Flying ants, black rhino, wild dogs and a magic unidentified raptor.
Plus impressive thunderstorms, pelting rain, dry stream beds that ended up running merrily. The Hluhluwe river changed from dry sandy bed to quite a brown torrent between Friday night and Sunday morning.
I thought ‘Augur Buzzard’ as I stopped the car just outside the reserve cattle grid gate on the main road. Three raptors were soaring in the wind welling up from a little ridge on the north of the road, right overhead.
Pale leading edge, rust-coloured trailing edge, black ‘fingers’; A falcon-like head pattern (yet not quite) and the size of a YBK or a marsh harrier). Soaring and diving spectacularly. Saw the underside mainly. Upperside I think brown-ish. Forgot to take a photo!! Foolish!
A coucal bubbling in the rain, then listening intently till his mate or rival called then immediately hunching and bobbing into his call (The girls said “Look Dad: he’s laughing!”.
Yep, three teen girls. Who were most impressed by the buffet breakfast and most unimpressed by the massive thunderclap that banged right overhead in the wee dark hours of Saturday. “Dad, I thought the thatch was going to catch fire!” says Jess. And by the lack of wifi.
Samango and vervet monkeys with babies, bushbuck, nyala, duiker, impala, zebra, francolin, longclaws, lots of buffalo, a dozen white rhino; Two eles right at the roadside each munching a tree for breakfast; Baboon; a hippo out of water; a few giraffe.
This time in winter. Tom loved it. Caught many small blacktail, karanteen, bronze bream, one shad and stayed on the rocks for hours. I had to fetch him and march him to the showers threatening not to feed him till he smelt civilised.
Jess and friend Jordi lay in their tent and watched videos. Could just as well have been at home. Then she asked to go home a day early, after four nights instead of five. Tom said fine so we got home today instead of tomorrow. Suits me.
When we got there Monday I found I had only forgotten the tent poles, the flysheet, the groundsheet, the kettle and the food, but otherwise we were Be Prepared. Like Boy Scouts.
So we ate at the restaurant, the girls slept in the back of the bakkie, Tom slept on the front seat and I slept under the stars. It rained, but I was warm despite my ear filling up. Tuesday I went home and fetched the above-mentioned and we were snug as bugs thereafter.
Get the kids to put together a check list for next camping trip while the discomfort is still fresh in their memories…. Tape it to the inside of the bakkie. And put them in charge of “equipment”
Just joking. my two would just roll their eyes…
(They both arrived last night on a flight from Auckland)
Ending the trip a day earlier – sounds familiar.
I think it happens when the home comforts beckon
Specially that new bathroom.
Thats so funny ! We forgot our tentpoles too once and had to crash on some poor chalets carpet as it was 4 hours from home . All five of us . very embarressing . But you beat me here ! Nice fishing Tom , Leo would be so jealous . Those two must fish together one day . And you know , kids , there is dad – killing himself and sleeping in the rain and they wanna watch videos and go home early . I can picture mine saying that too . Id force them all to stay and we d pull faces at each other for 2 days . You re much wiser . We had this grim holiday in Port Alfred once where it rained nonstop and was freezing . Jacques got flu and depression and stayed in bed . I tortured the kids for a week until Jacques persuaded me to give up and go home . He drove back so fast and only stopped once for a sandwich – no peeing allowed . You win some , you lose some .
Sand Forest is a rare, very distinctive forest type with a unique combination of plant and animal species. As far as is known, this vegetation type is more or less restricted to ancient coastal dunes in northern KwaZulu-Natal and the extreme southern portion of Mozambique (together: Maputaland). Sand forest harbours many rare and unusual plant and animal species.
Sand Forest Lodge just east of Hluhluwe village on the road to Sordwana Bay is a lovely spot. We spent two nights there this week, the kids each taking a friend along.
More: Sand forests are thought to be relics of coastal dune forests, which have been separated from the ocean for more than a million years as the shoreline has shifted slowly eastwards over the millennia. Dunes have accreted on the southeast African coastal plain since the Pliocene (around 5 million to 2.5 million years before present) and frequent sand mobilization events during climatic changes have resulted in some reworking of the dunes. The geological history of the region suggests that the current ecosystems here may be of recent derivation and many endemic plant taxa comply with the concept of neo-endemics (recent locally evolved species), and biological evolution (notably speciation) is still in an active phase.
Sand forest harbours many rare and unusual plant and animal species, including several Maputaland Centre endemics. Because of its restricted occurrence and unusual species complement, sand forest is perhaps the most unique plant community in the Maputaland Centre. Of the 225 Maputaland Centre plant endemic species, 30 are associated with it and 20 restricted to it. In the case of birds, Neergaard’s sunbird is strongly associated with it.
Plant species that characterise sand forest (licuati forest) are Drypetes arguta, Uvaria lucida subsp. virens, Cola greenwayi, Balanites maughamii, Psydrax fragrantissima, Hyperacanthus microphyllus, Dialium schlechteri, Pteleopsis myrtifolia, Ptaeroxylon obliquum, Croton pseudopulchellus and Newtonia hildebrandtii. The protruding crowns of many of the larger species are usually covered by epiphytes, such as the wiry orchid Microcoelia exilis and various lichens including Usnea spp. (Thanks wikipedia)
Tom is at Lungelo’s but he has to be at Kip McGrath extra maths at 8am so I call him and remind him to be at the gate at 7.15 sharp. Lungelo stays in the Westville Prison grounds.
