Saturday, July 26, 2008

While On Tour

Today I'll mainly dedicate to some of the photos I took during the last tour I guided through our country. Before I left, I worried about the bad weather "plaguing" most of our country - but we were very lucky and the weather was great. I really enjoyed this tour because I could share my knowledge and what our beautiful country has to offer, with a lovely group of people.

In the province of Mpumalanga, we found the Coral trees (left) in bloom and in some of the camps of the Kruger National Park, the Impala lilies (right).

Amongst the animals we "tracked down" in the Kruger National Park were a few lionesses right next to the road. Unfortunately and to the disappointment of the visitors, we didn't see a male lion. Although the female lions were mostly hidden by grass, we could record a few good visuals.

A cute vervet monkey (left) even if they are a bit of a "pest" in some of the camps - stealing your food if you aren't careful.

As usual, I'm always on the look-out for birds. Amongst mainly hornbills and glossy starlings, I was lucky to detect this female Goldentailed Woodpecker (right) at Tshokwane (my first sighting of this particular bird).

To the delight of the visitors, we saw quite a few crocodiles in the Sabi River. The one on the photo (left) represented a particularly close and clear visual.

Even if the Ground Hornbill (right) is listed as an endangered bird, I see some during most of my trips to KNP. Since this was the case again during the last visit, I was happy to share this moment with the visitors, who haven't seen this unusual bird in the wild before.

Although most visitors to South Africa hope to encounter a leopard or a cheetah when visiting KNP, the sighting of a serval (left) is something very special. Since it also was a first for me, I will definitely treasure this opportunity for a long time.

I'm able to identify most wild animals in our country, and I'm getting to know many birds. But when I was asked what was swimming in the Sabi River, I admitted that my knowledge of fish is very limited. After looking it up, I think that what we saw were Tigerfish (right).

A kudu bull (left) is one of the most magnificent antelopes and to find one, always a pleasure to look at.

Two of the most common animals in KNP are impala and the Burchell's zebra (right). Seldom, though, does one get the opportunity to "snap" them in such close proximity.

The little "flying foxes" hiding under the roof at the picnic facilities/outside tables in Skukuza-camp are always a pleasure to see again. Some people are scared by these fruit-eating bats (only coming "out to play" at night), whilst others think they are as cute as I think they are (left) - and always represent a great photo opportunity.

When we get to the Afsaal-camp in KNP, I always look out for the small Scops owl often "hiding" in a tree. It wasn't around but instead, we were treated to the visual of a Barn owl (right). Many birds were "unhappy" by its presence, whilst I happily snapped away during the fluttering commotion.

Although a python like this (left) can be found in KNP, this photo was taken at the Pumpkin restaurant in Barrydale (Western Cape province). On request, one of the tame pythons is fetched from the garage, where a pair is kept (for breeding purposes). This gorgeous specimen is almost 4m long and I love holding it wound around my shoulders! I was happy to see that some of the visitors from my group were equally willing to hold and stroke this enormous snake (in contrast, my husband just shuddered at the thought of such a close encounter, never mind holding it).

These cute "meerkat" (mongoose) are part of the Wildlife ranch in Oudtshoorn (Western Cape). Although many wild animals are on display (indigenous as well as exotic) I always prefer to pay a visit to the meerkat enclosure, because they are such photogenic animals.

On leaving Cape Town for a visit to the surrounding Winelands, everything was covered in clouds and mist. I worried that the visitors wouldn't see much. But as we drove up the hill in Paarl to visit the "Taal-Monument" (Afrikaans Language Monument), we "broke through" the clouds and were surrounded by brilliant sunshine. Ahead stretched a "sea" of clouds and above it in the distance Table Mountain stuck out like a proud beacon.

Another view across the "sea of clouds" (right) towards the mountains surrounding Franschhoek.

A group of Penguin chicks at Boulders Beach just outside Simon's Town on the Cape peninsula. A visit to this land-based colony of penguins is one of the favoured destinations for most visitors to Cape Town and surrounds.

To end today, a view of the stadium (right) at Greenpoint in Cape Town being built for the Soccer World Cup, coming to our country in 2010 - as seen from Signal Hill.

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