An Ongoing Journey through Africa & The Middle East [PIC HEA

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Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Original Post - May 11, 2013 - 03:22am PT
I'd like to apologize ahead of time to supertopians because this post is going to be a lot of things but not all climbing and in fact it won't have as much climbing as everything else. However, it will have some climbing, once we get to that point! So I am going to continuously update this post as I go along and if anyone wants to come by and check it out thats great. If theres anyone in South Africa or the surrounding countries that want's to go climbing let me know how to get to where you are and we'll try and get there! We brought harness,shoes, rope and draws.

So heres where it starts....

We started with a flight from Anchorage to Seattle and then a nonstop to Durban. Which was a little intimidating at first but flying with Emirates Airlines is excellent. They have tons of free movies and tv as well as games with a screen at every seat. It's the first time I've actually gotten off an airline and had more to watch!

We rented a car for our whole trip there and the first thing we found was that Dubai's traffic is about as bad as it gets. It took us hours to find our hotel.



The next day we decided to visit the Dubai mall. After all we had heard there was ski resort in the mall and that was a curiosity. It also boasts being the biggest mall in the world.



It is indeed huge. They don't take things lightly here. This is the worlds largest indoor freestanding aquarium or something like that...either way it was amazing.



And we were introduced to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. They seem to have a lot of that, "in the world" going on here.







I need a bigger lens for that...



We also made sure to catch the water fountain in front of the mall. Very similar to the fountain at the Bellagio only with arabic music!





We went bowling...I won by one point.



One thing I noticed right away is that everyone seemed to have a job. The government really seemed to hire as many as they could for anyone one job. Look how many people were just getting this park set up!



This was the view from our hotel, the Al Sharq Hotel in Sharjah($55 us per night)



This is a clock at the Islamic museum in Sharjah.



Which also had excellent architecture.



There are mosques everywhere! There are also prayer rooms next to nearly every restroom.



This is a mix of old a new. Although its more of old and new design. The buildings could have been made at the same time as they are constantly using the old design to make new buildings which lends for a really unique and beautiful city design.



We took a trip into the desert on a tour since we figured out little rental car wouldn't make it 2 seconds on a sand dune (we almost tested this later). This trip, while generally enjoyable, was really just a tourist trap as expected. There was even a monkey tied up and looking not just a little sad and crazy.



This slightly inappropriate image shows his crazy side as he attacks a donkeys tail.



It is hard to see these animals tied up like this.







The next part of the tour was called dune bashing. Which was actually pretty fun. They guys push those toyotas to their tipping limit. Moving over the top of dunes and sliding down the sides at full speed sideways. Pretty sure there's nothing living out there, if there was, but it's fun for the dune junkie!









After that it was off to a tented city with falcon holding and crazy dancing which was topped off with a belly dancer, a two person camel, and the weirdest costumes I've seen. But dinner was good and the trip was overall enjoyable.







That was the first leg of our trip through Dubai and the UAE, sorry it's pretty much all the normal touristy things. We then hopped in the car for a totally different type of sights in Oman where we found sand beaches and beautiful mountains. That post is next. Oh and we have 3 months left of this trip....so this post is going to quite long!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
WA, & NC & Idaho
May 11, 2013 - 10:01am PT
Thanks Kelsey, some stellar pics.
What an interesting and different place!!!
TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
May 11, 2013 - 12:52pm PT

Fantabulous images Kelsey:

Bumpity bump, keep'm come'n !
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 12, 2013 - 03:14am PT
Very interesting! I usually travel alone so it's not a place I would go but very interesting to visit as an armchair travellor. I'm looking forward to more.
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
May 12, 2013 - 04:55am PT
Dubai is an armpit.
expensive armpit for sure but still an armpit.

and all those workers, not a one is a local
locals only work if they're billionaires and only then for a couple hours a day.

You'll dig Oman so much more. and there's killer climbing there if you have the time and find it, though there is so many FA's it won't matter.

cheers and eat some hulumi and olives for me
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
May 12, 2013 - 05:38am PT
Good stuff. See the world! It's interesting.

That why I love the US and despise the Islamic world.

Have fun. Seriously. I'm a little jaundiced after my tour of the globe.....
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
May 12, 2013 - 08:49am PT
^^
I'm having trouble making the connection between blurrs sentences though I suppose it makes sense to him.

Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
May 12, 2013 - 10:50am PT


Nice photos, Prez, keep 'em coming.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
May 12, 2013 - 11:13am PT
Nice photos, thanks, can't wait for the next installments.
JMC

climber
the land of milk and honey
May 12, 2013 - 11:22am PT
Great shots - looks even better than real life. If I don't ever have to go back to the UAE, I won't. And yes, Delhi Dog is on the money - the working Emirate is a rare creature.
Oman on the other hand - rad. Not sure what will happen after the Sultan passes away though, so enjoy it now. With the exception of the major cities and seaside resorts, there isn't much in the way of tourism infrastructure in Oman - it reminds me of Baja in this regards. Good fossil hunting too.
I look forward to seeing more of your trip!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
May 12, 2013 - 12:19pm PT
Cheers

DMT
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
May 12, 2013 - 12:28pm PT
I'm having trouble making the connection between blurrs sentences though I suppose it makes sense to him.

