Mkhuze Peach needs a Balaclava

Later we go on a night game drive in an open vehicle with Patrick, ‘our’ Mkhuze Ezemvelo Ranger. The three of us and a family of four from Durban. On the drive I realise that of the eight people on the vehicle I am the only one reflecting an excessive amount of moonlight from my ‘peachy’ face. Probably scaring the animals.

I’ll have to get meself a balaclava.


Oxpecker collage
Oxpecker collage


Mkhuze Peach

Date: 13 January 2013

We stopped in at the Hluhluwe Spar to buy provisions on our way further north to camp in Mkhuze. Busy, crowded, more basic than city Spars, we gather our stuff and pay at the till.

As we cross the road to the bakkie, Tom looks up at me, lugging his Spar plastic bags:
“You realise you were the only peach in there, Dad?” he asks.
“People were thinking ‘What’s that umLungu doing in here?’ he says.

Actually, I think they were wondering why that umLungu takes so much cheek from that umfana.


umLungu – dignified pale person

umfana – precocious, insolent younger person


Tembe Elephant Park 2010

I looked for our last Tembe trip and found I hadn’t written about it, so here goes, a Tembe retrospective.

We hared off to the elephant park on the  Mocambican border with Jon and Dizzi Taylor. December 2010, so the kids had just turned 13 and 9.

Tembe ele bums-001

Aitch wasn’t well, but game as ever, she got fascinated by the close-up views we had of ele feet and ele bums and used the camera’s rapid-fire setting liberally. I made .gifs of her series of pics:

Our guide Vusi kept driving right up one ele’s bum and eventually it got agitated and turned round, to the kids’ consternation. It just shook its ears at him, but to this day – full knowing that I’ll insist ‘No it didn’t!’ – they’ll say “Remember when that elephant tried to kill us?”

Tembe ele approaches Tom   Tembe with Taylors Tom Ducks

Another kids’ meme that has survived the years is Jonathan leaning inwards as we passed thorny branches intruding onto the track. To this day whenever we drive past a branch Jessie will lean inwards against my shoulder and laugh, even though we’re in an enclosed vehicle!

Jessie, ever the champion spotter, pointed out this beautiful Vine or Twig Snake Thelotornis capensis on the path in camp.

Vine Snake Thembe

Tembe Elephant Park

On one drive we were able to compare a rare black rhino footprint with an unusual white wino foot:

Tembe with Taylors (1258)

Our last game drive was one too much for Aitch. She asked to be taken back to the Lodge and we finished the drive without her. Back pain from her cancer that had spread to her bones meant she reluctantly skipped a drive – something she would never normally do, so we knew it was sore! She had been a champ all along, full of good cheer, but this did turn out to be her last game drive.

Tembe Sunset

footnotes – what we learnt in 2018:

  1. Vusi is now camp manager. He gave a lo-o-ong speech before supper *yawn!*
  2. The painted dogs we saw in the boma were released but the project was not a success. They caught them and shipped them elsewhere. Then one bitch who had wandered off returned and gave birth to 15 pups! So Tembe has painted dogs in the boma again!


Tembe Elephant Park

Yes, said TomTom, he’d join us! YAY! So we head back to Tembe Ele Park after nine years.

It rained and the sun shone and we had grey skies and then it rained hard. We ate well, drank a bit, got wet and had a lot of fun. Jess had a little wobbly when this tusker approached the vehicle, but he was chilled and just ambled past us.

Tembe Ele Park-002

There was no wifi, but Tom simply set up my phone as a hotspot and ate my data, his problem solved.

Tembe Ele Park-001

Tembe Ele Park-003

Tembe Ele Park Feb2018 (250).jpg
There’s a webcam here: See

We had a lovely time and I do believe I’ll get Tom out to a wild area again. I’ll not rush it though, I’ll bide my time.

Tembe Ele Park Map Brochure.jpg




Philosophy – Going On Safari

Get the BEST 4X4 possible, modify it, take engine spares, take all your own food and water and fuel, fit a winch, fit a snorkel, take hi-lift jacks, a big toolkit, solar power, satellite phone, there must be more . . . be entirely self-sufficient.


Sommer just take the car you have, buy food along the way. Meet the locals and depend on them.

Here are two different approaches:

  • I told you about the Austrian biker. Now meet a lady from Cape Town who realised her little Toyota Conquest with close to 400 000km on the clock was turning twenty  – and she was turning eighty! So combined they were 100 years old with plenty high mileage! She thought “Bliksem, it’s Time To Drive Up Through Africa”. She left Cape Town and she’s in Ethiopia now (update: She’s now in Sudan) and going strong. Go and read her blog for an adventure – and for wonderful creative spelling! She calls her blog My African Conquest. Lovely stuff, Julia’s all about BEING THERE and the people along the way.

* pic here *

  • Then there’s this approach: A five year preparation of a monster truck with everything including the kitchen sink. Gas, solar, batteries, diesel, water, fuel, EVERYTHING! This beast has a big buffalo boss above the windscreen and it’s called Nyati! Paul’s approach to his travels is different. He writes like . . stream-of-conscious and he’s more about getting home. He’s no spring chicken at 70 too, so hats off to him!

Now at the pre-COR inspection

Different strokes, different folks. For some it’s more the journey, for some it’s more the equipment. It does tickle me that the big Benz truck has seats with wind-down windows for two, while the tiny Toyota has seats with wind-down windows for four!

But it’s all travel and it’s all good.

Do go.


Bass Beware Again

The bass in Inanda Dam had not been unduly troubled by Tom and Ryan’s kayak-based onslaught some time ago. In Albert Falls Dam they also needn’t have worried. This time Tom and Ryan attacked them from the shore. But the bass were safe again.


The old lake was called Peattie’s Lake. The dam wall was just above Albert Falls. Then they built a bigger dam which drowned the old dam wall and the falls. Pity.


Those falls are drowned somewhere under this:



The frying pan wasn’t needed. Luckily I had bought some meat to cook.


Tom’s One Stop

On the way back from Afriski one year (I think 2012) we drove through Harrismith instead of our usual route down Oliviershoek Pass. Stopping to refuel at the Engen Tom and his mate (Josh, I think) said “Dad. we’re really thirsty, can we have a cooldrink?” Sure, I said and gave the the only cash I had: A R200 note.

When they returned they hopped in and off we went. Later I remembered and asked Where’s my change, m’boy?

“Um, there’s no change Dad”. No change!? “No, in fact, we had to pay in”. Let me see the slip, I asked.

Here’s their “cooldrink”:

Dad, can we stop for a cooldrink, please, we're thirsty!

At least they willingly shared their loot with Jess and me!