Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie Ice Caves Hike 

A beautiful hike through the forest to view the Big Four Mountain and caves beneath the snow. 

Location: North Cascades – Mountain Loop Highway 

Lengh: 2.2 miles, round-trip

Difficulty: Easy

Driving directions :

From 1-5 in Everett, take exit 194 for Snohomish /Wenatchee, then take exit 204 for Lake Stevens. Turn left after 2 miles onto highway 9/9N Granite Falls, then onto Quarry Road. At the stop sign turn left onto the Mountain Loop Highway. Continue until you get to a signpost for the Ice Caves Trailhead. Here you will find a parking lot and toilets, as well as a self service pay station for a Northwest Forest Pass, which is required for the trail. 

Start at the parking lot and follow the the pathway through the woods.

  There is a aluminium bridge over the Stillaguamish River. The bridge was built to withstand flooding.

 In a few steps you will cross Ice Creek, just before it flows into the Stillaguamish. 

The path continues on a gentle upward grade through the forest. 

Continuing on, the trail breaks out into an open meadow. Here you have a good view of the Big Four Mountain, ice caves  and waterfalls.

The trail ends in a circle of rocks perfect for admiring the caves, mountain and waterfalls. 

Beautiful flowers to admire along the way 🌻🌼🌸

Don’t go near the caves, it is very dangerous. People have been killed here. 

Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve

Hiking in a scenic environment with unique rock formations.

Paarl is named after its 3 unusual  granite rocks – Paarl, Bretagne and Gordon Rocks – which date back more than 500 million years – the second largest granite outcrop in the world.

In 1657 Abraham Gabemma set out inland from Cape Town to search for new meat resources. It was after a rainstorm when he saw a mountain in the distance, with a giant granite rock which glistened like a wet pearl in the sun. He named the mountain “Peerleberg” (Pearl Mountain), which later became Paarl Mountain and the town that evolved at its base was named Paarl.

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The town of Paarl is about 60 km from central Cape Town along the N1 Highway. Take the Paarl Main Road turnoff from the N1 (exit 55 for R45), continue for about 1,5 km and turn left onto Jan Phillips Mountain Drive, a gravel road. The road was opened in 1928 and was built by Jan Philips, a well-known wagon builder. Follow the road up the mountain until a T-junction, where one turns right towards the Millwater (Meulwater) Wild Flower Garden and picnic site. You can park your car here and start exploring. No entrance fee from here.20170513_095645.jpg

There is a number of trails criss crossing the reserve, ranging from 2.5 up to 10km. The most impressive is the hike up Bretagne rock, with chains to help you along. You can  start your hike up the hill from the toilets in the braai area and follow the white painted foot prints. It should take you about 2 hours out and back, depending on how much exploring you do. Do wear shoes with a good grip and a warm jacket. It could be very windy on top of the granite outcrops. Bring water and snacks when entering from Meulwater as there is no shop.

We started our hike through the magical wild flower garden. The garden was established just before World War II, by the Paarl Beautifying Society.20170513_101601.jpg

After a rather steep walk we came to a gate and Jeep track which we followed for about 4 km, with proteas and fynbos to admire.20170513_103613.jpg

At the Paarl Rock view point, we headed towards Bretagne and Gordon Rocks. Bretagne Rock looked very intimidating, but I made it to the top with the help of chains. Impressive 360 degree views from here. We even saw Table Mountain. And 2 of the 3 dams, Nantes and Bethel, which form part of a historic water purification system, supplying water to the town of Paarl since the 1800’s. And it was picnic time!!20170513_113221

Gordon’s Rock is for the serious rock climbers!20170513_120946.jpg

After a slow decent we went to Paarl Rock.20170514_191503

Here the old cannon which was used to signal the arrival of ships in Table Bay harbour, can still be seen. This particular cannon was stationed on a lookout point on the western side of Paarl Mountain. Some time after the Battle of Blaauwberg (1806) the cannon was removed, and dragged with a team of oxen to its present position on Paarl Rock.20170513_123015.jpg

Interesting and scary rock formations!20170513_124439.jpg

And to end the day off on a high note, a coffee and a chat..20170513_133233.jpg

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Road trip to Vanrhynsdorp

Planning a trip to Vanrhynsdorp and surrounds, or passing through? Why not stop and stretch your legs, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 

Vanrhynsdorp is a small town situated along the N7, also known as the Cape Namibia Route, and about 300 km or 3 hours drive from Cape Town. The town is located on the edge of the Nama Karoo, an area of semi-desert succulent vegetation.

