Operation Oysterhood: 25 – 28 September

We were welcomed in Wilderness by the gorgeous Knysna Turaco (a close relative of mousebirds!), flashing its reds and greens over our heads the moment we got out of the car. A good omen for the part of the trip solely dedicated to nature – physical distancing made easy. And what better place for such adventures than a comfy, secluded, en-suite tent in the Reflections Eco-Reserve where you can to experience the salt-water lakes and the forests of the Garden Route near Wilderness. Admittedly, the nights were windy and cold, our breaths “like signatures before us” (Gordimer) in the early mornings, but nothing that braais, red wine, hot water bottles and coffee couldn’t handle.

And we woke up to this view:

Tim and Angelique Carr, our Reflections hosts, are passionate about conservation and everything in the Reserve is organised around regeneration, preservation and the privilege of taking care of a beautiful piece of land and the waterscape around Rondevlei. Sunday morning, we got up early for a birding trip with Tim that was mind-blowing. He is the perfect guide, adjusting to the levels of expertise of his audience members to guarantee that everyone gets the most out of the experience. We did not only see stunning birds, we were able to spend time in their company, in one case being able to almost stroke a bird’s fluffy egg-yolk chest feathers when a fearless Chorister Robin-Chat allowed us to have a long, close look.

Other avian highlights included the Denham’s Bustard, African Paradise Flycatcher, Narina Trogon, Grey Cuckooshrike, White-starred Robin, Pin-tailed Whydah, Yellow-throated Petronia (out of range), Recapped Lark, Olive Woodpecker, Amethyst Sunbird and my absolute favourite: the outrageously wonderful African Swamphen.

Photo by Wally Harris.

Just look at this marvellous bird! Love at first sight.

We walked a lot and spent the evenings in front of big, friendly fires, braaing and drinking pink bubbly at sunset. Even a simple lunch of cheese and cold meats can turn into a feast when it is enjoyed with a spectacular view. And when you are in an elevated luxury tent you are surrounded by spectacular views. To top it all, we still had cheesecake for dessert.

Nearly two years ago, when we visited the Goukamma Nature Reserve for a few days and discovered the Wild Oats Farmers’ Market in Sedgefield, I had the most delicious, fresh oysters there. They were selling at R10 (small) and R15 (big) each and tasted like sea heaven. Just a dash of tabasco sauce and a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice. At this price, I had ‘many’. This Saturday, even though we were at the market early, I could not resist. The same oyster stall was still there, the prices haven’t changed and the quality of the oysters was even better than I’d remembered. I so wish I could do this every Saturday (but perhaps not for breakfast – rather make that a brunch wish) …

Food is one of the simplest pleasures.

Oysterhood in all kinds of senses of the word.

Last stop on our intra-provincial tour (organised at a time when inter-provincial travel was not allowed): Stanford.

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