Tala’s rare lady

Working at Tala Private Game Reserve I got to see so many special sightings that are all so memorable but there is one in particular that always stands out. It is not a Rhino, not a lion or leopard, not giraffe but one that many people over look, it’s an Impala. Yes an Impala, a female Impala to be exact.  

Impala’s are very common in South Africa and quite often people that have been on game drives before drive by them without even giving them a second thought. If you are one of these people and have been around Tala Game Reserve you have most likely missed an extremely special and very rare sight. I am talking about Tala’s very special female Impala that is sporting a set of horns. 

Now if you are wondering why this is so rare or special I’ll explain. Normally, only male Impala (Rams) have horns and females (ewes)don’t have horns, but due to a hormonal imbalance caused this particular female Impala, grew a set of horns. The horns do look quite deformed compared to a normal males horns and are much thinner so she does stand out in her herd and can be told apart from the males quite easily. 

You can see some of the pictures of her below. 

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So if you are ever in the Natal are and happen to visit Tala Private Game Reserve be sure to keep your eyes open around the Impala as you may catch a glimpse of one of Africa’s rarest and very special mammals. 

Categories: adventure, africa, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Midlands, Nature, Rare, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chapter 1 – Training days

Its been a few months since my last post but life has been rather chaotic since I decided to take that leap and change career paths. Although there has been many ups and downs (mainly ups) the change from Golfer to Ranger, quite honestly has been the best decision I have made. It has been quite tough to follow my dream but I know that it will pay off in the long run. This post will hopefully be the start to many more to come as I will be trying to keep you all up to date on my lifetime adventure, really hope you all will enjoy. So lets get into this!

So the journey begins! Heading off to Zulu Land I couldn’t be more nervous and excited. My emotions running wild we arrived at Phinda Game reserve to start the whole training program. As much as I would love to tell you all the details about it, unfortunately, they ask that we keep there process “top secret” so we don’t ruin it for others. All I can say is that the week that I was there was an amazing experience and one I will NEVER forget. Unfortunately I never quite made the cut and wasn’t what they were looking for in the Andbeyond family. I was rather gutted at the time but as one or two days passed I realised it may have just been for the better as I was already making plans to pursue the dream after been knocked down on attempt 1.

After a week or so of not really knowing which direction to turn and feeling a little lost to say the least I gave Tala Private Game Reserve a call out of the blue. Ashot in the dark really as I had no real qualifications behind me other than I am studying for that line of work. Mike, the GM, was amazing and super helpful, almost offering me something over the phone. It was basically a volunteering or training position with the opportunity to further my experience and learn the ins and outs of a reserve. This turned out to be more valuable than I could have imagined. Head ranger, Divan, welcomed me to the reserve and without a chance to take a breath was thrown into the mix. Learning more and more everyday was exactly what I was looking for and let me tell you Divan’s knowledge is phenomenal. Hanging on his every word I could have not asked to learn more, not only about the bush but also other areas which I quite clearly over looked.

Before I knew it I was part of the team, giving game drives and bush walks. Experience that well is just invaluable and something I will always remember. Typical days generally involved staff runs, game drives, learning the bush and feeding off the knowledge of others. Spending each and every day in the bush has given me some of the most amazing experiences and this is only the beginning. In free time I get to basically do my own thing which generally involved driving or walking the reserve, learning the animals and talking in all the aspects of the wild. A few of the amazing moments include walking with Giraffe, watching Hippos fight, Giraffe necking and possibly the best part of all was to see and spend time with the Rhinos everyday. A huge thanks to Divan, Mike and the whole team at Tala, you all were a huge help to me and I hope it wont be long until I see you all again.

Talking about Rhino’s, the anti poaching team at Tala is amazing. They are extremely passionate about what they do and are real hero’s in my eyes. So getting to spend time with them was so fantastic. Rave Rhino and Wildlife Project is doing great things, so please support them if you can. I will include the link below. Laurence and your team, thanks for everything you do and I will do my best to carry on doing whatever I can for you.

