Cederberg Camping and Bird-watching at Gecko Creek

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Gecko Creek Wilderness Lodge is a perfect destination to combine both camping in the Cederberg and bird-watching. Over 165 species of birds have been identified at Gecko Creek and guests camping enjoy waking to the sounds of hundreds of birds surrounding their tents.


Earlier this summer, we were fortunate to have two baby Cape Buntings hatch just outside the main house from their nest in a hanging plant. These two buntings now visit our guests who are self-catering in the lapa each meal. Here is a photo of Linton feeding one of the buntings some bread crumbs out of his hand. They are so tame they have become just like family!



Some fast facts about the Cape Bunting from the Wikipedia website:

There are a dozen subspecies, differing in plumage, but all have the distinctive head pattern and rufous in the wings.

The Cape Bunting is 16 cm long. The adult has a black crown, white supercilium and black-bordered white ear coverts. The upperparts are grey brown with some dark streaks, and the wing coverts are chestnut. The tail is darker chestnut, and the underparts are grey with a pale throat. The sexes are very similar, but females may have a buff tone to the white head markings. Young birds have duller chestnut wings, a less distinct head pattern, and heavier streaking extending on to the breast and flanks. The call is an ascending zzoo-zeh-zee-zee. The song is a loud chirping chup chup chup chup chee chhep chu.

The Cape Bunting occurs in southern Africa from southwestern Angola, eastern Zambia, Zimbabwe and southern Tanzania to the Cape. Its habitat is rocky slopes and dry weedy scrub, mainly in mountains in the north of its range. It previously utilized stony arid areas with some short grass, but much of this has been lost to ploughing.

The Cape Bunting is not gregarious, and is normally seen alone, in pairs or family groups. It feeds on the ground on seeds, insects and spiders. Its lined cup nest is built low in a shrub or tussock. The 2-4 eggs are cream and marked with red-brown and lilac.




Cederberg Retreat and Workshop at Gecko Creek


In this workshop, Shakti explores the therapeutic use of BlissDance to guide participants into opening into deep intimacy. The premise Shakti works with is that true intimacy only becomes possible when we open to ourselves, in awareness and feeling.  The weekend lies the foundations, and the extra day (24 February) will be our time for stepping over the edges of ecstasy. This will be more than a weekend of dance. It is an opportunity to systematically, under Shakti’s guidance, through dance and movementencounter and release body armouring – our emotional  protection against feelingconnect with your passionate, instinctual selffind your centre in space and your authentic response to the presence of anotherallow movement to come from deep inner stillnessand ultimately, move into the oceanic experience of deep melting into the bigger body of life.


The workshop is open to people of all ages and abilities who have a sincere interest in embodied awakening. Note that the workshop presents a special opportunity for therapists and dance teachers to receive training from Shakti in the therapeutic use of dance. Shakti will be strongly guiding the space of the dance towards pure intimacy while eliminating the unconscious wanting and needing responses that can otherwise shape our kinaesthetic presence.


BlissDance was developed by Shakti Malan (Ph.D.) as a way to directly open the intimate body is a gateway to the awakening of our divine nature. BlissDance is free movement practice  to support deep embodied presence in our intimate connecting with ourselves and others. From the inside out, we let life dance us. We follow the breath. We follow the heartbeat of the earth pulsing through us. We follow the spark of our bliss and let it burn us brightly.


Dates, time and costs:

Weekend: 21 – 23 February 2014 starting Friday 6pm and ending Sunday 4pm. Bookings before 21 January 2014: R2 500 excluding accommodation and meals. Bookings after 21 January: R2 800 excluding accommodation and meals. Long weekend: 21 – 24 February starting Friday 6pm ending Monday 5pm: R3 100 excluding accommodation and meals if booked before 21 January. After 21 January: R3 800.Deposit: A non-refundable deposit of R700 is required to reserve your space. No deposit, no reservation. Note that spaces are limited by accommodation and this workshop is likely to be popular. Accommodation and meal costs: These will be kept low.

Please contact Ahrian for details. ahriangaia@gmail.comVenue: Gecko Creek: www.geckocreek.com

The Leopard Tortoise – One of the “Little Five”

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From Big Five to Little Five


- article courtesy of http://www.southafrica.info/about/animals/little-five.htm

Visitors to South Africa are always keen to catch a glimpse and a photo of the country’s celebrated Big Five: elephant, lion, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard.While the big game is magnificent – and includes other giants such as giraffe, hippo, whale and dolphin – there’s much more to South Africa’s wildlife. The country has some of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots, with remarkable birdlife, abundant buck, small game and bizarre insects.To promote these, some clever people came up with another must-see list: the Little Five. They are (and don’t laugh) the elephant shrew, ant lion, rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver and leopard tortoise.Here’s the lowdown on some of Africa’s finest little creatures.


Ant lion


The ant lion (Myrmeleontidae) is an odd yet familiar feature of the bushveld, digging conical depressions in dry, soft sand with which to trap its prey – ants. In advanced stages this larvae-like creature has wings and sometimes resembles a dragonfly, although it’s not well-adapted for flight.


Buffalo weaver


Red-billed buffalo weavers (Bubarlornis niger) are social birds that build their nests in the forked branches of tall trees. They nest in open colonies and are a rather noisy and busy lot. The weavers’ nests can be recognised by their rather bedraggled state, made from coarse grasses and with untidy twig structures.


Rhinoceros beetle


The rhinoceros beetle (Scarabaeinae dynastinae) is one of the largest beetles in southern Africa, with horns on its head much like those of its larger namesake. Both males and females are horned, but only the males are known for aggressive behaviour, using the horns to fight rivals. The horns are also used to dig, climb and mate.


Leopard tortoise


The leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) is a striking feature of the bushveld landscape, getting its name from its black and yellow spotted shell. The animal is one of the largest breeds of tortoise in this part of the world; a mature leopard tortoise can weigh over 23 kilograms, with a shell circumference of up to one metre. The males are larger than the females.Younger tortoises have dark brown patterns, while adult shells take on shades of yellow with somewhat smaller spots. Leopard tortoises live in savannah and grassland areas, close to water.


Elephant shrew


This tiny insectivore lives in arid lowlands, rocky outcrops and savannah grasslands, getting its name from its elongated snout. Elephant shrews (Elephantulus myurus) are found all over South Africa, and only grow to a length of 250mm, with an average weight of 60 grams. They feed on insects, fruit, seeds and nuts.They in turn are food for snakes and raptors, making them extremely shy and wary. The chances of spotting them are slim indeed, so if you manage to see an elephant shrew before an actual elephant, you can count your safari a real success!SAinfo reporterThe Little Five is based on the “Small 5005″ concept developed by South African wildlife author and scientist Rael Loon. For more information, visit Hidden Wonders: Southern Africa’s Small 5005Read more: http://www.southafrica.info/about/animals/little-five.htm#.UuuWDX2xXMI#ixzz2ryiptV2Z