Tuesday, December 13

off to the sea I go, I go......

No more posts from me until January, as I will be in Ponta Do Ouro again for the summer holidays - working hard as a Dive Master (aka underwater safari guide :-)).

So for now, I will post just a few more photos from Etosha (what a magic place!).

I've had feedback from some of my friends that I haven't said enough about the overland trip - so if I am not immediately back out on safari in January I will post a few more details of what we saw and did in Etosha, Chobe, Hwange, Caprivi etc.......

In the meantime, I wish all of you who celebrate this time of the year, joyous festivities and all my best wishes for 2012.

Elephant coming down to drink

Ground Squirrels

Springbok sheltering from the midday sun

Black backed jackal pup

Black Rhino

Gemsbok (aka Oryx)

Young Leopard





Wednesday, December 7

An overland adventure (Part 2)

At Chobe we bid farewell to four of our companions who departed on the long road home to Johannesburg.

That left just 6 of us to go on to Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The distance was not far, but the last 100km to our campsite was dirt road (track in some places) and we eventually arrived at our camp (with waterhole) just before sunset.

As we arrived a herd of dusty, gaunt elephant were jostling for water at the trough just below the hide. We spent a wondrous half hour watching these giants of the bush, just a few metres away from us. Then as darkness fell we set up camp and started cooking our supper on the fire.

Any thoughts of a leisurely nightcap watching the flames die down were blown away as we were chased into our tents by a huge thunderstorm. It crashed and flashed most of the night and we rose to a clear rain washed morning.

I will write another time of the amazing transformation that the mopani tree country went through over the next four days of blazing sun, sticky heat and nightly thunderstorms.

The most immediate impact was that the elephant vanished into the far reaches of the bush, no longer totally dependent on our waterhole. But we weren't on this trip to only look for animals. For the time we were there, we were the only humans at this waterhole with it's three resident hippo, one crocodile, visiting birds and occasional larger animals.

The word “peace” is really totally inadequate to describe our stay in Hwange. 

Exploring Hwange

Sundowners at our own private waterhole

Packing up our camp on the fifth day, we all vowed that we would return, some day......

Then it was back to Botswana (over that 100km of dirt road again), and the town of Nata. We didn't stay more than a couple of nights here as with no water in the Sua Pan, there were no birds to see. We did go out onto the pan to get a “feel” for the place, and had the lookout point all to ourselves for most of the afternoon until a noisy overland tour bus arrived to disturb the peace.....

I would love to come back here some day when the flamingos are here – apparently a very unpredictable event!

Bud and Cath at Sua Pan

From Nata, we took two days travelling to get to Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa. This is where we decided, on the spur of the moment, to spend our last 3 days of the trip.

On the road, Botswana

A typical Botswana road........

 What a contrast!

In addition to the rugged, red rock scenery,gigantic baobab trees studding the plains and the wide sand filled Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, we also had our first rainy days of the entire 4 weeks. As with Hwange, this meant that we had to search for animals everywhere except at the waterholes.

But it also meant having some real fun on the muddy tracks. I had thought my car was looking quite dirty before we got there, but I drove it back to Johannesburg with a very thick coating of mud!


Vervet Monkey

Woodland Kingfisher

Our last camp on this trip

So, that was the end of that adventure.......

Four weeks, 6,000 kilometres, four countries, countless animals, many “new” birds, friendly people, spectacular landscapes and memories to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 30

An overland adventure (Part 1)

Well, I’m back and I don’t even know where to start telling you about the 6,000 kilometre, 4 week road / overland trip I have just returned from. 

My "home" for 4 weeks

Some 3,000 images are going to take a while to sort through, select and edit, and I haven’t got a clue as to how I am going to update you, through this blog, on such an epic journey.


But for now here is a brief summary of our itinerary…….

Trans Kalahari Highway
Ten of us, in six 4x4 vehicles of varying shapes & sizes (mine being the smallest!) set off on the 30th October for Etosha Pan in northern Namibia. We took 5 days to travel there (it is 2,000 km away after all!) via the Trans-Kalahari Highway (Botswana) and then north from Windhoek, through Namibia.

