For interesting information on flowers, trees and plants please click on this link:

For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.
Videos: YouTube

Monday, September 30, 2013

Augrabies Falls National Park

Augrabies Falls National Park is situated on the Orange River in the north of South Africa near the Namibia border. The name Augrabies was given to the Water Fall by a Swede, Hendrik Jakob Wikar, when he passed there in 1799.
 The Khoi people called it ‘Aukoerebis’, or place of Great Noise, as this powerful flow of water is unleashed from rocky surroundings characterised by the 18km abyss of the Orange River Gorge. The 55 383 hectares on both the northern and southern sides of the Orange River provide sanctuary to a diversity of species, from the very smallest succulents, birds and reptiles to Hartmann's mountain zebra, springbok, gemsbok and giraffe.
 In 1954 the Upington Publicity Association requested the National Parks Board to proclaim the water fall a national park. After the Minister of Lands approved the Park in principle in 1955, the Department of Water Affairs objected to the proclamation of a national park. After a series of negotiations, Augrabies Falls National Park was eventually proclaimed on 5 August 1966. The park currently consists of 55 383 hectares.
As the Orange River approaches Augrabies Falls it divides itself into numerous channels before cascading down the 56 meter high waterfall. The sight and sound of the power of the water will not be easily forgotten. There are many wonderful views of the gorge at Oranjekom and Ararat.
A visit to Echo Corner is a must and do try it out. :)
 The ancestors of modern history have inhabited the area surrounding the Orange River since the Early Stone Age. During this time, there is evidence that early man had developed weapons for hunting animal like hippopotamus. They knew to establish themselves near good water sources like the Orange River. During the Middle Stone Age man had created more formal work tools and began to utilise fire. The Late Stone Age, which dates back 22 000 years, is characterized by tools that are smaller from the previous periods. The most prolific archaeological features are the stone cairns or graves from the later Stone Age. Excavations have shown that not all the cairns contains human skeletal remains.
 As there are no predators in the area, one is able to walk anywhere but there are also marked trails of various lengths to suite everyone. Some of the things to keep an eye out for are the lovely Augrabies Flat Lizards which are only found there, Rock Hyrax (dassies), Mountain zebra, Klipspringer and giraffe.
 The Quiver tree is a highlight on the landscape as well as many wonderful succulents and plants. The quiver tree is perfectly adapted to the dry desert and semi-desert areas on the rocky hills, the extreme temperatures and the infertile soil. It grows three to five metres high. The tree gets its name from the fact that the San used the soft branches to make quivers for their arrows. The trees flower a canary-yellow in the winter. Swarms of birds and locusts are attracted to their copious nectar, and baboons tear the flowers apart to get the sweet liquor.
 The Park has picnic facilities with ablutions, barbecue facilities and a swimming pool for day visitors, with shops and fuel available as well as a lovely restaurant.
Many delicacies unique to this area may be enjoyed here, like homegrown raisins and dried fruit. Traditional dishes like “puff adders” (named after the snake); are intestines with the fatty portion inward, stuffed with minced liver and skilpadje (tortoise) stomach net fat wrapped around a small piece of liver are always popular.
Accommodation: Caravan and camping sites are available in shaded areas, with communal kitchen, ablutions and laundry. There are various self-catering chalets all fully equipped including a kitchen. Some chalets have 2 beds and range in size to family chalets of two bedrooms. All chalets have bathrooms and barbecue facilities. They also cater for handicapped guests in special accommodation.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mountain Zebra National Park

Mountain Zebra National Park is situated near Cradock in the malaria-free Eastern Cape and was originally proclaimed in 1937 to save the dwindling Cape Mountain Zebra population. Now, at over 28 000 hectares, the park boasts a conservation success story, protecting over 700 zebra as well as wildlife such as endangered black rhino and cheetah. This is also home to the Aardwolf, Cape Buffalo, Brown Hyaena and Blue Crane.

Various types of accommodation, to suite all needs are available and is serviced daily with bedding, towels and soap provided. In addition, Doornhoek Guest House, a restored Victorian homestead, accommodating 6 persons, three bedrooms, en suite bathrooms (bath), fully equipped kitchen is available.

