Not that much longer, and I was in Stellenbosch, where I have remained for the past week. The experiences have been piling up as I have immersed myself into the African karoo and fynbos. I met some other foreign exchange students (not birders, but similar in personality to myself) and we have been exploring the area fervently, and have had quite the week! Below are some of the highlights I managed to photograph.
The first thing, of course, that struck me about Stellenbosch was the view. This is taken from right in front of the building I live in and shows the Jonkershoek.
On one of my first days here, I explored the in-town Jan Marais Nature Reserve. I was extremely surprised to find this massive tortoise drinking at the local pond! Other highlights from that reserve so far include Small Grey Mongoose, Cape Sugarbird, Black Sparrowhawk and the whistling Cape Bulbuls feeding in the scrub. It is quite the interesting locality!
One of my new favorite birds, the Cape Rockjumper. This legendary South African highlight is found in boulder-strewn hillsides in southwest South Africa. This bird was on the lower summit of Stellenboschberg, and my friends and I hiked 8 hours to see this and the view from the mountain, below.
The one thing that does not appear in the picture above is the unforgiving sun - I am blistered and burned from my Icarus-like hike, and am still recovering. Next time, I am bathing in sunscreen before I go!
So far, South Africa is an incredible and beautiful place! The people are as varied as the scenery, with Afrikaans, isiXhosa, German, French and English being commonly spoken on the streets. I'll try to post as often as I can, but for now, I need to get registered for classes. Have a good weekend!