South Africa
Mogale City

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18 travelers at this place

  • Day93

    Johannesburg Day 2 - Cradle of Humankind

    February 25 in South Africa ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    I got up early at 6.30am for Kristen, Brian, Graham and my planned trip to the 'Cradle of Humankind' which is an area of many limestone caves near to Johannesburg where evidence of many fossilized early hominid bones have been found. We had a nice breakfast of cereal and toast in the communal kitchen before getting an Uber taxi to the Maropeng Visitor Centre where there was a large and impressive museum of information about the geological history of the Earth and the complex web of fossil finds in local caves indicating our many early hominid forebears, some of whom became our ancestors and some of whom went extinct. It was incredible to think of the expanses of time during which our early ancestors were living in this region along with many now extinct animals such as a long legged hyena that probably hunted more than scavenged like current hyenas do. The museum outlined the complex webs of hominid evolution with a more recent find of a previously unknown species of early homonid, Homo Naledi, where many skeletons and bones were found in the back corner of a cave where they could not have been washed in, indicating that these early hominids had burial rites where they placed bones of their dead in a particular place. It was previously thought that this was the preserve of later hominids like our own homo sapien ancestors. The museum also outlined the various theories as to how hominids departed their birthplace in Africa in several waves into Asia, Australia and Europe, and how modern humans may have followed this same path and displaced or absorbed earlier hominid migrators through interbreeding like the Neanderthals who went extinct relatively recently several thousand years ago. The museum was very interactive and would have been a fun way for older children to learn about hominid evolution as well. There is clearly a lot of speculation about this complex hominid evolution and ideas are changing with ongoing new and exciting fossil discoveries. This area of Africa is proving to be a fruitful place for this exploration of our ancient past. I reflected on how this journey had taken us back to the birthplace of all our most distant ancestors, right back to early mammals and monkeys. It was humbling to think about.
    After the museum, we went to the Sterkfontein Caves for a guided tour of the caves where the fossilized bones of early Australopithecus hominids have been discovered in quite large number including The Taung Child, Mrs. Ples and Little Foot. Most of these unfortunate early hominids had fallen into the cave through the many sink holes and never managed to escape, were calcified and then fossilized over thoisands of years where they were then discovered during archeological digs. Some of the chambers of these caves were of an impressive size. As we left the caves we could pass a current excavation and look over the surrounding landscape and imagine these early ape faced hominids walking in small communities across the land many hundreds of thousands and even millions of years ago. The museum had earlier displayed some very good reconstructions of what these early small hominids would have looked like.
    After our enjoyable visit to the Cradle of Humankind we got the same Uber taxi back to the Backpackers Connection hostel about an hour away. We ordered some lunch at the bar and had some cool drinks to combat the increasingly hot weather. Kristen was then due to leave for the airport at 4pm and we all said our goodbyes to her. I had enjoyed some interesting conversations with Kriaten during our trip and we also had a shared interest in ancient rock art and early hominid evolution which had led us to find sites with rock paintings and it was Kristen who had found and organised our trip to the Cradle of Humankind that day. I was also thinking of doing the same Oasis Overlamd trip through central Asia that Kristen is planning to do.
    After Kristen's departure, we played pool doubles, and Jemma and Grant finally beat myself and Graham which they had previously been unable to do - they were both pleased to have broken our undefeated status. I then returned to the porch of my safari tent to write my blog as the evening cooled.
    Brian, Graham, Jemma, Grant, Oftan, Chris and I, all had dinner of sausage and mash in the hostel dining room at 8pm. We chatted about our travels and the potential impact that the Corona virus will have for future travels. We all retired to our tents, rooms and dorms after the late dinner. My tent was very cool again as I went off to sleep.
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  • Day94

