Archive for South Africa
Rhino have always been poached in Africa but until 2005, the numbers of animals killed illegally had been relatively low. Since then, the problem has escalated seriously and in 2012 a total of 668 rhino were poached. The increase has coincided with an increase in demand for rhino horn from Vietnam. The horn is ground into powder, mixed with water and the drink is used as a miracle cure for everything.
As Rhino have few natural predators, they don’t have many off spring so when an unnatural predator in the form of poachers starts to kill them, their numbers will decrease rapidly and even if all the poaching stopped today, it would take a long time to restore the numbers of White and Black Rhino. With rhino horn fetching around 60,000 USD per kilo and the weight of an adult rhino horn can be more than 3kg, it is easy to understand why the rhino horn is so valuable to poachers.
For most of us, the closest we get to rhino poaching stories are reading about it in the news. On a recent trip to South Africa, the story of a poached female white rhino was brought closer to home. We had booked into a small, private game lodge in the Waterberg (Limpopo province) for a safari break. The website listed the various types of game we may find including white rhino. However, a few weeks before we arrived, the poachers struck. There were a pair of white rhino at Bushwa lodge which lies around 10 miles (15km) north of Vaalwater and the entire property is fenced off with locked gates.
The group of poachers had gained access to the land and had tracked the female rhino. The poachers had initially shot the rhino in the spine to disable it and once it had crashed to the ground, they shot it in the head. However, even with their powerful weapons, the female was still alive. Although rhinos have poor eyesight, the female could see the poachers approaching. If you watch any wildlife programmes on TV where animals have been sedated with a tranquilliser, the rangers will often cover the animals eyes to reduce stress.
These poachers had little regard for the welfare of the rhino but as the last thing they wanted was an upset rhino, they brutally hacked out her eye while she was still alive before removing the horn. The carcass was left for the jackal, hyena and honey badgers while the group made off with the horn with little doubt it was destined for the Far East.
The poachers work in small groups and are able to target their prey in various environments such as large, national parks like Kruger or small private game lodges which are dotted all across the country. Far from being clumsy locals with no remorse, the poachers are professional, well organised and armed. They are able to track the rhino whilst leaving few, if any tracks of their own to alert rangers to their presence. They are armed with advanced weapons and are usually prepared to restore to deadly gun battles with authorities rather than face arrest.
One of the rangers took us to the spot where their rhino had been killed. The head had been removed and taken away in the hope of retrieved the bullet but to no avail. The rest was buried but local predators had little trouble locating and digging up the dead rhino. To make matters worse, the female had been pregnant so two rhino were lost. Small safari lodges invest a lot of money to have rhino on their property but they can’t insure them against poaching. A difficult decision has to be made whether to replace the rhino at great cost or not.
It is difficult to see how to solve the problem. Officials at various levels have been found to be involved either directly in poaching activities or by simply ignoring them. There is little point having laws in place to protect rhino if the officials won’t enforce it. My belief is that while the demand for rhino horn is there, poaching will always exist. That means the demand from Vietnam and other Far East countries has to be reduced. Unfortunately, I have no answers as to how this could be achieved.
I was sitting on a train the other day and thoughts drifted (as they often do ) to places around the world. Not so much ones that I wanted to visit but I for some reason, I was thinking about the places I didn’t visit when I had the opportunity.
Later this year, Poland and Ukrane will host the 2012 European Football Championships. It is argueably the second biggest football tournament after the World Cup. My first England game was back in 1987 at the old Wembley Stadium. I stood behind the goal in a crowd of 100,000 as England drew 1-1 with Brazil. Gary Lineker gave England the lead before Mirandinha equalised. That goal prompted Newcastle United to sign him and he became the first Brazilian to play in England.
