Posted on the 5th December 2011

Lee, Melanie, John, Jos, Elsabé, Richard, Aletta and Anita spent a weekend at Vermaaklikheid between 25 and 27 November 2011. Vermaaklikheid is a secluded little hamlet situated on the banks of the Duivenhoksriver between Heidelberg and Riversdale in the southern Cape. Beautiful thatched cottages and some real fix-me-uppers are scattered on hillsides where goats, horses, cattle, chickens and dogs all roam freely. The main attraction however is the river and the fishing. Beautiful large properties on the riverbanks can be seen when cruising up- or downstream. We stayed at Base Huis on the river front. There is a lovely outside braai and entertainment area, a comfortable lounge with a huge fire-place and an well equipped open-plan kitchen. The house can accommodate 8 people easily, the only draw-back being that there is only one toilet (in the bathroom) and an outside open shower. Guests have the use of the canoe and a rowing boat (to which an engine may be attached - which proved very difficult).

Base House


The outdoor braai









Our first bird sighting was a large group of Greater Flamingos on the Kleinriver Lagoon just outside Hermanus. A few Pied Crows, a Jackal Buzzard and a Black-shouldered Kite were seen at our first stop at Birkenhead Brewery. Crowned Lapwing and Barn Swallows were spotted. The second stop was at Raka Winery to top-up on our wine supply for the week-end. After munching some pies at the famous Ou Meul Bakery in Riviersonderend we hit the high-top to Heidelberg where we took the turn-off on the gravel road to Vermaaklikheid. On this road we saw Blue Cranes, Spurwinged- and Egyptian Geese, Karoo Korhaan and Capped Wheatear.

After unloading supplies we gathered at the outside braai-area while John and Richard went for a trip in the canoe. Later on we had a lovely braai and a kuier and early to bed.

The indoor braai


The jetty










The following morning some of us were up early and we set off on foot to explore the surroundings - the main aim being to bird. We were not disappointed as we identified a good variety of species. We were not successful in obtaining an engine or a skipper to take us on the river which was very frustrating. (Unexplainable, this desire to take to the water.) Desperation however resulted in a decision to take to the row boat with Elsabé and Aletta as competent oarswomen and Lee and Anita as crew. We saw a huge roost of egrets high up in some bluegums and low and behold we came across a lonely fisherman. Once again we asked if he perhaps knew of anybody who would take us downriver. He must have taken pity on us because he offered to tow us downriver towards the mouth as they were going to fish there at low tide. We could then wait for the tide to turn and drift up-river on the incoming tide. Some sandwiches, orange juice and champagne later with Richard also on board we embarked on our adventure. Our heroes caught up with us in their motorboat with Malcolm from Syringa Kennels at the helm. I very nearly toppled overboard when I saw a gorgeous looking Spaniard with waist-length black hair and the most devine features throwing the tow rope towards us. What a WOW!!!!! About 5km later they waved us farewell and we had our refreshmnets in the boat while waiting for the tide to turn. We saw Red-winged Starling, Black-headed Heron, Cardinal Woodpecker, Common Greenshank, Giant and Pied Kingfisher, and White-breasted Cormorant in this area. On our way back we stopped off at Aletta and Elsabé's cousin's property on the river to relax for a while on the lawn under huge shady trees. Undoubtedly the best sighting of the weekend was when Aletta spotted an African Paradise Flycatcher on it's nest. Clear to see with its rufous tail and blue beak and blue eye rims.

Our heroes!

After about 5 hours on the water we arrived home safely much to the relief of the stay-at-home party. By this time the weather was deteriorating rapidly and we decided to braai our steaks on the indoor braai. A huge fire was lit and we settled in for a most companionable and comfortable evening just socialising, eating and drinking and up-dating our bird lists.

On a rainy Sunday morning we prepared a considerable brunch after which we started gathering our bags in preparation for our trip home. The general consensus was that a great time was had by all and that we would most certainly do something similar in future.

All in all we counted 89 species for the trip with no. 88 being a perched Martial Eagle spotted by Aletta at the Suurbraak turnoff on the N2.

Anita de Jager




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