Before this post becomes too long, as I could really go into detail from day to day happenings it would be a lengthy post, I think ill save those for the book. As my journey continues I will keep you posted with stories from the Ranger side of life.

I have had a couple adventures on my off weeks which were amazing too and include a trip  back to Botswana (Khutse) and a couple day trips to Karkloof Conservancy. They were all great but you can see pictures of these on my facebook page.

I will be heading off to Bhejane Training to complete my training for level 1, trails guide, back up trails and dangerous game. I truly cant wait to embark on the exciting times ahead. So keep posted for more stories from my adventures Chapter 2 I’m sure will have some incredible stories.

Check out some of the pictures from the last few months, more are on my facebook page.

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Categories: #ranger, adventure, africa, Kwa-Zulu Natal, life, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kgalagadi Lions

This is an adventure that I had been looking forward to for over a year now and normally my expectations get the better of me and quite often the actual experience does not meet my over worked imagination. However this was an exception to the norm and well quite honestly this trip was just ridiculously amazing.

With an excitement that hardly could be managed we headed off on what was to become a trip of a lifetime. Our destination, Mabuasehube Game Reserve. To give you some background, The Mabuasehube Game Reserve is located in the Kalahari Desert covering an area of almost 2,000 sq. km. In 1992 the reserve was incorporated into the Gemsbok National Park, and in 2000 it was also integrated into the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The reserve’s name is derived from the Senalonga language, and means “red earth”. The reserve was once home to the San people, sometimes called Bushman, and to small groups of inhabitants called Kgalagadi. Mabuasehube Game Reserve offers camping facilities at each of the salty clay pans at Lesholoago, Mabuasehube, Monamodi, Bosobogolo, Mpayathutlwa (sometimes spelled Mpaathutlwa), Khiding and Malatso. These camps are unfenced and really have just the basics in the line of ablutions, a bucket shower and pit latrine, that’s if you lucky. A true wilderness experience but not for the fainthearted.

After a reasonably long drive we entered the gates and headed to our first camp through the corrugated and narrow sandy roads. After a quick set up it was time to let the nerves calm as we gazed over the pan, got the fires going and cracked the first beers. All of us feeling very relaxed we had no idea what was in stall for us as the sun disappeared over the horizon and the darkness set in. A chicken “flattie” on the braai and a cold beer by my side I was staring at the fire when all of a sudden Allan turned around to face the bush with a dim headlamp on and much to our surprise there was a fully grown Lioness making her way along the edge of the bush line. Allan and Susan were able to shuffle into the car parked close by however, good old me was a little bit stranded. Not being able to move without raising some curiosity from this rather large cat, I decided to sit dead still. It was at about that time she decided to turn slightly and head straight towards the tap about 8m directly in front of me. Knowing not to move I sat as still as possible but that did not mean that my heart had the same plans. Beating at a furious pace my heart and adrenaline was at an all-time high, nothing much could beat that feeling. As she took a sip of the little water that was dripping from the tap, she turned again after giving me a little stare and quite promptly walked about 50m away and lay down on the warm sand. Able to move a little now but still on an adrenalin high we all tried to calm the nerves as we watched her in somewhat of disbelief as to what just happened. After a few minutes she headed off in spectacular fashion. It was truly an EPIC experience and definitely one story that will stay with me for a lifetime.

 

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Lioness walking through the camp (Day 2)

The next morning proved to be quite an eventful one too with a female coming though the camp and 10 mins later a rather large male lion also decided to give us a wonderful wake up call and get the blood pumping all over again. It really is something that not many people will ever experience. I would love to tell you the stories and experiences from each day but this story would become like a novel, as there was just so much going on, so I’m going to make it a little brief.

