In The Boudoir With Thembi

Can we do some boudoir photography? Thembi asked me.

At least we gave it a try…

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!

 Overlander Car Issues With ‚Tina Tortuga‘

A bright lamp enlightened all the issues of my newly named landrover Tortuga, #tinatortuga. I was standing under the lifted car with a mechanic to check the state of it. There’s an oil leaking and some unsolved problems with the prop shaft, what brought me to this mechanic. The source of leaking was founded quickly, but as I requested we went trough the entire vehicle, more or less.

Beside the leaking from transfer box there’s also leaking from oil filter housing, Even the tank is leaking and had to be repaired as some bushes and hoses has to be fixed and replaced too. Despite there isn’t much electronics in that vehicle it turned out difficult to find the bug which is blowing my indicators and hazard lights continually. In short, quite an overhaul.

I need a stay for the time of repairs. The estimated period of four to five days was doubled, as the costs of repairs was too, due some difficulties, mainly with the transfer box. All bearings of that part must be replaced. I didn’t care so much about the time, since there was heavy rain predicted. All i needed was a quit and dry spot to be.

Luckily I found a beautiful place outside town of Mbombela/Nelspruit. Friendly hosts welcomed me and showed me around the self catering house where I got a nice room with a glass door towards pool side and amazing view to the valley. That’s the place to stay for a few quit days. Reading, writing journal and sorting photos next to the pool. Having a beer or a glass of red wine in the evenings, after cooking myself a tasty meal, and chatting with the owners, while waiting my car got fixed. That’s all part of traveling too and must try to use the time as good as possible. 

Just the day before I could pick up ‚Tina Tortuga‘, another Landrover Defender arrived at the Lodge. Same model as mine and even the same color. A couple got off the car and settled in the accommodation. It turned out they are from Brazil and already four years on the road. So there was lots to chat about and share travel stories and experiences. And of course, as a Landy driver there’s also about workshop stories. That lovely couple gave me a lift to the landy-workshop and get a oil/filter change for their ‚Pandora‘ too. Who wants to see more of the journey from Eduardo and Rafaela visit their website: www.pandoraontheroad.com.br

Ten lazy days later I checked out of ‚Highland Creeks‘ and got ‚Tina Tortuga‘ back from the workshop. Since it was late of the day and weather forecast predicted another storm with heavy rain, I decided to stay another night at an apartment on my way out of town. Another jewel in the mountains as I found out. After all, the day ended beautifully with a glass of wine and a bath in a tube with a view. 

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.

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.

Birds Of Kruger Nationalpark/South Africa

Bird-photography is one of most challenging kind of photography, I heard recently. Since there are many different and beautiful birds in the Kruger Nationalpark, it’s worth a try anyway, I thought. 

Krugerpark is famous for birdwatcher. No wonder with all these colorful and beautiful and feathered guys. Watching them flying over the water, catching their food or interacting with the partner. There are many cars with a sticker saying „bird watcher, please pass!“ Maybe I should get such one. Not to be disturbed by curious people who wants to know what I’m looking at even I just make a break for nothing 😉 

I’m still far to know all the birds name. And often i’m too lazy to look up in a book, but over time i’ll learn more about them. Photography also helps me to recognize them later. So there are the #egyptiangoose, #lilacbreastedroller, #tawnyeagle, #kingfisher, #africanspoonbill, #greyheron, #africanfisheagle, #southerngroundhornbill, #southernredbishop, #africanhoopoe, #sattlebilledstork or the #redbilledoxpecker on the zebras back.

Eventually I start to catch birds by my camera. The first few shots wasn’t successful at all. The settings are different, the light was changing a lot and those flying fellows constantly on the move. However, I got some tries which I want share here with you…

Wildlife Watching With Friends In South Africa

Most people coming to South Africa can’t wait to chase the „Big 5“ and capture them on their camera. The „Big 5“ means Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, Lion and Leopard. On the downside of tracking them down is the danger to get attacked from them. That’s why one should stay always in the car, not daring to approach them or wandering around unprotected in their habitat.

There are also parks and wildlife farms with none of these dangerous, big animals. But it doesn’t mean it’s less thrilling to visit them. In the opposite, to walk trough the bush, jogging or riding a bicycle, and meet wild antelopes, giraffes or zebras on eye to eye is amazing. Well, bit difficult to look the giraffes on the eyes, but still.

My dear friends was planning to spend a weekend in such a private wildlife farm and invited me to join them. What a feeling to move free around, chasing the giraffes, going for a so called „game drive“ to find more antelopes, such as elands, wildebeest, oryx, blessbock, impalas, steenbok, waterbuck and so on. Off course also zebras, snakes and many kind of birds. 

I felt so blessed to be there, enjoying nature, wildlife and good talks with old and new friends. Stopping midst in the bush and having a sundowner, before return to the base for a nice evening at the braai, the Southafrican barbecue.