Jack Holloway
Passionate Gardener
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SEQUOIA FARM Haenertsburg South Africa

Visit to Kruger Park

22 Sep '07 11:38 pm
Here at last are some shots from my visit to the Kruger. Forgive me if you wanted to see mainly animals; my interest is firstly plants! AND this is a gardening site - and there are brilliant pictures of African wildlife on the web, much better than my chance attempts. Still: I will try to capture the flavour of the weekend, a Rotary outing in early September. Although it is officially spring, daytime temperatures were in the 30s and nights in the teens, and no rain of note had fallen in 5 months. Usually October brings the first summer thunder storms and anything before that is a bonus.

We were staying in Balule, a small 'bush camp'; no electricity and only camping. I was pleased to be sleeping inside my car (a 4x4 wagon that can take a matress behind the front seats) as their was only a heavy duty wire fence between me and the prowling detribalised hyenas. Some of my friends were in tents 2m from the fence...
Baboon on koppie.JPG
Typical of the ancient and long stable geography of the South African hinterland, erosion has left these hillocks of solidified lava, known as koppies (heads). Note the baboon catching the afternoon sun whilst posted as lookout on the second highest point
Trees on a ridge.JPG
Trees love the fissures where lava pushed through the ancient rock and today form long low ridges - their roots quest deepdown for moisture.
A decideous bushveld tree at its most beautiful.JPG
Just outside Belule camp a hyena lurks.JPG
Waiting for scraps, it is no longer integrated into the ecology and must be put down. Don't feed the animals!

Jack Holloway
Passionate Gardener
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SEQUOIA FARM Haenertsburg South Africa

Day Two - crossing the Olifants

23 Sep '07 12:57 am
After an enjoyable evening together under the African sky - about 40 of us - we went to bed early: dawn is to precious in the bush. When I woke to the first bird calls, there were a crescent moon and the morning star together in the east. We set off early -destination: brunch at Timbavati Picnic Site some 4 hours and 60km further. Shelley and I spent nearly an hour on the bridge across the Olifants River, the most important drainage system between the Limpopo and the Natal rivers. It is quite high because of the floody (is there such a word?) nature of the SA drainage system.

Then we took our chances on what we might see along a road which follows a side-stream. At this time of the year the game depends on the many windpump-fed waterholes in the park - the only unnatural aspect of their habitat. For the rest humans - or rather, cars; one is only allowed out at a few designated areas - are intruders in their world and not vice versa.
Looking down from a bridge across the Olifants River, we spy a pair of hippopotomi.JPG
We were looking down into the water, when suddenly the water churned - we thought with fish - and the two hippos surfaced and got out to graze!
Looking upriver.JPG
The mountains of the escarpment can just be seen in the distance, where I posted photographs on 27 April at http://forums.mooseyscountrygarden.com/viewtopic.php?t=1225&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
Croc snoozing in the morning sun in shallow water.JPG
And another a few meters away.JPG
Massive ficus trees on the bank.JPG
The magnificent Whitecrowned Plover.JPG
We first noticed this heron from its reflection.JPG
Goodbye, Madame.JPG
At the waterhole.JPG
Beware Buffalo crossing.JPG

Jack Holloway
Passionate Gardener
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SEQUOIA FARM Haenertsburg South Africa

Day two - till brunch

23 Sep '07 2:22 am
The beauty of Kruger is that you can not predict what you will see next. You simply ride - or often stop to look at one thing and then see more - and two vehicles a minute apart might see very different highlights.
Sideview onto a volcanic ridge.JPG
Note the splash of pink on the left flank: it is impala lily, about which more later.
Looking across the dry riverbed.JPG
In a flash flood this could be a mass of seething water.JPG
Giraffe at waterhole.JPG
Joined by zebra.JPG
Going down for a drink aint much fun for a giraffe.JPG
All together now - smile.JPG
Another perfect bushveld tree.JPG
Beware of elephants that throw tantrums.JPG
Baby elephant walk.JPG
Mother and child.JPG
Distressing sign of bad management - bushbuck doe begging at Timbavati Picnic Site.JPG
For the 2nd time we see signs that the Kruger Park's previously unchallenged rule of 'don't feed or interfere with the animals' is being ignored. I saw this doe drink coffee from someone's cup!

garden enthusiast
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Waikato-New Zealand


23 Sep '07 5:15 am
Thank you for these amazing photos,Jack...It is special to see the real Africa through your eyes and you write very sensitively.

Jack Holloway
Passionate Gardener
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SEQUOIA FARM Haenertsburg South Africa

After brunch

23 Sep '07 6:52 pm
After the human interaction at brunch, we spent a bit of time watching some baboon interaction, but in the midday heat it was the trees that attracted my camera. We were en route to Nwanetsi, an observation point high on a hill looking down onto a river.
Salon time.JPG
Life is tough in Africa.JPG
I saw such beautiful examples of Cassia abbreviata.JPG
Cassia abbreviata x2.JPG
More bushveld beauty.JPG
Guineafowl always look like touristy imitations of guineafowl.JPG

head gardener
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23 Sep '07 8:26 pm
Jack, Thank you for showing us these amazing pictures. We don't care if there are better animal ones around - we like to see yours! That guinea fowl is the dorkiest looking bird - what odd proportions!

