Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Jules' trip to South Africa

Near the end of our South African adventure we spent three days at The Cavern in the Drakensberg. A place of scenic splendour! There's a great choice of walks and horse rides in the surrounding area - it's also a wonderful place to relax and restore - great meals, a beautiful setting and lots of fresh mountain air.

White Rhino - once almost extinct in the wild, now thriving in reserves such as Hluhluwe and Umfolozi.

Spotted Hyena (left)
Young male Nyala (above)

Leopard - captured in my lens during a night drive - a rare sighting - so a real treat!

Two young Nyala males, vying for top position - only a mock fight - but preparing for more serious confrontations as they mature.

Mother and young Impala - there's a tenderness in their interaction that really touched me.

It's not only the 'Big Five' that are magnificent. I love the different species of antelope, their gentle, delicate limbs, their big soft brown eyes, their incredible alertness. These Impala gathered together in such a way that there's a cluster of ears in this image that I really like!

Seeing 'The Big Five' (Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, Lion and Leopard) is thrilling. We were lucky enough to see four of the five - only Lion eluded us on this trip! We had an incident at dusk, whilst out on a night drive, when we encountered a herd of Elephant with young babies. The Bull Elephant in the group started to charge our vehicle .... the size and speed of these mammoth creatures makes you realise how vulnerable we are as intruding humans in a poncy-tin-can-car - our adrenaline pumped, we slammed into reverse, and got out of his way!

The magic of being back in the African bush is difficult to convey in words. Breathing in the fullness of the experience; awakening all our senses - feeling the heat; smelling the richness; hearing the calls of the wild; tasting the fruit and ofcourse seeing birds, animals, snakes and insects in their natural environment. Each morning we greeted the early dawn and after the customary coffee and rusks, ventured out for a bush walk or drive - to be amongst the creatures big and small.

From the Cape we flew to Durban and then drove through to the heart of Zululand to the game reserves of Hluhluwe and Umfolozi. This is our bushcamp - unfenced - so many wild animals wander through the camp both during the day and at night. There's a notice on the wall requesting that visitors never leave their children unattended .....

I took this shot at Spier Wine Estate in the Cape - they have a Cheetah sanctuary where the main focus is on increasing awareness of the plight of the Cheetah in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a critically endangered species mainly due to persecution by livestock farmers.

The drive from Hermanus to Somerset is so picturesque it's almost indescribable! This photo gives a taste of Cape coast's unspoilt beauty.

This is the view of Hermanus in the Cape - looking towards the direction of Gansbaai.

I've just returned from a wonderful two week trip to South Africa where I went to re-connect with some old friends and to enjoy both landscape and wildlife photographic opportunities! I lived in South Africa for many years (only returning to my roots in England in 2002). This was my first trip back in 6 years - with my partner who had never been to Africa before! We started in Somerset West (photo left taken from my friend's patio) - how's that for a view from your table.......

1 comment:

  1. Stunning pics Jules and a super summary of your trip. I hope it encourages your readers to visit this gorgeous country. Karen