Visions By Wes Photography: Blog http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog en-us (C) Visions By Wes Photography wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Mon, 30 May 2016 03:13:00 GMT Mon, 30 May 2016 03:13:00 GMT http://www.visionsbywes.com/img/s7/v155/u239253746-o14474912-50.jpg Visions By Wes Photography: Blog http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog 85 120 African Safari Journal May 4th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-may-4th Home a half hour early:

Did manage to get some sleep on the Johannesburg/JFK International leg of the flight.  Landed at JFK on time then it was catch a bus to LaGuardia for the leg of the journey home.

Mishap at LaGuardia TSA, my daypack was going through the scanner and the lady inspector screams there's a head in this bag, pulls it off the rubber conveyor, letting it drop on the metal conveyor below it.  She had spotted my soft stone sculpture of an Africa head which at most was the size of two fists.  Of course I was pulled aside with the bag and a male inspector came over to open and inspect the bag.  When opened and unwrapped the sculpture had been broken into two pieces with a bruise on one should as well.  I might as well not had bought the souvenir.

Anyway after I had cleared TSA, I waved a Supervisor type over to where I was safely out of their reached and explained that the lady x-ray operator had broken my Zimbabwean sculpture.  Anyway I have a claim in with TSA which will not replace it, but will recover my money for it.  I think they should buy me round trip airfare to Harare so I can replace it.  Dream on!

Made it to Denver on time to catch my connecting flight everthough it was at the opposite end of another concourse.  Good new was we caught I good tailwind into Portland and arrived a half hour early so it was only a 31.5 hour journey with layovers instead of 32 hours.

 

 

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Sanders animals color landscapes photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-may-4th Thu, 16 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal May 3rd http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-may-3rd Harare Departure  May 3rd

This is being written long after I arrived home.  Did sleep in this morning and took my time packing for the trip home.  Had a bit of a battle packing everything in the duffle bag because of the extra pair of shoes purchased at Victoria Falls.  

Finally gave up and used the day pack like a piece of carry-on luggage since the camera bag qualified as a personal item.

Once packed had a bite of breakfast and decided to go back to the National Gallery and purchase a sculpture of an African mans head I had seen the other day.  Since my plane did not depart until five o'clock, had to find some way to kill time until one p.m. when Watson was picking me up for the trip to the airport.

Once at the airport had a late lunch of some chicken livers and cold slaw while waiting for the flight to Johannesburg to board.  That was a none eventful flight, but turned out they served dinner on it eventhough it was only about an hour flight.

Cleared customs and made the connection to JFK in New York City for the long leg of the 32 hour flight home (including layovers).

 

 

 

 

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Sanders animals landscapes photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-may-3rd Wed, 15 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal May 2nd http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-may-2nd May 2nd: Mukuvisi Woodlands Environmental Centre

Got up at a leisurely eight A.M. deciding to skip breakfast at the hotel.  Yesterday I was the only guest in the cafe and the chef still managed the eggs over like a rock and as cold as a stone

My preferred cabbie was not in the lot so the front desk called and in five minutes we were off on the 5 kilometer drive to the Centre.  Watson agreed to pick me up at 1:30 P.M. and be paid on the return trip.

I walked to the entrance and was advised admission was $4 so asked if there was a senior discount.  Yes, free!  Stopping at small display of animal specimens, there was a four or five year old boy peering at a pickled python in a jar then backing away horrified, only to take another look.  Soon his mother said let's go to the crocodile pit

So they dashed off and I wandered among various floral displays needing varying degrees of maintenance.  Occasionally one caught my eye and was framed in a photo to its best advantage.  Finally arriving at the pit, there was one lonesome croc sunning himself among some tall rushes next to am almost depleted pool of water.  So glad I got his relatives' portraits in the wild on the Zambezi River.

Did not tarry long there and moving toward the viewing platform heard the anguished wails of the young boy.  Asking his mother if she needed help she said a buffalo head had fallen and scared him, other than a scratch he would be fine.Soon she put his blue safari hat back on him and they were off.

Going into the viewing platform, there was the buffalo head laying on the floor and the nameplate and hanging bracket on the wall.  Strange . . .  I pulled out my binoculars and scanned the grassland for the zebras and giraffes that supposedly could be viewed from there.  Seeing nothing but a small pond with various waterfowl that offered photo shots.  An African darter was preening on a tree stump drying his feathers.  They do not have oily feathers so they can dive better for fish.

Boring of waterfowl I decided to move on since I had planned an eight kilometer walk.  Next was a wild fowl enclosesure - nothing there but a few rabbits in a hutch so moved on to the enclosed aviary.  It might have really been nice in days of better funding.  Since it is winter here, it appeared the birds had gone south.  Did hear one twittering but could not spot the bird amongst the leaves. Then a band of raucous teens came through which made it hard to hear.  Mom with buffalo head son passed by and asked where are the birds?

