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Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

Spioenkop Dam and Spioenkop Nature Reserve

An Adventure to the Scenic Spioenkop Dam and Spioenkop Nature Reserve.

Day visitors are welcomed as well as campers, fisherman and boating enthusiasts.




There is a Park Entry Fee to the access facilities. If you prefer luxury accommodation the Spioenkop Lodge is available for Bookings.




Spioenkop Dam Seen from Spioenkop Monument. Tours can be arranged with Spioenkop Lodge ...

This vantage point allowed soldiers who controlled the Hill a 360 View of the surrounding area. The Hill was integral during the Siege of Ladysmith.

Zebra at Spioenkop Nature Reserve - The Location is Awesome and you can embark on mini wildlife safari with your own vehicle...

Fishing is also permitted within the reserve and the Spioenkop Dam forms part of the Tugela outfall...





Animals and Wildlife include Giraffe, Zebra, Eland and numerous other Antelope species. Fish include Carp, Barbel, various river fish and occasionally bass in certain areas.






Spioenkop Lodge and Tours - Raymond Heron - Heron Tours ... Spioenkop Lodge Contact

Article by: GeoSol Earth Staff  

Contact us if you want to be featured on our Earth Blog - GeoSolEarth Contact





Cape Town and Table Mountain By Helicopter...





Lions Rock Wildcat Sanctuary...



Giants Castle Nature Reserve - Central Drakensberg South


A Scenic Drive Towards The Giants Castle Nature Reserve...

Turning off from the Estcourt N3, winding through Wembezi ...




Giant's Castle is a mountain peak in the southern African Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal. Giants Castle offers visitors to the regions hiking opportunities with panoramic views. The Nature Reserve offers secluded accommodation, bushman rock art with easy access for everyone and about the best base to start a Drakensberg hiking experience. The area is one of many of South Africa's adventure areas, and plays host to the Giants Challenge MTB marathon in April each year.

Lying at the southern end of the central Drakensberg Giant’s Castle, which gets its name from the outline of the peaks and escarpment that combine to resemble the profile of a sleeping giant, is essentially a grassy plateau that nestles among the deep valleys of this part of the Drakensberg.(Wikipedia)




Giants Castle Game Reserve is considered the home of the eland as well as the bearded vulture. Another Giants Castle highlight is the superb bushman rock art at main caves which is easy to get to and well presented.(Wikipedia). Formerly the renowned Lammergeier Hide was open for visitors to watch bearded vultures and other endangered bird species. This facility has since fallen into disrepair. (Wikipedia)





The Giants Castle Campsite and Chalets offer the best Base for all Eager Hikers and Climbers wishing to venture deeper into the Drakensberg Mountains. The Bushmans River can be fished for many Kilometers however only Fly Fishing is Allowed... Giants Castle Fly Fishing



The iZimbali Restaurant provides delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners with comfort, cleanliness, warmth....






Drakensberg Hiking Trails from Giants Castle ...

There are in excess of 25 walks in the Giant’s Castle Game Reserve. The 285 kilometres (177 mi) network of trails here includes 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to 30 kilometres (19 mi) hikes, spanning from 1 hour to overnight.

There are currently 14 recognized escarpment passes in the region (listed north to south):

Corner Pass
Around the Corner Pass (variation route on Corner Pass with alternative summit) 
Judge Pass 
Gypaetus Pass (opened in September 2012) 
Bannerman Pass 
Thumb Pass 
North Hlubi Pass 
South Hlubi Pass 
Langalibalele Pass 
Bond Pass (opened in 2014) 
North Jarding/Jarateng Pass 
Central Jarding/Jarateng Pass 
South Jarding/Jarateng Pass 
Giant's Castle Pass...

The Bushman’s River Trail is one of the most popular walks in the reserve. Points of interest along this route include Sandstone View and the historic Rock 75, where a cook from the 75th Regiment on Foot carved the figure 75 into a boulder during the Langalibalele rebellion in 1874. The highlight of this trail is the Main Caves, with one of the best known rock-art sites in South Africa... (wikipedia).




