Over the holiday period during December 2017 we had a little adventure in the Drakensberg mountains of Kwa-Zulu Natal. We spent 8 days camping at Monks Cowl, a gorgeous little campsite in the midst of some of the most spectacular views South Africa has to offer. There are a number of walks that can be done at Monks Cowl, ranging from 1 hour to 5 hour walks (longer than that we did not attempt). The wet climate has made for a lush landscape covered in various ferns and fungi. Proteas also grow on the sides of some of the mountains. On some days the mist only burnt off at around noon, on others there was a constant “mizzle” (misty drizzle).
We were lucky to be close to friends, who we joined for lunch on one of the days with more dreary weather. Here we were entertained by Ally (Spaniel) and Levi (Australian Cattle Dog) – both lovers of water and fishing (much like their owners).
These are but a few snaps from the holiday, but most definitely some of my very favourites.
Like most people, I love the tranquility and mystery of the sea, but I think what I love most about the sea is absolute joy it brings to people, most especially children. As we grow older our child-like fascination with the great mystery that is the sea disappears, and we don’t fully acknowledge our awe and appreciation of its great unknown. That is the true tragedy of adulthood.
Recently we embarked on yet another adventure into the African bush. We visited two game parks in KwaZulu Natal, namely Mkhuze and Ithala. Mkhuze had a wonderful water hole which did not once fail to be teeming with animal and bird life. Because of the recent rains in Ithala the bush was incredibly thick and that made it tricky to spot the wildlife. However, each park is beautiful and unique in its own right. The rains also brought on a wave of baby animals all fighting for survival in the heart of the harsh African bush.
The introduction of lion into Mkhuze has served two purposes, first to increase interest in the park, and most importantly to encourage natural culling. Ithala does not have any of these big cats and it is quite plain in their numbers of antelope. While both parks have both Cheetah and Leopard, and they to contribute to the natural culling cycle to an extent, their numbers are few and so they do not have a large impact. Also, larger lion prides require more food to feed the hungry mouths. This particular lion and her friend each caught a baby Wildebeest (also known as a Gnu), leaving the other animals at the water hole incredibly skittish and wary of the lurking danger.
Aside from the large abundance of animal life in these parks there is also a huge variety of bird and insect life, as well as a great many illusive reptiles. Unfortunately, due to the pet trade, there are few chameleons left in the wild, and we were thrilled to find this one plodding along.
The flora that makes up these parks is so varied and so beautiful that is also deserves a special mention. Fever trees were once thought to be the cause of malaria (as the name suggests), but what was only later discovered was that these trees, while providing beautiful shade and shelter from the sweltering sun, they were also always located near water – the breeding ground of mosquitos. Thus while the trees were blamed for the malaria fever, it was in fact the fault of the anopheles mosquitoes. The red beans are known to us as lucky beans and it is said that if you keep these in your purse it will never be empty (although that’s probably because it will always have a lucky bean in it, not necessarily a coin).