A Travellerspoint blog

June 2011

Kruger on the last day

13 June 2011

sunny 75 °F

elephant at water hole

elephant at water hole


Elephant and giraffe day in the Kruger park. Lions and leopards still eluded us but we were still entertained. Our first few encounters the elephants were awfully grumpy.
Kruger ele

Kruger ele


Later on in the day though we came across a group with a baby. He reminded me of Bella playing with a toy.
baby ele playing

baby ele playing


He had a branch and he was swinging it around late it was a baton. Then he stomped on it and finally flung it in the air to another big ele. The big elephant took it and sent it flying into the bush. It was pretty comical.
anybody have ketchup

anybody have ketchup


Breakfast was not so funny. The flies and bees were bad but so were the birds. They sat on the bench eyeing us and one even flew up and landed on Curt’s arm for a minute. The second we got up from our plates they were all over it. Apparently horn bills really love French fries.
camo giraffe

camo giraffe

giraffe eating

giraffe eating


kudu

kudu

Posted by ErinDriver 05:42 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Swaziland Shopping Spree

12 June 2011

sunny 67 °F

Who would think Swaziland would be a place to go shopping but it is!! A guy in the park who has another lodge, Nick, does tours to Mozambique and Swaziland etc. Genie booked us on the Swaziland tour and no other paying guests went but he did take his family.
The border of Swaziland is one and a half hours and then we drove about another hour or so to the shops. We made a few stops along the way.
swazi landscape

swazi landscape


One was of this panoramic view and had a few shops but we were too scared to buy early.
Ngwenya glass zebras

Ngwenya glass zebras


The next stop was the Ngwenya glass factory which is apparently famous here. It is all made from recycled material and handmade. We got a few things with elephant in the glass design. There were also other shops there with crafts and wooden products. We got some place settings and book ends similar to this rocking horse.
swazi rocking horse

swazi rocking horse


This horse was so gorgeous and cost almost $1,000.
Swazi candle factory

Swazi candle factory


Another more uneventful stop and then we were at the Swazi candle factory. Of course I went crazy there too.
swazi market

swazi market


They also have a market there and we had a small lunch at the restaurant.
maguga dam

maguga dam


view into Maguga Dam

view into Maguga Dam


We drove back past Maguga Dam and the entire drive had beautiful views of the country. This trip is pretty much for shopping though – Mom – you definitely need to do it when you come.

Posted by ErinDriver 05:36 Archived in Swaziland Comments (0)

A tradition is born

11 June 11

sunny 72 °F

quad bike trails

quad bike trails


A new tradition was born today. Curt spotted a quad bike place right outside the gate to marloth park so we went to check on it today.
us with guide

us with guide


Our guide turned out to be a surprisingly older gentleman to guide us along the trails. For an hour we bumped along pretty difficult trails in my estimation. By the end I was wearing a new kind of dusty make up but Curt had a ball doing donuts. I’m sure this is something we will start to do each time we return.
Curt doing donut

Curt doing donut


The rest of the day was spent leisurely reading for me and watching rugby for Curt. Another great braii for dinner and we were off to bed.

Posted by ErinDriver 05:28 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

cheetah encounter

9 June 2011

sunny 73 °F

lobby of An African VIlla

lobby of An African VIlla


Morne phoned us early this morning once again inviting us to stay at their house and offering a ride to the airport tomorrow. It was sad to leave the hotel but would be nice to save the money for a night and taxi money to the hotel. The hotel in keeping with our positive opinion allowed us to check out early without penalty and even gave us chocolates at the end.
An African Villa

An African Villa


Morne and his girlfriend, Lynda, picked us up and took us to the stellenbosch wine region to an estate called Speir.
curious Cheetah

curious Cheetah


They have wine tasting and a picnic area but even better – a cheetah reserve. Here lots of cheetah are killed by farmers who are trying to protect their livestock. In order to protect the cheetah a Turkish breed called the Anatolian Shephard was brought in.
Anatolian Shephard

