Africa Adventure Tours and Overlanding Stories by Nomad

Posts tagged “safari

Win a Free Masai Mara and Gorilla tour with Nomad Tours and Safari Interactive Magazine!

Win a FREE Masai Mara and Gorilla Tour

Answer an easy question and win a Masai Mara & Gorilla trekking adventure with Safari Interactive Magazine and Nomad Africa Adventure Tours

Win a Masai Mara and Gorillas Trekking Tour

Click on the competition page to win a Masai Mara and Gorilla Trekking tour with Nomad Africa Adventure Tours, read the article on page 15

 

We are also running a special at the moment: **FREE GORILLA PERMITS** on the following departures;

 

Tour

Code

NMG

1237 – 23 May 2012          

NMG

1253 – 18 July 2012          

NMG

1265 – 29 August 2012     

NMG

1269 – 12 September 2012 

NMG

  1273 – 26 September 2012 

 

There is no catch, book any of the above listed tours and receive a free gorilla permit (one permit per guest).  This is for all bookings made between today and the end of May 2012.

Advertisements

Nomad Africa’s Masai Mara and Gorillas Tour, Part One by Caroline Kullendorff

One of our guests, Caroline Kullendorff, very kindly let me steal some of her photos from her Facebook page to give you a better idea of what to expect when coming on a camping tour with us to see the Masai Mara and Uganda’s Silverback Mountain Gorilla… This is part one of her tour, from Nairobi to Kampala

Construction work outside our hotel in Nairobi

Construction work outside our hotel in Nairobi

Caroline at the Great Rift Valley

Caroline at the Great Rift Valley

The roads in East Africa are not for the feint hearted!

The roads in East Africa are not for the feint hearted!

Our campsite in the Masai Mara

Our campsite in the Masai Mara

Driving past a Masai Village

Driving past a Masai Village

Game Drive in the Masai Mara

Game Drive in the Masai Mara

Cheetah up close on a safari in the Masai Mara

Cheetah up close on a safari in the Masai Mara

Hanging out with the Masai in Kenya

Hanging out with the Masai in Kenya

Children of the Masai Mara

Children of the Masai Mara

Masai men doing their traditional high jump

Masai men doing their traditional high jump

A warning about hippos at Lake Naivasha

A warning about hippos at Lake Naivasha

Dinner time with the crew!  Awesome new friends!

Dinner time with the crew! Awesome new friends!

A boat trip on Lake Naivasha

A boat trip on Lake Naivasha

On an island nature walk with a baby zebra

On an island nature walk with a baby zebra

On a nature walk with wildebeest in the background

On a nature walk with wildebeest in the background

Time for a snack attack and water resupply at Naivasha

Time for a snack attack and water resupply at Naivasha

Spotted a white rhino at Lake Nakuru

Spotted a white rhino at Lake Nakuru

Our safari van with Lake Nakuru in the background

Our safari van with Lake Nakuru in the background

Sometimes the roads do get a little wet

Sometimes the roads do get a little wet

Finally we meet up with Freddy our truck again

Finally we meet up with Freddy our truck again

When in Africa....

When in Africa….

Yummy dinner time with Sean and a braai

Yummy dinner time with Sean and a braai

I recommend that you don't stay in the Msariri Hotel

I recommend that you don’t stay in the Msariri Hotel

At the border between Kenya and Uganda

At the border between Kenya and Uganda

A view over Lake Victoria in Uganda

A view over Lake Victoria in Uganda

Arriving at Ngamba Chip Sanctuary

Arriving at Ngamba Chip Sanctuary

Feeding time for the chimps

Feeding time for the chimps

Roadside Life in Entebbe

Roadside Life in Entebbe

Our Campsite in Kampala

Our Campsite in Kampala

Stay tuned for Part Two!!


Nomad’s 8 day Lesotho, Addo and Drakensberg tour – Part Three

We pass the town of Alice, seeing the University of Fort Hare where Nelson Mandela and other well-known politicians studied.  We then made our way on to Grahamstown, well known for it’s annual Arts Festival in July, but this time we just stopped for groceries for the next few days.

Nomad truck in Grahamstown

Nomad truck in Grahamstown

Time flies so quickly and my last stop on this tour is the Addo Elephant National Park.  Heading to the park we see Private Reserves along the highway and spot giraffes sitting on the ground (as there was clearly no threat to them).  We wait for a train to cross in front of us before we enter the park.  The keys for our chalets are collected and we make our way with Ella to our accommodation.  We were handed the keys and I had chalet 41, luggage off-loaded and I made my way to my own chalet.  WOW!!  I just smiled.  It was just so beautiful.  The double bed looked out onto a balcony overlooking the other chalets and the parks forests ahead.

My room in the park at Addo Elephant Park

My room in the park at Addo Elephant Park

The view from my balcony at Addo Elephant Park

The view from my balcony at Addo Elephant Park

After I took in the comforts of my room I quickly freshened up as we were to meet at the camping site to have lunch.  En route to lunch, I stopped over at the bird hide looking for interesting birds; walked over to the waterhole when a Kudu made its way down to the hole and I discovered that there was even an underground hide.  It was a lovely stroll to the camping site where Rimson was setting the lunch table.  Sven asked me if I would like to see a snake and I said yes!  Yes!!  I took my camera as we headed behind the truck…and there was the snake …a rubber snake!  There were independent travellers from South Africa and being regulars to Addo, they were aware of the Vervet monkeys that roamed the area in search of the food.  Apparently they stay away when they see the snakes ‘strategically’ placed around the couple’s cool kitchen camp setup.

Having lunch in the camp site at Addo Elephant Park

Having lunch in the camp site at Addo Elephant Park

Preparing the lunch at Addo National Park

Preparing the lunch at Addo National Park

Having fun in the kitchen at Addo Elephant National Park

Having fun in the kitchen at Addo Elephant National Park

Having a short briefing about our time in Addo

Having a short briefing about our time in Addo

Addo National Park is in the malaria-free Eastern Cape province of South Africa which is great for travellers who are pregnant or travelling with children.  There are elephants, lions, black rhinos, buffalos, leopards, zebra, and a variety of antelope and bird species in Addo.  I was very excited for my game drive.  After lunch, we collected our water bottles and jackets (as it started getting chilly).  All eagerly waiting with our camera’s and binoculars, we had to be back in camp as the gates closed at 18h30.

Kudu browsing in the veld in Addo National Park

Kudu browsing in the veld in Addo National Park

A zebra and her foal run alongside the truck in Addo

A zebra and her foal run alongside the truck in Addo

In distance we could see a herd of about 50 elephants crossing the road and heading to a waterhole.  Johannes slowly made his way and parked so that we could all get a view of the herd and admire these graceful creatures.  Elephants are my favourite animals so I was over the moon to see so many of them drinking water and watching the mothers look after the little ones.  The interaction of the herd was fascinating from bulls playing with each other to the little ones watching their mom’s every move and being camera shy.  Catching a glimpse or a snap of them was so difficult as they were almost always hidden behind their Mom.

