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Wild Adventure – Namibia and Kgalagadi – Day 3 Springbok to Ai Ais

Wild Adventure – Namibia an Kgalagadi – Day 3 – Springbok to Ai Ais

29 October 2018

This morning we were all up at 7 getting ready for departure.  We had rusks, cereal and coffee for breakfast and The Earl and I set off ahead of The Mools as we would be travelling a tad slower.  It’s a good thing we did this because as we neared Steinskop we became aware of an awful knocking sound on the rear right of the car.   We contacted the Mools who had not yet left Springbok and told them we would turn into the Steinkopf to have it checked out.  Well, the mechanics at the local garage didn’t have a high lift so we had to head back to Ford in Springbok.  The Mools had just left but turned back saying they thought they should rather wait for us.

I phoned ahead to tell the mechanics that we needed emergency assistance and they were quite willing to see us immediately.   The Mools had a flask of boiling water and we found a shady spot, set out my cups on a chopping board, hauled out the cookies and rusks and had a little coffee party next to the forecourt!

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Preparing to picnic in front of the workshop!

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The Ford in the air

Luckily it was an easily sorted problem – the paper label had come loose from the prop shaft and was hitting against it making an unholy noise.  With that sorted were back on the road by 10:30.

We reached Vioolsdrift just before midday and the border crossing went smoothly.  It was not at all busy

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Then we were in Namibia!

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We filled up with fuel then drove through the desolate landscape of semis dessert.  The rocks are phenomenal!   Sometimes it looked like a pile of boulders had been poured onto  the side of the road by a huge dump truck.  It felt like we were driving on another moon like planet.IMG_1410IMG_1408

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Check in at Ai Ais went smoothly and we set up camp under some shady trees.   By five we were ready for our first swim in the hot pools

The wind got up in the evening so we decided not to braai and instead ate at the restaurant.  Pat had Schnitzel, I had chicken breast with cheese sauce and the men had rump steak.  The steak was a bit sinewy but very tasty.  We all enjoyed our meal but had to fetch our own wine as they had run out of the type they sold by the glass.  That saved us R40 each!

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Our first day in Namibia went well!  More of our adventure to follow.

 

 

5

Share Your World 30 January

Here are my answer’s to Cee’s Share your world 30 January 2017

What is the most incredible natural venue that you’ve ever seen in person?

I am privileged enough to be able to visit many incredible natural venues in my own country and neighbouring African countries.   It’s the birds and wildlife that attract us to visit over and over again.  But the most unusual natural venue I visited in 2015 was Sossusvlei which is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. Those magnificent Red Dune are mind boggling.

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We climbed to the top of this one

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We took an hour and a half flight over the dunes and looked down on our lodgings – our hut is the first one in the row this side of the main buildings.

How many siblings do you have? What’s your birth order? 

I have two brothers and a sister.  I am number two. Big Brother is three years older than I am. My sister is two years younger and Baby Brother is seven years younger than I.

If you were a shoe, what kind would you be and why?

Well I would not choose to be a shoe!  But I love boots – so that’s what I’ll choose as long as they’re made from real leather and don’t have killer heels.

What is the strangest/weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

Several years ago we stayed at Lokotula Lodge, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe – another phenomenal natural venue.

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Earl and Me with The Victoria Falls thundering behind us – September 2002.

On our first evening we ate at The Boma which is an area enclosing guests under the glittering African sky. There were sumptuous braaied (barbequed) meats to choose from the buffet and we tried a whole variety including warthog – you can read my story about that here.

As we were wandering around choosing our dishes one of the servers said, “Would you like some mopani worm?”  “No thank you,” I replied.  “But you must,”he insisted and not wanting to offend him both my hubby and I swallowed one each.   It really wasn’t bad but not something I’d rush back to have any time soon!   Well, we continued with our meal and when one of the hostesses came to enquire how we’d enjoyed the food, we told her that it had all been delicious.   “Did you have mopani worms?”she asked.   We replied proudly that we had and she promptly wrote out a certificate for each of us.  So we have proof!

mopani-certificate

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

This week I am grateful for my precious husband, the wonderful friends we have made in our new home, Struisbaai and of course for the family and friends in Cape Town and the rest of the world too.

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Young and in love – On our Wedding Day – 1987-01-30

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Still in love thirty years later – 2017-01-30

We don’t have many friends in Struisbaai but last night we invited them all to help us celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Looking back on our years together brought home to us how much we have survived and how much we have been blessed.   They have certainly been dramatic, exciting and adventurous years and we would not have changed a thing.