Article by: GeoSol Earth Staff  

Contact us if you want to be featured on our Earth Blog - GeoSolEarth Contact


A Gorgeous Drive through the Central Drakensberg - South Africa - Towards the Cayley Lodge Resort and Monks Cowl - Fishing can be done at Bell Park Dam as well as Drakensberg Sun - The Yummy Valley Bakery as well as the world famous Waffle Hut are must stops. 







Central Drakensberg Adventure Through Winterton



A Gorgeous Drive through the Central Drakensberg - South Africa - Towards the Cayley Lodge Resort and Monks Cowl - Fishing can be done at Bell Park Dam as well as Drakensberg Sun - The Yummy Valley Bakery as well as the world famous Waffle Hut are must stops.



The Best Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Menu can be found at Drakensberg Sun. Other resorts include Champagne Sports Resort, Dragons Peak and Monks Cowl Campsites, Champagnes Castle Hotel, Gooderson Monks Cowl Golf Resort for Golf and Relaxation Sunsets - Cathedral Peak Hotel and the Didima Campsite.



The World Famous Drakensberg Boys Choir lies En-route. Cathkin Estates allows investors to purchase a small piece of this paradise for the price of a body part. So if you can afford the home you will die a happy soul.






The Monks Cowl Campsite allows hikers and climbers to venture deeper and higher into the Drakensberg Mountains. It is also the last of the Tar Road as 4x4s would now be required to progress further.






Article by: GeoSol Earth Staff 

Contact us if you want to be featured on our Earth Blog - GeoSolEarth Contact




Tugela Ferry - Msinga - Muden Adventure

The Kwazulu-Natal Department of Public Works has undertaken a school sanitation project to construct new toilet blocks for male and female, grade R learners and teachers in the Umzinyathi District Municipality located within the Kwazulu-Natal province.

Various schools were identified within the Muden, Tugela Ferry and Msinga areas for geotechnical investigation studies. The Ramgoolam Group together with Naidu Consulting Engineers have requested Geotechnical Solutions (Pty) Ltd to carry out geotechnical investigation studies for selected schools.

Here is our Adventure...




Tugela Ferry is a town on the northern bank of the Tugela River, in central KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. During the apartheid era it formed part of the KwaZulu homeland, and at present it is included in the Umzinyathi District Municipality....

Schools included:



GeoSolutions List of Learner Schools
Emachunwini - Holwane - Mzomusha - Ntshishili - Sibumba - Nomaqulu - Bethulo - Pano - KusaKusa - Zizi - Osuthu - Mabedlana - Nomahaye - Makhankana  - Mfunzi - Zimiseleni - Mhlangezulu - Mhlumba - Kwavulamehlo - Gayisani - Phumela - Mpikayizekanye - Fabeni - Ngongolo - Mabizela - Nkamba - Mbondweni - Mfenebude - Umbonje - St Benards Julwayo - Mashunka - Ntokozweni - Themane - Nyoniyezwe - Kwazenzele - Emkhuphula - Mathinta - Mpompolwana - Bhekabantu




The Stories were endless and the little learners provided us with tons of comfort and warmth. Clean Drinking Water remains a problem as most schools and learners have none. The delivery of water is totally reliant on water trucks which seem to speed past the schools with little consideration for the children.





Emkhuphula Learners with the most stories... There are Zero to No Maths and Science Teachers.






The areas are deep rural and forgotten by the big city politicians....
The schools and areas are lacking electricity, water, roads and sanitation...


Our Geotechnical Solutions Crew...


Geotechnical Investigations - Compaction Testing - Mod AASHTO - Soil Grading Analysis - Atterberg Limits - DCP Testing - Concrete Cube Crushing - Concrete Strength Testing - Block Strength Testing - Water Quality Testing...



More Adventure Videos... GeoSolutions Adventure Videos


Waterfall - Hart Hill Falls - Tugela River

The Stunning Hart Hill Waterfall is located a stones throw away from Colenso... Downstream of the Falls - Hart’s Hill is a hill and is located in uThukela District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The estimate terrain elevation above seal level is 999 metres. Latitude: -28°40'53.04" Longitude: 29°49'59.12" The Falls is Located very close to the small town of Colenso...