A happy little Addo elephant family!

A happy little Addo elephant family!

The other end of the elephants

The other end of the elephants

It starting drizzling as we made our way to the other waterholes where we saw more elephants and more…we must have seen at least 150 elephants so far. The park was originally established to protect the remaining African elephants in Addo and it is doing a good job by conserving these majestic mammals.

More cute baby elephants!

More cute baby elephants!

A big thirsty elephant, imagine how much this one drinks in a day!

A big thirsty elephant, imagine how much this one drinks in a day!

We make our way to the gates to find Rimson to see if he has managed to fight off the monkeys near the kitchen camp, everything looks well protected from their cheeky little hands.  Dinner is ready and is smelling great!  We all sat under the canvas awning, drawn from the side of the Nomad truck and talked about the game drive.  It was a beautiful calm night and sadly, my last dinner with the group.  I was truly going to miss the African road.  It is something so special that every South African or lover of the wild should experience.

The last supper, with my new friends and family on the last night of my tour

The last supper, with my new friends and family on the last night of my tour

An early morning as we get ready for our game drive at 6am.  We saw zebra with their young, black backed jackals, kudu, ostriches, a buffalo, Red Hartebeest, warthogs, Leopard Tortoises and a scrub hare.  No luck with lions or leopards today but hey, I got to see my elephants.

Up close and personal with my favourite animal, the African Elephant

Up close and personal with my favourite animal, the African Elephant

We stopped for breakfast at Jack’s picnic site to fill our stomachs.  We were now making our way to the exit of the park driving to the Southern Gate to reach the N2.  Goodbye Addo see you again, soon I hope!

I reached Nomad’s post tour accommodation, the Eltham Lodge in Port Elizabeth at about 12h00.  A well located guest house about 5 minutes away from the airport and walking distance to the beachfront.

Port Elizabeth is known as the friendly city and it is where I had to say goodbye to my family as they headed  to Tsitsikamma National Park to end their tour in Cape Town.  I truly wished I was going to see more of my own beautiful country.

My tour family with truck Ella and guides Johannes, Rimson and Sven

My tour family with truck Ella and guides Johannes, Rimson and Sven

I met great people, had good fun, learnt more than I could have imagined and can’t wait for my next Nomad Adventure Tour…. see you on the road fellow nomads!

Me with my fellow Nomad crew, what an epic team!

Me with my fellow Nomad crew, what an epic team!


Tosca’s Epic Kalaroo Adventure… The End

I am sitting at home, unpacked, washing machine going merrily (with possible clogged pipes tomorrow, full of desert dunes), the dogs have now licked every available piece of skin they could find on my feet and legs, and the blurry photos have been deleted.

At home, dreaming of what it would be like to be one of these gulls in a row

At home, dreaming of what it would be like to be one of these gulls in a row

I know, I know, you’re thinking, what happened to Darling?  Little known fact, I actually lived in Darling for years, and have a house there, where my mom lives.  So I went to Darling, I just did not visit Evita.  I forced my poor mom to sit through 1784 photos, which took me an hour to setup on the laptop as a slide show (and don’t be shaking your head now, we have all put poor unsuspecting souls through this same torture of a pictorial review of our just completed holiday!).  Mom is 81.  Ten photos later, she was yawning, and recalling when my Dad could not buy cool drink at the Lamberts Bay Hotel, because he was not wearing a tie.  This was in 1950.  And by photo 1531 she was actually nodding away.

She snapped right out of that again when I mentioned that my writing has been put on the internet.  “How did you get it there?” she asked.  Well, I have this dongle thing, it is like calling on a cell phone, but instead of using my voice, it sends text.  “Yes, but how did you get it to land on the internet?” I emailed it to the office, and they pasted it on there.  “No, that’s not possible, there’s no cable or aerial.  So, how did you get it on there?” Ok, Mom, focus.  My stuff was on the internet, don’t worry how I got it there.  And people I don’t know read it.  “How did they know to read it?  Did somebody call them?”.  Laugh all you want, you try and explain the internet, and wireless, and Facebook to somebody who worked in DOS years ago for two months!  And now she wants to buy a laptop, so she can find recipes and needle point patterns on there.  She can barely send an sms yet!  I am keeping myself out of that little debacle!

Luckily, my brother is one of the people who actually read this, so there was no need to explain this to him.  But he is actually a Mr Twitcher.  He has 14.5 bird books and promptly downloaded all my photos, and is most probably sitting as we are speaking, identifying all the shots I took of avian life in the Kalahari!  And he faithfully read my story every day: Hey Boet!

A forgotten car in the Kgalagadi, a sign that a beetle probably isn't the best option for the desert!

A forgotten car in the Kgalagadi, a sign that a beetle probably isn't the best option for the desert!

The recap done with the family I now sit and reflect on my absolutely Epic adventure.

I met some amazing, and odd people!  The game spotters in the Kalahari, some from close, some from far, all were there with one purpose, to see wildlife.  In each other or in the bush there are questions not fully answered yet, but still.

The two drunk Frenchmen, who took their lives in their own hands by getting out of their car next to lions, and to offer me drinkies, after I sat in the sun for three hours next to said Lions.

Two Kgalagadi male lions, bored of being stared at, "leeu loop"

Two Kgalagadi male lions, bored of being stared at, "leeu loop"

The people of Kenhard, who stepped into the 21st century, and had their first interracial wedding the evening I was there and let me tell you, it was a big makietie!  I actually also met a true wildlife photographer, Hannes Lochner, from the back seat of a land cruiser, but still, I met the man, I saw his photos, and let me tell you, he actually lives permanently in the Kgalagadi.  One can see that.  Ok, I did not actually meet him per se, more like waved at him.  He would not know me from a bar of soap!

Then the crazy kayak people from Khamkirri, who really fell with their career bums in the butter, seeing as they live right next to the river where they can practice and enjoy their passion!  Kayaking you sickos!

One can say I nearly met Lord Milner’s wife.  Thank goodness I did not! And one can say I nearly met the Polish space people as well, but seeing as they do it all remotely from Poland, also not.

I am very sure I met an Alien, but they wiped my memory after they did the tests and stuff, and concluded that there is intelligent life down here!

The seafood man from Lamberts Bay, the laughing locals in Brandvlei, farmer Jnr and his dog, the perpetually late gate keeper at Kgalagadi, the old man with the road phobias at Hyundai in Upington, and all in all, most of the road workers between Keimoes and Kakamas!

