Tag Archives: Wildlife Conservation

Wanderings Day 30

We have arrived at the last day of this challenge to self – wander travel memory lane all through April 2020. A way of travelling virtually while in my lockdown bubble. Dreams of travelling again when this too has passed. An exercise in gratitude for all I have been given in this life already.

Going to finish with Kruger memories part two.

No more stories…. Just some Johnny Clegg wisdom… from the Johnny Clegg & Savuka song Great Heart

There’s a highway of stars across the heavens
There’s a whispering song of the wind in the grass
There’s the rolling thunder across the savanna
A hope and dream at the edge of the sky
And your life is a story like the wind
Your life is a story like the wind
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
To hold and stand me by
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
Under African sky

Guka ‘mzimba (body grow old)

Sala ‘nhliziyo (but heart remain behind)

Wanderings Day 29

Only two more posts to go for this virtual wander down my travel memory lane.

Two days of Kruger National Park memories… this is part one.

I was just looking down the list of rest camps in Kruger. It turns out over the many adventures there since childhood I have stayed at all but two.

My favourite area to wander would be from Satara northwards.

Pafuri is particularly magical with all those fever trees and glimpses of nyala in the shadows by the Luvuvhu River. That brings to mind the Nyala Walking Trail – sublime!

Actually any of Kruger’s walking trails are a fabulous experience. Lucky enough to have walked a few of these over the years too.

Kruger visits were so formative for me. I learned so much about ecology and how ecosystems work simply from soaking up all the info I could get my hands on. Here is where I fell in love with birds and took up birding under my wonderful Dad’s guidance.

Kruger has a distinct spirit of place. The air crackles with its magic as you arrive at the gate (any of the gates). I thought this might change over the years, grow dim somehow as I aged. But no. I got to visit again last year briefly and the magic is still there.

Now I probably need to say at this point that I am fully aware of Kruger’s history. Not all decisions made in regard to its management both for wildlife and for the surrounding communities have been sound or just over the years.

All I want to focus on right at this moment in time is the gratitude I feel for having had so many opportunities to pass through Kruger’s gates and get swallowed up in that bushveld magic.

Wanderings Day 27

Botswana Part 2…

Another set of pics remembering my time in beautiful Botswana.

Today I am thinking about the Botswana rhythm. There is a wonderful rhythm to the seasons and natural cycles. The flooding then drying of the Okavango Delta. The migration of the zebra and the elephant.

A time for marula trees to bear fruit which brings the elephants.

September is amazing…. a deep breath before the rains arrive. Unexpected flowers bloom. Babies abound – impala, lechwe, zebra.

January is prickly hot. But some afternoons turn black on the horizon and then the lightening and thunder and rain arrive. The cuckoos and Woodland Kingfisher call continuously. A good time to venture into the reeds in a mokoro hoping for a glimpse of the elusive sitatunga. At Xigera Lagoon the African Skimmers are nesting.

The people of Botswana have a rhythm too. A time to plant. A time to harvest. A time to move the cattle. A time to gather from the wild.

There is a beautiful kinship that weaves the Ba-Tswana together as a people but also connects them to this land. It was so easy to fall into this rhythm and be mesmerised by its beat.

Wanderings Day 26

Botswana Part 1:

So I got to call beautiful Botswana home for a few years. In particular, Maun and the heart of the Okavango Delta.

This isn’t just a travel memory. These next 3 days of virtual wandering are about highlighting moments in a chapter of my journey. A chapter that has shaped me profoundly.

Most of these “shaping” moments involve magical wildlife encounters. But this is also about people. People I still miss every day.

These “shaping” moments are bitter sweet. They are about love and they are about loss. A chapter of my life truly lived.

To me Botswana has a deep beauty. A rawness to her purity. A pure wild heart. I have never felt more myself anywhere, ever so at home. Here my soul sings.

My time in Botswana taught me this (even though I didn’t have these words then):

Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility

Susan David PhD, author of Emotional Agility

Wanderings Day 7

So we are back on the Panorama Route headed towards one of my most favourite places on earth.

Many happy childhood memories spent driving this route.  Our end destination today, Hoedspruit, holds a particularly special place in my heart. 

Wind your way along the R532 which hugs the edge of the escarpment.  Definitely a stop at the Three Rondavels lookout for photos of these iconic mountains and into the Blyde River Canyon below.  Mariepskop in the distance. 

The Three Rondavels with Mariepskop in the distance
Blyde River Canyon

The R532 meets up with the R36 at the Abel Erasmus Pass.  This pass takes you through the last of the mountains past interesting vegetation and rock formations.  As you are nearing the J G Strydom tunnel there’s a pretty waterfall if you know where to look amongst the cliffs.  Peregrine Falcon breeding spot apparently? 