My point is that I'm glad I was able to see what I saw, but was always happy to come home. That's all. And yeah, I did India too. Calcutta sucked, Varanasi pretty cool.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 12, 2013 - 01:02pm PT
Ya know, most Alaskans just go to Hawaii. :-)

Most entertaining. Good shootin', of course!
PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
May 12, 2013 - 09:31pm PT
Nice!

I was there in 2005. Those drivers for the dune tours and NUTS!! Our guy was throwing rooter tails while fishtailing past the MP's when we were leaving the base. LOL
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - May 25, 2013 - 02:51pm PT
Thanks everyone for the comments! Your right about Emirates...just not that much outside of the city, and I'm not much of a city person. So here's Oman which was awesome!

We decided to head from Dubai into Oman since we had heard some really great things and had no idea what to expect. We did hear from the hotel reception that the people there would be very nice. We drove directly from Dubai through the desert and toward Hatta. The Omani border was surprising easy to cross although we did have to purchase insurance for our vehicle. Even if you have insurance through the car company it is necessary to buy Omani insurance which is about $50US for a week. One of the first things we noticed was that the terrain became instantly mountainous. Our drive brought us to a small little lagoon with a dive shop near the end of the day after we had driven through the town of Muscat. The King of Oman takes incredible car of his people and there is a lot of money that goes into the country. Their currency is also one of the best in the world and the US dollar is about .30 Omani Rials. We learned quickly that Oman could get expensive quickly. This little lagoon dip actually cost us $6US per person just to swim. But it was worth it to swim in the Sea of Oman. Also I did a little deep water soloing on the shoreline and it was excellent climbing!





We spent our first night on the beach in a small town called As Sifah which surprised us. We had heard that everyone in these countries was going to try and kill us constantly! Being Alaskans we get an even greater dose of paranoia then they get in the lower 48. We stayed in the car because we hadn't yet bought a tent. Because of the humidity and heat it was probably the most uncomfortable night of sleeping I've had in years…but the sights were amazing in the morning.









I just barely caught a crab.







Shasta in the morning with our car which we named Pinto Bean.



As Sifah is a beautiful town with miles of empty beaches that is gearing up for a future of tourism. With mountains behind and a crystal clear sea in front it is worth a visit for sure!



We took a little hike down the beach, you can put a tent down anywhere and going around the corners just lead to more beautiful beaches.



A view of Shasta with the beach of As Sifah in the background without a single person on it.



Unfortunately the rocks are pretty sandy and these on the beach were not very good to climb.



Empty beaches, mountains, and Pinto Bean.



There making the effort to keep it clean…unfortunately it's not working yet. But they did have lots of people out cleaning.



Goats.



Spiders



We pulled off the road and took a small hike to top of a peak which gave us a view of the their mountains and it also gave me my first snake interaction of the week.





Here is a picture of its tail. I didn't take any more pictures of it because it had viper like flanks on its head and I decided to leave it alone.



More beautiful scenery.



And windy roads.



We assumed they filled in this area for some type of industrial area. When we looked closer we noticed it was for a soccer field.



Their ketchup was decent but had an odd taste to it, too sweet.



But their food was delicious.



Their boats are called Dhows and look like viking ships of past.



Their canyons usually include watery areas called Wadi's although not all Wadi's have water. I'm still not sure what actually constitutes a Wadi.



Our trip took us to Hoota Cave. We were basically just driving and following the signs that looked fun. Unfortunately the cave was closed but they didn't feel like posting it until we arrived at the front gate!



But it had already lead us into the mountains so we headed further into the beautiful peaks to see what we could find. The roads reminded me a lot of the deserts in the US.



The peaks in the area are incredible and have some crazy canyons. None of which little Pinto Bean was going to make it to.



The road were treacherous in areas, so much so I didn't drive down them, which is unusual for me!



With small cities accessible only by a 4x4.



On the way back we also stopped by a fort and took pictures. The hillsides are filled with forts of all different types and ages but we only stopped at this one, which was closed. Doh.







We drove on afterword toward Emirates.



After a wonderful few days we decided to drive back to Emirates for our flight of Dubai. It didn't leave for another day or two but we wanted to make sure we were back and able to find a place to stay. We drove the rest of the day and ended up about an hour outside of Dubai and slept on the side of the road. I just didn't have the energy to drive into town. The next morning I woke up and felt instantly sad about leaving Oman. I really wanted to be back in Oman in the quiet country with the less crazy drivers and the more beautiful countryside. So much so that I actually turned the car north and drove right through Dubai and toward the Musundam Peninsula, which is part of Oman. We drove back through an Omani Checkpoint for the third time in two days and into a small town where we found a small tour group doing Dhow rides and snorkeling trips. Since the trip was pretty affordable we hopped on and found ourselves riding one of these very stable and comfortable ships. They obviously know how to travel!



When you get on the boat it is just a bunch of pillows and carpets, quite a comfortable ride where they bring you delicious tea.





The waters were crystal clear with an adequate amount of sea life. Nothing over abundant but some nice sights for sure.









Now thats cushy living….



Sea life…



The sights of the Musundam Peninsula and the Straight of Hormuz are incredible. The mountain peaks rise directly from the sea to thousands of feet hight. It is such an impressive sight that it is often called Norway of Arabia.











On our way back we saw dolphins which capped off a beautiful and relaxing day in Oman.



Impressive driving by our captain.



One last impressive mountain guarded by a castle.