The places were a revelation, and yet strangely familiar!  Perhaps because I have been to most of the places before but every time, is a new time with new sights and smells.  I am still looking for the broken bottle of shampoo in my car, but the smell is apparently the Katbos and Kambroo bushes from the Karoo, and not shampoo!  The Bullet and I traveled from Cape fold mountains, to flat stretches with bicycle warning signs, to deep red sand dunes, and flat salt pans, all with its own appeal and enough space to actually have a thought or two.  We also had very nice acoustics, hence missing the V8 engine sounds for half a day!  And I swear, the higher up in altitude one goes, the higher one can sing as well.  I could reach that one spectacular note with Alphaville!  A couple of times.  And I am technically classified as a tenor, more like James Earl Jones after the ciggies and the vodka drinking from my youth.  Like Rebroff in his hey day!  But I hit that high note (also nearly popped a vein in the process)!

Animals.  More Animals.  The strange, the furry, the bald, the evil, the lazy and the funny!  My personal heroes, officially, the fantastically brave suricates!  They surpassed the wild dog, cheetah, and hyena in my affection now.  No other animal poses as well for photos, pulls the weirdest faces, and just generally are soo busy, they don’t have time to just sit back and hide in bushes. Oh, and the Mice.  Man, the smallest little things, but Braveheart is nothing compared to them.  They should really paint their faces blue as well.

A jackal is surprised at a water hole as the flock becomes unsettled

A jackal is surprised at a water hole as the flock becomes unsettled

And the animals were not contained to the Kgalagadi.  No, baboons at du Toits Kloof, rock hyraxes next to Tankwa Karoo, raptors on telephone lines all over, seagulls, and attacking Kelp Gulls on the coast, and I even saw a klipspringer close to Citrusdal.  And not to mention the one gazillion locusts who bravely died, in full battalions, on a 100km stretch in the karoo.

I do hope the two frogs from Sutherland got the feeling back in their legs, after sleeping under me for a night.

Not to forget the livestock.  Chicken, geese, donkeys, peacocks, sheep (different types as well) goats, dogs, cats, cattle, emus and some horses.

And then there was Damien.  My friend, the narcissist, mirror crashing bat straight out of a Meatloaf song!

I think of doing a list of what I did see, I should perhaps note what I did not see!

My final thoughts after all this excitement:  One should never go on holiday with big expectations.  No place, person or event would ever be able to live up to that which one built up in the head.  Expect to see a nice tree, that way, the crocodile hanging from the elephants tail, while singing karaoke, will be more visible under the tree!

One should always pack medicine, that way you won’t get sick while on holiday.  It is when Murphy comes calling because you have no stomach remedies, or flu medicine that things become a little on the uncomfortable side.

Prepare for the coldest ever, and think summer holiday.  It takes double the space in the car, but, you won’t be caught wrapped up in your beach sarong, beach towel, oil rag and three pairs of jeans, with dishtowels around the feet, and having to shove your hands into live coals to get some heat going!

Don’t look for the big things.  Keep the eyes open, the imagination running, and make up stuff in your head!

Doves, the calm before the storm

Doves, the calm before the storm

And watch out for Aliens, ghosts, and all things that can make an appearance in a Spielberg film.

(And note to self, I watch way too many movies!)

Things I have learnt:

I need to take more leave.

Unusually, after a stint like this, I do not regret not going to work for San Parks.  If I did, I would still be there, and not be able to tell anybody any off this, as it would be every day.  This way, I could tell everybody about my Epic Adventure, ad nauseum (the Latin rears its ugly head again).

Bullet is not a 4×4.

My tops become shorter, the more I eat!  I am practically wearing a boob tube today!

And I have the coolest job of all times!  I can go do stuff like this, write about it, have people go oe and aah, and still have a job when I come back!

I am back at work, broke and heart sore.  But in my dreams I am running with the cheetah, lying on sand dunes, and driving a rally car on a deserted stretch of a two lane dirt track through the Karoo.  With not a care in the world.  In my dreams I am strapped to the roof of a Landrower, and some khaki clad Marlboro man is calling me Ms Slovakia!

In my dreams…..

( Hene, all dramatic ne!)

 

Giant Eagle Owl, the wisest bird in the world says you should go and visit him on the Karoo, Kalahari and West Coast Tour.

Giant Eagle Owl, the wisest bird in the world says you should go and visit him on the Karoo, Kalahari and West Coast Tour.

Please contact me on jess@nomadtours.co.za for any information on the 9 Day, Cape Town to Cape Town, Karoo, Kalahari and West Coast Tour, we would love to have you on board with us!


Tosca’s Epic Kalaroo Adventure … Wet, wild and very muddy!

I don’t know what day it is.  I have lost count.

Oh yes, the day I leave the Kgalagadi.  Oe, sad.  I have my last coffee, leave the gate, and as I do my last drive, I just want to rock myself to sleep I am sooo sad, did I tell you I nearly got eaten by a leopard?  I decided on a last game drive, early morning.  The gate lady, who on a previous occasion, was 2 minutes late in opening the gate, asked me if I can open the gate to the park, when I go through, as she was running a little late this morning.  Again.  This is about 1km from the camp itself.  Yes, of course.  I am like a local by now, I can open the gate!  I get there, still semi dark, and I make like, !Ku!?,  The Busman tracker, and spot some Serval tracks at the gate.  Oh fantastic, you Field warden you, spotting something like that!  As I drive that first bit after the gate I nogal keep an eye out for the said Serval (that’s the cat with the pointy ears.  Like Dr. Spock, just not as handsome.  No, the new Dr. Spock!  Not William Chatners buddy!  Demmit, I am not that old!  First Dr. Spock is living in a nursing home in Florida!  Or the cat could have been an African Wild cat, or Civet.  Wait, the Civit is possibly the Dr Spock look alike).

Anyhow, back to my bush signs interpretation!  After my 5 Lion spot, I drive back to camp, and very sad, crying quietly in the corner of Bullet, I meet up with two South Africans.  Now important to note that it was South Africans, as two days prior, a German(?) lady pointed out the 5 cheetahs as:  there are some animals lying under a tree.  And true as Bob, that evening, somebody (?) put up the leopard spot on the sighting board for the exact same spot as the cheetahs were in.  So, not trusting anybody but a South African anymore with vital info like this.  Back to the story, two South African guys tell me, they saw two Leopard that morning, at the main gate!  Yes, that gate.  Leopard, not Serval, not Civet, not even Dr. Spock!  Leopards!  I could have died, I could have been Leopard fodder!

Ok, sob fest over.  I leave the park, take some nice shots of dunes and stuff, and then tackle the 250km to Upington.  Lawn capital.  And place of dodgy lamb chops, that gives one food poisoning.

A lone windmill and a sad goodbye to the Kgalagadi National Park, I will miss you Kalahari!

A lone windmill and a sad goodbye to the Kgalagadi National Park, I will miss you Kalahari!

First things first, Bullet gets down on bended knee, no, wheel, and kisses the tar!  I heard smacking noises.  In fact, I think there was some tongue involved!