I'm particularly enjoying your stories. Am reading a coffee table book by a beardy bloke, a professional adventurer, travelling the routes that the original explorers like Stanley and Livingstone took along the rivers in Africa. I think it must be amazing to camp in the bush. My beardy man talks about the noise that the Hyenas make, and he keeps on getting malaria. Eek! Good for you sleeping in your car.

Please keep on posting!
Head Gardener

Home gardener & plant fetishist
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Berkeley, California, USA

Wow Jack

24 Sep '07 3:45 pm
you sure know how to savor your precious slice of earth. I've got to tell you that even behind a fence and in my car I'd be pretty nervous sleeping so close to hyenas and lions. There just isn't anywhere on earth with as impressive large mammals as africa. I even find our north american bears a bit unnerving!

I do appreciate your focus on the plant life with animals on the side, but in the presence of a hippo or waterbuffalo or elephant, the adrenalin alone would prevent my looking at any plant. What an amazing continent. I remember another outing of yours on which we got a look at baobab trees. Those can hold their own on the wow'ometer but you don't have to worry about them jumping out of the ground and charging your vehicle. Careful out there you intrepid explorer.
Mark in California

Q: "Do you ever sit down?"
A: "All the time until the urge to 'play' some more becomes too strong."

Faith S
Perpetually learning gardener
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Alabama, USA

Thanks for the fabulous tour Jack!

25 Sep '07 1:52 am
I greatly enjoyed all your photos, plant and animal. What a wonderful country you live in. I agree that it is sad that these animals are being tainted by human contact to the point of begging for handouts. We humans just can't seem to keep from interfering with nature can we? I have been dealing with that in a very small way on my own little slice of earth in the last couple of days. My delimma is with my ducks who have been a happy little family of four, two males and two females, up until the last couple of days. Suddenly, one of the males has decided to take the two females as a harem for himself and is trying to drive the other male out of the group. It is breaking my heart to see him excluded and looking so pitiful trying to tag along at a distance. I know there is nothing I can do to change the situation because it is nature's way, but that doesn't mean I don't wish I could. I think we humans sometimes feel it is our duty to care for all animals in the wild, even when our interference really is not good for the animals.

Thanks again for posting this wonderful adventure.
Faith at Bide-a-Wee Farm, Alabama, USA

Come abide with me a wee while.

Jack Holloway
Passionate Gardener
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SEQUOIA FARM Haenertsburg South Africa


25 Sep '07 2:25 am
This was my first visit to one of the most impressive points I have ever been to in the Kruger. You climb up to a thatched lookout point with magnificent views down onto a river and across to nearby hills or over vast plains. We stood with our binocs, picking out a giraffe in the distance, waterbuck on the river bank nearby, zebra, wildebeest resting in the shade... Below us an elephant or two were rummaging. In the process of trying to see them through the fever trees we spotted a croc, lazily swimming underwater towards a group of Egyptian Geese...

A French couple arrived. We chatted, showed them the animals we had spotted. They left, were just out of earshot, I had already suggested that we too should be on our way as it was getting late, when Shelley shouted "Over there! It is a whole HERD of elephant!"
Shelley at the  Nwanetsi Lookout.JPG
Out of sight, bottom left, we could hear some elephant.JPG
A lazy croc and wild waterlilies.JPG
Somewhere below the trees were the elephant.JPG
The first of a whole herd of elephant.JPG
Shelley counted 29 spread out below us, playing, drinking, foraging.JPG
And exhale again.JPG
Right, let's rejoin the herd.JPG
By the time we leave it is late afternoon and the shadows are softening.JPG

Jack Holloway
Passionate Gardener
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SEQUOIA FARM Haenertsburg South Africa

Lions at dawn

25 Sep '07 4:45 am
Sunday morning. I sit upright at first light and see a slightly larger crescent moon, higher over the eastern horizon, but still accompanied by the morning star. Then a lion coughs close by. As I sit in the open door putting on my shoes, it roars loudly in the direction of the toilets, warning all to stay away from its kill. As I move towards the toilets, I hear a zip and a head pops out of a low tent. "Close by, hey, Jack!"

"If I get to the toilet and it's blocking the door," I reply, "I won't need it any more." As I get there the lion roars again... safely beyond the perimeter fence which I can now see. Shelley and I are the 2nd car out the gates as they are unlocked at 6. We find the lions almost immediately on the banks of the river some 400m from the camp. I take a few pics, then we cross the single lane low-level bridge and return to park on the widened area halfway across, from where the lions are sidelit, not backlit. We make coffee and watch the river awaken; we have the best seats of all, for no-one can hide our view. We are very chuffed with ourselves.
Lions at sunrise.JPG
Lions in the early light.JPG
The bigger picture.JPG
Other cars watch the lions backlit.JPG
Looking upriver over coffee.JPG
Lion through the window.JPG
Goodbye, O gracious king.JPG
Last edited by Jack Holloway on 25 Sep '07 4:48 am, edited 1 time in total.


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