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Thread: Sundowner musing......

  1. #11
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    Is the chook running the Chinese dispensary? She looks like the type.

  2. #12
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    Rains of Africa are coming

    Hello again - not really Easter, but may as well keep this one going.

    Been sitting at home these past few nights poring over the maps and turning only half an attention span to Mrs S3ute and the S3 juniors attempts at engaging conversation........ Well, the rainy season back in southern Africa is still a little way off, but I hear its call anyway.

    Another trip to Zimbabwe before Xmas beckons, but I have a bit of a dilemma in this case because I am keen to go back to Hwange NP but to forego the previous glamp and delve deeper into the heart of the place. This in itself has a few logistical challenges - being "outback" Zimbabwe and the wet season combined, the roads will be trickier than usual and the thought of renting a Defender comes to mind.

    Easier said than done because car rental companies within Zimbabwe are a bit scarce on the ground and that is exacerbated when the target is a British jeep. The other challenge is a personal one of sorts because the option is there to forego a bit of comfort and safety in numbers by heading into the interior to a little known gem called Kapula camp which is basically 4 tents and a kitchen/sundowners tent plunked down by a waterhole far from the madding crowd - but not the roaring, howling or slithering crowd from all accounts.

    A few photos for context:











    Unlike most camps, this one is small, isolated, unfenced - but also the tents are essentially on the ground and by late spring may have a metre or so of high grass surrounding them - 2 are at least a metre off the ground which might have some token protective value.

    Probably of more concern is that the camp is likely to have no one else there at that time of year - so, the question is am I up to it?

    Probably, but if the previously chronicled half-chewed Andre is to be anything of a mentor on the matter it may be touch and go.

    Mrs S3ute reckons the snoring would be either an attractant or a deterrent - not really sure how to put that to the test.

    Something to ponder over for now.

    Cheers,

    Neil

  3. #13
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    An alternative may be on offer

    Hello again.

    Still tossing about some weekend African R&R options for the next traverse of the great waters.

    As per the previous post, I had been looking at an isolated camp in the middle of Hwange NP, but haven't been able to strike a sensible rental deal on a Defender within Zimbabwe. Plus November is getting to be a bit marginal for wildlife viewing (too much grass and the roads get pretty rough once the rains start). Plus, plus the earlier nagging thoughts on getting that close and familiar with the wildlife of the fang and claw variety (bigger than the S3cat) when there isn't much by way of well-armed human company about.

    So, a plan B of sorts is emerging in terms of somewhere a bit more accessible in South Africa, but not previously visited. There are myriad options, but one with some appeal is Mokala NP - a relatively new park in the Free State which spans some of the more semi-arid Karoo vegetation types. This one has 3 of the so-called "big 5" (no large cats or elephants) which still makes the wildlife prospects pretty good with Cape buffalo, sable, blue and black wildebeest and white and black rhino, plus the usual array of birds, beetles, smaller antelopes, warthogs, mongooses and what not.

    However, the main attraction was featured in a copy of the SA 4x4 magazine that first drew my attention to the place - viz the Kameeldoorn Tree House:



    Just the one plunked down in the middle of nowhere - with a bed, braai and a waterhole and no neighbours for miles:







    Just the place to lie down with a good book and wait for something interesting to wander by.

    And you can get to it in an Avis VW Polo........... My budget weapon of choice on the veld.

    Cheers,

    Neil

  4. #14
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    Looks a good prospect to me Neil.

    Cheers, Mick.
    1968 SIIa SWB
    1978 SIII Game SWB
    2002 130 Crew Cab HCPU

  5. #15
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    Hope so

    Quote Originally Posted by Killer View Post
    Looks a good prospect to me Neil.

    Cheers, Mick.
    Mick,

    Hello again.

    Yes it would be nice to think so - saw it in a 4X4 mag and it had real appeal, especially the price which is about one third of that of an equivalent perch I visited in Hwange a couple of years back:



    However, upsides are invariably counterbalanced with downsides - it is about a 6 and half hour drive from Johannesburg, and a couple of reviews I came across suggest that the roads can be pretty rough in places around the park - the latter may not be insurmountable, having pushed rental Corollas and Polos up and around some fairly ordinary tracks elsewhere in the Republic. It would be the rainy season and even in the Karoo that can challenge vehicles deprived of low range and clearance.

    Something to ponder over. Usually I eventually err away from common sense on these things...... and largely get away with it.

