Saturday, 31 May 2014

Camping in Kaokoland and Damaraland


Just s short impression from a recent camping trip in Damaraland and Kaokoland. It was still rainy season, which provided us with some very dramatic scenery and intense colours.
Our next tour starts on Tuesday, so make sure you check back soon for more Namibian adventures!

Enjoy!!


Friday, 28 March 2014

The Mullet men - Bronzie fishing in Feb. 2014

The past fishing season was with a few ups and downs...

Dave, Brian and Stu came again in February for their annual trip and it was great! They arrived here on 2 Feb. and departed on 16 Feb. Water conditions was again (same as last year) not very good, but this year we found a few spots where there was no weed! This meant we could fish for about 9 days of their 13 day trip for  Bronzies from the first cast!

The results was as follows:

Stu had 27 bronzies, his best fish were 363lbs, 264lbs and 242lbs. 
 Bry had 29 Bronzies + 1 foulhooked, best fish were 308lbs, 253lbs and 220lbs. 
 Dave had 25 Bronzies + 1 foulhooked, best fish were 286lbs, 275lbs, 264lbs and 242lbs.
14 bronzies over 200lbs and another 7 of 198lbs
Total of 83 Bronzies weighing 11959lbs and averaging 144lbs in weight.


Dave wrote a piece about their trip on WorldSeaFishing.com. You can follow the link below to find out what they thought of the trip:


Then I have finally managed to edit the footage of their trip and post it on YouTube. Unfortunately this is only of the Bronzies, but it is still a great video, even if I have to say so myself!

Just follow this link:


Here are also some of the photo's I did not use in the video.

Enjoy!


The 2 brothers, Brian and Dave with 2 nice size fish.


Nice sunset...


Brian caught this Spearnose skate at Mile 72 on a mackerel head.


We also caught a few tagged Bronzies.



Brian dragging a Bronzie back to the water after a quick photo. We take a lot of care not to leave them too long out of the water as it is very important to conserve these beautiful fish for future generations.


By measuring them, one can get a fairly good estimate of their weights, + - the condition, of course! 


Stu's fish in the first wave...beautiful sight!


We drag bigger fish back to the water by the gills, as pulling them back by the tail might injure their backbone.




Brian's turn to get his fish to the beach. 

I also don't gaff anymore. It is much safer for fish if they are pulled out by the leader line. 



It looks easy to cast these big reels and baits, but, believe me, you have no idea until you have tried it yourself!


Stu with an empty spool...and a Bronzie 800 meters out!


One of the visitors to our fishing spot...


Stu and me with Bronzie # 80 for the trip


Oh yes, before I forget... I have also done an interview with Ireland Fishing Diaries.

Here is a link to that one:

Ireland Fishing Diaries

Hopefully I can also finish Darren's blog in the coming days! 
Hope you have enjoyed this post.

Tight lines...until next time!



Thursday, 30 January 2014

Henk, Nel, Jeske and Annemie on Safari


It has been some time since I have written something... My apologies for this! Unfortunately Joyce's external hard drive crashed soon after this group left and I was therefore unable to write this blog as there was no photo's to work with!!
Fortunately we were in The Netherlands in December and received several USB sticks containing all the photo's and video's of the last trips...In the meantime, Joyce also gave the 'deceased' external hard drive in to see what could be salvaged and got a new hard drive with more than 36 000 photo's...all in one folder!! It took a while before we realized that it also included previously deleted photo's, that was hiding in the 'trash can'!!! We learned a good lesson in this...never save all your photo's on just one disk...make at least a back-up on another disk!

So, in between all our meetings with friends and guests, I managed to load most photo's onto the blog and also managed to compile a short film from their video clips.

The group...relaxing in the middle of nowhere!!



The trip started on the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls. As it was 'low' season (not much water), the falls was rather empty, but they still enjoyed the view and also walked down to the bottom of the gorge. They stayed in safari tents at Maramba River lodge...where an elephant bull decided to come and help himself to the vegetation inside the camp!


A transfer brought them from Maramba to the Kazungula ferry, where I was waiting for them. They could not believe the amount of trucks waiting there to cross the border on the ferry... the line was literally kilometers long!
Our first night camping was at Camp Chobe. Where the roar of the lions kept them awake during their first night in the 'bush'! 


The contraption below is know as a 'Donkey'...a wood stoked geyser! But it works very good...providing someone makes the fire!


There was also time to do a bit of washing...


It was also the first time here for me, so we had to 'search' for the tracks where we could do a drive to see some animals...and then we spotted this part of an elephant jaw in the sand...


...and we saw a few zebras...


...and this open billed stork sunning himself...