20km later, I am so sleepy, I can barely keep my eyes open!  And the road there is flat.  Not only flat (I mentioned flat yes?) but not a single thing along the way to distract.  No highway robbers, no GQ men’s show, no farm stalls with funny farm implements.  Nothing.  I played tunes, I yawned, I sang with the tunes, I yawned some more, honestly, I don’t know how I made it.  But, there it is, Upington!  First order of business, get Bullet to a Hyundai doctor!  Thinking of the prime plan, I don’t watch as carefully as I normally do with side roads joining the main road I am on and some bloody nincompoop eases over a stop street, right in front of me, and then does not try and stop.  No, he meanders on by, not even putting up a semblance of stopping.  I slam on brakes, still have a cramp in my calf from the pressure force, and nearly pee in my pants!  Of course, language in the Bullet at that moment, should never ever be repeated in public. Not even in the bathroom when one is alone.  You Bloody  @&#^%@%$#!)(R$*&%#  gulp @^$^**&$##  gulp more  &$^@^%##!!!!!! And don’t you even try to make as if your brakes failed, you @*&$&^$@))*^.

20 minutes later, arriving at the Hyundai dealership, my knees are still knocking together like Flip from Maya fame! (and seriously, somebody should contact Hyundai and say they should start sponsoring this blog.  They are in Korea I think, you can call now, really)

Then comes the second shock of the day.  The (very old) sales person at Hyundai (call Korea now, demit) says: “Lady, these cars are not built for roads like the Kalahari ne”.  No, really?  You shit me not?  Why did nobody tell me this??  I thought it was an innate 4×4 (and the x button on this laptop does not work.  Luckily I don’t have to write xenophobia too much.  Or x ray.  Or with Neanderthal man, XXX…..).

The old Hyundai dodger at least confirmed, Blue Bullet’s digestive tract ie. silencer/exhaust pipe (and now I have to use the x) has a hole in it.  Which will make consumption a little less than the stellar 20km per litre it has been up to the park.

On to the next ( Whats with all the x’s?) order of business, I make the mistake of asking Mr Senior Senior citizen if he knows how to get to Khamkirri Camp?  The poor old man slams down on both his arthritic knees, and nearly starts sobbing!  What?  Heart attack?  Should I call somebody?  No, he says, the road turns off from Kakamas town.  It is the worst road ever!  Dirt road, oh my god, it is bad, he moans, he cries, he nearly pulls his hair out, and Bullet gives a quiet sigh in the background, then pulls herself together, and points her eyes in the direction of the bad, evil road.

Now, with thoughts of “bad road” reverberating in my head, I take direction Keimoes.  Then turn there for Kakamas.  And what a little oasis Keimoes turns out to be!  Reminds me a lot of Malawi, with the Orange river running through town at several tribunals (English, not first language remember).  Every couple of minutes there’s a bridge, across another tri bunal.  Tribularies.  Trifactas.  Grrrrrr, Man, side bits of the big river.  And the bridges are all single lane, which means, you have to spot the car on the other side, about a kilometer away, and decide if he stopped first or if you did, as a miss spot can lead to a serious case of playing chicken on a bridge over the Orange River! Ah, Tributaries!

And everywhere, people meandering.  With umbrellas and hats!  Beautiful.  And graveyards in red sand dunes, and not 20metres later, green lush vineyards.  Contrast rearing its head again.

Ok, I make Kakamas, and seriously, these are some of the normal sounding town names I have come across in the last couple of days.

Oh, and I saw love bloom!  Between Keimoes and Kakamas, on that 40km stretch of road, it is road works everywhere.  Now road works basically means there will be a  long stretch of road where only one lane is open.  No visible work is being done in this 1 km stretch, but there are a lot of construction vehicles driving around, with drivers shouting conversations out the window at any pretty girl walking past.  And then on both sides of the long stretch would be a stop and go.  At each stop and go, is the lady with the red flag, and walkie talkie.  Once all the cars from one end pass the finish line, she then hops on the walkie talkie, and asks the other side if all the cars are through.  Although all of us, sitting on this side can clearly see the other end, and can see not a single car coming from that side.  Then she changes the stop sign to a go sign.  So, one of these stop and go ladies, obviously on a tea break, walks off and one of the construction workers, on full day break, starts chatting with her.  As I drive off, I see in my rearview mirror, he puts his arm around her waist.  She shrugs it off.  Tony Bennet starts crooning softly from the back seat of Bullet.  The worker puts his arm around her again, and this time, she leaves it there!  And they walk off into the sunset!  See, government, creating jobs, and environments for love.

Wait, still on my way to Augrabies.  At this point I am tired, and grumpy, and heartsore, and thinking off just skipping the whole thing.  I have been to Augrabies plenty of times.  It is a lot of rocks, and big water.  Very big water.  Something like 3000 cubic something per spit of drop per second or some such (see, and some people think I was appointed for my people skills).  I thus take the Augrabies turn off as I was under the impression that Khamkiri turnoff should be on this road as well.  And just to mention here, and not pointing any fingers, but somebody who wrote the operations manual for this tour, wrote directions to Khamkiri:  On leaving Augrabies NP, there is a road that turns right, then follow the signs.  Now, this confuses me slightly, as if you are coming from direction Augrabies, the river is to the left.  But maybe the person did not check which arm his watch was on when he was writing it.  So I check on the other side and see Khamkirri sign turn off.  Yayaya!!

This is where the mud section comes in, Bullet went bananas!  I end up somewhere in a strange vineyard, on very bumpy dirt tracks (aa, the old mans nightmare, I think) and plot on.  And then all signs disappear.  And the road starts getting more overgrown, and bumpier.  So I call Khamkirri.  Oh, no, I am on the wrong side of the river!  What do you mean, wrong side?  How can there be a wrong side?  Well, Philippa explains, I should have taken the turn off before Kakamas.  But never mind, I can always park my car on this side, and they will ferry me across the river.  Long discussion on that side, about what car I have (a big monster car, is my answer) and how much does it weigh (Hmmm., ferry me and Bullet is what crosses my mind)?  Before I can think this through, I agree, and off we go, following the directions.  Mud, and hang bridges, and large boulders!  And the next thing, Bullets parks with wheel basically in the very fast flowing river! IN DEEEEEEEP mud!  The motor boat comes in from across the river, and I get out, knee deep in mud, and there docks this little small boat.  And no ferrying of Bullet.  Only all my stuff and me, and Bullet stays on this side!  Nooo, I don’t think so.  NOBODY puts Bullet in a corner!  How far exactly is the correct turn off?  50km, approximately. So, off we go, with a spin start.  Mud is flying everywhere, and Bullet is going nowhere, but, seasoned rally driver that I am, I go into reverse, get bullet out, and mud slide skid out of there, over hang bridges, through little rivers, up mountains, but out of there.  Bullet is now blue, with a faint undertone of mud!

The road the old wise man talked about?  I spit on bad roads!  Ga!  Nothing!  Some bumps, some dongas, some 4 wheel drive required. Ga, I spit I say!  23 km of this.  Ga!  I am Sarel Van Der Merwe!

