Tag Archives: Gecko Caravan

Gecko Goes to Kruger – A Bad Hair Day at Lower Sabie

9 December 2019

We have been in Kruger for close on a month now and have experienced all the pleasures and trials of caravanning.  Thank Goodness we gave up rooftop tenting some time ago.  Now that we’re ‘glamping’ we can deal with all the hassles that may befall us as far as heat, wind and rain are concerned. This trip we have had it all!

It rained during the night and it was still raining when we woke up this morning.  We decided not to go out at an impolite hour so lay in until 06:30.     By then it had calmed down to a drizzle and we got up and walked to the ablutions for a shower.  Yesterday, at reception,  we put in a complaint about no hot water.  This morning I am pleased to report that the problem was resolved.

We then went to the restaurant for breakfast.  It was still raining but we enjoyed watching the hippos frolicking in the river.

IMG_7635 Hippos 2019-12-09 7-55-06 AMIMG_7637 Hippos 2019-12-09 7-55-28 AM

At 08:00 we set off for our wet morning drive.  The temperature was 19 degrees C and did not drop any lower.   We took the tar road to Crocodile Bridge and back as most of the dirt roads were closed.   Before taking the Croc Bridge road we popped in at Sunset Dam

IMG_7647 Crocodiles at Sunset Dam 2019-12-09 8-14-01 AM

A pile of crocodiles

IMG_7653 Hippos Sunset Dam 2019-12-09 8-15-56 AM

Playful hippos

IMG_7673 Wood Sanpiper Sunset Dam 2019-12-09 8-23-36 AM

Wood Sandpiper, I think.


A Ruff, I think


Black-winged Stilt


Collection of birds – Stilts, Jacana and Egyptian Goose

Taking photographs on a rainy day is challenging.  If you take the photograph through a closed window there will be raindrops in your picture.  Open the window and your lens gets wet and so do you!   It was a matter of taking the shot and immediately drying off the camera, the inside of the car and yourself!  Well – we chose to come to Kruger in the rainy season so we have to suffer the consequences!

Today we took a few bird photos.  Most of them were having a bad hair day.

P1190306 Bad Hair Day Fish Eagle 2019-12-09 12-22-32 PM

African Fish Eagle

P1190287 Juvenile Bateleur bad hair day 2019-12-09 9-55-19 AM

Immature Bateleur

IMG_7734 Bateluer Bad Hair Day 2019-12-09 9-37-58 AM

Finally an adult Bateur posed for me

P1190269 Bateleur 2019-12-09 9-50-16 AM

The Earl got a shot after she’d smoothed down her feathers.

IMG_7706 Swainson's Spurfowl Bad Hair Day 2019-12-09 9-01-55 AM

A Swainson’s Spurfowl trying to deal with the weather

IMG_7708 Purple Roller Bad Hair Day 2019-12-09 9-06-49 AM

The Purple Roller always looks rougher than his cousin the Lilac-breasted but it’s worse on a rainy day.

A few other birds were looking particularly lovely in spite of the weather.

IMG_7698 Cattle Egret breeding plumage 2019-12-09 8-55-34 AM

The Cattle Egret is always a pretty bird but is particularly so when dressed up for courting.

IMG_7721 Green Pigeons 2019-12-09 9-17-45 AM

A treeful of Green Pigeons

IMG_7713 Green Pigeon 2019-12-09 9-15-44 AM

This one might need to comb his moustache

We saw very few mammals.  Elephants were conspicuous by their absence as were the buffalo.  Only impala, zebra, wildebeest and giraffe showed themselves.

P1190290 Giraffe 2019-12-09 10-25-17 AM

Giraffe – always elegant no matter what the weather

IMG_7746 Impala Babies 2019-12-09 9-46-24 AM

The cutest Impala lambs

IMG_7748 Mom and Impala Babies 2019-12-09 9-46-32 AM

Mom keeps a close eye on them

At Crocodile Bridge Camp we had a coffee and then went back to Lower Sabie.  After a rest, we went out at 16:00.  We saw the usual suspects but it was raining hard and we didn’t take any photographs.

The rain had almost stopped when we returned so we took down the canopy and packed the groundsheet away.   Packing up camp in the rain is not the most pleasant experience so it’s best to do it when conditions are bearable.

Once we were done with packing up we went to the restaurant for dinner.  Lower Sabie has a Mug and Bean which is not my favourite franchise in any part of the country.  There were a few of them in the park but all were closed down because of bad service.  This morning’s breakfast was good and dinner was okay.  I had the rump steak, asked for rare but it came medium and was not very tasty. I had to add salt.  The vegetables and salad made up for it and one can’t complain about the price.   The Earl had ribs which he said were a little dry.

Loads shedding is a problem all over the country and one would think that Mug and Bean would be prepared.  Luckily our food arrived before the power went off.   Why, we wondered, did M&B not have candles on the tables?  Why did they not have an emergency generator?   Foreign guests were dumbfounded to find they would have to wait for up to an hour before they could put in their orders for food.  Not good enough, Bug and Mean!

Tomorrow, we will be going to Crocodile Bridge for two nights and then our sojourn in the park will be over!