    Johannesburg - Day 3

    February 26 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    I got up at 7.45am which felt like a long lie in after all the very early mornings on our trip. I got a hot shower and had the light breakfast provided by the hostel. Often, our wonderful driver, was due to leave with his faithful truck, Chui, at 9am that morning and head all the way back to Nairobi where he lives and the truck is kept. I had a last look around the truck to say my 'goodbyes' to our travelling home for the last three months. Then it was time to say a fond farewell to Often who had been so helpful and kind during our trip. I asked Often to sing the ubiquitous Swahili 'Jambo' song one more time so that I could record it and also recorded him saying his cheerful 'Jambo, jambo' good morning which we heard every morning as he arrived for breakfast. It was now my turn to sadly wave off the truck and say goodbye as Often drove off and away.
    Grant and our tour leader, Jemma, then had an intriguing proposition for Graham and I - They were planning to hire a car as part of their longer stay in South Africa and were going to visit another local wildlife park, the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, near to Johannesburg - They kindly offered to take us along for the ride which we readily agreed to.
    I went back to my tent to do my final packing for my flight the following day and made good progress, throwing out all the things I no longer needed and managed to squeeze the rest tightly into my larger rucksack.
    I had some quick lunch in the hostel bar. It was then time to say a fond farewell to Brian who had been a very kind and valued friend all through the long journey from the beginning to the end. He was also a very witty and humorous Irishman who could remain positive and optimistic in the most trying of circumstances - something I often failed to do and could learn from. We hugged goodbye and agreed that we would keep in touch.
    Grant, Jemma, Graham and I then got a lift to the airport to pick up the hire car which unfortunately took over 45 minutes to organise with Eurocar, leaving us less time for our planned safari. We drove out of Johannesburg with the city centre skyscrapers shining in the hazy distance and arrived at the wildlife park about an hour later. The park was in the the same 'Cradle of Humankind' area that we had visited the previous day. It was a smaller park with fenced, but quite large enclosures for different animals. The enclosures for the predators was due to close at 4pm so we drove to there first. We had to drive through the much larger park area for herbivores to get to the carnivores and saw a lot of zebra, eland, wildebeest and warthogs along the way. It was wonderful to see these beautiful African animals for one last time before I left Africa especially as it was unexpected that I would get another chance. We arrived at the gated predator enclosures and entered the lion enclosure. We could see lions in the distance lazing under a tree but couldn't get close on the available tracks through the bush. We therefore drove through another gate to the wild dogs enclosure. We drove around the perimeter track and actually saw white lions close by in the adjoining enclosure. These were stunning looking, large lions with their white coats and manes. We really wanted to see the wild dogs and so started another loop of the perimeter and were quickly rewarded by seeing three wild dogs lying in the shade of a small tree. They looked up as we arrived and I was able to get some nice photos of them. The wild dogs got up a couple of times to walk around before lying back down. They were quite nervous and would jump up if they heard an unfamiliar noise such as workmen working in a nearby enclosure. I was very pleased to see these rare and endangered animals for the first time before I left Africa. We then drove through another gate into the cheetah enclosure. Again, we drove around the perimeter and again we saw two male white lions in the adjoining enclosure. As we continued around the perimeter red mud track we came across two cheetah lying in the shade of a bush out of the hot African sun. One of the cheetahs was lying in the open right in front of us and was a particularly beautiful example of these sleek and lithe cats. We then drove up to the white lion enclosure gate. Unfortunately, one of the large male white lions had laid down near the gates and it was not possible for the woman who opened the gates for the cars to open the gate as the lion was too close to her. She then somewhat bizarrely started throwing small stones at the lion and shouting to him to move away. The lion moved a few metres and laid down, refusing to move again. This seemed to be far enough away for the woman and she opened the gate for us. We then got some great views of this very large and beautiful white maned lion as he looked about and then stood up to walk a few more metres before lying down in the long grass again. We saw several more white lions almost hidden in the long grass as we continued up the track. We later saw an impressive looking female lioness at more of a distance before we left the white lion enclosure and returned to the wild dog enclosure to try to see them again, but this time they had completely disappeared into the long grass of the enclosure and made us realise how lucky we had been to see them and the other predators. We then returned to the normal lion enclosure. As we drove around the perimeter track, we decided to take a turn down quite a rough looking track that bisected the enclosure and were rewarded by seeing two male lions lying in the shade of the bush right by the road. We then saw a lioness peering at us through the bushes. We left the predator enclosures and drove back through the herbivore's enclosure to an area of smaller caged enclosures. Here we saw white tigers and their cubs, a male leopard, a black female leopard and their cub, black jaguar's and their cubs and two more white tiger cubs. While it was lovely to see these exotic breeds of predators, I felt uncomfortable about the small size of the enclosures and saw the huge male white tiger was pacing around like a bored prisoner. These animals are used to travelling over large territories in the wild and I feel it is cruel to keep them captive in such relatively small spaces.
    After the small enclosures, we drove back out into the large herbivore's enclosure. We saw blue striped wildebeest which were magnificent looking beasts with thick, curved horns. We passed a waterhole area filled with zebra, sable, oryx, wildebeest, ostrich and warthogs. As we drove by on our way back to the main gate with only 15 minutes to go until they closed the park, we saw a white rhino walking up to the same waterhole on the other side of the road. We stopped and reversed up the road to watch this magnificent icon of Africa walk up and cross the road right behind the vehicle. We were about to drive off again, when another five white rhino walked up towards the road. We reversed again so that they all passed in front of us and up to the waterhole. The male followed behind the females and was clearly nervous and a bit skittish about our vehicle being close by. He jumped around as an antelope walked behind him. We reversed back along the road as we were concerned that the male rhino would decide to charge the car which would put all our lives at risk. We reversed onto a different road and drove back to the main gates that way. We were all exhilarated to have had another close encounter with wild rhino just before we left the park and it was a wonderful way to finish my experience of African wildlife on this long journey across Africa.
    We then drove back to our hostel in the outskirts of Johannesburg while a beautiful red sunset was forming above the motorway with a large orange sun descending through the bright clouds and shedding rays over the centre of Johannesburg. As we arrived back at the hostel the sun became a deeper orange as it closed down on the residential horizon. Soon after an orange crescent moon lifted above the horizon into the clear, darkening sky. This was another wonderful final view of the epic African skies at sunset. We waited for our beef stew dinner at the hostel and I again retired early to my tent, but sat outside writing my blog before going in to sleep and saw a few bats darting through the night sky. I went to bed and slowly fell asleep in the cooling night to draw a final veil of dreams over my last night in Africa.
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  • Day2