Anatolian Shephard


This dog is fiercely protective of its herd and will fight to the death. The cheetah is built for running not fighting so the situation works out perfectly. The center pays the first year of food for the farmer so he can decide if the situation is going to work. It is now so popular they have a waiting list.
At the center there are a few dogs – the one above was beaten by the farmer so he was taken back. The guide said now he cannot be returned because this made him racist. The dog now cannot be near any black people.
retired Anatolian shephard

retired Anatolian shephard


This dog was returned to the center because she was lazy and didn’t want to work – looks surprising huh?
lazy cheetah

lazy cheetah


The guide walked us around the center giving us facts about cheetahs and how these are ambassador animals. They have been raised in captivity and are used to raise awareness and try to help the wild cheetah.
Joseph

Joseph


This one is the resident movie star, Joseph – he starred in a movie with Patrick Swayze.
serval

serval


They have several other animals – this serval had a worker kicking a soccer ball so she could play with it.
bat eared fox

bat eared fox


There was a bat eared fox which is also killed a lot by the farmers,
jackal

jackal


And a couple of jackals.
the protected sheep

the protected sheep


These are the sheep that the dogs are meant to protect from the cheetah.
us with Joseph

us with Joseph


After the tour we were allowed to have an encounter with one of the animals for 110 rand each. Of course I jumped at the chance to pet a cheetah and the one worker treated it like a photo shoot. We were taken in to the enclosure while the cheetah had a collar and leash on. We were allowed to pet its back but not face or legs. I could feel this one purring under my hand.
cheetah spots

cheetah spots


After a short time Joseph had enough so we were taken to another animal.
petting second cheetah

petting second cheetah


This one sat pretty for the photos also and didn’t seem to mind us being there.
secretary bird

secretary bird


Next to the cheetah sanctuary is one for birds. Here you could also have encounters with birds.
Curt with barn owl

Curt with barn owl


There were two different types of owls we were allowed to touch. It was a shock to see how soft they were.
Barn owls

Barn owls


These owls were all lined up and when the keeper played Elvis’ jailhouse rock song they all waved their little butts back and forth. When we saw it from a distance we thought they were toys.
owl eyes

owl eyes


Their eyes are so intense – I loved photographing them.
momma owl

momma owl


This momma owl was used to raise and nurture babies. She had helped to raise 100 owls. I guess that is why she looks so sleepy.
Marshall eagle

Marshall eagle


The big birds are my favorite and this Marshall Eagle didn’t want to disappoint.
After finishing with the animals they drove us into Stellenbosch which looks very colonial with all 1 or 2 story white buildings. It is a college town with lots of shops and restaurants. Lunch was at he Java café before continuing the drive back to their house.
Lynda and Morne have 3 dachsunds and one great dane so it was a spectacle to come home. After a short while they drove us to the water front to have dinner. We chose a pasta place called Hildebrants which suited everyone and had delicious food.

Posted by ErinDriver 05:06 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Boulders Beach and Cape Point

8 June 2011

sunny 70 °F

changing rooms at the beach

changing rooms at the beach


This morning Genie's son, Morne, picked us up at our hotel for a drive around the peninsula. We didn't realize what we were asking when I wanted to see the penguins was for such a long drive. He did it like a real champ.
changing cabins

changing cabins


Our first stop was just along the road to get a few photos of these photogenic rest stops.
jungle gyms

jungle gyms


In just couldn't resist a picture of this at the same time.
Simons Town

Simons Town


Next was a quick stop in Simon's Town for a coffee by the water.
Boulder Beach

Boulder Beach


We picked up a few souveneirs and then went on to The Boulders to see the penguin colony.
posing peguin

posing peguin


These used to be named Jackass penguins because of their donkey-like braying call. Since several specias of South American penguins make the same noise they were renamed the African Penguins.
fuzzy penguin

