Thursday, July 12

Mid-winter on the South Coast

Hiking in Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

Mild, sunny days (mostly),  flowering aloes, sharks & whales, zebra & wildebeest, endless sandy (and empty) beaches, tropical coastal forests, rolling grassy hills & sugarcane fields.......

That's what you get on the Kwa-Zulu Natal South Coast in mid-winter.

Here are some "snapshots" from a visit I made this last June.

Small villages form an almost continuous band of development down the coast line, but when you look closely enough there are pockets of coastal forest/thicket everywhere.......

Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

 Moving away from the beaches, into the rolling hills of Zululand you will find endless sugarcane fields, dotted with Zulu villages and small nature reserves.

These reserves not only preserve the local flora and bird life, but often have zebra, wildebeest and other antelope

Vernon Crookes NR


Then there's the diving on Aliwal Shoal. This is a prime destination in winter for the Ragged-tooth sharks (aka Raggies)

Of course there's a lot of other stuff to see as well, both underwater & on the surface at this time of the year.......
Ragged-tooth Shark

Humpback Whales

From June through to November we have Humpback whales migrating north & then back south again close to our eastern shoreline.

On our first dive, on Aliwal Shoal, we had whale song for the whole dive. An amazing experience.

On all 3 of our diving days we had incredible whale sightings from our  boat as we returned to shore......

Then there's the Sardine Run.

Every winter, millions of sardines move north up the Eastern Cape and southern Kwa-Zulu Natal coasts in massive shoals.

As with anything in nature, the timing, size, extent and duration of the Sardine Run can vary significantly year to year.

This year, the sardine shoals came close to shore near Pennington and Scottburgh at the same time I was there.

This was the sight that greeted us when we walked onto the beach to launch for our second Aliwal dive.

Chaos, excitement, wonder.......

The next morning there were no sardines, and the beach returned to it's normal mid-winter, mid-week emptiness........

All holidays come to an end, and we had some beautifully warm sunny weather on the last day to see me back to cold, dry Johannesburg.

A last walk on the beach and a cocktail at sunset!!