Who is South Africa’s best birder?

Some of us venture into unchartered country and forego peace & quiet until the geography's mapped. We go where angels fear to tread... At a recent twitch for rare birds; & in the company of lunatics, an inappropriate utterance clattered across the crumbling Bridge of Decency & resonated on the souls of all who heard it. I've been on it, ever since. Here it is: Who is South Africa's best birder? There ...

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Up the sharp-end without a scope!

By some quirk of fate, we found ourselves in the company of others facing an unpalatable truth. We'd left the spotting-scope on the lee-side of chaos, two fuel-stops further west. Reduced to mayhem, our only option was to scan the wetland - ID the common folk - dismiss these from the assembly - & move on to others with more potential. We were squinting against failure & the stakes were ...

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A big cat diary

Over the years we've nailed our share of Big Cat sightings to our totem. We've seen them in action too; a fast-tracked byte to the protein bar. Even so, 2017 was an exceptional year for spectacular sightings / start-to-finish kills. In no particular order of grab-'n-go dining: - a leopard at Phinda [See it here]; 2 cheetah & a wildebeest calf near Babalala [Kruger](read here); a leopard [see below] at Engelhard Dam ...

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Makalali Main Lodge – reviewed

  The Good Traverse rights on 27000 ha [reclaimed bushveld] offers all-year access to the Big 5 including Black Rhino. Spacious rooms have an outside shower, an outside patio [two chairs & a small table], cotton percale linen, durable mats and the other / expected amenities including free Wi-Fi, in-room spa treatments and a small bar-fridge. Contemporary décor & a well-appointed common, offers a suitable balance between comfort, luxury and value. ...

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Off-road safari

We enjoy letting our hair down once in a while & the best way to do that [in our world] is on a 5*-safari. This silver spoon doesn't come cheaply - punters need deep pockets & a shallow outlook. It's a topsy-turvy, unbalanced world.. Safari-by-numbers has its limitations, of course. This is important. The cornerstone of an African bush experience is the anticipation of what comes next. Why? Luck plays a part ...

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To the trees!

Once a year, every year, I celebrate a birthday; another ring on what is becoming a trunk rather than a stem. It's a collection of hoops Methuselah hisself might envy, quietly of course. This year the family obliged with a surprise, self-drive, busman's holiday to the mistforest & bushveld biomes of South Africa's Limpopo province. Alisha's passion, [she's a Reiki Master (btw.)], resides in the esoteric; an alternative form of common sense & a ...

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Please, sir, I want some more!

Oliver to Tankatara's twist, we went down for more. Joined by a twitching doyen we flew on *Mango from Johannesburg [JHB - ORT] to Port Elizabeth (PE) for another crack at the Tankatara Pans where a potential giga lurked ... in plain sight. [*Alisha's a cracker ...] Fortunately we were delayed at ORT for 30 minutes; the pilot stalling for discharge papers or his license. I can't be sure but I was smug anyway. The 3pm ...

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Birding – an on-demand generation

Weaned on rarity reports, has birding become the outdoor poster child for an on-demand generation? It's pay-per-view reporting - pick & choose - get there - tick it. Load it - boast it & confine the field-clip to a binary yes or no. Life's an adventure: a paper-bag of water - seeping madness. It's also sweeter on the soul running uphill against time. Keeps us chirpy. Is there anything more annoying, less-relaxing even, than the chime of ...

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Phinda – the evolution of conservation

In 1990 Dave Varty's [Londolozi] vision of community-based tourism; a model sustained by good business practice & not on donor funds, was born. CC Africa - [now &Beyond] was formed to facilitate the purchase of land - properties farmed for cattle, sisal & pineapple. The land was mostly degraded & purged of wildlife. This newly-formed reserve was called 'Phinda Izilwane' - Zulu for 'return of the wildlife' & the wildlife has, indeed, ...

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Rhino – Africa unite

There are two schools of thought on the future of Africa's wildlife. In their purest forms the first is the preservation of wild animals in non-consumptive wilderness / sanctuaries; i.e. - reservations designed and managed to give wildlife free-roaming access & / or with minimal interference from people. The funding for the management of these sanctuaries is externalised or collected at the entrance gate / green lodge etc. People who find this school ...

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