Year in the Wild Blog

Day 55 – YITW 2013-14 – Glorious Goukamma

It’s hard to believe that there was a major oil spill at Goukamma Nature Reserve last month. There is plenty of natural beauty about, especially for such a small reserve, and whatever oil is left on the beach is minimal and hard to notice.

I’ve spent the past few days walking the various trails in the reserve, on both the beaches and the vegetated dunes alongside the coast. These are covered in coastal fynbos, and the spring flowers are starting to emerge.

I also borrowed the reserve’s little boat to explore Groenvlei. This is an inland, natural body of fresh water that has no rivers flowing into it or out of it. It’s essentially ground water that is trapped between the high vegetated dunes, and it makes for superb birding. A thick forest of milkwood trees lines the southern banks of the vlei, and a pair of resident fish eagles is commonly seen perched on one of the many gnarly old branches.

But best of all, for me at least, was spotting a Cape clawless otter! In fact, I spotted two! They were foraging in among the phragmitees reeds on the edge of the vlei, causing an almighty commotion among the cormorants. Perhaps they were looking for bird eggs? Anyway, the otters were skittish, and they peeked at me from just above the surface of the water, before swimming away into the reeds.

Once again, I’m amazed and humbled by the diversity of life. Despite it’s small size, Goukamma packs a serious punch, and like many other reserves I’ve visited, the more you look, the more you discover. If you take the time to notice things, you soon realise that nature is a neverending source of inspiration and study – and photography!

Looking west along Goukamma's spectacular shoreline

And just after sunset...burnished-copper sky and sea.

A long exposure of the ocean, taken from Rowwehoek viewpoint along the road to Buffel's Bay.

The Cape clawless otter that was checking me out at Groenvlei. Cute!

But those teeth are sharp! One day, I'm going to take a photo of an otter with pups...

Reed cormorant launching off its perch

One of the resident fish eagles at Groenvlei...a shy, retiring type. I'm so used to the bushveld fish eagles that pose all day for you!

Groenvlei lies near to the town of Sedgefield...those are the Outeniqua mountains in the background.

Early morning mist on Groenvlei

How we roll in Buffel's Bay, the little village nearest to Goukamma's estuary.

Egyptian goose and youngsters in the Goukamma estuary

A typical Goukamma scene...high dunes covered with fynbos, backed by an emerald, sparkling sea, and a light blue sky drenched with southern hemisphere sun.

Okay, can a botanist help me out here? Not sure which species this is.

And this one?

A fly pollinates a sour fig flower.

Daisies blossoming in the spring sun.

And this one is...?

Same species as the previous photo...

There were several pairs of Oystercatchers along the shores of Goukamma...always great to see!

Think that's a yellow-billed duck, heading to the water of the Goukamma River for it's morning wash.

One of the little cottages at Goukamma...which have great views of the ocean and river.

The stylish Fish Eagles Loft at Goukamma...with great views of the ocean, river and beaches.

The kitchen at Fish Eagle Loft, near the Goukamma river estuary.

Mvubu Bush Lodge on Groenvlei

For more, go to and Check out my Flickr photos at and my Instagram photos at Twitter on

Thanks to my partners Cape Union MartFord EverestGoodyear, and K-Way.

As well as EeziAwnFrontrunnerGlobecommHetznerNational LunaOutdoor PhotoSafari Centre Cape Town, Tracks 4 Africa, and Vodacom.

Conservation partners BirdLife South AfricaBotswana Department of Wildlife and National ParksCapeNatureEastern Cape Parks and TourismEzemvelo KZN WildlifeGorongosa National ParkiSimangaliso Wetland Park, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Parque Nacional do Limpopo, South African National Parks and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.


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