirds, but none were as pretty as what we saw in the Eastern area.  When we got through the windy roads we were on the coastal edge of the Indian Ocean, it was breath-taking.  It wasn't a sandy beach like at our condo, but rather a rocky coast and beach.
There were several of these rental cabins along the coast and throughout the park.
This portion of the coast is so rocky and scenic.
We hiked for what seemed like 15 miles uphill, well maybe closer to 14 miles, well actually, I'm not sure on distance, but I am sure it was uphill and it seemed to be uphill both dirctions!  It was like walking through a tropical rainforest at times with moss, ferns, and tons of calle lillies just growing wild.  They were beautiful.
So green and lush, calle lillies growing on the side of the hill.

Again, Calle Lillies were so pretty!
We meandered our way through the pathway to see two suspended bridges.  One crossed over the canyon and the other over the river that feeds into the bay.
Yes, we hiked from the beach area to the top then descended back down to the bridges,
only to go back up to the top so we could get back down to the beaches... whew!
Proof we were there!
This is the view from the suspended bridge looking back up through the canyon and river that feeds into the bay.
They had a lookout tower and if you wanted to hike umpteen hundred miles straight up and unreal steep hill you could view out across the ocean -- we both decided our view from the bridge was beautiful enough!  South Africa truly is amazingly beautiful!  I would recommend anyone come tour.

This little guy is a Rock Dassie and you see them throughout the park.  The first one I saw was basking in the sun on the rocky coast.  We also saw several of them while hiking.
He blends with the rocks.
We ended up eating dinner at a restaurant in the park.  They had Kudu Steak on the menu - so Kudu it was!   There was no fancy presentation, it was basically steak, but tasted great! ... now, I can say I've eaten Kudu.

We were really tired that eve and Dennis is tired of night-time driving through the mountains.  It seems so many of our day trips we always end up driving home at night.  I'm struggling a little bit with allergies as everything is blooming.  It is so pretty here, all the flowers, trees, and especially the azaleas and wild bougainvillea are just UNREAL.  I'll post more  flower pics later.
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