Moving on the brick path of the exhibits area ended and I began the three kilometer trek to the first river viewing area. The trail was soft sand or silt now and much easier on the feet.  The band of teens hiked swiftly by and were not seen again.  The trail wound through woodland as I paused occasionally to photograph a view of the game lands, a tree silhouette, or a feather lost my a bird.

Suddenly a couple, about my age or maybe a little younger, came up on me and rapidly passed since their border collies were taking them on a power walk.  Finally caught up with them at the river briefly, but they were off again as I paused to take photos of the rapids.  A young couple came along then and did not notice me, so wandered into camera range as they waded on the boulders in the river.

Since I had not had breakfast, decided to retrace my steps to the Centre Cafe and see if the menus had improved.  When I checked on the way in there was a note that they had a limited menu for April during refurbishing of the kitchen - hot dogs and cupcakes.  We will see.

On the way back in the dust of the trail saw tracks of an impala herd that apparently cleared the fence of the game reserve. Curving through this was the path of a snake, I did not follow.  Also managed to get some good shots of a colorful songbird which I will have to research further but believe it was a speckled weaver.

Glancing over toward the game reserve I could see a giraffe as I approached the viewing platform, so decided to stop there again. From there actually could see two, one standing and the other resting, and a group of four zebra grazing.  Also managed a shot of an egret taking off in flight from a zebra's back.

Heading back to the entrance saw a sign pointing toward the tea house.  A gentleman was sitting there having his tea so I captured an image before he knew I was around.  He had come over from the UK with his job and since retired.  We chatted a bit - think he would have liked to seen some of the photos I had taken, but I did not offer for obvious reasons.  Just then his wife returned, she had gone to the cafe for a sugar bowl for their tea. Said she had remembered to pack some cream with the thermos of tea but forgot sugar.  

At the cafe now they were offering an extended limited menu which included a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato plus an option of adding ham so I thought that would do for a very late breakfast.  As I was waiting a young Chinese women came along and asked the cook what she had for lunch. The cook only mentioned grilled cheese and tomato.  Since she was gluten intolerant, she asked if the cook had anything else and didn't.  So cheese and tomato was ordered - when I mentioned ham that was ordered too, so a sandwich without bread.

I asked the woman if she would care to join me and she did.  Her name was Xua (Shoe Ah). Though based in the UK she was here doing forestry studies, but heading back to UK this afternoon.  She wanted to know about the safari camps I visited since she wants to bring here parents over from China to one.  

It was now just barely after 12 so I asked Xua if she could call Watson to pick me up early.   She said but could she ride back since she was staying about 2 blocks from my hotel.  In the end she decided to walk out to the river where I had been, but had Watson's phone number to call when she was ready.  I dawdled  in the gift shop about 15 minutes until Watson arrived.  Told him Xua would probably be calling him later and we were off to the N1 Hotel.

That pretty much winds up the adventure.  Had planed on going to a popular Portuguese restaurant this evening.  Walked the four blocks over, and of course closed on Monday.

Will sleep in tomorrow and then get packed for the flight home.  Next message will be sometime after 5 P.M. MAY 4th.  - that will just be a quick note before I collapse after the 32 hour journey home.

 

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Mukuvisi Woodlands Environmental Centre Sanders big five color landscapes nandos photography slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-may-2nd Tue, 14 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal May 1st http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-may-1st

May 1:  Mbare Flea Market

Shirts were dry, so put myself together, had an English breakfast again. Went back to the room and got the eight year old Kodak digital and headed off to the marketl with my driver Watson.

It was only a seven kilometer trip, paid Watson $7 and said I would text him when I was ready.  He was to text me back within five minutes, but would not if he was with a passenger off in the other direction.

The market is laid out in rows almost a kilometer in length, or at least it feels like it in retrospect, and had approximately 25 aisles. Produce aisle ran perpendicular to these at one end.  This approximate layout is in hindsight, no map.  🙃

The guide book said "has heady mix of fresh produce and random goods - there's a big collection of Shona sculpture, wooden crafts, and basketry.” So off I went in search of Shona artifacts.

Having experienced getting turned around in these markets, I spotted a cell tower at the edge and noted it was on my right as I ventured down the first aisle.

Fortunately I was doing this on Sunday morning, so there were not as many shoppers.  But school is starting soon so the first several aisles were filled with mothers holding uniforms up against their children to check size and with the latest addition to the family bundled to their back. Mothers in their bright dresses and the choice of uniforms exploded in a cacophony of color in contrast to the rustic booths and dusty, but paved floor.

As I passed booth to booth I was often greeted with "boss" or  "hey safari" to get my attention. ( I was wearing my khakis and safari hat) We would exchange pleasantries, but no sales pressure unlike the vendors in Victoria Falls.    As I progressed  from aisle to aisle I carefully noted whether my entry point was now on my right or left and checked the position of the sun through one of myriad holes in the canvas tarps that created some protection from the sun.

As I turned at the end of an aisle a woman was selling bags that would accommodate 2, 4, 6, 8 kilos of grain for people that did not want all 50 kilos in the standard bag.  I turned into the next aisle noting the exit again on my right.

