Tag Archives: Africa

Playing catch-up

OUCH! Eleven days offline following a severe lightning strike – that was frustrating. Our iPhones helped, but let’s face it, they’re not a satisfactory substitute. What a relief to be fully connected again!

In the meantime, the 2011 enduro season is well underway. It kicked off with the Enduro World Cross Country held a few weeks ago at Hartebeespoort Dam near Johannesburg. Regular readers may remember this venue from last year, but here’s a pic to set the scene:


Nomadik Tents at Enduro World Cross Country, Hartebeespoort Dam

and another to put things in perspective:


Extreme Action from the EWXC Extreme Event – Feb 2011

Fortunately, the rider was fine. Tumbles aside, it’s a great sport – one that draws an awesome crowd together amid some of Southern Africa’s rural splendour. A case in point was the recent Enduro World training tour to Swaziland. We were hosted at the lodge overlooking the magnificent Maguga Dam:


A view from Maguga Lodge – Maguga Dam, Swaziland, Southern Africa

While the guys (and one gorgeous girl – Kirsten Landman, SA’s top lady enduro racer) sweated on their bikes, the rest of us relaxed,


Maguga Lodge deck, overlooking Maguga Dam, Swaziland

enjoyed a sunset cruise,


Sunset over Maguga Dam – Swaziland, Southern Africa

and explored the local arts and crafts centre, including the phenomenal Coral Stephens Handweaving industry:


Arts & Crafts centre – Piggs Peak, Swaziland


Coral Stephens Handweaving shop – Piggs Peak, Swaziland

The recent Lesotho Enduro was the first national race of the season. It took no prisoners; unanimously rated as hard core. Way to go, Dave, finishing 5th in the Masters Class and mere seconds off the podium – despite “youngsters” sneaking in from Seniors, while he’s another year older with nowhere else to go 🙂

In between pit stops, we crew kicked back and took in the scenery:


Mealie field in the early morning – Lesotho, Southern Africa


Herder with goats and enduro pits in the background – Lesotho

Although there’s always the tension that accompanies extreme sport, enduro is far less demanding on us than the riders. Still, tough as it can be, I reckon this smile tells a story:


Dave Estment – Maguga Dam, Swaziland

It’s the reason we’re preparing for the Enduro World Cross Country this weekend, and the Montagu national the next – another perfect excuse for a few days in Cape Town . . .

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Belonging

Belonging is inescapable.


BABY BABOON WITH PARENTS – Moremi, Okavango Delta, Botswana

BELONGING

Acknowledged or not,
there’s no escaping
our own
belonging

Born of one,
born of another,
kissed into being
by the same breath

That bonds a baby
to its mother,
and cleaves a leaf
to a tree

The same sacred
infinitesimal
fibres
of life itself

Know our names,
cradle our souls,
which sing with
gratitude

At being a part
of the perfectly
complete
Whole

©Naomi Estment

Quotes to consider:

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” – Walt Whitman

“No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

“See the things you want as already yours. Think of them as yours, as belonging to you, as already in your possession.” – Robert Collier

“The Earth is what we all have in common.” – Wendell Berry

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable”- Kenyan Proverb

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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“Mud, mud, glorious mud!”

This was certainly the case at Madikwe Game Reserve last week. In a show of sympathy for all those devastated by recent floods around the world, Johannesburg and surroundings have been drenched in downpours over the past while. Madikwe is a mere 3-odd hours’ drive from here, and seems to have shared in the rain too.

Luckily for us, we sneaked into a window of great weather and had the BEST time. Well, probably not better than the African Wild Dogs, who made a meal of the left-over puddles:


AFRICAN WILD DOG wallowing in mud – Madikwe Game Reserve, SA


AFRICAN WILD DOGS cavorting in the road – Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

It wasn’t all rosy, though, like one morning when a Landcruiser got stuck in the mud 😀 Our ranger saved the day, so we witnessed the good deed:


LANDCRUISER stuck in the mud – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


BUSH RESCUE – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

This was the reason for venturing off-road, which caused it all – understandable really!


TRACKS UNDERWATER – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Later, we struck it lucky, courtesy of more puddles, when two lionesses squatted to drink right beside our vehicle. Tell me it gets any better than this!


LIONESSES drinking – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

There was more magic in store, thanks to the rain. The pan was a sea of yellow flowers:


RHINO & ELEPHANT in a sea of yellow flowers – Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

This is our head-ranger mate, Marc (of my previous post fame ;-)), getting down low with his Nikon. Don’t you just love it?


