Spring has Sprung in Plett

wild freesia 5

From the time of our earliest forefathers, we have gazed in awe and wonder at the magic that is conjured by flowers and foliage – the colour and beauty of their shapes, their markings and the intricacies of their form. Plants are miracles of nature providing sustenance for the body and the soul. It is little wonder that we continue to celebrate their existence.”

wild freesia 5

Taking a stroll along Plett’s beaches, it was with great excitement that we stumbled upon the wild freesia growing in the crevices of the Lookout Rocks on Wedge side of Central Beach. How they get to be there is truly a miracle. There is hardly enough space to contain their bulbs. They are mostly pollinated by bees. An excellent sign that spring has sprung in Plett!

Freesia alba are endemic to Southern Africa with over 16 species, they are found growing in sandy or stony soils, alongside dunes or on the edges of forests. They seem to like damp places and grow mainly along the coast from Hermanus to Plettenberg Bay. They are deciduous, so we have beautiful blooms now in spring and then they lie dormant in summer.

Colourful freesia growing in flower box

Colourful freesia growing in flower box

 

Cornerway House Garden

Cornerway House Garden

Spring Special at Cornerway House

Robberg Nature Reserve

This gallery contains 26 photos.

Robberg Nature Reserve  – right here in Plettenberg Bay, in the Garden Route, you can enjoy an amazing hike that is jam packed with a variety of terrains and the most spectacular views of the Garden Route Coastline. While the Robberg Peninsula protects Plettenberg Bay from the full force of … Continue reading

Adventure and Passion at AfriCanyon

This gallery contains 18 photos.

  One of our guests had the opportunity to try out kloofing,  a good local name for canyoning, right here in the  Garden Route, specifically the Crags near Plettenberg Bay. This is his story….. “As everyone knows trying out new things can be a bit daunting. I was pleasantly surprised … Continue reading

Radical Raptors

Spotted Eagle Owl

Radical Raptors is a real treat for those who are interested in birds and even those who aren’t; because you will certainly be left intrigued! Radical Raptors is a must visit- located at the Heath on the N2 about 7km out of Plettenberg Bay towards Knysna .

Adult raptors have few predators and can live up to 20 to 30 years in the wild. Unfortunately because of their slow breeding rate and high mortality (only about ¼ survive their first year), population is reduced. Human impact,  poisoning, illegal trade and hunting, inexperienced hand raising, also contributes to further drops in survival.

At this Birds of Prey Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre – they rescue, rehabilitate and release these magnificent birds of prey. The centre trains the raptors to ensure they are able to hunt and take care of themselves, then releases them as soon as possible. If the birds are non-releasable they are trained and free flown in order for us spectators to experience their amazing abilities in their natural surroundings. You can watch their outstanding flying performances, some will even land on your gloved hand. These birds play a huge role in creating community awareness of the impact of humans on their environment. It definitely stopped me using poison to eradicate mice.

Our beautiful gardens at Cornerway House are often alive with local birds so we really appreciate the work of Radical Raptors towards the survival of indigenous birds in the Plettenberg Bay area.

Radical Raptors, which is run as a non profit organisation, was opened 4 and ½ years ago by Janet and Dennis. They are both passionate about their raptors and educating the public. Every visitor contributes to the excellent work that is done here.

So if you are looking for a special experience with these majestic raptors – a visit to Radical Raptors in Plettenberg Bay is a highly recommended.

Plett welcomes the Whales

Humback Whale Tail

Humback Whale TailEach year with great anticipation we welcome the first appearance of whales in our Plettenberg Bay. They are such welcomed visitors, crossing thousands of miles of ocean to visit our coastline and bask in our warmer Indian Ocean water.

Southern right whales were almost hunted to extinction, because they were the right whales to hunt – hence their name. They visit Plettenberg Bay between June and November to mate and calve; who wouldn’t want spend time in our beautiful bay?  A fully grown Southern right whale can weigh up to 80 tons – almost 12 african elephants and can live up to 50 years. A close encounter is something not to be missed , they are truly massive and magnificent. They are easily identified by their black colour and callosities on the head: “little bonnets”. It is difficult to distinguish their sex but if you happen to see them mating and are fortunate enough to be close, the 4 metre male organ makes identification relatively obvious! :)  The female’s gestation period is approx. 12 months and the calf’s birth occurs in the same waters of Plettenberg Bay a year later.

whaleHumpback whales pass our shores on their way to their breeding grounds of Madagascar and Mozambique. They are the most energetic of all the large whales and are well known for their spectacular breaching, lobtailing, flipper slapping and skyhopping. Bryde Whales, smaller and slender are seen all year round, their large upright dorsal fin makes them look like huge dolphins.