The "random" became evident now as booths offered solar panels, sewing notions, bath products, CDs, phones, tools, hardware items - it was like a  big box store with each vendor having their own department.  The greetings of hi safari or boss became more frequent and we talked more about their country, the other cities visited and the USA.  As I photographed some of the booths, men would often ask me to take their picture with their merchandise,  but the women never asked.

Turning a corner by the produce end of the market, there were neat, stacks of tomatoes, three forming a base itch three more balanced on top.  I took a photo of them - then the proprietor wanted his photo taken, the water melon vendor next door did not want to be left out.  Those taken I quickly retreated back into the random area so I did not spend the day in produce, still searching for those Shona artifacts.

Forging on found a vendor with all kinds of dried goods. Thought one was some kind of grain until I saw the tiny eye.  He explained it was a dried fish from Mozambique.  Another photo.

At the end of the next aisle a graffiti artist had executed a painting of a white man with dread locks, smoking and blowing smoke against a background of the Zambabwean flag colors.  May try to show it to Watson and see if he has a comment,

Approaching another corner, another picture request, but this time a request "take one of my women".  He then asked which was prettier - not going to get in that trap I said they were both very lovely.  I believe they were his wife and daughter, anyway he was pleased with the response.

It was now getting on toward 1:30 P.M. And getting hotter.  The Shona artifacts were as elusive as a leopard.  - as was my driver Watson, no answer to the text.

Started looking for a taxi, but all I saw were combos- vans hauling 12-14 people in lieu of a bus system.  Finally saw  a taxi and asked how much to my hotel and he said $10 so I looked horrified and said I was only charged $7 coming out (the truth).  He said $8, not wanting to go on to another cab, or worse yet take a combo, I agreed.

As we pulled out, a man hollered at him.  He explained his relative wanted a ride, was it okay with me.  I said if my fare was $7 it was okay.    We left his relative - more than yelling at him now!

Rest of the day was kind of non-eventful.  Spent some time reviewing brokerage account, updating trip expense records, and watching CNN on the iPad.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Harare color flea graffiti landscapes market photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-may-1st Sun, 12 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 30th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-30th April 30th:  An almost eventful morning walk.

After a proper English breakfast at the hotel I took off on a leisurely 3.7 km walk to the National Botanical Garden.  The walk started through a middle class neighborhood of smaller homes interspersed among apartment building.  In less than a kilometer I came upon a small shopping center with a variety of neat shops including a supermarket that could complete well with New Seasons.  I walked through, was tempted by the bakery, and resisted.  Asked the manager if I could take some photos, but he said no - they seem to be uptight about photo here.

Continued walking and gawking until I saw a large stadium ahead on my left.   Curious what is was I pull out my iPad to check it and my progress on the journey.  Then three policemen with machine guns motioned for me to come across the street. One belligerently asked what I was doing, and I said I was walking to the botanical gardens and was a tourist from U.S.A.  He was not accepting this so I pulled out the iPad and showed them the map.  Did not satisfy him, wanted me to go back to police station.  The other two cooler heads prevailed, pointed to a sign "No Photo Zone Ahead".  Then after telling me to walk on the other side of street, sent me on my way.

Still not sure what all their fuss was about I walked on staring at the ugly concrete fence across the way, thinking it might be a prison. Finally there was an open gate I could see through - nothing but a grass field with a few vehicles.

Plodding on another half kilometer, there was now a fence coated with stucco, painted pristine white, but still with concertina wire. Then a guard shouted at me from a platform, dash down from it and out the gate - again he wanted to know what I was doing (at least he did not have a machine gun)  and was satisfied, but told me to put my camera in the bag until I got to the gardens.

Turns out I was walking past the Zimbabwean equivalent of The White House.  The final kilometer took me past the Agricultural Department Research Center then I arrived at the gardens which are extensive.  Will attach a photo of he map I took once I was safely inside.  😀😀

The gardens were nice but the Herbarium was closed and another covered site was closed and in poor repair.  Think Harare needs less police and more parks workers.  Anyway walking through the grounds I found enough subjects to use the new camera.  At one point the gardens border St. Georges University which is hosting a HIFA classical music and jazz festival this weekend. Finding a bench I lingered a half hour as jazz wafted through the shade of the trees.

Since it was now 1 PM, I decided to check out the cafe.  There was only one table outside in shade - occupied, but they invited me to join them. So I excused myself to get a beverage, then returned for introductions.  Their six month old pup had previously introduced herself by jumping all over me.  Turns out Michelle is a real estate broker and here husband Mark works for an information technology firm.  We visited for about 20 minutes about real estate, the economy there, and the U.S. political situation.  Then their lunch arrived so I excused myself.

Figured it was time to face the armed police again for my journey back to the hotel.  As I walked back to the entrance a large church group that had been meeting under the trees nearby broke for lunch.  For the most part they had brought blankets and coolers for a picnic.  However good travel karma finally kicked in, and as I was going out the gate a car pulled up, heading out to buy lunch I assumed.  

