The Pafuri Triangle — a piece of wilderness in the very northern corner of South Africa’s Kruger National Park — is a land of giants. The trees are huge. The animals are huge. The beauty of the landscape is beyond comprehension. This elephant looks small in the photo (which, incidentally, was shot from the doorway of my tent at Return Africa’s Pafuri Camp). Trust me though — he’s huge. I spent three days at the Pafuri Camp, run by Return Africa, in the Makuleke Contractual Park. This section of the Kruger has a fascinating history, which I’ll describe in a future post. Elephants and Baobabs: Kruger’s Photogenic Giants I saw so many elephants during this trip and it’s been a struggle for me to narrow down the number of elephant photos I want to share. Same goes for the baobabs: I love these huge, ancient, topsy-turvy trees — which can only be found in the northern part of the Kruger — and I photographed them profusely. So before I go into the whole story of my trip, here are my favorite photos of the giants. This is my favorite baobab photo because you can also see the shadow of our […]
This is my third summer in Joburg and I’ve yet to write a post about jacarandas. The jacarandas bloom around October or November, and the Jozi suburbs become shrouded in purple for a couple of weeks. We need to appreciate jacaranda season while we have it. Jacarandas are an invasive species in South Africa and the public is banned from planting new ones. A couple of weekends ago, I thought the time had finally come for my jacaranda post. My friend Jackie scheduled a late afternoon jacaranda photo stroll through Saxonwold, Joburg’s leafiest and most jacaranda-filled suburb. I showed up ready to shoot purple, but there was very little purple to shoot. It’s been a weird jacaranda season in Joburg this year; the blooms came late, and in some places they hardly came at all. We seemed to have missed the peak in Saxonwold.
Tomorrow is Heritage Day, a South African public holiday. South Africa has lots of public holidays. I have trouble keeping track of them and what they mean. Heritage Day is pretty simple though — it’s a day to celebrate South Africa’s heritage. This can mean basically anything, because South Africa, like the United States, is a very diverse place with lots of different heritages. So basically, Heritage Day is an excuse to take the day off from work and do fun cultural things. Heritage Day falls on a Monday this year, which means we have a whole long weekend of cultural celebrations to choose from. Today, my friend Horst and I celebrated Heritage Day weekend by going on a tour of private gardens in Upper Houghton, sponsored by a local charity called Gardens of the Golden City.
Pine forests don’t belong in Southern Africa. Like countless other non-native plants and animals, pine trees were brought here by Europeans and continue to be cultivated on a large scale by paper and timber companies. I’ve walked and driven through quite a few pine plantations in South Africa and Swaziland, and I usually find it depressing and disconcerting. The unnaturalness assaults my senses. It doesn’t help that the stands of tall pines are inevitably interspersed with barren hillsides dotted with jagged stumps, where trees have been recently been harvested. It’s the deadest African landscape you’ll ever see. And yet, sometimes beauty hides in unlikely places. Late one autumn afternoon during a recent road trip to Swaziland, my friends and I stopped to take photos in a forest of gargantuan pine trees. On that particular day, at that particular time, those pine trees were magical.
As long as I’ve lived here, the view from the deck at the Lucky 5 Star has been a wall of green. It was one of my favorite things about the house — the back yard felt like a private jungle, filled with unruly indigenous plants and flowering creepers (the creepers are pretty, but invasive). Yesterday, the creepers got the best of the yard’s largest indigenous plant — a twisty rock karee tree. Here’s a shot taken from the deck, exactly a year ago during a summer rain storm. You can see a limb of the rock karee tree shooting off to the left. The other limbs are obscured by creepers.
Part 3 of a 3-part series about the Cederberg Heritage Route. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. When I left off, my travel companions and I had spent a magical evening in the village of Hugel-Bugel (a.k.a. Heuningvlei). We awoke early the next morning for the final installment of our Cederberg adventure: a hike across Krakadouw Pass. Our guide for the day was Abraham, an ageless, salt-of-the-earth kind of man. Abraham has lived in Heuningvlei all his life. He has worked tirelessly to encourage conservation and responsible tourism in the Cederberg. Abraham.
This guest post was inspired by the Blog of Otis. Hello, I’m Squeak. I also have another name, but I’m keeping it a secret for now. This is me, Squeak. (Photo courtesy of Joe.) Heather asked me to write a post for her blog so I can tell you about my extraordinary achievement. Every cat gets nine lives, but we’re supposed to live them one at a time, not concurrently. Only the most charming, intelligent cats are able to live two lives at once. I am one of those cats.
I’m back in Joburg, recovering from jet lag. Since I had to leave for the U.S. in such a rush last month, I didn’t get the chance to share all the stories from my road trip around South Africa. So even though it’s technically old news, I hope you’ll enjoy this post about my recent visit to the magical village of Hogsback. A slightly edited version of the post appeared on TravelWrite.co.za – you’ll notice it has more of a travel-magazine-y feel than my other posts. Thanks to TravelWrite editor Caroline Hurry for coming up with this clever headline. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ It’s a chilly morning in Hogsback. Joe and I just finished a pre-breakfast hike to a majestic waterfall at the top of a mountain. We’re hungry. We are the only customers in the quirky Butterfly Bistro, sitting at a cozy table next to a clay fireplace.
Joe and I woke up ridiculously early one Sunday morning. It was a beautiful day. Joe had an idea for an outing but wouldn’t tell me what it was. He ushered me into the car and we headed up the M1 toward Pretoria. When I saw this granite monolith staring down at us, I realized Joe was taking me to the Voortrekker Monument. Die Voortrekkermonument. (It’s all one word in Afrikaans.) Voortrekker, which means ‘pioneer’, is pronounced ‘FOUR-trecker’, with a rolled R that I can’t replicate.
My fascination with Hillbrow — a former middle-class inner suburb that is now the toughest neighborhood in Joburg — began in February when I explored Hillbrow on a Joburg Photowalk. When I heard there would be another Hillbrow Photowalk this past weekend, exploring the grounds of the old Johannesburg General Hospital, I signed up, stat. Saturday afternoon in Hillbrow.
Welcome to the final blog post about my hike through the Kruger Park’s Pafuri Triangle: the mineral installment. Most of the facts in this post were gleaned from Brian, our Pafuri wilderness guide, and Wikipedia. If you’ve read parts 1 and 2 of this series, you know that the Pafuri Triangle is chock-full of majestic African wildlife and awe-inspiring trees. But Pafuri also has rocks. And water. And an amazing geological and archaeological history. Geology and archaeology aren’t my specialties, but this post is an excuse to show you some of my favorite pics from the trip that don’t feature animals or plants. Water is a mineral, right? Either way, I really like this picture.
Announcements: 1) A story about my Kruger trip has been published on travelgurus.co.za. Please check it out. 2) 2Summers turned one today! I wrote my first 2Summers post exactly a year ago, six weeks before moving to Jozi. If you want to know how it all started, click here. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ On to Part 2 of my hiking adventure in the Kruger Park: the vegetable installment. I experienced some pretty incredible (and adrenaline-inducing) animal sightings on my four-day hike through the Pafuri Triangle (see Part 1). But as I sat on the flight home and thought about it, I decided my favorite sightings in Pafuri were plants, specifically trees.