Countries Visited

Svalbard Spain United States of America Antarctica South Georgia Falkland Islands Bolivia Peru Ecuador Colombia Venezuela Guyana Suriname French Guiana Brazil Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Chile Greenland Canada United States of America United States of America Israel Jordan Cyprus Qatar United Arab Emirates Oman Yemen Saudia Arabia Iraq Afghanistan Turkmenistan Iran Syria Singapore China Mongolia Papua New Guinea Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Malaysia Tiawan Philippines Vietnam Cambodia Laos Thailand Myanmar Bangladesh Sri Lanka India Bhutan Nepal Pakistan Afghanistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Japan North Korea South Korea Russia Kazakhstan Russia Montenegro Portugal Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia Ukraine Moldova Belarus Romania Bulgaria Macedonia Serbia Bosonia & Herzegovina Turkey Greece Albania Croatia Hungary Slovakia Slovenia Malta Spain Portugal Spain France Italy Italy Austria Switzerland Belgium France Ireland United Kingdom Norway Sweden Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Poland Czech Republic Germany Denmark The Netherlands Iceland El Salvador Guatemala Panama Costa Rica Nicaragua Honduras Belize Mexico Trinidad & Tobago Puerto Rico Dominican Republic Haiti Jamaica The Bahamas Cuba Vanuatu Australia Solomon Islands Fiji New Caledonia New Zealand Eritrea Ethiopia Djibouti Somalia Kenya Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Burundi Madagascar Namibia Botswana South Africa Lesotho Swaziland Zimbabwe Mozambique Malawi Zambia Angola Democratic Repbulic of Congo Republic of Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Central African Republic Cameroon Nigeria Togo Ghana Burkina Fasso Cote d'Ivoire Liberia Sierra Leone Guinea Guinea Bissau The Gambia Senegal Mali Mauritania Niger Western Sahara Sudan Chad Egypt Libya Tunisia Morocco Algeria
Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