Being brash and a firm believer in the Aladdin Principle (Those that ask get), I approached for a ride back into town (past the police).  They were hesitant at first, but finally this white kid from Kansas was on his way back to his hotel with three native Zambabeans. It was a short trip, but they were holding a day retreat at the park, wanted to know how much of their country  I had seen.  Actually they were going to the market I had visited earlier, so I got out there, but avoided the bakery.

Walked the short remainin distance to the hotel.  Rinsed the dust of the day off. Also thought I could use some fresh shirts, washed three of them out in the bathroom sink.  Wrung them as dry as possible by hand then laid each on a bath towel and rolled them tightly to absorb more water and hung two on the back of some iron chairs below the ceiling fan, the third on a hanger in the shower.  All will be dry by morning.

Ate at Nando's with the locals again this evening.  Had a new offering called a hot pot which was a spicy concoction of chicken, beef and vegetables served over rice along with a side of coleslaw again.  More than enough for supper, good value for $6 USD and included a coke.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Harare Sanders animals capitol color gardens landscapes photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-30th Sun, 12 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 29th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-29th April 29th: A day in the Capitol of Zimbabwe

Slept in until eight this morning after two days of long bus rides and the climbing around The Great Zimbabwe.

After a morning coffee and muffin headed out on a walk to the Harare Gardens.  Following maps on the iPad worked fine until I was at the edge of the gardens and saw what I thought was a side entrance. Proceeded to take it, photographing a few flowers as I passed through morning hellos from locals.  Thought to myself it was a shame it was not better kept and so much trash around, then I came to the wire fence with barbed wire and no gate with nicely kept ground on the other side. 

So I doubled back to go where Google had indicated the main gate was located.  Then it dawned on me, when I saw one of the occupants who earlier I thought was basking in the morning sun was now brushing his teeth and grooming, the city had fenced this off for homeless citizens - was much neater than the shanty towns seen on the edge of the city.

Once I made my way to the main gate, walked down the road, and through the restaurant with as many tables outside as in looking out on the park - there were well maintained grounds.  Walkways rambled past flower beds, I was hoping for proteas but greeted by marigolds and cannas which I can see at home, but no roses.  Continued wandering though the park past small ponds and through brick columns with vine covered lattice overhead. Well-dressed citizens on their way to work passed saying good morning or hello as I passed others laying on the ground reading a book and enjoying the sun.

A nicely fenced children's playground was next to the exit as I proceeded to the National Art Museum - hmmm didn't I visit it in Bulawayo the other day.  Well guess every city can have a "national museum".  Interestingly this one also an exhibition of another Danish artist which consisted of a man's head with sun glasses (almost all identical) except the two lens on each had a contemporary icon on it such as Yahoo!, Facebook and Twitter as mirror images. Oh well.

 

Upstairs was a mixed media exhibition of photos of groups of people with acrylic paint lines applied to a purpose I still do not understand other than they were colorful. The best part of the museum was the stone sculptures on the front and in a back courtyard of people, birds and animals.

From the museum I took a detour through the financial district.  Was in the process of taking a photo of a fountain feature the bird element of the Zimbabwe flag when a gentleman in a black suit who was standing near the door asked me if I was a reporter.  When I told him no he wanted to know why I wanted the picture - told him I was a tourist and wanted to share the fountain with my friends at home. He said I should not take pictures of it.  Since he did not have gun and I had not noticed a guard nearby you know what I did.  Then as I walked on past the building I saw the signage on the side of the building - Federal Reserve Bank Of Zimbabwe. That may have been the reason?

After another kilometer and a sandwich headed back to my hotel for a nap before my taxi driver would arrive to take me to the Wild Is Life Animal Sanctuary.

This  sanctuary takes care of orphaned animals that include a wildebeest, lions, giraffes, kudus, sables, ostriches, elephants, and one pangolin. The lions brought here as cubs will stay because they did not not have mothers to teach them to hunt and they could not survive on their own.

First order of business was feeding the giraffes.  You hold a branch out with leaves on it and they will just strip it clean, but hold on tight.  After photos and selfies it was time for tea.  Of course it featured scones, but also carrot cake with cream icing dusted with ground white chocolate. Marshmallows, fudge brownies and other sweets were available but I limited myself to a thin slice of cake, oh yes and one scone.

Next to the tent where we had tea, there was a viewing platform and it was feeding time for the elephants the youngest are still on baby elephant formula as they get older they graze and the will be relocated in the wild with an existing herd.

Next was watching the lions get fed.  They each receive 5 kg of horse meat six days a week.  They have seven lions, two were born at the sanctuary before they figured out male lions mature more quickly in captivity than in the wild.  

Finally it was time to visit the pangolin, probably easily best described as a cross between an armadillo and an anteater. About a meter long and with a tongue of equal length,  she spends ten  hours a day with her  handler who carries her in a backpack from anthill to anthill to be sure she does not overeat one ant variety which could be toxic to her.  This a very rare protected animal. Penalty for possession without a permit is ten years in prison.