Caravan and camping sites with communal ablution facilities are equipped with 220V power points. The camping area is sited on a mixture of earth and grass. Lawn-type grass struggles to grow in the park conditions. A maximum of six persons, one caravan with a side tent and one vehicle, or one tent and one vehicle, or one autovilla or one motorised caravan will be permitted per site.
  Mountain Huts
 The Umthombo Mountain Hut can be booked for an overnight stay via the Park Reception, Tel (048) 881 2427 / 3434, email: The huts are ideal for a secluded getaway and to experience the tranquil Karoo atmosphere. These huts can only be accessed with 4x4 or 2x4 (with diff lock) vehicles. Each hut has two bedrooms, one with double bed and one with two single beds, and a “hikers bedroom” with 6 bunk beds (own bedding required). The kitchen is equipped with a gas stove, solar-powered fridge/freezer and cutlery, crockery & cooking utensils. A hot water shower and toilet are located outside the hut. There is an outside braai area as well as indoor braai area.
 There is a 4x4 trail, self-drive game viewing as well as guided walks and tours.
· Fully licensed a la carte restaurant, also serving light refreshments.
· Shop where curios and basic commodities may be purchased.
· No ATM facility available in the park. The closest bank facilities are available in the town of Cradock (24km from the park).
· Two picnic sites with braai facilities.
· Swimming pool for day visitors at picnic site.
· Barbecue and ablution facilities for day visitors.
· Swimming pool for resident guests only.
· Petrol and diesel are available in the Rest Camp.

Conference Facilities
· Full conference facilities for a maximum of 30 people.
· Catering facilities available.
Wedding Receptions
· Facilities available for small wedding receptions, maximum 50 people.
· The conference room and restaurant can be booked for the wedding.
· Bookings and enquiries can be made at the park reception.
From prehistoric sites with concentrations of stone artifacts situated along the river banks and rock art panels on the mountain slopes to historic farmsteads and cemeteries, Mountain Zebra National Park has acted as a backdrop for thousands of years of human history.

 From 14 000 to 10 000 years ago, Later Stone Age inhabitants lived in the area now proclaimed as national park. Evidence of their settlements is found along the banks of the Wilger River. There are some 30 sites with pottery and stone artifacts that have been identified through research done by the University of Stellenbosch.
The San people left evidence of their lives about 300 years ago in at least three rock shelters containing rock art in the Park. The paintings show an antelope, baboons, a large cat - possibly a leopard or cheetah - and human figures.

Visitors can view rock paintings in one of the shelters by hiring a Park guide to show them the way. Although a fence protects the painting site, it is quite exciting to be able to stand less than a metre away from ancient artwork.
During the 1800s, British soldiers created a chessboard on the top of Saltpeterskop, a 1514m high koppie in the Park. While hiding out during the Anglo-Boer War, they played chess with their fellow soldiers in the old fort in Cradock, transmitting moves by means of a mirror, which had the official purpose of communicating warning signals.

 The story goes that a certain farmer – unbeknown to the soldiers - picked up the signals and started a game against the soldiers while sitting on the stoep of his farmhouse.

The chessboard and the names of the soldiers are etched onto a flat slab of rock at the top of Saltpeterskop. Names recorded include the 5th Lancashire Fusiliers, the Coldstream Guards and some privates, corporals and a captain.
The legacy of white pioneers who moved into the area and set up farms during the Great Trek of 1836 still stands today. In 1838, one of the first permanent farmhouses in the area was constructed on the farm De Doornkloof, then owned by Hendrik Jacobus van Heerden. The house presently known as Doornhoek, declared a national monument in 1986, was restored and is still used as a guesthouse in the Park. It is popular with those who want a tranquil family getaway overlooking a lake, with spectacular star-gazing vistas at night.