    Sterkfontein e o Berço da Humanidade

    December 28, 2019 in South Africa ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    Saímos de manhã para as grutas de Sterkfontein, a cerca de 40 kms de Joanesburgo. Nesta área foi encontrado aquele que pode ser considerado como o primeiro humano. Em 1947, foi encontrado um crânio quase completo, que Dr Robert Broom disse ter pertencido a uma fêmea e terá uma idade entre 2,8 e 2,3 milhões de anos. As cavernas, de formação cársica, apresentam as clássicas estalagmites e estalactites e levam-nos ate 60m de profundidade. É muito interessante perceber como a prospeção do calcário, ligada à do ouro, levou a uma descoberta mais recente na mesma caverna de um esqueleto quase completo de outro exemplar, mas com uma idade estimada em 3,3 milhões de anos. A família Stegmann, proprietária destas terras, doou as cavernas à Universidade de Witwatersrand em 1958. No local existe o Robert Broom Museum, desde 1966, que tem informação sobre os achados, assim como sobre a evolução humana. À tarde vamos para Berço da Humanidade, Maropeng, que significa “retorno ao lugar de origem” em Setswana, uma das onze línguas oficiais da África do Sul. No Maropeng Visitor Centre viaja-se no tempo até ao começo do nosso universo, há cerca de 14 bilhões de anos, até o presente. A mostra levanta questões, entre outras, de como nosso cérebro se desenvolveu, de onde veio a linguagem, quando foi o fogo usado pela primeira vez e quais os riscos que nossa espécie corre no futuro. Quando se sai do centro dá-se de caras com uma vista incrível das colinas em direção a Magaliesberg, uma das melhores vistas em Gauteng.Read more

