Whale season, beach baboons and rock rabbits
This weekend our ‘Road Trip’ took us along the scenic Clarence Drive on the eastern side of the False Bay coast. Clarence Drive is the coastal road carved in the rocky sea cliffs between Gordon’s Bay and Rooiels. The route offers magnificent views across False Bay to Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula.
The drive leads through the Kogelberg Biosphere, the first and only biosphere in South Africa to be proclaimed by United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Our first stop was Kogel Bay, with long lines of surf breaking on the shining white sand, a favorite amongst local experienced surfers and sun-worshippers for its pleasant atmosphere and sheltered cove ‘Dappat se Gat’.
Here we spent several hours watching in silent awe as a couple of Southern Right Whales entertained us with their frolicking, ‘spy hopping’ immediately behind the breakers in front of us. Like some other cetaceans, these whales have reasonable vision in air as well as water, and this may be why they sometimes lift their heads vertically from the sea, an activity known as “spy hopping”.
The Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) was given this name because they live in the Southern Hemisphere and at the time was the ‘right’ whale to hunt because they floated when killed. It is quite easy to spot because of its many unique features. The head of a Southern Right is much hairier than most whales, it also has callosities (a series of horny growths) behind the blowhole, on the chin, above the eyes, on the lower lip and on the rostrum (beak like upper jaw).
We watched as them spurt out plumes of water when exhaling. In today’s day and age its really very hard to imagine anyone wanting to actually hunt and kill these gentle giants of the ocean. We then headed to the small seaside village called Rooiels, famous for its magnificent views over False Bay.
Rooiels is the first little village to be explored along the stretch of coastline through to Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond. These four towns are commonly known as the Hangklip – Kleinmond area. Here we spotted the resident Chacma baboons, Rooiels has its own troop and they move from along the coast to Betty’s Bay searching for food.
They also visit rock pools for seafood and pick up shells and seaweed on the beach. On our return journey we saw a lot of Cape Dassies, or Rock Hyrax basking in the late afternoon sunshine on the boulders and rocks along the scenic coastal road.
The dassie is a brownish gray, rabbit-sized mammal, resembling a guinea pig, it is apparently the African elephant’s closest living relative and this close evolutionary relationship is deduced from similarities in the structure of the feet and teeth. The Rock Dassie feeds in the morning and afternoon, if it gets enough succulent feed it doesn’t need water. The little fellow spends very little time moving around, to conserve energy. The dassie’s main predators are Black eagles, Caracal and Leopard, all of which are found in this magnificent area.
Once you start really exploring an area its amazing how much you can discover, when we slow down a little and step off the beaten track, there’s so much more to experience than meets the eye. Road Travel is committed to delivering unique local experiences to those who desire something more than the usual tourist ‘hotspots’.