fuzzy penguin


These are the only species that breed in Africa.
penguin hangout

penguin hangout


Their diet is squid and shoal fish. they can be submerged for 2 minutes and swim at an average of 7 km/hr.
penguin babies

penguin babies


They are monogomous and the lifelong partners take turns to incubate their eggs and to feed their young.
peeping penguin

peeping penguin


Penguins have very sharp beaks and can cause serious injury if they bite.
penguiin at boulder beach

penguiin at boulder beach


Boulders is one of the few site where this endangered bird can be observed at close range, wandering freel in a protected natural environment.
waddling along

waddling along


From just two breeding pairs in 1982,the penguin colongy has grown to about 3,000.
penguin house

penguin house


The park even has little "houses" for these little guys.
us at Boulder Beach

us at Boulder Beach


Back in the car Morne said he would take us to another must see spot - Cape Point.
Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope


This is on the Cape of Good Hope and part of Table Mountain National Park.
Cape Point

Cape Point


The Cape of Good Hope is between two major ocean currents - the cold Benguela current on the West Coast and the warm Agulhas on the East Coast. It is popularly perceived as the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
us at Cape Point

us at Cape Point


Curt as Baboon

Curt as Baboon


The parking area is below the point so a walk up for about 15 minutes is in order.
Cliffs with lighthouse

Cliffs with lighthouse


Lighthouse with red flowers

Lighthouse with red flowers


Once there the cliffs and lighthouse give plenty of opportunities for photos.
Cape Point lighthouse

Cape Point lighthouse


directional arrows at Cape Point

directional arrows at Cape Point


mini palm trees

mini palm trees


dangerous baboon

dangerous baboon


Berthas

Berthas


After getting our fix we head back to Simon's town for a lunch at Bertha's before driving back to the hotel.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:28 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Shark Cage Diving

7 June 2011

sunny 60 °F

White Shark Project

White Shark Project


SHARK DIVE DAY!!!!! We chose White Shark Project because I had picked up a flyer at the Berlin Travel Expo. They picked us and 4 other people us from Cape Town and drove us the 2 hours to Gansbaai.
Gansbaai

Gansbaai


The location is famous for the Shark Alley between Dyers Island and another rock. These are the home for thousands of fur seals which are perfect food for the sharks.
After a breakfast and video we finally get on the boat for a 20 minute ride to the site. There are other boats in the area so we get our hopes up.
making chum

making chum


To get the sharks to come they make a mix of fish parts and sea water called chum.
They also use a tuna fish head which the guy throws in the water over and over as bait.
Bait with tuna fish head

Bait with tuna fish head


It takes a bit of time but eventually 2 sharks arrive and they put five of us in the cage.
Drivers before dive

Drivers before dive


The water is absolutely frigid and the two sharks seem to disappear.
cage (2)

cage (2)


We get a few distant sightings but more of less just shiver until they tell us we are going to get out and move closer to the other boat which has sharks hanging around.
hitting the cage

hitting the cage


We get back in 10 minutes later and get the thrill of a lifetime. The sharks come so close that one bangs his tail on the cage several times. All this time your head is out of water until the people on the boat tell you a shark is coming. Then you get a deep breath and go under to try to see it. IT is hard to hold your breath too long with the water being so cold.
going under the boat

going under the boat


Eventually we switch, 5 more get in the cage and we get cameras for pictures.
the beady eye

the beady eye


At one point their were four sharks gathering around.
At the end we get snacks again and they ask us please to educate people on sharks. Apparently they are becoming endangered. A shark jaw goes for $100,000 and then there is shark soup. They are catching the larger sharks at more than 5 meters. Unfortunately sharks can’t breed until males are 3.8 m and females 4.8. So if they are killing all the large sharks they are taking out the breeders. The ones we were seeing were juveniles at about 3 m.
So here are some interesting facts from their brochure:
best breech photo I got

best breech photo I got


The densest known population is Dyer Island, South Africa - right where we are. This is also the only place in the world they are known to breech.
breeching