And what a spectacular site, beautiful.  Nice camp ground, very small swimming pool, really, very small.  More like a bath.  Spectacular lapa, overlooking the river, with lounge chairs, and a great bar area and 95 local farmers attending a dance do.  But fantastic place. Warm, friendly staff, who came to meet me at my car, and got me a cold drink immediately, introduced me to literally all the staff, helped me with my tent, and generally made me feel so much better.  They even gave some very sympathetic nods in Bullets direction, after I told them the hell we have both been through.

View over the Orange River from the bar at Khamkirri, welcome to paradise!

View over the Orange River from the bar at Khamkirri, welcome to paradise!

My camp on the banks of the Orange River, heaven!

My camp on the banks of the Orange River, heaven!

Then came the shock, they are taking me canoeing this afternoon!  No, really, not necessary I say.  I can see you’re busy.  I have this thing with water, and a headache, and darn, I forgot my rafting clothes at home, and …. off we went in some kind of 4 wheel drive, bakkie thing, with kayaks, and one inflatable canoe thingy for me, and my own guide.

Loading up the croc and kayaks, ready to hit the river!

Loading up the croc and kayaks, ready to hit the river!

Ok, I am thinking it can’t be too bad right?  Rapids!  Big ones!  Zambezi is nothing compared to this wall of water waiting for me.  They dragged me by the hair, and dumped me in the canoe, and said, don’t worry, we can all swim!  Hmmm, did you check if I can?

Rocking it on the Orange River, now this is a jol!!

Rocking it on the Orange River, now this is a jol!!

The First 20 minutes go nice and peaceful, and then off goes Danie and Phillipa, in their kayaks, which I suddenly realize, is what they call “Safety Kayaks”! No, why would we need this?  And why do I not have a paddle thingy?  And why am I wearing a helmet with a lifejacket resembling a bomb disposal unit’s flack jacket?  Oh, because of rapids!  Halfway through the first one, I expected to see Keanu standing on the beach, with a long board under the arm!  I am very embarrassed to say, but I screech like a Banshee, and with the PITH helmet on, with Maya the bee sunglasses, and the 30kg flack jacket, I make an absolute stunning picture.  Do please see the photos.  One of my prouder moments, even beats the time I fell down in the main road in Pretoria, or when I lost my skirt on an escalator in a massive mall, or when my pants fell into the long drop in Zambia.  No, ok, that takes a lot to beat.

My safety kayaker doing a rekkie of the rapid where I will see Keanu!

My safety kayaker doing a rekkie of the rapid where I will see Keanu!

And then the second rapid, which was not even a surprise, as we actually had to get out of the canoe thing and  walk around some obstacles and through the Long Grasses to get to the start of it!  I looked like a chameleon trying to walk on a smartie box as I am attempting the world speed record through reeds barefoot!  And off we go again, and I did see Keanu!  As my life flashed in front of me, he was also wading through the long grass like a chameleon!

Bouncing through a death defying rapid, with Khamkirri on the Orange River

Bouncing through a death defying rapid, with Khamkirri on the Orange River

I had a blast!  And yes, I know, in the photos that Danie so kindly took (again, really, I looked so fantastic, no wonder people wanted to take shots of, or at me) it looks like a very small little bit of fluff water, not really a rapid.  I tell you, it was an evil monster rapid, one just cant see it from the angle the photo was taken.

Fantastic food later, nice long chats about the overnight adventure waiting for our clients, and off to bed I went.  With the sound of Tony in the background…  Love is in the air… or was it Elvis?  Keanu can’t sing can he?  As he can’t act, so just checking.

Has somebody called Korea yet?

Lessons learnt today:

Leaving makes one sad. Like R.E.M.
Do not believe kind people with promises of a gentle meander down river, they have evil intentions.
Always question why you don’t get a paddle.
Keanu and Korea generally don’t respond fast.
The 9 Day Karoo, Kalahari and West Coast Tour is available for booking now, contact us to get your piece of the action!

Orange River sunrise, magical!

Orange River sunrise, magical!


Tosca’s Guide to National Park People Watching

I am going to veer a bit off topic, but I assume some people have never been to a Southern African National Park and need a crash course in people spotting.  Now by National Park, I mean a place with animals, preferably some of the Big 5.

With that in mind, there are two things that you need to know about, one, are Animals – that would be the furry and feathered types; the other, is the people coming to look for, and at the animals.  Also, the furry type.

A furry animal, one of the types of visitors to a National Park

A furry animal, one of the types of visitors to a National Park

Now the second category can also be subdivided into quite a few smaller categories, and even share some common traits with other categories.

Lets start with the most well know.  Mr Big 5,  that is the guy, usually in a Bakkie, with a much cowed wife in tow.  Also, can be recognized by the fact that he usually shows up with a caravan, and a trailer in tow.  He can mostly be spotted, zipping at top speed, between waterholes, and carries a humongous pair of binoculars (not to be confused with the Bird watcher, which we will dicuss later).

Now Mr Big 5 is not a guy that will keep quiet about his findings ( unlike the Ms/Mr Yuppie Big 5).  Any chance he has, he will stop you, and gleefully tell you all about the Lion he saw that morning.  Nearly.  Well, his paw was peeking out!  It was a magnificent paw! And it was at a waterhole so and so.  Tomorrow morning, he will be back there, looking for the Big sighting!

Now Mr Big 5 is good for some limited information on where to find some of the animals you are looking for.  When the day is done, Mr Big 5 can be found, in his chair, outside his caravan, while his wife organises supper.

Ms/Mr Yuppie Big 5, well, difference here, she/he shows up in a brand new Pajero.  With Aircon.  Also differs slightly from Mr Big 5, in that he/she stays in chalets, and uses the very expensive high tech camera in a dual function of binoculars as well.  Ms Yuppie Big 5 will Never share info with the other weary travellers, as this would most probably necessitate for them to open the Pajero window, and that in turn will get dust onto the GPS system, which in turn will delete all the info, triangulated, of the previous visits Big 5 sightings.  Ms Yuppie Big 5 will only share this vital information with the other Yuppie friends, at home.  And have a right giggle at those other fools, looking for birds!  And telling other people where to find stuff!  This all over a glass of carefully selected Sancere.

Briefly mentioned above is the Bird Watcher.  Fantastic type, who mostly accidentally see the big 5, as he is so busy scanning trees, and driving so slowly as not to disturb the lesser breasted, immature, never spotted here before bird, that he just kind of stumbles over the Big stuff.  Mr Twitcher actually does not secretly yearn to see the Big 5 ( unlike Mr Tourist), and sees animals as a bit of an inconvenience, especially if said member of Big 5 is lying close to the much sought after Lesser breasted, immature, never before spotted Tit.  Mr Twitcher is easy to identify.  He also carries a pair of binoculars, but these have distance and height and all kinds of vital statistics showing on the inside lens.  He is also the one driving really slowly.  And when parked, please watch angle of head.  If pointed upwards into a tree, chances are he is Mr Twitcher.  Mr Twitcher’s wife, Mrs Twitcher, shares his passion, but secretly yearns to see the big five, as she gets very tired of handing over one of the 12 different bird books that Mr Twitcher carries with him.  Always.  Even to the shop, as one never knows when, a lesser breasted, does not exist wading Mossie, will dart around the next isle. Mrs Twitcher, however, can’t cook to save her life, and is thus dependant on Mr Twitcher’s good will, in the evening, when they park off next to their small tent, made of recycled Gwano platform pillars.

