South Africa Travel Diary - p 6 African Penguin (75966 bytes)

8 September 2006
We're in Yzerfontein now, two hours north of Capetown, but our wildflowering and photography have been put on hold by a stomach virus.  For two days now we've done little but sleep, drink tea, and watch the southern right whales in the bay.  There are worse places to be ill.  Our room at Emmaus-on-Sea B&B overlooks the bay, and we enjoy the restful sound of waves crashing on the beach.






Two African Penguins (87207 bytes)10 September 2006
Somewhat recovered now, we've arrived in Capetown.   I think we would have enjoyed our stay here more if we hadn't spent so much time hopelessly lost.  Kirstenbosch Gardens would not allow photography with a tripod, so we made our way to Simon's Town, just south of Capetown, to visit the African Penguin colony at Boulder's Beach. 
    They sure are cute and loveable, about as difficult to photograph as backyard chickens.  My favorite was this male giving his mate some penguin lovin'.






11 September 2006Moraea papilionacea (82250 bytes)
We've now moved on to Bartolomeus Klip, about 90 minutes northeast of Capetown in the shadow of the Elandsberg mountains.  B-Klip turns out to be a 5-star establishment out in the boondocks.  On our afternoon arrival we were greeted with high tea, then later enjoyed a delicious gourmet dinner, the best salmon I've ever tasted.  Later we walked back to our cottage, where someone had laid in a warm fire in the fireplace.  When we went to bed, there were hot water bottles tucked under the covers.  They pamper you shamelessly here, and we loved every minute of it.







Moraea villosa (82685 bytes)The grasslands of B-Klip have been restocked with native animals:  more bontebok, mountain zebra, and eland.  On our afternoon game drive we also spotted a caracal, our fifth cat species of the trip. 
    But for me the main attraction are moraeas.  I've been fascinated by these members of the iris family ever since reading Peter Goldblatt's book, The Moraeas of Southern Africa.  At B-Klip two of the most beautiful grow profusely:  M. villosa and M. papilionacea.  As with anemones and  magnolias, the outer whorls of Moraea flowers are not differentiated into petals and sepals and so are called tepals.  M. villosa's tepals range in color from purple to blue to almost white in a single population.   Not sure why, but I've seen this great variation in color, or phenotypic variability, in many flowers here in South Africa, much more than among our temperate zone flowers. 



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