 

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Lion that passed through the camp

 

In the following days  we saw that same pride of lions each day as they had basically set up camp at our neighbouring camp, we came to find out the second day that they had made a Kudu kill that previous night. Moving to a different pan on day 3 we were not really expecting any more visitors but we were visited by a brown hyena who rudely stole our rubbish, lesson learnt. Hang rubbish in tree! Day 5 came along and again we had a different visitor come to see what we were braai’ing, a large spotted hyena decided to give us short walk by. Every day in this place is something unexpected and will definitely give you many memorable memories. Personally, I have had some of the most special sighting and experiences and that is apart from the lion experience. Some other sightings were Bat Eared Foxes, plenty Mongoose, a few new bird species including Kestrel and Wattled Starling, steenbok by the hundreds, Black Backed Jackal and some of the most impressive Kudu and Gemsbok.

Our last night in camp was an amazing but extremely hot one. As we came into camp after a long game drive and great sightings at a waterhole we were greeted by a lone lioness who decided to come and take a load off. settling down on the pan a couple hundred meters from us she gave some magnificent sounds throughout the night and into the early mornings.

This area of the Kalahari is a must visit to any wildlife enthusiast that is willing to rough it a little. The amount of wildlife is incredible but be sure to keep your eyes open for all the small creatures that make this place so special. The bird life is also a great feature seeing some rare birds as well as the common ones.

I was rather down when we had to leave but all good things have to come to an end at some stage. I guarantee I will be visiting this place again. Thanks to Allan and Susan for a great time and an epic adventure, it was an overdose of special memories.

I could really carry on for ages but I will leave it there for this post, if you would like to hear more or see more pictures please visit my facebook page and drop me a message.

Until the next adventure!

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Categories: adventure, africa, botswana, Kalahari, travel, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Birding in the Midlands

Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, in my mind has always been one of the most beautiful places in South Africa. The rolling hills, green pastures and lush vegetation alone make this place astounding, but this is not all it has to offer. There are many different activities around the area such as Mountain biking, the canopy tours, hiking and of course there is the Karkloof falls which is always a way to spend a relaxing day.

Even though there is all of these activities, my top spot for the Midlands has to be the Karkloof Conservation Centre. Nestled 15km along the Karkloof Road from the town of Howick on the Gartmore Farm, you will find the centre. A wetland ecosystem rich in birdlife and other forms of wildlife can be experienced here and believe me when I say that this place is beautiful, tranquil and a great spot for any wildlife lover, especially the birdlife fanatics.

It is not often that conservation and agriculture mix as the two often butt heads and work in opposites but at the Conservation centre these two work in harmony and almost compliment each other forming a mutual and working relationship. Its truly a great accomplishment and something other farming or agriculture places could possibly strive towards. These guys are doing great things and this can be seen at the centre or even on their website.

I am lucky enough to have family that live on a farm within the area and is in walking distance to the bird hides which is amazing to say the least. An early morning walk and late afternoon walk are always on the cards.

Last weekend this was the case, I had to come down to SA for the week to get a few things sorted out for the new venture. I took this chance to visit my sister, brother in-law and my niece who live on the farm and I must say, I also took full advantage of being able to go spend a few hours at the bird hides.

Unfortunately for me the weather was a little miserable at the time with it being overcast and drizzling most the time, so the photography was a little more difficult but I didn’t mind as I know how much the farmers in the area need all the rain they can get at the moment. Not deterred by the rain I spend the Saturday Afternoon and Sunday morning at the hides and I really wasn’t disappointed as I got many great sightings and a couple very special ones too, including a beautiful Westen Osprey. The conservation centre is quite well known for having all three Crane Species but there are so many other birds that visit too. While I was there I saw the following:

  • Grey Crowned Crane
  • Western Osprey
  • Direrdick Cuckoo
  • African Snipe
  • Fork-tailed Drongo
  • White-throated Swallow
  • African Wattled Lapwing
  • African Jacana
  • Yellow-billed Duck
  • African Spoonbill
  • African Stonechat
  • Pin-tailed Whydah
  • Fan-tailed Widowbird

These are just a few of the species that I had the chance to see, I must have seen a total of about 35 – 40 different species. It was a great way to spend the afternoon and morning, peaceful and exciting at the same time. So if you are ever in the area, do yourself a favour and give the Karkloof Conservation Centre a visit, you will love it! I have added their links below if you would like to read more about them, see what they are all about and what they do.

http://karkloofconservation.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/Karkloof/?fref=ts

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Until next time, love life and enjoy the adventure!