This Zebra escaped a lion. Note the scar on it's hind flank. There are also two kinds of oxpeckers... Left is a red billed oxpecker, and to the right, a yellow billed oxpecker.


Aaaa...Caprivi sunsets...always nice!


The next morning we found the 'real' road...and saw loads of animals coming down to the river for a drink...


                    ....and also swimming through it, despite the presence of huge crocodiles!



One of the locals trying to get his animals back to Namibian soil.


Pied kingfisher...looking for an easy meal!



                                  

A huge herd of Zebra...with a few of them keeping an eye on us! Who's watching who??


In the evening we found this massive colony of southern carmine bee eaters.



Literally thousands of them were nesting in holes in the ground. There are not many places where they do this and this must surely be the biggest colony I have seen. Normally these birds breed in steep river banks, but here they make their holes on top of this flood plain.

To say that our group was flabbergasted, is probably an understatement! They watched in awe as hundreds of birds came and left. The whole evening sky was alive with the chirps as they seeked out their nests, or flew off to meet their partner in the air. We just watched silently...






On our way back to camp, we stopped for a quick 'sundowner'...yes, of course with a few cold beers and some wine!


Next morning we left Camp Chobe and drove west to Nambwa where we pitched camp and, soon afterwards, left for a drive. 
A perfect lunch spot...Horse shoe bend...a place where many elephants come to drink!




There was also time for 'monkey business'!! These olive colored chacma baboons can be a huge problem around campsites, but, as long as people do not feed them, they can be enjoyed in their natural surroundings, so please DO NOT feed animals!!



The next morning they saw their first giraffe...


...and also the first bateleur...a snake eagle that can tear its prey apart and consume it during flight!


Joyce managed to 'shoot' this lovely sable antelope in full galope!


Back in camp, this crested barbet came to have peak for any left overs...


Next morning we had a flat tyre...one has no option but to deflate the tyres as soft sand make it very difficult to drive in...this results in sidewall punctures. 


More giraffes...and also plenty of other game, but the best sighting was the caracal below... 


These animals are seldom seen as they are very shy. Joyce was lucky to have been able to get a good photo of it!


We broke up camp the next morning and drove further west, to Nunda, where we camped on the banks of the Kavango river. Our guests decided to do a afternoon cruise to the Poppa Falls...


This is the only 'falls' in the Kavango river, but it is not very big.


A few boys catching fish with handlines.


Next morning we did a short drive in Mahangu Park and saw these Roan antelope playfully checking each other out... In the mating season they will not be 'playing' any more!


Africa's largest hornbill...the ground hornbill has a huge diet. Eating anything that is edible...from berries to insects and even small animals!




After the drive we visited my brothers 'new' office where we got a short tour of the facilities. He is now in charge of inland fisheries and works at KIFI (Kamutjonga Inland Fisheries Institute), which is situated close to the entrance of Mahangu Park. Here they breed fingerling (small fish), which then gets sold to people raising them to be sold on the ever growing market for fish in Africa.


Later that afternoon we drove to the other side, across the river, to Buffalo National Park. 
On the photo below you'll see a fig tree. This climbing fig uses a host to 'climb' up. In some cases the host might even die, but the fig will still use it's stem to support itself. The fig is not a parasite, so, mostly the 'host' will survive and has the added protection of the fig around it, protecting it from elephants that might de-bark it.


This female bush buck was the first one to stand still long enough to take a photo.


Another vehicle was driving about 100 meters in front of us, but, as the sun was getting very low, it was nearly impossible to see anything on the waters edge. We only saw the leopard because it lost its nerve and got up to make a dash for the safety of the bush...right in front of us! Henk managed to squeeze a photo of, but thought that he had missed it. Fortunately, once he was back home, he had a second look and 'found' the leopard hiding in the shadows! Look carefully...and you will see it! 
Well done Henk!


We saw lots of kudu, impala, monkeys, birds, hippo's and, of course, the huge herds of buffalo that this side of the park is renowned for...together with a stunning sunset!



Next morning it was time to break up camp and drive to Roy's camp...there was already 'something' in our campsite. This grasshopper was about 15 cm long and was still growing!


Next morning we drove into Bushmen land where we visited the 'living museum of the Ju!uansi'





Guests are taken on a short walk to explain the way of live in the bush.



How to make a trap...



And also how to make a fire...without fire lighters and matches!


On the way back to camp we saw this 'factory' next to the road. These guys were cutting Camel thorn acacia to size for fire wood. Unfortunately they did not want to sell some to us...


Then it was onto Etosha... on our first drive we saw this upside down giraffe!


...and again some nice sunset pic's


The next morning started off with this Hyena...and a few other very nice sightings...



....including this pride of lions...


...that was very interested in this warthog...


...the young males looked very interested as mother started her approach...