We drove back that night finally happy and the next morning we were on a plane bound for Durban, South Africa. I have to admit to being nervous, I have friends that won't touch foot down in South Africa because they are afraid of being instantly murdered or robbed. I honestly have no idea what to expect….and that is exciting.


Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 5, 2013 - 11:41am PT
We finally made our way down to Durban, South Africa after a rather enjoyable 8 hour flight from Dubai. We quickly drove to our hostel at night and arrived at Ansteys Beach House. We didn’t know what to expect except that everyone was either going to mug or carjack us. At least that’s what we had learned from the news and every person we talked to in Alaska. I have a friend who wont come this way because his South African friends convinced him that the sides of the roads were littered with bodies and nobody cared to stop. While this may be true in some areas, we never found them. Durban is a bustling town and has a beachfront called the Golden Mile where everyone seems to congregate.



Ansteys is on a different beach 20 minutes from Downtown Durban and much quieter. It is also an excellent price especially for camping.



The city has much to due, unless you lose your king.



We continued the path of a real tourist and went to the large mall called Gateway to try and find some sandals. Instead we found a wave machine! I had always wanted to ride on one and found it to hard to pass up. We got an hour of just Shasta and I, it is a lot like snowboarding!



We finally drove on to our main reason for the trip. A wedding in Cintsa of some of our friends from Alaska. They were from South Africa and had been in the area before. The first thing we did was go to a Inkenkwezi Private Game Reserve and pet a full grown Cheetah. The loud purrrrrr sounded like a cat inflicted with the tones of Barry White.





Despite their friendliness they still looked fierce.







There were also many other animals milling about, such as Warthogs.




We then headed to a place called the Lion Park. Everything in South Africa is a game reserve of some kind so its pretty hard not to tourist into it. Might as well dive in head first.



I suppose if you've pet a Cheetah, you need to pet a lion cub.



The cuteness is nearly unbearable.



I look over my shoulder and see that I am being watched...



They have a few other animals, which probably should be set free in their native lands as they appear a little more caged the comfortable. But i still wouldn't want to walk in their with them.



I think they are watching me, not as friend or foe...but more as a snack before the Impala entree.





This one looks innocent enough...



And then theres those teeth....



Then the party began. There was something like 15 Alaskan's who flew down for this and their family from NZ and South Africa, it was one of many Braai nights!



More to come....to much more. I hope someone has the patience to look through all these?!
John M

climber
Jun 5, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
Wow...I had no idea the water was so beautiful. So much desert and such beautiful water. What a juxtaposition.

I have a friend who use to live in South Africa. She lived in a poorer part of Johannesburg in a church compound. She said there was gunfire every night and many mornings there would be someone dead in the streets. The cops don't come that fast. But she also said that she felt very safe outside the cities. just that going out at night walking wasn't a good idea in some areas of some cities. The daytime was fine she said, though in Nairobi she was driving and was nearly carjacked. She had a priest with her and the priest told her she better keep going and if she had to run the guys down, then do it. So it can be spicy. haha..

I am enjoying the pictures. Thank you for sharing them.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 5, 2013 - 12:09pm PT
More, we need more!

So interesting to see a part of the world that is really unknown to me.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jun 5, 2013 - 12:14pm PT
BBST FO SHO!!!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 6, 2013 - 02:53am PT
Alright since I actually have internet today as well I am going to continue the South Africa trip report and try to catch up!

There is lots to do around Cintsa, which is near East London. We stopped randomly by a game reserve called Areena and there was a tame Giraffe walking around. You can get pretty close to these guys although its best to keep your distance.



And I mean you can get realllly close.




They also have some other animals such as the one that this prehistoric looking foot belongs too.







One of our friends, Tara, decided she wanted a nice Ostrich Coat. Unfortunately it just wasn't big enough.



That is one ugly bird.



While we stayed at the Cintsa houses we had plenty of fun surfing and swimming. In fact there was a 5 meter great white spotted off this beach the week we were swimming, yikes! Thats a first for me, swimming with great whites around.



We then got another day at Inkenkwezi for the wedding lunch and our first time seeing Elephants in Africa. They are amazing.





These little brothers were also enjoying the elephants.



There were also many birds





There was a short trip to Nahoon Dam that we stopped by on a random drive around South Africa. Mmmm...drinking water....





On this drive we found an elephant sanctuary where they let you ride them. Shasta was pretty excited so off we went!



All of the trainers had been formally trained and certified as handlers / trainers in Zimbabwe where they were from. The unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is over 80%!!







You then get to feed them a bucket of food which is like eating one M&M to an elephant.





Feeding an elephant is a really interesting experience. They have trunks that work as vacuums and their mouths are strange.



You can actually put your hand right inside of their mouths and feel their strange tounges pull at the food.







Elephants are pretty wonderfull



But there not always happy when you are out of food!




So we said our goodbyes they went off to eat a real meal.



Kwantu Elephant Sanctuary had another spot called Kwantu Game Lodge so we headed over there too to see some more lions.









Then it was back to the Cintsa house...for some monkeys.




Okay thats all I have for now that are uploaded. There are still tons to upload that I just won't get a chance to unless I can find some fast interent. I'll keep on that hunt! Thanks everyone for your awesome replies too! I enjoy posting this trips but its not as much fun to post them when nobodys looking!
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jun 6, 2013 - 03:20am PT
Those are some SPECTACULARLY beautiful pictures!

Great propaganda for Dubia. They'll probably pay you.