South Africa: Act II

I'll be covering the second half of South Africa, which will surely make it seem better than the first half. Let's start off right and go cage diving with some great white sharks. Here's the cage. It holds six people and would probably fit about half a shark.
Here is one of the eight great white sharks that I saw (Tara declined). They ranged in length from about 10 feet to about 15 feet. Unfortunately, we don't have underwater pictures, so this is the best you are going to get. They were actually smaller than I thought underwater, but that doesn't mean it isn't scary every time they come close to the cage.
Going from one amazing activity to the next, the following morning we visited an ostrich farm. In the early to mid 1900s, ostrich farming was an incredibly lucrative business. The feathers were used for dusters and boas that cost a fortune. The skins are also expensive. We learned a lot about ostriches, like that they can live for 80 years, can inviscerate an animal in one kick, and are as dumb as rocks. Tara thought this ostrich looked like me.
I thought this ostrich looked like Tara.
The highlight of the tour was riding ostriches. That's right--I said riding an ostrich. We had heard in the Sahara that people used to ride ostriches to Mecca if they couldn't get a camel, so we knew that it was possible. You get on, lean back as far as you can, and hold the wings for all that you are worth. Anyone who can ride an ostrich without smiling must be a psychopath.
Here is Tara riding her ostrich. They are really fast when they want to be. Tara had a handler to make sure that hers didn't get out of control. The guys they don't care about, so they just slap the ostriches for the men and off they go...
We then proceeded down the famed Garden Route. We saw more ocean than garden, but it was a beautiful coastline. This is at the heads to the bay in Knysna, a town that I still don't know how to pronounce.
Tara and I did some hiking in Tsitsikamma National Park, which includes this very long suspension bridge over the ocean. That's me crossing it.
We went to a little town called Coffee Bay (apparently named because a ship of coffee beans wrecked there and not because it has any coffee) to relax for a day. Well, I don't actually relax, so I went for a hike while Tara relaxed. This kid had an amazing push car that he had built out of trash. He didn't speak a word of English, but he said that I could take his picture.
This butterfly was nice enough to pose for me. I have no idea what kind it is.
Here is a view of Coffee Bay from the nearby cliffs. I got rather lost on my hike and hiked much farther than intended, but saw a lot of the very nice coast.
We now make a jump in time. Tara and I spent a couple of days in Lesotho, but that is a different post. So, we came back out of Lesotho into the Drakensberg Mountains. This is as we were driving towards them.
We went hiking in the mountains, but the guard wasn't sure he would let us into the park. In the end, he let us pass.
The views of the Drakensberg looking back towards Lesotho are as nice as expected.
Here is another one.
On our way out of the park, we saw this bushbok (I think).
We only passed through Durban after becoming frustrated at not finding accomodation, but this mosque is apparently the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. They have a large Indian population, much of which is Muslim. Halal restaurants abound. None are as good as the Rafiqi carts in New York.
How would it make you feel to lose a court case to the firm of Ramdass & Associates?
The big Durban stadium looks a bit like a weird spaceship. Everything in the area was still all spiffy from World Cup.
From Durban, we headed east on up the coast to St. Lucia Wetlands. These were the first rhinos we had seen since Zimbabwe and one was a baby. And it was playing with warthogs. Very exciting!
While driving through some secluded forest, we found a pair of male kudu. They have huge horns and are massive antelope. They are also one of the most popular to eat.
We didn't know what this family of waterbok were until later. They are very hairy and Tara dubbed them llamalopes. A later guide said that they are called toilet seats because the white stripes on their rears look as though they sat on a painted toilet seat.
Here is a meditating monkey. He really did sit there in this position for quite a long time. Maybe the campers next door have taught him yoga.
Sure, this is a dead fish picture, but I really like it.
Later at St. Lucia, we saw the white rhinos much closer. This is part of the same group as the mother and baby from earlier. Rhinos are probably winning for my favorite African animal.
We now make another jump in time because Swaziland pictures will be a different post. We have now been transported to Kruger National Park. We considered skipping it because we had been to other parks, but are glad we did not because we saw some terrific wildlife there.
Tara loves it when she can get two animal types in the same picture. Here is a wildebeest also known as a gnu) with some impalas.
I like headshots. This is a male giraffe with a big bony forehead that he can use to ram other male giraffes in his fight for the ladies.
Sometimes traffic jams happen. This is because people see big cats near the road and flock to see them, not caring about letting cars through, or because an elephant is blocking traffic.
We saw another pair of khouri bustards at Kruger. These are the largest flying birds by weight apparently, though we have never actually seen them fly, so the ability to fly might just be a bluff.
Tara tried to pose these zebras to be reminiscent of the Abbey Road album cover. I thought the zebras did a good job since they all said they had never seen the original.
We took a night tour on which we saw many great animals. The difficulty with night is that pictures don't really come out. Here is an owl, though.
We were lucky enough to see a leopard on the tour, which isn't that common. This was a big male, who didn't seem to care much that we were there. He just kept on walking.
These hornbills are everywhere. They are stupid and I would often have to drive around them to avoid hitting them in the road. They look like toucans, but aren't related.
The zebras taunt us by looking like you could ride them so easily, but not allowing us to do so.
This warthog is trying to make his hair look European.
I get annoyed when birds land on my face, but the giraffes don't seem to care since these birds eat the insects on them.
Ever seen giraffes doing a mating dance? Neither had we, but they swing their necks around rather violently.
Here's a nice duck. Tell us what kind and win a prize. Or at least our admiration. We're looking at you, Sabrina.
Another lilac breasted roller. Tara loves this bird so much that we end up taking a picture of it every time we see it. This was a good one, though, so we'll post it.Starlings in Southern Africa, like in West Africa, are much prettier than in America. Here is a group of them looking very blue.
A warthog wallowing in the mud. When I went to join him, he looked very confused and ran away.
Look closely and you will see a lion. So hard to get goo pictures in a wooded area.
What is this? I don't know, but I saw it while driving and reversed an awful long ways to get a good picture of it. It's a mammal. Merrie, please identify if you are reading this.
While eating lunch, birds were everywhere near the picnic tables, but then this one flew in, which was about 100 times cooler than the others. Don't know what it is, either. After Kruger, we made our way to Blyde River Canyon, which is a big canyon, but not as nice as we thought it would be. On one side of it is a dam with a lake.
We did go to an animal rescue and rehabilitation center, though, where we saw some nice animals. Here is a cheetah demonstrating its running ability.
A honey badger, one of the most dangerous animals in the world. Apparently, they regularly kill lions and buffaloes just for looking at them funny. Seriously.
Ground hornbills are really big and have this colorful red waddle. This one was raised by humans, so now he rejects other birds and tries to offer mating presents to his keepers...
We got to pet the cheetah! It is soft like a house cat, but much more interesting to have in your house.
They had many types of vultures. They are bald so that they can stick their heads inside the dead animal without getting feathers stuck. They can eat five pounds of meat in 20 seconds. That's right--five pounds in 20 seconds.
We also got to pet a baby black rhino. I asked jokingly if anyone had tried to ride it and the volunteer said that a couple of keeps had, but that it really, really hated it.
The leopard by daylight looks fierce indeed. Apparently, leopards can't be tamed to the extent that cheetahs can, but this one is still too much of a wimp to hunt for itself in the wild. This lizard had no problems hunting for itself. It has caught a tasty moth.
And here is a wild dog. We think we saw one of these in Kruger, but they look so much like hyenas that it is hard to tell unless they are next to each other.Here is a shot of Blyde River Canyon, the "largest forested canyon in the world".
And a view from God's Window, maybe the most famous lookout. I was disappointed because I thought it would have a rock window or something. I've seen better windows.
And there you have it. We saw a ton of stuff in South Africa, so now you have seen a ton of stuff in South Africa. Sorry for the long post.


  1. The "duck" is definitely a hammerkop. The mammal is some type of mongoose, but I can't tell what kind from that picture. -Merrie

  2. Dan points out that the other unidentified bird is a crested barbet.

  3. Great pics! Non sequitur: Here's another couple of extreme honeymoon travelers for you ... I might argue that they're more hard core because they got brain scans:

  4. wow - these are amazing amazing pictures! love reading the posts!