dryfter: (photographer)
Here are some photos from the Kirstenbosch Gardens near Cape Town, that I took a while back but hadn't uploaded:

(Or View slideshow)

Click to view the set.. There's even a quiver tree in there!
dryfter: (photographer)
Do you like penguins? Have some Jackass Penguins! (More photos behind the link)

One two one two

Taken near Simonstown, in South Africa on the Western Cape.
dryfter: (photographer)
I thought this was so amazingly scenic that I just had to share it with you too. I don't know what is causing those ultra-low clouds on the left, either.
Chapman's Drive

And here's a bonus cute animal photo - this is a Dassie:
Dassie & skyline
(They're allegedly a close relation of the elephant, although Wikipedia is able to state two or three other animals that are closer.)
I think they're kind of cute. The ones we saw were very tame.
dryfter: (photographer)
A lot of (black) people seem to live in these shantytowns just outside of Johannesburg and Cape Town. (And probably elsewhere, but these are the ones I saw).
These two photos are the edge of one, that stretches back a LONG way:
Township near Cape Town
Cape Town township

Note the poles with power lines in the second photo.
I'm told that the South African government has a mandate to provide electricity to everyone, and does - unfortunately, you can imagine the (lack of) safe wiring in shacks built from junk like this. I heard on the radio that babies and children were dying frequently because their shacks were catching on fire while their parents were out, and the shacks burnt down too quickly to allow neighbours to rescue them.

The government has a program to build new, safe, housing for people, and in some places you could see these fields of identical small brick huts. However they have a long way to go before they can replace the millions of huts like this.
dryfter: (Default)
Photos from "A Midwinter's Daydream" party, in South Africa:
Sunset over the dam
more pics from there )


Jun. 5th, 2007 06:39 pm
dryfter: (me)
Hi guys,
I've been mostly-offline for a bit, but have caught up with a lot of emails today, but not Flickr or LJ.
Cape Town has been nice, and now I have photos of Dassies and Penguins and lovely landscapes and seascapes.. which I will eventually get around to uploading.
If you visit Cape Town, I can really recommend visiting the Kirstenbosch botanic gardens, as it's very nice.
Oh, and Bouchard Finlayson do a nice Pinot Noir.

In the meantime, here is a little story about a flower photo I posted a while ago:
Erica verticillata
I took this photo by the side of a small hiking trail in the Drakensberg region, near Cathedral Peak. I think, but I'm not sure, that it is an Erica verticillata.

If so, then it turns out it has quite a story:
It was thought to have become extinct by the 1960s, with the last recorded collection from the wild in 1908. (It survived in cultured botanic gardens for a while longer).

However staff at the Kirstenbosch Gardens were able to track down some seeds and cuttings:
In 1984 the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, received a cutting from a private collection, which they forwarded to South Africa.
In 2001 the Heather Society of Britain found a plant in Southampton, and sent some cuttings to Kirstenbosch.

The plant was re-introduced into the wilds.. where I found it.

Adelaideans: Let me know if you'd like to catch up this Saturday? It's not going to be a big celebration or anything since I'll probably be knackered from a massive flight and jetlagged.. I'll have a party later, once I've got back in touch with more people.
I can do other times instead, too - after all, it's not like I have a job to go to during the week.. So it's in my interest to see people then too :)
dryfter: (photographer)
I've finally uploaded the photos from Cape Town trip #1. (View slideshow)

Here's three photos, click 'em to view the rest of the Cape Town set:

Toby on Table Mountain
dryfter: (Default)
This is a collection of mini-rants about South Africa:

The official customs/entry-to-country form we were given on the plane into South Africa contained three obvious spelling mistakes (or possibly more.. I didn't read the fine print). And since then, I've seen terrible spelling every day, often in places that should really know better. Government documents, art galleries, every menu in restaurants, newspapers, magazines, etc etc etc. I don't know why it's so prevalent?
I saw a car the other day for a driving school. On the back it said in big letters something about "please be patient, as you were a leaner driver once, too." Heh.
You probably already saw the photo of the Joly Bar, which proclaimed itself Joly on one side, but Jolly on the other; The mistakes in Bargains/Bargins were reversed though. WTF?

Anyway, I won't go on. But seriously, it's everywhere. Why?

Number plates (or lack thereof):
Loads of cars here drive without number-plates. Some are crappy old bangers, some are posh sports cars, but most are just average cars. I'm told they do this to avoid speeding fines. So obviously enforcement of /having/ a numberplate isn't too harsh. (Liz thinks it's R500, which is less than higher speeding fines.)
This annoys me - if you can afford a fast car, you can afford the speeding fines - take it like a man!
Although I suppose they feel like, why should they pay, when obviously the everyday people aren't paying up either. Weird - I'm sure if you drove around without a numberplate, you'd get chewed up and spat out in so many little pieces by the Aussie cops, in no time. I suppose the cops have higher priorities here though.

The internet:
I've used a couple of different ISPs here so far, and they've both had decent speeds to sites hosted in South Africa, but horrendous speeds to the rest of the world. I'm talking rates that are slower than dial-up, and with huge latency. What the hell? Is this normal? Why can't someone setup some new satellite links to take the load off whatever is carrying the traffic currently?
This probably explains..
Online information:
.. is very sketchy and/or inaccurate or downright wrong. Trying to find information on restaurants, accommodation, bars and clubs, entertainment, etc is really hard. Emailing a bunch of places that were listed elicited no responses from any. A couple of places I wanted to visit turned out to be long closed, despite numerous references.

