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Sj visit 2017   

Blurry ducks.

Always a feature of sj visits are our ♉   blurry duck photographs. This is a term coined by tw and which first got commented at   cribbitDOTnet on our sailing holiday in the ♉   Norfolk Broads in 2008, sj2008, and it sums up quite well our ability as photographers. What follows are some nice 'snaps' taken at the ♉Aquilla Private Game Reserve .

I have tried to find other pics/information about things we have come across and links can be found throughout the text to either good photographs or more information.

References for information are often to ♉Wikipedia which probably comes top of everone's search engine results BUT less globally referenced, though still superb are the outstanding photographs on a marvellous website with proper photographs of South African fauna ♉Warwick Tarboton AND my niece Jane's ♉Nature website which is becoming global in its scope though has a significant South African content [Films and photographs.] I have only linked to a few of her films here so go to her website, ♉Nature to see much more..

Those with a long memory may recall that one of the reasons for starting this website was so that I could learn a little HTML, well I have progressed a bit with this and later pages are written in PHP, though mostly just its 'greatest hits' . I am rather pleased with my multiple link hypertext links. For these you get the website favicon as the hypertext link and a non-active descriptor and a reminder that this is a multi-link link. An example is below:

♉ ♉ ♉ hippopotami 3 links

Once you get used to this I may drop the number of links field. Let me know what you think! []

   Friday July 21    Away for the weekend: Part 2: Aquilla private game reserve

Arrived at ♉Aquilla Private Game Reserve in the early afternoon and after signing our lives away were admittd to the property where we were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine. Too early to check in so headed over to the dining hall to get lunch at the (included) buffet.

Greeted with a glass of sparkling wine.

Then headed over to the dining hall to get lunch at the (included) buffet.

There's a science to buffets where restaurants try to reduce their costs by front loading the buffet with inexpensive items like salad. While this buffet was indeed set up like every other buffet you've ever encountered, except in this instance as thanks to the water shortage, in South Africa with fresh vegetables being among the most expensive items on offer they came at the end rather than at the start of the buffet journey.

Checked into our rooms after lunch and turned out to have a large fancy cabin in the grounds of the resort. Two large downstairs bedrooms each with a king size bed and ensuite bathroom and a large loft with 4 single bunkbeds and a bathroom of its own. As cj and ra incapable of actually sleeping in the same bed (the first night after ra arrived tw found cj sleeping sitting upright on a folding chair in the lounge in the morning) the two of them took the loft leaving the rest of us to fight over the bedrooms.

Our first safari not until 4pm so hung out in the sunshine in front of the cottage chatting while we waited.


Hung out in the sunshine in front of the cottage chatting while we waited.




1030369.JPG 1964

We can see you sj!

and now we know how that came about.

king size bed

ensuite bathroom

large loft with 4 single bunkbeds and a bathroom of its own.

Safari tour departed from the parking lot at the front of the main building so made our way there just before 4pm and were assigned to a safari vehicle. Said vehicle apparently experiencing mechanical issues and unwilling to start so transfered to a different vehicle at the last moment, a [all convinced that they could have ot the thing going] thing that I mention only because the new vehicle had more rows of seating so we could spread out a bit.

Not the most authentic of safari experiences,♉Aquilla was after all just a small game preserve and as such while their animals ranged freely they were confined to the property and rather than being expected to fend for themselves, were fed on a daily basis. The result was that we were essentially visiting a drive thru zoo, but no matter, it was still a fantastic experience.

Safari tour departed from the parking lot at the front of the main building





Off we go.

Had a Jurassic park moment as we approached the gate to the park

Had a Jurassic park moment as we approached the gate to the park and waited patiently as it slid open in front of us. On the lookout for velocoraptors as we drove into the park, surely they would materialize at any moment and devour us! Instead we came across a small pond where a number of hippopotami were wallowing contentedly in the mud. I'd long know that the hippopotamus is considered to be the most dangerous animal in Africa, and our guide explained that the reason for this was that they were fiercely territorial so despite the fact that they're vegetarians, they can (and frequently do) cleave a mans body in two with a single snap of their jaws.

Not too far to have to run back if we have to.