MARC LINDSAY-RAE in action – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

As you can imagine, we had plenty to talk about at the gourmet dinner every evening:


MADIKWE SAFARI LODGE dining area – Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

I could carry on, but instead here are links to my Facebook albums, which tell a lot more: Handful of Highlights – MADIKWE, Jan 2011 Playing on the Pan – MADIKWE, Jan 2011

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A gift that keeps on giving…

Big thanks to the lovely ladies at Well Designed Journeys for featuring a two-post interview with Dave on their beautiful blog, sharing his advice on wildlife photography: Wildlife Photography Tips for Travelers on Safari: Interview with Dave Estment and Wildlife Photography Tips for Travelers on Safari: Part II

This passion has blessed us with countless incredible trips into the African bushveld. It’s one of those gifts that keeps on giving. In fact, we’re off to Madikwe Safari Lodge again tomorrow, courtesy of their head ranger, Marc Lindsay-Rae – a fabulous friend and fellow photographer, who has just won the 2010 Africa Geographic/Canon Photo Competition for rangers and safari guides (with an awesome shot of a mother and calf black rhino charging him). Way to go, Marc! Here he is, with his winning photo (for the month and year):


MARC LINDSAY-RAE with his winning wildlife photo!

For those who don’t know, black rhino’s are endangered, which makes that pic all the more exceptional. We were treated on a previous visit to Madikwe to a spectacular sighting of three together, and a pack of endangered wild dogs on the hunt. It was too dark for decent photo’s, but regular readers of this blog will have seen plenty more wildlife pics in the past. Some stunning ones of Dave’s are included in those two posts at Well Designed Journeys, and here are a few other highlights just for fun:


AMARULA HOT CHOCOLATE – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


MORNING BREAKING – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


BREAKFAST FOR TWO – Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa


MARC, CLAIRE & GREG ENJOYING SUNDOWNERS – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


AFRICAN SUNSET – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


HEAVENLY SUITE – Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa

. . . and a quote from another photographer (as well as actor, artist and writer):

“I have never been in a natural place and felt that was a waste of time. I never have. And it’s a relief. If I’m walking around a desert or whatever, every second is worthwhile.” – Viggo Mortensen

Wishing you all a wonderful few days, until we return with more wild magic to entice you to visit the bush soon too 🙂

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Celebrating Southern African Getaways

Sincere thanks to the fabulous Christine Searle at SA-Venues, for including me in her awesome post: South Africans share their favourite local getaways! It’s a total treat to participate and discover what’s special to others too 😀

Picking only one favourite was impossibly tough, given the abundance we have here – as well as how privileged Dave and I have been, thanks largely to friends, family and our professional photography. I narrowed it down to the African bushveld, because I believe that nothing compares to the ‘soul vacation’ this offers. Here’s the longer list, incorporating more of Southern Africa and a few of the countless highlights we’ve enjoyed:

Londolozi private game reserve, SA – leopards:


LEOPARD CLOSE-UP – Londolozi Game Reserve, South Africa

Madikwe private game reserve, SA – wild dogs:


AFRICAN WILD DOG – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Schotia Safaris, SA – lions:


MUFASA – Schotia Safaris, South Africa

Welgevonden private game reserve, SA – rhino’s & elephants:


RHINO SILHOUETTE – Welgevonden Game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa


ELEPHANT SILHOUETTE – Welgevonden game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa

Timbavati private game reserve, SA – buffalo:


BUFFALO BULL – Timbavati game reserve, South Africa

Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana – abundant game and raptors:


HIPPOS AT SUNSET – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana


FISH EAGLE TAKING OFF – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana – wide open spaces and occasional cheetah:


DAVE checking photo’s on our roofrack – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana


CHEETAH RUNNING – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana

Mozambique – scuba diving, especially Guinjata Bay’s manta rays:


MANTA RAY WITH REMORA FISH – Guinjata Bay, Mozambique


ME SCUBA-DIVING – Mozambique, Southern Africa

Lesotho – enduro riding, in particular the extreme Roof of Africa:


ROOF OF AFRICA 2010 – Lesotho, Southern Africa


VIEW OF MALUTI MOUNTAINS – Lesotho, Southern Africa

Cape Town (where I grew up) – family, fun, Two Oceans & Table Mountain:


TABLE MOUNTAIN from V&A WATERFRONT – Cape Town, South Africa


VIEW OF CAPE POINT – Cape Town, South Africa

As far as wildlife goes, we’re planning perhaps the pinnacle trip for September next year: Serengeti under Canvas in Tanzania with &Beyond Africa, which follows the migration in luxury tents. CAN’T WAIT, especially since it will probably include scenes like these:


WILDEBEEST RUNNING – Masai Mara, Kenya


HOT AIR BALLOON ABOVE MIGRATING WILDEBEEST – Masai Mara, Kenya

I wasn’t lucky enough to accompany Dave to Kenya, where he shot these last two pics, so that’s high on my wish-list of wildlife destinations, along with others in Southern Africa, such as Namibia (where I was born), Zambia (where my father was born and raised) and Zimbabwe (where some of our special friends come from). And that’s just for starters. Ah, AFRICA…what’s to do but LOVE YOU?

