A Travellerspoint blog

April 2020

Chilling with African penguins near Cape Town

African penguins are only found on the coastlines of Southern Africa and are currently on the verge of extinction so they are a protected species

African penguins are only found on the coastlines of Southern Africa and are currently on the verge of extinction so they are a protected species

I visited Boulder's Beach a few times when I was in Cape Town 3 1/2 years ago and another two times with Lee; it's my favorite place among the many great destinations around Cape Town

I visited Boulder's Beach a few times when I was in Cape Town 3 1/2 years ago and another two times with Lee; it's my favorite place among the many great destinations around Cape Town

African penguins are monogamous and pairs return to the same site each year for breeding with nesting usually peaking from March to May in South Africa

African penguins are monogamous and pairs return to the same site each year for breeding with nesting usually peaking from March to May in South Africa

African penguins have a black stripe and black spots on the chest, the pattern of spots being unique for every penguin, like human fingerprints

African penguins have a black stripe and black spots on the chest, the pattern of spots being unique for every penguin, like human fingerprints

I have to wonder what the penguins are thinking; Lee enjoyed hanging out with the penguins at least as much as I did!

I have to wonder what the penguins are thinking; Lee enjoyed hanging out with the penguins at least as much as I did!

The world has changed so much in the weeks since the photo was taken; what I wouldn't give to turn the clock back to an afternoon lounging with the penguins!

The world has changed so much in the weeks since the photo was taken; what I wouldn't give to turn the clock back to an afternoon lounging with the penguins!

From just two breeding pairs in 1982, the penguin colony has grown to 3,000  birds; this is partly due to the reduction in commercial trawling in False Bay, which has increased the supply of sardines and anchovy, which form part of the penguins' diet

From just two breeding pairs in 1982, the penguin colony has grown to 3,000+ birds; this is partly due to the reduction in commercial trawling in False Bay, which has increased the supply of sardines and anchovy, which form part of the penguins' diet

It's easy to see how Boulder's Beach got its name; the beach has been a very popular tourist attraction since the penguins started calling it home

It's easy to see how Boulder's Beach got its name; the beach has been a very popular tourist attraction since the penguins started calling it home

The African penguin is a banded penguin and are similar in shape, color and behavior to other banded penguins like the Galapagos penguin; they are typically about 2 ft tall

The African penguin is a banded penguin and are similar in shape, color and behavior to other banded penguins like the Galapagos penguin; they are typically about 2 ft tall

If you got too close the penguins would nip at you (they can peck hard enough to draw a little blood) but once you sat down they just walked around you

If you got too close the penguins would nip at you (they can peck hard enough to draw a little blood) but once you sat down they just walked around you

Roughly 4 million African penguins existed at the beginning of the 19th century; the population had fallen to 1.5 million by 1910 and fell further to only 150,000 by the end of the 20th century

Roughly 4 million African penguins existed at the beginning of the 19th century; the population had fallen to 1.5 million by 1910 and fell further to only 150,000 by the end of the 20th century

Posted by VagabondCowboy 00:29 Comments (0)

Melissa's Garden among favorite Raja Ampat dives

The most famous view in Raja Ampat is, surprisingly, not underwater; the Piaynemo lookout is set among the Pam Islands giving a view of the many karst islets scattered across the lagoon

The most famous view in Raja Ampat is, surprisingly, not underwater; the Piaynemo lookout is set among the Pam Islands giving a view of the many karst islets scattered across the lagoon

The pink anemonefish is a sequential hermaphrodite with a strict size-based dominance hierarchy; the female is largest, the breeding male is second largest, and the male non-breeders get progressively smaller as the hierarchy descends

The pink anemonefish is a sequential hermaphrodite with a strict size-based dominance hierarchy; the female is largest, the breeding male is second largest, and the male non-breeders get progressively smaller as the hierarchy descends