Also, ur worried about the monkeys, and ur killing crabs?
That's Americaism for ya..

Have Fun!!
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 6, 2013 - 03:27am PT
I have a question about the lions. They all seem so blond compared to the other photos I've seen. Were they albinos?
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 6, 2013 - 03:36am PT
Jan - Many of the lions pictured were white lions. They are always said to be "really rare" but then everyones got some all fenced up. It's a strange place sometimes for sure.

Blue - I'm not sure what you mean bout the crabs or the monkeys! I'm not afraid of them but I still don't want them stealing my food! heh

Also I've never felt more like a tourist in my life then I have here.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 17, 2013 - 01:12pm PT
This uploading from Africa stuff is not easy! But I finally found a little internet that was able to upload all night from the inside of my tent. We managed to get an extension cord in Nata, Botswana from a hardware shop run by an Indian gentlemen. Interesting place. However I haven't quite gotten that far yet! So here's another short post. I am getting some really good uploading in at the moment so hopefully I'll finally get through South Africa and on to the other countries!

My last post ended with a monkey...so this one shall start the same. Here are the same monkeys!







Inbetween the fun stuff there was plenty of this to be had...We have finished quite a few books.



I read an African guide book once where the guy made fun of birders then eventually became one. I could see how one would be a birder in Africa.



Mike, Shasta, and I decided we needed to pull out our climbing gear and get it on the rock! So we found a place that was nearby in a town called East London. It recommended bringing a machete for snakes...and people. Basic African advice. We headed to the trail and finally found our place to park, after a short crossing of the Nahoon River we found the crag.



We got on a few routes and I braved taking out the camera in such an area.





Shasta always seems to be climbing with a smile...





We climbed only a few routes, I got about 7 laps in and we found out how out of climbing shape we really are! We packed up the gear with sad faces knowing we wouldn't get to take it out again until Namibia and then headed back to meet with everyone else. The next day we drove toward Sodwana Bay for some diving and on the way we stopped at Shakaland which is a representation of a Zulu town that was made for the movie King Shaka. It was interesting and had a bit of history as well.











We then went into this hut where we watched them do a traditional zulu dance. The interesting part was that there were girls in the dancing of around age 14 or so and they had no tops on. The adult women did though, so it was quite interesting and I decided that I felt to weird taking photos and skipped it on the camera. After this we would do a short stop in Sodwana Bay and then to the amazing wildlife that is Kruger Park!
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Jun 17, 2013 - 03:35pm PT
Thank you so much for sharing! Great picture and commentary ;-)
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 19, 2013 - 08:44am PT
Thank you everyone for the replies! I am working on another update now. Thanks again!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 19, 2013 - 09:20am PT
Since we a have a little internet in this small town of Tsumeb, Namibia I will continue to try and catch up...which seems like it my only happen when I get home!

John once said "Why is everything in the desert trying to kill me?" and thats just what it seems like sometimes!



Once we left Shakaland we headed toward Sodwana Bay where we did some amazing diving! ...my gopro2 won't focus underwater for some reason (any ideas?) so despite tons of photos and video underwater...I got nothing. Oh well. It was a fun adventure with the Alaskan's getting into our wetsuites was the best part.



It required a very delicate dance followed by a triple lutz into warrior pose.



This is the first wild mongoose I think I had ever seen!



After Sodwana bay we decided to head to Kruger. We were going to get a slightly later start then the rest of the group and then we got really smart and decided to take a short cut. We left before 5am and drove toward a town called Jozini...or something like that, we certainly never made it there. After a few miles the pavement disappeared to decent road with some tar on it. Then that left and we were on a decent dirt road. That soon turned to some massive potholes and dips which I proceeded to take at about 60mph. Needless to say, or necessary to say, we hit something hard and got a flat tire somewhere along this dirt road...in the dark....in the middle of nowhere. We changed the tire in record time, although we lost a hub cap somewhere, and turned around to get back to the main road. That was about all he of the adventure I wanted before sunrise. The rest of the drive was long and uneventful, taking a total of over 12 hours. We finally arrived at Kruger Park, and if you don't like animals then the rest of this post is going to really suck for you!

Within our first hour in the park, after we found out that our booking company forgot to book us and that everything was full, we found a Rhino right on the side of the road. I have to say its the first time in my life I've heard Shasta shout "RHINOOOO!!!"



He proceeded to lumber across the road right in front of us!






What an introduction to Kruger! So now theres going to be lots of photos and much less commentary. So...enjoy!

The deer of South Africa (Impala)



The Blue Wildebeast



A very injured looking Greater Galago (Bushbaby)



The animal that kills more people than any other in Africa.





Greater Hornbill


Warthogs (Pumba)



Biggest peekaboo game ever.



Mmm....crocodiles...


There you are!


Greater Heron





Malachite Kingfisher!



I now have about 1000 pictures of elephants, and every day I still take more!





Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful birds in southern Africa. The lilac breasted roller.



The Ptarmigan of Africa. The Spurfowl.



Most of the days we drove in our little blue car nicknamed Blue Bear and the other groups went in the vans. One day we were driving along and ran into them where they were excited to tell us about two cheetahs, probably the rarest animal in the park. We quickly drove in that direction only to stumble upon some rhinos as well! How could we resist the opportunity?

Wide load coming through!



Now those are some big horns!



We then were lucky enough to see the Cheetah! They had been walking on the road and posted for just a few photos in the fading light.



