Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Camping at the Mountain Zebra National Park

Morning at the Mountain Zebra National Park and we watched new neighbours pull in while we sleepily drank coffee in our camp chairs. Most of the people who camped around us, all over the country, were probably over sixty and well attuned to the lifestyle. You could see that routines and delegation were firmly established, and our own camp set up followed the same lines. Man does tent, woman does kitchen. The Stone Age rules. We saw no same sex couples except for two girls who left the site very early, in a Renault, and who slept in their car during the rainstorm in the night. So no observation was possible. 

We drove out for a viewing of animals, hoping to see the cheetahs that were somewhere in the park, and perhaps the buffalo. Buffaloes. Buffalo. Plural. We had also wanted to do the walk that set off right outside our tent, but were told that a minimum of three people had to go. One to be wounded/sick/bitten/trampled, one to stay with the wounded/sick/bitten/trampled, and one to go for help (and be wounded, faint, eaten or trampled on the way?). We were sad about that. We were not afraid of cheetah. Cheetahs. Cheetah. Plural. But of the buffalo/es, who are very mean when snuck up on unexpectedly and potentially lethal when they charge into you. 

So, no walk.

This was weird. A pristine pool a short drive from camp, surrounded by lawn and braai areas. With rules below. We took special notice of "preditors [sic] can enter the picnic site..."

We saw some kudu here, under the trees, but they bounded away in great leaps.

Sutera halmifolia

Please correct me if you notice that I have made mistakes identifying some flowers...

Aptosimum procumbens - Karoo violet, last seen on Doornberg.

A gogga with a fuzzy coat living it up. Mylabris occulata, or CMR beetle (ID courtesy of woodfirer).

Gazania pectinata growing in the gravel beside the road.

I am hopeless at differentiating between bushy helichrysums.

This view and drive were breathtaking. especially with the cloud cover. We spent a long time up here trying to find the buffaloes, looking at zebra, and scanning every bush for a rhino. And then our tummies growled and we drove back down to camp, for some lunch.

And a beer.This folding table was incredibly useful and versatile. One of my favourite things while camping. It made an instant home outside our tent. For coffee, books, beer, candles, plates...Just thought I'd mention it.

Lunch: toasted sandwiches, on the fire. Leftover potbread, unhealthy white bread out of a bag (and well aged), yellow (!) cheddar, and some cherry tomatoes, which travel very well.

Yee ha.

Clearly we ate them too fast to photograph.  

Time to make the afternoon drive. If you're tired of flowers go to Vincent's post and see landscape and animals...

Heliophila, definitely, and maybe H.subulata.

My new favourite genus, though that does not mean that I can identify its members. I saw my first Hermannia in Namibia in 2009, at Klein Aus Vista, and was smitten with their delicate, bell like flowers. I had no idea what it could be. Above, possibly Hermannia cococarpa.

Growing in a great mass in some stones at an outlook point in whipping wind, perhaps Hermannia depressa, or rooi opslag, in Afrikaans.

And Hermannia linnearifolia? Help.

Here's the happy gogga again, in what I was sure would be the easiest flower of all to identify. Obviously a hibiscus, yes? Malvaceae, yes? So, can I find it in a book or on the web? No. Help! It grew no taller than 6".

Sutera somethingorothera. Definitely. I know. I am forgetting to take pictures of leaves.

Is this tortoise berry, Nylandtia spinosa?

Below, looking like a white version of my birdsfoot violets (Viola pedata) in Brooklyn. Growing in bone dry shale beside the road, I think it is an oxalis, the split leaf helping with ID: Oxalis smithiana. They can also be pink. Closed perhaps because of the wind.

I am not sure where my love of pelargoniums comes from. I get so excited when I see them in the wild. This one was almost crushed by the heavy 4 x 4. Growing in the road, just on the edge, a tiny, tiny flower, smaller than the nail on my smallest finger, and almost black.

Back at home I started a lamb knuckle stew with tomatoes, herbs, peri peri, garlic and potatoes. It was the first time I had attempted something braised on a fire, and I figured about three hours for it, in cooling coals.

While it cooked we snuck up the forbidden path, just a short way.

And found a songololo.

Who played to the audience and curled up.

I used to play with them when I was little. Selina is terrified of them and freaks out 100% (loudly) if she sees even a tiny one in Cape Town (which only ever has tiny ones). She was told as a little girl, growing up in the Free State,  that if you were bitten by one you had to count all its legs, accurately, or you would die. The impossibility still gives her palpitations.

Back at home base: camp salad. Long-lived iceberg, well-traveled avocado.

And the bredie to end all bredies. 


  1. I am totally enchanted with all the flowers. So different, yet sometimes not, from our continent.

    Of course then I got to the stew and all thought of flowers fled.

    Where did the fresh herbs come from ?

  2. Nice. That pelargonium has such nice leaves, a bouquet of foliage, and the flowers a plus:)

    Wish I knew the bugs, but those are from another continent.

    'Cept the millipede. There are poisonous ones.

  3. your food always looks so good.
    I love your flower shots too.

  4. Sigh, sigh, triple sigh. I think the jackals miss your cooking to...

  5. I loved this!

    Bet you saw lots of Gogga. Goggas. Plural?

    I reckon Hermannia is my new favourite plant as well.

    As for the songololo, I would crack under the pressure of having to count the number of legs accurately or face death. In fact, I'd probably just die.

  6. Love the "Hermans"! It's so interesting to see how similar and how different the plants in SA are. When will the stew be ready again?

  7. So much to take in!
    1. I want a happy gogga!
    2. The hibiscus wotsit looks like (false) mallow, but it would have to be at water's edge.
    3. Did Vince think "Phi" or "Fibonacci" when the songolo rolled up?
    4. Is there any stew left? Ag! Pleeease?

  8. Beautiful post!!! Wildflowers make me happy! Thank you, Marie. And so good to see the millipede. I've played with many growing up, but failed utterly at staging millipede races. Best just to let them meander and curl up at will.


  9. The "gogga" is a Blister beetle, CMR-beetle.
    The yellow and black version is Mylabris oculata.
    In an old book "The Outdoor World" by S.H. Skaife he writes that "CMR" stands for Cape Mounted Rifles - even then, in 1948, a no-longer existing regiment!

  10. jane - I brought the herbs with us from home. Thyme travels (jajajajajaja, thyme travels)very well, so does rosemary. I ziplock them.

    frank - maybe it is poisonous, too...don't know.

    lily, thank you :-)

    beence - I think jackals case out the campsites to see who has the best food. They prefer lamb from Aliwal North.

    Rob, ha...I think Selina feels the same way.

    webb, it'll be ready today on (the Food) :-)

    dinahmow, you make-a me laugh!

    Ikaika, they roll quite nicely like little wheels if they stay curled up...

    woodfirer, you're a fund of knowledge, thank you! I'll add that to the post.

  11. Aaah, wonderful! Makes me want to go camping again - it has been far too long. You're so right about a table making all the difference for comfort at a campsite. Ones that sort of size (i.e. perfect) are hard to find.
    Your flower shots are beautiful, and i love the fuzzy fellow.

  12. I think your "Sutera somethingorother" is a Pelargonium "somethingorother". The arrangement of petals is very pelargonium-like. Unfortunately I am at the moment just too tired to follow this up - sorry. Constantia Open Gardens fatigue! And your second dark, almost black Pelargonium is P. sidoides. (I think!)


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