We don’t plan ahead so I am just looking forward to the surprises that are bound to happen in the coming week.

2

Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 10

Thursday 11 June 2015 Namutoni to Halali

We are packed and ready to leave after our usual excellent restaurant breakfast.

It is a zebra day today.  We see them in huge herds and wonder if they are having a convention!

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Mom and baby zebra

Mom and baby zebra

Lots of wildebeest too

Lots of wildebeest too

At one waterhole we see a hyena

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and at Kalkheuwel we find a young elephant that has met his end.

Poor thing

Poor thing

We wonder what could have caused it – we cannot see his head but the rest of the body doesn’t seem to be injured.   As we are on our way to the next camp there is no chance that we can return to see what will take advantage of this freely available carcass.

At 9 o’clock just before Batia Water Hole we find 3 cheetahs lighting in the grass – well camouflaged making photography difficult.

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We continue on our way and find rhino, impala, kudu and a vulture on a nest.

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We arrive at Halala at midday after visiting Goas which gives us a good show of elephants bathing and other species drinking.

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After unpacking and settling in Erich and Wendy have a snooze while Earl and I go to the camp water hole.  We see a few impala come down and there is some bird activity.

Golden-breasted bunting and violet-eated waxbill

Golden-breasted bunting and violet-eated waxbill

At 3:30 we go back to Goas. There is very little happening at first but then Wendy calls– here come the elephants.  It is fascinating watching them come down all in a line.  They come extremely close to the car parked in front of us and I think the occupants are quite nervous.   A male comes to join the females but they ignore him and when they leave he does not follow.  We feel sorry for the poor lonely guy – but this is the way it works with elephants!

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005 Elephants 004 Elephants at waterhole

There are interesting birds to watch too.

Red-billed francolin

Red-billed francolin

Double-banded Sandgrouse

Double-banded Sandgrouse

Yellow-billed hornbill

Yellow-billed hornbill

We get back to camp with 8 minutes to spare before gate closing time.   We go t straight to the water hole and are delighted to find two black rhino drinking.    We are there just in time as after 10 minutes they leave.  Some zebra start to come down but change their minds – it might be because a tawny eagle is in their way or the coming and going of the sandgrouse might make them nervous.

At quarter past six we leave to get ready for dinner at the restaurant.   Our neighbours come to ask if we have a torch as they’ve spotted a honey badger raiding the bins.  This delays us a bit but we manage to get photos of the cheeky creature.

Naughty Honey Badger

Naughty Honey Badger

One is on our stoop when we got back from dinner, giving me quite a scare!

We find that we can self-cater at this cabin and will make a plan to do so tomorrow.  It is very basically equipped but we have our own utensils. Unfortunately the camp shop is poorly stocked but we should be able to get meat and canned vegetables.

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Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 9

Wednesday 10 June 2015 – Namutoni

We are second car out of the gate after handing in our laundry at reception on 6:10 am.   The gate is meant to open at 6:25. It is light and Earl persuades the guys to open a tad earlier so were on the road by 6:15.

Giraffe are the order of the day today and we see them everywhere.  They are my favourite animal as to me they are a true iconic African creature.  There is nothing nicer than seeing a landscape dotted with tall giraffe.

In Etosha they seem to be darker and dustier than the Kruger giraffe.  I know the males are darker and get darker and darker as they age too.

Sunrise

Sunrise

In Etosha they seem to be darker and dustier than the Kruger giraffe.  I know the males are darker and get darker and darker as they age too.

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Of course Earl and I stop to see every bird and this confuses our guests.  “I can’t understand it,”says Erich “You stop for a tiny little bird but drive straight past a Wildebeest.”  After that we stop for every impala, springbok, ostrich and wildebeest and try to see the park through the eyes of a novice to the wilds of Africa!

Stopping for a wildebeest

Stopping for a wildebeest

A beautiful male ostrich

A beautiful male ostrich

A friendly jackal

A friendly jackal

Steenbok

and a cute Steenbok

We continue and stop off at waterholes and have some interesting sightings.

An immature Gabar Goshawk

An immature Gabar Goshawk

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African Harrier Hawk

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We return to camp just after 8 for breakfast and do not go out again until after lunch at 1:00 pm.

