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Chris Bonner and his wife Marelle live on a farm in the beautiful Scenic Rim of South East Queensland where Chris uses his camera to showcase the scenery and wildlife of the area. Besides wider Australian travels, he has also produced a portfolio of pictures from across the world including  the wildlife of Africa to e magic of the Amazon to the history and beauty of Europe.  While Chris' primary motivation is to share his experiences, photos are available for sale in digital or print format. 

All profits from photo sales go to a Cambodian charity www.newhopecambodia.com. Non-profit organisations may apply to receive free photos for Promotion or Fundraising.

Africa is more than a wonderful wild‐life experience.

A tour of the Panorama Route then the Garden Route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town provides a respite to recover from the busy Game Park excitement and unfolds a diversity of mountain passes, gorges, Australian Eucalyptus forests contributing to South Africa’s number one industry; Forestry, as well as a diversity of orchards including Australian Macadamias, plus impressive rolling downs with abundant livestock and crops. The orchards are interestingly surrounded by high electrified fences, which we thought might be to deter the animals but turned out to deter humans who like affordable, healthy food.

Blyde River Canyon and the Three Rondawels. Those round African mud, straw and cow‐dung huts are called Rondawels and hence the name given to these similarly shaped peaks.

God's Window and The Pinnacle are located in a 250km long sheer cliff that overlook the Lowveld, the South African part of a vast subtropical region of savanna.

Bourke’s Luck Potholes, where the Treur River meets the Blyde River, are the result of decades of swirling eddies of water and sand causing extensive erosion which formed cylindrical rock sculptures.

Their strange name, in case you were wondering, comes from the gold digger, Tom Burke, who staked a nearby claim.

At the much‐anticipated Kruger National Park, an hour or so away, we were looking forward to some Glamping in the bush at Sabi Sabi Lodge. Instead we had an OMG experience in being treated to an amazingly spacious and well‐appointed Condo with a cute Bushbuck visitor ‐ 5‐star service and outdoor Boma style dining!

While checking out the usual antelope species…and getting up close to Wildebeest and Buffalo...

…we also had Elephants and Giraffe who, while ever interesting, had slipped down the priority list after seeing so many in Botswana, so instead we focused on our first encounter with Rhinos…

…plus Lions and Leopards…who look interesting either end through a 600‐mm lens…but more relaxed sleeping off their overnight Impala dinner. Boy Lions are one's who set a good example in focusing on sleeping and procreation while depending on the more agile Mrs Lion to get him his dinner.

While seeing the big cats have the “wow” factor, searching for and finding more common animals in different poses and situations, and hearing about their interactions and survival habits don’t disappoint.

The ever impressive male Kudu. Their long spiral horns are a puzzle because they are not a lot of use in defence and can be a disadvantage when sparring if they lock. Another disadvantage is that the horns make impressive musical instruments and ritual objects. They have a characteristic run, laying their horns along their back with chin up to negotiate the bush.

Giraffa camelopardalis – referring to its camel shape and leopard markings gets exclusive access to the tree tops where they take most of their time to pull off up to 45,000 leaves a day with only a couple of hours a day allocated to sleep.

Their long legs make it difficult to get up and down exposing them to danger, so they mostly sleep standing up. Birthing therefore also needs to be done standing so they can kick the hell out of any predator, with the calf starting life with a 2 metre drop. When they rarely do lie down they curl their heads back onto their rump.

Tranquillising them requires special caution to prevent their neck crimping. Drinking is also awkward and dangerous but compensated for by their advantage in scanning for danger. We noticed they walk by “pacing” – moving both legs on one side together. Apparently young colts, brown bears and camels do the same. Remarkably Giraffes are easy to contain with a low fence because they cannot jump.

Game drives are done in these open Troop Carriers, with a tracker sitting out front checking for tracks and a gun just in case. Interestingly the most likely animal to attack if one alights from the vehicle, we were told, would be an Elephant.

