January 2017
  • Day25

    Homeward bound

    February 9, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Left Memel about 07h15 - we ARE early birds! Drove through some mist over the high ground and then there were 1000's of Amur falcons between Memel and Vrede - Yay 😀
    After that it was fairly plain sailing.
    We completed the Circumnavigation when we rejoined the N3 at Villiers.
    Whew.
    Took a different route through Benoni to avoid the N3 and N1 traffic in Jhb. We think it worked...
    Arrived home at about 12h30. What a trip. Whew.
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  • Day24

    Memel Day 2

    February 8, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Schalk arranged for us to visit the Lion Farm (we have been there once before) owned by Ted and Kiewiet. We picked him up at 10h30 and headed south along the Vlei. Had to stop on the way for a bunch of birds - including both glossy and bald ibis and a black raptor we couldn't identify. (I reckoned it was a black harrier but Bill insists they only come here in winter. We've had this argument a couple of times on this trip 😊)
    At the Lion Farm the daughter, Mieke, served us drinks then took us on a game drive - in a special game viewing vehicle. It was interesting: 2 dogs shared the front passenger seat while the guy who helped us on to the vehicle and opened and shut farm gates had to hang on behind us...
    This is obviously a game breeding farm: white springbok and blesbok, black impala. There were both black and blue wildebeest on the farm but we didn't see a golden one. We saw roan, sable, waterbuck, kudu, nyala and buffalo - not all grassland species.
    Their big deal of course is breeding lion. We missed that part of the tour 'cos Kiewiet was supposed to do it but was busy with other visitors. We did see some very small and some older cubs - in separate enclosures so not in prides. There was also at one point on the game drive a lioness with 2 very little cubs.
    It's much better seeing these animals in the wild.
    We had a very nice lunch at the farm, then spent a quiet afternoon catching up on pictures and stuff.
    We met Schalk at the Pub for a drink and then said our goodbyes.
    Now we just need to pack for the final leg tomorrow.
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  • Day23

    Memel Day 1

    February 7, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    Schalk came for breakfast and then we went birding in the Seekoeivlei. It was quite wet and there were one or two watery 4x4 spots we had to swim through.
    We checked in at the first bird hide - which we all reckoned was not ideally designed; at the second hide the road was a river so we couldn't stop 😫 Juanita swam through and then we turned around and swam back - to get back to the entrance.
    The official at the gate was a Mr Manganye who said the Waterberg is his home area.
    We then drove all the way around the Vlei. The road wasn't too hot but the birding was great ( except for several LBJ'S 😏).
    It was lunch time by the time we got home, so we had bread and cheese and then decided to take the afternoon off.
    POps wasn't feeling well and both he and Schalk wanted to watch cricket and then it rained and rained so that was OK.
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  • Day22

    Ladysmith to Memel

    February 6, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    We were a bit lazier today as we didn't have far to go. After all the excitement of baby cuckoos we had breakfast in Naunton's dining room (R100 each - ouch!) and then packed up the car in the rain. Yes, it was still raining.
    Decided to do a bit of shopping at Newcastle as it was still too early to get to Memel. The Newcastle Mall is new since we lived there and is much bigger than the Modimall (it has Checkers AND Pick 'n' Pay). So we provisioned ourselves for a few days at Pick 'n' Pay.
    We called Schalk and arranged to meet him for lunch at the Memel pub, then set off over yet another mountain pass - Botha's Pass. Of course it's tarred and mild compared with some we've recently experienced 😊
    Steak, egg and chips for lunch and it was good to meet up with Schalk again. Turned out it was Rita Bodde's birthday so Schalk invited us also for coffee at Rita's in the afternoon.
    Coffee and cake turned into champagne and snacks with about 10 people at the party!
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  • Day22

    Naunton Guest House, Ladysmith

    February 6, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Naunton's was nice. The room was comfortable with a big window on a rather lovely garden.
    The big excitement was this morning with lots of birds in the garden even in the rain. There was a pair of familiar chats desperately trying to feed a red-crested cuckoo chick at least 3 times their size!

  • Day21

    It rained and it rained and it rained...

    February 5, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Of course we woke at 06h00 - and we had arranged for our stuff to be portered back to the car at 08h00 - so we were ready early!!
    In the end we left The Old Hatchery just after 8.
    And it was cloudy and rainy all the way to Ladysmith.
    There was a turnoff to Marutswa Forest so we had a look. Perhaps it's not open on Sundays. Trails laid out, but empty office. Not for the foot-hearted or decrepit, so we left. Had to negotiate goats.
    We had a coffee break at Howick after checking the Falls (which were not very full).
    By the time we got to Ladysmith it was pouring! We had Sunday buffet lunch at the Royal Hotel for auld lang syne (we celebrated Bill's 60th there in 2003 with Peter and Merryn Brunt).
    The rain stopped for us to get to the car but was pouring again when we reached Naunton's Guest House about 11 km out on the Newcastle road.
    The rest of the day was spent sleeping and watching the rain. And reading the Sunday Crimes.
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  • Day20

    Underberg Day 2 pm

    February 4, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    We had a bigger adventure in the afternoon.
    Decided to find the road we went on with Stuart yesterday out of Himeville. This was great to start with - the white storks and bald ibis were still in the same place. Stuart had told us that if we continued straight the gravel road would eventually intersect the Underberg-Howick road (which we will take tomorrow); alternately, if we turned right on the D8 we would get back to Himeville. So of course we took the D8 'cos that would be shorter to the tar.
    Wrong!
    We had to make a decision at a fork and went careering off on a not very good road all over the country (or so it felt). Did see another long-crested eagle and what we reckon was a common buzzard (steppe buzzard), and eventually intersected the Howick-Underberg road.
    Since we had no idea where we were, we turned left and set off for Howick. Fortunately we realised quite quickly that we were going in the wrong direction, and eventually made it home.
    (And it rained and there were flooded fields and rivers running across the road too.)
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  • Day20

    Underberg Day 2

    February 4, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    After yesterday's adventure today was looking quite tame, which is not a bad thing. We left The Old Hatchery peacefully after breakfast and turned right on the Drakensberg Gardens road instead of left to Underberg. It was cloudy and cool, with some good pictures of the mountains and wild flowers. The road ends at Drakensberg Gardens Lodge where they wanted us to pay R25 each just to go through the gate before ever we could get a cup of tea or anything. So we skipped and turned around.
    We stopped at the Eland's Rest Convenience Store a couple of km back, and sat on their little stoep eating Magnum ice creams. Then we drove past the Old Hatchery to the Underberg Cheesery. Unfortunately they didn't offer a tour or anything, but we could see a small cheese storage room (through a window) and could taste and then buy the cheese we liked. Which we did.
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  • Day19

    Underberg Day1: Sani Pass DOWN

    February 3, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    What goes up has to come down and so we had to descend the RSA side of Sani Pass. We stopped again at the top for a comfort break and to take pictures of the cloud hanging like a white cloth over the valley.
    Again we saw nothing but the lights of the car in front of us until we came out below the cloud so we have no idea what it looks like except in very small patches.
    Stuart then took us on a dirt road around Himeville/Underberg to show us blue cranes (2) and grey crowned cranes (73) which was cool.
    Back at The Old Hatchery at about 5 we bought Stuart a Coke and waved him goodbye. It was an excellent birding day and I learned loads about how to be a proper birder 🐦🐦
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