After petting the cheetahs we had to remind ourselves these animals are quite wild.





Beautiful.



It was time to head back, you have to be inside the camp gate by sunset our else you get a huge fine. But there was still enough time to take a picture of this fine gentleman.



And so far this may be my favorite bird from Africa. The Martial Eagle.



So that is it for this post...the rest of the posts are going to be quite similar but with many more animals and some really neat ones! Very awesome!
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jun 19, 2013 - 09:20am PT
Great photos. Looking forward to more updates on your trip.

I always love pictures of Oman in particular. Such beautiful landscapes. I always thought a wadi was sort of like an arroyo BTW.. Sometimes has water, sometimes not.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 19, 2013 - 09:30am PT
justthemaid - I think you are probably right about the wadi description, at least thats what it seemed like to me!

I'm from Alaska so when it says theres water somewhere, there usually is!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jun 19, 2013 - 09:36am PT
Nice. Thanks

DMT
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Jun 19, 2013 - 10:19am PT
WOW!!!

yellow border'd quality pictures Kelsey!


thanks for sharing, man!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 19, 2013 - 05:30pm PT
Thank you for your comments everyone!

Roxy - I've always thought that would be the coolest job!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2013 - 01:54pm PT
Thanks to the really nice owners of Etosha Cafe in Tsumeb I will be able to do quite the update. So this one is going to be huge. Probably to huge. Well, it'll help get me caught up anyway! So if you are interested the settle back and be ready for quite the photo excursion, of mainly animals.



Chacma Baboons









I really don't think I even want to know what lives in that bundle.



So we are driving along through Kruger National Park, still in South Africa, with the windows down and Shasta at the wheel when she stops and says "What is that?" Just outside of my window, directly facing me is a puff adder. We have heard these can strike a balloon twice before it pops! So I quietly ask Shasta to continue driving so that it is not looking me square in the eye. We figured it must be full of food because it looked quite fat. Turns out that they puff up when threatened.....







This big elephant walked right to us when Shasta was driving. She was getting pretty nervous but it walked right around us.



Then decided to get dirty (it keeps the horseflies from biting).



Caught these two doing a pretty cool dance!



There were buffalo everywhere.



And Zebra.



We were treated to finding a Hyena with babies right off the road!













Time to get back before sunset!



We saw just a glimpse of Honey Badgers!



We went on a night drive and we felt really lucky to se a Serval. These are beautiful cats!



Oh and these arent bad either.



We were in our open game vehicle when a pride of 7 females and one male came walking driving at us. Then layed down right next to the vehicle. It was crazy thinking about a lion being right next to us and there we are taking pictures with a flash right in their eyes.





These are wild lions, they are not tame!



Does she look hungry?



This guy sure did, but he got some impala!



I don't like that look you're giving me.



Waterbuck.



a bird.



A vervet monkey with some colorful.....eyes.





The landscape along with Shasta, Tara, and Sarah.



Water Monitors are awesome.





Lilac Breasted Roller, thats probably a tarantula in its mouth!



Cool Owls.



Some hunters dream waterbuck.





A hungry hungry hippo.



A thoughtful baboon.



Morning mist.



Steenbock?



Some poachers shot a rhino but it didn't die. So they followed it for a few weeks and then shot it and the rangers cut the horn so poachers wouldn't get it. It is a sad common story here. The lions found the rhino and laid claim.





Not cool.



An endangered hornbill.



Our last night we spent near some buffalo that were camped on the road. It was nice to shoot them in the sunset.





After that night we said our goodbyes to the Alaskan's and then headed onto the next portion of the journey. We stopped at a massive baobab tree along the way.







This is my favorite photo of the tree, and shasta took it! Except theres a monkey in it.



Our last night in South Africa would be spent at a place called Camp Africa at Louis Trichart. Kind of an odd little town but the forest surrounding the camping area was beautiful!





And that is it for South Africa....whew. I'd be surprised if anyone actually looked at all of those! And now I'm going to say there is another place if anyone wants to see them without all my chatter. That is here:

http://www.kelseygrayphotography.com/Africa/South-Africa-May-2013/

Now i am going to start writing about Botswana...which will just be a ton more animals but at least they will often be doing new and exciting things! Like elephants swimming!

Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2013 - 02:32pm PT
Since its night time here, were in front a water hole where jackels come to eat, and I have a schweppes dry lemon nearby, also I've been in africa long enough to forget how to use commas, so I will now continue with Botswana.



Botswana was our first experience with Pans which are old lakes that no longer hold water, except at rainy season. They are wide open expanses often full of life. Pretty cool. This is Nata Bird Sanctuary.



Shasta looking cool with our trusty rental, Blue Bear, on the only dirt road we could drive in Botswana without a 4x4.



Wildebeast



Pelicans





We camped at a place called Pelican Lodge that did a really good job of taking care of us! Each campsite had its own "Ablution" blocks. Which is just a fancy term for bathroom. Our's came complete with two resident black widows. For some reason I had some bad dreams.



After Nata sanctuary we headed toward the northern border area and a park called Chobe which has a migrating heard of 40,000 elephants. The park lists a total of about 130,000 elephants as its inhabitants!

We stayed at a lodge called Togo Lodge. Not bad camping but they neglected to mention the night club that would have obnoxiously loud music every night we were there. Oh well, it was a beautiful place to spend the day.







