My name is Africa, South Africa Vol IV


Just a perfect day,
Feed animals in the zoo
Then later, a movie, too,
And then home.

Oh it’s such a perfect day,
I’m glad I spent it with you.
Oh such a perfect day,
You just keep me hanging on,
You just keep me hanging on.

Day 4

We started off with an early bush walk. I was kind of stressed first, thinking we could run into the ‘king’ – it was our last day and I believed in good (!) karma. Well, I was both right and wrong.

The bush walk was OK, we analyzed some elephant and giraffe dung. Elephant dung was very dry, that was surprising. And giraffe dung looked like a small black bead, though one side was kind of flattened. The reason is the dung falls from such a height that once it falls one side flattens with the impact. Imagine! (We ran into a giraffe family on foot, and I guess they are the tallest creatures I’ve ever seen.)

So far so good with biology and habitat literature, off we went to look for the ‘Ngala’.

We’d been hearing this ‘Ngala, ngala’ in between conversations but we weren’t given any clue until the last day. And the reason was they haven’t been seeing any ‘Ngala’ those past weeks. Shame! But you know, I said karma, good karma.

Our ranger got a message from the radio and immediately we were driving to a meeting point. It was still early in the morning, around 8 AM I think, but it was already so hot, and all was so still. When it”s hot, especially during daytime, the animals tend to rest or sleep, wait for the weather to cool off and hunt in the evening. So we were getting curious, really curious.

We stopped among the bush after driving for 10-15 mins where we could see another 4WD from another reserve. That should be the other group we had taken the tip. It was all dry bush around with some trees. All seemed yellow and dry.

And then..

There was the yellow mane.

And the breeze through.

The king.

Ngala.

The Lion.

 

We had found the three young lion brothers who had been hunting in the area but gone missing for sometime. Oh they were magnificent, yes, they were so magnificent!

We learned that one was injured in the leg, he was limping poor thing but he looked so proud even like that. We left them resting and falling to sleep praying that we’d find them again in the afternoon drive.

 

Our ranger & tracker team worked really well in the afternoon not leaving anything to chance. We found the three lions still sleeping and yawning at another area. While driving there we passed by some buffalos heading in their direction. Wuhhuw! That could mean some action!

The lions first sat up, then slowly, very slowly stood up. The injured one was still sitting and waiting. The healthy two started looking in the same direction and their tails started to pound to their backs with a very circular move. I think they were signaling to each other that their dinner was on their way! They neither hurried nor hesitated but attacked right when the buffalos entered their territorial zone. The healthy two ran fast behind them causing chaos and raising dust but unfortunately the injured one didn’t get up in time so they couldn’t tuck them in a circle. Shoot! They missed their BIG opportunity.

One of the healthy ones came by the injured one and roared at him so bad we said he’s picking a fight. Well, he didn’t but everyone got the message. The injured one was punished, left alone on his own. The other two stuck together and sat down further in the area. Only 5 minutes passed and the angry one came back. He rubbed his mane against the injured one, kind of cuddled, played for a sec or two, and sat by the guilty one showing him that it was OK and he was forgiven.

 Amazing social animals are these lions!

They made our last day in Motswari a dream come true.

We had done the Big 5.

And it had been such a perfect day.

Tomorrow, destination Swaziland!

My name is Africa, South Africa Vol III

Today the real thing begins.

Safari!

Less talk, more visuals.

Day 3

We had incredible drives today, one very early in the morning, one late in the afternoon. Once we started off with our 4WD, there they were, a group of sleeping hyenas. Who says these are wild wild animals with sharp sharp teeth? They seem quite lazy and laid back. Maybe even cute! What do you think?

Our ranger and tracker are following the leads to some possible encounters on the way.

And bingo!

A BIG herd of buffalos. How many do you think are there? 300? 500? Could even be 800 our ranger says!

We shouldn’t make much noise, stand up or attract their attention somehow as they perceive the 4WD with us in it like a big machine or animal, but still, we want to take great shots, stand up and capture the massive size of this herd.

