Autumn – mystic moods

The day hides behind clouds.

The landscape disappears in the mist.

The colors vanish slowly between shadows.

Autumn in its late days brings up mystic moods in nature.

I embrace the dark times with its smells, its sounds, its secrets.

Where the eyesight comes to its boundaries, there’s more space for fantasy and dreams.

Autumn – the colorful

There was this occasion of a family reunion in a small valley. As a boy i used to spend our family holidays in these mountains in Northern Italy.

Blue sky invites for a hike in nature. From the top of the mountains shines the first snow of the season, and the colors of autumn burst from the forest.

A good opportunity to grab my Nikon and take some shots of this colorful world in autumn…

Fine Art Nude In Pilanesberg

It was in a shopping mall outside Pilanesberg Nationalpark, where i met this young, beautiful lady the first time. The talk lead to photography, more specific to beauty and fashion photography, modeling and so on. Thembi admits she wants to have a photo shoot, but there wasn’t any nice location around but Pilanesberg, the beautiful national park with its stunning landscape. The idea of having esthetic photos from her body in beautiful nature raised.

From the start, Thembi was a natural talent. She felt comfortable with the environment, moved smooth and confident and gave that look of a strong woman to the camera. We had so much fun, visited different locations, where it was not only beautiful, but of course, also safe to leave the car. After hours of photo shoot, we brought home a bunch of really nice, interesting pictures, but see, and judge, for yourself.

However Thembi had so much fun, she asked me for more photo shoots, but that’s another story for the next blog. Stay tuned!

Pilanesberg National Park

It’s a long time since my last update here. However, my journey didn’t stopped, but leaded me further west. At the time i got near to Pilanesberg National Park, i thought it’s worth a visit.

Pilanesberg National Park is roughly three hours drive from Johannesburg. Situated on an ancient vulcanic area, it shows a distinct landscape with many hills, valleys and small lakes and ponds. Although the wildlife is not dense as in other national parks, it has a superb birdlife and the stunning landscape offers beautiful viewpoints.

So, i took my time for birdwatching, explored different corners in the park and climbed up the hills for splendid views. I did not encounter many other people here, except that truck got stopped by a white rhino. You can guess who got the right of way.

After a long, peaceful day in the park i still didn’t get enough from the landscape. That leaded me to another idea, together with a young lady i just met outside the park. A plan to combine her request with my fascination for the landscape in the park started to build up. But that’s another story will be told in my next post. Keep tuned!

May I Introduce You: Tortuga, Tina Tortuga! 

Cars, especially travel cars and camper vans, needs to be named by their owners. I always denied this practice for my vehicles. Officially. But since many years I used to think, and tell in secret, if there’s a name for my beloved Land Rover, it must be „Tortuga“, the Spanish word for tortoise. 

„Tortuga“ is not beautiful, but adorable, slow, but strong, nice green, but colored inconspicuous. 

My friend Christa told me from a lady, who makes stickers for cars. After a few gin tonics and nice talks, I decided to give my motorized travel companion finally an official name. Now it was to find a nice turtle pictogram or drawing to put it on Tortuga as a sticker.  It should be simple, rather cute, but not too childish. I found something appealing, I think. Watch the pics and tell me your opinion on the comments, please.

Marloth Park, the place for the official naming ceremony, couldn’t be better. Free roaming wildlife all over the estate. Lots of green, lush trees and a beautiful riverside to walk or having a sundowner with friends. A spot which means freedom, security and lifestyle at same time. 

My friend Christa honored me to be the godmother of Tortuga for this event. After she helped me with the stickers, we got a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate that event. From now an, my Land Rover discovering the world with me not nameless anymore, but as 

Tortuga, Tina Tortuga! 

#tinatortuga

Tina Tortuga (#tinatortuga) is officially named 🙂

The Ancient Mine Of Ngwenya / Eswatini

After paying a small entrance fee, the guard at the gate jumped in my car and joined me up to the mine. We got to a halt in front of a huge dip. That’s all? That’s the mine? I asked myself a bit disappointed. From the oldest mine on earth I was expecting something more exciting. 

I was doubting about the age of this mine, till I looked up on Wikipedia about Ngwenya Mine. As my guide told me, the scientist dating back the first use of the hematite, or iron ore, for more than 40,000 years. It was used in the stone age for coloring the skin, probably as protecting from the sun.