Earl and Erich nap for a while.  Wendy goes to buy gifts at the curio shop, I go to the waterhole and walk around camp but I’m disappointed at the lack of birdlife.  Then Wendy and I join up and spend some time at the pool.  It is hot but the water is freezing.  Wendy and I chat on our lounges and then she says, “That water looks so inviting. I think we should at least attempt a swim.”  “Is that a challenge?” I ask  She smiles.  I get up and made my way to the shallow end and she follows.   I can’t believe how cold it is but Wendy goes down one step at a time and I can’t let her outdo me.  Soon we both plunge in and I gasp and yell at the chill!  We swim two lengths and then get out.  It is very invigorating but how crazy are we!  A young German couple look at us in disbelief – Wendy pipes – When you get older you tend to do crazy things!

E came along and I walk up to give him a wet hug but he yells and won’t let me near. I plunge back into the pool and he takes a photograph!

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Me in the freezing pool

Drying off in the hot sun

Drying off in the hot sun

Our afternoon drive is just as exciting.  As we make our way to the Kalkheuwel water hole, I shriek when an elephant suddenly appears on the road in front of us.  He raises his trunk, trumpets loudly and charges toward us.

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Earl goes  into full speed reverse. He keeps his cool and as he says – Stop being naughty – to an elephant who clearly can’t hear him.  But he must get a mental message because with one last trumpet he charges into the bush.   “I think I might need a clean pair of underpants,” Erich declares.  Phew – we all laugh nervously.  Our adrenalin rush for the day.

Some creatures we see before we return

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swallowtailed bee-eater

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Female weaver

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Lilac-breasted roller

018 Kori Bustard drinking

Kori Bustard drinking

017 Kori Bustard drinking 017 Two Giraffe drinking

We visit the waterhole when we return but there is not much happening so we have sundowners and then go to dinner – another buffet.

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Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 8

Tuesday 9 June 2015 -Namutoni

We are up early to get the car is packed and ready for our after breakfast departure.

We start our slow trip up the dirt road and stop to watch birds including purple roller,IMG_4246

pied babbler

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Marico Fly-catcher

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and yellow-billed hornbill

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We are some kilometres away when it suddenly strikes me that I have left my expensive ski-jacket in the cupboard in our room.   There is a quick u turn as we race back to get it.

On the way back we see dik dik in the bushes.

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The Waterberg Plateau

The Waterberg Plateau

Termite Hill

Termite Hill

Finally we arrive at Namutoni.  On hearing my name the receptionist says – We have had a call from Sossusvlei – It seems that you have not paid for your two guided drives.  I am a bit taken aback as when I checked out I’d asked Herbert if all was in order and he’d assured me that it was. Earl goes straight into panic mode and thinks I have lost the receipt. But I only find receipts for dinners so he has to concede that the drives which should have been put onto our daily bill have been omitted. Yes – I should have checked the amounts but I’d simply written down the amounts paid by card in my meticulous records.

After calming down, we settle into our comfortable cabins, have a cold drink and then go out in the Land Rover.

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Luxurious Bathroom

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Comfortable sleeping quarters

We have a successful afternoon and see black-faced impala,

Black-faced Impala

zebra,

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giraffe,

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lots of kori bustards,

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northern black korhaan,

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grey hornbill,

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double banded courser,

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a single bull elephant,

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parent Burchell’s sandgrouse with 2 babies,

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and a black rhino hiding among the foliage of tree he was browsing.

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It is a good start to our stay in Etosha National Park!  When we get back to camp, Wendy and I browse around the fort shops and late we have dinner in the restaurant – a buffet which is acceptable.

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Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 2 and Day 3

Wednesday 3 June 2015  Ai Ais

We are all in the pool by  quarter to 8 this morning.   Erich and Wendy are earlier than we are.  They’ve had tea on their stoop and had watched the sun rise!  The water is divinely warm.  My eyes are itchy from allergies and I am sure the water is making them feel better or is it a placebo effect?  Whatever, I feel great relaxing in these soothing waters.

After our swim we go off  to breakfast and sit chatting till 10.   Then we go  for a walk around the lodge, admire the scenery and find some birds.

At 1 Earl and I go for an hour-long full body massage which is divine.  Erich and Wendy each had half-hour back massages.   Afterwards we have a long afternoon nap.  When we wake up we go for a lovely, long swim in the hot baths.  I stay in a lot longer than Earl and chat to a Grade 11 girl who had just completed the 6-day hike of the Fish River Canyon.  She tells me it was amazing but she is exhausted and every muscle is aching.