Melissa's Garden is a favorite dive site for underwater photographers; the site had an amazing variety of hard and soft corals, sponges, crinoids, nudibranchs, and anemones, all in so many colors and forms

Melissa's Garden is a favorite dive site for underwater photographers; the site had an amazing variety of hard and soft corals, sponges, crinoids, nudibranchs, and anemones, all in so many colors and forms

Ocellated nudibranch; they are slow moving, can swim or be propelled along either by muscular contraction or by millions of tiny hairs on the bottom of a fleshy foot, they have a voracious appetite and feed with a rasp-like tongue

Ocellated nudibranch; they are slow moving, can swim or be propelled along either by muscular contraction or by millions of tiny hairs on the bottom of a fleshy foot, they have a voracious appetite and feed with a rasp-like tongue

This large green table coral stood out because it was like having a redwood in a forest of magnolias; the crew made diving on the liveaboard so easy and worryfree

This large green table coral stood out because it was like having a redwood in a forest of magnolias; the crew made diving on the liveaboard so easy and worryfree

I think Melissa's Garden won the award for the most intense snow globe effect on the trip; our divemaster was keen on finding pygmy seahorses but our group was more interested in big stuff

I think Melissa's Garden won the award for the most intense snow globe effect on the trip; our divemaster was keen on finding pygmy seahorses but our group was more interested in big stuff

The Piaynemo lookout is reached via 341 steps which have even been built around trees that were in the way; it was the first time in many days I actually had to put shoes on

The Piaynemo lookout is reached via 341 steps which have even been built around trees that were in the way; it was the first time in many days I actually had to put shoes on

Unlike my other dive trips, our group didn't include any marine biologists or science experts who could help us identify what we were seeing; our divemasters limited English made asking them fruitless

Unlike my other dive trips, our group didn't include any marine biologists or science experts who could help us identify what we were seeing; our divemasters limited English made asking them fruitless

Melissa's Garden is named for the daughter of Max Emmer who discovered the site; the large coral garden reef is close to Batanta Island in the NW part of Raja Ampat

Melissa's Garden is named for the daughter of Max Emmer who discovered the site; the large coral garden reef is close to Batanta Island in the NW part of Raja Ampat

Field of garden eels; each of these 16 inch long individuals has his own burrow; they are very timid and will retreat into their burrows if a threat is perceived

Field of garden eels; each of these 16 inch long individuals has his own burrow; they are very timid and will retreat into their burrows if a threat is perceived

White-lined rock cod; food is drawn into their mouths by a powerful suction when they open their overly large mouths and then swallowed whole

White-lined rock cod; food is drawn into their mouths by a powerful suction when they open their overly large mouths and then swallowed whole

With 11 divers (plus 3 divemasters) doing 21 dives, the most serious issue anyone had was their mask taking on water; the crew was always smiling and seemed to enjoy their work

With 11 divers (plus 3 divemasters) doing 21 dives, the most serious issue anyone had was their mask taking on water; the crew was always smiling and seemed to enjoy their work

Steephead parrotfish; this large species has an important ecological role in coral reefs because as they graze they excavate the coral to feed on algae; they grow quickly and can live to be 15 years old

Steephead parrotfish; this large species has an important ecological role in coral reefs because as they graze they excavate the coral to feed on algae; they grow quickly and can live to be 15 years old

Harlequin sweetlips; the sweetlips family is also known as grunts but that's not a very attractive name; the fish actually do making a grunting noise as their flat teeth plates rub together

Harlequin sweetlips; the sweetlips family is also known as grunts but that's not a very attractive name; the fish actually do making a grunting noise as their flat teeth plates rub together

Posted by VagabondCowboy 02:39 Comments (0)

Storms River, South Africa-cool adventure sport mecca

The Otter Trail is one of the most popular in South Africa so you have to reserve space well in advance; it is located on the Indian Ocean in the Garden Route National Park

The Otter Trail is one of the most popular in South Africa so you have to reserve space well in advance; it is located on the Indian Ocean in the Garden Route National Park