On a daily outing around the town of Kasane we found some African Skimmers which are endangered birds. They are quite odd as their top beak is much shorter then the bottom.





We took a single day trip into Chobe by game drive, we couldn't bring our own car because the entire park is 4x4 only. There were more buffalo to be seen.



And the ever common Giraffe.



And the always cunning Vervet Monkey.





The Jackels caught a Steenbock!





Gross alert!





Do not screw with a honey badger.



I had hoped to see a sable but this was the best I could do!



Those balloons stuck in the mud are Hippos.



I was told this is the largest bird in the world that can truly hover. The pied kingfisher. It was cool to watch them hunt!



African Darter



Okay thats good for now! Hopefully the pictures are enjoyed. I've been having a blast taking them!

labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Jun 21, 2013 - 02:46pm PT
Please keep it up! I'm enjoying all the pictures.
Erik
goatboy smellz

climber
Nederland-GulfBreeze
Jun 21, 2013 - 05:55pm PT
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage

...my gopro2 won't focus underwater for some reason (any ideas?)

The waterproof case has a rounded cover,
you need a flat cover to focus underwater.
Manufacturing mistake on their end.
There are a few aftermarket covers that fix the problem.
Keep up the good work, love the wildlife photos!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 27, 2013 - 01:22pm PT
Thank you all for the excellent comments, I really enjoy writing these posts and it is very nice to know that there are people reading them!

So I will continue one. The last post we were halfway through our boat ride. We stumbled on a nice collection of Nile Monitors



It looks like these two had just finished up doing some lizard business, poor guys fast asleep.





Everyone you talk to here tells you not to swim in the water. Then they point out why.



66 razor sharp teeth...oh and they can be 150 years old.



There were so many amazing elephants.





We pulled our boat into a channel between a small island called Sedudu and the shoreline of Botswana. The small island of Sedudu is almost like a floating patch of grass but it is so concentrated with wildlife that Botswana and Namibia like to say they almost went to war over it. Every evening the elephants swim from the shore to eat on the island.







Ok there are a lot of elephant photos, but how can you blame me? They are amazing!

Here the babies just hold onto the tails of the parents and try to stay attached.





Ally oop











Elephant Fight!!!





I really liked this image, it made me feel as though I was in the grass with them.



The island is also covered in some very cool birds. Anyone know what kind of bird this is?



The bird version of "What the heck?"



And then, "oh its just you."



Disappointed he didn't eat the bird? Ya, I was too.



These were some of my favorite elephant photos.



They use the dirt to keep the flies off.



Their skin is so sensitive that it hurts when the flies bite. Yet they can eat camel thorns. Weird.



Dragonflies



In a list of photographic opportunities, elephants at sunset rule supreme.





This effect is not photoshopped. It was just that good of a sunset to get in camera!









And that is the end of our Botswana boat ride. Although it seems like we didn't see much I feel like we got a nice taste of Botswana. Next time we are coming back with a 4x4 for sure! Now it's off to Zambia.


Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 29, 2013 - 05:33pm PT
Okay I'll start this post off with a question. How many of you knew Zambia was a country? I admit that I did not. I knew Zimbabwe was but I had never heard of Zambia. We were told by some people here that it was a necessary place to go and see, especially for Victoria Falls which was ranked as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World on somebodies list. So we headed to the border of Botswana and Zambia through Kasane which crosses the Chobe River. It was unenjoyable. Here is how it went.

We drove up to the Pontoon area where a guy came up to us asking to help us, he was followed by a group of men doing the same. I talked briefly with the first guy who came up and he said he would help us get through customs. I had heard this border post was fraught with difficulties so I considered it, but I also have travelled enough to know the drill. I asked him what he expected for doing so. He gave me a cost of 100 pula, or about $10 us. I've never actually accepted this type of risky endeavor but I figured I'd give him a chance. We tried several unsuccessful attempts at getting Zambian Kwatcha in Botswana but they seem to avoid it like the plague, it turns out you need either that and US dollars for all the different fees. At this point we didn't have any US money. At first we had to pay the pontoon man who accepted only Kwatcha which of course I had to "borrow" from the guy who I accepted the help from. At this moment I've already decided it was a bad idea but was low on options since I didn't have any Zambian Currency. We then go to the customs counter where the price to enter the country is $50 per person. This is not 50 US$ or an equal amount in Kwatcha, no this is $50... The guy helping me says "Here, I have $100 US, you use it and pay me back." I say fine and accept my fate of being overly screwed at this point. We walk out of that office and toward the next where we need to pay road taxes and other annoying traveller fines when a man walks up to me demanding I pay him back for lending me money. Up to this point I actually assumed that it was just going to be the current guy I was working with that was going to try and screw me, I didn't know he had borrowed the money as well. Should have known. The guy demands $180, $100 to pay him back and $80 as his fee. We are slowly being surrounded by several other guys who should be worrying me, but I'm quickly becoming to overly frustrated at their aggressiveness. We settle on a much lower number where he still makes off with $10 or $15 US extra just so I can get the heck out of there. At this point I'm becoming very agitated as I do not like to be pushed around in such a way. I need to go into the road tax office and pay for that fine as well when another man who's been following us around and trying to "help" tries to take our passports and walk toward the office. I quickly have to rip them from his hands and find myself having to become more agressive then the agressors. I go in and get a fresh breath while the genuinely nice guy helps me get everything there sorted. When I go back out they are waiting for me, there is still one more place to go and spend more money that I do not have. You also need to buy insurance for your vehicle, another some odd $30 US for our stay. We go in and it looks like a broken shack, the bureau de change is next door (where I could have exchanged my pula to kwatcha) but it looks like it's never been open and would collapse if they opened the main beam supporting door. I leave Shasta in the car with the doors locked nearby, knowing she would hit the horn if things got interesting out there and at least I could see what the commotion was before the seemingly hundreds of people just milling about pulled me down. That seems a bit dramatic, and probably was, but at that point I was feeling robbed while I still had my belongings on me. I need to borrow more Kwatcha, I tell the guy if he gives me this money he is getting exactly that amount back, no more and no less. He agrees and I finish getting the insurance. Outside I am walking to my car and a guy comes up angry asking for his money that I borrowed from him. I gave a quick glance to the man helping me but I shouldn't have been surprised. This was par for the course. So now we are arguing as I am opening the door and getting into the car, they are trying to reach in and who knows where they are reaching around to as I bat arms away. They want another $50 US extra for leading me $30. It's getting ridiculous and I finally snap, I tell him he is getting exactly what I said I was going to give him and then I would pay back what I borrowed and that was it. I'm raising my voice as about as loud as I ever have travelling, which is probably more of a struggled through my teeth kind of berating. I push the money into his hands, tell the guy who was supposed to be helping me that he was fine but everyone around him sucks, also knowing that he obviously is in on their business as well. We drive off nearly running over those who almost refuse to get out of the way while demanding money. The rest of the drive is a tense, frustrated, and loud music calming hour to Livingstone with a sour Zambian first impression in our minds.