Earl comes to call me.  Stuart and Janet have arrived. We knew they were doing a similar trip to ours at the same time and had planned to meet them in Etosha. They aren’t meant to be here but had started off from Cape Town later than planned so decided to spend the night at Ai Ais. They join us for drinks and then dinner and it is a super evening.

Relaxing in the pool

Relaxing in the pool

Ai Ais

Ai Ais

Outdoor pool

Outdoor pool – Hot but the air is cold!

Baboons are a problem

Baboons are a problem

Mountain Chat

Mountain Chat

Swallow-tailed bee-eater

Swallow-tailed bee-eater

Dinner

Dinner – Earl, Stuart, Janet, Wendy

Thursday 4 June 2015 Ai Ais to Africa Sa fari Lodge

We wake to a rainy and cold day!  This is not meant to happen in the month of June!   After showering and packing we go to meet the others for breakfast at 7:00 am.   After breakfast we all head to the Canyon Lookout. We have to pay R60 per person to drive to the lookout point but it is worth it. It’s just a pity that the weather is not clear. Still we get excellent views of the canyon and don’t mind too much about getting wet.  Earl and I were here 20 years ago in brilliant sunshine and no fences.   It is a little different today but the views are the same.

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We then bid farewell to Janet and Stuart who head to Luderitz while we make our way to Mariental where we will spend the night at Africa Safari Lodge.  The weather improves and there is no rain when we arrive at Keetmanshoop.  We stop at the Spur for lunch and I buy a Namibian Sim Card at the local phone shop. My package is amazing – I pay in R295 in cash and dial in for whatever I need for a week.  Each week I renew my contract until my balance runs out.  I get Facebook, the internet, Whatsap and a number of free calls.  whenever I return to Namibia I use the same sim card and top up my balance. I do not have to RICA!

We arrive at Africa Safari Lodge at 3:00 p.m. It is lovely.  We have ‘tea’ on the stoop and then an afternoon nap.

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When we wake up it is dark and we find a rhinoceros on our front lawn!

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Dinner is superb.  We start with Sweet Chilli Calamari and Greek salad and then have gourmet Oryx steaks with mushroom sauce and mash potato.  To die for!  Dessert is Apple crumble and ice cream.

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Our room was is really comfortable. The bed is made from a concrete slap on which is a very comfortable  mattress with down duvet.   There is a television and we watch a skop, skiet and donner movie before dropping off to sleep.

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Ai Ais, Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 1

A year ago our Australian friends, Erich and Wendy asked my advice on what to do and where to go in Namibia, a place they have wanted to visit for many years. Earl and I decided that we wouldn’t mind another trip to this amazing country so we decided to go ourselves and asked them to tag along.   Our itinerary of 26 days included Ai Ais, Africa Safari Lodge near Mariental, Sossusvlei, Windhoek, The Waterberg Plateau, Etosha National Park and then on our way home we spent 9 days in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

We are now back and what an adventure it has been. I am in the process of sorting out the hundreds of photographs and will try to publish one episode per day but forgive me if I fall behind 🙂  Some of the trivia and information mentioned in my posts are taken from park pamphlets, brochures, books on the area and Wikipedia.

2 June 2015 – Cape Town to Ai Ai

Finally this day has arrived. I love the excitement of the pre-dawn start to a long journey. I settle down in my seat – pushed far forward so Erich has space for his long legs behind me.  I scribble down our departure time on my pre-prepared chart – 4:30 am – The kilometerage registers 119632. What will it be when we return?  I know my neat chart with its recordings of costs and stops will look the worse for wear when we return too! Cape Town is cold and rainy and we look forward to warm, dry weather and the healing waters of the Ai Ais hot springs.   Perish the thought – the cold and rain continues.  Our first stop is a freezing Klawer and our hot Wimpy breakfast and coffee is sooo welcome.   It is strange to see pelting rain soaking into the dry Karoo earth.   The weather only improved around Springbok.

Earl is not at his best at border crossing so I make sure that all the documentation is ready and hand my list of items to be taken across the border to the grim-faced officer at Vioelsdrift.  Within minutes he has dismissed most of them as unnecessary and pins my list to the form he has filled in – no problem!  The whole procedure is over in 40 minutes and by 2 pm we are in Namibia!