  • Day240

    Die Wiege der Menschheit

    April 29, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Heute wollen wir uns mit unseren Urururgroßvätern beschäftigen und fahren zur Höhle von Sterkfontain, einer von Dutzenden Ausgrabungsstätten, verteilt auf fast 500 km2 Fläche. Hier wurden soviele fossile Hominiden ausgegraben wie nirgendwo sonst auf der Welt. In der Sterkfontain Höhle kam 1947 der Schädel des ersten überwiegend aufrecht gehenden menschlichen Vorfahren, der bereits seit über drei Millionen Jahren das südliche Afrika bevölkerte, zum Vorschein. Der Schädel wurde von den Wissenschaftlern Mrs. Plen getauft, das Alter wird auf 2,5 Millionen Jahre geschätzt. 1997 fand man das fast vollständige Skelett eines weiteren Urzeitmenschen, der vor 3,5 Millionen Jahren lebte.
    Funde wie diese bestätigen die schon von Darwin geäußerte Theorie, dass sich der Entwicklungsschritt vom Affen zum Menschen hier in Afrika vollzogen hat. So sind wir quasi alle kleine Afrikaner 😉, denn hier ist die Wiege der Menschheit.
    Passend dazu werden wir von unserem Guide zur Höhlenführung mit "Willkommen daheim" begrüßt 😃! In der Höhle werden uns die Fundorte der Knochen und weitere Ausgrabungsorte gezeigt, wie zum Beispiel das Fossil einer Babyantilope. Leider sind wir nicht Wissenschaftler genug, um hier was sinnvolles zu erkennen 🙁. Aber die Höhle ist wunderschön und auch allein wert, betrachtet zu werden 😉.
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  • Day240

    Maropeng

    April 29, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Im Besucherzentrum in Maropeng, ein paar Kilometer entfernt, werden die naturwissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisse zur Entwicklung der Welt anschaulich dargestellt. Es geht los mit der Entstehung der Erde (können wir auf einer kurzen Bootstour erleben), über die verschiedenen Entwicklungsstufen des Menschen, bis zur heutigen modernen Welt. Es ist schon spannend, wenn einem so vor Augen geführt wird, wie und wo genau wir herkommen und wo es hinführen kann! Dieses Museum zeigt uns, das wir Menschen zwar einmalig aber doch alle gleich sind und das jegliche Diskriminierung aufgrund von Rasse oder Hautfarbe völliger Blödsinn ist.Read more

  • Day3

    Cradle of Humankind

    July 13, 2018 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Unsere Reise ins Ungewisse beginnt mit dem Besuch der Wiege der Menschheit, Cradle of Humankind. Das Museum und die Caves sind sehr spannend. Die vielen Infos findet ihr am besten im Internet.

    Hier in Südafrika wird es um sechs Uhr dunkel und so kommen wir nach einer mehrstündigen Fahr bei Nacht in unserem ersten Resort an. Die Gastgeber machten sich schon etwas Sorgen. Doch wir sind die Krebses und Leimgrubers, wir schaffen das schon (wenn auch sehr müde).Read more

  • Day2

    Piece by piece

    July 19, 2018 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Arrived at my temporary home I started to assemble my Motor. I did't had a garage or workshop - the parking lot was fine enough though. It wasn't a busy place but people came by asking questions facinated by what I was doing and have planned on doing.

    After a longer chat with a very friendly nearby landowner I told him that I'm a bit scared about the wildlife out in the field. He replied: "You must not be. Animals are much more honest than people or cars und such. If you see a lion just make yourself big and scream and he runs away." Let's see if that works - but after my driving experience so far I'm starting to belive him 😄
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  • Day3

    Hungry yet?

    July 20, 2018 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    I have no idea if I'll get a cross a shop or store to buy food along my route. Maybe because I still haven't defined the final route - I know... 🙈

    So apart from getting a new starter battery (mine hasn't made it through shipping) and some other stuff - today was about food.

    How many calories I'm going to burn a day? What is the absolute minimum? I never did this before and I really don't have a clue. Reading a few things a figgured I'm going to burn around 1800 kcal if I don't move at all. Recommended (activity wise) at my age, hight and weight is 3'000 to 3'400. That's too much to carry. Why don't loose a few pounds when it comes easy 🤣

    Max race duration is from 25th of July to 3rd of August - 10 days. I'm counting with 8. I got about 21'000 kcal in 4.9kg or 2'600/day. Thats 430kcal/100g which is a good ratio. What can you buy with this energy level at a usual grocery store? Choclate, Nuts, more chocolate - more nuts. Some dried fruits a little beef jerky for good measure, some Darvida I brought from home and porridge for breakfast. Shit I don't even remember the last time I ate that. But it has a good weight to energy ratio. And hell - that's another 5kg I have to carry on my back during take-off.

    En guätä 😋
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Mogale City

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