Gecko Goes to Kruger – Lower Sabie

8 December 2019

Clearly, the school holidays have started as today we saw more cars than usual on the Kruger roads.   It’s lovely to see families enjoying the wild.  It is the most awesome way to spend a holiday.  We have had our grandchildren in The Park with us before and they just loved it.

When I booked at very short notice for this holiday, I had no problems getting the camps that I desired.  The only camp that was a little tricky was Lower Sabie – it was totally booked up except for the three nights that I wanted.   So I was a little surprised and disappointed to find that this is the worst maintained camp of all that we have visited this year.  There was no hot water in the ablutions this morning.  The men’s side had blocked drains, no benches in the shower cubicle and only one hook on which to hang a towel and clothing.  Two of the camp kitchens that I went to did not have boiling water on tap.  The third kitchen I tried did.  It is really a beautiful camp and it is a pity that management here is so poor.

It rained quite heavily last night and it was still raining when we got up at 4:30 am this morning.  After a cold shower, we set off at 5:30.    It’s lovely to have the rain in Kruger but it does mean that the animals are hiding somewhere we can’t see them and when we do photography is difficult.  So today I am simply going to show you the highlights of what we saw.

IMG_7468 Hippo in a small pond 2019-12-08 5-47-47 AM

When you have a whole river to swim in why would you choose a tiny, muddy pond?


Baby Elephant

IMG_7488 Eye to eye with an elephant 2019-12-08 9-18-42 AM

I’d just taken a cell phone photo when this ellie and I had an encounter.  The Earl took the photo

Of course, birds feature a great deal.

IMG_7491 Brown-headed Parrot 2019-12-08 9-24-28 AM

Lovely to spot some Brown-headed parrots.  This one was all wet!


A Black-bellied Bustard spread his wings and fluffed up his feathers


A treeful of cattle egrets

IMG_7529 Green-winged Pytilia 2019-12-08 10-28-57 AM 2019-12-08 10-28-57 AM

A Green-winged Pytilia

IMG_7561 Blue Waxbill 2019-12-08 11-04-55 AM

A Blue Waxbill

IMG_7565 Treeful of Wattled Starlings 2019-12-08 2-54-35 PM

A treeful of Wattled Starlings

IMG_7568 Male Wattled Starling 2019-12-08 2-54-56 PM

Male Wattled Starling


An immature Martial Eagle

IMG_7573 Treeful of Barn Swallows 2019-12-08 3-09-35 PM

A Treeful of Barn Swallows


Zebra and Giraffe enjoying each other’s company

P1190239 Giraffe And Zebra 2019-12-08 3-27-01 PM

Giraffe Browse – Zebra Graze so they do not compete for food.







This morning, just outside the camp we found this impala carcass hanging in a tree.  There was no sign of the leopard who had obviously left it there.  Unless a ranger had put there as a joke!?   A few cars decided to wait and see if the predator would return.  I’m afraid we don’t have that kind of patience.  We went past it again on our return and there were still cars waiting  – nobody had seen any sign of a leopard.  When we went out in the afternoon – same story.  And on our return at 5 pm, all that could be seen was the impala hanging in the tree but still, there was a traffic jam!


Leopard’s pantry – perhaps he likes his meat well hung!

It will be interesting to see whether the impala is still hanging there tomorrow.

This evening the Earl cooked a curry in the Smart Space pots and we sat outdoors and enjoyed the wonderful ambience of a wildlife campsite.  Two bushbabies came to visit and entertained us with their amazing ability to bounce from the ground and into the trees.

I can’t imagine a more perfect place to be.

Gecko Goes to Kruger – An Exciting Ride From Berg en Dal to Lower Sabi via Skukuza.

7 December 2019

The dawn chorus woke us well before it was actually dawn this morning.  Going back to sleep was impossible so we packed up and were on the road with Gecko in tow by quarter to five. It was going to be a long drive as we would start on the S110 then take the H3 tar road to Skukuza and have breakfast there before taking the H4-1 to Lower Sabie.

One does not expect to have too much excitement on the tar road especially when one is towing a caravan!  But today all the animals came out to play.

Just minutes after exiting Berg en Dal we saw a car stopped up ahead.  “We see a lion! – Under that tree,” said the little girl in the back seat.  And sure enough, but a fair distance away, sat a male lion staring with big eyes.  Because of the caravan and not wanting to spoil their view we rode on.

Not long afterwards, still on the S110, we saw this.

IMG_7205 Wild dog up ahead 2019-12-07 5-41-35 AM

I woke up this morning with a strong feeling that we would see African Wild Dog today!  They’re also known as Cape Hunting Dog or Cape Painted Dog

Wild Dogs are endangered and they are carefully monitored in the Kruger National Park.

IMG_7210 Wild dog looking for one of his pack 2019-12-07 5-42-16 AM

This animal is collared so his movements can be monitored. This is probably the Alpha male. He is looking into the bush and waiting for a straggler from his pack

IMG_7216 Wild Dog 2019-12-07 5-43-04 AM

Another worried member waiting for the straggler


I’m coming – don’t worry!

There were three or four cars slowly following the dogs but we managed to overtake and go past the animals so that everybody could have a good sighting.   It also gave me the chance to look back and aim my camera at the running dogs.

