16 September, 2015

Shipwreck Trail at Cape Point

By Diana Studer 
- gardening for biodiversity 
 in Cape Town, South Africa

We came to live in False Bay to hike at Cape Point and, since last November, this is the first time we did. It was a clear and very windy day last week. Yesterday a lightning strike started another fire above Simon's Town. Today's gentle soaking rain has ended that fire. 

The Shipwreck Trail circles around along the beach then up to the ridge. Head down into the wind. Next time, we'll try circling the other way with windblown sand NOT in our eyes.

Olifantsbos Bay

We were impressed by this family of Egyptian geese foraging along the shore. Five long leggedy teenagers swept up the rocks by each breaking wave. They landed a little higher, shook out their winglets and carried on regardless. The parents fly to a higher perch.

Egyptian geese

The Ungardener went down to the Nolloth shipwreck. The ship struck Albatross Rock and went aground in 1965. Both the crew and the cargo were rescued. Must be epic waves as there were a group of surfers in Olifantsbos Bay.

Nolloth shipwreck

I slowly continued to where the path turns up away from the beach. I went very slowly, we haven't hiked since Agulhas in August, then a LONG sedentary stretch in Porterville as we waited to sell the house. But last September we did get to the Sevilla Rock Art Trail and also Postberg and Darling. Last August was the last time we hiked in the Groot Winterhoek. Walking against a fierce wind, which almost, lifted me off my feet, makes very tired. Then I saw a group of 5 bontebok, kindly arranged across Here's The Path. I sat for a while on the path and watched them grazing on the fresh green. Also after the sad tortoises who didn't survive the fire, it was a joy to see two nibbling their way along.

The buck with one horn we saw from the car as we drove back to the gate.


This combination of fire in March, and winter rain in between, meant fire flowers and good grazing. That patch of green is approximately what one foot would destroy by not keeping to the paths, as we are asked to. Annuals and bulbs seizing their chance, shrubby proteas getting the next generation established.

Fynbos ecologist Tony Rebelo said that before the recent finds, this morel mushroom had been seen on the peninsula only about twice in the last 10 years. “A lot has come back, but the big [flower] displays we are likely to see next spring.”

Recovery after the March fire
That patch bottom right is aproximately
what one footstep would destroy
off the path

That slope we climbed was scattered with yellow and a few orange tall flowers Moraea ochroleuca which blooms 'mainly after fire'. Dancing in the wind and tricky to capture!

Moraea ochroleuca

We walked along the ridge named for the protea bushes. Pagoda flower Mimetes.  

Mimetes pagoda flower

I walk slowly, since even in this fire scathed landscape there is a huge variety of flowers. Delicately marked purple and white Babiana. Cobalt blue Lobelia. Just above the sand a tiny yellow wild iris Moraea. Lying on the sand an apricot Oxalis. Tucked in a sandy crevice between the rocks on the shore a yellow daisy.

Babiana, Moraea, daisy
Lobelia, Oxalis

At the end of the trail a steep path zigzags down among the rocks, and flowers. With a view across Schuster's Bay to Platkop and off to the left Slangkop lighthouse at Kommetjie.

Schuster's Bay and Platkop

As we drove back to the gate we stopped to watch a family of zebras. I think this is a half-grown young one.

Zebra foal

Home via the Good Hope Nursery, where I collected a Pelargonium fulgidum and an Adenandra for my blue pot.

Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer
of Elephant's Eye on False Bay

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  1. What a lovely place to be able to hike and it is interesting to see plants that I grow, mainly in my greenhouse, in the wild. Love the baby zebra

  2. What a lovely way to spend the day. I know how devastating at first fires can be, but in their aftermath, everything is renewed. We've had several wildfires over the past several years. Today these areas are still recovering but in such a beautiful way. Nice Egyptian Geese!!! Very cool birds!

  3. Thank you for sharing this lovely hike. It was a real treat.

    Happy Spring ~ FlowerLady

  4. That would definitely be a spot I would want to explore in South Africa! Hikes near waterways are always full of life. I don't recall hearing of a Bontebok before--a type of antelope, I guess? Beautiful!

    1. 'bont' meaning pied
      ... Glory be to dappled things ...
      and yes, an antelope, quite large.

  5. What a treat to walk with you and see the flowers with your knowledgeable eyes. I look forward to the spring bonanza which will follow the fire season.

  6. Great to see the geese. I didn't realise that zebra range so far south. You are surrounded by fabulous flora and fauna!

  7. What an adventure to hike there!
    The Egyptian geese are here abundant as well, at every park lake and I even saw them on top of the buildings in the middle of Frankfurt.

  8. Fantastic, great adventure - but that's what I love! You should get money from the tourist office for your posts!!! Great.
    No, I'm not cooking all year long on the wood stoven - only during the colder season. Hate to clean the ceramic glass cooktop every single minute :)!!!
    All my best to you my friend and happy days

  9. Diana what a gorgeous walk, and a real live zebra? We certainly don't come upon those too often...I love their stripes.

    It's so interesting to see the Babiana....it's considered a collectors kind of bulb here, not every store carries it. Beautiful.


  10. What a beautiful place. It amazes me what a fire can do. It seems like it does so much damage, but then it also creates opportunity and life for some species. Some lovely botanical finds!

    1. I've just learnt that there's a fire asparagus (fern) which blooms 2 weeks!! after a fire, with flowers to feed the bees.

  11. You live in such a magical place. So unique and so interesting. Those sweet little blossoms making their faces shine in the sunlight, and oh to be able to see that Zebra in it's own natural habitat. Heaven.

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

  12. I think those teenage geese may have been playing in the waves! I could almost feel the sandy wind blowing in your face as you made your way. It is amazing what lovely flowers come from the fire scorched earth.

  13. Seeing the baby Zebra is great! Wildflowers and plant growth is quite a benefit after the cleansing of fire.

    Your first hike in the place you moved to do more of - sounds like me. I have a national park just 90 minutes east, plus many others nearby, and I hardly go to those.

  14. Zebras so close...wow. And I love how nature is resilient sending up flowers after a fire. Not to mention a trail where you can see shipwrecks...so cool!

  15. An inspiring walk followed by a stop for plant purchases seems like a formula for a great day. :-) -Jean