Don’t forget to check out my facebook page to see more photos and stories.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: adventure, africa, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Midlands, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life is an adventure

Big life decisions are never easy to make and as with all things in life there are pros and cons behind every decision. To weigh these up are sometime extremely hard to do, especially when they are close to your heart. In the end I believe that you have to follow your passion or dreams and it may not be easy. It may mean having to make radical changes and step out of your comfort zone away from all that you know and step into something very new.

I have been facing a decision like this over the past couple months and it has been a roller coaster ride of emotions. I have gone from one side of the spectrum to the other, happy to sad, excited to nervous, but in the end, I know that I am following a dream of mine and I couldn’t be happier.

I will be entering a new world come early January as a training Field guide, a new adventure and a new start. Once all the training is done I will become a Level 1 field guide which will give me a great start in the new direction. This new path for me will bring me back into South Africa to start with and will get me started on the biggest adventure I could have asked for. Being out in the African wilderness on a daily basis, having new experiences and learning about what I love the most is honestly just a dream come true.

It will mean that I will have to leave a country that I have grown to love, friends that have become family and that I will cherish for a lifetime, but it will not be a good bye, it will be more of a, see you soon, as I will definitely be returning to this place as much as I can for more great adventures.

So going forward the adventure will continue as I will update as much as I can, more stories from the “wild side”, more photos and the endless search for adventure. So keep up to date with Ranger Kid as that name will be taking on a whole new meaning soon!

I read this quote a while back and it just seems to fit the situation:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods; / There is a rapture on the lonely shore; / There is society, where none intrudes, / By the deep sea, and music in its roar; / I love not man the less, but Nature more… / – Lord Byron

Until next time, live life and enjoy every minute of it!

 

 

Categories: adventure, africa, life, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dusty Sunsets

It was a beautiful early morning start to the day last weekend as we packed up and left for a favourite spot of mine, Khama Rhino Sanctuary. If you follow my blog you would have read a few posts of my trips there and they are always great ones and this one was no different. As always this place doesn’t disappoint, the sightings we had were great, time spent with friends was special and good memories were formed.

On the way there I was just thinking to myself how special this place is. The good they do there is incredible and the memories I have from all the trips have really found a special place in my heart, a beautiful place under the Botswana sun. If I could id be back there in a heartbeat.

After setting up camp in the already scorching heat before mid day, I think we were all a little exhausted as we sat around camp for a couple of hours finding whatever shade we could to keep, somewhat cool. We had a quick dip in the much needed and refreshing pool before heading out on the first game drive. Driving out into the sanctuary it was quite easy to see just what effect that this drought is having on Botswana, as the bush was extremely dry and open, a very different sight from the last trip. It didn’t take long and as we came around a small bend we came across a crash of Rhino’s all gathered around finding shade under a small bushy tree. After sitting with them for a few minutes we moved on to the pans and bird hide coming across many other sightings like, Kudu, Springbok, Waterbuck, Eland, Warthog, Gemsbok and a good array of bird life including the ever so beautiful Secretary Bird. Ending the afternoon off with sundowners at the pan was just an incredible sight and so peaceful, a great day in the African bush. That evening as we sat around the fire and reminisced, it was quite obvious that all of us were quite worn out and a good nights sleep was calling.