IMG_7229 Wild Dogs running 2019-12-07 5-44-11 AM

Let’s have a race!

IMG_7245 Fun Loving Wild Dogs 2019-12-07 5-45-06 AM

Come on Pack, enough of the high jinks.  Let’s get away from these nosy tourists!

Wow – what a great start to our morning!

We missed getting a photograph of the first lion but on the H3 a car up ahead stopped. As we approached we saw the lion walking on the road.  She then went into the bush and we could see her but she was not photographable.  The Earl got a bum shot which is not worth posting.  We couldn’t hang around to see if she would emerge as more cars arrived from both directions and we didn’t want to get caught in the mess.

Not long after that – you’ve guessed it – more lions!   This time there were several young cubs of various ages.  They’d been left alone while the mothers went hunting we presume. One lay on the road while others were spread out in the grass and under the trees.

IMG_7249 lion cubs 2019-12-07 6-29-59 AM

The older ones were babysitting

IMG_7256 Lion cubs one on road two under bush 2019-12-07 6-30-47 AM

The little ones were very obedient

IMG_7257 Lioness 2019-12-07 6-31-00 AM

When’s Mommy coming home – I’m hungry!

We continued on and found the birds were enjoying the early morning sun.  The Lilac-breasted roller is very common in Kruger but still very pretty.

IMG_7270 Lilac-breasted Roller 2019-12-07 7-24-60

Lilac-breasted Roller

IMG_7271 Lilac breasted roller in flight 2019-12-07 7-25-00 AM

I’m outa here!

Sensitive viewers, please skip the next two pictures!  A car up ahead of us stopped and we looked into the bush to see what they had spotted.  But the front passenger pointed downward from her window and then they drove off.

I saw a snake – a puff adder I think – wriggling his tail like mad but not moving forward.  On closer observation, I saw why.

IMG_7279 Snake on raod devouring a frog 2019-12-07 7-29-19

He had a frog in his mouth and was trying to ingest it!

IMG_7276 Snake eating frog 2019-12-07 7-29-7

Sorry can’t chat now – I have a frog in my throat!

It was soon after this that we arrived at Skukuza.  We parked the Everest and Gecko at the caravan park and walked to the restaurant to have our own breakfast which was a lot more appetising than frog!

I have to say that The Cattle Baron at Skukuza is awesome.  We sat on the deck with a wonderful view over the Sabie River and ordered The Sunrise which was less than R50,00.  The Earl had a cappuccino and I had a black Americano.  I’m fussy about coffee and I had no complaints.  The sunrise consists of two eggs, two slices of bacon, a potato rosti a grilled tomato and toast. You can choose to have your eggs any style and we both asked for scrambled.  When it arrived I could not believe how much food was on my plate – three large slices of bacon instead of two and I am sure you can’t get that much scramble out of two eggs!   It was awesome. I told the waiter that I had a complaint.  “I ordered two slices of bacon and I got three!”

“I like your complaint,” he said with a look of relief on his face!

IMG_7288 Giant Kingfisher 2019-12-07 8-16-06 AM.JPG

Giant Kingfisher was seen at breakfast time

We continued on to Lower Sabie and had some lovely sightings.

IMG_7303 Fish Eagle 2019-12-07 9-13-36 AM

Fish Eagle in a tree next to the river

IMG_7317 Elephants 2019-12-07 9-32-24 AM

Quite a few elephants including these two

IMG_7320 Lions 2019-12-07 9-59-24 AM

And another pride of lions!

The sky began to cloud over as we arrived at Lower Sabie but it was still very hot.  We set up camp and then had a rest before going out again.   There was a light drizzle all afternoon.

We had some lovely sightings of elephant and buffalo and other animals but the birding was particularly good.

IMG_7325 Levaillant's Cuckoo 2019-12-07 2-13-56 PM

Levaillan’ts Cuckoo

IMG_7349 Red-breasted Swallow 2019-12-07 3-14-48 PM

Red-breasted Swallow

We have been seeing the Red-crested Korhaan frequently but the Black-bellied Bustard only revealed himself to us today.  He looks similar but has a longer neck and is taller in stature.

IMG_7364 Black-bellied bustard 2019-12-07 3-52-53 PM

We were thrilled to add Black-bellied Bustard to our Kruger list for 2019


Woolly-necked Storks were also new for this trip

I have been trying all holiday to get the Red-faced Mousebird to pose for me and today he sat still beautifully for the Earl.


P1190211 Red-faced Mousebird 2019-12-07 2-39-32 PM

Thanks for not hiding today, Mr Mousebird

It was quite a thrill to see this family cross the road in front of us

IMG_7340 Shelley's Francolin Family 2019-12-07 3-00-57 PM

They are not commonly seen

IMG_7341 Shelley's Francolins 2019-12-07 3-00-59 PM

Shelley’s Francolin is an uncommon resident of the area

IMG_7343 Shelley's Francolin 2019-12-07 3-01-04 PM

I hope I have identified you correctly!

IMG_7457 Lower Sabie Campsite 2019-12-07 6-16-21 PM.JPG

In spite of the rain, we were able to make a fire and braai in the evening.



