Saturday, January 31

Kruger in High Summer

On the open plains north of Satara

I've said this before and I've got to say it again - all of you who avoid the bush, especially Kruger National Park, in high summer, whether due to the heat, humidity, malaria, long grass, thick bush or all of the above, don't know what you are missing.

Yes, it can rain but this cools things down a bit;

Sabie River at Skukuza

and yes the rivers can flood,

Saddle-billed Stork

White-faced Duck
but there are also all new and temporary waterholes scattered everywhere, hosting waterbirds in places you've never seen them before,

and large hot mammals desperately looking for a little cooling......

Only in high summer can you see so many flowers, 

River Lily
Flame Lily

flowering grasses,

Giant plated Lizard

reptiles and dung beetles..........

It is also marula season, when every self-respecting fruit connoisseur in the bush is scrounging for the juicy, tart marulas under tall, shady tree canopies.

And to just add a little more "cuteness" to the whole experience, there are a whole lot more babies around in high summer too!

Blue Wildebeest

I've run out of space, time and probably your patience to also go on about the amazing birds found only in summer, so I will wrap up this posting by urging you to go and see for yourself what a summer safari in Kruger can produce!

Monday, January 5

Sailing Ningaloo Reef, Australia

Dawn over Western Australia

I've had "bloggers block".......... Struggling to put a post together because I feel I ought to commemorate the changing of the year, but heart and inspiration have been sadly absent!

There have been so many amazing and memorable moments in 2014 that it's that much harder to choose what and how to summarise for a readable posting.

So after a week or two of dithering and experimenting I've finally decided to go with a post that I've been working on intermittently over the last 4 months or so.

I spent an unforgettable 6 weeks in Australia earlier in 2014 and I still haven't posted more than a fraction about that trip. I have folders and folders of photos that I haven't even reviewed or categorised yet!

So today I'm going to post about the amazing sailing/diving trip I did on Ningaloo Reef, north west Australia.

Ningaloo Reef is a key component of the Ningaloo Marine Park and Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Site. It's the largest fringing coral reef in Australia and currently is most well known as THE place to go and snorkel with Whale Sharks.

for more info click on this link....
Wikipedia - Ningaloo_Coast

An old friend of mine owns and manages (with his wife) a beautiful catamaran yacht "Shore Thing", which does 3 and 5 day sailing, snokelling and diving trips out from Coral Bay along the Ningaloo Reef.

see their homepage by clicking here...
Sail Ningaloo 
"Shore Thing" at Coral Bay

So when I knew I was going to be flying to Australia for a family wedding I made plans to also visit Western Australia and dive Ningaloo!

Jetty & Boat Ramp, Coral Bay

The Coral Coast from the air

The Ningaloo Coast is fairly typical of North West Western Australia - arid, low lying, tree-less with the only notable features being occasional red sand dunes interspersed by low lying salt flats or lakes. But beneath the clear, warm waters of this coral coast it's a whole other story.....

Amongst the exquisite, multi-coloured coral reefs we saw manta rays, turtles, sharks, shoals of brilliant reef fish and a host of smaller creatures.

Manta Ray


Amazing underwater landscapes....

Green Turtle
Sea urchin


Christmas tree worms

There weren't just the mega fauna and "reefscapes" of course, but an infinite number of smaller sea creatures could be found if you looked close enough.

This was a challenge on almost every dive - having to take turns in admiring the reef "big picture" with looking for the little stuff.......


Giant Clams of all sizes & colours could be found

 Of course we didn't spend the whole day diving or snorkelling.

The food was absolutely amazing.
The company fun and interesting, the sea calm and sheltered behind the reef,

and I'm always happiest being out on the ocean blue, especially sailing, at any time!

relaxing on the stern deck
Crew & divers on the "bridge"

filling dive cylinders

Daniela, our amazing cook

Sundowners & sunsets

 If you're ever in Western Australia I can highly recommend experiencing Ningaloo Reef with Luke, Lannie and their crew at Sail Ningaloo.

You don't have to be a scuba diver as most of the best reefs can be done snorkelling. They also do beach and land excursions although we hadn't enough time between dives on our particular trip.

The hospitality, food and friendliness cannot be faulted.

It was really a major highlight of my Australian trip.

PS - I didn't go diving/snorkelling with Whale Sharks. It's strictly regulated and and only a few operators run those trips. As I've been very very lucky to have snorkelled with Whale Sharks in both the Seychelles, Mozambique and South Africa (Whale sharks on our East Coast) I didn't feel the need to pay the extra in both cash and time.

But I have heard that the trips are excellently run and well worth it if you dream of that particular wildlife encounter!