It is interesting to see wine farming taking place on the banks of the Orange River.  Aussenkehr is such a farm. It is planned to develop Aussenkehr into a town. 6,000 erven have been surveyed and water and sewerage systems have been built.There is less than 50 millimetres  average annual rainfall but the farm includes 15 kilometres of riverfront and has a government-approved quota to draw water for irrigation from the Orange River.

Vineyards of Aussenkehr

Vineyards of Aussenkehr

Straw houses we passed on the way

Straw houses we passed – Aussenkehr

We bought wine and beers from the Aussenkehr Spar - which is in the middle of nowhere

We bought wine and beers from the Aussenkehr Spar – which is in the middle of nowhere and serves the farming community and straw house dwellers.

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The road we travel

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Moonscape

We arrive at Ai Ais at 3 pm Namibian time, taking the new dirt road which is a tad quicker.   The weather is overcast and there are a few drops of rain and it is really cold.

The local Nama people call the springs Ai-Ais which means  ‘burning water’. This lovely natural hot-spring is situated at the southern end of The Fish River Canyon, in the Karas Region of southern Namibia. It is part of the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

We have room A3 and A4 which lead onto the indoor pool area.   We have a swim and then a rest before going for drinks and then to supper at the restaurant.  We all have eland steaks which are rather nice.  They are served with rosti, butternut and green beans.  Then its off to our comfortable beds decked with down duvets – so welcome after a hard day’s travelling.

The indoor pools

The indoor pools

Dinner

Dinner

The restaurant

The restaurant

2

Caravanning in The Kgalagadi – Wednesday 11 March 2015

We have still not learned to keep up with Jim but we have improved.   Maureen is second in the queue, a chap named Des – a hardened bush whacker who has to be out first – has been waiting since 5:45!   I am third!  We chat with Des and he says it is vital to get to the waterholes as early as possible and that if something exciting is going to happen it must be right next to the road or it won’t be worth watching!  But we are still torn between wanting to see the cats and wanting to enjoy the early morning birdlife!

It is already 23 C and rising.   The first animal of the day is a Black-backed jackal.

By 7:10 we’ve spotted Gemsbok, Springbok, Kori Bustard Giraffe and Tawny Eagle.

Our first proper stop is at 13th Waterhole where there is quite a bit of action.  A jackal is drinking and  so is a large tortoise.

Black-backed Jackal taking an early morning drink.

Black-backed Jackal taking an early morning drink.

The birds – Namaqua doves, red-headed finches, lark-like buntings, grey-backed sparrow-larks, yellow canaries, Cape sparrows and laughing doves are flying down is flocks grabbing a drink and flying up into the trees again.  The juvenile Gabar and a Lanner are there swooping down on the hunt.  We see the Gabar take a lark-like bunting and settle in the tree to enjoy it!

Larklike buntings

Larklike buntings taking refuge in the trees

006 Gabar Juvenile with prey Earl

Juvenile Gabar with prey

We then head to the breakfast spot – Kamqua – and find a good table under a tree but the shade hasn’t reached it yet so Jim uses his canopy which works perfectly.  This time we decide to have muesli and yogurt.

We then head toward Montrose Waterhole find very little so turn around and come back. We find a hyena lying in the shade on the side of the road.

He gives us a look that says "Hey - what are you looking at?"

He gives us a look that says “Hey – what are you looking at?”

007 Hyena Earl (2)

Just let me sleep!

As we continue I yell STOP  Go Back, I’ve seen a White-faced  Owl.  Earl reverses and sure enough there among the foliage is the bird I’ve been looking for in camp! Soon after this we find 4 spotted dikkop.

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There were supposed to be a pair of these in camp but we never found them

009 Dikkop Helen

One of the four spotted dikkops we saw

At Dalkeith a lovely family of ostriches runs away from us.

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We watch a Namaqua Sandgrouse take drink

011 Namaqua Sandgrouse

And a grey headed sparrow goes rock jumping

012 Grey-heades sparrow Helen

A car stops to tell us there is a lion at Craig Lockhart and when we get there we look toward the waterhole and see nothing.  The chap in the car parked next to the big tree that dominates the site points next to us and there in all his glory sits a big male lion!

No peace from the tourists

No peace from the tourists

Please go away

Please go away

Or I might just eat you

I wonder what Human tastes like

I have very sharp teeth

I have very sharp teeth

Half an hour later we find 4 cheetahs resting under a shady tree.  We return to camp after a cursory glance at some beautiful giraffe and then return to the cheetahs later in the afternoon. They wake up and mover around and we hope to see them hunt but all too soon it is time to go back to camp so we don’t have that privilege.

