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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Levuvhu River Kruger National Park

The Levuvhu River, near Pafuri area. This is my most favourite bridge in the entire Kruger Park. Love the trees and the water flowing under the bridges. I wonder if these bridges survived the recent flooding?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Crocodile hunt yellow billed stork

While watching these Yellow Billed Storks drinking water, a sudden explosion of water as a result of a crocodile trying to catch some lunch. This river expererience was filled with adventures, because we were almost taken out a by elephant bull amongst others. He came charging out from the river bank, and we had to reverse back up a steep hill, luckily I held my nerve and did not stall the car or we would have been toast. This was not the first or last time we witnessed a crocodile hunt. ~ Juanita.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Kruger Buffalo stampede Shingwedzi

Buffalo stampede at the Shingwedzi River in the

On 25 December 2011, while enjoying a peacefull scenic sighting of a very large herd of Buffalo, who were at the river for a drink. The main bull left the group and walked up the embankment into the thick bush. The herd slowly followed behind. Suddenly we heard what could have been a loud gunshot or crack of a crossbow, and the entire herd stampeded back down into the river. We waited for the main bull to follow, but he was never seen again. We called the ranger on duty who came withing 5 minutes to investigate. He confirmed that the herd looked very spooked and this was not a standard preditor reaction. He was to cross the river and investigate what could have happened. In our opinion, he was poached or hunted as a trophy animal. We would loved to get an official response from South African National Parks what really happened that day.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Crocodile Walking Kruger National Park

Its not often that we have seen crocs on the move. This one was heading towards a heard of impala who were coming to the water for a drink. We did not stay long enough to see if he got lucky.

Canon 1D mark III
400mm f.28
ISO 400

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Robben Island visit

We arrived at the V&A Waterfront at 7am, and what a perfect setting for an early morning picture of this lovely centre.

The Susan Kruger took us over a seven kilometer stretch of ocean to Robben Island

The boat ride is about 45 minutes long.

The gateway to Robben Island mainland.

Each visitor is taken on a short bus ride to various places on the island.  This is the spectacular view from the most southern tip of the island.

The most influential political prisoners were forced to work 8 hours of hard labour every day for 5 days of the week in this quarry.  Mr Nelson Mandela was one of them.  Upon his last visit to the island, he picked up a stone and placed it in memory of the political tragedy next to the quarry.  Each person who were there at the time decided to follow suit and as a result the stone pile has now grown to what is seen on the bottom right of the above image.

The bus tour ended with a guided walk through the Robben Island Prison. 

Mr Nelson Mandela received permission to plant a vegetable garden in this courtyard.  Today you can still see the vine growing in the far back right corner.  This is also the place where he planted many of his hidden notes of his now published books.

Each tourgroup received first hand information from ex political prisoners.

Metal doors and cold cement floors paved the way throughout the prison.

This is the prison cell of Mr Nelson Mandela.
Ablusions for the prisoners. I looked at this mirror and wondered how many people looked into that mirror so many times, so many hopes and dreams.  It was the only thing in the prison that really got me thinking of what it must have been like to experience life in prison.

Tokio Sexwale's spot... each prisoners name and a brief memoir of their encounter is displayed on the wall inside their various cells.

 The harbour...
 Cormorant ally on the Robben Island harbour wall.  Every night hundreds of cormorants fly over our homes into the ocean.  Now I know where they fly to.
Heading back to Cape Town harbour, the captain of the Susan Kruger allowed me to also have a go at the steering of vessel. 

Overall, this visit to Robben Island was very interesting.  The tour guides were well informed and friendly.  Each person told their various stories with great enthusiasm and passion.  Interestingly the guide was amazed to see us (Capetonians) visiting the island.   On a sadder note, the island seemed very unkempt, and we were not sure if this was because thats just the way it is, or because nobody really wants to keep this place with its sad memories in decent shape.

It seems like everyone is happy to collect from the golden goose, but there is just no pride in what they have to show or offer.  We did not see one raked or cleaned area.  The toilets were of very poor standards (on the island, in the vessel and inside the Nelson Mandela Gateway House), and knowing that this is a huge money spinner, it was rather sad to see the state of this operation.  Having the mind of an entrepreneur, this island lacked so many things that could make this an experience people can talk about.  Visitors from all over the world come here on a daily basis. Thinking in the lines of coffee shop, walkways along the wateredge, and viewpoints.  This island and its legacy can offer so much more for both the tourists and towards the cause which it is promoting.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fireworks V&A Waterfront New Year 2013

Someone got a bee in his bonnet to see the new year in with a bang.  Low key, non-party going animals, who normally head for bed... became the daring duo. 

We made the cardinal sin and went to the Waterfront for NY (at 23h00!)

So first we tried to go to the pier at Radisson, almost got blown off the pier by the now gale force wind... Plan B rushed us to CBD V&A. Parking. What parking? Then we hit the crowds, then we aimed for the clock tower... Camera and tripods... People, music... its jam packed with happy faces all waiting to see the new year in too. At the clock towers, we venture into some building and find the back ally stairs to the rooftop. Jeay!!! Not. Alarm sounded. Guards. 'Oops' sorry... But we are looking for a photo. Its 23h58. 'No, u r trespassing!' Busted. Shit, ok. Run down 2 flights of stairs... Back into the crowds... Fireworks. Jeay! All for 1 whole minute. THANKS. For what? (As a dedicated animal anti-cruelty activist, deep down, I was happy to see it vanish into thin air, but it was a sad sight for my husband who was so keen to get this what could have been a stunning fireworks display photo from him.)  He knows the story: 'I've got your back hunny!', because yours truly 'got the shot'.... even though it was only a quick snap in desperation.

Now what? Crowds... Car. Not a good plan... Open restaurant: 'Sorry we are full' (everywhere!) Gmffff. Car is far, cameras are heavy. Wind. People. 'Let's just do it!' Ok, car here we come. Great, we get back to the parking garage. Not so great, 150 people long queue. We managed to skip this queue. 30min stop-go-people-car-madness. At 2am a Mc Donnalds milkshake sounds like the best idea since last year :) Bed calling. Jeay! 

This will be one new year we will surely not forget.