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Mako Shark Trip
26 May 2013
 
     

Another interesting photo and story from the team at Apex Predators - www.apexpredators.com

By the way, Chris Fallows is speaking at One&Only Cape Town next month, win tickets here:

http://www.nightjartravel.com/webform/one-only-speaker-series

Mako Shark Trip by  Monique Fallows

After a month of pretty bad weather we anxiously watched the forecast of good weather stay true for a great opportunity to head of Cape Point in search of Mako and Blue sharks. The weather did not disappoint and as we headed of Cape Point the sea was even calm for the open ocean!

Just before heading off Cape Point we came across a school of about 500 common dolphin at the mouth of the Bay. We spent a good 30 minutes with them accessing their behaviour. Of course we had seen a pod of Orcas just 3 days before so we wanted to make sure they were not around before driving further south … all seemed quiet so we continued our journey in search of warmer water , it was just 13C at The Point!

It was still pretty cold until we hit strong current line about 17 miles from Cape Point. There was also a great temperature break on the other side of the current line and we watched the water temperature climb up to just under 18C, perfect for the sharks! We set up our slick and began our wait …

Our bait had attracted a number of white chin petrels, great shearwaters, and also a couple of Shy Albatross around the boat. While we waited for the sharks the birds put on a great show as they fought over scraps of fish. We particularly enjoyed various chest butts and loud squawking noises! Just under an hour later we had a small 1.2 meter blue shark approach the bait. It has been some weeks since we were offshore so we were really happy to see this little fellow.

Very soon after he arrived we had a good size mako of about 1.7 meters also arrive and a couple minutes later a second mako shark of a similar size also came in. Its not often that we get to see 2 mako sharks together. The interactions are always great as they generally do not like each other. So, when they find themselves approaching the bait together they put on huge bursts of speed in an effort to create distance from one another. The second mako did not stay long but shortly a third mako shark arrived. 

The water visibility was on the green side but it was still a great dive to have 2 mako’s together with a small blue shark thrown in the mix! We had just about finished for the day and were busy packing things up when a larger fourth mako shark for the day arrived! In Mako shark terms, seeing 4 in one day is considered extremely lucky. This shark was particularly keen to stay around and was perfectly happy swimming on the surface. As such it was a great opportunity for Chris to use his pole – cam for some close up shots.

The mako was really interested in the camera and this gave way to some unique mouth-open, gill gazing images! As we headed back to Cape Point and Simonstown in a beautiful following sea I quietly reflected on how amazing the open ocean environment is off Cape Point and what a privilege it is that we can access it and the various marine wildlife out there so easily…

Raggies
23 May 2013
 
     

A story from Tom Swartz – Instructor at Manta Marine Dive Centre (East London):

Over the last few years greater focus has been placed on the Sardine Run (The Greatest Shoal On Earth).  As East Londoners this time of the year also means an explosion in our local population of Raggies (Ragged Tooth Sharks), gathering in large groups on our 3 Sisters Reef not only to catch the passing meal but more importantly to breed.

During our spearfishing outings we started noticing the Raggies a lot more often and behaving more aggressively than normal, so we decided to scuba the next day in search of larger groups of the Sea Puppies to observe things a bit more closely.

To our delight the winds favoured our trip and with viz in excess of 10m (outstanding for East London) we descended on the southern pinnacle of the Sisters Reef and bottomed out on what seemed to be 20+ Raggies. Scarred bellies showed the tell-tale signs of their aggressive mating ritual where the male bites a hold on the female’s belly and twists himself upside down to ensure claspers are not disrupted.  

Their behaviour was that of a standard dive with these mystical creatures, inquisitive yet still keeping a healthy distance. One or two females ventured close enough for me to get a good pic, but the rest seemed disinterested in us.

It was an amazing dive for all and for one of us, his first time diving with sharks, 20+ Raggies was enough to raise not only his heart but also his air consumption rate.