But first we stepped into the remains of the former museum, which burned down by wildfire a couple years ago. Just in front of the ruins lies the deep hole from the old commercial mine. There are two more dips, the guide explains me. We drove further and parked at another mine dip, filled with water. 

From here we got on our feet and walked up to the highest point, the top of Mount Ngwenya. The last steps are on a steep latter. Stairways to heaven, slipped in my mind and followed me for awhile. From the top, a green wide valley opened up in front of my eyes. The sun rays plays with the clouds, draws pattern in the green landscape. The clouds sprays rain over it, as if it’s in a playful competition with the sun.

Eventually we got to the cave I mentioned earlier. Reddish rocks and ground all around here. Easy to imagine how the early homo sapiens was impressed of that colorful stone. My guide picked up some hematite and rubbed it on the back of my hand to demonstrate how the skin got colored. With the reddish stain on my hand we left the place, still imagining how 40000 years ago people was wandering these beautiful hills.

Hike in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary/Eswatini

The sun shines trough the green canopy of the trees in my camp. It’s better weather than predicted. With the morning coffee i decided to go for a hike in the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. This became almost a routine when in Eswatini. The view from Mount Nyonyane is just great and opens the land in direction of Manzini. The West is overlooking the green mountains of Eswatini.

I finished my coffee next to the yellow python from the ‚Legend backpackers hostel‘ and got even a feathered guest on the veranda. More wildlife is waiting for me in the Sanctuary. That’s something great in that park, one can hike trough free roaming wildlife. No dangerous predators around, except the crocodiles in water and snakes in the bush.

Already after i passed the entrance gate, impalas, kudus and other antelopes blocking my way and gazing at me. Different species of birds singing from the trees or hidden in the bush. Just the hippos and crocodiles dived under water and not wanted to be seen this time.

At the main camp i learned the way isn’t in good condition due the heavy rain in the past days. They recommended to me to drive up to the side of the mountain and hike along the ridge. This is also a shorter walk, since there’s a chance of more rain in the afternoon.

A steep, earthen road trough dense forest brings me up to the ridge. Not without to get stopped from some workers, who just freed the road from big fallen rocks. They warned me from deep ruts in the road up, but the Land Rover took it with ease.

The view was splendid on my hike along the ridge to the top of Mount Nyonyane, also known as the „Execution Rock“. In the past, so i’m told, the condemned were sent up to trow themselves from that rock to death. Today there’s no dark thought about it, but enjoying once more the beautiful view.

On the top i took a rest and watched a bird flying over the hilly landscape. Sailing along like a bird, how wonderful would it be, i thought. Then i remember the can of Red Bull i carried in my backpack. I grabbed it and took a good sip of it. Gives you wings, says the slogan, and as i finished it, i stood at the edge and flew towards the lake underneath me…

Eventually i stopped dreaming, opened my eyes and noticed clouds coming up. Time to get back to my car and leave the sanctuary. A look back to the mountain shows dark clouds, but i was already on my way to a nice espresso, and later a good pizza, at Pizza Vesuvio next to my camp.

Bikini Shoot With A Beauty From Mozambique

Do you do photo shoots? That question aroused when i took a picture of that young lady with her friend at the beach of Ponta Do Ouro. I do for fun, not professionally, i replied. She explained to me, she never did a photo shoot in bikini but like to have some pictures. So it came to her first bikini shoot on next day.

And she did very well, right? Naturally and confident she moved at the shore of the Indian ocean. Smiled, laughed or gave me a stern look. It was pure fun even when more people arrived and gave us a curious gaze. The crowd also attracted the police, which said, it’s too much water around our feet. So we had to stop. But hey the result is impressive, isn’t it?

The Beach Of Mozambique In Times Of Corona

The waves crashing to the rocks at the shore. Uninterrupted, everlasting energy of mother nature. It’s the first sound I hear when I wake up. The cool breeze brings me to the sandy beach. A tractor is pulling a boat for a fish trip to the sea. Those fishermen are early birds too, or are they called ‚early fish‘ then? 

At the end of the beach the sun rises between the rock and the ocean. Very slow and deliberately the first rays hit the rocks, caress the waves and finally warm my skin. Beautiful colors unfold and pushing the dark of the night aside. The day started just now.