After seeing her walk on here two short legs, we retired to a seating area for wine and canapés and such a variety. Will not need to go out for dinner tonight.  It is late already so my cabbie is here to take me the 27 kilometers back to the hotel.

Wrote this journal while listening to the news on Aljazeera.  4 stations here and CNN is not one of them.

Off to bed,

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) BOMA Harare art downtown elephants gallery gardens museum pangolin http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-29th Sat, 11 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 28th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-28th

April 28th - another bus ride.

Yesterday I had the concierge arrange for a taxi at 9:30 and she was 10 minutes early which keeps this type A happy.  She was an engaging mother trying to make her way and save enough to get a little farm away from Masvingo. Her name was Arcita which led me to comment on the names of some of the male workers I have met - Brilliant, Benefits, and Clever.

She got me to the bus stop and was concerned that a bus was not there, but about then a ZUPCO pulled-up and I made my way through the vendors trying to sell their wares through the windows.  Boarded the bus and travel karma was with me this time first two person seat by the door was totally vacant. Being bad I threw my duffel bag on the window seat and occupied the other, figuring I would have to surrender it at some point but at least it would not be on the bottom of the heap.

As it turned out the luggage compartment filled and the duffel just barely fit under the seat.

This trip was none eventful, videos of music were played at somewhat more moderate levels, passenger capacity was controlled to 64 seated passengers so we were not stopped at every police road block to pay a fine. Bus driver was very helpful too.  Told me to just stay in my seat at Harare and he went and found a taxi for me.

What a contrast between two bus lines

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Sanders The Great Zimbabwe animals color landscapes photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-28th Fri, 10 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 27th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-27th

April 27:  On the way to The Great Zimbabwe 

Cab driver was to pick me up at 5:30 to catch the 6:00 AM Zupco Bus.  When he was not there, called said he was on way,  finally showed up at 6AM.  Of course missed bus.  He said no problem, "know nother bus."  So the adventure begins on African Interlink?  Utter chaos as passengers tried to get on a Greyhound style bus with five seats across and a very narrow aisle.  Many had to turn sideways to make it through with their makeshift bags.  This was complicated by venders hawking breakfast items that first worked their way to back of the bus,came back to the front against the passenger flow, then continued to go back and forth.

Eventually all the vendors were evicted, bus filled to standing room only-illegally, the door locked, and we were off - once the driver set the volume on the CD to a level that competed with a front row seat at a rock concert.

About a hour down the route, a stately looking gentleman  had the volume turned down and addressed the masses in a native dialect.  People all seemed serious and concerned, and I had not a clue - then right at this end his tone changed, people looked relaxed and started laughing.

Turned out he was the mobile Dollar Store or such with endless items pulled out of neatly arranged plastic bags in a larger canvas carryon.  Standing at the front of the bus as he presented each of his wares. Best item was six ballpoints for $1.  A buyer would wave and 6 pens would be passed back person to person to the buyer.  Then payment would be sent forward in the same manner. If change was due, the procedure repeated.  This went on for about an hour as he worked through his many bags.  Wish it has lasted longer, because then the music resumed

This was a five hour trip with one rest stop, and one emergency stop when mom with kid over shoulder screaming and roll of toilet paper pushed down the narrow aisle bumping people in the path.  Driver pulled over into the grass and the emergency was relieved and shortly we were on the way again - music intact. 😡😡😡

Arrived in Masvingo and took a taxi to the hotel. He wanted $35, I offered $20. He said $25 and we were on the way.   

Quick lunch at The Great Zimbabwe Hotel then walked about a kilometer to The Great Zimbabwe which was declared a World Heritage site in 1986. These "houses of stone" are witness to the great Shona civilization that flourished from about 1100-1500 A.D.  The stone work is not as tight as the Inca at Machu Picchu.  The granite was broken into approximate square forms by building fires along the cracks of the boulders then pouring cold water in the cracks to fracture it.  The section referred to as The Kings Hill overlooks everything else, the queen's quarters, and at the bottom quarters for the many wives.  The commoners lived outside the security wall which were terraced.  The terraces only purpose was provide support for the wall above.

After climbing around the site for three hours, up, down, and around I walked back to the hotel to freshen up and takes nap before dinner, a nights rest and catching another bus, this time to the capital of Zimbabwe - Harare.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Heritage National Sanders Site" The Great Zimbabwe animals color landscapes photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-27th Thu, 09 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal: April 26th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-26th April 26th:  Khami and National Art Gallery

Slept in this morning, then walked to the local market for some bran muffins and coffee and came back to breakfast in my room.  Reorganized the day pack for the umpteenth time and off to the Khami Ruins.  These were the residence of the King and his wives with stonewalls built into the hillsides for protection.  Unlike the Incas the narrow terraces served no purpose other than security.  The commoners lived on the flat land down below.  Timeline was about the 14-15th century, similar to the Incas - but not nearly the quality of stonework.

Now at the museum cafe for lunch, Indian chicken curry.  The museum was different from what I expected.  A series of individual room galleries of contemporary artists and most were present to discuss their work in a non-aggressive manner.  Chatted extensively with a local photographer who is also into what he thought was large image prints, like the 11x14 I am doing.