Early morning and afternoon drives, with sunset happy hours followed by the dinner “Boma style” back at the “camp” takes its toll but nanna naps after lunch compensate. After dark, we are escorted by a guide to our accommodation so that we don’t become dinner.

Paul Kruger, who created Kruger National Park goes down in history as:

 - A tragic folk hero who defended a maligned cause and became personification of Afrikanderdom.

 - An obstinate guardian of an unjust cause, and described by Dr Livingstone as a mindless barbarian after a run in over firearms licensing.

 - Losing the Boer war after a couple of successful practice runs.

 - Choosing to leave South Africa and never return following the British victory. He only went as far as Europe because his interpretation of the Bible was that the Earth was Flat, his sole education being from the Bible.

 - Placing his hand into a freshly‐killed goat (not sure which end) to cure gangrene caused by his Elephant Gun exploding. Elephant 1; Kruger nil.

From Kruger it’s a flight to Johannesburg airport where one leaves no valuables in their luggage and gets out of the airport as fast as possible, before flying to Port Elizabeth the next day for a hire car pick up and a drive to Knysna. After detailing our animal encounters, I will see if I can make the more mundane sightseeing part of our African experience somewhat interesting.

At Knysna we were rewarded with this beautiful lagoon…

…which invited a Sunset Cruise to the heads where the lagoon meets the Indian Ocean ‐ complete with fresh oysters pulled from the lagoon, and champers.

Then a drive hugging the coastline and following the railway line that carried the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe, the last remaining continually‐operated passenger steam train in Africa, which ceased operation in June 2009, and checking out sleepy coves on the way…

…winding through the mountains inland to Oudtshoorn with its colourful Savannah country…

…and centre of the largest ostrich industry in the world, exporting, meat which has the lowest fat content of any commonly consumed meat, leather and handicrafts.

But most of all to meet the Meerkats which turned out to be a highlight of our African adventure.

While accustomed to humans if they sit still, this little family live in the wild and fend for themselves, roaming where they want where they occupy a range of burrows.

Meerkats depend on group cooperation to survive in the desert environments they occupy in Southern Africa. These family groups are led by an alpha pair with the female, not surprisingly, making the rules.

Seeing them requires being in position at sunrise when the sentry appears and spends ages scanning the environment for danger. He can see an eagle a kilometre away and the dark markings around his eyes reduce glare just like for sportsmen who blacken under their eyes when playing under lights.

Eventually the others appear and sun themselves for a period before a signal from alpha mum to scamper off into the ground cover to forage. They can catch a scorpion and pull off its deadly stinger in the blink of an eye.

Back towards the coast, the Garden Route’s impressive highway, with the verges kept cut by teams of whipper snippers earning maybe equivalent of A$2.00 a day, and with drivers being told to slow down at roadworks in a more personal flag waving manner than we have in Australia...

…takes us through impressive open farmlands descending from craggy mountains…to Franschhoek, a beautiful town with its French Huguenot influence nestled between towering mountains in the beautiful Cape wine lands, where we found a perfect base at the boutique Avandrood Guest House where Simon, our host provided exceptional service.

The Hugenot’s were Protestant refugees escaping from Catholic France who blended in with the Afrikaners. The Drone gave us a better look at this charming town.

Dutch architecture abounds and a spectacular view accompanying lunch from the restaurant at Dieu Donne Vineyards with seriously good food and wine. Franschhoek: not to be missed in any visit to South Africa.

Finally, three days in the ever-interesting Cape Town nestling under the imposing Table Mountain…

…in this case viewed from the Rietvlei Nature Reserve, adjacent to the sand dunes lining the Atlantic Ocean, which floods in winter and dries out in summer when the estuary mouth closes. It’s a natural habitat for rare birds, including Flamingos, and is recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International. However, no one other than us and the guy on the Park Gate seemed to know this 663 Ha reserve existed in Cape Town.