Contact: [email protected]

The Punt at Malgas
23 May 2013
 
     

What a novel way to cross a river. We have used the punt across the Breede River at Malgas a number of times over the years, but still feel like little kids in a candy store when we do so. The novelty just never wears off. The tariff for a crossing is R40 for cars and bakkies (R15 for a tractor), but there are monthly and annual tariffs, so for some folk this must be like a trip to the office. The ferry is “hand operated”, meaning there are two guys who pull it across, and the whole process takes no more than a few minutes from one side to the other.

Blue Cranes
21 May 2013
 
     

These magnificent birds occur in very small numbers outside of South Africa, so their survival is really a function of how well we can protect our national bird ourselves. Today the two largest populations of blue cranes can be found in the Western Cape (± 12 000 birds) and the Northern/Eastern Cape (± 5 000 birds). Although the blue crane is still on the “vulnerable” list, they are seen in increasing numbers, particularly as one drives thorough the cereal crop fields and dryland pastures of the Overberg. This is largely due to the sterling work of the Overberg Crane Group and other conservation bodies. These birds were photographed on the road between Elim and L’Agulhas.

www.bluecrane.org.za

Adventurous Adventurer Guests
20 May 2013
 
     

[Remember to check out our give-away!] We celebrated the Nightjar Adventurer 2013 awards recently and in the audience were several folk who had embarked on equally ambitious, foolhardy and pioneering expeditions that passed completely under the radar. My friend Richmond MacIntyre, with whom I completed the Drakensberg Grand Traverse last November, is a case in point. He’s ticked most of the boxes having climbed the Seven Summits etc, but most of his adventures, usually undertaken with his brother Chris, have been more spontaneous – done simply to satisfy their curiosity, and, at the same time get in a bit of exercise. Over the last couple of years they’ve achieved world firsts like kayaking 2000km through the Okavango Delta region with minimal support; a journey that took them down the Okavango River from the Namibian border to Maun, along the Boteti River to Lake Xau on the border of the Makgadikgadi Pans, on to Seronga in the Delta and finally to Victoria Falls via the Selinda Spillway, Linyanti, Chobe and Zambezi Rivers. And they were the first to make a complete crossing of the Makgadikgadi Pans on bikes. 

 – Fiona McIntosh


Now you might not have heard of either of the crazy MacIntyre brothers, though you’ll certainly know of Wilderness Safaris, the company that Chris co-founded with Colin Bell.

May 2013 is Wilderness Safaris 30th birthday and the company has grown substantially from its humble beginnings - offering rustic mobile safaris to like-minded guests who were passionate about nature and exploring the Botswana’s remote wildlife areas – not only in size, but also in its ability to positively impact Africa. It was the first safari outfitter at the time to realise the need for its financial benefits to flow back to the country and its people, ultimately ensuring the sustainable protection of Botswana’s diverse wilderness. Happy Birthday Wilderness. Looking at Botswana 30 year on, we’re grateful for that vision.

More info:

www.wilderness-safaris.com

Give-away:

http://www.nightjartravel.com/webform/one-only-speaker-series

Protea eximiae
17 May 2013
 
     

I found several of these gorgeous Protea eximiae, commonly known as the broad-leaf sugarbush, in bloom on the lower slopes of Towerkop (near Ladismith) recently. The shrubs often grow into small trees and mainly flower through spring into early summer (August to October) but, being one of the more robust protea species, they are occasionally seen flowering in mid winter and late summer. This plant’s particularly vibrant as it’s soaked from a heavy mist and lit by soft muted light – the ideal lighting for photographing plants.

Text & Image: Shaen Adey

Orca Sighting
9 May 2013
 
     

Most people would immediately leave the water at the sight of a two-metre high dorsal fin cutting through the glassy surface. Not Dave Hurwitz. When the owner of the Simon’s Town Boat company (the sole permit holder for whale and dolphin watching in False Bay) got news of orca sightings just off the coast south of Simon’s Town this week he was quick to launch his boat. And the reward was quality time with a very relaxed pod of 6 killer whales. Dave recorded the first sightings of orca this year only 10 days previously when a pod of  was spotted on one of his scheduled trips out to False Bay’s Seal Island. Read more about these and daily marine sightings at www.facebook.com/boatcompany

It's Time!
8 May 2013
 
     

The hour has finally arrived. The adventurers are gathering, and soon we will announce the Nightjar Adventurer 2013. The winner will receive a R5000 Cape Union Mart Gift voucher, sponsored of course by Cape Union Mart, and a GoPro Hero3 Black edition, sponsored by @GoPro. Then, the Readers' Favourite (Thank you all for voting!) will receive a R1000 Cape Union Mart voucher, and a GoPro Hero3.

