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!

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.

Leopard In Krugerpark/South Africa

It was at one of the picnic spots I made a break to brew myself another coffee. While my water was boiling, the engine of the car next to me was heating up too. The driver filled up cooling water in the system, when I asked I could help in any way. 

That’s how the conversation started. In like every talk in the Kruger Nationalpark, it’s leading to the latest sightings we encountered. That nice guy was telling me about a young, male leopard hiding in a tree. The location was in my direction I planned. Without wasting any more time I’m heading to that spot. 

Two other cars was parked in front of that huge jackalberry tree. The lush, green branches blocked the view to the big cat. I tried to get another angle, next to the other cars. And luck was with me, as the leopard stood up and changed to the branch in front of me. Despite the dense foliage we could look each other straight in the eyes …and camera lens.

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.