..., but, fortunately for the warthog, the distance was too great between him and her, so he left, tail in the air (and in the right direction), without the female being able to make a dash for him!

The lads looked on in disgust.


This magnificent eland bull came down to drink at Chudop, with his whole entourage of females following close behind.



I tried to film this black rhino with the gopro camera, but she refused to cross the road...better luck next time!



Yes..., Henk had his birthday at Onguma. As we were leaving early, to go on safari, we had to decorate the camp in pitch dark, while Henk was still asleep. Joyce baked him a birthday cake...(on the fire!)
...which we had for dessert with our lunch in Etosha


After coffee and rusks and a birthday song, we were soon treated to this rhino that came for a drink and soon afterwards showed some territorial behaviour..., or maybe he could smell a female in heat?



It is so nice to be able to sit in the relative safety of a vehicle and watch African animals in their natural habitat.



This fish eagle is a bit lost... Although fish eagles are sometimes seen in Etosha, it is certainly not very common as they prefer the larger bodies of fish holding water. This one seems to have settled here permanently, as we have seen it in the area before as well.

  
Binoculars are very important on tour, because everything is not always right next to the car!


It was time for lunch...and Henk had to play the part...it was his birthday cake after all!!



More zebras...


...Impala's...



....and springbuck...



...and 2 huge male lions at Nebrowni waterhole...



Both started roaring...calling their females in the hope that they will answer with: "Come boys, we caught dinner!".
We had to rush to make it back to Okaukuejo before the gates closed!


The next morning started off the same way as the previous evening had ended...with lions! This time at Olifant's bad. The whole pride was together and they looked hungry, as the one male even checked out the guinea fowl!


This fella had other plans...the one female seemed to be in heat as the display of this male suggests.



Impala's obviously trust their speed to venture this close to the pride...


..., but the kudu's were a bit more sceptic about the situation...



We spent quite a bit of time watching the lions and our tummies were starting to complain a bit...


This hornbill also fancied a bite from our table...


We drove back the same way as we came and found Gemsbok vlakte jampacked with all sorts of animals...


...and this temminck's courser, running around between all the hooves...


Then this rhino showed up...


...and proceeded straight to the water...


Everything had to move, but this oryx looked defiantly at this prehistoric brute...on the 'safe' side of the waterhole!


It was peaceful at Nebrowni...until this elephant bull showed up and 'took over' the waterhole. The rest had to make do with the muddied water below...


That afternoon we drove to the west of Okaukuejo...and found yet another pride of lions. Two females left shortly after we got there, to see if they could sneak up on an unsuspecting oryx... Watch the video on the bottom of this blog to see what happened!


The male just looked on...



We left Etosha and drove to Otjitotongwe


                                 

Time for a bush lunch close to Palmwag concession.

 

Even this grader broke down...maintenance is very important in such a harsh environment...

                                 
        
We pitched camp at Khowarib lodge and campsite...on the banks of the Hoanib river.


Yes folks, Manchester is actually in Africa... Just kidding! Most Namibians are avid football fans...
                               

We stopped at the shop to buy a 'present' for the Himba village that we were planning to visit. The 'present' consists of maize meal, bread flour, yeast, cooking oil, tea, tobacco, snuff, vaseline (petroleum jelly) and some biscuits for the kids. We try not to give too much sugar, or sweets, as they don't brush their teeth.This creates problems with cavities and there are not many dentists in the area...more like nothing at all!!!

The chicken nest... made in a tree to prevent small predators from eating their alarm clock!


"Put some of this ochre on...it is a good sunscreen, removes hair and makes you more beautiful...just be careful not to get it on your clothes, or smear it into the fabric of Johan's car!"


The rest of the day was spent relaxing next to the swimming 
pool!
The next morning we broke up camp and drove west, into the Hoanib river.

On the way we saw this funny shaped Mopane tree, which made for a nice group photo...and Jeske wanted to sit on top of it...


...but she also had to come down again...,so I had to give a 'helping' hand!


Henk, (who still plays football), saw a goal post...and saved one for his team!! Or was it a goal? The ball seem to be missing...


Beautiful landscapes soon had the cameras clicking...


...and then we found our first desert ellies...and a baby that was no more than 3 weeks old!


Yes, that is a bit of wood sticking out of her mouth. These animals have to utilize almost everything there is to eat to survive this harsh environment.


...and if it gets too warm, then they go for a nap under the huge anna trees.



We also thought it a good idea to do a short pit stop... Lunch in the bush!


It was their first real 'bush camp'..., and also the first time they had a loo with a view!! 


...and also their first bush shower!!


Next morning we got up early. While Joyce was preparing breakfast, I made toast on the (still glowing) coals from the previous night's fire.


