Sunday, December 25, 2011

Season Greetings

[The Xmas-cookies were baked by my Austrian-born husband]

you a HAPPY FESTIVE Season & a PROSPEROUS 2012

Thursday, December 15, 2011


My Facebook friends already know that we recently spent a few days at the Hole-In-The-Wall resort along the Wild Coast (near Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape Province) because they saw the photos I "posted" in an album - so the photos in this blog-entry are more an extension than a repeat of what I've shared in FB.

The Wild Coast - once called the Trankei (homeland) - with its well over 200km coastline, is generally inaccessible (other than going hiking or traversing on horseback), virtually uninhabited (bar by a few rural Xhosa people) & instead is known for its untamed wilderness of graggy cliff faces, desolate beaches, secluded bays, green rolling hills & deep river valleys. This unspoilt land also includes the birthplace of Nelson Mandela.

Forested areas along the Wild Coast include prehistoric cycads, sneezewood & yellowwood trees, which we admired during our walk to photograph THE HOLE early before sunrise one morning. A first glimpse of this impressive landmark along the South African coastline "reveals" a cliff consisting of dark-blue shales, as well as mud- & sandstones (of the Ecca Group - dating back to some 260 million years).

The rocks were eventually "intruded" by dolerite, and THE HOLE was created over millions of years by buffeting waves, which eroded away the softer rocks underneath a "sheet" of dolerite - to form an arch. A similar process also seperated the cliff from the mainland.

Whilst happily snapping away, "recording" the fascinating interplay between enormous & crashing waves to relatively calm waters, the sun started rising, "lending" a golden glow to the magnificent scenery.

After recording a great variety of sweeping waves through THE HOLE, a last look back "reveales" the huge detached cliff - a ship-look-alike - at the mouth of the Mpako River. Hole-In-The-Wall was named in 1823 by Captain Vidal, sent by the British Admirality to survey the coastline between the Keiskamma River & Lourenco Marques (now called: Maputo - in Mozambique).

We returned one afternoon during "perfect" weather conditions to now record the magic-looking cliff & its hole through the centre during sunset. The local (Bomvana/Xhosa) people call the formation iziKhaleni = the Place of Thunder (or Sound).

According to a local legend, the river running through THE HOLE once formed a landlocked lagoon with its access to the sea blocked by the cliff. A beautiful girl, who lived in a village near the lagoon, was seen by the sea people (= semi-deities). They were overwhelmed by the girl's beauty and tried to woo her, but her father forbade her to respond. During high tide one night, the sea people "enlisted" the help of a huge fish, which rammed a hole through the centre of the cliff.

As the sea people swam into the lagoon, they shouted and sang, causing the villagers to hide in fear, but the beautiful girl was lured away by a lover amongst the sea people. Together they disappeared into the sea. However at certain times of the year, it is said that the music and singing of the sea people can be heard.

Xhosa legend also states that THE HOLE is the gateway to the world of the ancestors, who they worship.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Close Encounter

I recently had a close encounter with a Water leguan - not in the sense that I felt threatened, even if this reptile should be "treated" with caution, but really because I got a clear visual/photo of its "flipping" tongue [Also SEE: my blog-entry = A Reptile Story - Friday, 28 Oct 2011]

A more "threating" encounter happened in the Addo Park - a more than just "interested" elephant bull got closer to our open safari vehicle than anticipated.

Although Addo is a "sanctuary" for the (coastal) African elephants, one doesn't always encounter as many elephants as we did in one (half) day during my last tour for this year (as tourist guide).

"He ain't heavy, he's my brother" . . . came to my mind as I snapped this "leaning" elephants.

Some of the male elephants appeared to be fighting/testing their strength . . .

. . . when in reality they were "cuddling" . . .

. . . ditto . . .

. . . ditto . . .

. . . ditto.