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Bird Club Camp at Kuifkop Vivanger, Veldrift

6 March to 8 March 2015

Before we embark our trip to The Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park, Earl and I join the Cape Bird Club weekend camp at Kuifkhop Visvanger in Veldrift on the West Coast.  This is our first time out with our new Imagine Off-Road Caravan.

We arrive at 12:30 pm and are surprised to find that most of the campers have already arrived – the joys of being retired – you don’t have to wait until after work to leave!

We begin setting up when two guy approach and tell us they too are Imagine owners. They notice that ours is brand new and are interesting in seeing the diffences.  They are very enthusiastic about Imagine and tell us we have made a good choice.  We pick up some tips from them and soon have the caravan set up and ready.

Later in the afternoon, Mel takes some of the campers on an afternoon excursion.  Earl joins them but I remain in camp as I have to be on hand for new arrivals.

The official opening of the camp is at the evening braai. We have been given the use of the conference centre and all gather there.  Mel and Simon give us the run down of what will happen in the next two days. there 40 of us and we will divide into two groups and pool cars.   Each car will have a hand held walkie talkie.  We are in Mel’s group.

The weekend is a great success.  We see a variet of wonderful birds on the salt pans and in the vlei and it is a good introduction to our future life of caravanning.

Setting up our caravan

Setting up our caravan

Here are some of the birds we saw.

Rock Kestrel

Rock Kestrel

Goliath Heron

Goliath Heron

Regional Rarity - Red-backed shrike - it caused quite a lot of excitement although it is common in Kruger!

Regional Rarity – Red-backed shrike – it caused quite a lot of excitement although it is common in Kruger!

campers finding birds

campers finding birds

Priscilla and Me

Priscilla and Me

Earl on a boat!

Earl on a boat!

Grey Plover

Grey Plover

Lanner Falcon

Lanner Falcon

Black crowned night heron

Black crowned night heron

Little Egret

Little Egret

Purple Heron

Purple Heron

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Little Ringed Plover

Little Ringed Plover

Chestnut-banded plover

Chestnut-banded plover

African Darter

African Darter

Supper

Supper

Briefing

Briefing

Moon

Moon

Little Stint

Little Stint

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Three banded plover

Three banded plover

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So what do you do now that you’re retired?

I thought that once school began and the house was empty of guests, the daughter back at work and the teens at school I would miss my old routine and go rushing back to help as a ‘room parent’ or classroom assistant.  But – no – that hasn’t happened!  I am afraid it has been the last thought in my head!   I am not bored and I don’t know where the time goes!  My colleagues I miss, and I do think of those little lambs I once taught but they have all moved on and so must I!

The thing is that life happens.  Now there is time to enjoy it and cruise through the day at a leisurely pace.  All my adult life I have had no trouble waking up at the rudest of hours.   But now 7 o’clock seems terribly early!   The only dutiful thing that I do is make my grandson’s lunch.   So that gets me up briefly and then I get back into bed, check my emails/Facebook while my perfect husband makes breakfast. Life couldn’t be better!

This week has flown.   On Sunday last week we dropped in at False Bay Ecology Park to see how the feathered friends were doing – this is alway a pleasure.

Yellow-billed ducks

Yellow-billed ducks

Spotted Eagle Own - he moved his spot!

Spotted Eagle Own – he moved his spot!

Every pond was full of flamingos

Every pond was full of flamingos

False Bay in the background

False Bay in the Background

Even the hadeda is beautiful in the sunlight

Even the hadeda is beautiful in the sunlight

More flamingos fraternising with Cape Shovellers

More flamingos fraternising with Cape Shovellers and Cape Teal

In my last post I related the drama of organising finance for our vehicle.  That all went through finally on Wednesday!   We now have the caravan safely in our driveway but the Land Rover will only be ready on Tuesday.

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The Imagine Comfort Van in towing mode

We have had so much fun shopping for accessories and now have a kettle that goes on the gas burner, petrol and diesel jerry cans, gas bottles, batteries and various electrical attachments, a blow-up mattress for when we take the kids with us and various other odds and ends.  I won’t bore you with the details!  But how amazing it has been to be able to shop at a whim and not have to wait for the weekend!  Sometimes breakfast or lunch out is included!