It’s weekend and since Maputo isn’t too far away from Ponta Do Ouro, many weekend visitors are expected. Loads of pick-up cars with picnic-families, sun-seekers and partygoers falling into town and beach. There’s just one obstacle: the beaches are closed for swimmers and sunbathers due the covid pandemic. It is allowed to walk on the beach, though. 

Couples, families and groups of friends are moving along the beach. Among them are police forces watching no one steps into the water or even dare to swim. As soon a few dove their toes too deep in the water a sharp whistle brings them back to dry sand. But this is not stopping them from chitchatting, playing in the sand and making photos from each others.

With my camera in hand, I notice the gazes of three friends making selfies. Do you want me to take a photo of the three of you, I asked. A quick answer confirmed it. And so begins the first of many spontaneous photo shoots. There are kids, jumping around, friends want to immortalize themselves in the picture, families enjoy an image as souvenir. Other photographer showing proudly their camera, while girls showing me their best beach poses. I can’t tell when I saw last time so many smiling faces, so much laughter by jumping for the photos. 

Only when the sun sets, the last light was fading, the beach emptier from the day visitors. The silhouettes of the last group disappears in the dark and the hidden crabs taking over the beach again. In the distance party music echoes across, but soon even this ends due the curfew. The last thing I hear are waves crashing to the rocks. Uninterrupted, everlasting.

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A Very Special Christmas In South Africa

Talking about hospitality and friendship, I always think first on my dear friends in South Africa, who not only taking care of my Land Rover when I’m back in Switzerland, but also introduced me to the entire family and thought me a lot about the country and their business, farming.

Every time after I arrived the country, I was invited to stay at least a few days on their farm. I was taken around, got to see what’s changed since my last visit and spend also time with their sons and their families or friends. There’s no warmer welcome possible, since they make me feel as part of the community, almost family, but not as stranger anymore. It went so far, I got invited to the big family reunion for Christmas two years ago. 

When I came back this year, I was missing my old friend H., who sadly passed away last January. That terrible covid-pandemic got another victim. A big man with big heart let behind not only a beloved wife, but also five sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

I spent some time with my lady friend A., the widow and sharing good memories about Sir H. And listen to interesting stories from the past. Although I had other plans, A. Invited me again for Christmas to join the family gathering. When my plans got changed, she almost insist to come and I couldn’t deny the honor which was given to me again.

Terrible news reached me a day before the family gathering: my dear friend A. passed away. I was in shock of that completely unexpected event. She was in deep grief of the big loss of her husband, but seemed physically strong and healthy. 

To be frankly, I was not only in shock, but also got uncertain, how to deal with the grieving family. Was it inappropriate to stay on the farm? Should I arrange anything special and how can I show my deep condolences to them? But once again I felt the big hospitality of this family, which decided to gather in memory of Lady A. and welcomed me to stay. 

The festive days began early morning with a memorial ceremony of Lady A. 

All family members gathered on a viewpoint of the farm, where the bush opens to beautiful African landscape with the Blouwe Berge on the horizon. All helped making this spot special with putting flowers, oranges and candles there. I was asked to help with filming and photographing for keeping it in memory, and I was grateful to be able to contribute something

The family said goodbye with singing, reading from the Bible, sharing some memories about this lady with a big heart. It was a wonderful, heartwarming event, made me feel cry over the loss of such a good friend.

Despite this awful loss, the family knows life goes on. And in good memories, the joy of Christmas wasn’t forgotten. Children playing cricket or rugby on the grass, on the braai (SouthAfrican BBQ) is food roasting and from time to time we drove around the farm to watch the wildlife. This also included a thorn in a kid foot, which I tried to remove, or some minor sun burn after floating on the pools bit too long. 

There’s a lot of talk, laughter, play and of course food and drink. Special occasions like icing of cookies (#lebkuchenhaus), swimming in a water reservoir in the bush or delivering gifts, are not missed either. 

All in all a very jolly time, but never forgotten the two people who founded this family

You will understand, that I avoid to show clear faces, since this was a private occasion. Nevertheless, I want share some impression from these special and emotional days. Also as an expression for my gratefulness for all this hospitality and big friendship.