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Thread: Sundowner musing......

  1. #51
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Brisbane
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    Christmas approaches

    Hello again from Sherwood - I trust this finds the SLOw Inc collective well and getting busy winding down for the Christmas - New Year break.

    I am anyway.

    Clinking glasses and general chattering from the back deck suggest that sundowners has already started and I intend to get into the spirit of it myself fairly soon.

    So, all the best for the festive season and I hope 2019 is a good one for all of you.

    Cheers,

    Neil
    Hon Secretary - SLOw Inc

    1975 S3 88" - Ratel

  2. #52
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    Jul 2012
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    Brisbane
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    1,988

    Africa musing

    Hello from Dullstroom - a small and pleasant dorp set on the highveld roughly halfway between Johannesburg and Kruger National Park. Claim to fame is a well established trout fishery and all the touristy trappings to go with it. Plus the local pub has long been a favourite and scene of much sundowner musing. Good for rugby tests too.

    Last day of a three and a bit week traverse across Southern Africa with Ms S3ute. Started in Namibia, back to the Cape, up to Victoria Falls and now just finished five days in Kruger playing animal spotto and indulging in a bit of sundowner musing over a cheery braai.

    The Skeleton Coast and Etosha Pan were new landscapes and really enjoyable. Ditto the dunes around Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. The Cape winelands are always enjoyable as was Cape Town itself. Overindulged at Victoria Falls, but that’s to be expected - have to feel sorry for the natives watching the economy tank again. Finally, Kruger threw up the usual menagerie including lots of cats and in this case a lot of my truck’s namesakes - ratels or honey badgers. All very nice.

    Added bonus is a suitcase crammed with four wheel drive and camping kit. The South Africans and Namibians just make this stuff well and at a considerably lower price and generally higher quality than at home. Says something about local labour costs as much as experience I suppose.

    Anyway, a quick run in the Polo back to the airport for the long haul home tonight. Were it possible to stay longer no doubt I would.

    Cheers,

    Neil

  3. #53
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Arcadia N.S.W.
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    2,066
    G'day Neil, Good report. Can you show us some pictures? Long time between big cats and stuff like that over here.
    Don.

  4. #54
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    Jul 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don 130 View Post
    G'day Neil, Good report. Can you show us some pictures? Long time between big cats and stuff like that over here.
    Don.
    Don,

    Hello and thanks.

    Yes, I will get around to posting some photos in due course. For some reason, which is probably a simple one, I don’t have a lot of luck posting photos with the iPhone.

    Should be back in Brisbane late tomorrow evening and will have an opportunity during the week to download and edit stuff from both the phone camera and my digital SLR camera.

    Cheers,

    Neil
    Hon Secretary - SLOw Inc

    1975 S3 88" - Ratel

  5. #55
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    Jul 2012
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    Brisbane
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    Hello again from a 737 - on the last leg home to hearth and kin.

    Got through immigration, customs and quarantine without grief which was nice considering that my inwards traveller card had a few of the more serious red buttons ticked - food, wood and visitation of wildlife areas in Africa.

    Now just waiting for the traditional welcome from Mrs S3ute - “jeez you’ve put on some weight ......”. Unfortunately, all too true.

    Glad to be home.

    Cheers,

    Neil

  6. #56
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Brisbane
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    1,988
    Quote Originally Posted by S3ute View Post
    Hello again from Brisbane.

    As noted in the last post, Africa looms and the lounge room in Mrs S3ute’s convenient absence (temporary with work) is starting to look like those grainy photos of the Mombassa docks in days of yore.

    Dusting off the binocs and sun helmet, torch, pocket knife and flask, passport and club introductions and getting the old Melvill and Moons ready for packing. The Maui Jim’s are a concession to modernity, but in the main packing follows a well established routine of amassing a pile of useful what-not, placing an empty valise beside it and up-ending one into t’other - easy peasey. After that it is all up up and away and leering at the hosties. That or a good book and plenty of glazed sedatives.

    The half-chewed Andre finally came good with securing a booking for the week of a modest lodge on a rock overlooking Maleme Dam in the Matopos National Park - Cecil Rhodes of African colonial infamy had the good sense to be buried in a similar rock just up the hill. In another age I might have thought to do similar, the view being (were you not dead) quite stunning. Actually, on the topic of the great tycoon - the Bill Gates of his age - I discovered once that we share/d a common simple pleasure. Apparently despite his immense wealth (and my lack of the same) his favourite meal was gravy mince on toast topped with sprinkled cheddar cheese and a poached egg - accompanied with a dash of Worcestershire sauce and morning paper and not a smashed avo or jus in sight. Makes you hungry just contemplating it.

    The second week might involve a short safari in Hwange - hopefully in a little deeper than the previous excursions with either Sinamatella or Robins camps as the evening braai and beer base. Again, planning has been left to the natives which means that it could turn out to be seeking out a homeless shelter around Bulawayo - hopefully not.