Downstream of the Falls




Top of the Falls is equally Breathtaking... The Tugela River (Zulu: Thukela; Afrikaans: Tugelarivier) is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. It is one of the most important rivers of the country. The river originates in Mont-aux-Sources of the Drakensberg Mountains and plunges 947 metres down the Tugela Falls. The Mont-aux-Sources is also the origin of tributaries of two other major South African rivers, the Orange and the Vaal. From the Drakensberg range, the Tugela follows a 502 kilometres (312 mi) route through the KwaZulu-Natal midlands before flowing into the Indian Ocean.

The total catchment area is approximately 29,100 square kilometres (11,200 sq mi). Land uses in the catchment are mainly rural subsistence farming and commercial forestry.



The Waterfall Itself...








Mutation and Evolution - How We Are Changing the World Around Us






Fat polar bear swimming in Hudson Bay



Rewilded tiger fitted with a kill switch



Rhinoceros with no horns                                                                      



White House crow








Elephant that has no tusk






Largely, the changes are the result of human intervention, though, like selective breeding, or wildlife protection measures.



Renhui works with the Institute of Critical Zoologists, an organization that brings together artists and scientists to research the relationship between humans and animals.


Fast Company Design                                                Robert Zhao Renhui





Spectacular Drone Video Footage - Maasai Mara Wildebeest Migration

Last year, I embarked on an unforgettable 19 000km adventure that will stay with me for a very long time. I crossed the African continent alone on a motorcycle. The journey took about 6 months, as I took my time to learn more about the 15 African countries I was travelling through .


_MG_4581_S


I tried to help where I could, particularly with charities for children and wildlife conservation. I also captured many images, many of which are on the Facebook page of Two Wheels Across and documented the entire journey in videos for my Youtube channel.






_MG_4421_S


One of the exciting parts of my adventure was Casper the friendly drone, a Quadcopter that I used as often as I could to capture the beauty of Africa from the air.


quadcopter


I am excited to share one of the videos I filmed with you. I was fortunate to be in Kenya’s Maasai Mara during the migration and I captured the river crossing from the air. I also danced with an elephant, ran with wildebeests and kept three lions company for a few minutes. I hope you will enjoy the film!




 Guest Blogger in Animal Encounters                             Africa Geographic

How Much Water is Left on Earth

As you know, the Earth is a watery place. But just how much water exists on, in, and above our planet? About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water. But water also exists in the air as water vapor, in rivers and lakes, in icecaps and glaciers, in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers, and even in you and your dog.

Water is never sitting still, though, and thanks to the water cycle, our planet's water supply is constantly moving from one place to another and from one form to another. Things would get pretty stale without the water cycle!




 All Earth's water in a bubble

This drawing shows various blue spheres representing relative amounts of Earth's water in comparison to the size of the Earth. Are you surprised that these water spheres look so small? They are only small in relation to the size of the Earth. This image attempts to show three dimensions, so each sphere represents "volume." The volume of the largest sphere, representing all water on, in, and above the Earth, would be about 332,500,000 cubic miles (mi3) (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers (km3)), and be about 860 miles (about 1,385 kilometers) in diameter.

The smaller sphere over Kentucky represents Earth's liquid fresh water in groundwater, swamp water, rivers, and lakes. The volume of this sphere would be about 2,551,000 mi3 (10,633,450 km3) and form a sphere about 169.5 miles (272.8 kilometers) in diameter. Yes, all of this water is fresh water, which we all need every day, but much of it is deep in the ground, unavailable to humans.

Do you notice that "tiny" bubble over Atlanta, Georgia? That one represents fresh water in all the lakes and rivers on the planet, and most of the water people and life of earth need every day comes from these surface-water sources. The volume of this sphere is about 22,339 mi3 (93,113 km3). The diameter of this sphere is about 34.9 miles (56.2 kilometers). Yes, Lake Michigan looks way bigger than this sphere, but you have to try to imagine a bubble almost 35 miles high—whereas the average depth of Lake Michigan is less than 300 feet (91 meters).