Over the following years, I went to various games but never to away matches. That changed after the World Cup in 2002 when I booked a week in KwaZulu Natal as England travelled to South Africa to play a friendly international in Durban. At the time, I didn’t really know anyway else travelling to watch the game so I just went by myself. I booked a few days diving up in Sodwana Bay in the north of the province before heading back to Durban for a couple of nights to watch the match. The lads I met were fantastic and I had a great time. I managed to get a lift to and from the old ABSA stadium on a coach and inside the stadium, a group of us were giving some beer by some South African fans. It was a great trip and I even saw Emile Heskey AND Gareth Southgate score.
From then, I decided I was going to go whereever possible and the following year, I went to my first tournament in Portugal. By now, I was meeting friends I’d made either to travel with or catching up once we arrived.
I travelled with a friend and we stayed in the beautiful city of Porto, travelling to Coimbra and Lisbon (three times) for the 4 England games. It was a superb time to be there with loads of happy people, sunshine, football and plenty of great memories. Since then, I’ve met some great people, many of whom are now very good friends. I’ve travelled to a long list of countries and places, many of which I would never have considered going to.
Naturally with so many trips, there are plenty of stories too. One of the few trips I missed was the away match in Baku, Azerbaijan. I really wanted to go but circumstances conspired against me. Everyone I speak to who went had a great time. Naturally, when husbands and boyfriends go away for a few days, they usually spend their last bit of local currency at the departure airport on some perfume for the wife or girlfriend. However, that was a bit too obvious for one England fan. Instead of a bottle of scent, he decided to take back an Azeri steam iron complete without English instructions.
My favourite away trip was the 2 match tour to the United States in 2005 which saw England play USA at Soldier Field in Chicago followed a few days later against Columbia at the Giants stadium in New York. It was my first visit to Chicago and I loved it.
The game was played on the Saturday so we took the opportunity for a bit of sightseeing on the Sunday ahead of our early morning flight to Newark. A friend and I took a Gangster tour to see the old haunts of Capone and Dillinger. The tour was excellent and dropped us off outside a bar at about 3pm. Conscious of our early start, we just went in for a quick drink. We got back to the hotel around 1am ready for our 5am pickup. Somehow, we got up and made it down to the car who whisked us off to the airport. After a while, the driver announced we were getting close to O’Hare. Unfortunately, we were flying from Midway which resulted in a sharp U-turn and some liberal interpretations of the speed limits. We just made our flight and I’d never been more grateful to get into a hotel room early when we finally got to Jersey City.
The next day was an early start at the local pub for a full English breakfast and an early-ish departure to the Giants Stadium for my first tailgating experience. The pub very kindly provided us with a keg of beer which was easily consumed before the game.
A few years ago, England supporters had a terrible (and well deserved) reputation but today, it is very different. Despite travelling in huge numbers, there are hardly any arrests. This is mainly due to the tight controls on getting tickets for away matches. Unless you are a member of the official supporters club, you don’t have a chance. Even then, matches do get over-subscribed but a loyalty scheme ensures the regulars get tickets while also allowing new comers access to some tickets.
Depending on the destination, the biggest challenge is booking travel and accommodation. There is one fan I know who refuses to fly. Luckily, he is retired and goes to many of the games by train. The furthest away trip he took was to Almaty for the World Cup 2010 qualifying in Kazakhstan along the old Silk route. It took something like 5 days to get there and another 5 to get back. I haven’t travelled to an away game entirely by train yet but it was be a wonderfully relaxing option compared to tackling airports.
A couple of years ago, I drove to Paris for a game. I left a couple of days ahead of the match to take in the Battlefields around Ypres and the Somme. They were well worth visiting and I’m sure I’ll go back again someday. My SatNav was invalueable in finding all the little villages and memorials. In 2006 ahead of England’s first game in the World Cup, I was told the story of one fan who really should have bought a SatNav or at least learned how to read a map. This lad from Hull had bought a cheap camper van…and I do mean cheap. The headlights didn’t even work but this was in the middle of summer so it shouldn’t have been a problem. Our intrepid fan made his way to Frankfurt in his little van, parked up and found a bar. He casually said to the barman
“Its pretty quiet in town considering England are playing here tomorrow”
The barman was puzzled as this little town on the German / Polish border wasn’t a World Cup venue. It soon became clear, our friend from Hull had gone to the wrong Frankfurt. Now he had to get right across Germany in his old campervan, without any headlights. Thankfully, he made it and he had learned his lesson. The most important thing was that England also beat Paraguay 1-0.
