Saturday, January 31, 2009

Long, tall and.... purple?

I am still living in the past:) enjoying my memories from South Africa. I just got some new pictures - of the tallest of all animals....
They have the most amazing face. Long, long dark lashes and a looong purple tongue. The better to eat with.... When you see the enormous thorns that the leaves they eat are stuck in between, they need some dexterity in the tongue department:) Did you know that a group of giraffes are called a journey of giraffes? It is very apt. The way their necks move when they walk brings to mind a ship moving over the a quiet ocean. It is a very strange creature, a testament to how nature bends itself to suit the surroundings.

Monday, January 26, 2009


These are socalled white rhinos. However, they are greyish more than white. Dirty white? Nah. Turns out that white rhino has wide (really wide) lips that makes their grazing easier. The black rhino doesn't. The Afrikaan word for wide is wyd, which sounds like white in english... or something like that. Not the first animal to be missnamed because of language.This mother and daughter were quite cute, though:) However, hard to think of that little one as a baby.... she will probably be up towards 3 tonnes before she is an adult!
Did you know that a herd of rhinos are actually called a crash of rhinos? How fitting:) They do kind of crash their way through the forest. This little one finally decided to make his apperance after we had spent an hour looking for him! Water buffalo, one of the 5 big ones. Love the hairdo:)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ice hot!

Where am I?
Where is everybody? I feel so lonely....
Maybe if I go here....
Here they are! :) These are African Penguin (or Jackass Penguins as their original name was, but I guess that became a little bit embarassing after a while. At least for some of the tourists.) These live on Boulders Beach on the Cape Peninsula. You can find them other places too, like on Robben Island. I just can't get over the fact that there are penguins in Africa! Of all places. I feel they must have originated in Antarctica at one point, and then a few of them decided that it was too cold for them there. Here they have the best of two worlds - whenever it gets too hot on the beach, they can get a nice and ice cold bath.

Smart guys:)

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'll take the flowers, please

I woke up to too many inches of snow this morning.
Hard to believe I was in the middle of summer a little over a week ago.... sigh... So I use these pictures to remind me of the beautiful flowers we saw all over in Cape Town. And to make myself remember there will be summer here, too, in five or so months:)

I'll take the flowers, please!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hear me roar....

Bringing with us the luck of the trolls, we met up with lions the first evening, three of them, mom with her two adolescent cubs. They were not a part of the larger pride, and the ranger thought they were trying to start their own little one, which they would have to try to discourage sooner or later.
This was the sister. She did not even look up at us as we came barging down the road. My favourite was this guy, the 'alpha male'.
Not quite grown up yet, though. You got to love the mohawk:) Makes you feel he is in that awkward stage of late teenager.... poor guy. Living with his mother and sister, trying to be in charge. Not easy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bachelor elephants

Just before we turned back to the lodge on the first evening safari, we came across this little fella.... The park had several herds of elephants, which we unfortunately not came across, but they also had two bachelor elephants that for some reasons or other kept to themselves. One of them was this guy. He wasn't quite sure if he like us coming so close, which you can see by him showing us his full ears. However, he decided we weren't worth chasing, so he kept on grazing.On the evening the next day, we were driving back to the lodge at a pretty good speed when another bachelor elephant suddenly arrived by the side of the road. Instead of stopping, the ranger kept on driving - faster. Behind us we could see the elephant starting to chase us! Ears flapping and trunk waving. The ranger told us that this was the other bachelor elephant, and he was grouchy! Why did he chase us? Because he liked to chase the cars, we were told.

Older, single elephant males would sometimes get incredibly grouchy, for ... obvious... reasons, and the ranger proceeded to tell us that he had once seen such an elephant 'defending' his lake against a tortoise, making himself big and threatening, and sending cascades of water towards the poor animal, telling him in no uncertain terms that the lake was his! What did the tortois do, then? He just kept walking until he got around the elephant and continued into the lake. Size doesn't always matter:)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The purring of a cheetah.