Gecko #81 goes to Kruger – Berg en Dal to Pretoriouskop and Back

14 November 2019

Don’t go to Kruger in summer!   It will be too hot!  You won’t be able to cope with the heat!  The grass is too long.  You won’t see any animals.

The above is advice I have received from many well-meaning people, most of whom have never been to Kruger or who only go in winter.   All the information out there suggests that the winter months are the best.  It’s warm during the day but chilly at night but you will definitely see the animals as they won’t be hiding in the long grass!

Well, most of my visits over the past 20 years have been in summer and yes, it’s hot and the grass is long but the game viewing is still awesome.  Also, it’s a fantastic time to see birds as the migrants from Europe love the Kruger.

Now what we have never been warned about – mainly because the prophets of doom have never been here themselves – is that you might just get flooded out!   The weather can become rather extreme at this time of year.  In past years we have had a spit and a spot of rain and on a few occasions have had to pack up in wet conditions.  But read on dear reader to find out what happened to us today!

The roaring of lions woke us at an impolite hour this morning.  I turned over and ignored them!   Only crazy people go out at 4:30 in the morning.  The saner among us wait until after six!  I was up before the Earl and after my shower, I had coffee and a rusk ready to tempt him from his comfy bed.  The weather was overcast and warm and while I pottered around, a lovely white-browed robin made an appearance.

IMG_3063 White-browed robin 2019-11-14 5-57-00 AM

In order to have the Ford serviced we have to get to a certain number of km on the clock.  It didn’t have enough before we left home and by the time we get back, we’ll have too many.  So our Bredasdorp man organised for us to have it done in Nelspruit tomorrow.   We were just short of the required kilometres so we decided to do an extra-long trip today.   After coffee and rusks, we set off just after six stopping at Afsaal picnic site for breakfast and then continuing to Pretoriuskop Camp,  arriving around midday.

The overcast weather meant the light for photography was not great.  We hoped for a bit of rain as the park, like the rest of the country, really needs it. Since arriving in the park we have not needed to put on jackets or jerseys.  The temperatures have hovered in the early to late twenties.  Today it went right up to 33 degrees C.

There were long stretches of driving when there was absolutely nothing happening – not a bird nor a buck – yet by the end of the day we’d seen some interesting creatures and four out of the compulsory BIG FIVE!  Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant.  Sorry  – no lions.

IMG_3073 Immature Martial Eagle 2019-11-14 7-35-38 AM

Always exciting to see eagles – this one we think is an immature Martial

IMG_3077 Impala herd of females 2019-11-14 7-53-03 AM

Very common and very pretty – the lovely Macdonald’s for lions – Impala females


And a shy grey duiker

IMG_3102 Natal Spurfowl 2019-11-14 8-47-20 AM

Gardenia Hide produced very little but this Natal Spurfowl entertained us

IMG_3121 Elephant approaching 2019-11-14 9-16-16 AM

Lots of small herds of elephants and of course quite a few single males like this guy

IMG_3120 Terapin at elephant's feet 2019-11-14 9-14-17 AM

At the waterhole, he almost stepped on a terrapin

As we drove along we came across a stationary car.  “What have you spotted?” asked the Earl.   He was foreign and his answer sounded like, “kudu”  We couldn’t see a thing so the Earl drove on.  “Go back,” I said, “They’re still staring into the bush.  There must be something there!”

“Anything to make you happy, my love,”  he sighed obligingly.  And then I saw it – not a kudu – a cuckoo!

IMG_3129 Jacobin Cuckoo Pied Morph 2019-11-14 10-46-13 AM

Yesterday I posted the dark morph Jacobin Cuckoo – This is the pied morph Jacobin Cuckoo!

IMG_3137 Waterbuck 2019-11-14 11-38-40 AM

First, he refused to look at me but I asked nicely so he posed beautifully – Male Waterbuck

After we’d stopped and enjoyed an ice cream at Pretoriouskop we got back in the car to make our long way back to Berg en Dal.   The skies looked threatening and we expected a shower of rain.

IMG_3174 Storm clouds gathering 2019-11-14 2-25-41 PM

Not too scary looking

There was first one big splash and then another on the windscreen, a few stokes from the wipers and it was clear again.  This went on for a minute or two and then the wind got up. Omiword – it was gale force – almost like a hurricane.   The rain pelted down in huge drops and then the hail hit sounding like shots from a gun!  The Earl drove with full headlights on at snail’s pace and then had to come to a complete stop as visibility was zero!


I was terrified!   I was afraid that the golfball-sized hailstones would crash through the windscreen or windows, we’d be drenched or drowned and never see home again!   I was wearing a fit watch that measures your heartbeat and mine went up from its normal 70 to 91!   The storm went on for an agonising 15 minutes and we were alone in the middle of the wilds of Africa!

And then it was over as suddenly as it had begun.  We were in one piece and perfectly safe.   What an adventure!

We continued and saw a few more animals.  Miraculously they’d survived the storm too!  Imagine being a tiny bird or helpless buck in a violent storm like that!


A klipspringer surveying is surroundings – How that rock doesn’t tumble I do not know!