Water is on and in the Earth

The vast majority of water on the Earth's surface, over 96 percent, is saline water in the oceans. The freshwater resources, such as water falling from the skies and moving into streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater, provide people with the water they need every day to live. Water sitting on the surface of the Earth is easy to visualize, and your view of the water cycle might be that rainfall fills up the rivers and lakes. But, the unseen water below our feet is critically important to life, also. How would you account for the flow in rivers after weeks without rain? In fact, how would you account for the water flowing down this driveway on a day when it didn't rain? The answer is that there is more to our water supply than just surface water, there is also plenty of water beneath our feet.

Even though you may only notice water on the Earth's surface, there is much more freshwater stored in the ground than there is in liquid form on the surface. In fact, some of the water you see flowing in rivers comes from seepage of groundwater into river beds. Water from precipitation continually seeps into the ground to recharge the aquifers, while at the same time water in the ground continually recharges rivers through seepage.






Humans are happy this happens because people make use of both kinds of water. In the United States in 2005, we used about 328 billion gallons per day of surface water and about 82.6 billion gallons per day of groundwater. Although surface water is used more to supply drinking water and to irrigate crops, groundwater is vital in that it not only helps to keep rivers and lakes full, it also provides water for people in places where visible water is scarce, such as in the desert towns of the western United States. Without groundwater, people would be sand-surfing in Palm Springs, California instead of playing golf.

Just how much water is there on (and in) the Earth? Here are some numbers you can think about:
If all of Earth's water (oceans, icecaps and glaciers, lakes, rivers, groundwater, and water in the atmosphere was put into a sphere, then the diameter of that water ball would be about 860 miles (about 1,385 kilometers), a bit more than the distance between Salt Lake City, Utah to Topeka, Kansas. The volume of all water would be about 332.5 million cubic miles (mi3), or 1,386 million cubic kilometers (km3). A cubic mile of water equals more than 1.1 trillion gallons. A cubic kilometer of water equals about 264 billion gallons.

About 3,100 mi3 (12,900 km3) of water, mostly in the form of water vapor, is in the atmosphere at any one time. If it all fell as precipitation at once, the Earth would be covered with only about 1 inch of water.

The 48 contiguous United States receives a total volume of about 4 mi3 (17.7 km3) of precipitation each day.

Each day, 280 mi3 (1,170 km3)of water evaporate or transpire into the atmosphere.
If all of the world's water was poured on the contiguous (lower 48 states) United States, it would cover the land to a depth of about 107 miles (145 kilometers).

Of the freshwater on Earth, much more is stored in the ground than is available in lakes and rivers. More than 2,000,000 mi3 (8,400,000 km3) of freshwater is stored in the Earth, most within one-half mile of the surface. But, if you really want to find freshwater, the most is stored in the 7,000,000 mi3 (29,200,000 km3) of water found in glaciers and icecaps, mainly in the polar regions and in Greenland.

 Where is Earth's water located?


For a detailed explanation of where Earth's water is, look at the data table below. Notice how of the world's total water supply of about 332.5 million mi3 of water, over 96 percent is saline. And, of the total freshwater, over 68 percent is locked up in ice and glaciers. Another 30 percent of freshwater is in the ground. Rivers are the source of most of the fresh surface water people use, but they only constitute about 300 mi3 (1,250 km3), about 1/10,000th of one percent of total water.
Note: Percentages may not sum to 100 percent due to rounding.
One estimate of global water distribution
(Percents are rounded, so will not add to 100)
Water sourceWater volume, in cubic milesWater volume, in cubic kilometersPercent of
freshwater
Percent of
total water
Oceans, Seas, & Bays321,000,0001,338,000,000--96.54
Ice caps, Glaciers, & Permanent Snow5,773,00024,064,00068.71.74
Groundwater5,614,00023,400,000--1.69
    Fresh2,526,00010,530,00030.1  0.76
    Saline3,088,00012,870,000--  0.93
Soil Moisture3,95916,5000.050.001
Ground Ice & Permafrost71,970300,0000.860.022
Lakes42,320176,400--0.013
    Fresh21,83091,0000.260.007
    Saline20,49085,400--0.006
Atmosphere3,09512,9000.040.001
Swamp Water2,75211,4700.030.0008
Rivers5092,1200.0060.0002
Biological Water2691,1200.0030.0001
Source: Igor Shiklomanov's chapter "World fresh water resources" in Peter H. Gleick (editor), 1993, Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World's Fresh Water Resources (Oxford University Press, New York).



