Elegant Places

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Spanish Warship - The Rayo in Cape Town


South African maritime watchers, led by the South African Navy, will have eyes peeled on Cape Town's V&A Waterfront this week when the Spanish Navy vessel Rayo pay her first visit to local waters.

The visit, which will also take in Durban, will enhance co-operation and ties with the local maritime arm of service as well as providing crew rest following deployment as part of the European Union Naval Force's anti-piracy Operation Atalanta off the Horn of Africa.

Rayo is a new offshore patrol vessel and her deployment off the east coast of Africa  was her first operational tasking. Prior to arrival in Cape Town on Wednesday, Rayo ported in Mozambique as part of a planned voyage around Africa. In addition to her two South African stops, Rayo will also call on other friendly countries as part of her transit back to her home port of Las Palmas Arsenal in the Canary Islands.

She has been part of the EUNavFor anti-piracy operation since March.

Rayo is the fourth ocean patrol vessel of the Meteoro Classs (maritime action ships) designed to protect Spanish areas of maritime interest as well as maintaining a foreign naval presence for the Mediterranean country. Rayo is also equipped to carry out a number of other maritime security tasks as required with her 75-strong crew.

As with other Meteoro Class vessels, Rayo was built at Navantia's San Fernando shipyard. She was launched in May 2010 and commissioned a year later.

Rayo has a displacement of 2 500 tons and measures just short of 100 metres in length.

She will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday while at anchor in the V&A Waterfront.

ESPS Rayo has had a busy year, earlier this month capturing a skiff with six suspected pirates 320 nautical miles off the Somali coast. As there was not enough evidence to prosecute the suspects, they were returned to the Somali coast. In March ESPS Rayo has escorted the MV Royal Grace to safety after it was released by Somali pirates.

Source: Written by defenceWeb
Monday, 27 May 2013 12:44

Open days - Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 June from 10h00 to 15h00
Location - Jetty 2, the V&A Waterfront
Departure date - Saturday 8 June
Estimated departure time - 09h00                            

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Total Solar Eclipse

On November 3, 2013, a total solar eclipse will pass over equatorial Gabon in the Western Africa Congo, Uganda, Kenya and finally Ethiopia. Lodwar in Kenya reports a very encouraging “percent of possible sunshine” of 74 percent, which makes it the best point to be during this time of event and as the duration of the eclipse declines to less than 20 seconds across Kenya and to less than 10 seconds in Ethiopia.

For the experienced eclipse chaser in these locations, such a narrow and abrupt eclipse will come with a prominent presentation of the colorful innermost atmospheric layer of the Sun (the chromospheres) and a spectacular view along the axis of the Moon’s shadow.

Satellite and surface measurements indicate that the weather prospect in northern Kenya is the best along the entire 2013 eclipse track. Standing in these untouched landscapes – gazing up at the unreal fuchsia hues of the solar prominences, the swirling wisps of corona around the black disk of the Moon – promises to be an experience you’ll carry with you forever.

Witness a 14 or 22-second sunset total eclipse of the Sun by the shore of a remote Kenyan lake in a desert landscape.

Experience a world class Safari featuring the best parks in Kenya. There is so much to tell and everyone should try to go at least one time on safari in Africa. Kenya is a destination which allows you to see an enormous variation of landscapes, each with a specific flora and fauna. In the North of Kenya you can experience a desert like environment and see the amazing survival skills of the animals and people who live in these areas. The center of the country has a fascination Mountain Range, the Aberdares, and together with the snowcapped top of Mount Kenya this gives you a dramatic landscape, also very suitable for active sports. It is an upmost pleasure to go on safari and travel for days in these vast open areas probably visiting the most famous of the Kenyan parks the Masai Mara National reserve.

Explore one of the richest and most diverse wildlife areas in the world. Famed for the annual Great Migration of wildebeest, the Masai Mara is home to a vast number of resident wildlife. Discover ageless natural cycles as masses of animals move through vast unfenced conservation areas and then travel to the peaceful atmosphere of Samburu for an authentic wilderness experience in one of Kenya's lesser known reserves.

