Milibangalala

We joined the Hills on their annual pilgrimage to Ponta Milibangala in the Maputo Elephant Park in Southern Mocambique. I think ca. 1999 – must check.

Milibangalala Beach.jpg
– me and the Padre d’água slowly sinking into the incoming tide –

We needed 4X4 to get there, so swapped our smart, sleek up-to-date VW kombi for Bruce’s old rusty battered VW kombi 4X4 Syncro. OK, so that description wasn’t strictly true, but you’ll see why I needed to make it soon – upfront – for strategic reasons.

It was hot on the way. Between Xmas and New Year. Windows down wasn’t enough so we opened the front doors and a breeze wafted around our legs. That was better. Up and down we see-sawed in the sandy dunes. It had rained and water pooled in the bottoms of all the dips between dunes.

Then we hit one of those puddles a bit too fast. I was amazed at how big the bow wave was! We really weren’t going fast, but it still WAS too fast. Muddy water flooded the cab. I stopped to clean. It cleaned easily except: There was muddy water in the headlights outside and in the speedo gauge inside. I thought I saw tadpoles swimming at the 40km/h mark. Later they emptied but a high-water mark remained! At the camp I gave the kombi a big cleanup again, but the mudstains inside the headlights and speedometer were out of reach. There was no dodging this: I would have to confess to Howick’s Mayor-in-Exile, Broose Soutar.

Map

Theo – 50kg Kingfish – latin name. Trevally – Spear fish

We snorkel’d with a whale shark – briefly. With no seeming effort he just swam away, too fast to keep up with.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Update 2020: The Hills went to Mili again – its about 22 years now that they made their sacred annual pilgrimage. The family has grown in all directions. Here they are, minus Tatum, but two girlfriends added:

– Goldie, GF, Gary, David, Stu, GF –
– yes, mili is changing – like every beautiful spot, we tend to move in and multiply –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Good God Father!

Just because I’m not a good Godfather doesn’t mean I can’t have a good Godson. In fact I have two. Here’s an excerpt from the life of one: Gary Hill spent a few magic years as a MalaMala game ranger! His complete final blog post is here. Here’s a brief excerpt, featuring just four of his amazing photos.

Gary Hill pays tribute to the animals he encountered at MalaMala

As guides at MalaMala, we often feel as though we are personalities in an ongoing wildlife documentary. Following the journeys of the animals as they move through their daily lives is a tremendous privilege and an experience that will not be easily forgotten. The script of the documentary cannot be predicted. Every excursion into the bush reveals dramatic discoveries, and one is constantly engaged in a roller-coaster of emotions.

During my time as a guide, I have been lucky to witness some incredible sights. I have always said in the blogs that to see any of these animals is amazing, and the interaction between the species is really special. This is the ‘MalaMala magic’, and it is always out there waiting to be found. There have been too many fantastic sightings to share, but I have been sure to record each and every one, no matter how seemingly insignificant, in my journal and have tried my best to keep a photographic collection.

Lions: The Selati pride gave us a sighting of a lifetime when they brought down a kudu bull in the Sand River, in broad daylight and in plain sight for us to all see.

 

Young-lioness-launches-upon-the-kudus-rear-Gary-Hill

Following the movements of the powerful Manyelethi males has been incredible. They are a formidable coalition that are likely to dominate for the next few years. To shadow these four beasts as they move on a territorial patrol, or to have them roar in close proximity to the Land Rover, is a humbling experience.

The-Manyelethi-male-moves-through-the-Matshapiri-River.-He-is-my-favourite-of-the-brothers-Gary-Hill

Leopards: It is unfair to single out one species as a favourite. However, there is nothing more spectacular than a leopard. Their beauty is astounding. Their hunting ability astonishing. And, their cunning and intelligence is tangible. They have individual characters, and have been my favourite animal to view. The rich history and heritage of the leopards of MalaMala makes these animals even more fascinating.

Ostrich-Koppies-female-Gary-Hill

As a guide at MalaMala, you are a small part of a such an efficiently run camp. Thank you to all the staff of the camp who make everyday routines run so smoothly. MalaMala is a world class destination, and that is due to all your hard work. I would like to thank all the rangers for playing such a huge role in my experiences. We have become great friends and I will miss being part of such a dynamic team. I have crossed paths with many wonderful guests along the way and it has been a great pleasure sharing the magic of MalaMala with you all!

Gary Hill

Ranger – MalaMala Game Reserve
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