About two hours east of Cape Town is a lovely little Dutch settlement called Swellendam. It is easily accessible through public transportation and is surrounded by the Langeberg Mountains (Marloth Nature Reserve), which has numerous trails for day hikes and overnight treks. You can spend the day at nearby Bontebok National Park, a nature reserve with hiking trails and animals that include antelope and zebra. Also a short distance away are numerous wineries along the Robertson Wine Route and many opportunities for horseback riding. Overall, Swellendam is a quaint town with a relaxing atmosphere including many family-run Dutch inspired restaurants in its humble downtown area. It may be the perfect stop for a couple days of of R&R on a more rigorous tour along the Garden Route.
We knew last year after we ended our vacation at the smokies that we had to come back, now a year later we were super exited to drive back. The cabin we rented last year was occupied so we found another one, on top of the mountain it said…they forgot to mention the wild off road with creeks to cross and angles that were almost to steep to drive without a 4×4.So we ended up in a cabin roosa’s nest super nice house with great mountain views after a long day we opened up a bottle of wine to cheers on the beginning of a two week mountain adventure…
Our goal was to visit new places and hopefully see and film some wildlife, and make more time lapses then last year. On our first day we explored the area of Glenn falls in highlands NC and was pleasantly surprised that the trail started on top of the waterfall, what an amazing view with the mountain ranges in the background. Usually most waterfalls are surrounded with woods and no wide range views but this one had it all…all three stages of the trail had different views very nice. So we drove back the next day with all our gear even more than last year but it was all worth it to make some incredible footage.
To make some nice fog time lapses we decided this year to go to black rock mountain state park just over the border in Georgia. The park offers many great overlooks so that was perfect one overlook was a hike of two miles it said moderate to strenuous, but had the feeling that was an understatement of course with all the pounds of gear on your body it clouds your judgment.
Back at the cabin we took Chucky (yes he is still with us almost 15 year old jack Russell now, he also loves the mountains) for a walk in the huge backyard of the house it was more a private forest and the owner had several wildlife viewing chairs in the trees that was an extra bonus. Chucky found part of a skull still not sure what animal but it had some big teeth, from that moment we start hearing sounds around us and saw a deer jump away unfortunately we didn’t have our camera so no footage of the deer. We did see two deer again a groundhog and many birds. With the wildlife chairs in the trees and noises surrounding us, we felt like we were secluded from the world although it was just in the back yard. Veerle stayed one full day in there filming with her canon T3i and told me she could easily spend an extra two weeks just in the back yard.
One late afternoon we drove to Panther town valley west entrance I had read on the website they call it the Yosemite of the east… so that says a lot. The drive up there reminded us somewhat back of Yosemite with walls of rock only smaller then the real deal in Yosemite of course… that afternoon we only did the salt rock view but oh boy what a view. We met a guy that explained us what mountains we were looking at and he was so kind he even gave us his trail map because we wanted to come back the next day to capture this beauty.
Then it was time for us to go find some elk we drove to the south entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and stopped at the Oconaluftee visitor center with the mountain farm museum. As we were walking into the farm museum we could hear in the distance a haunting scream no it was not a lost soul trapped in the farm building, it was an elk bull bulging in the distance. It was the first time in my life I heard that sound in real life from that moment the beautiful farm building wasn’t able to keep us there we packed up our stuff to go find the animal.
We hiked all the trails around the area and had no luck several hours later we drove to a field by the job center located behind the visitor center and there he was Big Daddy as the locals call him. With his 12 cows a real Casanova he was running from one lady to another lady all very beautiful to look at but very hard to capture. Next day we drove back there and there he was again this time they all were grazing the beautiful fields and was able to capture some nice footage. Veerle also captured some footage of another bull later in the day by the farm buildings and is going to make a video with the wildlife and birds from the smokies as well as a time lapse movie.
We felt so grateful to be there and see these beautiful creatures this was at the end of our vacation. The last day we left my camera at the home and did some sightseeing a long the Blue Ridge Parkway and Soco falls where Veerle made her last time lapse of the two week adventure in the Smoky Mountains. Nature is so powerful to be able to capture a little fraction of it make me feel so strong yet so vulnerable…
Here are some pictures we took with the Iphone.
Equipment we have used is the Sony PMW-F3 uncompressed S-log, Canon T3, Canon 40D, Nikon lenses, Kessler motorized Cine Slider etc….
High above Donna Nook bombing range F16"s deliver high end weapons,on the windswept dunes below however a delivery of a far more appealing nature takes place.
Special thanks to Alexandre Chorney for the music.
Just a walk in the park, in November.
Unused footage (2012)
Filmado no Parque de Vanicelos, Setúbal, Portugal.
“Genesis" (in an ancient Armenian dialect)