There was one large gallery probably 20x60 feet devoted to a retrospective of a Danish artists. Also there were about 10 working artists studios you could visit running the gamut of painting, fiber arts, carving, and ceramics.

It was a pleasant afternoon, so decided to walk back to my hotel about a mile so with the trek around the ruins  and the morning walk puts me at about six miles so far today.

Arrangements are made for a 5:30 pickup to catch the 6:00 bus to Masvingo then catch a combo on to The Great Zimbabwe Hotel and ruins.

Going to post this now with a photo of the courtyard at the museum.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) National Art Gallery art carving ceramics fiber khami ruins photographs http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-26th Wed, 08 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal: April 25th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/5/african-safari-journal-april-25th April 25th: Bulawayo

Made it here, with blasting music on the bus and the driver seat belt warning beeping for the first hour,  I fixed that at the first rest stop by routing the belt behind his seat and connecting it. Ah peace. Beautiful drive across Zimbabwe.

Got to Bulawayo, checked into my Spartan hostel, think I have been spoiled up to this point.

Arranged for proprietor to take me to Matapo national park,  actually two parks, one a game reserve, the other recreation.  The granite boulder formations are fantastic.  Scurried over many on the way to view the pictographs that are estimated to be 6000, to 10,000 years old.  Thought about visiting Cecil Rhodes grave but decided I had  enough climbing for the day with additional archeological sites to visit in the next couple days.

So came back to rest, then took an evening walk around the downtown area, economically very depressed.  Bed  -  will visit Khami tomorrow.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Khami Matapos Zambabewe animals cave drawings color landscapes photography ruins safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/5/african-safari-journal-april-25th Tue, 07 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal: April 24th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-24th April 24th:  The Old House on the Zambezi River

Up at 5:45 to get myself together for a 6:30 pickup on the jetty. No leopard again this morning but some lovely bird shots including a fish eagle (similar to the bald eagle). Other birds including sighting a green heron but a flighty bird could not get a photo, some great ones of ibis and grey herons, and others I will have to get the field guide out to identify.  Mammal wise this morning was baboons, a solitary Cape  Buffalo, and another pod of hippos.

Was greeted by a clutch of meerkats upon return for breakfast. Going to take some photos around the Old House grounds now before I head back to Victoria Falls to figure out how I will get to Bulawayo with the railroad  strike.

 

April 24:  Victoria Falls

My driver  Josh got me back here in record time, thought we were going to fly at the speed he hit some potholes and speed bumps.  Checked in with Sim about a ride share to Bulawayo - nothing.  So have arranged for my taxi driver James to get me a ticket on the 3AM bus, and he take me to the bus station at 2:30 AM - going to be a short night, so I will hit the sheets at eight p.m. - am I back in grade school?

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Sanders Victoria Falls animals birds color landscapes photography river safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-24th Mon, 06 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 23rd http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-23rd April 23rd:  On to Botswana

Slept well and in, packed a day pack for the overnighter to Kasane and Chobe National Park would be nice to spot a leopard to complete the big five, but am very pleased with what I already have.

Just finished breakfast at Ilana Lodge, a nice creamy egg scramble with salmon served on a croissant had a nice side of fruit from the buffet.

Going to send this now since not sure was the wifi situation is at Kasane.

Now onto Kasane!

 

April 23rd

My driver picked me up at Ilala Lodge for the ninety minute drive to Kasane, allowing for delays at the border.  Staying at The Old House B&B on the outskirts of Kasane on the edge of the river running through Chobe National Park. decided to skip lunch since I had a heavy breakfast and took a short nap before the flatbottom boat arrived to pick me up.  

This boat was designed for six photographers with six swivel chairs down the center length so everyone has immediate access to either side.  Nikon cameras with 12-14 inch long zoom lenses are mounted to the chairs with an arrangement allowing them to be swiveled around 360 degrees vertically and/or horizontally. So much for the engineering.

The powerful zoom lens and being with a group of photographers allowed ample time for some great (imho) bird shots even in flight. The side of the boat had  sandbags you could flip over the side so you could literally lay on the floor of the boat, rest the lens barrel on the side of the boat and get a great shot into the mouth of a crocodile.

Other creatures captured were hippos, water buffalo and Impala, but the highlight was a small herd of elephants drinking, spraying , then taking a dust bath.  Later  a group of baboons came down to the waters edge.  One female had her baby ride on her back and when a male tried to take it, mom made it clear he he had better hit the road.  The guide said they have spotted leopards on occasion but usually in the morning - here's hoping.

The cruise ended with a beautiful sunset, then a light dinner of a salmon salad which allowed for three dips of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. Worked on this journal and off to bed.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Chobe Sanders Zambezi animals color landscapes photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-23rd Sun, 05 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 22nd http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-22nd April 22nd: Victoria Falls

6:30 wake up call for breakfast and to get organized for a walking tour of the Falls.  Breakfast here is a combination buffet and a selection of egg dishes.  I opted for eggs Benedict. Then it was off to the Falls, of course the same French couple and toddler that were 15 minutes late yesterday, were late again.