For a detailed itinerary contact enquire@elegantplaces.co.za We would closely with an indigenous Kenyan company to offer you this and other amazing experiences.

Amboseli Zebra
Lake Nakuru Black Rhino
Masai Mara Wildebeests
Samburu Elephants

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

West Coast Fossil Park

On our return from a week-end at Rocherpan Nature Reserve 25km North of Velddrif, Western Cape, we decided to explore the West Coast Fossil Park near Langebaan, about 150km north of Cape Town. We had never heard of the park before, but ended spending an interesting couple of hours being educated about the far flung past of the region.

The fossils came to light when SEMANCOR was mining for phosphates, as stated on their website:
The deeply buried fossil deposits were uncovered during phosphate mining in the Langebaanweg area. The mining started in 1943, initially at Baard’s Quarry on Langeberg Farm, close to where the airforce training base is today. Here solid phosphate rock was mined for fertilizer and it is thought that many tons of fossils were crushed up along with the rock before scientists were made aware of their existence.
 Fortunately much is still visible, and it is still an active paeleontological digging site.

First we spent some time in the museum to get an overview of the animals and their skeletons that used to live in the area, about 5 million years ago. The more exotic being; saber-toothed cats, short-necked giraffes, hunting hyenas and African bears, as well as a large selection of birds. The climate was substantially different then, it was wetter and more lush, as shown in these illustrative posters of the flora and fauna as well as the 'event' that created this concentration of land based and marine fossils all mixed in the same layer of sediment:

Poster showing the flora and fauna 5 million years ago, showing the possible cause of the accumation of animalsPoster showing the flora and fauna 5 million years ago

This prepared us to recognise the various bones on display at the dig site.

Entrance to the dig covered by a tunnel with the sieves on the foreground.
When arriving at the dig site, you walk past the sieves where they go through tiny fragments of fossils mixed with sand. You quickly understand how  painstaking the process of  the paleontologists is, to go through tiny fragments of fossilised bone and then manage to identify the animal and the part thereof. A trained eye, or being good at puzzles is a great advantage!

Other view of the sieves

Finally into the tent, where you can see one of the dig sites. Helpful displays show the anatomy of the animals so you can (more easily) recognise the bones in the dig site.

Dig site with displays

The Short-necked Long Horned Giraffe

The Extinct African Bear
And finally some images of the dig site itself. This is where it gets really interesting, and we encourage you to go and see it for yourself!

The Fossil Park website is very thorough and offers much better information, than we could ever dream of writing up. But all I can say is. if you ever are in the area, or if you want an intellectually stimulating activity, the West Coast Fossil Park and their guides come highly reccomended.

If you are looking at a place to stay then stay in Hopefield, at Kersefontein Guest Farm, we'll gladly assist if you wish to stay there.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Running the Scenic Route

Keep fit while taking in the scenery at new running route.

Framed by Table Mountain on the one side and the glistening Atlantic Ocean on the other, the V&A Waterfront’s newly launched 2.2km and 5km running route offers one of the most picturesque running tracks in the country.

Picture credit: Alida Erasmus
The route starts at the Tourist Information Centre and snakes past many well-known V&A Waterfront landmarks including the Aquarium, the One & Only Hotel and the Cape Grace Hotel before winding its way over the Bascule Swing Bridge, past the Victoria & Alfred Hotel, the Cape Wheel and the Amphitheatre before reaching the iconic Table Bay Hotel.

Picture credit: Alida Erasmus
From here, the route reaches the Breakwater and the newly developed scenic Boardwalk Path which forms part of the route. The Boardwalk offers various scenic lookout points where runners and walkers alike can take a breather as they soak up the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean, and possibly even spot a frolicking seal or a pod of dolphins. Runners then make their way to Granger Bay where the Cape Town Stadium will come into view, before finally heading back to the Tourist Information Centre.

Picture credit: Alida Erasmus
The 2.2km route is marked in yellow while the 5km run is marked in red, and both are clearly sign posted making it easy for runners to track their distance. Free maps of the route are available from the Tourist Information Centre.