However, the majority of fans do fly and many prefer to travel independently rather than use the more expensive day trips. Airlines don’t tend to add extra capacity so the seats that are available are generally sold quickly. The prices appear to go up quickly and some accuse the airlines of hiking prices. I don’t believe this is the case, its simply a matter of the cheaper seats being sold a lot more quickly than normal.
Groups of fans who travel together will plan their travel ahead of the seats being released. Sometimes, delaying by even a few minutes can result in fares in some cases doubling or more. Its not all expensive though. I know some fans who travelled to Geneva to watch England play Argentina in a friendly a few years ago who paid just £32. They caught a flight on the morning of the game with the return late in the evening. There was no need for a hotel on this trip.
This summer, England and Ireland will take part in the Euro 2012 Finals. Ireland will play their matches in Poland while England fans will have to travel further to Ukraine with games in Donetsk and Kiev. Travelling to Donetsk is especially tricky due to the distance from Kiev and relative lack of accommodation in the city. This summer, I’ll travel to the games for the first time on day trips. Its not a tournament I’m particularly excited about and in 2013, England will return to Ukraine to play a 2014 World Cup qualifier. I’ve already been to Kiev once with England so in 2013, I’ll aim to see the sights I missed last time round.
The Portuguese still have strong bonds with South Africa and when Adrienne and John Silva met Ana Paula Cabral at her gallery in Lisbon she expressed her longing or ‘ Saudades de Africa do Sul’.
Ana Paula was interested in Adrienne’s work on Searching for Roots and Meaning and also her Bonsai-people. Adrienne has painted the idea of how we force our children to shape into the people we want them to be, in Bonsai culture it may be a ‘formal-upright’ or ‘informal-slanting’ etc.
It was a year later that Adrienne Silva was invited by Ana Paula to exhibit with artists, Isabel Fideiro and Jirina Nebesarova. The exhibition opens 8 July until 6 August.
Adrienne’s worked with a theme, Breathe in the Future, Breathe out the Past, Savour this Moment Long as it lasts’ (Bonobo).
For further information please contact;
Paula Cabral Art Gallery
Rua do Secula 171
1200- 434 Lisboa
Phone 91 236 6519
Fugitives Drift was started by David Rattray together with his wife Nicky and built an excellent lodge for travellers to indulge in this fantastic story. Sadly, in January 2007, David was killed by an intruder but Fugitives Drift is a wonderful legacy to something he created with his wife Nicky and it still remains today. Rob Caskie has taken over as the primary historian. Like David, Rob speaks fluent Zulu, understands the history thoroughly and is probably the best story teller I’ve ever heard.
The two battles I was focused on were the battle at Isandlwana when the Zulu army wiped out about 1,300 British soldiers on 22nd January 1879. Later on that day, a lesser force of Zulus who had missed out on the fighting at Isandlwana, sought their opportunity so against orders, they attacked Rorke’s Drift. The defensive action is now down in the history of the British Army as amongst it’s most amazing battles which saw eleven Victoria Crosses awarded. Under 140 British troopers battled with about 4,000 Zulus in a battle that went on all night.
My stay at Fugitives Drift started with the afternoon trip to the Rorke’s Drift site. It’s a few miles from the Lodge and we started off going round the museum that was hospital building at the time of the battle. As with most battlefield museums, there were several artefacts from the battle (rifles, bullets, buckles, spears etc) yet the most striking item I found was a model of the battlefield. It presented the latter phases of the battle when the hospital had been cleared out and the soldiers were defending the store behind their piles of mealie sacks. The model showed a small number of red coated troops surrounded on all sides by Zulu warriors several deep and this was the very first occasion I’d really been able to visualise the battle properly. All of the films and images I’ve seen in were generally close ups with a few people however this model gave a comprehensive impression that was quite frankly, astonishing.