Finally, we have further bundles generously sponsored by Adventure Inc. (importers of Buff and lots of other cool gear) and we will have a draw for the readers who signed up online, for R500 Cape Union Mart vouchers. Oh, and it's Nightjar Travel's 1-year birthday today, just to top it all off :-) So, this is going to be one Fantastic evening! 

If you can't make it tonight, we will miss you, but do check out the tickets we are giving away to the guest speaker series at One&Only Cape Town (on the Nightjar Adventurer 2013 Awards page). Ok, no more spoilers from me...

www.nightjartravel.com/adventurer-2013

The whales have arrived!
7 May 2013
 
     

 Yay, they’ve arrived! Having swum thousands of kilometres from their summer feeding grounds in icy Antarctica, the first of this year's southern right whale visitors been spotted at the De Hoop marine reserve.

Watching these gentle giants is a real privilege. According to Meredith Thornton of the Mammal Research Institute at University of Pretoria there are now about 10 000 southern right whales in the world’s oceans, still a long way off the estimated 80 000 which once existed. 

South Africa’s waters are home to approximately 4 000 of today’s global population (for those of you who are numerically challenged that’s a whopping 40%) and every year over 300 southern rights come to mate and calve in the sanctuary off De Hoop - one of the most important breeding and calving areas in the world for their kind.

Fishing, boating and exploitation of any kind is prohibited in the pristine reserve so it’s an understandably popular nursery where the females and calves can swim, undisturbed, in the clear waters, while the males put on spectacular displays. (What is it about guys that they are constantly trying to impress?)  The breaching, blowing and belly-flopping happens so close to the shore that you don’t even need binos. So head down to the dunes with a bottle of wine and a blankie and spend a couple of hours watching the antics as you celebrate another fine day in Africa. 

 – Fiona McIntosh

Check out www.dehoop.co.za for details of special events and accommodation deals over the whale-watching season.

Mossel Bay announces new archaeology tours
6 May 2013
 
     

Today sees the launch of new archaeology tours to Mossel Bay’s Pinnacle Point Caves, which have revealed the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour.

The caves, which have been the subject of intensive study since 2000 by the SACP4 Project (South African Coastal Palaeoclimate, Palaeoenvironment, Palaeoecology, and Palaeoanthropology Project), under the direction of Professor Curtis Marean of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, have recently been declared a Provincial Heritage Site.

According to research published in 2007 by Prof Marean and his team, this is probably where the small, core population that gave rise to all humans alive today first began to exhibit significantly modern behaviour. It was here that man began to harvest the ocean systematically, to use ochre for symboling, and to embed bladelets into other media to create complex tools.

A later study under Dr. Kyle Brown – also of the SACP4 Project - showed that it’s most likely that this is where man first used fire to improve the quality of stone tools. 

The remains in the caves – which date as far back as 164,000 years - were discovered during an archaeological survey, as part of the environmental impact assessment into the proposed development of the Pinnacle Point Beach and Golf Resort, conducted by Jonathan Kaplan, the director of the Agency for Cultural Resource Management, and Peter Nilssen.

The ‘Point of Human Origins’ tours of the caves begin in June and will be conducted by Peter Nilssen or a similarly qualified scientist. They will also be offered as optional adds-on to one of the best slackpacking trails in the country, the Oystercatcher Trail (www.nightjartravel.com/slackpacking/western-cape). Bookings are now open.

