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21 October, 2010

Photographs for Wildlife Enthusiasts

In a previous post I mentioned the stunning photographs taken by Morkel Erasmus, a photographer in South Africa. His blog SAFFAscapes is gaining traction and rising in popularity in both the photography and wildlife spheres.

He recently got his own website where he showcases his photo’s. Although the web site loads a bit slow, it is certainly worth the wait. With wildlife-, landscape-, birds and small creatures photo’s, Morkel inspires the nature lover to get out there and see this for him/herself. The best part of the web site is that you can order most of the photo’s as stock images to use.

From his photo’s it is clear that Morkel is completely in love with the subjects he photographs and he is not shy to show it through his pictures. On his blog, he often tells his readers what settings he used and how the photo was taken, which is great for any amateur who wants to try and copy the photo (it might be quite impossible to get it as good as he does, but we can only try). So, take a look at the site and tell him what you think.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering – I don’t the man from a bar of soap – I just LOVE his photos.)

21 July, 2010

Pilanesberg Nature Reserve - 5 Things to Seek

The Pilanesberg Nature Reserve resides in a volcanic crater with a diameter of 27 kilometers and is surrounded by six mountains. It  is the 3rd  biggest reserve in South Africa and was established in 1979. Today, tourists flock to the reserve as it is known to be the one reserve where Africa's Big 5 animals can be found with the least amount of trouble.

But what should the visitor look out for, except the animals and beautiful scenery? Here is five things every visitor should do or see when visiting the Pilanesberg Park:

1.    Visit the Manyane Complex at Pilanesberg

The Manyane complex is the head quarters of the North West Parks & Tourism Board. There you will find a walk-in aviary with over 80 species of birds. Besides being informative, children love seeing the birds up close and observing their behavior. Allocate enough time to browse through the aviary as you will probably see birds you never get the opportunity to observe in the wild.

An à la carte restaurant, shop and bar provides delicious meals and a great selection of memorabilia to purchase. Children are entertained at the swimming pool, jungle gym and mini-golf while parents can take a relaxing stroll along the self-guided hiking trails in the Manyane area.

2.    Malatse Fenced Hide

Here the man-made dam and weir prevent erosion from damaging the ecology and shows off the management of the park's commitment towards conserving the environment and enticing wildlife back to this dry area in the park. Tourists spending some time at the hide might be rewarded with sable, eland and sometimes even rhino.

3.    Ratlhogo Fenced Hide

The Ratlhogo hide is situated in a wetter part of the Pilanesberg Park as indicated by the Karee trees surrounding the area. Game is abundant around the hide and tourists can expect to see kudu, bush buck, water buck and several bird species while spending some time in the hide.

4.    Mankwe Lake View Platform

This platform is about in the center of the Pilanesberg Park and offers tourists the opportunity to view an array of water birds. Crocodiles and Hippo reside inside the lake and tourists rising with the birds will have a spectacular view of the sunrise from the platform. The platform is fenced and visitors should attempt to spend some time viewing the domed hills surrounding the park from here.

5.    Fish Eagle Picnic Site

The picnic site is fenced and was once an Iron Age Kraal site which was easily defendable and close to water. The picnic site is surrounded by Acacia trees, Bushwillows, Tamboti and Marula trees. With views of the interface of three habitats (rocky outcrop, hillside and water) this is an excellent spot to enjoy a light brunch or picnic while driving through the reserve.

  When all is said and done, Pilanesberg Nature Reserve may have congested roads during weekends and peak season and may have some of the worst behaved elephants, but it remains a popular place for tourists to observe the true African bush.

11 June, 2010

Soccer World Cup Opening Ceremony

I have to admit, I was one of the sceptics hoping the 2010 World Cup Soccer opening ceremony goes well, but doubting that it would. I am so glad that my hopes were confirmed and my doubts squashed.

The ceremony was well planned, presented and executed. The true African flavor depicted the spirit of Africa well. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed that the organizers chose to end the program with Shakira and not someone like Yvonne Chaka -Chaka who is the true spirit of Africa, but that is a personal choice.

From the amount of spectators present it was clear that everyone enjoyed the opening as much as us who did not have the priviledge of attending. What a spectacular event - well done Africa!

10 March, 2010

Camping Tips for Tsendze Camp in the Kruger National Park

Tsendze is the newest addition to the rest camps in the Kruger National Park. This camp is, however, not suited for the first time camper not used to camping in the wild.

The facilities at Tsendze Camp close to Mopani Rest Camp, is basic, although extremely well-maintained. These is no electricity, no shop, no fuel and no facilities except two unique ablution buildings and two camp kitchens. Gas geysers provide hot water to the showers (no baths) and solar panels drives the lights.

Camping at Tsendze is scary for the uninitiated. The campsites are private, with the surrounding bush kept intact as much as possible. This means that the local wildlife in the form of scorpions, spiders and snakes move unhindered through the camp. It is common to find scorpions roaming your campsite at night and stepping on one when you are not actively looking out for them, is a real possibility.

Keeping a few simple rules in mind, would help make your stay at this wonderful camp, worthwhile.

  1. Avoid unnecessary walking around at night. Prepare the evening meal as soon as possible and relax under the bright stars while keeping your feet off the ground. Spiders and scorpions frequent the campsites at night, especially during summer, and can cause a nasty surprise to the unwary.
  2. If you have to walk around at night, wear closed shoes and long pants to keep the insects at bay and avoid being bitten or stung.
  3. Use a proper flashlight when visiting the bathrooms after dark. Nothing is worse than hearing a rustling in the bush next to you and not being able to see what moved in the bush.
  4. Always take precautions against malaria as the Kruger National Park is malaria area.
  5. Try to walk in groups if you move around the camp at night.
  6. Keep the campsite area lighted as much as possible. If you can't see the spiders and scorpions it doesn't mean they are not there. Make sure you can detect any movement on the ground and in the surrounding bush.
  7. Although the camp is fenced, this is no guarantee that leopard can't get into the camp. Be vigilant, especially at night and try to avoid walking alone if possible.
That said, this must be the most rewarding camp in respect of privacy and tranquility in the whole of the Kruger National Park. Visitors experiencing the "beat" of Tsendze once, will almost certainly return for more of the same. From just listening to the African bush around you to experiencing the luxury of an open air shower, Tsendze is truly an unique African experience not to be missed.