What to see and do in Vanrhynsdorp

  1. Take a picture of the Maskam Mountainthe flat, table-like mountain, which can be seen from a distance.20160708_174810-2
  2. Start the day with a buffet breakfast at Lesatsi Lodge. This lodge is just outside Vanrhynsdorp on the R27 towards Vredendal.20160707_094449-2
  3. Make a wish. Throw a coin in the newly restored wishing fountain at Lesatsi Lodge.20160706_164123
  4. Visit the Kokerboom Nursery at 74 Voortrekker street for indigenous succulents to buy or admire.
  5. Visit the Historical Jail and take a step back in time. The old prison was built in 1895 from limestone and clay bricks. Now craft products and succulents are on display and for sale here.
  6. Take a stroll through the town.20160708_08014020160708_08025120160708_080916
  7. Take the Vanrhynspass along the R27 towards Nieuwoudville. Leave the Western Cape and enter the Northern Cape. This pass is a must drive offering forever views over the Knersvlakte.van-rhyns-dorp
  8. Visit the Waterfall on your way to Nieuwoudville…. Oops, no water.20160707_114813
  9. And the quiver tree forest, which is the biggest, natural quiver tree forest in the world.  Some of these trees are more than 250 years old. I know….forest?20160707_123718 
  10. You can either turn back now, or visit Nieuwoudville which is about 50 km from Vanrhynsdorp.20160707_132500

12 Things to do at Cape Point

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Planning a trip to Cape Point? Here is a few suggestions for a day trip, although there is so much more to do.

Cape Point is part of the Table Mountain National Park and is a must see when in Cape Town. It is home to the most beautiful indigenous plants, animals, birds, beaches, footpaths, scenic drives, 2 lighthouses, monuments, a phantom ship,  picnic and braai sites, just 70 km from Cape Town.

How to get there:cape-point-1

  • Take the coastal road along Sea Point, Camps Bay, Llandudno to Hout Bay via the M6. From here take Chapman’s Peak Drive to Noordhoek,  turn right and follow the directions through Scarborough. The entrance to the Park will be on your right.       OR
  • Take the M3 to the end,  turn left towards  Muizenberg, St James, Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town. Continue along the coastal road to the entrance of the park on the left.

Unfortunately there is no public transport that goes all the way to Cape Point. Either do a self-drive, or go with a taxi or tour group.

Opening Times:

  • 07h00 to 17hoo – winter – restaurant, funicular, curio shop opens at  09h00
  • 06h00 to 18h00 – summer – restaurant,  funicular, curio shop opens at 09h00

Entrance Fees:

  • R125 – Adult,
  • R65 – Child    OR
  • Green Card/ Wild Card

Things to see and do:

  1. Visit the Buffelsfontein visitor’s centre for information about the local history, plants and animals life.cape-point-9
  2. Visit the monuments of  explorers Vasco da Gama and Bartholomew Dias.cape-point-63
  3.  Visit the most South-Western Point in Africa and take the scenic walk for a stunning view.cape-point-74cape-point-73
  4. Ride The Flying Dutchman Funicular to the lookout point.  R58 return for adults and R24 return for kids.cape-point-86
  5. Or walk all the way from the parking lot to the historical lighthouse.cape-point-92
  6. Enjoy the vistas from the lookout point at the upper funicular station.cape-point-152
  7. Visit the historic lighthouse and upper funicular station.cape-point-93Take the Light House Keepers Trail to Dias Point, a 15 minute walk. The new light house can be seen from the viewing point.Cape Point (98).jpgcape-point-110
  8. Take a scenic drive through the park and be on the lookout for Chacma baboons, birds, zebra, ostrich, eland and dassies.cape-point-61
  9. Photograph some of the more than 1 100 indigenous plant species.cape-point-52
  10. Take a photo of the historic lime kiln.cape-point-34
  11. Picnic at Bordjiesdrif or Buffels Bay tidal pools.cape-point-20
  12. Be on the lookout for the legendary ghost ship…The Flying Dutchman…

Do wear comfortable shoes, bring along water and a jacket as it could be windy here.

All of the above landmarks can be found on the brochure/map  you receive at the gate.