Then we headed off to see if we could find ourselves a proper black desert rhino...

At first there was only Hartmann's Zebra, springbok, and oryx...


...and beautiful landscapes.


By lunchtime, the only shade we could find was in the entrance of a small cave. I was not so sure if we would be lucky enough to find our quarry, so I took the last possibility left...the road back to our camp...


...and there she was! She had not seen us, as she came walking in our direction, but on the other side of the dry riverbed we were traveling in. Something had spooked her though, as black rhino are normally not active in the day. I switched off the engine and we enjoyed watching her disappear into the distance. Now we could go 'home'...mission accomplished!


Next morning we drove further down the Hoanib...


...all the way to the entrance of the skeleton coast park!


Later we found a huge bull...


...and decided to have lunch with him...

Our lunch...


...his lunch...

(check out the video on the bottom for this tree shaking experience!)

On the way back to camp, we came across this stretch of giraffe...


...so I thought it a good idea to put the Gopro down and hope for the best!


This is a 'new' angle on giraffes!

(this video can not be viewed on a mobile device)
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The next morning was cold and misty. Even though we were more than 80 km from the coast, the influence of the cold Benguela current could be seen even here.



We left the Hoanib and drove north to Purros..., but before we got there we had to have lunch in the Hoarusib canyon...unfortunately our plans to have lunch in the water, were cut short by a few pesky blood suckers that were hiding in the sand...


...so we were forced to higher ground!


More elephants...


...and this hamerkop...


The city of Purros...


...and our accommodation...



lovely landscapes...and a few Himba women on their way home with firewood.


Jeske enjoying the view...


...and so too Annemie!


Well, sometimes one have to 'share' the road...



Our last 2 nights bush camping... On the way there we passed this lonely bit of sandstone...


Breakfast!!


...and then it was off to searching for elephants again...


...and some 'other stuff'...









Time for a quick snooze...


That evening was also quite cold..., but a very good remedy is to put some hot coals under one's chair and voila...!! No more cold!


Next morning we broke up camp and headed off to the ocean...


...and the seals of Cape Cross



And then to Swakop...


Henk made this picture of Madiba...not knowing that he would die a few weeks later...a sad day for Africa.


Annemie decided to join Tommy on one of his desert excursions...


...and was very happy with what she saw and learned about the oldest desert in the world...


sidewinder...


Earring?? Or is she wearing a sand-diving lizard??


Eishh...Tommy! Don't eat the local fauna!! Just kidding! Tommy explains how well adapted a blind skink is in this dry environment.



Palmato gecko...living deep in the sand during the warm days and only coming to the surface at night, when it is much cooler... 


No, these are not some fury desert animals...this is heavy metals that Tommy collects with a strong magnet...he also does some other tricks with it, but I'm not going to tell you everything... 


On the way from Swakop to Sossusvlei, we passed through Walvis Bay...


...and had a quick stop at the lagune to view the thousands of flamingos.


By lunch time the cold, wet conditions of the coast was long forgotten...fortunately I knew of a shady spot to hide from the scorching sun!



Soon after pitching camp, we discovered 2 pygmy falcons that had their nest in a social weaver nest. I positioned my little Gopro and hoped for the best...


This female falcon was not very happy!

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The girls were all smiling...


...maybe it was because of the crayfish on the BQ...(note the meat on the bottom grid...for the non-crayfish eaters!!)


Mmmmm....just add garlic butter!


Early rise to get to Sossusvlei in time...




Lights! Cameras! Action!!!


Just stunning!




Our guests...discovering the magic of Sossusvlei...


Well pleased with themselves...


...with climbing this dune...



Beautiful scenery, coupled with bacon, eggs, a cup of coffee and some other goodies,  is always a great combination to start any day!


Fortunately we could 'walk' it off on the hike to Dead vlei...



Jeske decided it was time for a 'zen' moment...


Once out of Sossusvlei, there was a unanimous decision to find the nearest source of 'Malawi Shandy'... a local brew of ginger ale, bitter lemon, lots of ice and some Angostura Bitters. This is a potent mix that makes short work of any thirst...even the one's we had!!


Refreshed and refueled, we drove the short distance to Sesriem Canyon...


...it even still has water!



On our way to Windhoek, we stopped on top of Spreetshoogte pass...where Henk discovered the can crusher..this device is used to crush cans...


...and some pretty flowers...


Below is a small compilation that I made from the video's that Henk and Annemie had made of their trip. Enjoy!

(this video can not be viewed on a mobile device)
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It was a fantastic trip, but don't take my word for it...
To read the guest comments about their trip with us, please click here.

Hopefully you have enjoyed the photo's and videos! Please share this with anyone you think might be interested in reading this, or, better still, might want to join us for a their own adventure in Africa...