    To take advantage of Mr Joyce’s episodic fits of largesse I have to fill in a third week to get the flight discount to and from Johannesburg. Not altogether an unappreciated inconvenience - retirement and lack of an office diary are both useful things to respectively have and not have these days. Decided to take the now well worn track across the highveld and down to Kruger for 5 days mixing it a bit between bush tents, rondavels and cottages. Usual digs at the Dullstroom Inn both ways should cap off a balanced mix of pub crawling, star gazing and animal gawping - hope so anyway.

    Reports in due course.

    Cheers,

    Neil
    Hello again from Sherwood.

    I well recognise that this long ago musing about plans to head back to Africa never got a finale - such were the distractions etc applying at the time.

    In an effort to redress that oversight I dug out a few snaps from the trip - I hope these are of interest.

    Firstly, the yurt (Black Eagle lodge) in Matopos NP, Zimbabwe, one of my favourite places on the planet:

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0337 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0093 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    The Matopos Hills are dominated by balancing rocks and whalebacks:

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0182 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0168 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    and full of bushman art from way back when:

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0172 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    My usual digs out on the farm near Kezi:

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0368 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0377 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Leopard trap near the back door in case nature let the cat out:

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0379 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Camp back in town:

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0063 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0024 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0037 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    During that trip I travelled with the half-chewed Andre and his lovely assistant around the back blocks examining entries for last year's "my beautiful (Ndbele) home" competition:

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0561 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0535 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0648 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0572 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0460 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0602 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Who needs a flash kitchen?

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0499 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Close to the shops:

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0426 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0429 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    And handy to transport:

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0554 by Neil Mac, on Flickr


    But take care of hazards:

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0392 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    This was the first prize - don't laugh it draws hundreds of entries.

    Zimbabwe_Oct_Nov17_0621 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Moving on.

    Headed back to South Africa and the usual detour via Kruger NP:

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0619 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0580 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0506 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0446 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0336 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0322 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0235 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0219 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0327 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0548 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_0698a by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Always a few Land Rovers around the veld:

    SA_Oct_Nov17_136 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_128 by Neil Mac, on Flickr
    SA_Oct_Nov17_134 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Then back to my other home away from home - the Dullstroom Inn:

    SA_Oct_Nov17_109 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    For some serious sundownering:

    SA_Oct_Nov17_028 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    SA_Oct_Nov17_027 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Then all too soon, the long flight home.

    Always fun.

    Cheers,

    Neil

  7. #57
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Guanaba, QLD
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    440
    Been waiting a long time for that Neil.

  8. #58
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Brisbane
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    1,988

    More from Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by S3ute View Post
    Don,

    Hello and thanks.

    Yes, I will get around to posting some photos in due course. For some reason, which is probably a simple one, I don’t have a lot of luck posting photos with the iPhone.

    Should be back in Brisbane late tomorrow evening and will have an opportunity during the week to download and edit stuff from both the phone camera and my digital SLR camera.

    Cheers,

    Neil
    Hello again from Sherwood.

    Got to thinking over sundowners last night that this musing lark was getting a bit out of hand - but also vaguely recalled being in arrears on the last trip to Namibia and elsewhere thereabouts.

    So, again I've dredged through the relevant stack of photos and tried to find a few that captured some of it better than others. To be frank, I was fairly disappointed in what was on offer and got to thinking that it might have been age, weather or just a little good old fashioned safari deja vu creeping in - because I hadn't bothered to take a lot of photos of things that I probably should have, and duffed up the lighting or focus on a lot that I did.

    Whatever:

    The trip started in Namibia - a country that I hadn't previously visited, although it was on the bucket list. As time was short, and I was travelling with Ms S3ute who wasn't terribly interested in much of what I might otherwise have detoured to see, the leg was restricted to the coast around Swakopmund and Walvis Bay with a short run up the Skeleton Coast to Cape Cross and then across the desert(s) to Etosha Pan NP. There is, of course, much more to see and do in Namibia than that - but that's what we are working with.

    Walvis Bay is a former British Navy base facing the Atlantic and is a great place to sail and play in the dunes.

    This African pelican was one of the many birds that hang about the place.

    IMG_0181 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Had a great few hours punting around the dunes south of Walvis - but since the vehicle was a Toyota 90 wagon, I thought it better to leave it out - instead here's Ms S3ute adding a human scale to the scenery.

    IMG_0217 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Heading up the coast towards Hentiesbaai the source of the name Skeleton Coast starts to become more apparent - an ex-Angolan trawler the Zeila that took too close a look some years back.

    IMG_0235 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Cape Cross was one of the first landfalls of Europeans on the southern Atlantic coast before they discovered the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Agulhas and the gateway to the Indian Ocean - it has a huge colony of Cape Fur Seals. If the scenery didn't take your breath away the smell of many thousands of seals certainly will.

    IMG_0274 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Many years ago to kill some time I took a course in designing recreational facilities - even without those insights I think I can see the hidden fault in this well meant but poorly executed amenity.

    IMG_0255 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    From Cape Cross we headed inland across the desert towards Outjo on the way to Etosha - the dominant landmark for countless miles is the Brandburg range.

    IMG_0345 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Etosha Pan is a huge former salt lake that attracts a zillion animals each year from the surrounding deserts - so, despite the region's general aridity it has one of the more prolific assemblages of wildlife including most of the so-called "big five" (Buffalo, Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Black Rhino). Really the "big four" since there are actually no African Buffalo in Etosha NP.