Beautiful Swallow Tailed Bee Eater for Mr Birder

Beautiful Swallow Tailed Bee Eater for Mr Twitcher

Mr Tourist can be divided into two sub-categories.  One would be the large luxury coach type tourist, usually from some Asian country (where cameras can basically cure cancer, while operating on your pet parakeet, and cost barely absolutely nothing in their currency, and can link to your iMattress, that in turn can call up your stock broker, who can programme the iFax to bounce off iSatellite, to make sure you choose the right pair of underpants).  So, Mr Luxury Bus Tourist is pretty much like Mr Big 5, only not in a bakkie, or with a caravan, and won’t tell you where the Big 5 is, as he basically doesn’t know if he saw a cheetah or a goose.  Also, he can only say:  “Where is the bathroom?” and “my pants are on fire”, in English.  Mr Luxury Bus Tourist comes stock standard with a guide, who wears his Field Guide badge proudly, and reports anybody else, who looks like they can actually communicate with their own clients, as non registered.  Mr Luxury Bus Tourist Guide also knows to shut up, find the Big 5, or as close as possible without Mr Luxury Bus Tourist knowing it is actually a domestic cat, and not a cheetah he so kindly pointed out.

The second sub category of Mr Tourist, is actually Mr Undercover Tourist.  Now Mr Undercover Tourist has heard about the other types of tourists who visits National Parks, and would never want to be known as one of those.  So, Mr Undercover Tourist can be recognized by the rental 4×4 he is driving, and his obsessive road rule use.  Mr Undercover Tourist also invested big money on a mammal guide book, a bird book, a map of the said park, a book written by rangers about their stories in the bush, as well as a book on the Traffic Act, the full 12 editions.

Mr Undercover tourist will carefully read the park rules and instructions at reception when clocking in, and will never ever ever be late for a gate closing time.  He is unfailingly polite, and will stay on the left side of the road, even if on the right side there is a lion, chasing a hyena, using a springbok leg as a club, and every Mr Big Five in the district is blocking his view.  It says so in the 12 part Traffic Act book.  Drive on the left side of the road, and when he sees a crocodile, hanging from an elephants tail, smoking some marijuana, he will not slam on brakes and pull out cameras.  No, he will first indicate that he will pull off.  To the left.  And once the car has come to a complete halt, he will then put on the hazards.

Mr Undercover Tourist would secretly also like to see the big 5, but that brings him too close to Mr Luxury Bus Tourist.  So he keeps that to himself.  Mr Undercover Tourist also bought the full Bush Pride Safari Wear range, including the zip off pants.  He carries a regular sized camera, with interchangeable lenses, in case he has to take some shots of the chalet as well.  Now the first two days of his 7 day stay in the park, with the days carefully divided between the main camps, will be spent getting the lay of the land. So if you should stop next to him, and ask him to roll down his window so that you can have a chat about sightings, he will first be hesitant, and only roll down two centimeters (he also researched the crime stats in SA, and was told to never ever ever open your car window to strangers).  So, when you then tell him, two kilometers on, he will see two lions under a tree, he will first look shocked, and then start doing the calculations in his mind to convert miles to kilometers.  But, two days later, if you should meet up with him again, he will flash lights at you, and greet you like an old friend, and swap sighting stories with you.  He catches on fast and is a great source of info, as he is actually very diligent in checking out every bush and tree, and generally enjoys the small stuff too.  He is easily identified in the evening, as he will be spending it inside his chalet (he really wanted to camp, but he could not get the tent he used for last years everest attempt through customs, and also could not find a place on the internet who rents out tents) eating a plate of cooked food.  He does not know how to braai.  He would love to, but is scared this will give away the game, and then everybody will know he is a tourist.  Please invite him over if you should be braaing yourself!

One of my personal favorites, is Mr Wannabe Photographer.  Not professional, them you never see, they hang out on the no access roads, because they grew up in the park, and their father is the head ranger etc.  No, Mr Wannabe Photographer is the one whom you must not park close to at any sighting as when he starts to unroll the camera lens, chances are you are going to lose your car windshield.  The lenses Mr Wannabe Photographer carries are bigger in circumference than Mike Tyson’s thigh.  It is so big, that Mr Wannabe Photographer must carry it with a special pillow and pulley system, just to lower it onto the window frame.  Mr Wannabe Photographer also hogs all the space at any sighting, and stays there until whatever animal you wanted to see, has disappeared beyond the 10 km mark, which is how far his lens can see. Mr Wannabe Photographer does not have time for chats about where to find what animal as he is too busy cleaning his lens and hoisting it back into the car, which is also a Pajero.  Because if one can afford a NASA lens, as a hobby, chances are a Pajero costs nothing to him either.  Mr Wannabe Photographer is not the happiest type, as he secretly yearns to find the Big 5 and then talks incessantly about it.  But he can’t, as he is busy with his lenses.  No time.

Just on a side note, if you should ever run into Mr Professional Photographer:  He drives a beat up old 1980 Uno, as he spends all his money on cameras and Park Fees.  He is also dating the current Miss Slovakia, who he straps onto the roof rack of his Uno (or Landrover), as his custom built camera box, that is also bullet proof, water proof, sand proof and has in fact survived Sarajevo, takes prime seat in the front.  In the back of the car he keeps his emergency supplies, in case he has to sit next to a sand dune for 10 days, where 9 days ago somebody saw a Lion.  Miss Slovakia he keeps on hand for, well, things that only Miss Slovakia can do.  Also because it looks cool!

