Friday, December 23, 2011

Life in 2 extremes!

The dune we had to climb!
Hi Everyone!

I hope all the festive preparations are going well for you all! We have finished dressing the tree, it's just the decorations to go up outside the house that is left to do! Dad and I are waiting for the opportunity to sneak out and do it to surprise mum, which should happen later today! I can't believe just over a week ago I was sitting on the beach in Mozambique having a cheeky tipitimto rum and raspberry and enjoying the warm waters!
Had to show you the glasses!!
The week away started by packing the vehicles at the crack of dawn pausing for a moment to relish the serenade of a male leopard calling somewhere on the quarantine open area! The convoy of 3 vehicles carrying 12 friends in crazy over sized glasses met at Gowrie gate eager for what lay ahead!
A quick refuel at Hoedspruit for human and vehicle alike, lasted a bit longer than planed as Marc came to join us to say fair well, then it was on to Phalaborwa!

Bull elephant from Kruger
The sun was shinning and spirits were high as we made our way through the Kruger National Park enjoying a herd of buffalo and a couple of bull elephants along the way to Giryondo boarder post. (I can't deny it was also bliss to jump into the pool at Lataba day visitors centre to cool off, as lady landie had no air conditioning!) Sadly this will be the last time we can do this trip in a day, not because of anything we have done I hasten to add! It is due to the rules of the park which have changed. Anyone wishing to use Giryondo must now spend a night in the Greater Kruger National Park. This decision has come from too many over loaded and non roadworthy vehicles that make use of the boarder post for commercial reasons rather than being holiday makers. This meant we had to use Komatipoort boarder post on the way back which did add to our journey time somewhat!

Village in the Limpopo park
Once on the Mozambique side of the boarder in the Limpopo national park we saw very little except signs left by elephant and you can guess what they were! A 2 hour trek through the park past a number of small villages, brought us to the gate and Massingir dam which lies just outside the park. I have stayed at the camp site inside the reserve that over looks the dam before and can recommend it.  The chalets had electricity and running water and was very reasonable in price!

After another 4 hours drive to the coast we finally made it to our little spot of paradise! It was everything we had hoped for at Zona Braza! The golden beach was just a couple of minutes stroll down the dune; although it was slightly longer to get back and the work out involved stopped me feeling guilty about all the delicious seafood we had eaten over the week! I am sure you can imagine how much fun was had by all! I managed to stub my toe on the wooden walk way which lead to the beach which was quite painful but has healed well now and apart from a couple of other minor foot injuries it was a huge success! Mission extreme relaxation completed! We could even laugh while we were stuck in traffic for over an hour at Maputo on the way home!

The dune road we had to walk down!
A couple of days later, after finally packing up my room and saying goodbye to the sands, I made my way to Johannesburg, popping in on Graham Cooke and his wife before flying back home to the chili UK feeling like I could take on anything!! (It was a good job I felt like that: Warning! If you fly via Doha with Qatar be prepared to run for your gate!) I must admit I was a little concerned I only had 30mins between flights, but then I thought, well there must be a good system in place if my boarding pass says quick transfer and is edged with orange. There was even a video to watch on the plane which explain everything in detail! Awesome I thought; well organised!

Last day on the beach!
Hum! Well it looked well organised on the outside! A short bus ride took us from the tarmac to the terminal. According to my ticket the next flight should have started to board already. As we got inside the airport, the que was huge and everyone had an orange boarder to their tickets, some showed theirs to the officials and they pointed to the same que I was in, so I thought Ok I can't be special either then! It was 20mins to take off, but at this point I still had faith surely if they are this laid back the gate must be close by? Having finally got through security I had only10mins before my plane was suppose to be in the air, hum, panic? Nope, no need it is all under control... so I thought!

The promenade at Arnside
Following signs for gate 39, I went upstairs only to loose the signs at the top. Seeing only gates 12-14 and nothing else, now was the time to panic! I asked a couple of staff the direction for the gate. The first  was not  particularly helpful. The second pointed the way and said you better hurry as it is last call, (no kidding I thought!) So there I go bags in hand, shoe slipping off my foot, as I legged it down the corridor to the furthest gate away from where I arrived! Finally I made it, I think by the time the plane was suppose to be in the air! I tried to explain as best I could in between the gasps for breath, to the desk clerk, who was less than amused at my late arrival, that there was more of us to come! (Note to self, do more exercise in future!)  It turned out there were 2 others left and I wouldn't mind but there was a good number of us on the bus ride to the plane, which ended up being a bit of a scenic tour to boot! But at least I made the flight and I even had a row of seats to sleep off my efforts! 

I am so happy to be home though, as much as I am missing the bush, Karula, the drives and all the WE family. I still have to decided which direction to go in next year in terms of work. I have a number of ideas, but when I formulate a plan I will let you all know! This month I have decided is for enjoying much needed family time. I have already visited family who I haven't seen in 2 years and friends I haven't seen in 7 years. For the new year I will be spending time with relatives in the South again! It has been freezing, but as yet no snow has fallen in the village, only on the lake district hills in the distance! The village itself has a great festive vibe and I must admit I felt like a kid again as we were decorating the tree. Singing along to the Christmas songs, with the fire dancing along as well and drinking hot chocolate with a drop of Bailey's in! In a word magic!

The viaduct and lake district hills
I have a feeling this year is going to be an interesting one, so watch this space! I would like to wish everyone who celebrates at this time of year a Very Merry Christmas and I hope it is as Special as each of you are. Enjoy the New Year and I am thrilled to know you will still be with me for the next adventure! 
All the best and enjoy.

Love Tara

PS Pictures will be included I hope next week! - Ok I bit late but better late than never!! There is no picture of my stubbed toe, but it has healed! Oh and we did manage to do the outside tree but forgot to take pictures! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just a quick note....

Hi everyone, this is where I will be posting blogs from now on! I will post the blogs I posted on WildEarth about the leopards here too, so they are all together, as well as what I am going to be up too once I know what I will be doing!! :) I feel honoured to have been your guide for over a year and a half and look forward to the next chapter of my life with many more friends on board! Thank you for all your support and encouragement during such a wonderful and exciting experience that I am so proud and pleased to be able to say I have been apart of! This isn't a goodbye from me and I hope it isn't from you either!

Here is the link to my new calender, as before there is a large and a small version, with various pictures of the animals of Djuma we have come to love over the years, including Teddy and pals, the Nkuhuma lionesses and a tribute to the Gijima boys, vultures, elephants old and young and of course the leopards, the new cubs, the men in Karula's life and the lady herself!

Take care,