After a night at Jollyboys Backpackers Camp we were relaxed enough to check out the place. Since we heard that Victoria Falls was amazing we went right to it and got our first good taste of the expensive country that is Zambia. Seriously, this place is pricey! We rode elephants in South Africa for $40 per person. A nearly identical trip in Zambia is $150! It was $20 per person just to get in to the park for the falls. I feel it was worth it however, the falls are pretty amazing with an absolutely incredible amount of water falling at all times.



I only brought my gopro since any other type of camera would have been soaked. I looked as though I had just taken a shower. Shasta looked happy as well. As you can see it was a beautiful sunny day. It was strange standing in a downpour under perfectly blue skies.







It is quite the experience to stare right into the falls.





The mighty Zambezi River snakes it's way through the canyon.



I contemplated doing my first ever bungee jump off of the Victoria falls bridge but once again the expense made us reconsider. Now I think we are going to try it at the taller one in South Africa.



But the view would have been amazing from the middle.





Shasta trying to get the good shots.



Some of the local wildlife around the falls. They may look pretty harmless here but when we were walking up one of the trails we started hearing some of the baboons screaming and going crazy. As we got further up the trail we came to an older man and his two daughters hugging and frozen in place by an angry baboon. They were very frightened and calling for help. Thankfully I'd been in Africa for a month already and had this part down. I walked up and made normal "get out of here" and waving motions while stomping my foot. It worked well and the baboon let everyone by but not without some serious hissing.



This bridge leads from Zambia to Zimbabwe. Alas, we didn't want to pay for an extra visa to return so we didn't make it to Zimbabwe. Next time we will head over though!



A funny looking rock dassie or hyrax.



Heres some more pictures of the falls and bridge because it was a really amazing experience.







After another night at Jollyboys we managed to get out to Bovu island, which was our favorite part of Zambia. It is an island run for the last 30 years as a camp / lodge type. It's all help yourself type stuff and there is no power except that which the solar panel produces. It is usually just enough to power the radio at night. The rest of the time you are navigating by candles and watching the Zambezi flow by. You also pay a $25 fee that includes activities such as Fishing, which we did for 3 days.



The fishing was done in a dugout canoe. It was interesting being in this canoe and seeing hippos and crocodiles! One of the guys who worked the boats had recently had his canoe bit into 3 pieces by an angry hippo. He then had to swim to shore.



Sunset on the Zambezi. Zambia on the right and Zimbabwe on the left.



Everyone was fishing.



We were fishing for tiger fish but only caught juveniles so we didn't get to keep any. But you should see the teeth on those things! Shasta got some pictures and hopefully she'll get them up some time as well.



A fish eagle.



Local fishermen



And then after 3 nights it was time to head back to Livingstone. A short canoe right and then around and hour long drive.



After another nights stay at Jollyboys we happily headed toward Namibia, our experience at Bovu made Zambia worthwhile. We would like to come back and experience much more of this country in the future.
briham89

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Jun 29, 2013 - 06:48pm PT
Incredible adventure and photos! TFPU!
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Jun 29, 2013 - 06:55pm PT
This thread is so excellent!

Beautiful places, and you're really good with the camera, thanks!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 29, 2013 - 06:58pm PT
Wow....wow....wow! What an incredible adventure and what an amazing job of photo documentation. Keep the reports coming!
Timid TopRope

Social climber
'used to be Paradise, CA
Jun 30, 2013 - 01:28pm PT
This is better than National Geographic. Great photos. Looking forward to more. Thanks for sharing with us. The bird you were asking about is a species of stork but I don't know many birds outside of the USA.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 2, 2013 - 04:49pm PT
I am currently sitting outside the lodge center for our camping area and its closed, their internet is super slow and I only have 15% battery power left. So this is the biggest post I could get done with those obstacles!