There was a baby too but he was hiding from the camera

P1180341 Elephant 2019-11-14 8-19-00 AM

A happy ellie

P1180354 Zebra pattern Earl 2019-11-14 11-58-51 AM

Distinctive pattern on this guy’s rump


A rather wet steenbok


One of the many buffalo seen today

We also glimpsed a leopard again today.   It took us ages to locate him hiding under a tree and then he got up and disappeared into the bush.  Too quick for a photograph, I’m afraid.

The skies clouded over again as we approached Berg en Dal.  The Earl wanted to get back to camp quickly to secure our canopy and make sure the hatches were securely battened down!

Just as we got to the caravan the heavens opened, there was thunder, lightning and a heavy downpour.  We secured the poles and the Earl made sure the canopy didn’t collapse under the weight of the water collecting in it.


The Earl using a broom to push the canopy up so the water emptied


Suddenly we had a river running past our caravan!

This storm too lasted only about half an hour and then all was calm again.   We abandoned our original plans to braai and I cooked chicken in the Remosca pot.   So yes, we survived!

Gecko #81 On The Road Again – Karoo National Park

Karoo National Park is 356 km from Mountain Zebra.   We needed to stock up on supplies and refuel which we did in Graaff-Reinet.   If ever you travel though there don’t miss stopping for a bite to eat at The Blue Magnolia. It is awesome.   We managed to find a double parking place for the caravan and a car guard made sure that it was safely looked after.



The campsite at Karoo National Park is one of the best Sanparks facilities we’ve been to.

We chose #11 which had sufficient shade and was close to the bathrooms.  The sites are set up in a crescent, it is well lit at night, the ablutions are sparkling clean with extra touches like hand wash next to each basin, a full-length mirror and a counter with a lit vanity mirror for doing your hair and make-up.


Gecko 81 happily set up


On our first evening, this female kudu thought she’d join us!  She must have jumped the fence to get in!

The Park was established in 1979 and as it is in the semi-desert Karoo, and like Mountain Zebra, it is very dry.   The scenery, however, is also magnificent.


Like Mountain Zebra this park has similar animals like vervet monkey, springbok, gemsbok, eland and kudu. We enjoyed seeing them all as well as a few extras


Male Kudu



Mountain Zebra of course


Back view of a Chachma Baboon


A dear little steenbok – there were many


Black-backed Jackal – we only saw this one.

The Karoo Korhaan was on our wish list and on the first morning we nearly missed them.   I saw two strange-looking ‘bushes’ and yelled ‘STOP!”  The bushes turned out to be crouched korhaans trying to keep warm.  The temperature at that time was 4 degrees C and only warmed up to 30 much later!


The female Karoo Korhaan


The Male Karoo Korhaan

We did not see as many birds as we would have liked but here are a few that we enjoyed.


The Karoo Chat – saw many

IMG_2214 Karoo Chat 2019-09-15 8-33-28 AM

Mouth open!


White-throated Canary


The Ostriches ruled


Ant-eating chat


Pale-chanting Goshawk



White-backed Mousebird


I’m just not sure about this one – any suggestions?

We did not get an impressive list but for the record here they are

Ostrich, Karoo Korhaan, Karoo Chat, Familiar Chat, White-throated Canary, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Cape Robin-Chat, Dark Capped Bulbul, Southern Masked Weaver, Acacia Pied Barbet, Red-winged Starling, Laughing Dove, Cape Sparrow, House Sparrow, Grey-headed Sparrow, Pale-chanting Goshawk, Double-banded Courser, White-backed Mousebird,

We got back from our morning drive at 11 am today and decided to go to the restaurant for a snack.   They were only open for take-aways so we ordered a chicken wrap each – not bad at all.  We have dined at the restaurant on past visits and find the food excellent.  They serve a very good breakfast too.

Tomorrow we leave the last of the parks we are visiting on this trip.

If you have never done a Sanparks holiday, I don’t want to put you off, because the experience you have in any one of them is wonderful but it is only fair to warn you of the hitches.

In certain parks and camps, the maintenance is bad.  Addo used to be fantastic but since about 2015 we have seen a steady decline.  The roads are not regularly graded – those potholes need to be filled in!   The ablutions are acceptable on the female side but not on the male side.   Drains are blocked and they are not properly cleaned.

Mountain Zebra’s campsite is neat and tidy but their bathrooms need a serious upgrade – the hot water in the showers is erratic and the cubicles too small!  The washing machine in the laundry was broken! Addo didn’t have washing machines at all and that’s okay but if they have them, please Sanparks,  keep them in working order!

Karoo National Park was such a surprise. Everything was spotless and everything worked.  The communal kitchen had boiling water on tap, lovely cooking facilities and a fridge and freezer for the use of the campers. The bathrooms are functional, clean and there is even an arrangement of flowers to pretty it up.   The laundry washing machine and dryer work!

If Karoo NP can do it – so can the others!   It’s all to do with good management.  So well done Karoo National Park!






















































Gecko #81 on the Road Again – Mountain Zebra National Park

After our wonderful three days in Addo, we moved on to Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock in The Eastern Cape.   En Route we stopped at a farm stall in the middle of nowhere just off the N10.  I just love finding these hidden gems and Daggaboer Padstal was indeed unique.   We were greeted at the door by our hostess who offered us a thimble of ginger beer or lemonade to taste.  I had the ginger beer and The Earl the lemonade and both were delicious – homemade of course. Inside was a feast for the eyes and there were a variety of goodies from rusks to crafts for sale

Breakfast was a wholesome fried egg, bacon, boerewors and tomato served with roostekoek of course. The coffee would do any Boer (farmer) proud!  It was percolated and had to be poured through a sieve. For my non-South African readers – roosterkoek is a ball of bread dough cooked on a grid over hot coals. It is often served with a braai/BBQ but is also often served in restaurants as an alternative toast.


