26 August, 2011

Return to Groot Winterhoek

Walking with me, the Ungardener is limited to about two hours. With FREQUENT stops for yet another flower. And I me myself, like to walk, on the level, on the jeep track, so I can look at bugs and flowers. He would like to go further, along the river, a full day hike. Andre our Computer Man had never been up to the Wilderness Area. Last Monday, Computer Man and Ungardener hiked towards De Tronk along the river, returning via a very steep uphill slog on my jeep track.

Hiking in the Groot Winterhoek in August

After the fire, after the rain, the hard sandstone is cloaked in green.

Groot Winterhoek

Follow the glaring white quartz, where other boots have stomped the puddles before you, and eroded the plants.

Groot Winterhoek

Blazing colour from the Leucadendron proteas.

Leucadendron in the Groot Winterhoek

Computer Man hiking in the Groot Winterhoek. Stop for lunch at the low level bridge, a ford, slightly under water.

Hiking in the Groot Winterhoek
Lunch at the low-level bridge

Our Olifantsberg flow into the Cederberg. Famous for rock formations, especially the Maltese Cross (his picture ISN’T the Maltese Cross).  Top left you can see Computer Man for scale. 

(Travelling over the course of a year to 31 of South Africa’s most special nature reserves and national parks with yearinthewild new-photos-of-Maltese-Cross-in-Cederberg)

The Ungardener's rocks

This buck, with tall ears and long nose, looking disconcertingly like a donkey, is a female grey rhebok.

Female grey rhebok

Instead of looking up at the Olifantskop, stand on his head, and look back down at our town of Porterville. In the centre, the spire of the Dutch Reformed Church rises.


I hate that poisonous yellow, but the Ungardener feels it brings colour into the landscape. Fields of oil-seed rape (from the Latin for turnip!), more easily called canola (combination of Canada and oil!!). Thanks Canada, I will never see a tub of canola margarine in quite the same way. I don’t do margarine, but I do love words.

To the right Porterville, to the left Monte Bertha. In the foreground the wheat silos. Large building left centre is the Porterville Winery. And there, beyond the Piketberg ridge in the distance, is Moutonshoek, where they plan to mine for tungsten. Destroying farming, and the Verlorenvlei RAMSAR wetland.

Porterville to Piketberg

For Cape Town readers, this is where your tap water comes from. Flowing down, over and thru the rocks to the Voelvlei dam.

Groot Kliphuis River in the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area

Our World Heritage Site. Water. Fynbos. Wildlife. Fresh air. Nature and beauty, which is worth nothing, because it costs nothing.

Pictures by Jurg, and
words by Diana of Elephant's Eye
- wildlife gardening in Porterville,
near Cape Town in South Africa
(If you mouse over brown text,
it turns shriek pink. Those are my links.)


  1. Funny I've always liked the look of canola fields. So much striking yellow as far as the eye can see.

  2. Stunning countryside, Diana. Really. I should love to come and visit SA one day and do some hiking.

    By the way, I thought of you the other day. Driving home with my 'Music From The Musicals' CD on and singing gustily along to 'Oh, what a beautiful morning.'

    "There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
    There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
    The corn is as high as an elephant's eye,
    An' it looks like its climbin' clear up to the sky."

    He he he. You're so famous.


  3. I really enjoyed the walk,and am amazed that you have such life in winter.
    Jane x

  4. Hi Diana - I didn't know our drinking water comes all the way from Groot Winterhoek!

    As always your photos are great! I love the Porterville to Piketberg shot with the Canola fields. Thanks for sharing your spot in the world with us.

  5. David - I'm 'world famous'. Lookit the ClustrMap. Bit thin in South America, North Africa, and Russia.

  6. I really enjoyed this walk with you. The flowers, the rocks, the rhebok, the water, the views. All beautiful.

  7. Landscape very similar to some mountains here in Portugal.Just Beautiful...

  8. catharine Howard27 August, 2011 00:33

    Dian - stupendous pictures. I envy you your wilderness and yet I have just been up Arthurs Seat and that sprouts out of a metropolis. I will post a picture soon.

