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from the road …

places to go, things to do & people to meet ....

Permanent Tent at Pom Pom, Botswana
Gunns Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana
Dry undergrowth crackles underfoot as we saunter in silence, single file through the dense bush of Swaziland's Hlane National Park. A faint crashing in the bush has alerted Africa, our very appropriately named guide, immediately he signals us to freeze. Motionless we stand listening to the initially distant noise as it increases in intensity – it’s clearly headed in our direction. A shadowy gray figure reveals just enough shape to confirm a small herd of elephants is feeding less than 100 metres ahead. Maneuvering for a better view of this picture perfect scene, which is no longer obscured by bush, a massive gray elephant sporting starkly contrasting white tusks stands feeding on the lush surrounds. Her huge ears flap as she rips chunks of grass and leaves with her trunk, inching further toward us with every mouthful. Poor eyesight renders them still seemingly unaware of our presence – Africa who by the way is armed only with a stick signals our retreat of 10 or so metres out of the too close for comfort zone. We watch, shooting photographs and marveling at our situation - we standing without protection just 30 metres from a herd of wild elephants! It is at that moment the matriarch looks up and pushes forward in the bush, raising her trunk she bellows as if to say "I see you, you're in my space..." Africa swiftly gets the message and hurriedly alerts us to evacuate immediately as we dash to the safety. Dry mouthed and hearts pounding we swiftly slip through the two flimsy strings of rusty barbed wire, apparently electrified it is all that protects us from the charge of this angry 6 ton giant of the animal kingdom. She stops and moves on with her companions. Brimming with adrenaline, animated whispering gives way to relieved chatter about our big 5 encounter - topping this will be tough as we creep back through the fence and venture off in search of the next experience. The Royal Hlane National Park has become a haven for Swaziland's wild animals as poachers attempt to hunt down and profit from these natural assets. The hundreds of seized poacher’s traps that sit piled atop each other at the Park entry, serve as a chilling reminder of this brutal and devastating practice. Unfortunately, continued farming and development further encroaches on the lands where wildlife once freely roamed. The Park’s lodge and campground are located in well looked after grounds with the main buildings set on the shore of a huge waterhole. Dripping with natural authenticity it generates a feeling of raw remoteness that is in sync with the environment. It’s definitely worth the visit for a day or two, and the walking safari is a must-do for anyone who has spent most of their time vehicle based game drives.
Giraffe, Kruger National Park
Cute Lion Cubs
Leopard, Kruger National Park

random thoughts, stories and memories mostly by award winning photographer Jillian Mitchell

thoughts, memories & stories