“What makes Noetzie so special is not just the castles, but its very special natural beauty, much of which is still pristine – an increasing rarity in the brash hotel-and-hamburger-stand culture that has ruined so much of South Africa’s once splendid coastline. The golden beach is surrounded by forested hills, the dark waters of the lagoon, the rugged ochre rocks, and the thundering breakers that roll in row after row from the far southern oceans. The bay has even been the site of a shipwreck, the 3-masted French schooner the “Phoenix”, in 1881, that appeared to have been abandoned, for no known reason, far out to sea before finding itself laid up on Noetzie beach. Something that caused great local excitement, and much mystification, at the time!”


For many centuries, sacred ibis, along with two other species in lesser numbers, were commonly mummified by the Ancient Egyptians as a votive offering to the god Thoth. Thoth, whose head is that of an ibis, is the Ancient Egyptian god of wisdom and reason, and thus of truth, knowledge, learning and study, and writing and mathematics. The sacred ibis was considered the living incarnation of Thoth on earth. Pilgrims from all over Egypt brought thousands of ibis offerings to four or more main temples, which at their peak mummified and buried thousands of birds a year in gigantic and ancient catacombs (one complex was in operation for 700 years). Eventually, an estimated eight million birds were mummified and entombed by the Ancient Egyptians.


The giant plated lizard is the second largest lizard species found in South Africa, after the monitor lizard, and they are known to attain a body length of approximately 690 mm. Giant plated lizards are rupicolous, which means that they live among rocky outcrops, mostly on the upper slopes of granite hills. Giant plated lizards are shy and hard to approach – an individual will often retreat into rock crevices at the slightest disturbance and inflate its body, effectively wedging itself into the crevice and making it very difficult for anything to dislodge it.