The full walking tour of the Falls is about three kilometers and consists of 13 viewpoints. The mist of the falls often obscure the view momentarily, then it will clear for a bit so you can get a halfway decent photo.  Though by the time we got to the latter stations, we were all soaked and I was thankful I had brought along a plastic laundry bag to protect the new camera.

Once back at the hotel it was peel off the wet clothes and shoes. Shoes are on the patio drying with chair legs in each so mischievous monkeys do not make off with them, clothes are hung in the room with the air conditioning and ceiling fan going full blast in an effort to dry them.

Once in dry clothes, put on the flip flops and headed into the village to draw more cash, buy some dry shoes, and have a bit of lunch.  Going to hit the sack for a 2 hour nap. Will then head back to the falls to get soaked again, and try to photograph a moonbow to go with the rainbows I got this morning.

Well moon was clouded out enough, a good moonbow shot was not available, so opted out and spent that money on supper at the Ilala Lodge.  Chardonnay, loin of warthog with mixed vegetables, and a dark chocolate torte for dessert.

It is 9:30 P.M. And I am ready to call it a day.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Sanders Victoria Falls africa animals birds photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-22nd Sat, 04 Jun 2016 18:30:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 21st http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-21st April 21st:  Victoria Falls

After rinsing off the safari camp dust, took a nap and went on a sunset river cruise.  Included quite an appetizer spread and unlimited beverage service.

Very relaxing and got some great shops of a hippo pod as well as many shore birds and a couple of elephants.

After the cruise it was on to The BOMA  for another event of excessive eating and drinking, but this time accompanied by native dancing and drumming.  Did not hang around to the very end because the bed was calling.

Woke up at three A.M. trying to figure out alternative transport to Bulawayo since the rail workers are on strike.  Did make it back to bed and sleep though.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) BOMA Sanders Victoria Falls animals color landscapes photography river cruise safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-21st Fri, 03 Jun 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 20th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-20th April 20th:  Kapama/Johannesburg 

Morning game drive was a bust for spotting a leopard though we tracked him for over an hour. On the bright side followed a herd of elephants for a while that included a calf of about 4 weeks age.  I say followed though at times we were in the middle of the herd. Kind of intimidating when the dominant bull is almost pressing up the side of the Landrover.

Shortly after that two hyenas ran down the road, fresh from a kill with blood on their jowls.  We turned around and followed until they stopped at a watering hole to give us some great photo ops.

Headed back for breakfast which was a bust, Belgium waffles with the consistency of lead fish weights.  Up side it kept me from overeating - again.  Food service here is getting zero stars after this and the briny venison pie last nite.

Enough for now, off to fly to Johannesburg in another hour.

Have just checked in to the hotel, it is almost 4 pm here -  think I will rinse off the last of the safari camp dust, and then take a nap before dinner.  My flight out in the morning is at the civilized hour of 10:50 arriving in Victoria Falls at 12:30.

Will send this off now while I have reliable wifi.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Male Lions animals landscapes leopard photography safari slide show tracks http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal-april-20th Fri, 03 Jun 2016 01:30:00 GMT
African Safari Journal - April 19th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal---april-19th April 19th:  Kapama Buffalo Camp

More laid back camp here, morning game ride did not start until 6:30, at my first camp we would have already been out 30-40 minuets ago.  First sighting of the day was a gray heron in a pond, waiting for a frog to swim by for breakfast.  Then spotted a three young male lions, two just relaxing the third eating his kill that was too small to share.

Next was a large male giraffe and a group of velvet monkeys - if you see photos of the males you may think that is where the expression blue balls originated. Other photo ops for the morning included a white rhino with her calf, a good size herd of wildebeests, and a large herd of Cape Buffalo that came by when we were stopped for a coffee break.

Soon it was time to head back for breakfast, sans leopard.

Spent the day in camp just being lazy, sunning by the pool and enjoying the soaking  tub.  Had a light lunch and skipped high tea.

Evening game ride did not turn up any new animals, but did follow a lion pride for an hour that was doing some serious hunting.  It was fascinating to see two of the lioness fan out separately to trap their prey between them while the third herded the Cubs along for the learning experience.  Our game ranger was hoping we would see the kill, but they did not succeed soon enough for us, so we headed back to camp for dinner and a glass of wine.  Now I am ready for bed but need to organize my bag for the flight to Johannesburg  after the morning game drive and breakfast.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Sanders animals birds color landscapes lions photography safari http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/6/african-safari-journal---april-19th Thu, 02 Jun 2016 01:15:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 18th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/5/african-safari-journal-april-18th

April 18th:  Makalali/Kapama Buffalo Camp

Up a 5 AM for morning safari, decided we would try to track the leopards down without success.  did get some great shots of male lions though to complement my earlier shots of the pride.  Back to the lodge for breakfast, then head on to Kapama.