I guess those two things are just signs that South Africa is still developing, and hasn't quite hit the find-everything-online-society that I've become accustomed to.

Cape Town

May. 23rd, 2007 05:40 pm
dryfter: (me)
So last week I picked up a wine tourist guide and flew down to Cape Town, with Liz who knows her away around the city, as well as the wineries. (The wine tourism guide was 200 pages, but fails to mention anything about individual vineyards beyond their opening times and contact details.)

Of the wineries in the Western Cape that we visited, notable ones I liked:
* The Sauvignon Blanc from Constantia Uitsig, who also have a nice cafe going.
* The Merlot from Delheim (also had a good shiraz), who were the most friendly and down-to-earth of the lot, and also did cheese platters.
* The Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Kanonkop topped the lot though - VERY nice wines, and I'll have to see if I can get hold of some bottles of these back in Australia..
(Does anyone there know? It would cost a lot to ship a case back to Adelaide, plus customs would have a field day with taxation on them.)

I liked Cape Town as a city, too. It feels totally and utterly different to Jo'burg and Gauteng. In Cape Town, the minibuses have route numbers on them, and I saw at least one white person getting out of one. The traffic in general was much calmer, and the roads less busy. People (black & white) were walking along streets, and they even had a paved pedestrianised mall. Houses generally didn't have fortress-like walls and electrified fences. I didn't see any shops or cafes that required one to be buzzed in through a security gate by the proprietor.

So I guess what I'm saying is that Cape Town didn't seem to have the paranoia, fear, hostility, segregation, etc. of Johannesburg. But maybe it does, but not in the CBD or areas I saw?
There were still beggars, more than in Jo'burg even, and I saw big shanty towns on the journey from the airport into town.

Also, I think I just felt more comfortable in CT because it was more familiar to me, in layout, and style. Similar types of shops/bars/clubs/restaurants are mostly grouped - eg. Long Street has a whole load of pubs, smaller restaurants, and bars with dance floors interspersed with coffee shops and alternative, urban and clubbing clothes shops. Kloof street seemed to be a lot of different restaurants, and some upmarket housing. Other shops spread out around the shopping centres and malls, with blocks of high-rise commercial buildings.
Down by the sandy beach surfers spent the friday afternoon catching waves, even in late autumn, while cafes pressed up against the esplanade.

On Friday I paddled in the ocean while looking up at the huge mountain above, with pretty houses dotted on the lower slopes. Over the weekend the weather turned dramatically, leading to vicious and almost horizontal rain and a crazy storm.. The weather still hasn't quite recovered, and it has been freezing since - today in Joburg I'm huddled over my laptop wearing a jumper and jacket, despite being sat next to a heater! Crazy stuff.

Liz & I attempted to find a superclub called Dockside, but despite it having various references from both blogs and tourism sites, we could not find it at all.. we eventually discovered that it had closed down years ago, and I sent some annoyed emails to the tourism websites that had mentioned it.
We did however get to visit a few other places, and I liked a club called Fiction on Long street. For eating, Mao gets my recommendation, as does this cute little mexican place just off the side of Long street.

I really liked the way the mountains and big hills surround Cape Town, and it makes for a great view from higher up. I'll be posting a bunch of photos from Cape Town and Table Mountain soon, but in the meantime, here's a shot of a freeway to nowhere from Cape Town:
Freeway to nowhere
Can anyone explain it? I don't know if they just never finished it, or if it is all that remains of something that was removed..
dryfter: (photographer)
I'm back from Cape Town, as of yesterday.
However, here are some photos from the trip prior, to the Drakensberg mountains, including the KwaZuluNatal national park.
big photo under the cut )

The Drakensberg area was quiet, hardly any other tourists around. I suppose it is out of season, though. Loads and LOADS of very pretty mountain scenes. Hiked a bit around Cathedral Peak, but the signposting was wrong and ended up in Rainbow Gorge, instead of at Dorian/Doreen Falls. (The signs disagreed on the spelling). Was rather nice anyway though.

Also went to the KwaZuluNatal national park, although didn't have enough time to hike up to the myriad of waterfalls around there. Saw the Cascades though. If you go to the KZN national park, I'd recommend camping there and allowing at least a couple of full days to explore it - it was large, and you have to hike everywhere - no driving. The campground looked good. Note: you really should take a map, as the big one at the entrance was completely useless, and didn't even point north, nor did it have elevation lines, which given you're dealing with mountains and canyons and cliffs, would really have helped a lot!

I also saw a lot of small regional villages - traditional (I presume) thatched huts, built from fired mud/clay bricks. People seemed quite happy, and waved at us as we went past. People were doing their laundry in rivers, or just swimming for fun. Annoyingly, young kids would swamp you, cupping their hands to beg, unless you kept driving, in these areas. Not cool that they've learned that response to rich white people. Older kids would happily wave at you as you drove past, though.
All these people looked healthy and well-fed, and pretty happy and well-off, in their own way. Quality clothing, shoes, etc, so they can't be doing too badly, and living off the land. Lots of schools, universally sponsered by Clover, a brand of milk.

Things I learned: I can't seem to take clear photos out of a moving vehicle, even at fast (1/500 or 1/1000 sec) shutter speeds.


dryfter: (Default)
Toby "dryfter" Wintermute

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