To allow travellers picture the layout, there are lines of stones marking where the defensive lines had been. Rob began the tale describing what Rorke’s Drift was and the reasons why it had been attacked. He made you recognise there was clearly so much more to the fight than only a fight between black and white, British redcoat in opposition to Zulu warrior. Overall, the trip was approximately 3 hours and all of us simply sat listening to this wonderful story teller recounting the incidents of 22nd January 1879.
Back at the lodge, I freshened up in my wonderful room. It really was a shame I couldn’t spend longer in the room since it was so comfy but it was time for beverages just ahead of dinner so I made my way to the dining room. The room is like a museum with pictures, flags, notes, firearms and a lot more covering the walls. The food itself was fantastic. Everybody staying at the Lodge sat around the same table. It was a really satisfying evening but an early start the following day meant it wouldn’t be a late night.
My 6:30am alarm call was a nice hot pot of tea being brought to my room (its wonderful to see a few British traditions still live on). We’d a good hot breakfast before leaving for the morning excursion of Isandlwana. The battlefield is over the Buffalo river and our guide was a Zulu called Joseph. This was a very different battleground to Rorke’s Drift. The battle occurred on a massive plain in the shadow of a mountain and so the orientation took much longer as we first visited the museum ahead of being sent to the hill from where the Zulu commanders were standing 129 years earlier. Our group moved on to the battlefield itself and parked up. Now the talk would be a couple of hours consequently there were deck chairs that we took up the mountain to a vantage point that gave us a tremendous view of the battlefield. Bear in mind, the altitude was about a mile above sea level and so it wasn’t the easiest climb I’d ever attempted.
Joseph, like Rob gave us a fascinating lecture and genuinely made it easier for us imagine the scene. Next he said that despite the fact that he was a Zulu, he wasn’t there to offer ‘their side of the story’, he planned to give us the reality on what took place, sometimes in quite graphic detail. At the appropriate times, he would echo the Zulu shouts that had been made way back in 1879 and as his voice echoed all around us, it added even more realism to the setting. The tale was fantastic. We listened to Joseph recited what was happening and my eyes wandered around the scenery which was full of piles of white stones. These heaps of stones are the resting places of the British soldiers who are buried where the died. Every stack of stones represented 6-8 men with the exception of two substantial piles that were for as many as 40 men. The hard African soil meant it was nearly impossible to dig anything but shallow graves for the men and pile stones on them.
Immediately after the talk was over, we had time to stroll round a number of the graves and memorials at Isandlwana before going back again for lunch. This was an amazing destination and I almost certainly could have done with having an extra day as there is a Zulu village to take a trip to not to mention the walk down to the Buffalo river where Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill died saving the Queen’s Colour of their regiment and years later became the first men to be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
There was a time that when a white man in car was seen in this place, it usually meant they were lost. Today, it has an industry based on the work David and Nicky Rattray began meaning there is a huge interest in those battles between the army of the biggest Empire the planet has ever seen and the very best warriors Africa has ever produced.
Found in the north east of the nation, Mpumalanga is home to around 3 million people as well as most well known safari park across the world; the Kruger National Park. Of course, there is always a great deal more to Mpumalanga that Kruger national park.
The province is a fabulous, land-locked province offering remarkable panoramas and a good amount of wild animals. Here is the heartland of South Africa’s safari territory and consists of the Lowveld and the Highveld.
The Lowveld is the place below 1,000m above sea level. Its mostly open woodland interspersed together with long grass and a good amount of game. Broadleaf and thorn trees will both seen in this low-lying subtropical environment.
In the far north of Mpumalanga, the famous Baobab trees reign over the sky line. Broad, slow moving rivers shrink to isolated pools for the duration of the dry season which is certainly when creatures assemble which makes it a perfect time for game watching.
The Highveld is significantly chillier, with rolling grassland, wild blooms and the majority of pine plantations. Trout fishing is superb from the dams and streams near Dullstroom and Lydenberg.
