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Friday, June 26, 2020

Baobabs of Southern Africa

We surveyed his regal kingdom, it was a scene of destruction, an apocalypse, with limbs strewn across the battlefield, tears fell like rain on the parched earth. Weeping and wailing they cried out "the king has fallen. Our king is dead." Fortunately, the Glencoe farm had another majestic Baobab, more refined and elegant (maybe younger), its smooth flesh-like bark shining in the morning light. 

Surrounded by the mighty Drakensberg mountains that rose from the bushveld like castle walls, protecting these massive beasts as they stood imposingly over the Lowveld. This is where my love affair began with these mighty giants and icons of African bush (Adansonia digitata). We have had the privilege of meeting with remarkable Baobabs in Southern Africa and will continue in our quest to capture and write about these ancient trees.


Glencoe Baobab. Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province.
Searching for pancakes when we stumbled upon this noble statesman, worthy of its claim as the new master, prince to the fallen king on the Glencoe farm.


Glencoe Baobab. Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province.
Legend has it that after the Boer war two wagon loads of gold was despatched to the north of South Africa, Hoedspruit in particular. The precious gold was hidden in the hollow of a mighty Baobab and sealed with a termite queen that would provide the mound. This hollow is what lead to the downfall and ultimate collapse of this almighty king of the bushveld. 

Recorded as one of the largest and oldest residents, how sad to witness this fall from grace. A shadow of his former glory, forgotten and neglected, defeated but not dead. The old king lives, and growth was evident, who knows, in 1000 years, he may rule again; unfortunately, we will no longer be around to witness the glory.

Leydsdorp Giant Baobab. Gravelot, Limpopo Province.
Had the privilege of introducing myself to the giant of Leydsdorp, a former mining town in is hay day. Resigned to a ghost town, deserted and abandoned the residents vacated. All that remains is dilapidated buildings and a derelict old pub within the Bowles of the giant. 

Access is restricted as the opening has almost closed, but the giant shared the stories of inebriated miners and ghosts, and we listened intently. Content and elated, we departed knowing that the giant would still be around for centuries.
Manutsa Baobab. Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province.
Hiking through the forest on the manutsa trail takes you into another world, undiscovered and wild. We negotiated our way through caves and cleansed our soles in magical icy waterfalls. The trail leads back through the local village, standing guard in the middle of the informal settlements, you will find an impeccable baobab, not quiet a champion, yet. 

This magnificent specimen watches over his loyal subjects. We paid our respects to the almighty beast and admired the grandeur. We parted knowing that this was the beginning of yet another wonderful friendship. — at Hoedspruit, Manutsa.

Mwachema River Baobabs. Diani Beach, Kenya
While on assignment in Mombasa, our hosts in Diani beach entertained our party like royals. We did not travel for the sightseeing, our invitation and accommodation was bartered on the expectation of fantastic inviting images to encourage tourist to these white sandy beaches in a typical sun-drenched island setting. Requesting a guide to assist in finding the perfect pictures we stumbled upon this unique setting. Remarkable, elegant baobabs sunbathing on this tropical beach with camels and some local inhabitance to complete the scene. It was distractions like this and meeting with new friends that made our working holiday that much more memorable. — at Diani Beach, Mombasa, Kenya.

Mopani Rest Camp Baobab, Kruger National Park, Limpopo
After reading an article on the Mopani Rest Camp in Kruger, we were quick to record that the camp was host to a towering majestic baobab. Determined to make our formal acquaintance, and spend some quiet quality time in the cool shade of this splendid tree. We were reminded by a signpost not to throw stones into the hole as the resident owls were nesting. How special it would have been if they had made an appearance when we captured this moment, oh how memorable this would have been. — at Mopani Rest Camp.

Glencoe Baobab. (second tree), Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province.
Every cloud has a silver lining, but this was an exceptional golden moment.
Pafuri, Kruger National Park, Limpopo Province
Pafuri, land of the baobab, in fact, we witnessed forests from the elevated vantage of the thulamela ruins. Pafuri ranks as our preferred location in the Kruger National Park, we couldn't resist the opportunity to participate in a guided bushwalk. When asked what we wanted to observe on the walk, we did not hesitate, birds, river course and gigantic trees. Kruger did not disappoint, as we trekked farther and deeper into the wilderness we approached the mouth of the Lanner Gorge. Here at the entrance stood the gatekeeper. An almighty giant, confident it could rival its closest competitor (the Sagole Giant ) a mear 50 km away. We had an engagement with the Sagole Giant, but alas, it was not to be, maybe next time........

Myself Exchanging pleasantries with this gargantuan beast.

Mopani Rest Camp Baobab, Kruger National Park, Limpopo
Like a giant octopus, stretching its tentacles over the bush-veld. Content and cool in the midday heat, we stayed a while to admire the colossal reach of this behemoth. — at Mopani Rest Camp.

Mwachema River Baobabs. Diani Beach, Kenya
While on assignment in Mombasa, our hosts in Diani beach entertained our party like royals. We did not travel for the sightseeing, our invitation and accommodation was bartered on the expectation of fantastic inviting images to encourage tourist to these white sandy beaches in a typical sun-drenched island setting. Requesting a guide to assist in finding the perfect pictures we stumbled upon this unique setting. Remarkable, elegant baobabs sunbathing on this tropical beach with camels and some local inhabitance to complete the scene. It was distractions like this and meeting with new friends that made our working holiday that much more memorable. — at Diani Beach, Mombasa, Kenya.

Leydsdorp Giant Baobab. Gravelot, Limpopo Province
Had the privilege of introducing myself to the giant of Leydsdorp, a former mining town in is hay day. Resigned to a ghost town, its residents deserted the area, all that remains is dilapidated buildings and a derelict old pub within the Bowles of the giant. Access is restricted as the opening has almost closed, but the giant shared the stories of inebriated miners and ghosts, and we listened intently. Content and elated, we departed knowing that the giant would still be around for centuries. — at Giant Baobab Tree Leydsdorp.

Mopani area, Baobab.Kruger National Park, Limpopo — at Mopani Rest Camp.

Thulamela Ruins Baobabs.  Pafuri, Kruger National Park.


Scrambling along the winding trail, we eventually found the Thulamela archaeological site, situated on top of an elevated ridge that overlooks the Parfuri bushveld. Surrounded by ancient baobabs standing guard, watching over the ancestral spirits, the perfect setting. Home to kings and queens for centuries, here amongst the reconstructed walls that housed this settlement, stood some regal and imposing beasts. 


Our guides finding a comfortable location to rest and tell the age-old stories of how the Thulamela people occupied this area for centuries. We could not have enjoyed the moment more knowing that we were enclosed, protected and under the cool canopy of an unconventional king at this historical site. — at Thulamela Ruins, Pafuri.



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