Early in the New Year, Nina & I drove to Somerset West and enjoyed a stroll and a picnic in the Helderberg Nature Reserve. What a lovely day we had ! Refreshing green lawns, plenty of benches under shady trees.
A stroll through shady woodland, efficiently equipped with yet another green bench, where we sat enjoying the play of sunlight on the foliage, and listened to the birds calling. Very soothing indeed.
The reserve also offers a pretty lake, covered in blue and white water lilies. We admired the scene, walking a short distance along the circular boardwalk. By now it was a hot afternoon, not ideal for long walks.
After our picnic lunch, we ambled around and discovered an enormous tortoise stomping across the lawn, systematically grazing on what was obviously its favourite, a low growing weed or herb.
Excited little kids spotted the animal, and rushed up to tentatively pat its shell, but the tortie didn’t bat an eyelid, didn’t shoot back into its shell, just kept on grazing in a determined fashion, stomping forward on a clearly pre-determined route. Ultimately it reached a bed of agapanthus, lumbered into the plants and disappeared. I reckon it’s a permanent resident, and the agapanthus bed was home base.
That wasn’t the end of the wildlife. The next piece of excitement was the arrival of a red duiker that emerged from the long grass around the hiking trail, and streaked across the lawns at speed. I half expected to see a predator (there are leopards in the area) or at least a runaway dog in pursuit, but nothing else burst into view before our surprised eyes. Enough excitement for one afternoon.
After a quick caffeine refuel stop in the reserve’s quaint little restaurant, we navigated cautiously through the maze of suburban streets until we stumbled upon the highway exit. One advantage of this slow exit was that I had plenty of time to admire the brilliant cerise bougainvillea tumbling over garden walls, in between glimpses of deep blue plumbago bushes and luxuriant gardens. The soil in Somerset West must be excellent, because we passed magnificent gardens. The main road to the town is lined with white, pink and red oleander bushes, all blooming profusely, despite the hot, windy summer weather.
As we left the area, we were treated to the spectacle of waterfalls of white clouds cascading down the distant blue mountain ranges. Nina’s dramatic picture captures the unusual sight. Usually clouds fall over the top of Table Mountain in a solid white drape, hence their nickname “the tablecloth” so the waterfall effect was very different.
All in all: a wonderful outing!
NB: pics courtesy of Nina Ganci, except for bench pic.