    A few of the victims:











    All survived.....

    Cheers,

    Neil
    Last edited by S3ute; 10th October 2014 at 10:54 AM. Reason: got a bit carried away

  6. #16
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    One step closer

    Hello from Brisbane.

    Well, the arboreal adventure took another step closer this week - got confirmation from SAN Parks that my bid on the Kameeldoorn (Afrikaans for Camel Thorn) Tree House had been successful for the requested couple of days next month. So, now it is a case of building the rest of the trip around that small adventure - including trying to hire a 4X4 or higher clearance SUV rather than the Polo in case it actually rains or the back tracks are as bad as the locals reckon.

    On the latter score, I often think in this day of mass soft-roader and SUV ownership that the current crop of urban weekend warriors are a bit inclined to overstate the condition of roads and tracks and/or the need to have a 4X4. My African experience with the Polos on a number of so-called 4X4 only mountain passes, as well as seeing Holden or Zephyr utes with winter treads running all over the farm for years rain, hail or shine, tends to reinforce that conviction.

    So, it might be business as usual once more, and bring on the braai and words to "give me a home where the buffalo roam".....

    Cheers,

    Neil

  7. #17
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    Great migrations

    Hello again.

    On the topic of getting out into the bush in Africa, I guess one of the great sights there is the annual wildebeest migration around the Serengeti plains between Tanzania and Kenya.

    Thought this had some amusement value:

    [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMJXvsCLu6s&feature=player_detailpage[/ame]

    Cheers,

    Neil
    Last edited by S3ute; 26th November 2014 at 11:04 AM.

  8. #18
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    What's in a name?

    Hello from Harare.

    Sitting here on the stoep under the canopy of a flowering jacaranda contemplating the easy side of life in the dark continent.

    Probably this should be back over in SLOW Rides as it relates to my much diminished truck - SWB75 or perhaps I should disclose the final choice of a nick-moniker, "ratel". Now before you go off thinking "not only is the mad b serially verbose, but he also can't spell" the newfound nomenclature is not actually English, but rather Afrikaans.

    You may recall an earlier post in which I mentioned young Godfey's general disdain for the less than adventurous names we seem to give our trucks. This led to a search for something with an African flavour and a bit of beast to go with it - in fact "Shumba" (Shona for lion) had popped up for a brief while until its disclosure to Mrs S3ute and Miss S3ute led to howls of laughter and some less than flattering commentary about old Land Rovers in general and the name choice in particular.

    Be that as it may, the other night due to my ultra-nascent gut and a conscience from promising Mrs S3ute that I would go easy on the old sundowners and mealies, I was fetching around for a viable alternative and took to reading a discarded wildlife magazine. In the process sadly sending the houseboy off with an unattended Zambezi.

    Hidden in its soiled pages was an article on a truly amazing organism known locally as the ratel, or to we Uitlanders the honey badger. Which is not actually a badger but more closely related to wolverines and weasels, although genetically neither one or t'other - just itself.

    So, phonetically the name ticked the first box as any Series owner will know.

    What of the other boxes?

    Well, the species and its sub-variants has quite a wide distribution throughout Africa, the Middle East, the sub-continent and parts of Asia. Prime Land Rover habitat - box 2.

    It has a loose but extremely tough skin which from all accounts can take up to three cuts of a machete to penetrate. In fact, unless an attacker, which quickly becomes an attackee, can grab it by the nape of the neck it is near impossible to hold it still enough to avoid getting bitten by something that will give a hydraulic press a run for its money in the grip stakes. Now Birmabrite is nominally softer than steel but boy doesn't it take something (other than water) to really destroy the body work of an old Land Rover - box 3.

    Confronted or idle, the article further declared that the ratel will frequently spray an extremely unpleasant oil all over the place. A quick inspection of the floor under my truck detects a similar propensity - box 4.

    The South Africans named their premier armoured infantry fighting vehicle after the beastie, and it is still going without peer nearly 40 years later. Solo or fighting in small groups at point blank range the Ratels have knocked out Soviet tanks in Angola - box 5.

    Now that should be enough, but it actually gets better and here was the real clincher. For the animal is reputed, although zoologists rate this an ongoing urban myth, to even attack and kill larger animals such as lions, buffalo and, get this, bull elephants. Importantly, when things get really dire by going for the scrotum......