The main attraction of Mpumalanaga is undoubtedly the Kruger National Park. This vast wilderness is comprised of an area the size of Israel and is also renowned for having the biggest assortment of wildlife species in Africa; 140 mammal varieties, 500 bird species and more than 300 tree varieties. Camping locations and game lodges are available.
Along side the borders of Kruger are a number of private game reserves presenting high end safaris. These kinds of lodges offer exceptional accommodation and are generally a lot less congested. The lodge’s safari trucks also can go off road something which isn’t allowed in the national parks.
Mpumalanga is furthermore the place to find part of the famous UKlahlamba mountains and it is here you’ll find the Blyde River Canyon. It is the 3rd biggest canyon worldwide. The landscapes are generally exceptional with the lookout point of ‘Gods Window’ being the ultimate place to gaze over this stunning panorama.
Mpumalanga is most certainly a province for people in search of the exceptional outdoors with great safaris, eye-catching scenery in addition to hiking, biking and fishing.
Pietermaritzburg is really a continuously changing metropolis which has in recent times experienced quick growth although it has always been a focus for quite a few sight-seeing opportunities and recreation. It’s the host city for global events including the Comrades and Dusi Marathaons that happen to be believed to be amongst the top running events across the world. The Midmar Mile swimming event possesses the greatest open water field of its kind around the globe. The dam at which the event takes place likewise presents ample other interests all year long. Holiday accommodation at Midmar are usually provided at attractive shoreline camp sites, bungalows or a bush camp.
The Midlands is really a well known region in KwaZulu Natal. It is a warm and welcoming place has its simple origins in 1985, when a little band of crafters came together to create an art and craft route that holds the leading culture attraction on Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands called the Midlands Meander. It’s evolved into an exciting network of 134 members, some of local extraction, plus some that have turned their backs on the town to make their living in this amazing setting.
The Midlands Meander, that offers fabulous variety, value and superb service at numerous farms, hotels, guest houses, bed & breakfasts and spas, scattered along a well-marked corridor. In existence for more than 20 years, this craft and leisure self-drive journey is definitely amongst the country’s more successful luring regular return tourists to its unique and special atmosphere. Cheese farms with quaint goat’s towers, a mini-beer brewery, award-winning pottery studios, butterfly research projects, brilliantly coloured herbal centres and leatherworks all give quality products manufactured with a personal touch.
Hot air ballooning affords the exhilaration option of seeing the attractions of the Midlands from a different viewpoint. Howick is a pleasant historical town close to Pietermaritzburg which features the spectacular 97m high Howick Falls. Nearby is a monument which marks the place at which Nelson Mandela was caught ahead of his imprisonment on Robben Island.
This is only a sample of what is offered as the Pietermarizburg Midlands in KwaZulu Natal offers a galaxy of visitors attractions as diverse and abundant as the ample stars in the gloriously clear night skies making it the appropriately billed “Capital of the Zulu Kingdom”.
The Northern Cape is the largest sized province in South Africa and offers people views of a handful of the most outstanding landscape in the place. It is the place to find the historic San people that were living here thousands of years in the past. Despite the fact that the San people are gone from the area, their heritage remains in the rock art they’ve left behind. Apart from the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, you will find an abundance of samples of San Rock Art found at many spots down the Orange and Vaal rivers.
Amongst the best parts in the Northern Cape is the Augrabies Falls National Park. These thundering falls are definitely the focus of an region where holidaymakers and visitors can walk, mountain bike or take part in paddling tours. The 90m falls plummet down a number of granite cataracts.
To the very north of the province is the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park which is a joint venture amongst South Africa and Botswana. It is where you will discover magnificent creatures including the black maned lions, gemsbok and the oryx. This area of the Northern Cape is infamously very hot, dry and distant. The only standing water is the Orange or Gariep River. There aren’t many roads thus that it is not a simple region to take a look at.
The primary metropolis is Kimberley and in addition to the a good number of museums, art galleries and aged properties, tourists would also find ‘The Big Hole’? which was produced by of open cast mining for diamonds. It’s the largest man made hole globally which was dug during what was the most significant diamond rush in history.
