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Monday, September 16, 2019

Gannabos Quiver Tree Forest Video


Exploring the second-largest quiver tree forest in the world was worth every minute. 

We ventured into the Northern Cape to find flowers and a classic Karoo succulent forest. 

The best time for us was to go just before the sun sets...giving us time to enjoy the environment decorated with the beauty of a classic sunset and sprinkled with the Milkyway.

The beautiful sound of the Freckled Nightjar echoed during the night as we explored the area during our photoshoot.


Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Please remember that as the quiver tree forest is situated on the farm itself, it still remains  private property. The biggest quiver tree forest in the southern hemisphere is found at Gannabos, located on  private property near Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape. 

The quiver tree or "Kokerboom" is one of the most interesting and characteristic trees. These trees usually grow detached, but in some areas, the plants grow in larger groups and therefore form a forest. The quiver tree is not a tree at all. It is an aloe plant. 

 The botanical name is ALOE DICHOTOMA. Aloe dichotoma is one of three quiver tree species, the other being Aloe pillansii (Giant quiver tree) and Aloe ramosissima (Maiden quiver tree). The plant is called a "Kokerboom" because some Bushmen and Hottentot tribes used the tough, pliable bark and branches to make quivers for their arrows.

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon
The quiver tree is a stout tree, that grows up to nine meters high with a smooth trunk which can be up to one meter in diameter at ground level. The leaves are greyish-green and the flowers are bright yellow.

The botanical name Dichotoma refers to the forked branches of the plant.

Because the quiver tree is an aloe, it has fibrous wood. Like all succulents, it has developed in a specialized way to adapt to erratic and little rainfall. The quiver tree soaks up water and stores it in its succulent leaves.

Quiver trees prefer rocky, well-drained soil habitats and occur in summer and winter rainfall regions.

The Bushmen and Hottentots tribes used to cut the trunks into squares to construct walls. Water was then fed into the fibrous wood from a tank placed at the top to store water.

The trees in the forest are naturally occurring. No trees have been planted by humans.

The most common quiver tree is broadly distributed through the Northern Cape and Namibia, whereas the sister species are restricted to the Richtersveld in Namaqualand.

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

It is impossible to determine the quiver tree's age through trunk growth rings, as with other trees because of the fibrous center. The estimated age for these trees ranges between 150-250 years for the common quiver tree and more than 380 years for the Giant quiver tree. With only periodic successful recruitment events, we as humans only have a very small window during our lifetimes in which to view quiver tree life cycles. The potential impacts of climate change, such as reduced rainfall or more erratic rainfall, makes it difficult to assess the population growth for the future. Scientists are attempting to circumvent the problem through computer modeling, growth rate monitoring and age estimates.

There are various factors that can affect the health of quiver trees - most are natural factors. For example, porcupines stripping bark from the main stem, baboons breaking branches in the canopy, pest infestation, trees uprooted during strong winds or under their own weight when soil is moist and soft. Quiver trees are known for amputating some of their own branches when stress is experienced. For example, under long drought conditions, a portion of the tree is sacrificed for the rest to survive.

The species Aloe dichotoma has been known to scientists since 1685 when it was discovered during Governor Simon van der Stel's expedition to Namaqualand in search of copper.

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,  Samsung Note 10, Canon

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,

Quiver trees, like many other plants, have adapted to the more dry and barren environment, and now only need a small amount of moisture to survive. Land management practices may also be a big influence on the consistent growth of these trees. It is therefore important to understand all the pressures the quiver trees are exposed to in order to form a proper understanding of the species.

The trees are often encountered growing in the most precarious positions, such as on the edges of canyons, possibly relishing in the cool updrafts of wind. Growing on these edges, the rocks anchor the plants which have a spread-root-system.

They have their first flowers when they are about 15 to 25 years old. The flowering season is in the winter during May, June and July. This is an extremely beautiful time to visit the farm.

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,

Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,


Gannabos, Quiver tree forest, Nieuwoudtville, Alex Aitkenhead, South Africa, Northern Cape, West Coast Flowers, Bulb Capital of the world, Aloe Dichotoma, Star Trails, Celestial Photography, African sunset, African Desert, Star Photography,


Swarms of birds and locusts are drawn by the sweet nectar of the quiver tree's flowers, and baboons have been known to strip off the blossoms in search of the liquid. Sunset in the forest that will take your breath away and bring your mind, body, and soul together.
Gannabos Farm and Guest House situated near the world's largest quiver tree forest Northern Cape, South Africa Gannabos Guest Farm • Nakkie van Wyk Tel/Fax: 027 218 1249 • Vox phone: 087 150 8101 gannabos@hantam.co.za



Monday, August 19, 2019

Kruger Holiday 2018 2 of 3 Punda Maria to Letaba Camp

Letaba Camp in the Kruger National Park has always been a family favourite.

We made this fun video featuring a part of our most recent trip to the Limpopo province.