As the sun was rising the following day the birds became natures alarm clock as the Babbles and Starlings seemed to be flocking around our camp making it another rather early morning, although waking up in the bush is never a hard thing to do. Ready for another day in the sanctuary we got the breakfast going and awaited the arrival of our other campers who were on their way. It was a super relaxing morning and lunch on yet another scorcher of a day. having a swim in the pool and relaxing afternoon we headed out in search of the animals again. More great sightings of Antelope, Rhino and birds before heading off to the pans for another sunset. Although the animal sightings were great it was no comparison to the sunset that we were in for. As the sun slowly came down it was one of those moments in time that you wish you could just pause so you can enjoy it longer. The animals in the distance kicking up dust on the dry land combined with the orange glow and linings around the cloud filled sky just made this one hell of a show. Truly one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever experienced and to share this with the great people I was with just made it all that much better. I actually have no words that will describe just how beautiful it was to see and although I tried to capture it on camera, it still does not do it justice.

IMG_3449 That evening we had what seems to have become a Rhino Sanctuary tradition, a chicken “flatty” braai. The trusty braai master, Allan, doing a great job. With a full stomach and a happy heart we retired for the night.

After a short morning game drive and packing up camp with a heavy heart, not wanting to leave, we bid farewell to Rhino Sanctuary for the time being. I will look forward in anticipation for my next trip there as a place this wonderful always needs a return trip.

Thanks again to Allan, Susan, Tony and Lyn, amazing people to share yet again an awesome weekend with. Also thanks to Rhino Sanctuary staff who always make for a lovely welcome and friendly experience.

To find out more about Khama Rhino Sanctuary a visit to their website is a must: http://www.khamarhinosanctuary.org.bw/

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Categories: adventure, africa, botswana, sunset, travel, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tight lines and Family times

To experience something new is always special and exciting. Not knowing what to expect is exhilarating, traveling new roads, seeing new destinations and experiencing things that many people go a lifetime without seeing are truly incredible. These moments in time, to me are the best adventures. Not only the destination but the journey to get there, to travel through a beautiful country just makes the trip more worthwhile and the destination that much more incredible.

This was the case in my last adventure. Just over a week or so ago, we headed up to the Okavango Delta, Sepupa to be exact, to spend the week getting in some Tiger fishing during the annual Barbel run. Not only was this a completely new experience for me and a new destination but it was also a very special time as my father travelled up to join in on the adventure, making it a great father and son week as our company was Allan and his father Tony. Getting to see family is always great but spending time with them is amazing and always will find a top placing in my memory.

With great excitement I picked my father up from the airport and before we knew it we were at Allan’s house doing the last minute preps before we leave. Making sure all the rods, reels, tackle, cooler boxes and beers were packed, I’m not too sure if any of us were too concerned about food or clothes. I think that’s the normal case on any fishing trip.

Packed and ready to go we headed off, leaving Gaborone in the early hours of the morning, 3am to be exact. We had a 1100km journey ahead of us on some, for me, untraveled roads. Although it was a long drive through the very dry and flat country side we made it across the country and arrived at our destination 14 hours later. All of us a little tired we managed to get our campsite set up and cracked open the first beers on the banks of the Delta at the well-known Swamp stop, a popular place among fishermen visiting the Delta. It really didn’t take long for the relaxation to kick in by being in a place like this.

Sitting around the fire, Allan and I were rather eager to get our lines wet, so we grabbed the rods and threw a line out for those rather ancient looking and very strange squeakers. If you haven’t fished for these before you really need to try it, you will have a rather amusing time with these little guys.

The next day we got all the equipment ready, picked up the boat and got them launched, all of us very keen to get on the water. We headed out for our first fish. At this point in time I had a completely different picture in my mind as to what the delta looked like. Being in the pan handle of the Delta it is basically made up of channels and lagoons that run between the papyrus forming a swamp land of huge proportion. These winding channels through the papyrus and sandbanks is where we would be spending the next few days hunting for those monster Tiger fish.

