Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pictures from African safari

Steenbok at left and you know this guy.
African buffalo (male) white rhino and giraffe.
A view of the parking lot before game drive.

Safari at Kapama private game reserve

Hi everyone, and thanks for following my blog.  I am home now and this will be my last post, at least from this trip.  After we flew to Johannesburg, we flew to a small airport very near the Kapama Game reserve.  In fact it was right across the road.  It was a beautiful slice of African wilderness right next to Kruger National Park in South Africa.  We were there for four days and the schedule went like this.  In the afternoon at 4:30 go for a game drive in an open vehicle with tiered seats, enough for ten people.  We had a very knowledgable ranger (Devon) and a spotter (Harry).  Devon drove the vehicle and narrated for us and Harry sat on a seat in the front by the grill looking for animals.  Harry is a Zulu and has really good eyes and ears.
Back to the schedule, the game drive lasted until 7:30 and dinner is at 8:00.  At 5:00 am we got a wake up call for the early morning game drive which leaves at 6:00 am and lasts until 9:00.  There is coffee and biscotti served before the morning drive and a full breakfast when we got back.  We spent four days on this schedule and saw an incredibe number of animals up close and personal.  The vehicle was able to go off road, so if Harry spotted something we drove to the animal.  The animals are active in the early morning and early evening, thus the daily schedule.  Everyone rests in the afternoon, people and animals.  One afternoon Dick and I had a massage at their spa, it was heavenly. 
I took lots of pictures of animals and will send them in a separate blog after this one, it is easier that way.  The animals are used to the vehicles and people so they are not spooked by their presence.  The ranger asked us not to stand up and change the shape of the vehicle because that will cause the animals to respond to something different and they could charge the vehicle.  We saw lots of giraffes, they are so tall in the wild and eat off the top of trees.  We saw all of the "big five" lions, both male and female, African buffalo, elephants, leopards and rhinos.  We also saw hippos, but they were usually in the water so it was hard to see all of their body.  We saw wart hogs, jackals, hyenas, zebras and lots of animals that look like deer, such as impalas, kudus, steenbok, and nyala.  There were white faced monkeys and baboons, some near the lodge.  We saw many birds and several owls in the nighttime drives.  All of this was breath-taking and unreal to be so close to African nature.  It truly was a piece of paradise.
We left for home on Thursday night and flew all night from Johannesburg to Atlanta, GA.  The flight was 17 hours but was on a new airbus with quite a bit of leg room and individual TV sets and music, so it was bearable.  Hard to sleep, though and there is an 8 hour time difference from MN. so still a little jet laggy. 
Thanks for taking this journey with me and it is good to be home.
Love to all,  Gwen

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Capetown, South Africa

Hi from Africa,
Today we are in Capetown and what a beautiful city.  Surrounded by hills and mountain and located on the Atlantic with lovely sandy beaches.  The Cape of Good Horn is here where ships turn to make the trip around Africa.  What we have seen so far has been a very clean city, modern with many parks and green areas.  Most of the people live in single family houses, so there are very few apartment buildings.  Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent most of his adult life in prison is also located here a few kilometers off the coast.  It is the 20th Anniversary of his release from prison, so there have been many celebrations.  The African National Congress (ANC) is in power in this country, which is Nelson Mandela's party.  While things are not perfect they are much better without apartheid.  We get off the ship tomorrow and fly to Johannesburg for our safari.  Don't know exactly what to expect but hopefully some good pictures.  More later from the bush, if we have internet access there.  We'll be home on Friday.  It has been a great get away and experience but home sounds pretty good about nw.
Love, Gwen

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pictures from Buenos Aires

Tango dancers in Buenos Aires.  They are dancing in the streets and in front of outdoor cafes.  They are so graceful and proud of this dance.

Hello,  We are still sailing from South America to Namibia, South Africa.  We will arrive there on Thursday.   Having never been to Africa, I am looking forward to it very much.

This picture startled me when I looked at it,  can you see the ghost by the tree.  I have been having fun with the staff showing them this picture.  They are from Indonesia and many of them believe in ghosts, and have their own ghost stories to tell.

More later from Africa.
Love to all, Gwn

Friday, February 12, 2010

From the middle of the Atlantic Ocean

Hello everyone from the middle of the South Atlantic where we are cruising from South America to South Africa.  It is day 3 of 8 days to complete this crossing.  We have a lot of things to keep us busy, lectures, music, swimming pools, hot tubs, books, food and the piano bar.  We had a lovely three days in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.  Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, sort of a combination of Paris and New York.  There are many parks and squares including one large park, like Central Park in New York.  The streets are very wide.  One is twelve lanes wide and there is a walking street that is fun to stroll on, with many shops, restaurants and tango dancers.  We visited the cemetery where Evita Peron's tomb is.  In Mondevideo we had lunch with some of Dick's friends.  He spent a lot of time in Uruguay back in the 80's and 90's.  These are two beautiful cities and are worth a trip just by themselves.  They are divided by the Rio de la Plata (silver river) and are close together.  It is the middle of summer here and very warm, even in the middle of the ocean.  I'll send some pictures later.

Friday, February 5, 2010

photos from Antarctica

 Hi again,
Here are a few pictures from the many that I took while in Antarctica.  This is one of the famous "blue ice". 
I thought this one looked like the Metrodome, but it is just an iceberg.
This is a typical rock and ice covered mountain, most of the scenery is breath taking.
 I thought this one is interesting because of the sun and snow in the area.
This is still my best picture of penguins, I cropped it from when I sent it before.

More later,

Thursday, February 4, 2010

back from a South Pole Expedition

Hi again,
We have spent about five days in the Antarctic region, cruising, looking at whales and penguins and enjoying the solitary beauty of the last place on Earth not interrupted by man, or at least very minimally.
We have been out of reach of both TV and the internet while in that region.  We had various kinds of weather in the Antarctic, one day was cloudless, very sunny and calm, the mountains, land glaciers, floating icebergs and blue sea were spectacular.  We had a couple of cloudy days and one with heavy fog.  We stopped and picked up some young people from the Palmer Research Station, which is a US operation.  The Palmer staff made a presentation about their work and research in the antiarctic.  The lead research person was a young man from Minnesota.  While they were aboard our ship (The Amsterdam) they had haircuts, ate sushi and made use of all of the comforts that they don't have at their station.  We also had a very knowledgeable polar staff on board, an Ice Pilot, to guide us through the ice, a geologist who knew all about the continent and islands and a biologist who knew about animals and birds.  We saw several penguin rookeries (Gentoo and Chin Strap) in the wild.  It is the time of year that they are raising their chicks, so it was fun to see the parents and their babies.  We also saw lots of petrels (birds) who love to follow the ship.  We were supposed to go to the Falkland Islands today and stop at Port Stanley, but the weather and winds were not favorable (in fact dangerous) so we had to bypass those islands.  I took a lot of pictures in Antarctica so I will try to sort out a few good ones and send them along with my next blog.  Love to all,  Gwen