Storms River has become known for the many adventure sports available here; we stayed 2 nights in the colorful, nearby village of Storms River

Storms River has become known for the many adventure sports available here; we stayed 2 nights in the colorful, nearby village of Storms River

This is the bridge Lee bungee jumped off of; it holds the Guinness World Record as the highest bungee jump from a commercial structure (216 m)

This is the bridge Lee bungee jumped off of; it holds the Guinness World Record as the highest bungee jump from a commercial structure (216 m)

How could anyone take a flying leap off this bridge?; Lee insisted on not acting his age by bungee jumping here and said it was awesome

How could anyone take a flying leap off this bridge?; Lee insisted on not acting his age by bungee jumping here and said it was awesome

The zipline under the Bloukrans River Bridge looked like fun but only people doing the bungee jump were allowed; the rest of us had to walk to the midpoint of the bridge to observe

The zipline under the Bloukrans River Bridge looked like fun but only people doing the bungee jump were allowed; the rest of us had to walk to the midpoint of the bridge to observe

When we signed up for rafting the Storms River these rafts weren't what we had in mind; they were similar to what you'd have in a backyard pool but were fun nonetheless

When we signed up for rafting the Storms River these rafts weren't what we had in mind; they were similar to what you'd have in a backyard pool but were fun nonetheless

Gross!; biltong seems to the South African equivalent of jerky; this traditional South African snack can be made from springbok, kudu or other game

Gross!; biltong seems to the South African equivalent of jerky; this traditional South African snack can be made from springbok, kudu or other game

The hike wouldn't have been too bad except there were long stretches of climbing over boulders; the youngsters in our group were super fast so I enjoyed most of the hike in solitude

The hike wouldn't have been too bad except there were long stretches of climbing over boulders; the youngsters in our group were super fast so I enjoyed most of the hike in solitude

I was relieved to finally reach the turnaround point of our Otter Trail hike; it was a beautiful walk along the coastline on a perfect day

I was relieved to finally reach the turnaround point of our Otter Trail hike; it was a beautiful walk along the coastline on a perfect day

We just hiked the first 5km of the Otter Trail although by getting lost I think it ended up being closer to 8km; then walking to the Suspension Bridge Trail and it was close to a 10km day and a scenic workout

We just hiked the first 5km of the Otter Trail although by getting lost I think it ended up being closer to 8km; then walking to the Suspension Bridge Trail and it was close to a 10km day and a scenic workout

I didn't expect to see a bushbuck while hiking the Otter Trail; of course I tried to coax him over with tempting foliage but he was too smart for my antics

I didn't expect to see a bushbuck while hiking the Otter Trail; of course I tried to coax him over with tempting foliage but he was too smart for my antics

The waters were so rough that we walked to Storms River rather than starting outside the mouth of the river to begin our kayak; I think Lee and I could have handled the rough seas just fine though

The waters were so rough that we walked to Storms River rather than starting outside the mouth of the river to begin our kayak; I think Lee and I could have handled the rough seas just fine though

This is the mouth of Storms River but the photo doesn't capture how crazy powerful the crashing waves were; if you ever explore the Garden Route then I'd definitely recommend spending a day here

This is the mouth of Storms River but the photo doesn't capture how crazy powerful the crashing waves were; if you ever explore the Garden Route then I'd definitely recommend spending a day here

We used our hands to paddle our rafts up the Storms River past stunning cliffs; it was quite refreshing and the perfect activity after our sweaty hike

We used our hands to paddle our rafts up the Storms River past stunning cliffs; it was quite refreshing and the perfect activity after our sweaty hike

I probably needed the helmet more on the hike than when kayaking; we had long stretches on our bus so our group was happy to be outside on such a gorgeous day

I probably needed the helmet more on the hike than when kayaking; we had long stretches on our bus so our group was happy to be outside on such a gorgeous day