Never, ever in my whole life did I ever thought I would be close enough to a wild cheetah to hear it purring! Frankly, I did not even knew they did purr. They do, however, and they do it in a way that no other cat animals does: on both in and out breath. Well, according to our ranger, and I guess he would know:)I l ove cats. I can tolerate dogs, those I like, but I have yet to meet a cat I don't like. When we came across this cheetah mother with her two adolescent cubs they had just felled an impala, and the cubs where eating while the mother was on constant watch. She wasn't bothered by us, though. As a big lump of metal we were not considered a danger. Her biggest enemies are lions, so she hunts during the day to stay out of their way.

When she started to eat, that was when I heard it: the purr, the constant purr. We were that close. I don't have a fancy camera with a mile long lens, mine is a three year old digital compact with 3.5x. So this is how close we really was.I wish I could have taped that purr.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Harry the hippo!

We spent two days on safari, at Kichaka Lodge, about an hours drive from Port Elizabeth. Highly, highly recommended. Wonderful staff, unbelievably good food and very good rangers. The 'animal in residence' (whenever he felt like it) was Harry, the hippo. He preferred being by himself, so he kept to the pond close to the lodge. You could hear his outburst now and then as he surfaced briefly. During the days we stayed there we would see his brow coming up now and then, but he kept away from our cameraes. However, while we were waiting for our transport to the airport the last day he decided to deign us with an appearance. He decided, for the first time ever, to enter under the bridge and go too close to the lodge. The staff was not too happy about that, but we were thrilled! One meter from one of the biggest and most dangerous animal in the African animaldom! Ok, so we were standing on a bridge, safe, but still.....
Seeing him this close you realise how incredibly BIG this animal is! I swear the distance between his nostrils were close to 30 cm!
He did not like us taking pictures, though. He got a little huffy and dived like a big submarine and dissappeared. We could follow his trail out in the pond by the bubbles popping up, followed by the mud he dislodged as he walked along the bottom of the pond. He ended our visits by getting up off the pond to graze, sending us a long look while we waved him goodbye. 'Ah, finally these little pests are leaving me alone. Good riddance,' was probably his final thought as we left.

Monday, January 12, 2009

City on the cape

I think Cape Town is one of the more fascinating city I have visited, mostly because of the incredible nature around it. It is spread around Table Mountain but fenced in by the coast on almost all sides. No matter where you are in the city, you look up and see Table Mountain, never knowing if here is a cloud hanging over it or not. It did not seem to matter if the sky was blue, there could still be a little cloud hanging enarmoured around the top.

Stranger than that, this picture is taken from Robben Island, the prisoner island. Heartbreaking view for the prisoners. This is on top of Table Mountain. A wonderful view. I am, however, afraid of heights.... Fortunately the cable cart only takes five minutes up, and it is quite tolerable if you close your eyes:) This place, however..... brr.... but it does prove I made it up there!We took in the sunset up there. You get so turned around at that place, north is not where you think it should be. And even if it is over +20C down in the city, it blows a harsh, cold wind up there. Several people had sunset picnicks up there, but we frail Norwegians found it too cold to stay there very long. And to be honest, with the fog coming in we were terrified we would get stuck having to walk down!:)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On the top of the world!

Well - if you turn the world around, that is:) This is me on Cape of Good Hope, the (almost - and more about that later) most southern point of the world.

I have returned from two weeks in South Africa. Two weeks of sunshine, sunshine, sunshine, except from my friends wedding day (more about that later), wonderful sights, safari and wild animals and just plain good times! Just what I needed at this time in my life. It is hard to be back home where it is cold, cold, cold, having to deal with a car that wont start - my immediate problem, and being unemployed  - my biggest problem. But I will be able to live a long time on the memories and the pictures. I will be sharing with you all, whether you like it or not:) Soon!