First afternoon out and we got our first glimpse of the Barbel run. The slapping of water and the noise that these fish make moving through the edges of the papyrus is truly something. It wasn’t on the scale that I expected after hearing people talk about it, maybe a slight miss judgement in timing but it was still an amazing sight non the less and believe me there are millions of Barbel in pan handle. It’s not only the fish that put on a show but it’s the incredible birdlife that follows the run, you basically feel engulfed in the whole experience. Catching a couple Barbel was the only outcome of the first days fishing but even these were good fun to catch and release.

Second day and we were out on the water much earlier. Now knowing how to find the runs it became a little easier. Look for the birds, find the fish! Following the runs are rather exciting so many fish and you are basically just waiting for that monster to bite so you can feel that fight and bend of the rod. Although the sons never caught much other than a couple Barbel on this day the old men showed us up by getting a couple tigers and man did it look fun. My father hooking into a nice 3kg and Tony hooking into 2 nice size tigers too. I must say there was a little bragging that night from there side but it was well deserved. Talk of the days fishing carried on while we sat around the fire to a hearty meal after a long day on the water, something that I think all of us needed.

Third day and back on the water as we watched the sun rise over the papyrus. Heading up stream I just marvelled at the beauty of this place especially in the early morning, the sun glinting red off the water, the numerous amount of birds flying in front of you and the all so common but so beautiful cries of the African Fish Eagles. It was a great day to be in Africa! After following the runs for a while again and then heading further up looking for more runs we got back to the first run we were following and this was my time. Near the bends around the sandbanks I threw just into the run and one or two pulls and he hit me, MAN ALIVE, it was game time. Hitting me like a freight train this fish wanted war, jumping from the water trying to shake my bait he gave me a first look of what I was into. Tiger on the line and the fight was on, rod bending and straining this guy gave me a good fight, finally getting it to the boat and out the water to weigh, get the lure out and take that trophy photo I had to sit down for a little while as the adrenaline was pumping through me at an incredible pace. Hands trembling from the adrenalin and holding this fierce looking fish we managed to get a photo or two before releasing him again. What a fight, such an incredible moment. A 3kg Tiger is no slouch. A few hours later it was time to head back to camp but all I had on my mind was that catch, such an experience.

Day four and we headed out to another beautiful sunrise. Finding the run pretty quickly we managed to follow this for few hours, hooking into a few Barbel and a couple Tigers. My father managing to get a few good ones and myself hooking into another great fighter of 2.5kg. After a few hours on the water the run started to dissipate and fishing died down so after a good lunch on the riverbanks we went in search of more runs in a new part of the pan handle, finding a couple runs we threw a few casts but as the sun was starting to disappear we needed to head back to camp. Another great day on the water although being on the water under the Botswana sun really can drain the energy out of you.

Reminiscing about the day and going through some of the photos taken so far I was really blown away by the amount of birdlife, from African Fish Eagles to the very special sight of the African Skimmers, the copious amounts of herons and egrets, don’t forget about the little Kingfishers as all these just add to the beauty of this place. I can’t say I would recommend this place to the non-fisherman but if you are an avid bird lover it’s not the worst place to go. I could have quite happily drifted down stream looking for birds as you would get a few sightings of Crocs and Hippo’s too. The African Skimmers are always a great treat to see and you won’t battle to get any close ups of the many Fish Eagles around.

The last morning on the water and we were in search of that monster Tiger again. Finding the run pretty close to camp we followed it up and down stream as the run seemed to go back and forth, swapping sides they just seemed to be all over the place. Not catching much other than Barbel, which was still great fun, the fishing started to come to a close and on my last cast, as if to say thanks for coming, I hooked into a small Tiger to give me one last fight.

Back at camp we started to pack up a few things so we could get on the road early the next morning and although I think we were all a little sad that the week was coming to an end I think we were all feeling quite fished out. A great week of fishing, sun, water, camping and wildlife.

If you up in the area for fishing or just on a holiday be sure to check out Swamp Stop as it’s a great place to stay, if you camping or staying in chalets. Check out their website at http://www.swampstop.co.bw

I just got to say a huge thanks to my Father who came up to visit, it was amazing having you here and, as always, great to spend time with you. Same time next year? Allan and Tony, thanks again for a great week, It was definitely a trip that I will be doing again.