Oups! We caused too much action and they noticed us!

All eyes turned, staring directly at us.

Notice their big noses and horns?

Kind of freaky, yet funny though.

Right afterwards, we saw zebras, giraffes, elephants, impalas, african wild dogs and kudus. This is a rich safari day indeed!

Kudus are my fav animals so far. Female kudu is a true beauty, and male kudu is so posh!

We were supposed to do a bush walk later in the day but it’s SO hot – around 42 degrees – we had to postpone it to the next day. Can hardly move or even breathe.

In the afternoon drive we had some sort of a live thriller in front of us. You know how shocked I was when I heard there was no fence in our reserve? Well, this incident took place in a fully fenced private reserve showing me that it doesn’t really matter as long as you play it by the rules.

We were tracking a young leopard, the most sexy, awesome creature I’ve seen. She was wandering around this reserve as if wanting to get in. Our ranger said there would be electric fencing, so no worries. But she jumped right in! Just like that! And we realized there were some personnel cooking outside in the reserve. We drove around the fence to let them know that the leopard’s in, and saw them hiding behind a lodge. Interesting! There could be children around! People could really get hurt! Our ranger contacted theirs and they were kind of cross because we were making a fuss about it, everything was under control! Even more interesting! Meanwhile, the leopard was trying to climb into the water fountain, we thought she was thirsty. Wandering around some more and not getting what she wanted, she jumped on the wall of the parking and then back outside. Whew! She passed by our 4WD, sashaying elegantly and sexily. You could see every bit of her muscles moving in harmony in her body.

Later on we learned that the electric fencing wasn’t on during the day and that’s how she could get in. So what was the use really?

We then bumped into a shy timid rhino and a big wet crocodile but it was already dark. The female leopard was definitely the #1 attraction and story of the day. We had loads to talk about over drinks at dinner.

Having seen the big 4 already -oh this was a prosperous day indeed-, there’s only one left to look forward to see.

The one and only.

The king of all.

Lion.

We believed in good karma and reaped what we sowed.

TBC

Amadou et Mariam – Je Pense a Toi (D’oké rework)

Amadou et Mariam – Je Pense a Toi (D’oké rework).

Thought this could go well with my Africa notes.

Enjoy.

My name is Africa, South Africa: Vol II

Welcome back to our ride.

Good to go?

We’re just getting started!

Day 2

Hello Africa!

Destination Timbavati for safari!

We hit the road early in the morning from Dullstroom. Beautiful landscapes. Trout fishing and fly fishing farms, lakes, ponds, bright green grass against burned down fields.

Magnificent judas trees in Lindenberg. Never seen such big violet. I feel like sitting right under it and getting lost in the color, but we have to keep on driving. Maybe there’ll be more to come. (And along the way, I proved myself right!)

Desperate to see some wild things on the road, we suddenly saw a baboon by the roadside.

Yuhhuuu!

A first.

And then another four of them further down the road.

Whew!

Very hairy, kind of freaky and pink-butted are these baboons.

We immediately texted our friends who had a dog called Babun and said he looked nothing like these bed-headed, funny earthlings! (Babun the dog was a handsome Afghan hound, now resting on one of the hills of the Black Sea coast in Istanbul)

On the way to Timbavati, we had been recommended to check some viewpoints.

Drie Rondavels, also called The Three Sisters, and Blyde River Canyon.

We took some wrong turns, lost some time and got some nerves, but forgot it all when we reached the sisters and the canyon.

The curved river, the quiet serene view were just wow.

Having some fresh air with deep inhales and exhales, we were back on track to Timbavati.

However, our stomachs were yearning for food, so stopped by a cafe by the road for a short lunch.

Mad Dogz Cafe in Hoedspruit, Maruleng.

We tried the local food, Bobotie (a sort of meatball) and trout pate. Pas mal, pas mal!