    So, call me biased, but if something smaller than a dog facing an obstacle of elephantine proportions doesn't stop to think it over but goes straight for the nuts of the problem, it has got to get some recognition from a misdirected fool owning a Series Land Rover. This one got the big box ticked several times over.

    So, Ratel it is by both name and nature.

    Godfrey was pleased, but I suspect a little envious........

    Cheers,

    Neil
    Last edited by S3ute; 5th November 2014 at 12:32 AM. Reason: got carried away again

  9. #19
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    Well named, Neil.

    Cheers,
    Mick.
    1968 SIIa SWB
    1978 SIII Game SWB
    2002 130 Crew Cab HCPU

  10. #20
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    Mean mumma - vale

    Hello again from Sherwood - back in the land of the living for a little while.

    The recent foray to Africa was not without its moments I am happy to be able to relate - and, as per usual, sundowner conversations on the stoep out in the Matapos again offered some interesting pictures of man vs beast interactions.

    Happened to be sitting with the half-chewed Andre (see earlier post 5 - this thread) and a few other locals having a Zambezi or two when he casually mentioned that "his lioness" was no more. Not that he actually owned one per se, but was referring to the animal that had tried to shorten his three score and ten by a few decades at the Mana Pools a couple of years back.

    Asked how he knew it was his particular attacker, he noted that on the night the lioness had 4 cubs and this is a bit unusual for the particular Mana pride. The rangers kept pretty good tabs on the various lionesses and only one they were aware of had 4 cubs then and subsequently mothered larger than average numbers of cubs to survival - in fact, she was a "good Mum" and, therefore they were loathe to destroy her and rather overlooked her indiscretion on that particular evening.

    Now Andre also verified that she was a "good lioness" and that at the time of the attack he had hoped that he wasn't being mauled by some ragtag effort to add insult to (considerable) injury. He mentioned that when he was in ICU in Johannesburg one of his companions had told his son that Poppa should know that she was a real nice one....... Their words, not mine.

    Is it true? You be the judge:



    She is the bottom one of the three and the others are two of the cubs, now grown, who she was with the night she attacked poor old Andre. Not exactly the retiring eyes and if looks could kill I suspect they would....

    Another for the record:



    Well kill she did - and, in turn, was finally killed for it a few weeks ago.

    It turns out she had pretty much made the campground where the first attack took place the middle of her prides' territory and so she was often seen around there with several new batches of cubs. Some time last year the rangers contacted Andre to tell him that she had attacked another camper but was again driven off and the victim also survived. Again, as she was such a good Mum they were still reluctant to kill her and sought his opinion on the matter. Andre had no axe to bear and suggested it was their lioness and hence their choice.

    Well, things came to a bit of a head a few weeks back when the rangers were tracking her along a road near the (Zambezi) river and she disappeared down the bank and out of sight. In a case of extremely unfortunate timing, this coincided with a houseboat pulling up to the bank for the night and the deckhand jumping ashore to fasten a line to a tree. The rangers heard the screams from the ship and shore and the poor deckhand was no more.

    So, with two registered near fatal attacks on humans and finally the real thing, the gunmen were sent in a few days later and Andre's lioness is no more - good Mum or not. He is quite philosophical about it all - as anyone with a few good sundowners under the belt can be prone to be. Her time had finally come.

    On a lighter note, a few posts back I mentioned befriending the S3zeb - a young zebra mare that regularly hung about the stoep at my farm digs at Matapos Hills. Her mother was caught in a snare by poachers (one of 30!) and so she pretty much grew up as a pet and something of a nuisance for the gardeners:





    Anyway, arrived back at camp one night and my host John mentioned that it had been a bugger of a day - not least chasing frigging zebras all over the countryside. It seems that the S3zeb had finally found a mate this season and taken to hanging about the herd rather than the house. However, that morning on his way into town he saw a zebra trotting along the road about 16kms from the main gate - sure enough it was more than familiar. How to get it home ? - a solution that could only have come from Africa. Drop the houseboy off with a knapsack of lucerne pellets and get him to lead the beastie all the way home. Try that on your local workforce....

    Till another time and another sunset.

    And it's probably safe to go back to the Mana Pools if you are so inclined. For me, I still keep a close eye on the S3cat for signs of unexpected aggression.....

    Cheers,

    Neil
    Last edited by S3ute; 26th November 2014 at 06:08 PM. Reason: precision

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