An interesting Padstal (Farm Stall)


A wholesome Boere Breakfast – I declined the roosterkoek

Our three days at Mountain Zebra were lovely.   This park was established in 1937 with the prime focus being to protect the endangered Mountain Zebras.  Many of the other parks both Sanparks and private obtained their mountain zebras from this park.  Mountain Zebra Park is also the most significant contributor of The Cheetah Metapopulation Project and many of their cheetahs have been relocated to other parks in the country.

We did not see any cats during our stay in the park but what we really enjoyed was the magnificent scenery in this mountainous reserve.  The first day was hot but after that we enjoyed sunny but very cold days!  Early mornings and nights were down to 5 degrees C!


Camp on Day 1 – Nice and warm


Note the mountain zebra


A tree growing out of rock – HOW?


Dry but beautiful


The roads were very steep in some parts


At a lookout point – The Earl took a picture of me taking a picture of him


My picture of him taking a picture of me taking a picture of him

On Thursday we drove the most hectic of the 4X4 trails.  We only read the description later – “Umgeni is  the most challenging of the 4X4 trails -It can either provide a lot of excitement or induce premature aging!”  It did both for us! At one point The Earl had to get out of the car to remove a particularly large rock from the road!  His choice was to risk being eaten by a predator or destroying his car!  Luckily there wasn’t an animal in sight.

During our three day stay, we enjoyed seeing a variety of game and birds.


Brown-hooded kingfisher


Acacia Pied Barbet


Gemsbok (Oryx)


Kudu female – Saw lots of males too


Familiar Chat


Cape Rock Thrush


Ground Squirrel


Double-banded courser


Vervet Monkey


Black Wildebeest – different to the Blue Wildebeest seen in Kruger and other parks – Note the white tails


Red-billed ox-peckers giving an Eland a spa treatment




Pale-chanting Goshawk – only raptor we saw


Mountain Zebra


Dark-capped bulbul


A herd of Black wildebeest (Gnus)


Large-billed lark


Our national animal – Springbok


Spike-heeled Lark


Scaly-feathered finch


Golden-breasted bunting



Southern Boubou inviting himself into the caravan



Then asking The Earl for a snack


This naughty monkey stole an egg from my box and then went to wash in the puddle next to the caravan! One has to be constantly on guard when camping in the wild!

Our most exciting experience was spotting three rhinos while on a lonely drive and no other cars were there to share the sighting with us.



Black Rhino


Mom and baby

A little while later we were also the only car to see a fourth rhino on his own.  When he caught sight of us he made a mock charge and then thought we weren’t worth the effort and ran off into the bush.









Gecko on The Road again – Addo Elephant Park

We had great plans for a long road trip in the second half of this year but a few things caused us to change our minds.  Our big trip of the year was the cruise from Mauritius to Venice and we have also done a few short caravan trips.   We have had some family events to attend and our little home in Struisbaai needed some attention so we decided to just do a short trip before we have to start thinking of the Christmas Season.

We packed up the Gecko Xtreme Off-Road caravan and left Struisbaai on Thursday 5 September then spent the weekend with our sister-in-law at Great Brak River.  She was celebrating her 60th birthday and there was a bit of a family reunion there.  Diane and Carey live on a small farm and some of us camped in the garden!  It was awesome fun.

On Sunday we headed to Addo Elephant Park – our third trip there this year!   It was not as exciting as last time but very enjoyable nevertheless. We only managed to get two nights when I booked and we planned to spend a third night at a private camp outside the park.  I asked if there were any cancellations when we checked in but no luck.  However, the next day I asked again – and there was a vacancy so we got our three nights saving us an extra pack-up day.


The weather was awesome – very hot on Sunday and Monday then cooler morning and evening on Tuesday but still shorts and t-shirt temperatures during the day.

Tiny baby enjoying the mud

Protected by his elders

This is so refreshing

I’m just gonna sit here and enjoy the waters


The warthogs seem to have no fear of the giants above them


AAAH a lovely trough of cool, fresh water.

Early on our second morning, we came across this strange looking goose!


It looks like a shelduck

Then we saw a more familiar-looking one a little further away.


Mr. Shelduck

And soon we also saw his wife


Mrs. Shelduck

So the odd creature must have been their youngster not yet in his full adult plumage.

A better photo of Mom.

Usually, we see them near water but they must have been out foraging.

It is hot and dry in The Park at the moment and even the birds were scarce.  We did, however, manage to see and photograph a few


Streaky-headed seedeater




Common Fiscal


Ant-eating chat


Pale-chanting Goshawk on prey


The guts are delicious!


Southern Boubou




Emerald-spotted wood-dove


Cape Glossy Starling


Jackal Buzzard


Karoo Scrub-robin

One doesn’t often see suricates so it was really rewarding to find some so close to the road 


This lot greeted us in a friendly manner


What was he thinking!