Instead we came across a small pond

where a number of ♉ ♉ ♉ hippopotami 3 links were wallowing contentedly in the mud.

Hippopotami and ♉ ♉ ♉ African Spoonbill 3 links.








We were much more excited than the locals when an ♉ ♉ ostrich 2 links came into view.








We were distracted from the ♉ ♉ ♉ hippopotami 3 links and ♉ ♉ ostrich 2 links by the appearence of two ♉ ♉ ♉ ♉ ♉ elephants 5 links. These elephants were running at full tilt towards us and as we were apparently in the way of their usual path our driver swiftly backed our vehicle up and out of their way so that they neither trampled us to death nor were forced to deviate from their chosen path. All amazed by just how close they got to us and how fast they could run.

We were distracted from the hippopotami and ostrich by the appearence of two ♉ ♉ ♉ ♉ ♉ elephants 5 links.











Then, we came across ♉ ♉ springbok 2 links






Continuing on we made our way to the ♉ ♉ lion 2 links enclosure. Unlike the rest of the animals in the park (including cheetah) who were free to rome anywhere on the property, the lions were confined to a (generously sized) enclosure. The reason for this was that these particular lions were rescues who had been saved from various abusive situations. The females for example had all been bred in cages with the intention of slaughtering them for their pelts, in an effort to make those pelts as large as possible, the females had been given steroids and had been overfed. The result was rather sad looking lionesses who were now a proper weight but with pelts that were significantly too large for their bodies.

The two males in the enclosure had grown up in captivity as well and as a result none of the lions were able to care for themselves. Apparently if they were allowed out into the main part of the reserve they would simply hunt for sport instead of food.

The ♉ ♉ lions 2 links were confined to a (generously sized) enclosure.

Not convinced that the electric fence fence wires on the floor would work long in the damp.








Our guide told us that these lions were rescue animals that had been saved from various abusive situations.






Our guide said that the two males in the enclosure had grown up in captivity as well and that normally two males would not be seen together in the wild.





Settled in for the night.

Watched them for a while and then back into the main part of the reserve. A short stop where we were served snacks and sparkling wine and people went off into the shrub to relieve themselves. Which is to say that the men did, shrubs nowhere near tall enough to provide any privacy so despite protestations from a number of women that they needed to pee, sj the only one to have actually done so.

Sun setting and the light dark and blurry ducks pics to come.

1030400.JPG 1030398.JPG




Back on the truck we headed back towards the hotel, stopping to watch the ♉ ♉ ♉ zebra 3 links who had just been fed and then again to see an assortment of animals all crowded around their dinner feast. Animals in question included ♉ ♉ rhinoceros 2 links, ♉ ♉ African buffalo 2 links , ♉ ♉ wildebeest 2 links, and a couple of ♉eland. Dark by the time we made it out of the reserve.

♉ ♉ ♉ zebra 3 links




♉ ♉ ♉ ♉ rhinoceros 4 links ♉ ♉ wildebeest 2 links ♉eland



A brief visit to the bar before we headed for our buffet dinner.


Dinner over, and then a bit of time outside by the fire pit. A resort employee had set up a telescope and was pointing out Saturn and Venus to anyone who was interested in looking.

The southern sky completely unlike the northern sky we were all used to. No real constellations to speak of with the exception of the ♉Southern Cross which tw had failed to identify for us a few days before. [In fairness to tw, it was a cloudy night and the constellation extends over a wide area so is difficult to identify when only bits of clear sky are available.] The employee more than happy to point it out though in my opinion it looked far more like a kite than it did a cross. Pleased to learn that if you drew a line between the two stars that defined the sides of the kite, the line would point to the south east. Not quite as useful as the North Star in the same basic vein.

Pic of the ♉Southern Cross from ♉

Apparently (since it was winter) Orion would be visible in the early morning, told to look out for him but warned that he would be "upside down". The most striking thing about the southern sky however was just how bright the milky way was. As northerners were used to the milky way being something thats just barely visible, easier to see out of the corner of your eye then if you look at it directly. Here it was very prominent, streaking across the sky in a way you'd never expect.

Early to bed as We had to be up before dawn for our morning safari drive.

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