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 Our Group Activity Reports:   Nature Walks   Birdos   Bushwalks   FoTNP     Activity Maps:   Nature Walks    Bushwalks   FoTNPcontentmap-bw-s

Africa – Gary & Michele Cameron

First Days

2014 08 AfricaWe (including Craig & Christine) didn’t get off to a very good start due to fog in SYD the morning that we left.  We were delayed for an hour in BNE and then we spent 40 minutes or so in a holding pattern over the Hunter Valley.  We arrived in SYD at the same time that we were supposed to depart SYD for JNB.  QF held the JNB flight for us and about 22 others.  We were originally taken off the flight as QF figured we were going to make it.  Then when QF decided to hold the flight they had to put us all back on manually which took an hour.

We eventually departed SYD 2 hours late.  It probably helped that we were on a QF flight from BNE to SYD plus we were on an international QF flight from BNE which went straight to the international terminal in SYD.  By the time we arrived at our hotel in JNB we had been going for about 26 hours.  Wrecked but we were there.

Fortunately the the next day was much more civil.  All we had to do was catch a 10 am flight to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe which was only an hour and a half.  We went to the falls that afternoon and again the next morning as they were so good.  We had lunch at the Victoria Falls Hotel and because it was so good we went back for dinner.

Tues 12 Aug we set off in our tour vehicle which is a 6 ton truck with a bus style back on it.  It has 16 seats and there are 15 in our group.  The group is 2 from  Hong Kong, 2 from Holland and the rest from Australia.  Our driver-guide is native Zimbabwean from Bulawayo who has been doing this for 5 years.

We left Vic Falls on Tuesday and travelled to Chobe River National Park near Kasane in Botswana.  We did a game drive that afternoon which saw a good variety of animals including a pride of lions with small cubs.  The next afternoon we took a river cruise and once again saw a good variety of animals.  At one point we saw elephants crossing the river only about 100 metres from out boat.

On Thursday we headed off from Kasane to where we are now which is on the banks of the Okavango River near Bagani in the western Caprivi Strip in Namibia.  A long drive which took most of the day.  Once again there are game drives and river cruises.

Tomorrow we head about 700 km west-south-west to the Etosha National Park which is all paved road fortunately.

About all for now.  All of us are keeping well - Gary & Michele

Deserts & Oases

2014-08 AfricaWhat an amazing journey we are having in Africa.

Since leaving Swakopmund we have been travelling in more  desert landscapes from the very arid stony mountains to the red sand dunes. We spent two nights in the Nambid Desert where we undertook a 10 km hike up and over the sand dunes to a pan which is a drainage basin among the dunes which now has no outlet and has become a salt pan. I have never liked sand and I still don’t. Nothing  a shower won’t fix !  Well worth the effort and some great photos captured.

Next on to Fish River Canyon and 2 nights at Canyon Roadhouse  which was in itself a very entertaining place and  a well watered oasis in the desert with green desert gardens. The main building and surrounds were well decorated with old signage, vehicles, bikes tools and treasures from the past. We spent the morning walking around the stony hills at the back of the roadhouse and then out to the Canyon for a walk and to view the sun setting. Yes more photos !!!  The canyon is second largest in the world and on the largest river in Namibia.

Our camp at the moment is in the Kalahari Desert in one of the largest reserves in Africa covering an area of 3.6 million hectares. The last part of our journey into this site was in open 4x4 Toyota utes along a sandy track crossing 91 sand dunes. Still just as exciting seeing the animals along the way. I now have photos of more than 30 different animals and Gary has ticked off more than 50 different birds,  sighted and identified, some of which I have photographed.

No or very poor internet for a few days so I will add to this and send in a few days.Travelled through the desert this morning entering South Africa and arriving on the Orange River this afternoon.

Love to Everyone - Michele and Gary  [Nanna and Gazza]

Parks & Animals

2014-08 AfricaHello Everyone - Wow these adventures keep you busy. With that and often limited internet I am getting behind with my updates. We have been based just outside Kruger National Park, last night and tonight. We move on in the morning and tomorrow enter Swaziland.

The game drives in Kruger have resulted in more animal and bird sightings. Gary is up to about 80 different bird identifications and I have added a few new animals to my photographic captures. The African Wild Dog is apparently not seen very often and yesterday afternoon we saw two different packs. The leopard is the only one of the "Big Five" to so far manage to allude us. Today we saw a big bull elephant chasing cars. Pleased our guide recognised that he was feeling agitated. Easy to see how people get into trouble as there are many private cars drive the parks.