To check out more pictures and stories visit my facebook page.

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Friday Randoms – Angry Lapwings

While walking around the golf course today looking for something to photograph I came across a pair of Crowned Lapwings which were quite angry and distressed with being near a certain area. Knowing that they were in their peak breeding season I became very cautious as to where I laid my next few foot steps. This bird is super impressive with the ability to chase away and warn even the largest of mammals when they come in close proximity to their nest. I honestly think sometimes that they just looking to cause issues as they seem to have their nests in the most random of places and so often in areas that are well used, especially on the course. Its not uncommon to see a fourball coming down the fairway and then suddenly get bombarded by the worried birds protecting their nest, often quite amusing to onlookers but I could imagine its quite a stressful time for the birds.

So while trying to mark off the area where the nest is and doing my part to give the birds a little bit of a helping hand so people avoid the area I managed to get a few snaps off while my helper was putting a barricade of danger tape around the area. What a “show” these birds put on! Extremely clever and very aggressive at the same time, not backing down from us even though we are much larger than them. Trying not to stress them out to much we rushed the job and got the area secured and safe. I am now looking forward to seeing the little guys running around in the months to come.

Good deed for the day done!

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Looking forward to the next adventure, we will be heading off to Khama Rhino Sanctuary again in week so keep checking back for more posts. Until then, follow Ranger Kid on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rangerkidtales , to view all the photos and see upcoming adventures.

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Friday Randoms – Golf’s wild side

I must admit a golf course is an awesome place to work. Although Id love to be full-time in the reserves or game parks I think that a golf course is maybe the next best thing, as so often they serve as a natural sanctuary for many creatures and birds alike.

I work on a golf course basically slap bang in the middle of a housing estate and although this built up area surrounds the golf course the wildlife is rather incredible. From day creature to the sneaky nocturnal creatures it’s basically become a haven for these residents of the trees, burrows and bush. Most people who play golf here will never get to see half of these creatures as most of them tend to be quite shy and some only come out after dark, but, as I spend many hours on the course during work and in my off hours I get to experience these moments much more often which, to me, is so amazing. I also think that if the people who play the course realized just what is lurking in some of the holes or in the grassveld bush running down the fairways they would be very hesitant to go stumbling through the bush to find that “sacred” golf ball.

In the four or so years I have been here I have had the experience of seeing some amazing creatures, from rare birds to different species of reptiles and rodents and the odd surprising animal. But in the last year for some reason, maybe its just me looking more, I have seen and found so much more. This includes two massive pythons, a rather large Snouted cobra and me being a snake lover, I couldn’t resist not to handle them and get in a few shots before releasing them unharmed. Other sightings include a honey badger, huge amounts of spring hare and some very special bird species. The list could really go on a little more but those have to have been the more memorable ones. Although the snakes have made a home for themselves on the course we have unfortunately had to safely relocate some of the snakes to a nearby game farm. The pythons however are still on the course (cheeky smile), health and plenty of prey around.

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Unfortunately I don’t have photos of many of the special sightings as most of them got me by surprise and didn’t have a camera handy, which I have learnt from and now carry most of the time. Also please forgive me for the poor quality of the photos in this post.

So next time you are making your way around the 18 holes, be sure to keep an eye open for those sneaky creatures that may be around. If you are not to fond of them be sure to keep the ball in the fairway.

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Hidden Gem

Botswana is often known for its deserts, open plains, bushveld and vast array of wildlife. This is very true and for the most part is what people look for when visiting the country. However there is a little hidden gem that almost seems not to fit in with rest of the country. A little oasis paradise if you want to call it that, where the fresh spring water makes its way down through a gorge and before you know it disappears back into the earth. The place I’m referring to is the stunning, Goo-Moremi Gorge situated in the Tswapong Hills. An area where the Endangered Cape Vultures can be found on the outcrops above the Ancestral Waterfalls.

