Opened as a protected reserve in 1931 the Kalahari Gemsbok National Reserve straddles the South Africa Botswana border and makes up the southern most portion of the greater Kalahari Desert. It is a sanctuary for a wide variety of game and I hoped to see them all; giraffe, hyena, cheetah, wildebeest, lion etc…and the incredibly elusive Leopard. Like everyone I wanted that photo of a leopard relaxing on a tree branch, staring straight at me with a look of calm self-indulgence as it processes the ease in which it could scare the crap out of me with little more than a swift move in my direction.
It was the middle of summer though, a time when temperatures average 104 degrees, and swift moves on the part of a leopard or anything else with a pulse were few and far between. Our first day would start out early in order to beat the heat; give us a few hours before the wildlife collectively decided to retreat to any place offering shade. As the padlock to the entrance was removed and the gate made a wide berth to officially open the reserve, our jeep moved forward at a crawl.
We had arrived at base camp last night and after a braai and beer had bedded down for the night. The entrance to the reserve, at that time gated shut, was only a few hundred feet from me. As I lay down under the infinite blue of the African sky the last rays of the setting sun melted into the tops of the acacia trees; the horizon a blazing orange. I slept well. Continue reading Kalahari’s New Day
In the figurative shadow of Table Mountain, nestled in the basin that contains Cape Town, sat my home away from home. The small hostel painted in bright orange, depicting intermingled faces of the Big Five, screamed with the vibrancy and joy of the African continent, post apartheid.
As the sun beat down it dispersed the last vestiges of a “quickly being forgotten” U.S. winter. An idea, like so many others that bore fruit and became life-long memories, began forming in my mind. Almost due north lay the open wilderness of a fabled and expansive land. An area so mystical, exotic, and controversial that to be so close and not experience it for myself would be a travelers crime, an opportunity lost, and the potential seed for regret.
Plans were made on the spot and within 24 hours I found myself in the company of Jorick, Axel, and Kai, three non-English speaking Germans; all of us excitedly heading in the direction of the great Kalahari; home of the San people, the Kalahari Bushmen. Continue reading The Veiled Truth Kalahari Bushmen
It was just days ago that I felt the freezing cold temperatures of a Chicago winter against my face. The accompanying icy bite of wind chill forcing its way inside both nostrils, turning breathing into a conscious choice; one that delivers a throbbing pain with every inhale.
I escaped the January onslaught and today I find myself soaking up the summer sun resident over the opposite hemisphere. It is morning, the sky is blue, the temperatures are rising and the water is sparkling around Cape Town, South Africa.
I spend my first couple of days exploring the city, its museums, gardens, parks, and the surrounding countryside; climbing Table Mountain and heading south on the peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope. It’s a breathtakingly gorgeous city; an outpost of good taste and relative progressive tolerance.
The history of South Africa is an important one to remember.
Robben Island is visible from the top of Table Mountain and sits as a testament to oppression, perseverance, freedom, and forgiveness. Continue reading Apartheid