Having late nights is not such an issue anymore either.  I had a bird club committee meeting that went on forever on Monday night, book club on Tuesday night and went to a friend’s birthday celebration on Thursday night – without a worry in the world about coping the next day at school!   My bird club colleagues seemed somewhat surprised when I told them that I would not be living in Cape Town anymore.  I had told them this but they thought I’d come home at least once a month.  No so I’m afraid. I will continue with my three portfolios but I won’t be at committee meetings, chaps!   I reluctantly resigned from Book Club too – but they kindly invited me to come as a guest when I was in town!  Yes – life is changing in a big way!

My friend Priscilla and her twin sister Hilary had their birthday celebration at Cape Point Vineyards on Thursday evening.  What an idyllic place!   We sat out on the lawns looking over the valley and The Atlantic Ocean and ate food we got from their weekly food market and watched the sun setting gloriously into the sea.

The Greek Menu

The Greek Stall Menu from which Heather and I chose our meal.

Priscilla in the foreground

Priscilla in the foreground

The guests

The guests – It’s not Priscilla at the back but her twin!

Like a flaming ball

Like a flaming ball

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People watching the sunset from the deck over the dam

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Such a beautiful setting

On Friday Earl had a fishing charter and spent a beautiful day at sea.  He came home with some Hottentot which we served deep fried to our guests that evening.  My friend, Niru from Durban , was also visiting her parents to celebrate her 40th birthday and they popped in to see me on their way to a sushi dinner.

Niru and Me

Niru and Me

Earl cooking before the Load Shedding

Earl cooking before the Load Shedding

A headlamp helps

A headlamp helps when the lights go out

Our guests enjoying their fried Hottentot

Our guests enjoying their fried Hottentot

Josh dishing dessert

Josh dishing dessert

On Saturday night the Cape Boat and Ski-boat club had their annual prizegiving.  Earl mentors the youth at this club and we were so proud to see them getting prizes.   He also participates himself and skippers his boat in competitions although he is not as active as in the past.

Appropriate table decor

Appropriate table decor

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Third in the Club Championships

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Best Skipper

And those are the highlights of our week!   We will continue to get the caravan organised with everything it needs next week and we are in the processing of planning a big trip in March!  Watch this space!

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Celebrations

The holidays are over, the teachers returned to school on Monday and the kids on Wednesday.  I must confess to feeling a little twinge of depression.  The beginning of a year is always so exciting. On Monday I pictured my colleagues getting their classrooms ready to receive those eager little people, sorting our new stationery – oh how I love new stationery- and planning an innovative new programme for 2015!  On Wednesday, I had to take my mind off the thought of missing out on the fun and thrilling first day of Grade 1 – so I indulged in the best therapy ever – Retail and the Waterfront – with my fashion guru friend, Sharon!

A complementary taste of wine while waiting for a table at Willoughbies

A complimentary taste of wine while waiting for a table at Willoughby’s

Yes Sushi beats a take-away snack from Birdie Num Nums

Yes Sushi beats a take-away snack from Birdie Num Nums (School Tuck Shop)

We had a wonderful feminine bonding time, spent a little bit of money but mostly it was just great to be in The Big City – for us in the deep south it’s like going to London or Paris!

It was my sister’s 60th birthday on Friday and she celebrated with a wonderful breakfast on a beautiful day at La Belle, Alphen Boutique Hotel.  Now, had I been teaching, I wouldn’t have been able to be there – so much fun to be retired!

My sister and me

My sister and me

Fabulous venue - Excellent food

Fabulous venue – Excellent food

It was lovely to see all Tana’s friends – many since school days – at the party.

Aunty Vi

Aunty Vi

Cousin Maria

Cousin Maria

Old School friend, Debbie

Old School friend, Debbie

Old School friend, Gillian

Old School friend, Gillian

Patricia (sister-in-law) relating a beautiful story about Tana

Patricia (sister-in-law) relating a beautiful story about Tana

Guests listening in awe

Guests listening in awe – Lindsay, Catherine, Di, Michele

It was a wonderful celebration for my caring sister who is always there for her friends and family and will drop everything to help them.   Happy Birthday, precious sister.  Love you lots.

On Saturday morning my breakfast club met at Bistro Sixteen82.  We had not seen each other since my and Cheryl’s birthday celebration in November!   It was wonderful catching up with those who could make it.   Specially nice to see Melody who only comes on the odd ocassion.