The rest of the gang dug furiously for breakfast

Perhaps because of the heat, the animals were hiding in the bushes and trees. We usually see herds of them on the open plains.  This time they were more scattered.    


Zebra eating the dry grass


A lone red hartebeest


Male Kudu trying to get some juicy leaves


There were not many buffalo around but this one got a beauty treatment from a crow!   The crow tried to impersonate an ox-pecker but didn’t quite have the skills.  He jumped up and pecked at the long-suffering buff and managed to get a tick or three.


I see some parasites annoying you – shall I get them off?


Be my guest – I haven’t had a spa treatment in ages


oooh – that’s better!


These jackals were hiding from a kudu who was trying to trample them!

Other tourists reported seeing lions at various places in the park but we only saw one female about to take a nap.


We left Addo this morning and made our way to Mountain Zebra National Park near Craddock.  More about that in my next post.

Share Your World 3 September 2019

Some great questions from Sparks

When you’re 90 years old, what do you suppose will matter most to you?

I have warned my children and grandchildren that I plan to be a burden to them when I’m old!  Of course, this is a joke!  I will probably still be looking after them at 90!

What will matter is that I am NOT a burden to anybody and that I still have all my marbles.   My independence will matter the most.


What’s the best way to spend a rainy afternoon?

When I was teaching, rainy day procedure was a nightmare.   We had to keep the children in and take turns with a colleague to fetch a cup of coffee. It wasn’t missing the coffee break that was so traumatic – although it was irksome – it was the behaviour of the poor kids – they would be desperate to get out there and PLAY!   It was up to the teacher to invent active indoor games for their motoric release – but it was just not the same.  When the rain let up I would take the kids out for a walk. Oh, the fun of splashing in the puddles and smelling the cold, fresh air!    Their shoes would get wet – but we didn’t care.

jump puddle

Here in the post-drought Western Cape we are very grateful for the rainy days we are having.   I can’t say I do anything special on such days – I just do what I normally do – housework, Duolingo, hobbies. I even quite enjoy a drive out on a rainy day.

What is one thing you don’t understand about yourself?

I understand myself perfectly.  It’s other people that I don’t understand – and perhaps that’s what I don’t understand about myself – Why don’t I understand other people?

Don't understand

When was the last time you tried something to look ‘cool’ (hip), but it ended in utter embarrassment?   Details?

I had spiky hair and maybe it was embarrassing to some people but I didn’t care.

2010-06-21 018


This is an opportunity to share a picture, a story or event that shows your gratitude.


I am grateful for my Gecko and that I can explore so many amazing places in my country with it.


I am grateful for this lot – They bring me so much joy!

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 24 – Nossob

19 November 2018

Nossob to Rooikop to Marie se Gat to Kaspersdraai and back

Another early start today and out the gate by 06:06. The Earl complained that we were late!  We should have been out by 5:30 – now we’ll miss the lions and cheetahs.  But all was not lost.  Why are these cars parked at the water hole looking at nothing – he said.  We turned in and there they were!  

Two Lions coming to drink

We watched them drink and play and then walk off together. What an awesome sighting – they spotted a springbok and went into hunting mode.  But it was far off and gone before they could give chase.   We watched them till they melted into the veld. A few minutes earlier or later and we would have missed them

We continued to Marie se gat.  Marie was married to one of the men responsible for drilling the boreholes.  His name was Henry Brink.   Imagine being Marie – living like a squatter in the wilds of Africa.  Life was tough but when the man on whom you depend fails to perform his duties and no money is coming in, you turn to desperate measures. Henry began to drink excessively and his job became the last thing he paid attention to so Marie simply drilled the borehole herself so that they could survive!  Hooray for pioneering women like Marie!

At her famous Gat (bore hole) we watched quelea and Cape Sparrow

We continued to Kaspersdraai waterhole where clouds of quelea, finches and Namaquadove were being pursued by a lanner.  Then we made our way back spotting a Martial Eagle on the way

Martial Eagle
A Red-necked falcon also posed beautifully for us

Half way between Kaspers and Marie’s we saw a car stopped and asked the Australians within what they were looking at.  “A sleeping cheetah – hasn’t moved for half an hour – we may give up and go back for breakfast!”   We found a suitable spot – saw the cheetah lift her head and flick her tail and stayed to see if she did anything more while we had a cup of coffee.  She didn’t stir – but it was still a lovely sighting as thus far no other cheetahs had made an appearance!

Back home I did some washing while The Earl cooked brekkie and then we watched the birds and mongooses round the camp.

Yellow mongooses in camp

Afternoon drive – Nossob to Cubitje Quap and Kwang and back

On the way we found a spotted eagle-owl in a tree

Parents with juvenile

At Kwang Water Hole we found lion!

The male was on the side of the road
The females were under the trees near the water hole

There were some vultures there too.

Lapet-faced vultures
Lapet-faced and white-backed vultures

We left the creatures in peace and drove on for a while.  When we came back they were more active.

Starting to wake up
Then a female flopped down next to him
She was a bit more wakeful
He decided to stretch and yawn
And gave us an authoritative stare
We thought they might hunt but clearly it was too early for dinner and they flopped down again

On our return drive we found that there were two owls in the tree.  