A couple mates and I needed a weekend away with a short adventure and as I had been dying to visit this place for ages we decided that it was about time we went. After a couple of days of excitement waiting for the weekend to arrive the time finally came and we headed off. We set off out of Gaborone just after 4am for the relatively short three and a half hour drive. With the sounds of Jonny Clegg, CCR, and a few other of my favourite bands to make the road trip feel even shorter we would arrive at the gate in no time.

As we got closer to the gorge and could see the hills in the distance, I looked around and all the vegetation and landscapes honestly looked like the last 300 odd kilometres, the sights of dry riverbeds, thirsty trees and sandy grounds was just all too common. This got me thinking, is there going to be water here or is this just going to be some random dried up gorge? I honestly didn’t expect what was too come.

Arriving at the gate we were greeted by the friendly staff who got us signed in and a little Red-headed Weaver overhead that just seemed to be there to welcome us and give us our first little surprise. After cracking open the first beer, a quick camp set up was needed as we were eager to head off to see the gorge. Before I tell you about the gorge I just need to say that the campsites are great. They are neat and tidy with an awesome fire-place come braai area, great ablutions and a roofless shower that is just to awesome to describe.

So we headed out for the gorge, walking shoes on and camera in hand. leaving the campsite we walked through a well-marked hiking route which leads to the gorge, quite a walk just to get to the start of the gorge but well worth it as there are historic markings and sights on the way, all very interesting but nothing compared to what was to come. We eventually got to the base of the gorge where an 800 year old Baobab marks the start of the gorge route. From hear you start off along little sandy path that soon becomes surrounded by trees, lush vegetation and a crystal clear little stream that runs along side. as you head further into the gorge you get the feeling that you have left Botswana and almost entered some strange new land as you are engulfed by the gorge and its green forest like appearance. The Natural beauty of this place is just incredible, and the further you go up, it just seems to become even better with the water falls, small creatures of the wild and incredible bird life. I was truly in my element at this stage. We took a small break at one of the first water falls to catch our breath and cool off a little while sitting in the shade and peaceful surroundings. Listing to the birds and the water falling I don’t think that talking was really needed as it was just beautiful.

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After catching our breath we headed to the 3rd waterfall, a little further up and a little more climbing up and over rocks but all too worth it as you reach the top of a small climb head around a small corner and immediately my breath was taken away again with a good 15 odd meter high waterfall with a sheer rock face cliff stretching high into the sky as a backdrop was just amazingly beautiful. As if that was not enough and as I just sat there trying to take it all in, the magnificent Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle was soaring above us followed by the endangered Cape Vultures as if they where just putting on a show. It was so unreal and getting to see this all just made my soul so happy.

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Third Waterfall

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Verreaux’s Eagle, with its prey

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Endangered Cape Vulture

This was all so spectacular but due to being a little short on time both days and to be honest a little mistake of not doing any research or asking questions, we never got to go right to the top, to the 5th waterfall and origin pool as this is apparently a +-5 hour hike in total. However, I can guarantee that I will be returning soon to do and see the things I missed. I would definitely recommend this place to anybody who loves a good walk/hike and bird life.

While back at the camp on the 1st night, we enjoyed a couple of cold beers around a blazing fire chatting and just enjoying being under the African sky and stars which as normal never disappoints. It was a rather early night though as we were all feeling a little tired after the walking throughout the day, but as I mentioned earlier, it was all worth it.

A few things to remember when visiting the gorge:
  1. Take good walking/hiking shoes
  2. Take plenty drinking water (for the walk)
  3. Ask at reception about all the different options of walks
  4. Camera/binoculars
  5. Take your time and don’t rush

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All in all it was a great weekend with great company and many lasting memories! Thanks to Goo-Moremi Gorge, Allan and Susan. I enjoyed every minute of it!!!

If you would like to see more pictures from the adventure, please check out my facebook page.

Until the next adventure!

Categories: adventure, travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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