Tag Archives: wildlife

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 28

Botswana Part 3.

Last virtual wander through the Okavango Delta and surrounds.

Today I am thinking of magical wildlife moments. I got to experience so many during my years there. I still have to pinch myself this time really happened.

There’s the time I had to sleep on the pool lounger as a family of hippo were grazing all round my little housie that night.

Or the 5am deep breath and tiptoe past three sleeping bull elephant (all round the house) to make sure I got to the main area of camp to get ready for guest arrival.

Then there’s a moment with a young she leopard making her way across our island in the Delta. It was twilight and there she was sat on the path ahead of me. Too close before I realised she was there. But she paused before moving off, just long enough for us to acknowledge each other.

Then there’s the time our resident bull elephant stuck his whole head through the office door to get at a couple of marula fruit that had found their way onto the floor inside. Yes, I was in this little camp office at the time.

A lone spotted hyena would make the rounds with me most evenings on lock up after guests had retired for the night…. trotting along after me along the boardwalks…. not too close…. after the first few times of feeling insecure, I actually found him quite companionable.

The Pel’s Fishing Owl family nesting in the tree above my house.

The big python who lived under my house. I never had a rodent problem.

And many more…. that’s breathtaking Botswana! Best place to experience real, wild Africa (just my opinion).

But this kind of magic has a life span. Too much of a good thing and all that… still, I am left with incredible memories and oodles of gratitude for this chapter in my story.

In the wise words of Prime Circle from their song Breathing

“Here’s to the good times
The bad times
The times that could have been
To the wrong times
The right times
I know we’ll breathe again…”

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 8

Just so you don’t think I am completely one dimensional, today’s wandering is taking us away from Africa!

I was fortunate enough to spend some months in Philadelphia a few years ago.  Time spent with very special family.

Such a different travel experience for this Southern Hemisphere girl.  It started as I arrived with an incredible snowstorm that turned the world white.  Completely ill equipped I still ventured out from my hotel room the next day to walk the snow still streets of Philly.  I finished off that day’s adventure at the sports bar next to the hotel enjoying a philly cheesesteak sandwich and watching a Philadelphia Eagles game on the big screen.

Lots to see and do and, of course, so much significant history to soak up.  I loved the vibe of Philly much more than any of the other US cities I have visited…. Home of The Roots, a long time favourite of mine.

The big snows came and went all the months of my stay. I got very good at snow angels and finally got a decent pair of boots for snow days.

I loved the glimpses of wildlife even in the suburbs – deer, owls, red cardinals and turkey vultures.

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.