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Travel Up Africa Posts

For the twitchers – African rock pigeon or speckled pigeon (Columba guinea) …

This is a rather common bird, especially around urban areas, they have done particularly well adapting to human ways of life. I find this is probably one of the prettier pigeons found further South of South Africa. With most doves and pigeons having many shades of dull colours this pigeon comprises of striking maroons, reds and purples.  Pigeons and doves are renowned as the worst nest builders of all species, they build a flimsy stick platform on sometimes the most unstable branches of the tree, the rock pigeon often chooses a more stable area such as cliff edges, buildings and…

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Googly eyed and array of colour, who can’t resist a chameleon… 

They are often so hard to spot around the foliage and easily overlooked, with their placid nature and all-round integrating interest I find them irresistible to watch. The way they can look around with each eye independently, change colour and their long sticky tongues, they seem alien and unlike most animals with all these unusual traits, however it makes sense and why don’t many other species carry these remarkable traits too.  Chameleons vary greatly in size with the smallest only measuring an inch to others that grow to almost 30 inches, with the smallest one, Brookesia micra found as recent…

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Cultural outlooks – Himba’s in Namibia

Today western culture is starting to take over, but what is western culture, we don’t even know our own rules, customs and practices anymore. With technology taking over every aspect in our lives, customs have been turned upside down and now we don’t know who pays for dates or whether to be worried if our partners are checking out the opposite or same sex these days. Yet nothing goes at the same time making today’s era one where we need to find new and diverse ways of doing things with no one to show the way but ourselves.  I am…

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Fond memories – Aquila private game reserve…

Aquila private game reserve is not just another travel place to me, rather a place where I started to stand on my own two feet, many characteristics of my life changed during this chapter of my life. I worked here for a few years and learnt a great deal; this was over 10 years ago and can hardly believe it myself. Many things can change and evolve over the years, I know it probably won’t be the same place as I left behind.  I have thought about visiting often, I choose not to however. I know there will be a…

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Let’s talk money, the costs of Iceland and how I went about it…. 

Everyone travels differently and put emphasis on what they find important to their trip, especially working within a budget of any kind, you will have a criterion that often takes priority to you whether it accommodation, food, activities or the destination.  Myself, I would rather put experiences or activity at the top, then accommodation and last food. Activities are something I love doing and something I will never forget, and I have a habit of trying to fit too much in one day, but I’ve never regretted it and think that’s a standard trip for me. Accommodation wise, I do…

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Iceland – Once in a lifetime trip (16.05 – 26.05.2019, day 10…

This day was a day of relaxing in town and seeing local sights. I spotted a zoo that had arctic foxes, visiting the Husdyragardurinn park and zoo was a little different to what I have seen before, the park side was amazing and a great insight into farming and the ways of farming, the zoo was a little less optimistic and felt more like a side venture and not quite suitable for some of the wild animals, however it is a great medium to teach young children and adults alike about conservation and where your food comes from which was…

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Iceland – Once in a lifetime trip (16.05 – 26.05.2019, day 9…

Thingvellir National Park, I stumbled upon the more commercial side of the park, which did put me off a little to start, walking around the main walks at the entrance. I enjoyed driving through it more and saw there was plenty of opportunity to pull over in free parking areas and take other walks which suited Iceland a lot more. Next time I visit ill do this instead. Gullfoss, more of Iceland’s many spectacular waterfalls, this one was lucky enough to be called friend. The landowner said when Englishmen where buying land and were interested in buying Gullfoss, he said…

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Iceland – Once in a lifetime trip (16.05 – 26.05.2019, day 8…

Picking up from yesterday I was booked and ready to do the next boat trip hoping to see some orca’s and sperm whales that can be found in this area. I had some time before the trip, so I got up ready to do some sites before the big trip. Snaefellsjokull national park, Iceland I found as a very clean and pristine country full of nature and life wherever I was, so it didn’t surprise me nearing the end of my trip that I couldn’t tell the difference between the national park and non-national park side. Every part spectacular with…

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Iceland – Once in a lifetime trip (16.05 – 26.05.2019, day 7…

Hungry to see more whales I did some more research, finding out Olafsvik offers great orca and sperm whale sightings, I couldn’t resist. Setting off very early in the morning (yet a little late) driving 430km only to find out when I arrived, this trip has no main desk, and I struggled to book online. Therefore, I watched the boat sail away. Being positive and trying to avoid feeling overwhelmingly disappointed, tomorrow I had some spare time to do it and it should be sunny. With plenty of time on my hand I decided to explore the nearby sights as…

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Iceland – Once in a lifetime trip (16.05 – 26.05.2019), day 6…

Today was a relax and watch whale’s day with a planned trip with Arctic sea tours in Dalvik. I went a little further north as I was early and was in the mood for a bit more scenery and everything in the small town of Dalvik was closed. I found a good lookout spot and watched the sea. Very far out in the distance I could just see a few whales, which is nothing like Hermanus but still wonderful to enjoy. Arctic sea tours, I was surprised to find out there were only 3 of us on the trip and…