Namaqualand is famous for the blossoming flowers which flood the region with a remarkable array of colours for a handful of brief weeks in August and September. All the same, this area of the Northern Cape isn’t enjoyed much outside the flower time of year. These desert and semi-desert areas do have their very own attractiveness. The sky is open and fabulous, the remote hills and the multi-coloured rocks generate their own fantastic spectacle.
KwaZulu Natal’s North Coastline, popularly referred to as The Dolphin Coast, stretches from Zimbali, an eco and golf estate to the grand Tugela River. Its balmy oceans are home to the common bottlenose dolphin which is often found frolicking in the surf close offshore all year round, whilst the tropical, rich coastline features a great many remote bays, golden shores and beautiful homes.
Sections of natural coastal forest give way to never-ending rolling hillsides covered with fields of sugar cane, which stretch out to the interior. A distinctive mixture of luxurious resorts and reasonably priced holiday lodgings complement eye-catching beaches and culturally diverse attractions to make this holiday location a glittering jewel.
The North Coast presents truly living Zulu Culture, bursting colour, song and dance. On 24th September every year, this holiday destination comes to life to celebrate Heritage Day in a special way. This day reminds the Zulu nation of their unique history and the importance of leadership. The participants are usually seen clad in their customary attire exhibiting their origins.
The North Shoreline also boasts a rich cultural blend of Eastern, African and European influences where curry seafood dens stand next to traditional Zulu dancing and colonial-style hospitality as the primary sight-seeing opportunities. Situated just a little inland is KwaDukuza, burial site of the remarkable King Shaka Zulu, and Groutville, home of Albert Luthuli, Africa’s first Nobel Peace laureate, with monuments and an intriguing museum bearing testimony to his part in South Africa’s historical past.
A sizeable Indian local community sees their home in this region, allowing visitors to take pleasure in their amazing temples and sample their culinary pleasures, such as pineapple-on-a-stick, covered in tangy seasoning. River quad biking trails, horse riding, a sugar cane farm museum, children’s Animal farm and crocodile farms all vie for space on the leisure calender.
Coastal microlight excursions, superb fishing and the possibility to swim with the dolphins add to the extensive selection of unforgettable holiday activities available. Close proximity to Durban and the Big Five game reserves of KwaZulu Natal make this holiday destination a amazing choice for a holiday central to infectious vibe or rugged adventure – simply take your pick.
Each year, South Africa increases in reputation as a long haul destination for British tourists. It affords excellent weather all year round, a proven tourism and transportation infrastructure, a range of memories, impressive scenery and a warm, colourful local population.
The country itself is immense and affords holiday makers the assurance of adventure coupled with the liberty to have a look around. From the time that South Africa blossomed as a democratic nation, its position on the international sporting stage has helped enrich South Africa’s international overall appeal.
The ‘Rainbow Nation’ is a land rich in cultural diversity with eleven official languages and there are a myriad of true cultural encounters to be had. Visitor endorsement represents an fundamental component of South Africa’s success as a tourist destination with a large number of tourists return time and again wishing to come across different experiences and relive old ones.
South Africa has a large coast line with a great number of beaches earning a ‘Blue Flag’ and it is also accepted as one of the world’s finest diving locations. Cape Town is especially popular with in the region of 70% of British visitors making Cape Town part of their plans.
In the north of the country is the internationally famed Kruger National Park but there are simply hundreds of private and national game reserves located across the country consisting of some of the very best game lodges in Africa.
The impressive Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu Natal are a stunning sight and are popular with hikers and adventure tourism. Hidden away are a handful of mountain retreats where you can really feel relaxed.Its is a spot that combines the natural beauty of the KwaZulu Natal Midlands with the cultures of Zululand.
If you’d never considered it in the past, why not begin organising your South Africa Holiday today. The only problem you’ll have, is attempting to choose what to do in the limited time you’ll have in this wonderful country.