Just arrived at Kapama and they have wifi. 😀😀😀😀

April 18th: Kapama Buffalo Camp

Arrived just in time for lunch, took a nap then it was time for the camp version of high tea.  Pies and cakes that were large enough to choke a kudu if they had dessert.  Then we took out on the afternoon/evening game ride.  Nothing too exciting since I already have photographed 4 of the big five.  The leopard was spotted by two other vehicles but by the time we arrived  he had taken out.  Did get some nice supplemental shots of lion prides, a large wildebeast herd, a vulture, and a group of warthogs.  Saw other smaller mammals but all moved too quick to get a photo.  Ended the evening observing two elderly, formerly dominant, Cape Buffalo males enjoying a cooling mud bath.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Sanders animals color floral landscapes photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/5/african-safari-journal-april-18th Wed, 01 Jun 2016 00:45:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 17th http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/5/african-safari-journal-april-17th

April 17th:  Makalali Private Game Lodge

Up at 5 AM, quick tooth brushing and shave then headed to common area for morning coffee and out on morning bush trip.  First sighting was a black rhino charging across the road,but it did not slow down for a portrait. Next we came across a pride of lions out on a morning hunt and trying to train the cubs.  There was one juvenile male in the pride, but again the adult males were not in sight.

Got a radio report of a cheetah sighting at the far end of the camp, so our game ranger mounted a high speed race through the bush, about half way there got radio report the animal had disappeared but we decided to press on and try our luck at tracking it.  Dropped our game tracker off where a lot of cheetah tracks were spotted and we headed on down the road.  Got a report of another sighting and headed out another race.  Got there this time to find two brother cheetahs relaxing in the shade about 30 meters apart, probably letting breakfast digest. They cooperatively posed for our cameras.  Spent a good bit of time with them, then headed out again.

Next sighting was momma giraffe with a fairly recent newborn (still had cord).  Mom tried to stand between us and her calf, but finally got some nice photos.

Was getting time to head back toward camp for breakfast, but got some nice shots of some vultures perched in a tree, but no luck capturing them in flight.  Our game ranger pointed out a Kori that was gone like a flash, probably because it had spotted the python we also saw 

Back to camp for breakfast. I settled for coffee and oj since lunch will be in four hours. Way too much food here with limited walking, stay in your hut at night unless accompanied, so no evening walk after dinner.  Skipped lunch yesterday - so will have it today to experience the full range of fare.

Afternoon/evening safari was great.  Photographed Cape Buffalo enjoying their .. favorite watering hole.  Bulls, cows and calves swimming in the water and congregating around the pool.  Later on a baboon posed nicely for its photo.

Did some floodlight spotting in the way back to camp and dinner, then packed for transfer to Kapama Buffalo Camp tomorrow.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Sanders animals landscapes photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/5/african-safari-journal-april-17th Mon, 30 May 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 16 http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/5/african-safari-journal-april-16

April 16th:  Makalali Private Game Lodge

Wake up call at 5:20. Quick coffee and pastry the off on the morning photo safari. Besides some repeats from yesterday saw more variety of antelope than I can remember.  Will match photos to guidebook when I get home.

Spotted a couple of lionesses with their cubs.  Could hear the males calling them from their hiding place in the brush.  Lots of giraffes today including one very pregnant female.  Saw  adult elephants feeding in the woods and drinking at a watering hole, but no kids today. When we returned to camp, breakfast was slightly delayed because a monkey had jumped the fence and committed mayhem on the eggs.

Going to explore the camp a bit before lunch, tea, and the evening safari. - got a photo of the monkey that delayed breakfast - posted here looking to score a scone at high tea.

Evening safari was great. Photos of new animals included white rhinos, a wild dog family, hyena.  No luck on the cheetah or leopards this trip

Nice late dinner included lamb steaks. Already it is 9:30, wake up call is 5 AM for dawn game drive.

 

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Sanders animals color landscapes photography safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/5/african-safari-journal-april-16 Sun, 29 May 2016 18:00:00 GMT
African Safari Journal April 15 http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/5/african-safari-journal-april-15 April 15th: Krueger Park

Up at six this morning to catch plane to Hoedspruit Airport located inside Greater Krueger National Park. This was followed by a scenic overland transfer (read bumpy) to Makalali Private Reserve.  A quick bite of lunch, change of clothes and then head out on the afternoon/evening game photo hunt.  Some success - saw giraffes, wildebeasts, gnus, impalas, zebras. This reserve is known for it's reclusive leopard population. Hope to get lucky.

Game drives are done in Landrovers that can accommodate up to 9 guests, though we generally had 5-6 guests so everyone had an outside seat for a good view of the animals. The game ranger drives and the tracker rides the seat over the bumper for a better view of animal tracks

Nice BOMA supper on return and then collapsed in bed for tomorrow's 5:30 wake up call.

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wes97068@gmail.com (Visions By Wes Photography) Sanders animals birds color game drive safari slide show http://www.visionsbywes.com/blog/2016/5/african-safari-journal-april-15 Sat, 28 May 2016 18:00:00 GMT