He’s not that wide awake when I get there and protests at having to wake early AND do work IN THE HOLIDAYS! Do I understand the concept of “HOLIDAY”?
We’ll stop at Spar and get you something to drink and eat and you’ll be OK once we get there, my boy. Well, I’m going to sleep straight afterwards and can I have a Monster energy drink please?
Outside Kip he eats his smoked beef slices and sips his Monster. I watch a black-headed oriole and a golden-rumped tinker in the trees around us.
When its time to go in he says Please don’t let anyone finish my Monster. Put it in the fridge for me. (He’s going to walk home).
Take it with you and sip on it while working, I suggest.
One day sunny and windless outdoor fun, including wading in the Mooi River;
The next a howling gale and chilly rain coming in at an angle; Forced to snuggle in the chalets, kids in one chalet watching DVD’s and eating biltong, potato crisps and sweets; Adults in the other drinking red wine, eating red meat and dark chocolate;
Solved the world’s problems, and would patent those thoughts if I could remember them.
My auntie Pat (Mom’s sister) used to pass through Harrismith every year on her way (with husband and 2 daughters) to the Wild Coast. They would call in again on their way back three weeks later and she would be as brown as a ripe old berry. I mean seriously deep berry red-brown deep deep tan. Skin looked like rich dark leather. On her way back to Blyvooruitzicht where she’d make all the other gold mine cherries jealous. Internally tanned too, I guess, from the booze and cigarette smoke. Happy as Larry. Looking forward to next year’s trip already and already sad that she would lose her tan up in BlayFore, as they called their home settlement. She proved she was absolutely right to do so and to ignore all the health police by keeling over dead one year, approaching Harrismith after another glorious holiday at Mazeppa Bay. Heart attack. Nothing to do with tanning.
On Wednesday, June 12, 2013, pete wrote:
Check Tom’s lips in the pic: Yikes!
Under a previous regime if I’d brought him home looking like that I’d have been in for BIG trouble!!! They’ve had sunblock maybe five times in the last two years!
On 2013/06/15 10:41 PM, steve wrote:
In the old days you had not had a proper summer holiday if you didn’t have a cold sore to prove it. Now, in Australian cities, it’s punishable by public humiliation.
It wasn’t that we were actually, y’know, OLD, but . . . well, we needed a break and a brief flashback to our glory days, when the chicks used to hurl themselves at us. Well, that one. In the harbour, remember? So we piled into a kombi and headed off to the Wild Coast, looking for That Famous Stuff they sell down there, and hoping to rendezvous with the Swedish Hockey team. OK, the Swedish Old Girls Hockey Team, who were rumoured to be doing pre-season training in Lusikisiki (or, as we called it after crawling out of The Shy Stallion shebeen) Lo-squeaky-squeaky.
As we neared the coast there was a lo-ong downhill ahead of us and I stopped the kombi and got onto Abbers’ mountain bike and whizzed down with glee. As I reached terminal velocity I did think Uh-Oh! as I felt the effects of the Black Label kicking in. At the bottom I coasted to a halt. I don’t do uphills.
It was the Black Label by the quart and sweet wine that did it, I suppose, but when we got to the actual coast where the waves break against the rugged shore, we were looking for some action. We needed a break from all the Sixties music we’d been playing, broken only by one awful interlude when Bruce snuck an Amy Winehouse CD into the player! So we lay down and had a snooze.
But Abbers had brought that borrowed mountain bike, and we no longer wondered why. Seems he wanted to get away from the competition and meet up with a longtime connection he had met when salvaging the good ship BBC China which foundered off Grosvenor back when he was but a boy in his forties. Off he went on his own, heading vaguely south, trapping that fiets stukkend.
When he got back much later there was a distinct whiff of some smoky vegetation about him and the Msikaba mosquitoes avoided him like the plague. We pumped him for information, but all we got was a mumbled “Loose-titty-titty” and the fact that he had not found the now-overdue Swedish Old Girls Hockey Team, but that when we did he dabzed wrestling with the goalie. Abbers’ head did clear after a few days and he set off fishing so as to be able to answer spouse Les reasonably honestly, give or take; but the fish were having none of it. You could actually see them giving his bait a wide berth and wrinkling up their nostrils.
wikipedia: MV BBC China was a 5,548 GT general cargo vessel. In October 2003 the ship was diverted to Italy while carrying gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment to Libya. In October 2004 it ran aground near Port Grosvenor, was declared a total loss and subsequently demolished with explosives. BY ABBERS! This is true.
trapping that fiets stukkend – pedaling vigorously
Meanwhile, unbeknown to us . . . a few rivers further north, the Swedish ladies K4 paddling team was training on the Umtamvuna:
This is true. OK, they might not have been there that same weekend but they did go there! And they were Swedish. And gorgeous.