Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Hi all

In my last post I mentioned an upcoming trip.  It’s done.  It was fantastic !

Our dear friend AJS arrived from the UK at lunch time on the 9th of August and after a quick-lunch we got to packing the Bongo.  Our equipment list had 72 items on it ranging from a freezer to a head-torch and matches.  One item was food and another beer !! We left the next morning at a sensible 09h30, heading towards Bulawayo, via Mvuma to Gweru.  Here we had a quick look at the Military Museum and I do recommend it if you can afford to take an hour out of your journey.  We arrived at our hotel, the first of many surprises for AJS, in Bulawayo at about 15h00 and checked in.

Nesbitt Castle

The grand reception

Nesbitt Castle

The right-wing

Nesbitt Castle

The left-wing

Nesbitt Castle !

This amazing folly was built sometime in the 1930’s by some strange but wealthy Englishman.  It was derelict for many years but has now been lovingly and fantastically restored by the Nesbitt family.  Well done to them I say !

Time now for very welcome cold beers and cokes in the Trophy room.

Nesbitt Castle Trophy Room

The Trophy Room

Yes that is a real elephant on the wall !

Nesbitt Castle Trophy Room Crocodile

That Croc is enormous ! Compare it to the Zebra skin !

We were then shown to our rooms.  AJS had a huge room but the wildly scattered clothing and underwear preclude me from showing it to you.  My room however was spotless !

Nesbitt Castle Princess room

Very comfortable.

The little brass plaque on the headboard read “C J Rhodes”.  Was it his bed ? I forgot to ask.

Nessbitt Castle cupboard wardrobe

My wardrobe was very ornate.

We had a very pleasant afternoon out in the lovely shady gardens and then changed for Dinner.

Nesbitt Castle Dining Room

The dining room

All of the furniture is lovely and has been carefully chosen to reflect the period.

Nesbitt Castle table setting

The table settings were delightful

We were joined for dinner by GJW, a Bulawayo resident, and a delightful meal it was.  We chatted long into the evening about our plans for the following weeks and eventually retired weary and well sated.

Nesbitt Castle breakfast room

The breakfast room

The breakfast was magnificent. It is a communal affair as I guess the hotel only has nine or ten rooms. AJS had the full english version and I did well on the kippers and poached eggs !

Maybe I need to explain that AJS is not a birder but is passionate about the history of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe – a passion he has had since a boy.

We will get back to birding eventually – I promise.

Thanks for listening.

I will be back soon with the next episode

Cheers

Tony

Hi All

At last………… a few minutes to tell you about the trip to Matabeleland North.

Jan and I left Harare on Sunday and drove leisurely down towards Bulawayo.  At around N’tabazinduna there was a local lass on the side of the road flogging watermelons. A nice big juicy takes two hands to pick it up watermelon for a dollar !!  Yep – US$ 1.00 was the price !

Arrival in the City of Kings entailed falling amongst thieves and brigands in the form of various members of the Watson clan.  Nice to catch up with old buddies.  We spent the night at Travellers – a more than adequate and very clean hostelry designed for , well of course, Travellers.

We left promptly at 06h00 the next morning and very soon were heading north on the Victoria Falls Road.  July in Zimbabwe is mid-winter and when going through the various river valleys early in the day saw the virtual mercury in the car thermometer plunging as low as minus 8 Celsius.  Brrrr !

The Hwange National Park turnoff arrived at about 09h15 and we popped into Ganda Camp to see if, perchance, my client was still there but he had just left for our planned rendezvous at Miombo Safari Camp.  Jan and I went through to Main Camp, checked in and then returned to meet the client, Peter, on the road to Miombo.

We bumped into a large herd of elephant on the main road.

This one knew exactly where to cross the road !

Having moved into our Lodge we promptly set off to see what we could see.  White-breasted Cuckoo Shrike, White-eyes and Ground Hornbills were already ticked on the main road. Yellow-bellied Greenbul and a lovely Pearl-Spotted Owl were in camp.  On our way to Nyamandhlovu Pan we found Peter’s first ‘lifer’……

Bradfield’s Hornbill

Whilst at the viewing platform over the Pan we witnessed an interesting stand-off between the Leviathan’s !

These to bulls *really* did not like the Crocs. This stand-off lasted at least half an hour ! Then it fizzled out !

The next day, after a *very* delayed breakfast in the Waterbuck’s Head Restaurant, we spent wandering around the local sites like Guvalala where we were kept busy ticking all the Vultures, including Cape Griffon.  We had a leisurely lunch at White Hills and saw a great Dark Chanting Goshawk.

Dark Chanting Goshawk

We slowly made our way back to camp via the more northerly loop road past Balla Balla Pans where we had great views of Crimson-breasted and Orange-breasted Bush-shrikes.

Crimson-breasted Shrike

Day three brought all the really serious excitement with the discovery of a pair of extremely rare yellow morph Crimson-breasted Shrike !!  They were in camp itself and I suspect are the offspring of a ‘normal’ pair with which they were associating.