So jump at the opportunity to go out with one of our local Whale watching boats and get really close to these mammoth mammels. Boats with permits are allowed to approach whales within 50 metres. Plettenberg Bay has several species of whales, dolphins and marine birds. Along Robberg Nature Reserve Peninsula you can see our large colony of Cape Fur Seals, the peninsula is also a great place for viewing whales.

whales

Whether you prefer the close encounter, on a comfortable boat, an energetic kayak trip, a stroll on one of our beautiful beaches, or rather a bench perched at one of our look-out points with binoculars, take time out to watch the whales. Plettenberg Bay is known as the whale capital of the world!

Land Art 2013 in Plettenberg Bay

Land-Art-Plett

AndreaSPlettenberg Bay was recently privileged to play host to the 2nd Site-Specific International Land Art Biennale as the landscape of Plett was transformed into a canvas for the land artists – our terrific landscapes, stunning ocean and beautiful beaches making it the ideal location for this event. Cornerway House’s Dee contributed to the 2011 event, so we were really looking forward to seeing what the artists produced for 2013.

Plett welcomed South African, international and our local artists and offered our large, protected landscapes as their “blank canvas” and we weren’t disappointed as each artist expressed their creativity using natural materials to create their masterpieces. We saw the greater Bitou communities, like Kurland, Harkerville and Kwanokuthula, come together and learn from great artists. There were a variety of workshops that the public could attend. Andrew van der Merwe”s Beach Calligraphy workshop was so inspiring. The Youth from New Horizon Youth Project wrapped trees in red ,pink, white and green, representing Hiv, Breast Cancer, Domestic Violence and looking after our Environment.

margie ford land artWe started our tour at the Beacon Island car park and were fascinated by the beauty and simplicity of Margie Ford’s and Ken Heyn’s installation “Go with the flow!” Definitely one of my favourites, and it endured the bad weather and went on for days.

A meander up to the Hotel was full of surprises, Diane Victor ‘s Whale Bones laid out majestically on the lawn. A tribute to and reminder of the whales that were once hunted and killed during the days of the old whaling station, the site on which the Beacon Island Hotel is built.

Carol Sach’s installation on the rocks, close to the swimming pool, depicting Whale Tails and their sperm was so creative and blended so well with the surroundings . The big nest precariously perched on the rocks by Anja Wiehl, took us by surprise. Gordon Froud’s series of figures on the rocks , made out of wattle, beach sand and AB glue were sybomlic of the silent protest … we all go through daily.

Back down on Central Beach, the sand art & calligraphy: razor sharp cut outs in the sand were amazing. The child in me came alive and was truly delighted by the huge labrinthes . Sadly the tides did take their toll and these creations were lost. We saw amazing installations on Look Out Beach like the “Sea Urchins” and the “Earth Pods”

Another of my favourites was “Genius Loci” by Andrea Cristoforetti and driftwood man, Roger Trebilcock.

Land-Art-Plett

Those are just some of our favourites of the Land Art Biennale 2013 in Plettenberg Bay. We really enjoyed the show and look forward to welcoming the Land Artists back to Plettenberg Bay soon!

Head over to the Site Specific Pinterest Page for more of the artworks

A Vibrant Habitat

Plettenberg bay

Birds of Eden is just off the N2 north of Plettenberg Bay, about a 20 minute drive from Cornerway House.  The sanctuary which is a huge dome, covers about 2 hectares of indigenous forest. It is home to about 3000 birds, that have been rescued, no longer wanted or are in need of a secure environment. Here they can live in a natural protective environment. There are over 200 species. One can take a guided tour or stroll on your own. They have a very comprehensive booklet which makes the identification process easier. Birds of Eden’s mission is to care for the birds and educate the public.   Jandaya Conure
One unintentionally seems to overlook the majestic life of the bird. Once we walked through the doors and into the “Garden of Eden” this changed within a split second. I felt humbled by walking into this vibrant mixed habitat of these colourful, complex creatures that I don’t often acknowledge, grateful that these birds have been taken in to flourish all together, kind of like a Noah’s Ark.

Ibis

We couldn’t start the journey until we had fuelled up on an English Breakfast at the stunningly positioned little restaurant in the garden. This overlooks the bird pond that is home to hundreds of brightly coloured ducks, ibis, flamingo and proud nesting weavers. You can’t help but become enchanted instantly!