Baboons

  • Baboons are wild animals, dangerous and are attracted to food.
  • DO NOT feed baboons, you will be fined. Baboons that have been receiving food from humans become aggressive and have to be destroyed.
  • Do keep a safe distance and move away slowly if a baboon approaches you.
  • Do not open car doors, windows or display food when baboons are present.

 

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West Coast National Park 

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Planning a trip to the West Coast? Why not visit the West Coast National Park.

The West Coast National Park is about 120 km from Cape Town along the R27. It surrounds the beautiful light blue  water of the Langebaan Lagoon and to  the west,  the Atlantic Ocean. Opening times from 07h00 to 18h00, 19h00 in summer. Entrance fees ranges from R45 to R136, depending on nationality and time of year.

Things to do and see in the park :

  • See the  spring flowers  in the Potsberg section during August and September. The best time for flower viewing is from 10h00 on a sunny day. Most of the flowers won’t open on cloudy and rainy days. In the Postberg section you are asked to stay in your vehicle, but at the lookout point you can walk around. Here you will find bathroom facilities. Potsberg is open to the public  only  during August and  September  from 09h00 to 17h00.
  • Take a scenic drive through the park which is 27,500 hectares in size. Ask for a map at the gate. Be on the lookout for animals and birds. The largest  concentration of mammals is in the Potsberg section. However they could be found throughout the rest of the reserve. 
  • Be on the lookout for whales. During August to October  the Southern Right Whale could be seen  from Tsaarbank.
  • Bird watching throughout the park, or at one of the 4 bird hides. 
  • Enjoy a picnic or braai at Kraalbaai or Tsaarbank. Just note that alkohol is not permitted  at public areas such as picnic and braai sites, or at the beach and shores of the Lagoon. Bring along water, cool-drinks, snacks and food for a picnic.                                                  Visit http://www.sanparks.org for more information 

Fernkloof Nature Reserve Cliff Path

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Planning a trip to Hermanus or surroundings? Why not take a stroll or more energetic walk along the cliff path.

This route runs almost the whole length of the town of Hermanus, for approximately 10 km. Hermanus is about 120 km from Cape Town. The Cliff path starts at the New Harbour in the west and meanders all along the rocky coastline to the mouth of the Klein River in the east. You can start the route anywhere and walk as far as you want. The path is clearly marked and signposted. You might see Southern Right Whales along the route. They come to Walker bay to mate and calve from June to November.

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This is a scenic walk with the waves crashing against the rocks down below, fynbos, birds, rock pools, dassies, flowers and the mountain as backdrop.

 

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The Old Harbour, which is now a museum and National Monument, is along this route as well as restaurants and markets in the tourist part of town.

The Old Harbourold-harbour-3

Art along the waywp-1473606673536.jpg

On your way back to Cape Town why not drive through the towns of Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay, Rooi Els and one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world, Clarence Drive.

Clarence Driveclarence-drive-2

The Shale Trail

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Why not visit the Karoo Garden at Worcester the next time you visit or drive through.

The Shale Trail is in the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden on the outskirts of Worcester.

The town of Worcester is about 120 km from Cape Town along the N1.  Once you have reached Worcester and passed the Mountain Mill Shopping Centre, turn left at the set of traffic lights onto Roux Road. Stay on this road for 1,5 km.  Admission fee is R22 per adult. Ask for a map at the gate. Bring along your own water, drinks and food for a picnic under the trees. There is no shop and the restaurant is closed until further notice. This is a bin free garden so please take your litter with you when you leave. The bathroom is near the offices and nursery.

20160907_153234The Shale Trail is in the natural part of the garden and is named after the dominant rock found here. The trail is about 1 km long and starts near the upper parking area in a circular route. It is an easy walk and when combined with pathways in the formal garden one can easily walk 1 – 3 km and spend 1 – 3 hours here.

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img_20160904_193958This beautiful  garden is the only truly succulent garden in the Southern Hemisphere and on the African Continent. It displays a wide variety of plants from the semi desert regions in Southern Africa. It is a must see for plant lovers! Some of the paths were made from the local shale and the pathways and different sections are clearly signposted.

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The upper circle is the Shale Trail.

Best time to visit is Winter and Spring. Arrive early in the morning when visiting during Summer.

Enjoy!

Visit www.sanbi.org  for opening times and more info.