 

Sources and more information

  • The Hydrologic Cycle, USGS pamphlet, 1984







Satellite Image - The Nile Illuminated at Night

Nile River Delta at Night
acquired October 28, 2010 download large image (606 KB, JPEG, 1440x960)
                           
One of the fascinating aspects of viewing Earth at night is how well the lights show the distribution of people. In this view of Egypt, we see a population almost completely concentrated along the Nile Valley, just a small percentage of the country’s land area.

The Nile River and its delta look like a brilliant, long-stemmed flower in this astronaut photograph of the southeastern Mediterranean Sea, as seen from the International Space Station. The Cairo metropolitan area forms a particularly bright base of the flower. The smaller cities and towns within the Nile Delta tend to be hard to see amidst the dense agricultural vegetation during the day. However, these settled areas and the connecting roads between them become clearly visible at night. Likewise, urbanized regions and infrastructure along the Nile River becomes apparent (see also The Great Bend of Nile, Day & Night.)

Another brightly lit region is visible along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean—the Tel-Aviv metropolitan area in Israel (image right). To the east of Tel-Aviv lies Amman, Jordan. The two major water bodies that define the western and eastern coastlines of the Sinai Peninsula—the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba—are outlined by lights along their coastlines (image lower right). The city lights of Paphos, Limassol, Larnaca, and Nicosia are visible on the island of Cyprus (image top).
Scattered blue-grey clouds cover the Mediterranean Sea and the Sinai, while much of northeastern Africa is cloud-free. A thin yellow-brown band tracing the Earth’s curvature at image top is airglow, a faint band of light emission that results from the interaction of atmospheric atoms and molecules with solar radiation at approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) altitude.

Astronaut photograph ISS025-E-9858 was acquired on October 28, 2010, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 16 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 25 crew. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.
Instrument(s): 
ISS - Digital Camera

City Lights Illuminate the Nile
acquired October 13, 2012 download large image (2 MB, JPEG, 3000x3000)
acquired October 13, 2012 download GeoTIFF file (5 MB, TIFF)
acquired October 13, 2012 download Google Earth file (KML)
                           
The Nile River Valley and Delta comprise less than 5 percent of Egypt’s land area, but provide a home to roughly 97 percent of the country’s population. Nothing makes the location of human population clearer than the lights illuminating the valley and delta at night.

On October 13, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of the Nile River Valley and Delta. This image is from the VIIRS “day-night band,” which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as gas flares, auroras, wildfires, city lights, and reflected moonlight.

The city lights resemble a giant calla lily, just one with a kink in its stem near the city of Luxor. Some of the brightest lights occur around Cairo, but lights are abundant along the length of the river. Bright city lights also occur along the Suez Canal and around Tel Aviv.

Away from the lights, however, land and water appear uniformly black. This image was acquired near the time of the new Moon, and little moonlight was available to brighten land and water surfaces.

Learn more about the VIIRS day-night band and nighttime imaging of Earth in our new feature story: Out of the Blue and Into the Black.
  1. References

  2. United Nations Environment Programme. (2008). Africa: Atlas of Our Changing Environment. Division of Early Warning and Assessment, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using VIIRS Day-Night Band data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership. Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Defense. Caption by Michon Scott.
Instrument(s): 
Suomi NPP - VIIRS
NASA Earth Observatory





2014 - Satellite Imagery - Arabian Ramadan and Eid at Night

The Lights of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
Color bar for The Lights of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
acquired 2012 - 2014 download large image (1 MB, JPEG, 3099x3323)
                           
In December 2014, scientists using a NASA-NOAA satellite announced that they had detected significant changes in the amount and distribution of nighttime lighting during holiday seasons in the Middle East and North America. For instance, nighttime lights in some Middle East cities were 50 to 100 percent brighter during the holy month of Ramadan.


