I have just completed a fantastic safari in The Okavango Delta of Botswana. This magical paradise is my favourite place on earth.viagra canadian pharmacy
At present it is the rainy season up here and while this makes driving more challenging the rewards are bountiful. For a start everything is lush and green and most animals have recently given birth.
Also the flowers are out in abundance. Most impressive was the Impala Lily (Gloriosa superba) which also happens to be the national flower of Zimbabwe. Although this plant is poisonous it is also of medical importance and since it contains colchicine in some places it is used to treat gout.
And of course the migratory birds are here at the moment and they are magnificent! Another of my favourites which we saw was the Carmine Bee-Eater. These birds are intra-african migrants which lay their eggs in nests burrowed into sand banks.
As soon as I get the hang of uploading to you-tube and interfacing with my blog, I’ll post some fun videos of us crossing serious water in our indomitable Landcruisers. So please watch this space.
Many apologies for our long absence from the cyber-realm. We had some problems with our website and as a result I have not been able to post any blogs for about a month. Thank you very much to everyone who notified us about the problems with acces
s to our website and to those who told us that they missed the newsletters.
I left everyone hanging in the midst of Helen & Malcom Scott’s epic Western Cape walking holiday, so here are a few highlights just to get me back in the swing of blogging.
We saw this beautiful Aulax umbellata on one of our walks. This is one of the lesser known Proteas commonly referred to as a featherbush.
Right at the end of the walk we saw this very relaxed and splendid Cape Cobra(Naja nivea). These are the most venomous cobras in Africa with a very potent neurotoxin and responsible for most snake-bite related deaths in the Western Cape but this one was unperturbed about us.
On this particular day we finished walking in time for lunch. Malcolm & Helen toasted the walk, the Aulax, the Cobra and of course our hosts – Wildekrans Country House.
We also saw this beautiful hibiscus (Hibiscus aethiopicus)
We stopped for a rest at a spot with magnificent views and the ‘A’ team looked like they were really happy and enjoying themsleves.
For me the highlight of the walk was seeing this exquisite Boomslang. These snakes are back-fanged and have an haemotoxic venom (which means that is attacks the red blood cells). The bites from this species may tend be fatal however these snakes are remarkably docile. In fact Kili walked right over this 1.4 metre snake without noticing it. When we arrived the snake remained unconcerned. This is the first time I have seen this beautiful Western Cape colour form. Usually these snakes are a dull brown, leaf green and even sometimes blue however this specimen was black with metallic green and a yellow belly.
The views were exceptional, in fact they were even better than usual for this venue
After lunch we continued along the coast.
The weather was so good that even the Ostriches were out for a walk at the sea
As we continued we saw many handsome Hartlaub’s Gulls. Although the distribution for this Gull extends all the way up into NAmibia, half of the total population is found in the greater Cape Town area. They are so common around Cape Town that it is difficult to believe that this is one of the rarer gulls found in the world.
Later in the day I took this photograph of a pair of beautiful African Black Oystercatchers. Only after I took the photograph did I notice the Southern Right Whale in the background!
The whale turned out to be a mother with a newborn calf and they swam abreast of us for a long time. Eventually as we ascended the mountain once more, we could see both of them more clearly below. Adult female Southern RIght Whales are larger than the males and can grow to a length or 17.5 metres and a weight of 85 tonnes. At birth the babies are 5.5 metres long and weigh a mere 1,000 kg. They drink about 100 litres of milk per day and gain about 55 kg of weight per day!
We weren’t the only ones enjoying the view of the whales from the cliffs. This Rock Hyrax appeared to be whale watching too
As the group tackled the steep ascent, I looked back and had a magnificent view back along the route we had walked,
Please comment. Please give us some feedback. Have you done this walk with us? What did you think about it?
Everyone has been waiting with bated breath for the post about my last day walking with Olympia’s last group. The truth is that (a) it was such an incredibly beautiful walk that I will require at least two posting
s to do it justice and (b) I have been very busy adventuring since then, so as usual there are many exciting blogs about baby whales, flowers, snakes, dogs, wine and other adventures waiting to be posted!
Well our last day on the ‘Mountains In The Sea Trail’ was glorious. Right from the start of the trail we started seeing Bloodroots (Dilatris pillansii) in flower. For me the appearance of these gorgeous flowers is a sure sign that summer has arrived, although the weather seems to suggest otherwise!
Right from the start the views were so wonderful that I had a tough time convincing everyone that the best was yet to come!
But clearly I was correct and once Cape Point came into view Jaakko obviously agreed:
Not much further along and the sole of Heikki’s boot came loose. He has been walking hard in these Meindl boots for a mere 20 years and already they are showing wear!