Our guides issued a challenge to see if anyone could stand on their raft so, of course, Lee accepted; only one other person, in addition to Lee, succeeded

Our guides issued a challenge to see if anyone could stand on their raft so, of course, Lee accepted; only one other person, in addition to Lee, succeeded

Lee is as active as ever taking advantage of every opportunity to burn some calories; unfortunately, on this jump he lost his Apple watch

Lee is as active as ever taking advantage of every opportunity to burn some calories; unfortunately, on this jump he lost his Apple watch

Posted by VagabondCowboy 03:33 Comments (0)

Raja Ampat's Manta Ridge dive lived up to its name

Manta Ridge is found in between Airborei and Mansuar islands; the mantas rays (some as large as 4 m wing tip to wing tip) can be seen at depths starting at around 6 m

Manta Ridge is found in between Airborei and Mansuar islands; the mantas rays (some as large as 4 m wing tip to wing tip) can be seen at depths starting at around 6 m

It's a great dive when you see mantas and turtles!; with visibility approaching 30m, it made finding the large animals much easier

It's a great dive when you see mantas and turtles!; with visibility approaching 30m, it made finding the large animals much easier

Juvenile dark-capped parrotfish; this species is a deep, rich blue as an adult with males generally having brighter colors; parrotfish can change their sex repeatedly throughout their lives

Juvenile dark-capped parrotfish; this species is a deep, rich blue as an adult with males generally having brighter colors; parrotfish can change their sex repeatedly throughout their lives

When there are strong currents it is nice to have a reef hook so you can safely anchor yourself; you don't hook on to coral but find a hole or crevice in a large rock

When there are strong currents it is nice to have a reef hook so you can safely anchor yourself; you don't hook on to coral but find a hole or crevice in a large rock

On this dive I found a Go Pro camera on a selfie stick!; it didn't look like it had been in the water long; I gave it to our divemaster who said it still worked but had no ID on it

On this dive I found a Go Pro camera on a selfie stick!; it didn't look like it had been in the water long; I gave it to our divemaster who said it still worked but had no ID on it

Manta Ridge is one of the best dive sites in Raja Ampat to reliably see mantas; there is a cleaning station here among the strong currents so divers typically hook in to watch

Manta Ridge is one of the best dive sites in Raja Ampat to reliably see mantas; there is a cleaning station here among the strong currents so divers typically hook in to watch

Scrawled filefish; this species can grow quite large to a size of 3.5 ft; with the many mantas and turtles on this dive it was easy to just ignore the fish;

Scrawled filefish; this species can grow quite large to a size of 3.5 ft; with the many mantas and turtles on this dive it was easy to just ignore the fish;

The green sea turtles here didn't seem affected by us at all; they can live to be 80 years old but the species is dependent on having safe, sandy nesting grounds

The green sea turtles here didn't seem affected by us at all; they can live to be 80 years old but the species is dependent on having safe, sandy nesting grounds

Raja Ampat provides a rare opportunity to see reefs that look like those Jacques Cousteau likely encountered during his legendary explorations here just a few decades ago; he called the area the Aquarium of the World

Raja Ampat provides a rare opportunity to see reefs that look like those Jacques Cousteau likely encountered during his legendary explorations here just a few decades ago; he called the area the Aquarium of the World

A group of manta rays is appropriately called a squadron; mantas can live to be 50 years old but reproduce slowly giving birth to a single pup every two to five years

A group of manta rays is appropriately called a squadron; mantas can live to be 50 years old but reproduce slowly giving birth to a single pup every two to five years

Juvenile chameleon parrotfish; this fish will gradually develop into a rainbow of colors as an adult; with parrotfish, harems of several females presided over by a single male tends to be the rule

Juvenile chameleon parrotfish; this fish will gradually develop into a rainbow of colors as an adult; with parrotfish, harems of several females presided over by a single male tends to be the rule

Posted by VagabondCowboy 04:45 Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 9 of 9) Previous « Page 1 [2]