The last update I think we were still in the Kalahari where we had two nights. A big bonus  was seeing the Black Mane Lion as we drove down the dry river bed on our way to exit the park cross into South Africa and make our way to the Orange River. The Augrabies Falls on the river were spectacular.... an oversize Killarney Glen. Spent a very cold wet windy night in Calvinia awaking to sunshine, ice on the roads and snow on the mountain tops, but a beautiful clear day for travelling. Once we left the tableland via the Van Ryns Pass we saw beautiful farming country.... vineyards, citrus, wheat, canola and cattle... all the way to Capetown. Fine sunny weather in Capetown allowed us to venture up Table Mountain in the cable car (very scary for people who don’t like heights) visit the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point and other touristy things.

The second tour began in Centurion near Pretoria. We are travelling with a group of 7 this time, all Aussies. The first couple of days we made our way through the mining, farming country , visited the Blyde River  Canyon and on to Kruger.  My photo diary is still progressing well and I will send a few more photos when the internet is better.  

Hope everyone is well

Kruger to Port Elizabeth

Since Kruger National Park we have been through Swaziland where we stopped for one night.  After Swaziland we visited another game park which was a couple of hundred klms north of Durban.  In that game park we saw plenty of Rhino and one in particular that had a very long horn.  Appeared to be more than a metre long.  From this park we travelled down the coast to Durban before heading inland to a two night stop in the Drakensburg Ranges.  This stop was more of a rest stop but we did have the opportunity to go walking in the ranges near the lodge where we stayed.

2014 AfricaAfter the Drakensburg stop we travelled around the northern and western side of Lesotho and spent a night overlooking the Gariep Dam on the Orange River.  The next morning we had a tour of the dam wall which was quite interesting.  At one point the tour guide opened one of the valves for our benefit.  The water was coming out of the 4 metre pipe at 625,000 litres a second at about 3,000 psi.  Can you imagine a dam tour in Australia where they would turn on a valve like that just for the tourists?  This dam on the Orange river supplies water into the Fish River via a tunnel and from there into the Sundays river to provide water for irrigation  to the farming country. 

2014 AfricaAfter leaving Gariep Dam we kept heading south to Cradock where we did another game drive in the Mountain Zebra National Park where we saw our first Mountain Zebra (funnily enough).  We had seen Plains Zebra previously.  We also saw a Black Wildebeest (previously Blue Wildebeest) and a Black Rhino and calf (previously only White Rhino).  We did see a number of other animals as well.  In Cradock we stayed in a 160 year old cottage.  After Cradock we travelled to a two night stop at Zuurberg Lodge near Addo Elephant National Park.  Accommodated in historic old homes with period furnishings. Out and about around town we saw a group of women on their way to work. 

2014 AfricaWe did our last game drive in the Addo Elephant National Park.  True to name the Elephants were very plentiful.  We were pleased to see Meerkats as well.  There were a number of other animals and birds in the park as well.  The Leopard is the only one of the big five that we didn’t get to see.  We have seen 40 different animals and 133 different birds.  What amazing animals. I love taking photos of these BIG guys. We visited our last animal park today and the elephants put on a great show. This park (Addo Elephant National Park) is just north of Port Elizabeth and is the first green countryside we have seen apart from the irrigated pasture and crops.  Apparently there are something like 900 different birds in southern Africa.  Not hard to see why the there are dedicated bird watching tours in southern Africa.

From Addo we travelled to Port Elizabeth then along the coast to Knysna where we have spent two nights.  Knysna is on the coast between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.  Tomorrow we head off to Cape Town where we will be until Friday morning when we start start heading home.  We finish our tour tomorrow when we arrive in Cape Town.  We have a day tour organised on Wednesday that will take in wild flowers and wineries.

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Why does attentiveness to nature matter? In a very fundamental sense, we are what we pay attention to. Paying heed to beauty, grace, and everyday miracles promotes a sense of possibility and coherence that runs deeper and truer than the often illusory commercial, social "realities" advanced by mainstream contemporary culture. ... Our attention is precious, and what we choose to focus it on has enormous consequences. What we choose to look at, and to listen to--these choices change the world. As Thich Nhat Hanh has pointed out, we become the bad television programs that we watch. A society that expends its energies tracking the latest doings of the celebrity couple is fundamentally distinct from one that watches for the first arriving spring migrant birds, or takes a weekend to check out insects in a mountain stream, or looks inside flowers to admire the marvelous ingenuities involved in pollination. The former tends to drag culture down to its lowest commonalities; the latter can lift us up in a sense of unity with all life. The Way of Natural History, edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner and published by Trinity University Press (Texas)