After many years of guiding in several countries I have learnt that the job description of a guide includes many diverse activities besides guiding. Once many years ago I watched my brother sew the sole of his running shoe back on using fishing line and a fishing hook, but this is the first time I have been called upon to repair a guest’s boots on the trail. I reckon after my taping job the Meindls should be good for at least another 20 years.
The views across the bay to Hangklip were spectacular. I know that I’m biased because it is one of my favourite views in all the world but I still think that this is a pretty nice view:
That’s enough pictures and enough story for one blog, but there is one more picture that I must share with you. I really like it – in fact so much that I’m giving it to you BIG. I love the pink succulents (Aizoaceae) punctuating the bottom of the picture. I hope you like it as much as I.
As a result of the high winds and storm the previous day, the beach was strewn with Portuguese Man O’War (Physalia physalis). These creatures have no form of independent locomotion and are simply blown by the wind and carried by the currents. The posses stinging cells which can deliver a very painful sting and unfortunately Kili was stung on the foot. The pain subsided after about 30 minutes and he was able to complete the walk.
The storm had also blown a young seal onshore and although he looked healthy sitting on the rocks, we were concerned for his wellbeing.
We stopped to consider the unfortunate history of the ship “The Kakapo” which ran aground here in 1900. In the picture below you can see the remains of the boiler-room in the background. In the foreground with the group you can see Kili licking the site of the sting on his foot (poor Kili).
By this time we had experienced high winds, cold and some rain. Not long afterwards the sun appeared for a while but by lunchtime it had begun to rain again. It was classic Cape Town weather, with all four seasons in one day.
We were very fortunate to still have most of the magnificent views of this walk because the mist lifted when we approached Hout Bay.
Kili loved the walk but was misbehaved and so he & I had an argument.
As usual I set-up a safety rope at the ladder and everyone used it and appreciated having it there.
Toward the end of the walk the mist settled-in thick and wet and cold. By the end of the walk everyone was keen to have a hot drink and get somewhere warm. Unfortunately the weather had precipitated a rock fall forcing us to detour and our expected 5 minute drive to the hotel became a 40 minute drive!
In my line of work, I am periodically treated to spectacles and experiences about which many can only dream. Recently I was in The Okavango Delta when I had such an experience. I hope that Denen De Silva doesn't mind me using one of his photo
graphs here so that I can better share this exquisite story. For those who don't know, the Okavango Delta is an enormous (13,500 square kilometres) inland delta composed of innumerable islands scattered in an expanse of crystal clear water.
We were camped on the banks of a seasonal river course which was flooded.
Late one afternoon while I was strolling close to the camp, three Painted Dogs came trotting toward me and toward the camp. Those in my party who were caught in the shower simply watched over the canvas walls of their showers, while the rest of us followed the dogs on foot. Walking with wild Painted Dogs is an incredible experience. This is not only because they are so beautiful and energetic but also because they are completely disdainful of humans and seem not to even notice one's presence.
terfere with the dogs, we turned to return to the camp when we noticed a small group of four elephants (including a baby) drinking at the river nearby. So we made a detour and went to watch them.
As we watched we became aware that more and more elephants were silently approaching through the mopane forest.
We watched their numbers swell until there were about 200 elephants on the opposite bank, and then they crossed the river . . .
. . . and continued calmly right through our camp!
I did manage to get some video and Dean Paarman kindly stitched it together into a short clip. If you would like to watch the video, please go to http://www.youtube.com/user/deanpaarman?blend=1&ob=5#p/u/0/D4H4ap7MEjM
Today I take a step out of my comfort zone! Earlier in the day my friend Patrick Verbraecken from Belgium sent me a photograph of a heather that he had encountered on one of his walks. Patrick has been walking with me on Table Mountain (and i
ricaceae and here in the Cape we have many beautiful representatives of the family. We all know how proud the Scots are of their Heathers, and justifiably too. What many people don't know is that while Scotland has four species of heather, the cape floral region has about 650 species of heather!
Most of the heathers belong to the genus Erica, but the common heather is the only species in the genus Calluna. Like most of the Ericas. the common heather prefers acidic soils and this is the most famous if the Scots heathers. It gained its favour in Scotland not only for its beauty but also for its many uses, too many to mention here. Suffice it to say that this heather was stuffed in fabric to make mattresses, was used to dye wool, was used to make brooms, was used medicinally and perhaps most important was used as an essential ingredient in the brewing of heather beer.
Thanks to Patrick for sharing this beautiful heather with us.