  9. Amazing views, especially the GK River...

  10. "Worth nothing because it costs nothing." Sounds like the USA.

  11. These views are breathtaking. I love the rock formations...majestic and interesting.

  12. Wow. Are those leucodendrons next to the wheel tracks? I'm impressed by your flora, as always.

  13. Beautiful Diana.

    Just a wonder - when you're mountain walking / hiking, do you ever look for the "faces" which are in the rock formations? (e.g. there is a tortoise face in the lower right photo of Ungardener's rocks.) And did you know that they apparently always face the sunset? :)

  14. We are inflicted with vast Canola paddocks in the western District of Victoria but they somehow enhance the boring flat plains! This district (I believe) was the first in au to introduce that terrible SA thug grass Phalaris into pastures in the early 20th cent. It jumped the 'fence' and wiped out much of the last of the native herbaceous plants growing along the roadsides! The things we do!

  15. Link to Catharine Howard

    James, the Californian one - yes Leucadendrons. And yes WOW, me too!

    Dani - I posted an Owl Rock on the journey to Addo. And of course we have our Elephant's Eye. Methinks they face the sunset, because that is when we are forced to notice, as we gaze at the sunset glow on the mountains.

    William - I can only find this Phalaris on Global Invasive Species Database which says 'Biostatus not specified for SA'

  16. So sorry I have had a brain seizure!
    Not a SA.
    I was gladdened to see a FZ100 at work.
    I have owned Panasonic FZ1/2/5/10/20/30/50 L1/l10 G1 and now GH1. They were/are all the bee's knees!

  17. What beautiful views and great commentary. Loved following along on this hike!

  18. So beautiful, I love the landscapes, so varied and wild. Gives me a real idea of your country which is vast .....Wonderful photography by the way....thanks am inspired!

  19. I'm a dawdle-and-look-er myself--frustrating to those who like to cover actual distance... The rock formations are wonderful, and that sky--wow! Huge and open, the way skies are supposed to be.

  20. Diana, what a great post! Did I ever tell you that I live in a very Dutch area of Michigan? I have to remind myself when I read you blog that you are writing about a different part of the world. The place names sound so very much like West Michigan.


  21. Diana, this is absolutely amazing!
    The view from the hill could be anywhere in Germany in spring, yet on the hills it's unmistakably Africa!
    Thanks for showing!

  22. lol -and Turnips in Afrikaans are.... rape!(sing. raap)

    What a wonderful walk in your mountains! How I'd love to tag along...

  23. What a landscape to live in!


  24. An amazing landscape! I really like Ungardener's rocks. I wonder how did they get there!

  25. I hope the rains mean that you will at least have green fields with more flowers come spring.

    I haven't had the opportunity to visit your part of the country and do some walks. Hopefully the opportunity will present itself at some stage.

  26. what a great place to hike. wilderness under threat because it doesn't fit into consumer culture.

  27. Gorgeous views, I was surprised to see the rape seed. A number of years ago every other field here in the north east was planted with this. Don't see much of it now for some reason, loads of people did suffer with hay fever because of it.

  28. Looking at the landscape photos, it looks like the scene from a western/cowboy movie. Love the colourful wildflowers and ruggard terrains.

  29. loved looking at your pictures. I like learning about other countries..

  30. Love those rock outcrops.

  31. Of course, in spite of all the beautiful scenery that you shared with us, it will be the etymology of "canola" that will stick with me. :-D

  32. Such a lovely hike. I quite like the view from the top with yellow canola as part of the patchwork effect. Here is the complete meaning behind canola: Canada Oil Low Acid.

  33. Reminds me of Big Bend in so many ways...a beautiful landscape! Enjoyed the walk.


Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

If I use your images or information, it will be clearly acknowledged with either a link to the website, or details of the book. If you use my images or words, I expect you to acknowledge them in turn.

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