    It's hard to capture the scale of Etosha Pan in a single photo - think Lake Eyre or large tracts of Western Queensland.

    IMG_0414 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    IMG_0498d by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    The main public camps - Okaukuejo, Halalie and Namutoni - were originally German military outposts and parts of the old forts remain, such as the one at Namutoni.

    IMG_0391l by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    These forts were subject occasionally to native attacks with significant loss of life for the defenders, but more often were used to restrict livestock movement to control the spread of rinderpest and other contagious animal diseases.

    Being dry, the main sites for playing animal spotto are the artificial waterholes which get visited at pretty much any time of day - and by a diverse array of species at any one time. It's a bit different to Kruger in South Africa where the animals are more common early morning and evening and with less mixing. So, you can pretty much park up at a singe waterhole for hours and the wildlife basically comes to you.

    IMG_0383m by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    IMG_0385p by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    IMG_0400f by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    IMG_0393d by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    IMG_0543 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    The sunsets are spectacular, especially over the waterholes which get a steady stream of visitors at all hours throughout the night.

    IMG_0470 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    And especially by rhinos - in this case Black Rhino. I noted before that these are part of the Big Five which many folks taking a short cut now substitute with the much more common White Rhino. Too easy a cop out! I have literally spent days crawling across the landscape of countless national parks, up hill and down dale, from dawn to dusk trying to find a Black Rhino with little luck. However, Etosha Pan is a welcome exception - the beasties are there in mass for some reason. Plus, and as a bonus, unlike their sulky and singular reputation they are fairly gregarious often congregating in small to medium size groups.

    IMG_0476e by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Southern_Africa_July2019_532 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Of course, all the regulars are there too and most are interesting to watch for a while.

    IMG_0438 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    IMG_0392a by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Including the elephants which in Ethosa are often coated in a white dust for cooling.

    Southern_Africa_July2019_414 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    But, it's the big cats that everyone wants to see, and with that many animals wandering about, the park has an extremely healthy population of lions dotted around it.

    Such as this lady enjoying the late afternoon sun.

    IMG_0403l by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    This sole lioness out on the open plain wasn't immediately visible - the wildebeest carcass was the give away and then the ears.

    IMG_0397a by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Until she stood up.

    IMG_0397s by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    And then got sufficiently ticked with a jackal and some vultures to make a charge.

    IMG_0397zj by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    She kept that up for quite a while and it was going to be a race between her pride or the myriad scavengers getting there first.

    I thought I'd better throw in a couple of Land Rovers for interest. Heading back to Windhoek I came across these two in a dealers window - presumably part of a collection

    IMG_0624 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Earlier at Hentiesbaai there was another - but I failed to locate the owner for the secret handshake.

    IMG_0302 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Later in the trip we headed across to revisit the Victoria Falls staying on both sides of the Zambezi in Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) and Livingstone (Zambia). In both cases, we parked ourselves in fairly comfortable surrounds.

    Victoria Falls Hotel.

    IMG_0802 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Royal Livingstone.

    IMG_0979 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    And took in the Falls from many vantage points.

    IMG_0924 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Also paid homage to the great man himself - Blantyre's most famous son. Also one of the few white people who is still genuinely revered by many black Africans.

    IMG_0900 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    To dispel the impression that a good sundowners session must necessarily involve alcohol....

    IMG_0810 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    However, that was short lived and this is a real sundowners session Zambezi style.

    IMG_1007 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    With the local tipple of choice - Mosi oa Tunya's ice cold.

    IMG_1011 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    One for laughs.

    IMG_1149 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Back to Kruger and Dullstroom again, but that's been well covered before.

    Probably a good time to throw in a few more Land Rovers - this time from Hoedspruit near the Kruger Phalaborwa Gate.

    IMG_1299 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    IMG_1300 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    And the now much sought after South Africa grille badge.

    IMG_1302 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Returning to the original request for photos - especially of the big cats.

    There were heaps about this time and quite a few close encounters. Unfortunately, in Kruger the big cats often attract big crowds and it can be a bit of a free for all to get near them. But not in this case - they came to us.

    IMG_1416 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    These two ladies were on an evening stroll down the road near the Satara Camp and we happened to be heading in the oncoming direction. It was a bit hot and both decided that the Polo would make a good shady spot for a rest and laid down for a while while the crowd built up.

    IMG_1421 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    You could hear both tails banging on the side of the car - I did ask Ms S3ute to wind down the window for a better shot but she declined - rather emphatically, one of the few exchanges of terse words for the whole trip.

    Loath to admit it, but for Namibia we swapped the usual Polo for a more solid off-roader. In this case, a nearly new Fortuner - and it was excellent.

    Southern_Africa_July2019_644 by Neil Mac, on Flickr

    Prior to this trip Ms S3ute had never driven on a gravel road and had only very limited exposure to manual gearboxes - after a couple of thousand clicks of deserts and pans neither still applies.

    All up, it was good clean fun.

    And no animals were hurt making this post up.

    Cheers,

    Neil

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