Another of my favourites, just because of sheer dogged determination, is Family Joe Soap.  Now Family Joe Soap can easily be confused with Mr Big 5, as they also pull in with a caravan.  But that is about where it stops.  They have 3 kids, of which one is a baby.  The reason why they show up in a National Park is to instill the love of nature that their parents taught them at that age, and their parents before them etc.  So, very optimistic bunch this, as they rock up at the camp site, where Mom runs off with baby to find some space somewhere to change diapers, and Dad starts leveling the Caravan.  Boet and Sus will go suss out the shop, and the swimming pool.  On gate opening time, the whole family will sit ready at the gate, with baby on mom’s lap, and Boet and Sus with their noses smashed up against the back windows, ready for action.  And all goes well for at least 30 minutes.  But after 3 hours in a non airconditioned sedan, Boet then has his finger up Sus’ nose, baby is screaming, and Sus is trying to hide under the driver’s seat from the spider she saw three hours ago at the gate.  Dad actually really wishes with all his heart for the big 5, preferably within 30 minutes of leaving camp, so that he can then turn around, go start the fire for his afternoon braai, while the kids play in the swimming pool for the rest of the day.  Mom wishes for the same, but instead of the braai part, she wishes fervently for somebody else to be changing diapers, while doing said task on the dashboard on a side dusty road.  After about 3 days if this, both Mom and Dad promise each other to rather go to Bela Bela next year. But, next year they will be back, as this is what their parents did, and their parents, and they can only remember how much fun it was to sit in the back with their noses pressed to the windows, waiting for the first sight of lion.  Bless their hearts, at least they are trying to get their children into nature!  As much hell as it seems.  And please don’t disturb them with questions about sightings?  They most probably only saw dirty diapers, and Boets bleeding foot which he stuck out the window and which then got torn open by a branch, and really can’t tell you anything, as much as they want to.

And so the list goes on.  The Amateur Field Guide, who will tell you where he saw animals, but who would also want to share his limited knowledge of wildife, gleamed from a National Geographic channel in the process, to be avoided unless you have no other choice.

The Forever Couple who have been coming to the same park for the last 20 years, every year, and keeps to themselves, unless you ask them where to find what.  Fantastic source of info, as they won’t talk your ear off, but will be very precise in the info (third bush to the left, tree that looks like a dog upside down, 1 metre behind, is a Cape Fox.  In the tree above him, is also a Rock Kestrel, in case you like birds).

So, the bottom line of all of this, you will meet some strange and wonderful people in National Parks, and lets face it, everybody really wants to tell somebody of the luck they had today when they saw blah blah.  So go make friends, start a chat in the bathroom, speak to the gate guard, roll down the window, flash the lights if you saw something, as when you leave the park you will not know anybody’s name, but you still would have made a friend for life!

As I near the end of my visit to the Kgalagadi National Park, I look back and realize I saw, interacted with and met most of the above, and a little of each of the above is in me too!

To the Indian gentleman from Botswana, who described a waterhole scene in one sentence (hyenas with pups played and splashed and caused big drama and all);  To the Dutch couple, with wife in the back seat, and husband in the front, and the most exited smiles ever;  To the North West farmer who missed the lion by 2 hours;  To the quantum full of Spanish folk who really tried to look for any predators, as I asked them to, while I was busy running a couple of metres into the bush to pick up a glass bottle there;  And even to the two drunk Frenchmen, who made my life hell at a lion sighting with their “You want drinky?”.  Here’s to seeing you all, in some form or other, at the next park!

Farewell long dusty roads of the Kgalagadi National Park!

Farewell long dusty roads of the Kgalagadi National Park!

When you're the Operations Manager of a Tour Company, anything is possible... thanks to network Nomad, the plate is back!

When you're the Operations Manager of a Tour Company, anything is possible... thanks to network Nomad, the plate is back!

Keen to find out what adventure awaits Tosca next?  Here’s a clue… she will be playing on the longest one in South Africa!

Click here to find out more!


Tosca’s Epic Kalaroo Adventure… Bravely going where only one mad bat would not fear to fly!

Day 5 did not start well, and also did not end too well either…

On top of the flu, I also contracted a serious case of food poisoning!  Serious!  One lamb chop later, and my stomach colluded with Damien and sent me straight to hell.  Eish!  Not to get too much into the gory details, I woke up, realized my stomach woke up way before me, and so it started.

But, trooper that I am, I got some water, camera, and lots of ciggies (cause who does NOT smoke when seriously ill?) and went off on the first game drive.  Luckily I met a farmer and his wife, from North West Province the previous day at the third Cheetah visit of the day, and ran into them again on my way out.  So we drove in convoy.  But I was basically bent double over my steering wheel, clutching for dear life, and hoping that Farmer North West was more awake and aware than I was.  And as luck would have it, 20 minutes in, at the first watering hole, a Brown Hyena!  Those that don’t know what they look like, it is a cross between a Desert Yeti, and a Lassie dog! Uncomfortably ugly, and incredibly shy.  Basically like I was feeling at that point!  Except for the shy bit.  I took about 300 photos, but did throw up in between.  I know.  Gory.  But reality bites!

Brown Hyena, what a beautifully ugly shy kind of guy

Brown Hyena, what a beautifully ugly shy kind of guy

After the Hyena sighting I bravely decided to continue on a bit, and about an hour later realized this was one of those not clearly thought through decisions!  Turn around, and get to a Bathroom, PRONTO!  (When I get ill, I do speak in foreign tongues.  Pronto.).  The road I was on, from Twee Rivieren Rest camp to Mata Mata rest camp was in a seriously bad shape.  Luckily, Blue Bullet is an Automatic transmission, so I could cross my legs.  Every car driving past making the mistake of wanting to ask me what I saw in back direction got a meek wave of the hand and a very pinched face, and an incredibly sour stare!  As I am driving, with cold sweat running down my spine and trying very hard not to sneeze (with flu and dust, not a likely prospect), all I can think is, can this road please magically get better!  You will not believe.  The next thing I know, I am speeding past a road grader!  Fixing the road.  So, speed limit be damned, I put one foot in the corner and made haste for camp!  And just in time.

The road that seems longer when you need to get to the bathroom!

The road that seems longer when you need to get to the bathroom!

Lesson one for our intrepid travelers.  Please pack medicine for all occasions?  As Twee Rivieren had Lewens Essens, and Red Lavender.  One for wind, and the other for overeating!  I did not overeat (well, ok, I did), I have food poisoning!  I need some serious medicine. “Well,” Says the lady at the counter, “Ashkam has a clinic.”.  Yes, this is if I want to drive 70km, crunched around my steering wheel!

So, next best thing to a doctor, phone Mom.  At this point I am feeling pretty sorry for myself, and as Mom answers, I can barely contain the gulp, swallowing my tears.  Ma, help!  Eina.  What my mom came up with was:  “Eat Maizena.  It will set in your stomach.  Only drawback, you will be plugged up for at least two weeks afterwards.”  Ok, Ma, no Maizena here.  Right, eat mash.  This, for some strange reason, I actually packed, although I never eat mash.  But, says Mom, if that does not work, eat jelly, luke warm, so it can set in my stomach.  Ok, now what about the cramps part.  “Well,”  Says Mom, “get something warm, and put it on your stomach.”  Ja Ma, I did not pack the warm water bottle.  Thanks.  But, I can always roll one rock in from outside and put that on my stomach, seeing as it is about 45 degrees outside, and any rock would be oven temperature by now.  Yes, says Mom, grand plan.