The one we saw on the way there
And this one spreading his wings

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 15 Halali to Okaukeujo

10 November 2018

Today was ‘pack up and go’ and ‘set up and rest’ day.  I was up at quarter to six, had a shower and started putting things in their correct places in preparation for towing the caravan.   The Earl cooked us scrambled eggs and by the time Pat and I had tidied the dishes he’d lowered the roof, pulled up the stand and put the electrical connections away.  We soon had the canopy dismantled and rolled up and Pat and Tony had their tent done too.   So at 8:15 we departed for Okaukeujo.  We took the direct route but The Mools took a slow drive stopping at waterholes.

We did pop into Rietfontein as it was easy to maneuver the caravan there.  There were vultures on the giraffe that the mating couple had killed yesterday.

 We had a few other interesting sightings along the way but there were long stretches of not very much.  When we did see animals there were gatherings of hundreds of mixed species. 

We saw a big male lion in the distance – he was walking toward a pan where there were herds of herbivores and they were clearly aware of him.

Big herd of zebra
Springbok find a shady tree

We were excited to find some interesting birds on the way.

Greater Kestrel
Double banded courser with chick

Northern Black Korhaan

We arrived at Okaukeujo at 10:15. 

Entrance to Okaukuejo

I went to check in and was told I could not do so before 11.  The conversation went like this.

“No check in until 11.”

Now I understand this for chalet accommodation – they need to clean the room, make sure it’s ready for the next occupants – but for camping? Well, maybe if the site has been left in a mess – but most campers are responsible and don’t litter! 

“Really?  For camping?”


I put on a desperate expression – “But we’re towing a caravan – can’t we just park it and check in later?”  

She looked put out and said I could park it outside reception.

“There is no caravan parking available,” said I.  “My hubs is looking for a place as we speak. Please just let us park and we’ll check in later.”

She didn’t look happy but she gave in and agreed.  I thanked her profusely – got the site number and off we went to set up.  When we saw some of the tiny sites we were worried that the one assigned to us would have no shade and be too small for our Gecko Off Road Caravan plus the Mools’  tent but were pleasantly surprised when we got to Number 23-  It was in excellent nick and had a lovely shady tree which hosted the sociable weavers’ nests.  Other birds liked the tree too and we saw white-bellied sunbirds, masked weavers and scarlet chested sunbird.

It was hot!  We set up quickly and went to check in properly at 11:15.   Then we popped into the shop for bitterly cold sparkling water and ice cream!

The Earl then had a nap while I edited photos and did my diary.  

The Mools arrived an hour or so after us, set up and had some lunch.

Our Campsite

We then we all set off for a drive leaving around 4:30 pm.  The trip up had yielded very little so we weren’t expecting too much. All we hoped for were some interesting birds.

Well we were in for a surprise – We saw some cars staring across the veld toward the mopane trees.  On the tree line I spotted the first lion.   Then another and still two more!  We followed them for awhile. 

The first lion

Then some more

“They’re probably heading to Gemsbok Vlakte Water Hole,” said The Earl.  It was quite a distance for them to walk so we left them and carried on to another waterhole – Olifants Bad.  On arriving there we saw a few cars watching the guinea-fowl and other birds making quite a commotion.   We saw nothing until a ‘jeep-jockey’ called  – “Just drive around those cars and look this way,” he said, “There’s a leopard drinking at the edge of the pond.”  So we did but it took a while to spot the well camouflaged creature.   We watched her drink for a second and then she was up.

She was off!

She turned around and headed off through the mopani trees.  She was escorted by a tribe of Praise Singers in the form of admiring guinea-fowl!  They kept pace with her and we guessed that so long as they could see her, they were safe!

Leopard escorted by her praise singers

We followed the other cars who wanted to see her emerge onto the road on the other side of the trees. They were waiting for her and when she emerged everyone started reversing. We ended up being in the best spot and got some stunning shots of her before she disappeared though the tress on the other side of the road.

We saw her coming through the trees

Right next to the car

Wow!  How trilled we were to see this creature so seldom seen in Etosha!   We were on a high as we travelled toward Gemsbok Vlakte. There was nobody home when we arrived and no sign of the lions. Then we saw and heard a jackal howling.  “That means the lions are nearby,” I said.  We drove along the road a little while but quickly turned around when we saw the four rulers of the jungle marching determinedly across the veld toward the waterhole!

Rulers of the Vlakte
Slaking their thirst at Gemsbok vlakte water hole

It was awesome to observe them slaking their thirst.  The skies were darkening and a storm was brewing. 

There was thunder and lightening.  It was time to return to camp before the gate was closed. Suddenly the wind picked up and caused a dust storm and visibility was so poor The Earl could scarcely see the road! Fortunately it cleared and just before arriving home we spotted a rhino.

At Camp we were  just in time to secure all of the canopy and tent poles.  Many of the over-lander tents were blown over and campers were scurrying about to secure them.

We decided that making fire was going to be a problem so we bit the bullet and dug deep into our pockets to pay for an expensive meal at the restaurant!   It was worth it though and a wonderful way to celebrate our lovely sightings.