See http://humanorigin.co.za/

www.visitmosselbay.co.za 

Ephesus
5 May 2013
 
     

Anyone interested in ancient history must visit Ephesus in Turkey. This hub of early Christianity, Greek mythology and Roman history is best experienced in a guided tour. Amongst many attractions, you could stand in the amphitheatre in which the Apostle Paul spoke to the Ephesians or you could admire the detailed features of the commonly known Greek mythical creature, Medusa. The architecture of the towering ancient ruins is breath-taking and one can see immaculate patterned details that have remained all these years. Be sure to take a hat if you visit during Summer as it gets very hot!

 – Pasqua Heard

Photographer: Jane Jager – Ephesus, Turkey

Robberg Peninsula
3 May 2013
 
     

This walking trail on the Robberg peninsula, just outside Plettenberg Bay, must be one of the most stunning and most easily accessible hikes along the entire South African coast.  As you walk, marvel at the indigenous fynbos, revel in the secluded coves and beaches and discover a whole new world sea creatures, like the Cape fur seals that frolic in the surf. You may also be tempted by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean after you’ve completed a few of the trail’s steeper ascents! There are three routes of different lengths and degrees of difficulty to choose from; ensuring that there are suitable options for everyone, from families to experienced trail runners (http://www.nightjartravel.com/trail-running/robberg-express-trail-event).

 – Dianne Tipping-Woods

Local is lekker
2 May 2013
 
     

How often do we speed past a small roadside business? Sometimes the locals you meet can be as memorable as the places you visit. I met this family early morning after overnighting in Middleburg. We’d just got going, but the quirky handmade windmills and broad smiles were a photo opportunity a begging. The children were helping to set up shop for the day, carefully arranging the different sized windmills. Now every time we look at our windmill we see the family behind it and it reminds us of our trip. And it’s great to support local entrepreneurs.

 – Megan Pilditch

Dalyan Beach
28 Apr 2013
 
     

There are few beaches that rival Dalyan Beach in Turkey. Most beaches are commercialised and one has to enter a restaurant and pay for something on the menu before entering the beach. Dalyan's simplicity is its draw-factor. It is not crowded with restaurants whose music turns into a cacophony when played all at once. Even the hundreds of thatch umbrellas that line the beach are natural-looking. The sand is scorching hot, so it is best to stay on the wooden boardwalk that leads to the shore. Once you get to the water, you cannot help but gasp at the sight that greets you: an expansive Mediterranean Sea inviting you to wade in its still waters.

 – Pasqua Heard

Photographer: Jane Jager – Dalyan Beach, Turkey

Dryver Mobile App
24 Apr 2013
 
     

My first reaction when I saw the advert was that it must be a belated April Fool’s joke. ‘A groundbreaking FREE alternative to drinking and driving’? Yeah yeah. However it seems it’s not only genuine, but might work. The DRYVER mobile app is pretty simple – by creating a mobile community network of friends from your existing phone contacts, you can call for help or arrange lift home at any time when you’ve had one too many.

In a nutshell you set your status to ‘DRYVING’ or ‘DRINKING’ then your mates can see your status and make a plan before heading out for an evening or to hook up with a sober driver when out and about.

And if you’ve really had a skinful, and are too tipsy to organise a lift home, you can activate the ‘Rescue Me’ and DRYVER will send out and SOS message with your current location to all the active drivers on your list! Provided one of your buddies responds it’s brilliant.                       

http://dryver.mobi/

 - Fiona McIntosh 

Nuri Sushi Factory
23 Apr 2013
 
     

Hands up those of you who love sushi? Well how about learning the craft? The Nuri Sushi Factory hosts sushi classes every second Wednesday at it’s recently opened premises Cape Town and they are a hoot. Wannabe sushi chefs are given aprons, super sharp knifes and an array of spices and sauces then, after demonstrations of how to make tempura prawn rolls and other delights, let loose. The results from the launch evening were surprisingly good. The creative juices flowed and the resulting specialty rolls not only looked good, they tasted superb.

The next class is on Wednesday the 24th of April @7pm. R300 a class.
Call 021 461 8719/078 374 5034 to book.
Nuri Sushi Factory, 8 Parliament Street, Cape Town is open Monday to Saturday, 12pm – 9pm.

 - Fiona McIntosh

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