Saturday, 26 February 2011

A lot of life!

Today is my first live post! I'm in the Karoo National Park just outside of Beaufort West. It's a 450 odd kilometer drive from Cape Town. 8 lions from Addo were recently introduced into the park, and as I know the lions relatively well, I am here hoping to see my old friends...

The park is huge and dry. On all sides, one is surrounded by large mountains, topped off with rocky ridges. I call them sleeping dragons. To me they have always resembled a huge beast, with a spine along it's back, and I can only believe that they are dragons from an age long past, waiting until it's their time to fly again. I could be wrong though...

This is the first time I have visited the park in it's own right. Usually it is purely a comfortable stop over on the way back from another trip. As such, I am amazed at the bird life which is all around! When we left our chalet just before sunrise, we were accompanied with an almost deafening chorus of bird calls. All sorts of larks and weavers grace the area with their presence.

We were also fortunate enough to see an aardwolf returning from his evenings foraging. Being nocturnal, they are rare to see, and also very special. They feed mainly on insects, yet are actually a small relative of the hyena, which is quite clear where you view one. Seeing creatures such as the aardwolf, and hearing the morning chorus while watching the red sun rise over the horizon are just a few of the reasons to wake up early when in the parks. If you don't, you miss out on the best time of day. Just remember to pack the coffee! Another point to remember is that cats are often more active in the early mornings and late evenings, when it's not too hot. That said, the closest we got to our lions was a few tracks in a dusty river bed. At least we know they are around!

I also saw my first Verreauxs Eagle, soaring high above the rocky mountains. They are magnificent birds. The park is one of the areas where they breed and as such quite a few pairs are permanently resident here.

Golden Grass at last light

I'm off to the hide now, to watch the Red Bishops and Weaver Birds building their nests. I'll keep you updated! Please feel free to ask any questions!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Wild dog vs Wildebeest

Todays post is of a sighting which was very special for me, as it was so different, and a complete surprise at the time. There are moments in the bush when everything just comes together, and all your hours of driving and sitting are rewarded with something extra special. On our first evening in Savute in December, we had had a very quiet afternoon drive. The sky was overcast and rain kept threatening. While watching 3 lions do what lions do best (sleep), we got a call that some wild dog had been found quite a way away. Those of you who know wild dog know how highly mobile they are, so it was touch and go whether we would see them even if we raced there. We took the chance anyway. About a km out, we heard that they had disappeared, so we decided to head to a nearby open plain and sit in the hope they would flush some animal out. 

Sitting there, we caught a glimpse of the front runners of the pack heading toward us. They were clearly in 'hunting mode' and very edgy. As they fanned out across the opening they spotted a small herd of wildebeest with 3 very young calves. What they didn't expect is what we witnessed next: the wildebeest were in no mood at all to be hunted, and fought back with an incredible show of bravery. Three of the adults took off after the pack of dogs, and showed no signs of relenting.

Even when the dogs stopped and scanned, the wildebeest would come charging in, trying to trample the hapless, hungry dogs.

Time and again this happened. The clouds lifted and presented us with the very last light of day, that special golden dusty light that Botswana is famous for. A huge rainbow lit up the background. It was quite possibly the most beautiful moment, and really got that leg of our trip off to a running start.

From a photographic perspective, shooting such fast moving animals in such low light was a challenge. I used a lot of the panning technique to try and capture the movement and have some photographic memory of the sighting. I hope you enjoy the result! For me, it was just confirmation of why I love the bush so much. You never know what you may find and when Nature comes to play, she plays well! 

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Hi All!

So this is post number one - welcome!

I hope you enjoy following me on my travels as much I hope to enjoy sharing my experiences. I’m fortunate enough to have time to travel at the moment, as I complete my studies. I intend to take full advantage of this, and see as much as I can. Most of my travels are wildlife related, as this is my passion. Hopefully the pictures and stories I share will encourage you to do some travelling of your own, failing which, at least you will be able to experience these places through my eyes. When I'm not traveling, I plan to share some stories on past trips. When I am away, I will do my best to deliver live updates if possible!

Please feel free to contact me about anything - and I hope you enjoy the blog!!

This picture was taken in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia last year, and is of a baobab as the sun was setting behind it. Africa is the best place to watch the sun set. The heat lingers as the air becomes still, and the earth breathes a gentle sigh. Everything is calm for a moment, before the unknown of night descends.