breeching


They have the longest recorded migratory range of any marine creature. Nicole, a female great white, was recently tracked to Australia and back. She covered a staggering 22,000 km from Dyer Island to western Australia and back in just under 9 months.
hungry shark

hungry shark


They take their pick of the marine buffet, choosing large bony fish, smaller sharks and turtles, dolphins and seals – or even the blubber of dead whales.
anybody seen a dentist

anybody seen a dentist


They can go for weeks between meals. With one bite, great whites can gobble 14 kg of flesh and they can gorge on several hundred kilograms of food.
head on collision with cage

head on collision with cage


No one really knows how long great whites live. It’s hard to find out because they lead lonely lives and are so migratory.
mosaic shark

mosaic shark


Great whites have a mega sense of smell and an amazing ability to sense the electrical fields that radiate from living creatures.
skimming the water

skimming the water


These signals are sent to the brain and are read by the great white who decides who’s swimming normally, who’s panicking, or who is wounded. Weak animals are easy prey.
full body shot

full body shot


Females are usually bigger than males. They are ovoviviparous. That means the eggs grow inside the female, hatch there and carry on growing until they are born. They give birth to between 4 and 14 pups and may have 4-6 litters in a lifetime.
swimming toward cage

swimming toward cage


White sharks store extra fat in two large livers and draw on these stores when times are hard. The livers also help to keep the shark buoyant.
Jaws fin

Jaws fin


The dorsal fin is as individual as a fingerprint – the trailing edge and the arrangement of notches in the fin is unique to each shark.
stink eye

stink eye

Posted by ErinDriver 08:21 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Arrival in Cape Town

6 June 2011

semi-overcast 60 °F

Table Mountain

Table Mountain


Today was mostly consumed with a drive to Nelspruit and flight to Cape Town. We were pleasantly surprised with our flight to Cape Town which had some great little rolls and pasta salad for lunch. Our hotel The African Villa is probably the best I have ever stayed in. Discovery Tours is associated with them and coordinated for our transport from the airport. The two that picked us up gave us an entertaining 20 minute ride from the airport. The hotel has a golden retriever Brandy and Keith that checked us in spent about 45 minutes going over the map of the area, restaurants and the hotel. They have free port in the evening and always cake out if you need a snack during the day. The internet is free and he called to make us a reservation at his favorite restaurant.
Millers Thumb

Millers Thumb


Millers thumb is where he recommended for dinner as really good for seafood. They didn’t open until 1830 so we had an hour that he suggested we walk around Kloof street. It is winter so it gets dark early and I must admit the streets were a bit scary. The first traffic light we were at some drunk and probably homeless guy was ready to stab somebody with a shank. I moved one foot over to the left thinking this would be adequate protection. After that we strolled and had a guy coming begging for money staying his wife and baby and he were living on the streets. The strange part about this city is that it seems to be a mix of really nice (restaurants, lodges) with a mix of not so nice (homeless and drunk – with shanks).
Anyway dinner at Millers Thumb was excellent. The waitresses were great and it was hard to decide what to choose off the menu. In the end we had a bowl of sweet potato and butternut soup, Durado in mallay style with noodles and a slice of cheesecake. All excellent. After dinner we quickly walked the few blocks safely back to the hotel.

Posted by ErinDriver 08:28 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Marloth Park Day

5 June 2011

sunny 73 °F

A recovery day was in order to include a late breakfast and visit to our “house”.
Soon to be african paradise

Soon to be african paradise


The place now has walls and window settings.
front window

front window


crossing the threshold

crossing the threshold


Now it is much easier to get a sense of how bi the house will be. Before we are back from Cape Town they should be finished pouring the slab for the first floor roof.
in the trees above us

in the trees above us


curious monkey

curious monkey


Most of the day was spent packing for our trip to Cape Town tomorrow and reading books/magazines. Just sitting on the porch still provides an interesting show. We watched impala, a diker, and warthog pass by. The monkeys showed up and played in the tree about our heads for at least 45 minutes.
banana for chow

banana for chow


bush baby

bush baby


ninja bush baby (2)

ninja bush baby (2)


ready to leap

ready to leap


Then right as the sun went down the bush babies came for dinner.