And we think we saw a future Miss South Africa serving us elegantly. We were sad not to be able to capture a secret pic of her. Would be a lovely profile pic here. Well, maybe next time.

And finally, there it was. The gate of Timbavati.

Timbavati neighbors Kruger National Park and the animals pass from one to the other freely, we’d heard.

So excited!

Our papers are checked. Everything’s set. And off we go!

Shoot!

There’s a speed limit: 50km/hr!

Ayayaye!

How long will it take to reach Motswari Private Game Reserve?

I wonder.

Hey!

There’s loads of activity around.

Stop stop stop!

Did you see that?

An impala family!

And giraffes. Such a LONG neck!

And elephants.

Yey!

By the way, are we on the right track? I’m not sure.

Ah, OK, there’s Motswari sign – Hmm, looks like we’re in the middle of nowhere.

Is this the way to Motswari?

Really?

Yes hello there. Nice to meet you too.

What do you mean there’s no fence system in Motswari? Is this a joke?

We’re in the middle of the bush among ‘the wild’ and there’s nothing around us for protection?

!!!!

…..

Well, my husband was totally cool (he’s a real man, not scared of anything you know!!), but I was kind of shocked, I hadn’t done my homework properly. Yes, I freaked out, but then realized that this was actually what we would dream of doing all along.

We had missed the first afternoon drive (ahh, those wrong turns, local beauties and the speed limit!), so we explored the reserve on our own since it was still light. At night you simply can’t or at least on your own, and it’s not hard to guess why!

We loved the creativity around; the stones hanging down in the Lounge, the wooden art between the lodges, but the most fab part was the small, icy cold pool looking over to the small pond in the bush where most animals would come to drink or bathe anytime during the day.

And as if they heard us, there was a welcoming committee right before dinner on our very first night.

A wild rabbit and an elephant family came by the reserve to say ‘hello, you’re welcome here’.

So were we.

And it felt good.

No, it felt great.

TBC

My name is Africa, South Africa: Vol I

Wild in the bush

I’ve been wanting to put down the small notes I took in our trip to South Africa last year.

It was a first for my husband and I, both to the country and the continent. Needless to say how fulfilling and breathtaking the whole experience was, I think that there’s a truth about all the stories that talk about the vibe that Africa spreads.
I don’t know why, but I somehow felt the call the continent sent way up to me. I was very insistant in going there, nowhere else but Africa, solely Africa.

Now I know why.

It was a one-of-a-kind, an unforgettable 16-day, fly-drive trip, divided into 2 parts:

1. Safari and wild life from Dullstroom-Timbavati down to Durban

2. Urban, coastal life around Cape Town and Western Cape Area

I leave the rest to my small notes and some pics from the trip. I wrote on a daily basis, and will do so to give a better look and feel.

Enjoy the ride!

Day 1

First impressions: Jo’burg airport is full of loud locals, who call out to each other loudly, throwing big big laughters loudly. There’s a big loudness all around. The floors are covered with ‘loud’ colors, too. Bright green, red, blue, yellow. Loudly happy.

We rented our car, Toyota Avanza. Affordable with a big enough trunk for our 2 big cases. Heading to Dullstroom from the highway, N12. It’s totally flat all around, no hills or peaks.

First food: Steers in Total gas station. Rig burger combo meal. The meatball is like a very spicy sausage with garlic.

Reached Dullstroom in the evening. It’s green, still flat, and quiet.

Ended up in Dullstroom Inn for dinner. This is a ‘sympa’ pub as the French would say. The food is mainly around fish, especially trout since Dullstroom is famous for trout fishing. Had liver with peri peri sauce. Hot, spicy and delicious. Ordered hot smoked trout and shot a pic for friends. Smoked trout is to die for! Salty, fatty and warm.

On our way back to the hotel we saw an impala in between the streets. So cute, and timid. Hid in the bush right away.

At night we lit the wood in the fireplace. Great fire, great smell. Heaven.

TBC