Breakfast Club-001 The Breakfast Club Girls

On Saturday afternoon we had another celebration.  My brother Michael’s son, Kyle married his teenage sweetheart, Giulia. The wedding was held at Cape Point Vineyards – the most stunning venue in Cape Town. And just because it is on our doorstep doesn’t make me biased!  Everything was perfect – the setting, the decor and the food.  The bride attended by her beautiful bridesmaids looked amazing and the little flower girl, Olivia stole the show.

My great-niece Olivia taking her duty very seriously

My great-niece Olivia (4) taking her duty very seriously

Here comes the bride

Here comes the bride

The happy couple

The happy couple

It was a simple and beautiful ceremony where the couple were exhorted to carry on doing what they are doing as clearly it was working!    How amazing that these two have been together since they were in High School and are still so in love at 29. May they have a long and happy marriage.

The family is scattered around the world so many people came from far and wide to celebrate with these two beautiful young people.

It was lovely to see Mick who said nice things about me so now he is my favourite nephew!

Mick left his yacht in Italy to be groomsman for his brother

Mick left his yacht in Italy to be groomsman for his brother

My gorgeous niece, Martine and her hadsome husband, Craig came over from Spain

My gorgeous niece, Martine and her handsome husband, Craig came over from Spain

My favourite niece, Belinda - she also said nice things about me.  Love you too Martine!

My favourite niece, Belinda – she also said nice things about me. Love you too Martine!

Mother and Father of the groom

Mother and Father of the groom

With the bride being of Italian extraction and the groom of Greek, you can just imagine what the party was like after the ceremony!   The master of ceremonies called everyone to attention with Ladies and Gentlemen, Greeks and Italians …….

And there was a special request not to break any plates until after the meal!  The party was awesome and everybody danced till late into the night.

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Retiring Adventurously – A Day on the Ranch

11 January 2015 – Watching the Cowboys at Work.

Today we go ranching. The day starts with cool temperatures but it soon heats up to the high thirties. Abrie needs to ear tag, dehorn and brand the calves. He also has to scan all the cattle. This is how he keeps a tally. It takes the whole morning and it is interesting to watch the men expertly handling the stock and equipment but at the same time we keep an eye out for birdlife. The cattle are free roaming so have to be gathered together at one spot in order to work with them. To achieve this they close the gate to the waterhole. The cattle gather there to wait for it to be opened and that’s when they are trapped for the business to be done.  At first I felt so sorry for the little calves but once it’s over they run off like puppies and are no worse for the undignified experience.

On the way we met this beautiful bloubokkie

On the way we met this beautiful Damara Dik Dik

The Cattle are beautiful and healthy

The Cattle are beautiful and healthy

The calves are so cute

The calves are so cute

The cowboys get to work

The cowboys get to work

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In the ‘holding cell’

I just want to lie down and sleep

I just want to lie down and sleep

Hold still - this won't take long.

Hold still – this won’t take long – just like a visit to the dentist!

Ouman and Oupa watching the goings on

Ouman and Oupa watching the goings on

Me in a hat!

Me in a farm girl hat!

Two yellow-billed kites entertain us while they dip and swoop as they hunt catching mainly insects. A groundscraper thrush comes round too.

Ground-scraper Thrush

Groundscraper Thrush

At one of the handling spots I took a brief walk among the trees and spotted what looked like a puffback, and a few other birds but they were impossible to photograph.

We are done by 1o’clock by which time the temperature had soared.  Back at the house we feast on Abrie’s home canned fish and home canned tomatoes doused in olive oil. The only thing to do in the midday heat  is take a cold shower and nap till 4.  We then wake up, have tea and Christmas cake and
go for another bone shaking ride to seek and scan some cattle that were missed earlier.
Abrie is pleased that he has lost very few cattle over the dry season.
We spot birds too, of course and it is special to find a dusky lark on the air strip.
Supper is a grand affair. We gather around the braai and Abrie makes a mushroom sauce from fresh brown mushrooms and a speciality dried one soaked in wine. With the added cream it is delicious. This is served over the most delicious beef I have ever eaten – it is taken from the forequarter of a jersey cow and is amazingly tender and tasty.

This girl just loves Africa

This girl just loves Africa specially with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in her hand.

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What a way to spend an evening

Tending the fire

Tending the fire

Preparing the food

Preparing the food – note the mielies (corn on the cob) being grilled over the hot coals – beef is on the griddle and mushroom sauce is done and keeping warm in the covered pan.

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It’s then off to bed as we have an early start tomorrow.