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Iceland – Once in a lifetime trip (16.05 – 26.05.2019), day 5…

Making my journey towards the north of Iceland to enjoy some much anticipated whale watching trips, that I’d soon discover to be addictive, with a few pit stops along the way.  Krafla volcano, when you arrive and see beautiful blue waters inside the volcano it seems hard to imagine that not too long ago it was still erupting with the area around it still warm and the geothermal area still bubbling away. I was very entertained by a shower and basin that was permanently running on the side of the road, wondering if anyone has had a proper shower there,…

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Iceland – Once in a lifetime trip (16.05 – 26.05.2019), day 4…

This day was more a transit day filled with driving, and not many stops, but a very welcomed extra activity.  Eggin I geledivik, as I have a love for birds, I couldn’t skip looking at giant granite eggs from birds found in Iceland.  Collection nature art craft, this was something I saw on the way to Eggin I geledivik. For me who likes nature, skeletons and everything else, I was curious and took a look. It was incredible to see the collection. From a kid I have collected many things from nature, hoping one day to display it and help…

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Iceland – Once in a lifetime trip (16.05 – 26.05.2019, day 3…

The day started as the last day ended, in creepy suspense. This time of year, Iceland is still a little quiet, and many said that Wow airline closing has also limited flights to Iceland, therefore they are quieter than usual, I felt this especially at my next stop, that then changed dramatically to shades of aquamarine, snow and ice.  Hjorleifshofdi cave, this took me off the main road along a black sandy road leading eventually to a large black beach, the mist however was very thick and I could not see any water or hear any either. At first, I…

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Embarking on a South African adventure adding in Eswatini for good measure, pre-travel plans… 

Planning a holiday is always rather stressful, with trying to find an all-round agreement between all parties, where they would like to go and what they would like to do, allowing for everyone to enjoy what they expect from a holiday. It might seem easy at first with you having a set idea, forgetting someone may have the completely opposite idea as you, one party member expecting luxury travel, hired car and eat out every night, while the other had backpacking, public transport and eat on the go meals. Other huge factors include agreeing the destination and the biggest question…

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Iceland – Once in a lifetime trip (16.05 – 26.05.2019, day 2…

Today it was all about putting those walking shoes on and exploring some waterfalls. It may sound a bit repetitive visiting more than 5 waterfalls, as how interesting could it be watching water falling on every occasion, I would have agreed before but each one had something totally different to offer and all were jaw droppingly beautiful.  I was hoping for sunny weather, I later realised the bright, yet highly overcast sky was perfect weather for taking photos. If I lived in Iceland I would have appreciated taking photos in sun, when I could time the shadows, as I found…

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Iceland – Once in a lifetime trip (16.05 – 26.05.2019), day 1…

  I have been meaning to write this for a while, even before the trip I have been brainstorming a few ideas on how to jot it down onto paper for all to read. Although it would be a lengthy one post it was going to be in one post, now I am a little worried as this might become an encyclopedia of Iceland as this so-called little island is jam packed full of greatness! How I chose this trip started with trying to find puffins, my original plan was to go to the Faroe Islands. The Information I was…

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For the twitchers – Jackass penguin (Spheniscus demersus)

First of all, you must admit, what a name! Though there is a perfectly innocent explanation behind this name and alternative names if you would prefer. Jackass comes from the donkey like call that these penguins use to communicate, whilst other names commonly used are black-footed penguin and African penguin, and yes as the name suggests, Africa. Africa does have penguins and they love sunning on the beach. We are lucky enough to have two easily accessible breeding colonies in South Africa, with 22 other locations many which include small islands.  Jackass penguins belong to a group of penguins called…

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Bursting with colour and life – Kew gardens…

There are some splendid gardens dotted all over the United Kingdom, each with their own personal touches that set them apart from each other. It’s sometimes hard to say things are a persons favourite, especially myself as I often try to find unique things about all the places I visit leading to them all being on my favourite list. I was surprised to find this 132 Ha botanical garden was just outside central London and founded in 1840.   Kew gardens highlights were the pond and rock garden. The pond I would have naturally been drawn to, as it is often…

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Mangoes and 100, what could this unusual duo have in common…

South Africa, a country with so much wonder ranging from city life, wildlife and sunny coasts. Being so large that local airlines help you get from one side to the other, one being Mango airline. I find this a rather unusual name for an airline, a bright orange plane flying over but nope, this has nothing to do with 100.  Mangoes the fruit originate from India, but they have been very successful growing in South Africa and known as a juicy tropical fruit for those hot sunny days. Mango trees are very resilient, able to grow in very wet and…

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Babylonstoren, a garden to enjoy and strive for…

Situated in South Africa, Klupmuts and nestled between Simonsberg Mountain range and the Berg river, this beautiful 3.5 hector garden is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms. This garden is still a working garden with over 300 varieties of edible plants. Babylonstoren, a rather strange name originating from the owners, who thought a hill looked like the Tower of Babylon, and named it Babylon’s Toren in the 1700’s, which has evolved to Babylonstoren today.  This place is rich with history when it comes to the working garden, filled with weird and wonderful things to discover, like the way they…

