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Botanist, blogger and conservationist based in Cape Town at the heart of South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region. https://www.capetownbotanist.com

Showcasing Cape Town, South Africa and its extraordinary urban biodiversity

Photo by Captureson Photography on Unsplash

It is official, we’ve done it again. My beloved home city of Cape Town has once again taken the lead in the international City Nature Challenge, achieving recognition for having the world’s highest number of species of any of the urban areas in the competition.

The City Nature Challenge is run by the community science teams at the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. This global bioblitz calls upon people in urban areas around the world to document as many biodiversity observations as they on the iNaturalist platform over four days.


Winter secrets of one of South Africa’s most important coastal wetland parks

Above: Male Southern Black Korhaan (Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List) at Seeberg, West Coast National Park, South Africa. Photo by the author.

Winter has arrived with a vengeance at the Cape. Down at the southwestern corner of Africa, temperatures of the southern hemisphere winter become cooler. Exposed to the full force of the Atlantic weather, cold fronts roll in from the west bringing intense rainfall and often gale-force winds.

But in between the storms the weather is pleasant and calm, bring sunshine and warmth. This is a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors, while the weather is not so hot and the Mediterranean sun is less intense.


Travel. Australia. Queensland.

English cream tea and volcanic lakes in tropical north Queensland.

The beautiful Lake Barrine, the largest volcanic lake in the Crater Lakes National Park. Photo by the author.

The A1 road took me south from Cairns, my destination the Atherton Tablelands. The weather was hot and humid, and the English style road signs looked strangely out of place alongside fields of sugarcane and other tropical crops.

It was October 2018 and my academic career had brought me to Queensland, Australia, to attend the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia annual conference.

After a wonderful week in Brisbane, I decided to take a couple of weeks off, hiring an elderly budget campervan to explore the far north of Queensland, from Cairns to the Cape York Peninsula.

My first destination was…


Travel. Southern Africa. Travel Tips.

A local’s guide to exploring one of Africa’s most iconic mountains.

View from Table Mountain’a upper cable station along the Twelve Apostles and over Camps Bay. Photo by the author.

One of the new seven wonders of nature and an African icon, Table Mountain sits at the heart of the City of Cape Town at Africa’s southwestern tip. The Khoe name for this spectacular mountain is ‘Hoerikwaggo’, meaning ‘mountain of the sea’.

The sheer front face of Table Mountain towers above Cape Town, the legislative capital city of South Africa. When viewed from this angle it appears that the mountain has a flat top, which has given it the name Table Mountain. After more than ten years of calling the Mother City home, I never tire of this view.


Watching giant birds in the savanna landscapes of tropical north Queensland

My first sighting of an Australian Bustard, Australia’s largest flying land bird. Photo by the author.

It was early summer of 2018 and my academic career had bought me to Queensland, Australia, to attend the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia’s annual conference.

After an exciting week at the University of Queensland in the heart of Brisbane, it was time to see a little more of this vast country. After flying into Cairns, I rented an old orange campervan and headed northwards into the wild forest and bush landscapes of the tropical north.


Travel. New Zealand North Island.

A visit to North Island’s Waipoua Forest.

The vast canopy of Tane Mahuta, named after the God of forests and birds, is clothed with a plethora of different epiphytic plants. Photo by the author.

New Zealand’s North Island is a land of contrasts, from productive agricultural lands to explosive volcanoes, to some of the most spectacular forests on Earth.

In an international context, North Island is sometimes considered less spectacular than the towering snow-capped mountain peaks of the Southern Alps on South Island, but it has its own set of natural history wonders one could spend a lifetime exploring.

It was a family visit that brought me to visit Northland in December 2017, the northernmost region of the North Island. …


Travel. New Zealand.

A travel report series.

View over the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps while ascending Arthur’s Pass from South Island’s West Coast. Photo by the author.

After a whirlwind two weeks exploring the extraordinary natural beauty of New Zealand’s South Island in an elderly orange campervan, it was time to begin the last part of the trip back to Christchurch. My January holiday adventure was soon to come to a close.

The last part of my journey was to ascend over the spectacular Arthur’s Pass, winding circuitously across the southern Alps before descending to the east coast once more and on to Christchurch.

To truly appreciate the best this stunning alpine landscape had to offer, I spent the night in the Department of Conservation (DOC) campsite…


TRAVEL. NEW ZEALAND

A travel report series

Above: The rugged mountains of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park tower above the internationally famous Franz Josef Glacier, one of New Zealand’s foremost tourist attractions. Photo by the author.

After an incredible two-night visit to Mount Cook National Park, it was time to head northwards from Wanaka once again, my destination South Island’s West Coast glaciers. Early 2018 had brought me to New Zealand’s South Island, taking a two-week solo campervanning trip after spending the festive season with family.

My journey north from Wanaka continued along State Highway 6, along the shores of Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka, offering such spectacular mountain views that one wouldn’t want to rush the journey.

This road is a journey of contrasts, winding westwards towards the coastal town of Haast through the Mount…


A travel report series

View over Mount Cook from the shores of Lake Pukaki. Photo by the author.

It was a long and winding road northwards to Wanaka. One which the oil light kept disconcertingly blinking on and off as we slowly made progress around the ups and downs and twists and turns. We were well topped up with oil, but the small and rather elderly orange campervan thought otherwise.


A tale of red orchids and butterflies, on a mountain in the heart of a city.

The city of Cape Town, in South Africa, lies at the southwestern tip of the African continent. Also known as the ‘Mother City’, it has been rated by both the New York Times and the Daily Telegraph as the best place in the world to visit.

Cape Town is famous worldwide for its pleasant Mediterranean climate and well-developed infrastructure…within a stunning natural setting. Home to over 4.6 …

Zoë Poulsen

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