It's worth spending an hour enjoying the fresh air and quiet and checking out the birds from the Bird Hides if you tell the driver / guide where to find the place…

…before heading to False Bay with its 20km beach on the Indian Ocean Coast and Muizenberg, where the British did a quick job on the Dutch to take possession of the Cape in 1795 to prevent the French, who had occupied Holland, from doing so and thereby protecting their shipping route to the East including early Australia.

As mentioned the French came anyhow in the form of the Hugenots. The name "False Bay" was applied by early sailors who confused the bay with Table Bay to the north.

After sorting out the Dutch, they all decided to go swimming so we have these nice sheds to get changed in. These sheds are still used and for what I cannot image with the less cumbersome swimming fashion of today.

Then to St James Bay where the British invented this characteristic architecture which they obviously found ideal for the similar Australian climate. Australian bush pubs, or even the Regatta and many similar pubs in Brisbane, would be at home here.

Then to St James Bay where the British invented this characteristic architecture which they obviously found ideal for the similar Australian climate. Australian bush pubs, or even the Regatta and many similar pubs in Brisbane, would be at home here.

We were also deposited at another beach resort to enjoy their apparently unique wonders, but had to tell our guide that we have Coolangatta 5 minutes away and it looks exactly the same, so let’s see the more unique of what the Cape has to offer. Which happened to be back to African wildlife in the form of penguins at Boulders Beach…

…and Seals with one misplaced seagull, which required an off‐shore cruise from Hout Bay to what is innovatively called Seal Island, which as happens in Africa, turned out to be an OMG Jet Boat ride. We took our Guide with us to make up numbers, all dressed in suit and tie, and he is now adding that experience to his itinerary.

In Hout Bay harbour, urban seals fought over the best possies to sun themselves while on shore, colourful girls treated tourists to a cultural dance involving AFL moves.

This tour around the Cape then climbs the mountains that rise from the sea to interchange the seashore scenes with panoramic views of the coastline. In this case the actual Cape of Good Hope, which is part of the Table Mountain National Park…

…with it windy headland dictating hairstyles...

…before the obligatory look at “as far as one can go”... ...and the rugged coastline where we had been.

The route back up the Atlantic Coast nestles under the cliffs of the Twelve Apostles…

…then a drive up Signal Hill, provides another look at Table Mountain, and the City and hinterland…

…as well as the busy Port of Cape Town, which as Table Bay in the 15th century, was a Dutch revictualing station for the rather intrepid tourists of that time, but due to violent winter storms and huge loss of shipping, a breakwater was built to keep our modern tourists safe until at least they disembark. Our Hotel – a short safe (ish) walk from the action.

The colourful buildings of the Bo‐Kaap area below, a predominantly Muslim settlement known for its brightly colourful homes, cobble stoned streets and historic Mosque warrants a closer look.

In the mid‐twentieth century, the Apartheid government, declared the Bo Kaap, initially settled by slaves and political exiles from the Dutch Colonies when freed by the British, as a Muslims‐only area and forced people of other religions and ethnicity to leave.

My snippet of something that we are no better for knowing is that the mosque’s first imam was shunted off to join Nelson Mandela on Robben Island for something they didn’t like about him before he could grab his Quran. So, while he was there, he wrote an entire copy of the Quran from memory.

The evenings in Cape Town were spent with a short walk from our Hotel to the Port precinct to enjoy the sunset and the numerous restaurants and vibrant social life.

That’s it from Africa.

How is it different from other destinations? Africa has an OMG / WOW factor. One ends up expecting the unexpected: whether its animals, events, culture, scenery, or its troubling history and politics. One thing is consistent: the black Africans in the tourist industry and others we happened to meet in the countries we visited (other than at Johannesburg Airport) could show the Europeans a thing or two with their casual friendliness and uncompromising service.

One naughty habit of mine on my early morning jaunts is to engage the joggers, dogwalkers and commuters with a happy “good morning” and produce a response score for the day which is usually around 50% assumedly being those who’s dog didn’t die the previous day. In Africa the score would be 98%, the 2% reflecting Johannesburg Airport.

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