Follow our journey as we drive and explore the Northern most area in Kruger (Punda Maria/Pafuri), to Letaba Camp, to Lower Sabie in the South.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Kruger Holiday 2018 1 of 3 - Phalaborwa to Punda Maria

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature
Alex Enjoying the view after a 4km trek to the mouth of the Lanner Gorge in Kruger National Park

Going on holiday to the Kruger National Park without a camera is a sin. But then this holiday we all decided to take the bare minimum and focus our holiday more about the venues, the walks, and the small stuff. The small stuff that make up the big stuff - we found pleasure in everything but the animals. We of course LOVED seeing the animals, but they were not our main focus. We saw the big 5 and more, and it was truly an amazing experience for the whole family.




Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild,
Driving around in Hans Merensky Club, Phalaborwa

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate
Kruger National Park, Phalaborwa Gate

What made it even more fun was the Volkswagen bus that we rented. The space, automatic gearbox, tinted windows (a must for Africa!) and a decent air-con was shear driving pleasure and fun for the whole family.

First we stopped over in Phalaborwa to visit some friends and old familiar places, then 2 days later the big drive up to Punda Maria Rest Camp, Limpopo, South Africa. En route we stopped at Shingwedzi camp - Kruger National Park for a break and a snack.

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Baobab Tree
One of the many magnificent and icon African Trees, the majestic Baobab

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Scops Owl, Tsendze Rustic Camp
A scops owl resting in a tree at Tsendze Rustic Camp near Mooiplaas Picnic site.  Thank you Rodgerth for showing us your amazing owls.

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Shingwedzi Camp Gate
Shingwedzi Camp Gate

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Maroela Tree, Mahoni Loop
A Beautiful maroela tree on the Mahone Loop around Punda Maria

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Buffalo,
Buffalo cooling off in the Levuvhu River

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Mopani Camp Gate,
Mopani Camp Gate

Pioneer Dam, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate
Consider Stopping over at Mopani Camp for a view of their beautiful Pioneer dam and iconic resident baobab 

Finally upon our arrival at Punda Maria Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, the swimming pool could not be found soon enough. The oldest rest camp in Kruger national park, and still true to form, in style as it was originally built, yet inside our bungalow it was modern and spacious. We drove to Pafuri to visit the legendary Crook's Corner and enjoyed a special bush walk in the Lanner Gorge and the Levuvhu River.

Punda Maria Camp, Punda Maria Bungalow, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate
Punda Maria Camp Bungalow

Klopperfontein Dam, African Elephants swimming, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate
Elephants loving the water at Klopperfontein Dam in Kruger

Punda Maria Camp Swimming Pool, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate
Punda Maria Camp Swimming Pool

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge
Driving to the start of our bush walk in the Lanner Gorge

Lanner Gorge Mouth, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge
A well deserved rest stop after a 4km trek to the Lanner Gorge Mouth

Baobab biggest, Lanner Gorge Walk, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge
Biggest Baobab on the walk to the Lanner Gorge

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge
Another beauty

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge, Crooks Corner, Border of South Africa
Crooks Corner : bordering South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge, Crooks Corner, Border of South Africa
Beautiful Cloud formations over the Kruger bush veld

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge, Crooks Corner, Border of South Africa
Impala grazing on the bushveld of Limpopo

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge, Crooks Corner, Border of South Africa
Looking down the Limpopo river from Crooks Corner

Stay tuned to view more footage of the rest of our trip down south ...

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Marsh Owl Hunting near Cape Town

Marsh Owl | Vleiuil | Asio capensis

Frieda and Jan Prinsloo were on walkabout when they noticed a Rock Kestrel diving into the reeds.  It was clearly disturbed by something.   We first read about this sighting of a resident Marsh owl at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in the Western Cape. 


When they approached they managed to get a few photos of a marsh owl.  This was soon circulated on social media and had the local birders scrambling to get this one ticket off.



We have seen almost all the local owl species and we were very excited after learning about this new find close to home.  Adding this one to our list became high on our agenda as this would be another lifer for us.




We were no different and after a quick check on the weather and obtaining a pinpoint on where to view this uncommon owl species here in Cape Town, we loaded our camera gear and hoped for the best.




As luck would have it, the weather turned out to be perfect with bright sunlight and a light wind blowing, we spotted owl.




The Marsh Owl has been recorded on a regular basis from about 16h30, when it starts to hunt and we were all ready waiting for the action to unfold.



Thanks to Trevor Hardaker who knew the lay of the land and got us into the best possible position to obtain these images.  It was not easy, rushing around in the scrub with our gear, but we were very fortunate and grateful for a wonderful one hour display of this magnificent owl hunting.



35–38 cm; 230–370 g
A plain brown, medium-sized owl with a buff-coloured or greyish face, small ‘ear' tufts and dark brown eyes. In flight, wings broader than African Grass Owl, with much larger buff ‘windows' in primaries, less contrast between coverts and flight feathers, and pale trailing edge to secondaries and outer primaries. Underwing has dark carpal marks; tail barred. Voice: Harsh, rasping ‘krikkkkrikkk', likened to sound of material being torn. Status and biology: Common resident and nomad in marshes and damp grassland; avoids dense reed beds. Often circles overhead after flushing. Less nocturnal than most other owls; sometimes roosts in flocks.  - Source: Sasol eBirds