Once at Etosha, we spent 6 days exploring the National Park,
  • panting in the heat,
  • blown away by the wide open vistas,
  • witnessing hundreds of zebra and dozens of elephant, amongst many other animals drinking at the waterholes,
  • lions lolling in the sun,
  • ostrich chicks huddling in the shadow of a parent,
  • billowing dust devils twisting on the horizon………….

Lioness on a zebra kill

A "white" elephant of Etosha

Water in Etosha Pan

 Then we reluctantly but with great expectations moved on, to travel to the Chobe River via the Caprivi Strip of north eastern Namibia.

Again, we took our time, stopping for 1 night here, 2 nights there and making small detours to see places of interest.

Fishermen on the Kavango River

A highlight of this phase was 3 nights spent at a bush camp deep in the eastern Caprivi, on the shore of the Kwando River. It was a place of peace, birds, reeds and water.

Crocodile bait?

Afternoon on the Kwando River

Three nights on the Chobe River at Kasane was enough for us to do a river cruise or two, a quick trip to Victoria Falls for some, and a game drive for others. The Chobe River valley is a visually stunning place but a bit full of people for us after some of the wild areas we had already been through.

Elephant on the Chobe River

In my next posting I will continue the journey..........

(Thanks to Cath, Bud, Mervyn, Carol, John, Rose, Dieter, Mary & Hans for the laughs and company)

Wednesday, October 26

See you later.....

The long anticipated day is almost here! On the 30th I join 10 friends on a 4 week overland trip through Botswana, Namibia and a quick dash into Zimbabwe.

So I will be offline until late November.

When I get back I will give you some feedback on the trip. Much to my relief, my "big" camera, which went on the blink in September and has been with the camera doctor since, should be ready to collect just before I go..... so wait for the photos.

To keep you occupied until then here are a few of my favourite photos from the last couple of months.

a busy waterhole

Brown-headed Parrot

Hippo at Lake Panic

Sunset on the Letaba River

Yellow-billed Oxpecker (and Buffalo)

Common Flat Lizard

Thursday, October 20

Rocks, tree-tops and mountain views

As incredible as Kruger National Park is, it's not the only attraction that South Africa has to offer. Most international visitors also visit the Cape, sometimes extending to the Garden Route and a few more lucky visitors have heard about KwaZulu Natal (I will post more on that province sometime in the future...)

Johannesburg is definitely NOT seen as a destination, but rather a gateway to the north and eastern reaches of South Africa.

Those of us who live here know differently.

Two weekends ago my friend Rose invited me along to explore a small section of the Magaliesberg. We tried some new things and I refreshed my memories of a particularly beautiful part of our country.

The Magaliesberg are a range of hills stretching from east to west for quite a long way, just north of Pretoria. They are a dividing range in many ways – south is the highveld, north is the bushveld, south is “gold” country, north is “platinum” country...

The flora in this part of the world is a weird mix of montane protea bushes and cabbage trees with more common bushveld trees such as Buffalo Thorn, acacias and beautiful aloes. It was interesting to note that spring obviously arrived later here than on the Mpumulanga escarpment much further east – possibly due to a much lower annual rainfall.

Our base for the two days was a small Nature reserve, located halfway up a northern slope, which is known for it's walking trails and spectacular views. We didn't have enough energy to do any of the really long hikes but we spent some time exploring the streams that ran down on both sides of our ridge.

There are many small, perennial streams, tumbling their way down the hill sides over rocky ledges and pools, and cutting through defiles like the one where the “canopy tour” is located.

From a wildlife perspective, the largest animals we saw were baboons, but we found some fascinating smaller creatures on our walks. The bird life was also wonderful especially in the relative lushness of the camp.

On our first morning we did the Magaliesberg Canopy Tour. (http://www.magaliescanopytour.co.za/). 

This is one of six in South Africa and one of the oldest. It is situated in a long, narrow and deep ravine in the hills.

 Wow!! This was my first canopy tour, and I'm hooked!

 Along with the great walks, stunning scenery and a multitude of other activities to do in the area, this was a perfect weekend getaway, and somewhere that I will definitely return to soon........

Thank you Rose!