We walked through the garden at a leisurely pace (keep your camera battery fully charged!) most of the way accompanied by friendly ring-necks perched on our shoulders, stuff out of story-tales.

Ringneck

The garden consists of an incredible bamboo suspension bridge, (that makes your tummy slightly tingle) an overhead flowing waterfall, that you pass underneath and boardwalks laid out in a magical mezzanine-like layout, that takes you from top to bottom of the valley that is Birds of Eden. You are lead from the birds on and around the water where the colourful creatures that prefer the ground to graze,
all the way to the parrots and enormous South American bats claiming the higher reaches of the enormous enclosure.
If you have the time, and love it as much as we did, definitely take a walk around again, we did!

Since I was exposed to the beautiful creation that is the “Birds of Eden” I have a new found respect and appreciation for these magnificent creatures!

We highly recommend “Birds of Eden” and will definitely be back sooner than later for another enchanting visit!

Birds of Eden was created back in 2005, and is the largest single free flight aviary in the world. Check out http://www.birdsofeden.co.za

Here are some more of our photos from the visit to Birds of Eden:

PheasantSpoonbill

Red Lory

birds of eden

curious birdsblack swans

Flamingo

Mute swan

No Fuss Hike

salt river 3

Whether it’s a quick walk you’d like, or a leisurely stroll, Salt River in Nature’s Valley is the one to do.
Abounding with beauty from every angle, Salt River will capture your heart! It’s one of our favourite Plettenberg Bay hikes. Set out along the beach, savour the majestic coastline, and stumble upon all sorts of special sea creatures. Climbing over the Blue Rocks be it the right time of the year, you are almost guaranteed a whale spotting. Over the rocks and a few steps up into the fynbos forest and on your way down take a look to the left and be prepared to be blown away. What lies before you is a special place!
Sit! Relax! Skim stones along the river! Take time out! Watch the whales! Enjoy life! Savour the moment…for those steps up are a killer! One step at a time and you’ll make it. Take a breather and enjoy the view, there’s nowhere else in the world you would rather be at this moment.

Salt-River-Walk

Back on top and enjoying the coolness of the trees, make your way to the Village Viewpoint. Blown away second time round! After experiencing this magnificent view, there’s a path taking you down the hillside and back towards the beach.
What goes up must come down! As many steps as there are going up there are taking you down!
This walk can be done either way, back to front and front to back. So put on your shoes, pack your lunch bag and set off!

Natures-Valley-Walk

Suspension bridge – Tsitsikamma National Park

Last Saturday, we set out early to spend the day at Storms River Mouth in the Tsisikamma, which forms part of the Garden Route National Park. It is one of South Africa’s most diverse protected areas consisting of about 150km in a narrow band along the picturesque South Cape Coast. It extends from the Outeniqua Mountains to the sea, comprising of deep gorges, many rock pools, waterfalls and rich marine protected areas. To be honest it wasn’t the beauty that drew me, rather the opportunity of walking the suspension bridges. From Plettenberg Bay, it is 36km to the Toll Gate and then just a few more before you exit the N2 and find the entrance to the National Park on your right.

Tsitsikamma Mouth

The walk to the suspension bridges starts at the Storms River Mouth and takes you through some spectacular indigenous forest with superb views of the mouth and the ocean. The boardwalks are well laid out. We went Eastwards up some steps to a beautiful waterfall. Then it is a series of stairs, but the walk is relatively easy. All too soon you arrive at the Suspension Bridge.

suspension bridgeFor one like me that is petrified of heights, walking this bridge requires a lot of determination. I checked it out: the bridge spans the mouth of the river at a height of 9m and 65m long. It also moves!! People were walking across quite effortlessly. It was challenging for me and exhilarating, there was a lot of swaying. I felt a bit uneasy in places but my determination carried me to other side. We didn’t venture up the path to the Lookout view point. Walking back across the bridge was a little easier and the views up and down the gorge were breathtaking. By then the wind had started to pick up and walking back across the shorter bridge there was a lot more movement and sway!

On the way back, we stopped to read some of the information boards with lots of interesting facts about the area. Once back at the river mouth and camping area, we enjoyed a picnic with views of the ocean and waves. There is another walk along the coastline to a series of waterfalls and is the start of the epic Otter Trail. We are planning to return soon to visit these falls. I have found the perfect way to spend any Saturday is right here with the crashing waves, good company and awesome scenery!

suspension bridge

 suspension walk