In the end, I basically slept most of the day.  Ate mash, threw that up, and drank heavy pain pills, and threw that up and slept again.  Luckily, emergency services Nomad came to the rescue, and moved my booking to another two nights Twee Rivieren.  In my pain filled state, I walk to reception to check if I can just stay where I am, or can move.  By this point word has spread, and all were asking how I was feeling, and their sisters cousin also came down with a stomach bug, she lives in Pofadder etc etc. Shame, very caring.

Bottom line, with mash and pain pills, and some caring spitting from Damien, I got over it.

Meanwhile, I made friends with my neighbours, also from the Helderberg area.  They carried in some immune boosters, and pills and all kinds of stuff not relevant to flu, food poisoning or stomach bug, but still helpful.  They went off on a game drive around 4pm, and about 40km out, they saw some lions.  Then, they drove BACK, to come fetch me, to also see the Lions.  Unfortunately, I was out for the count and did not even hear them!  But that is above and beyond the call!  See, making people and influencing friends.  No, sorry, influencing meetings and friendly people.  Ag, yes, Carnegie knows what I mean!

That excitement over, I have been blissfully writing about places, and most probably none of you know where the hell I am!  Please don’t feel alone, I very rarely know either.  But, to put me on the map, I am currently staying at Twee Rivieren Rest camp.  This is the main rest camp for the Kgalagadi transfrontier park.  And that is also a whole new story.

Years ago, the South African Parks Board, and the South African Government decided it would be a fantastic plan to merge (love that word, Meeeerge) a National Parks that connects to a National Park on the other side of the border.  Country border.  So, they started with the Kruger National park.  Which became the Limpopo Transfrontier Park.  That merged (love that word) Kruger and the counterpart on the Mozambique side.  Funny little aside bit, after they lifted the fence in-between the two parks, they realized that the outer boundary of the Mozambique side did not actually have a working fence.  They promptly put the middle fence up again, but I am sure a couple of old elephant geezers are currently lazing about with a sundowner on Bazaruto Island (you may find him on our Mozambique tour).

After that a few smaller ones were done, and then came the Kgalagadi.  It was first known as the Kalahari Gemsbok National park.  This merged (hehehehe) with the Kgalagadi Park on the Botswana side.  So now one can actually travel from the SA side, through to Botswana.  Well, not really.  Only if you have a 4×4 and only if you stay in the park for two days.  Not sure why.  Maybe they think, if you are going to smuggle cocaine through the park, sitting in 45 degrees for two days, surrounded by Suricates, would make any person snort up the stock, and thus keep Botswana clean of the scourge of Cocaine?  Or, perhaps they want to make a little money first before letting you loose on poor Botswana (not so poor really, they have nice diamonds).  But, that is the back story of where I am now.
The Kgalagadi has three main rest camps, Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata (close to the Namibian side) and Nossop, close to nothing.  I am sitting in chalet number 5, in Twee Rivieren.  Please, no stalking!

Map of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Image via Wikipedia

My Chalet at Twee Rivieren National Park, home sweet home

My Chalet at Twee Rivieren National Park, home sweet home

Now I am hearing you all moan (well, the two people reading this at least, of which one is family, so really, you, out there moaning), why am I not staying only two days, like it says in the itinerary?  Because I can!  But, please don’t feel cheated out of 4 days in this wonderful, semi arid (hene, but I am throwing those English words now) park.  Any visit is like an introduction, you can always come back again!

Enough explaining, if you are still not sure where I am, Google it!

Back to Damien.  You know, the hissing, barking gecko in the rafters?  Not a gecko, but, wait for it, a freaking bat!  And either Damien is the only bat this side of the equator without the ability to echo locate (Google it), or he has a serious case of Narcissism.  Damien just got loose, and starting flying wildly through my bedroom!  I kid you not, he flew into the mirror, and with possible concussion, now flew into me!  This went on for a while, and every time I think he has things under control, Wham, into the mirror again! (this does sound freakishly like George Michael, oh no, his problem was with the restroom, sorry, my mistake).  I now called the Parks Board people.  No, not a ranger with a 345 elephant hunting gun, the normal lady at reception.  Now I though the only way to catch a bat is with a tennis racquet, and although I normally carry one in my handbag, I just clean forgot to pack it this time, it seems there is another way.  I always thought there was something just plain wrong with toilet spray!  Well, proof!  Bats flee for their lives when sprayed with toilet spray!  Handy hint this, write it down!  So, tata Damien!

And Tata me.  I am pooped.  Excuse the pun.

Lessons learnt today:  Always carry a Tennis racquet.
And toilet spray.  The nastier the aroma, the better.
Always carry stomach medicine.  And flu medicine.  Next to the toilet spray.
Brown Hyenas are lonely too.  Not just R.E.M.
Botswana has diamonds.
And I am in the Northern Cape, in the top little bit, and not with the Bazaruto drinking elephants.

Epic I tell you!

Ground Squirrel in the Kgalagadi, it's the little things that count

Ground Squirrel in the Kgalagadi, it's the little things that count


Discovering the recovering beauty of Zimbabwe

On the 17th September a truck full of excited adventurer’s set off from Johannesburg to be the first guests on our 16 Day Camping, Zimbabwe Rediscovered Tour.  Zimbabwe has really come a long way in the last 3 years and has been working at re-establishing it’s National Parks and getting the basics back into good working order.  Zimbabwe’s people have always valued having visitors in their country and now they have the opportunity of welcoming travellers back to their most incredible homeland.

One of our agents, Chris du Preez, joined the tour and is absolutely raving about it!  Chris’ highlights included game viewing in Hwange National Park, the two night canoe adventure on the Zambezi River and the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.  The spectacular scenery and unique activities certainly make up for some of the longer days on the road.

Below are some pictures from Chris’ tour, if you’d like more information, please contact me at jess@nomadtours.co.za .  You can also see a full itinerary of our 2011 and 2012 tours on our website (30% discount for 2011 departures)

Elephants in Hwange

Elephant family having a dust bath in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Two night canoe adventure on the Zambezi River

Looks like a great way to view game from the banks of the Zambezi River
Tents setup for a night on the Zambezi River

Now this looks like the real thing! How else do you get closer to nature than on the banks of the Zambezi River

Dinner at the truck, camp setup

While the guests were out exploring, the guides decided to surprise them with this incredible dinner setup!

Pangolin, Scaly Anteater

How lucky to have spotted this Pangolin, that's a definite tick off the bucket list!

The Great Zimbabwe Ruins

Visiting Zimbabwe's World Heritage Site, The Great Zimbabwe Ruins

Chris du Preez with lions at The Antelope Park

The lion walk experience certainly captures the hearts of the people who experience it.

16 Day Camping Zimbabwe Rediscovered Tour

The route map for our Zimbabwe Rediscovered Tour, 2011

Come and explore Zimbabwe with us, and if there’s something else you’re looking for, we have a huge selection of tours for you to choose from and loads of excellent specials for 2011 departures!  Please visit our website for more information:  www.nomadtours.co.za

Thank you Chris for these wonderful images of your Zimbabwe Rediscovered Tour.