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Raising ‘The Roof’!

What a WILD few days – The Roof of Africa 2010, which concluded on Saturday in Lesotho. Fittingly tough for “The Mother of Hardenduro”, it took no prisoners, conceding twenty-two gold medal finishers from a field of about two hundred and fifty. Twenty-four riders earned silver medals and a mere six took home the bronzes. Phenomenal achievements all! The war stories brought tears to the eyes and huge respect to the heart. This event that traverses the massive Maluti mountains, is not for sissies! Unfortunately, after a solid start, Dave’s race ended in a DNF when his motor blew halfway through Friday’s gruelling stint. Here are a few photo’s that tell a snippet of our story:


Team Ysterperd’s opening pit talk – Roof of Africa 2010


Bike Prep – Roof of Africa 2010


DAVE racing ‘around the houses’ on Thursday – Roof of Africa 2010


Parked in Friday’s boggy pits – Roof of Africa 2010


DAVE’s bike in Friday’s starting queue – Roof of Africa 2010


DAVE pulling off on Friday – Roof of Africa 2010


Team Ysterperd pit crew doing their thing – Roof of Africa 2010


Team Ysterperd pit crew at another DSP – Roof of Africa 2010


DAVE in good humour at the end of his race – Roof of Africa 2010


Ramabanta DSP – Roof of Africa 2010


Chilling at Ramabanta DSP – Roof of Africa 2010


Photographing on the dreaded Bushman’s pass – Roof of Africa 2010


Another view of Bushman’s pass – Roof of Africa 2010


Rider’s view of the finish line – Roof of Africa 2010

All in all, this year’s ‘Roof’ raised the bar. It was way better organized and more spectator-friendly than last year’s, drawing crowds of fans and some top international competitors. These were headed up by New Zealander Chris Birch, who won spectacularly for the third time in a row, followed by South Africa’s own Jade Gutzeit and Germany’s Andreas Lettenbichler, ‘Lettie’ for short. Here they are at the Red Bull finish line:


CHRIS BIRCH at the finish line – Roof of Africa 2010


CHRIS BIRCH’s smile after winning the Roof of Africa 2010


Jade Gutzeit at the finish line – Roof of Africa 2010


JADE GUTZEIT with his wife Rina after the Roof of Africa 2010


LETTIE tossing his bike – Roof of Africa 2010


LETTIE punching the air – Roof of Africa 2010


LETTIE after finishing The Roof of Africa 2010


Champagne on the podium – Roof of Africa 2010

To read more about all the guts and glory, visit: www.roof-of-africa.com, and for loads more photo’s, here’s a link to Dave’s Facebook album: Roof of Africa 2010.

Sincere THANKS to all our friends who helped us tremendously, huge CONGRATS to the winners and WELL DONE to everyone who took part! One thing’s for sure: our deposit will be paid the moment booking opens for next year.

Now, just in case you’re thinking the event is all about the riders, this video explains a whole lot more: Continue reading

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Judgement

Judgement can be unjust.


VULTURE COMING IN TO LAND – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


VULTURES FEEDING – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

It’s a steamy summer evening near the Kruger National Park. Anticipation spikes the sunset as we pull up to the ‘vulture restaurant’ at Moholoholo (“The Very Great One”) rehabilitation centre. A simple patch of sand to us, the spot is significant to the birds. Dozens of them. The moment the carcass thuds to earth, they swoop in from their circling. A bombardment of quietly beating feathers flares dust into the air, muffling soft tearing and crunching sounds. Not a single squawk is uttered.

Each species knows precisely what to do. Larger-beaked prey ‘openers’ jostle beside their cousins who pick the bones clean. The ten minute melee is marked by precision feeding, highlighted with huge hops and tugs of war, as well as the intermittent scampering of a warthog. He’s having dinner too, snatching morsels from the heaving heap.

As swiftly as it began, the meal is over; barely a scrap to mark the spot. A flurry of large bodies lifts off and flies away. No wonder Nature is not strewn with waste. Among the less endearing of her feathered set, vultures sometimes receive a bad rap. Perhaps not the prettiest, they each have a part to play. As we all do.

Quotes to consider:

“Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves” – Euripides

“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” – Ian Percy

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Gustav Jung

“The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.” – Georgia Harkness

“. . . It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” – Paulo Coelho

“Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes” – George Bernard Shaw

Here are a few more pics taken by Dave:


VULTURES & MARABOU STORKS – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


WARTHOG WITH VULTURES – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


WHITEBACKED VULTURE – Moholoholo, Hoedpsruit, South Africa


WHITEBACKED VULTURE – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

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