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Wildlife treat – Black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou)

Last week I wrote about one of the scariest critters that are found in our homes before it rains, the trusty rain spider, today the tables turn and we face one of Africa’s ugliest animals. Though this award is said to go to just the wildebeest and no set rule on whether it’s the blue, black or one of the other many species of wildebeest in this group, I can honestly say neither of them really improve or get the ugliest award. In Africa we tend to love categorising things into the “5 most” groups, ranging from the 5 shyest…

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Crawly critters – Rain spiders, a critter from nightmares

These rather large and bold spiders can come across as fierce, just by looking at them. With their enormous size, when provoked they have a display that can be quite daunting with their general size being made larger, legs lifted and in a stance that is ready for whatever is thrown at them, however, sometimes it’s the big scary ones that are often the least to worry about. My first encounter with one, I must have been around 13 or 14 years of age, we had just moved from Cape Town city to the more country side area, Stellenbosch. After…

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English countryside – The Yorkshire dales, Hawes

One of the more talked about places I had heard about in England was the Lake district, with huge open countryside, beautiful waterfalls, wildlife and filled with history. I went there about a year ago in January where we were treated with picturesque snowy coated landscapes, which made for a perfect trip. It took me by surprise when I visited the Yorkshire Dales, because all these things were there too, just less crowded, even on a long Easter weekend with the gleaming hot sun. We stayed in a cottage in Hawes, Roofstones. It was a beautiful 3 bedroom, 3 bathrooms,…

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Fishing – catching it hook line and sinker…

Southern Africa has some of the best game fishing to offer, with many fish migrating from the west coast to the east coast of Africa to breed, whilst other species stay in fresh waters where they are sort after for their aggressive nature. Fishing or angling (the art of catching no fish. A little club joke we had) has been around more than 40 000 thousand years, since then there has been dramatic changes starting off with bone hooks, today machinery is taking over this age-old art of survival. When you speak to the older generations of local fisherman in…

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Wildlife photography – Birds

Photographing nature is always a challenge, they don’t listen to pose requests, care about lighting guidelines and sometimes they just know when you’re about to press the capture button, taking off that very last second. In wildlife photography, I find birds the second most challenging subject after marine life, but when you do capture what you wanted, it is very rewarding. Besides the photography basics, taking into account aperture, ISO and speed (Starting settings to tweak from here IS0: 100-1600, Aperture: f/4 and shutter speed: minimum 1/1000 – speed being your priority when taking photos of birds in motion). There…

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Botswana – One of the strangest countries

Coming from South Africa and hearing foreigners say, ‘You’re from Africa’ as if I was from another planet. Often asking where do you live, in a house or with the lions? Does it ever rain? Do you have any stab wounds? And then there are the people who don’t ask but presume they need supplies, like bringing suitcases full of food, or are shocked to learn you can get cereal. This mindset changed when I visited Botswana for the first time. Formerly one of the poorest countries in the world, Botswana is starting to find its worth, becoming one of…

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For the twitchers – African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)

There are few sounds that you hear that just make you think of Africa, the beat of the African drum, a zebra’s call and the African fish eagle. If you don’t think you’ve ever heard the call of a fish eagle, you might be surprised to recognise it when you do. This sound is often played in adverts such as fish eagle whiskey. It’s only fair that this iconic bird earned the title of national bird in 4 countries; Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Sudan. This graceful bird of prey is often seen on dead trees overlooking large bodies of…

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Giant African land snail, a bit too big for the average leaf…

Snails we think of as pesky critters, eating our beautiful garden plants or delicious swimming in garlic butter sauce. The Giant African land snails is more like a lawnmower or in food terms a large T-bone steak. This snail can weight in around 250 grams, which might not seem like much but for a snail, that’s no mean feat, with a shell length up to 10cm with its body length exceeding this. They are not long-lived averaging around 6 years, but have been known to reach 10 years in favourable conditions. Eating a wide selection of plant material, they can…

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Pilgrim’s rest – A place once full of gold and promise

Pilgrims’s rest is a village situated in Mpumalanga province in South Africa, it is one of many marvellous stops on the Panoramic route. In the late 1800s and early 1900s this village was part of the gold rush days where there the future held gold and a better life. Sadly, this village brought fake hope with rumours being spread of large gold nuggets that to this day was never truly confirmed, however small gold nuggets were found far and few between, most commonly found was alluvial (gold dust) and many didn’t reap any benefits from this hard-laboured work. This changed…

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Lion (Panthera leo) – King of the jungle, really?

These iconic cats are known by everyone, but where did ‘King of the jungle’ come from? Lions are mainly found in savannah and the open plains of Africa, unlike its other relative the tiger who actually lives in true jungles. Lions have a royal stance about them with an attitude that they rule the world, with males wearing a mane of pride that could be represented as a crown, the jungle part however is said to have originated as a meaning for land that was unexplored rather than a true jungle forest. Therefore, lions were proud top predators that dominated…

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