In 1937, 1712 hectares of land was proclaimed as the Mountain Zebra National Park. Thanks to the conservation efforts of farmers in the area, a small herds of the endangered Cape mountain zebra still survived in the area and these provided a founder population for the Park. Paul Michau donated 6 zebra and later Mr H L Lombard donated 11 zebra to the Park. The Park’s Cape mountain zebra herd now numbers over 350 animals.
 The Park at first expanded slowly over the years, but then received a boost with a joint public-private conservation initiative. An artist by the name of David Shepherd kick-started the initiative by donating prints of his works “Mountain Zebra: A Vision in Black and White” in 1996 and “Cheetahs” in 1998 so that money could be raised to buy surrounding farms and expand the size of the Park. SABC’s 50/50 programme shared the story with viewers and encouraged them to support the project by buying prints so that the necessary funds could be raised. The response was fantastic and also caused private individuals and businesses to make donations including The Barbara Delano Foundation, WildAid, Sasol and Vesta Medicines. South African National Parks Trust matched all of the funds that were raised.

Nine surrounding farms were purchased through this process, enabling the Park to expand from 6 536 hectares to 28 412 hectares in size. Following this, black rhino, buffalo and finally cheetah could be introduced to the Park.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Addo Elephant National Park

Accommodation at the Main Camp is varied and has beautiful self-catering chalets fully equipped with utensils, bedding, crockery, a small kitchen which has a 2-plate stove and microwave. Each unit has a braai-area outside and a full bathroom with shower, toilet and basin. A unique feature is the waterhole lookout point, floodlit at night, within the camp as well as the underground hide, allowing close encounters with wildlife at the waterhole. Other facilities such as a swimming pool, restaurant and shop are available.

 The original elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only sixteen elephants remained in the area. Today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 550 elephants as well as the unique Addo flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo.
Addo is the third largest National Park in South Africa and covers an area of about 180,000 hectares with additional land being added, including a 100km stretch of the coast itself with Eco Marine tours available to see the Southern Right whales and Great White Shark.

After being used to the fauna and flora of Kruger National Park, going to Addo Elephant National Park in order to do my educational program was a real treat. Being in the Nama Karoo region, the vegetation is mostly succulents and almost no tall trees are found. This area has very little rainfall and has the extreme temperatures of heat and cold in the summer and winter, but Addo itself, being closer to the coast, is very moderate and even being there in the winter, I found it to be very pleasant although cold at night.
Spekboom Tented Camp is located nearby and also fully equipped but has communal bathrooms and kitchen. There you may catch a glimpse of nocturnal animals drinking at the waterhole.

Camping facilities for tents and caravans is available with shared ablutions and kitchen. All have a Spekboom hedge around them for privacy.
 Matyholweni Camp, which means “in the bush” in Xhosa is located at the entrance gate near the coastal town of Colchester at the Sundays River Mouth, 3km off the N2 highway, about 60km from Port Elizabeth and 40km from Main Camp. Amenities such as shops, restaurants and a fuel station are available in the nearby town. This is a concession camp and the self-catering chalets are luxurious and fully equipped.

 As arid as the region is, it is a birders paradise with Scrub Robin, Cape Robin-Chat , Bokmakierie, Southern Tchagra, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Bunting being prominent, with Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Fiscal Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Drongo, Spectacled Weaver, Malachite and Greater Double-collared Sunbird also easily found. A trip into the game viewing area will not produce a plethora of birds, but Bokmakierie will once more be prominent, and Martial Eagle, Black Korhaan, Blue Crane, Denham's Bustard, Black-headed Heron and Secretarybird may well be seen amongst a whole long list of other species.
Addo Elephant National Park contributes to the conservation of the endangered black rhino. There are over 400 Cape buffalo and 2000 Kudu to be seen. Six lions were introduced into the park in late 2003 and now there are 10. Antelope such as Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Bushbuck, Eland, Steenbok, Springbok and Mountain Reedbuck can be seen. Other species include Spotted and Brown Hyeana, Cape and Bat-eared Fox, Blackbacked Jackal, African Wildcat, the rare Aardvark and a variety of mongoose, bats, shrews, genets, zebra, warthog etc.

Activities besides self-drive game viewing include horse riding, guided walks and tours, 4x4 trails and the PPC trail which highlights some of the flora found in the Park.