The other day Gerard called me outside to come have a look at something out in the driveway of the safari lodge. As I walked out he pointed at something across the path and I said to him” you call me out to show me a piece of rope lying across the path?”
They were on their Great Migration. They move from one place to the other buy following each other almost as if they were connected. As they go along their way they leave behind a trail of silk. This helps them to stay behind each other while on their great trek.
Once they have gotten to where they want to be they will find a spot and wrap themselves up in a cocoon. They migrate in the early winter months to get to their destination before it gets too cold. They will mostly attach themselves to a branch or something sturdy when they wrap themselves in the cocoons.
They are most likely to spend a month wrapped up warm and snug in the cocoons then they will start to “break free”. Once they have come out of their cocoons they will spread their wings for the first time and head out into the world to do what butterflies do best: pollinate all our beautiful flowers.
On a very rainy day we headed out to Timbavati Safari Lodge for a walk about the local village.
We started off with a good cup of coffee waiting for the rain to settle down a bit, before we started our walk. After the coffee we headed out to the primary school and went into all the classrooms and got to play with all the kids and they were so happy to see us. They were so happy to show us all their drawings and they were so proud to show us their schoolwork, even though we could not understand them they still showed off everything to us.
When we were done at the school we headed out to the crèche, the kids were done with their school day so they walked hand in hand with us. They were playing and joking with us all the way.
At the crèche we got to swing with all the little kids and a play in the mud with them, I felt like a real little kid again....
Every day the school and crèche staff cooks a healthy meal for all the kids. The school and crèche receive a grant from the South African government every month to help with the feeding programme for the kids. The government also pays the salaries for the teachers and they also have many corporate companies that are involved in making the future brighter for the kids.
After the school we headed to a “sangoma” which is a traditional healer. We went into her little hut and she showed us all the “muti” (medicine) that she uses and how she would throw the bones. The healers work with the clinic and if they got any people that were ill they would take them to the clinic to get medical attention.
We then walked around the village and we saw many of the local people and how they live, what their houses look like and how they grow their own fruit and vegetables. The people in the village are all very self – sustainable.
We made our way to the clinic and spent some time there, and the nurses were kind enough to take us on a full tour of the clinic itself. It was a small clinic and if they got any serious cases they would take them to the hospital which was wasn’t too far from the clinic.
From there we went to our guide Axon’s house. He was so proud to show us his house and is family. His wife even stood with us all and had a great photo session. We played with the kids a bit and then headed back to the lodge.
Being a South African myself it was something that I have never done and it’s an experience I will never forget.
Every guide that I have ever known or shared stories with has one particular species that they strive to show their guests or even spend most of their guiding career trying to capture the perfect photograph...
That is why I decided to write about the “Elusive One” and do a bit of research on what the rangers at the lodge see as their ultimate sighting...
Myself, I reckon it would have to be the Bateleur Eagle. I know that many people will disagree with this, as they are bountiful in the Kruger National Park – but, I have never managed to snap the perfect photograph. I have seen them on numerous trips to the park, soaring high above in the sky – and occasionally landing on the branch of an age old Leadwood tree. But never have I had the opportunity to snap a great photo. I remember that I came really close one day, but in my excitement forgot to take the lens cap off my camera. Frantically I tried to ready myself to freeze the moment in time, but alas, another vehicle approached and my Bateleur flew off into the clear blue heavens...
Jesse on the other hand is absolutely besotted with Black Rhino. Now that, I can fully understand as the sightings are few and far between in our area. But as he had told me one morning, he has had a couple of sightings but never had the opportunity to actually snap that desired ideal photograph. These are the things that we strive for, because these species are the things we as Rangers/Guides maybe place on a little pedestal and more often we are becoming infatuated – maybe inadvertently.
Kris had a long discussion with me about this question and he has long been haunted by the perfect shot of a Juvenile Martial Eagle. This is probably the most attention-grabbing of the bouquet. Kris has seen this beautiful bird numerous times, especially in the Kruger Park, but never has the prospect risen for him to snap THAT photo. The photo that every Ranger wants, so that he can boast about it to his peers...
Pierre, I think, is infatuated with Leopard. He is the first to make sure that the Kruger Park trips leave before the sun even wakes... He is determined to find Leopard no matter what. I love the fact that he is ever so enthusiastic about this specific cat. And I also have to admit that on more than one occasion he has succeeded in his task. Of course, seeing one with the naked eye and capturing that “perfect shot” is worlds apart.
We all have our little obsessions when it comes to nature. Sometimes we are unaware of this, until we snap that first “perfect” safari picture. Then I can guarantee you, you will make it your life’s mission to get THAT photograph of ever “elusive one...”
A few days ago I was fortunate enough to join our guests on a Hot Air Balloon flight for their safari in Africa.
The day started off pretty early, we had a quick cup of coffee and headed out, and we got to the launch sight while it was still dark and had another cup of coffee just to get us going. While we had our coffee watching the first bit of the sun rising, they where ‘blowing up” the balloon, which was quite massive and intricate work to do, as there were many ropes that they had to prevent from getting knotted up.
After a very short while the balloon was ready to go up. We jumped into the basket, got a quick safety briefing and started flying. As we got up in the air the sun was rising and there was a beautiful blanket of mist over the trees. We flew over some rivers and some farm lands then over a beautiful small safari game reserve. We got to see some impala and giraffe, it very different to see them from the air, than on ground level.
As we were flying we saw how many of the locals would come out their houses and were so excited to see us flying over them, the little kids especially loved to see us and waved the whole at us. They all a great big smiles across their faces, as they could not understand how it is possible for us to be flying in a balloon a few hundred feet up in the air.
The wind then changed direction and we headed over some farm lands and could see how the farmers were working and the way they had planted the crops, many of the crops were planted in circles, where each crop had a different colour which made really interesting contrasts.
As we are also going into winter many of the trees have their autumn colours, and some the trees are evergreen and there was a beautiful colour scheme of browns, oranges and green, it’s was such a beautiful sight that words cannot explain.
We were in the air for almost an hour and a half when the pilot had to find a place to land, after about 20 minutes she had found a place to land and started going down, it was a very easy landing and not once did any of us feel like there would be any form of danger.
After we had landed the ground crew met up with us and we could get out. They moved the balloon backwards a bit then they pulled it down so that it lay on the ground. It’s amazing to see how quickly and perfectly they can fold up such a large balloon to fit into one bag. While they were folding it up, we had some sparkling wine and snacks enjoying the sun on our backs. When that was all done we went back to the launch sight and we were all given a certificate of “bravery”. It is one experience that I will never forget and we urge our future guests to consider this once in a lifetime experience during their Africa safari.