Posted by ErinDriver 08:40 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Bye Satara Camp

4 June 2011

sunny 74 °F

Bye, Bye Satara Camp – although I forgot to get a photo of the bungalow we stayed in it was very nice. The place had a kitchen outside with a braii. Inside was a bathroom and three small beds. It had electricity and temperature control so suited us beautifully. The only thing I suggest is to bring your own food. Most of the restaurants on the camps leave something to be desired.
Today’s drive left me struggling to keep my eyes open. The two night drives followed by two early mornings were catching up to me. We leave the park still waiting to see the leopard.
where are the lions

where are the lions


A traffic jam did point out that across the river there were some lions resting on the rocks by the river. With binoculars you could make them out if you knew they were there. I don’t know who spotted them initially. Can you find the three lions in the photo?
hornbill

hornbill


Yesterday one of these hornbills stole a bit of her sandwich right out of Genie’s hand.
Tortoise and the pooh

Tortoise and the pooh


Does this count as a leopard? It is a leopard tortoise.
We were back earlier than expected since there wasn’t much to stop and watch. It was time for a LONG nap before the braii Andre made of chops and sausage.
More photos - I hope you enjoy!
rhino line

rhino line


piggyback baboon

piggyback baboon


giraffe formation

giraffe formation


delicious

delicious


impala pool

impala pool

Posted by ErinDriver 11:24 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Second Day in Kruger Park

3 June 2011

sunny 70 °F

wildebeast

wildebeast


Off we go this morning for a full day in Kruger, safely tucked away in my camera is the memory stick by the way. No big cats again today but we did have a fantastic showing of some other animals.
mom and baby hyena

mom and baby hyena


tired baby hyena

tired baby hyena


baby hyena

baby hyena


The first more interesting thing was a momma hyena with two babies. They were just hanging out by the road and we were one of two cars on the scene. After a bit mom walked off but babies stayed for a bit more of a photo shoot.
olifant river

olifant river


elephant bird feeder

elephant bird feeder


We had breakfast at olifante camp which has a beautiful overlook of the olifante river.
nursing monkey

nursing monkey


playing dead

playing dead


playing with mom

playing with mom


stolen banana

stolen banana


At another stopping area we came across some cheeky monkeys. When we arrived a lady told us that five of them had been in her car and taken a banana. We hung around to watch them for a bit. The interesting thing about the vervet monkeys is they are always moving around.
peeking giraffe

peeking giraffe


Then we hit a couple of giraffe and this one just peeked around the tree like he wanted to know who was coming to visit.
one horned impala

one horned impala


This impala was in a fight at some point and lost a horn – I would hate to see what the other guy looked like.
mom and baby buffalo

mom and baby buffalo


This day was also big for buffalo – we were seeing huge herds of them on several occasions.
in line for water

in line for water


startled while drinking

startled while drinking


giraffe at watering hole

giraffe at watering hole


drinking giraffe

drinking giraffe


Our last watering hole of the day was very lucrative. The giraffe took several drinks and was startled by cars quite a few times.
thirsty ele

thirsty ele


And then the dam had an elephant getting his fill of water.
genet

genet


Night drive tonight was not as fruitful although I did have my camera. We spotted a genet which is the first one we we really saw that wasn’t just a flash of fur. We also saw hippo, steenbuck and too many impala to count.
hyena on night drive

hyena on night drive


This hyena sort of made the drive worthwhile.
Here are a few more photos from the day:
jackal

jackal


ele and aligator at watering hole

ele and aligator at watering hole


Roller

Roller

Posted by ErinDriver 11:10 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 10 of 11) Page [1] 2 » Next