19 December 2020
Our first morning in the Bontebok National Park started with a visit from a VERY big Rain Spider in the kitchen. Despite their large size these spiders aren’t deadly to humans (though a bite would be very painful), but considering that other visitors might overreact if they encounter this one and kill it I decided to catch it and relocate it to a suitable spot outside (and had to keep a curious Cape Bulbul at bay while the spider hid in an aloe). After all this excitement we could enjoy breakfast overlooking the Breede River as morning broke over the Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp feeling very pleased with ourselves.
Rain Spider escaping the Tupperware at Bontebok National Park
Rain Spider trying to hide among dead aloe leaves at Bontebok National Park
Very curious Cape Bulbul
Breede River at sunrise
The previous time we visited Bontebok it rained for most of the two days we spent in the Park, and so we didn’t get to explore much. This beautiful morning presented an opportunity to rectify that, so we got an early start to our first drive through the reserve.
The view from Aloe Hill towards Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp, with the Langeberg in the distance
Cape Mountain Zebras on a hillside in the Bontebok National Park
Yellow Bush cones (Leucadendron salignum) in Bontebok National Park
Koppie Foam Grasshopper
Karoo Scrub Robin
Bontebok is a stronghold for the endangered Renosterveld vegetation
Four-striped Grass Mouse
We wanted to go check out the local picnic spot, known as Die Stroom (“The Stream”) before it got too busy with day visitors. It does seem a lovely spot to enjoy a relaxed picnic while also taking pleasure in all the Park’s other attractions.
Die Stroom Picnic Area
Die Stroom Picnic Area
When we got back to camp one of the star attractions of the Park, a Bontebok, was waiting for us at our chalet, together with an Angulate Tortoise and lots of birds.
Bontebok outside our chalet at Bontebok National Park (photo by Joubert)
Greater Striped Swallow
Another one of the things we missed out on during our previous visit to Bontebok was most of the walking trails available to visitors, so before lunch (and before it got too hot) I got going on the Acacia and Bushbuck Trails, which follow the course of the Breede River. Along the way a few viewing decks have been built overlooking peaceful stretches of the river.
Viewing deck on the Bushbuck Trail
The Breede River seen from a viewing deck on the Bushbuck Trail
Rain Spider egg sac
Egyptian Geese and Yellow-billed Ducks sharing a section of the Breede River
Walking trail in Bontebok National Park
One of the decks along the Bushbuck Trail overlooking the Breede River
Ants exploding from their nest in a wooden bench
Bontebok National Park’s fishing spot along the Breede River
Breede River panorama
An as yet unidentified grasshopper
Common Meadow White
Karoo Scrub Robin
After lunch there was time to walk around the camp.
Breede River rapids at Lang Elsie’s Kraal
Southern Masked Weaver female
And then another circuit of the Park’s game viewing drives saw us through till sunset.
Bontebok running across our way (photograph by Joubert)
Bontebok National Park protects the threatened renosterveld vegetation-type
After dinner and with the camp now clothed in darkness I went down to the river to look for frogs at the water’s edge. Thrilled to find a few of three different species, though even more exciting to see was the Sharp-toothed Catfish actually jumping onto the river banks to catch any frogs sitting too close to the water!
Cape River Frog
Clicking Stream Frog
Sharptooth Catfish patrolling the water of the Breede River after dark
While away from our chalet our little “camera trap” caught this Large-spotted Genet patrolling outside.
Large-spotted Genet caught by our camera-trap outside our chalet at Bontebok National Park
If you’d like to learn more about the Bontebok National Park, have a read through this special feature we published after a previous visit. For more about the beautiful Bontebok antelope, read here.
Map of Bontebok National Park, from a brochure published by SANParks