If you look really carefully you can just pick up the ‘normal’ Crimson one in the background.

And next – Jan’s work of art……..

Yellow morph Crimson-breasted Shrike

What a start to the long day ahead of us !   Off we set heading south with an incredible dearth of birds for several hours apart from a very cold pair of Scaly-feathered Finch until just after Jambile Picnic Site when we found a cracking Ayres’ Hawk-Eagle.   We then got a bit lost (the roads and the map haven’t been synchronised for a while) but eventually found ourselves at Ngweshla and then at Kennedy Two.

If you didn’t know you are about to learn – Hwange is an extremely dry park on the edge of the Kalahari Desert and the only way it can support the large numbers of various African fauna is because of the provision of surface water from either Wind-pumps or pumps driven by old Lister diesels.  All of this is expensive stuff, especially in terms of maintenance and fuel.  Then we get to Kennedy Two !!!

If the sun shines there is water !! Fantastic !!

I don’t know who the donor is but a huge thank you is due !!

We had lunch here. Peter is on the right

After briefly calling in at Kennedy One – a few parrots here – we started our northward journey and very soon found another target bird – the elusive Racquet-tailed Roller.  Peter was pleased !!

Elephant can cause long delays to your planned journey !

We returned to Main Camp quite late in the afternoon and had another great dinner and sorted out all our various lists so that Jan and I could get off relatively early for the long haul back to Harare.  Thanks Peter – a great trip.

We were very lucky to bump into a large herd of Buffalo in the morning sun…

Very soon after this we also came across a pack of Wild Dog.  Of the seven dogs five had collars.  Let’s hope all this research pays off.

Painted Hunting Dog or African Wild Dog.

It is a *very* long drive back to Harare in one day.  We were home about 16h45.  Well that’s not quite true.  Jan was.  She dropped me off to attend the monthly talk by someone from Birdlife Zimbabwe.  Well I had to show off some of those Shrike pics didn’t I  – it would have been rude not to.

Cheers for now

Tony


Please bear with me folks but all this was before the full advent of digital photography so most of the stuff was scanned !!   Also we failed to take any worthwhile pictures on the journey until we eventually got all the way to the Atlantic !!!

Let’s start………….

Bird watching ?

After a long haul across central Africa from Harare to Swakomund on the Atlantic coast.  I was accused of bird watching ?

Swakopmund promenade at about six in the morning.

(I rather liked the “Palm Tree” cell phone tower !)

108 miles north of Swakopmund is this huge “service station” and the last fuel for 600 kilometers

The Namib Desert is indeed a desert !

The road up the Skeleton Coast is not too well defined !

A long way north of Mile 108 you turn right !

The Namibian scenery is awsome !

I told you it was awsome ! 

 

 

 

 

The scenery stays and you eventually turn left to Sesfontein

The Welwitchia is indeed a strange plant

There is an old German Fort in Sesfontein.
It now operates as an hotel. 

 

 

Andrew gets the scenery on Video

The road to Opuwo was certainly not boring !

Get ready for the amazing Epupa Falls on the Kunene River ! The far bank is Angola !

We were all dumbstruck as this was revealed !   Our camp site was in the palms on the right

Stunningly beautiful ! 

 

 

Our first night under canvas so Jan and Andrew celebrate an exciting day !

I came looking for a Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush and we found plenty of them !                 © 2003 — T. Sirotkin

Adenium boehmianum – a rare relative of the Sabi Star or Impala Lily

The Kunene River is a tranquil and beautiful thing !

The next stop was Etosha Pan

Springbok are very common

A nice big Giraffe

The Pan seems to go forever

The Black-faced Impala is only found here and southern Angola

The rare and diminutive Damara Dik-dik 

We got a bit close to this chap !

A wonderful camping dinner at Namutoni

En-route to Botswana we stayed at the delightful Roy’s Camp outside Grootfontein

Namibia provides great highway rest stops.
This one is in the heart of the Caprivi Strip

After weeks of daily driving we relaxed for days at Drotsky’s Camp near Shakawe on the Okavango River

At Drotsky’s we have Bill and Ben the flower pot men

I told you we relaxed !

Jan fishing

Dan and Daryll also relaxed !
(Sadly, a few years ago,  Dan lost his battle with cancer.)

I went birding…….
The near endemic Swamp Boubou

The enigmatic Pel’s Fishing Owl

A beautiful Kudu cow in Mahengo National Park

Andrew looking for crocodiles !

The Mahengo Bums !!

We did a day trip to Tsodilo Hills – the road was much improved.


Tony & Jan

The kalahari is pretty empty !

Cool colours

The colours change with the light

Different Lichens make up the colours

Inspecting rock paintings of a Penguin and a Whale !!

Our last Okavango sunset

We crossed the flooded Chobe River

Greg Watson met us in Victoria Falls

Cold beers at the Vic Falls Hotel……

…..were enjoyed by all !

Evidence that we were finally back in Zimbabwe !