The maps on this page show changes in lighting intensity and location on the Arabian Peninsula and in the countries along the eastern Mediterranean coast. They are based on data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. The maps compare the night light signals from the months of Ramadan in 2012–2014 (parts of July and August in these years) to the average light output for the rest of 2012 to 2014.


Green shading marks areas where light usage increased during the holy days; yellow marks areas with little change; and red marks areas where less light was used.


The VIIRS instrument on Suomi NPP can observe faint light signals on the night side of our planet, including reflected moonlight, airglow, auroras, and manmade light sources. In 2012, scientists assembled a new composite map of Earth at night created from averaged data from 22 nights of VIIRS data. The new 2014 analysis of holiday lights uses a new algorithm that filters out moonlight, clouds, and airborne particles to show city lights on a nightly basis.


The idea to examine holiday lights arose in 2012 out of an issue with some nighttime images of Cairo, Egypt. A science team led by Miguel Román of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center noticed a discrepancy in city light signals while performing quality checks on early mission data. The science team realized that there was either an error in the data or an unknown signal that they should study further.


After digging deeper, the team found that the large increase in light output around the Egyptian capital corresponded with the holy month of Ramadan. The change made sense because Muslims fast during daylight in Ramadan, pushing meals, social gatherings, commerce and other activities into nighttime hours. To confirm that the nighttime signal was not merely an instrument artifact, the team examined all of the nighttime data from spring 2012 through autumn 2014.


They found that the peaks in light use closely tracked the Islamic calendar, as Ramadan shifted earlier in the summer each year.


Light use in Saudi Arabian cities, such as Riyadh and Jeddah, increased by 60 to 100 percent throughout the month of Ramadan. Light use in Turkish cities, however, increased far less. Some regions in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon did not have an increase in light output—and some even demonstrated a moderate decrease, possibly due to unstable electrical grids and conflict in the region. Click on the large, downloadable map for a closer view of the differences.


acquired 2012 - 2014


“Even within majority Muslim populations, there are a lot of variations,” said Eleanor Stokes, a Yale researcher and collaborator with Román. “What we have seen is that these lighting patterns track cultural variation within the Middle East.”


These variations appear even at the neighborhood level. Román and Stokes compared night lights data from Cairo with socioeconomic data, voting patterns, access to public sanitation, and literacy rates. Some of the poorest and most devout areas observed Ramadan without significant increases in light use throughout the month, choosing—whether for cultural or financial reasons—to leave their lights off at night. But during the Eid al-Fitr celebration that marks of the end of Ramadan, light use soared across all study groups, as all the neighborhoods appeared to join in the festivities.


“Whether you are rich or poor, or religious or not, everybody in Egypt is celebrating Eid al-Fitr,” Román said. This is telling Stokes and Román that energy use patterns are reflecting social and cultural identities, as well as the habits of city dwellers, and not just price or other commercial factors.


NASA Earth Observatory





The Wildebeest Migration - Timelapse







The time-lapse conveys the magnitude of the migration. This footage was shot over five days in northern Serengeti, Tanzania. It shows the migrating wildebeest crossing the Mara River while moving south into Tanzania from Kenya.The Serengeti Ecosystem supports 1.5 million wildebeest. These wildebeest are forced to migrate around a 40 000 square kilometre area in order to find fresh grazing pastures. The migration is full of danger and hardship for these resilient creatures. Thirst, hunger, exhaustion, predation and the Mara River are just some of the challenges they must face. You can read more about Will’s wildebeest migration project in his free ebook: My Top Ten Wildlife Experiences. -


Posted by News Desk in Animal Encounters, News, Photography, Videos and the News Desk post series.  October 27, 2014