The other side of the tunnel you will start a sharp descent into the lowveld of the Limpopo Province, the Olifants River to your left.  You gain a different perspective of those same mountains and cliffs of the escarpment from below. 

Another view of Mariepskop
Unique Kadishi Tufa Waterfall which you can see from a Blyde Dam boat cruise
Leaving Hoedspruit looking back at the mountains of the escarpment

Drive past the game farms and citrus orchards until you get to Hoedspruit.  So much to see and do in this area.  I highly recommend staying for a while. 

One particular recommendation is a tour around the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre…. And yes, that is a pic of the famous Stoffel, the honey badger Houdini.

Wanderings Day 5

Today, a few photos from a trip along South Africa’s Atlantic coast from Lambert’s Bay south to Eland’s Bay, the Postberg Flower Reserve, West Coast National Park arriving in Cape Town

Wild… a different sense of isolation from the Kalahari desert we have just left behind. Wild winds, wild waves, wild flowers.

Rich… steeped in history both natural and cultural. Cave paintings and interesting archaeological sites. Incredible birding opportunities.

Wanderings Day 4

Its our last day in the Kgalagadi.  Time for one more little adventure – the Nossob 4×4 Ecotrail.

A perfect way to meander through the dunes on the tracks less travelled.  Stop to investigate the less iconic wildlife often overlooked. Hear stories about the unique plants including surprising flowers that bloom in the desert. Climb a dune to drink in the view to infinity. 

Making camp in time to enjoy a spectacular Kgalagadi sunset before enjoying an evening round the fire.  Going to sleep to the screech of an owl or the jackals calling. Wondering what the rustle in the bush close by is during your midnight toilet break only to discover the leopard tracks in the morning.  Kgalagadi magic!

Wanderings Day 3

Day 3 and we are still in the Kgalagadi. This time highlighting landscape, light and colour. 

Light and colour would change constantly during a day and with the seasons or the mood of the weather.  I was profoundly captured with each change – a spiritual experience.  More a feeling than just using my sense of sight.

And the stillness, the quiet was incredible too.  Standing atop a red sand dune staring at the infinite horizon – serenity… You need to be comfortable with silence in the Kalahari, in my experience. 

There is a purity here I have never felt anywhere else – it is a soul journey. 

My Kgalagadi time actually inspired the name of this blog. 

But it wasn’t always serene.  There is a harshness here too.  It is a place of extremes and paradox… as so much of the human experience is.

Wanderings Day 2

Choosing today’s pics was a tough task… a year’s worth of Kalahari wildlife encounters limited to 10!

Of course, there are the iconic Kalahari predators like lion and leopard.  Then there is the majestic gemsbok (oryx) with their sabre horns. 

The bird life astounds – raptors, owls, vultures…. I chose ostrich and a kori bustard to share today.

Then there are the cuties like the meerkats and ground squirrels… the mischief makers like the ratel (honey badger). 

Cheetah were an added bonus.  A little taste of true wildlife conservation research by accompanying Dr Gus Mills on a cheetah radio collaring project.  We followed this sibling group most a of day through the dunes.  The next day we changed tack and found a new female to collar.  Elena had recently become independent.  After I left the Kalahari Gus and Margie sent me photos of her with her first litter. There she was looking healthy, a gorgeous first time mum still sporting the collar I had helped to fit…

Kgalagadi is a magical place….

Wanderings Day 1

Due to severe wandering withdrawals I have decided to use the month of April to wander virtually down travel memory lane.  Here we go….

We are starting at Twee Rivieren rest camp in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

I spent some time here as a SANParks People and Conservation intern. The internship was organised through an organisation called Global Vision International

My lodgings – a shipping container village within the staff village affectionately known as Blikkiesdorp (Tin Town).

I remember the sound of the barking geckos of an evening, dodging scorpions on windy nights and the amazing family of yellow mongoose who kept the cape cobras at bay.

28 March 2020 8:30pm many acknowledged Earth Hour around the world. I happened to be in Twee Rivieren for the first ever Earth Hour. It was my task to communicate about climate change and its impact on this area of the arid North West. With not too many resources to hand and bearing in mind we are talking 13 years ago, I cobbled together a display, of sorts😀 I have included a pic of the display board in the Twee Riveiren visitors’ centre. We also parcelled up candles with a little info sheet for all the chalets, campsites and staff houses so guests as well as staff could participate.

More Kgalagadi wanderings tomorrow…. this time remembering many breathtaking moments with the incredible wildlife of this unique region.

Not all those who wander are lost

JRR Tolkien