Eastern Cape Part 3

Balloch Cottages and Rhodes

25th to 28th April 2012

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Mountain Zebra NP to Balloch

On the 28th April we headed for Balloch Cottages near Barkly East. Here is some of the scenery along the way.

There are only 2 large campsites at Balloch – both are easily the size of four normal campsites. When you book the whole site is for you and your party only.

One campsite is by the river and the other in a cave above. We had hoped to camp in the cave but someone beat us to it. Our campsite was huge and a bit sloped.

The cave campsite – see the photos :

There was power when the river generator was on – usually for a few hours in the evening. And it was cold being so high up with a cold front there and snow looming.

Balloch Cottages is about 6kms from the passing gravel road along a scenic dirt and sometimes challenging road. Let the photos speak for themselves:

Our time spent at Balloch was mainly spent walking – following paths up into the mountainous countryside or else down the road towards the cottages and beyond. Exploring the ponds and rivulets as well as the treed curbsides.

Reflection of a branch of a tree hanging over a rather calm pond.

One of the more interesting sightings occurred on one of these walks. We could hear people talking from what seemed miles away. They were at the top of one of the steep slopes. Then as we got closer we realised they were herding sheep down into our valley. However the sheep decided they wanted the quickest way down and that was straight down the steep slope – incredible. Never seen so many sheep altogether almost running down en masse.

On one day we decided to visit Rhodes. It took us a one and a half hours birding along the way.

Balloch to Rhodes

Again a stunning barren landscape with a few special birds along the way.

Birding was difficult at that time of the year. But we did see several specials : Sentinel Rock-Thrush both male and female; Karoo Prinia, Cape Vulture, Greater Kestrel, Grey Crowned Cranes, Red-eyed Bulbul, Yellow-crowned Bishop and even a Rock Hyrax.

But the most unusual bird we saw was definitely this one.

We left a day early as we were informed that there would be a heavy dump of snow at the end of the week. We overnighted again at Tortini and drove home from there the day before the snow storm was about to hit the Drakensberg.

And so that brings to an end our trip to the Eastern Cape.

Hope you have enjoyed the read and the photos.

Paul and Sally Bartho

Raging Red in Balloch on way to campsite.

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