See more at: Africa Geographic









Ai Ais and the Richtersveld

If you have not been to the Ai Ais and Richtersveld Transfrontier Park then it should be on your bucket list! The area is nothing like anything else on this planet and in fact at times you feel like you are not on earth at all. The only thing that makes you realize that you are indeed still grounded is the familiar sounds of birds chirping, the sun embracing your shoulders and the bright blue sky above your head.
richtersveld-views
I could not count the amount of times I mumbled “gosh” and then had to remember to breathe as my brain struggled to make sense of my surroundings.
sunset
The Richtersveld is regarded as the only Arid Biodiversity Hotspot on Earth with an astonishing variety of plant, bird and animal life of which much is endemic. The Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in the southern hemisphere and a wonderful sight to behold. We sat on the edge of the canyon eating lunch and telling stories of wild horses and a German war grave.
fish-river-canyon
The German war grave is that of Second Lieutenant Thilo von Trotha who died in the canyon in 1905 during a confrontation between German soldiers and native Namas (one of South Africa’s earliest known people). We discussed the origins of the wild horses and some speculated that they were left by the German Soldiers after the war however it seems a more plausible explanation was that the origins of the Fish River Canyon horses can be traced back to a farm in the canyon area that I believe was called Kochas. It is said that the farmer, a Mr Pieters, brought horses into the canyon in the ’70s and as it was impossible to fence off the area, the horses soon escaped and became wild. Some forty years later approximately thirty horses live in the Fish River Canyon. They live as their long lost ancestors did, wild and free.
canyon
The area is a favourite amongst nature lovers and much of it is only accessible by 4×4 vehicles, something that is a blessing as you trundle along alone in the wilderness. In fact at first glance you do not see anything other than the vast and beautiful landscape. Though barren and desolate, closer examination reveals the area to be rich in desert life forms, with an array of unique species specially adapted for survival.
richtersveld
It’s as important to look down at one’s feet, as it is to look out into the horizon. When one does look down the ground is littered with animal spore. We saw the tracks of leopard, wild cat, antelope, mongoose, monkey, baboon and then a what looked like the drunken party of numerous smaller critters. I could not help but sit and wonder where each was going and what their story was.
beetlewormbirds
At night I would setup my camera trap to see who would come and visit. At the Kokerboomkloof campsite I placed the camera, on some boulders, right next to our tent and that evening we had a visit from an African wild cat that we had no idea was in the area. How much we miss.
wild-cat
Sitting and looking at the landscape I would often wonder how these 650 something plant species manage to survive. One can see from the unusual shapes and colours that the plants in the Richtersveld have developed the most extraordinary adaptation strategies to the harsh climate. The kokerboom or quiver tree is just the most wonderful plant and is known as Choje to the indigenous San people. The quiver tree gets its name from the San’s practice of hollowing out the tubular branches to form quivers for their arrows. Then there is the rather bulbous butter tree or botterboom that looks like a miniature baobab and always brought a smile to my face. If it had cheeks you would want to pinch them!
richtersveld-tree
The other unique and rather special “tree” is the halfmens. Legend has it that the Richtersveld halfmens derives its name from the ancestors of the Bushmen who were driven south by warlike tribes from the north. Some turned to look back across the Orange River and were turned into halfmens or half people, forever gazing northwards. It is said that when the spines on the halfmens stem are stroked, the plant produces a series of clicking sounds that is said to mimic the clicks of the Nama language. I tried this but think the sounds I heard were more as a result of my imagination, as just sitting by one of these trees and considering the legend conjures up a whole host of images and feelings.
trees
As wonderful and awe inspiring as the nature is, the added joy of the journey was the people we shared it with. Friends and strangers, we shall all hold this time together in a special place in our hearts. You also realise after punctures, breakdowns and getting stuck in deep sand that this is an area in which one should not travel alone. Not only for the reason that you may need to be towed or share water, but also to be able to say “gosh look at that….” and then hear the chorus of murmurs.
sunset-richtersveld
Find a way to go and if you need a traveling companion to come with to help you find firewood, give me a call. We will have stories to tell around many a campfire.
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Mike Visagie
I am an explorer, poet and photographer who's passion is not only to explore the world in which we live but also our own inner world's. I do the later by working within the field of organisational psychology and human development. My own exploration is done either by sitting still, deep in thought or moving forward, camera in hand and a smile on my face. I know no better place on earth than the African bush shared with friends. See my website here.
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