When we left Livingstone we drove through Zambia on the way to the Namibian border. There was something we read that warned of more potholes then pavement in the Zambian roads and we were experiencing that! It was terrible. I was scared of going over 60km/hr at times because of the massive car swallowing holes that would appear. We finally made it to Namibia and cruised through the border. Once in Namibia there was a nice change of pace as the scenery opened up and the country seemed vast and relatively unpopulated.

The first night we stayed on the banks of the Okavango River, which was a beautiful place. I have pictures...there not up yet and frankly I'm not sure where my edits went! Oh well, I don't have many of that area so I'll find them later and upload them. Until then...

We continued on to a place that we were told we should go. The worlds largest meteorite just happened to be sitting on a farm somewhere in Namibia. We headed that direction and stumbled on the Hoba Meteorite.





That is ony big hunk of space metal! Do you see the peanut? (Joe Dirt reference)





After that quick stop we continued to our main destination, the Etosha Pan. This area had been highly recommended by everyone, including friends in Alaska who had been to Namibia. So we were excited to see it for ourselves. The first night we stayed just outside the park gate at a wonderful lodge called Onguma. Camping in these countries is really amazing. For $12 per person we got to sit in their really nice fancy lodge and use all their amenities. We definitely feel spoiled at times. This lodge also had a water hole that you could sit and watch while eating dinner.



Whenever we were at the lodge, this is where we would spend our time.





The next morning we woke at a brisk 5:40am so we could be in the gate right when it opened. After just a few hundred yards through the gate we saw our first Black Rhino of the trip. This is Africa's most endangered.







We quickly realized that much of the park has very open territory. This seemed a bit different then Kruger National Park in South Africa, where much of the park had taller bushes or trees (at least the parts we visited).
Also instead of a million Impala, we would now be seeing tons of Springbok. Which, I think look a bit more colorful anyhow.



Jackels are a constant fixture in these areas. Its the american version of a Coyote. So there will be plenty of pictures that I post of them from time to time.



And then we finally saw our first leopard. We had visited all these parks and done all of the game drives and had still never seen a leopard! Unfortunately the moment was fleeting. The leopard crossed the road in front of me and when I finally got to where it was it was walking away. Still it was great to finally see one!







Portions of the pan itself.



A Kori Bustard drinking, the largest bird in the world that can still fly.



A new animal for us to gaze upon, the Gemsbock or Oryx. This is an incredible animal that is also quite dangerous when driving around. Apparently at night, instead of the usual deer in the headlights look, they will actually put their horns down and charge your car head on....not good.



And as my last image for this post, there will be tons of pictures of these guys!



Alright thats it for my battery life!
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Jul 2, 2013 - 05:42pm PT
Outstanding collections of photos and commentary, amazing trip of a lifetime! Supertopo has compiled an impressive list of good threads, and for me this is one of the best.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jul 2, 2013 - 09:51pm PT
Truly fantastic, both photos and commentary. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to post this. I have read each and every caption while marveling at all the photos, and look forward to more.

THANK YOU!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 6, 2013 - 03:50pm PT
Thank you Jan, nutjob, Donini, and everyone else who is taking the time to read this! Here's some more.

Ok I was sitting here rueing this post a bit. Mainly because it's going to be such an undertaking! Oh well, here we go!

My last post ended in the middle of our first day in Etosha National Park. Which is going to encompass a ton of photos so I won't commentary them all!

Giraffe



There were lots of Giraffe at this watering hole.



The funniest thing you will find at a water hole is a giraffe drinking. They get real close and then splay their legs out and bend down to the water. Then when they are done its a big wet slurp.







Most of the terrain in Etosha is flat great visibility. If it's standing, you'll probably see it.



Sometimes if it is laying down as well.



Oh and this is a Gemsbock, they are beautiful!



When we were at Kruger National Park we would head to the watering holes where there would occasionaly be animals. The problem there is that they have a lot of water located in the rivers and so the watering holes are not always so populated. In Etosha, you can easily just drive to a watering hole and wait the day away watching what comes to drink.





Its just amazing to watch everything come and go. In a few minutes the scenery changes to a whole new set of animals.



And they don't always get along. For example, this angry little warthog.



He went after everyone.



Not everyone was fighting.





A Kudu, it seems impossible for hunters to look at this animal without making a gun with their hand and pretend shooting at it.



This gal wanted to jump in and surprised everyone.



Springbok



Lots of them...



We were going on one of our normal drives, where we would leave the camp and be gone until the gate closed, when we ran into this guy. We came around the corner and he was walking directly toward us. I waited until he got pretty close then backed up until he decided to head off the road. That is really intimidating!



We went to another watering hole and found some elephants. That always makes Shasta happy. If you ever have a problem with an elephant, DONT honk your horn. It sounds like the babies to them and they will rip your car open trying to find them.



The elephant equivalent of NO PICTURES!! NO PICTURES!!





As we rushed to make it to the camp in time, if you don't get there when the gate closes it is a big fine, we found a Hyena eating a turtle! Definitely worth some pictures.







This is what the drive back to camp looked like.




Short intermission!
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jul 6, 2013 - 04:29pm PT
Thanks Kelsey for posting these. Just spent my lunch time here scrollin' through & readin' through the entire thread. BEST THREAD ON THE FRONT PAGE RITE NOW !!!!!

And yes I know Zambia is a country :-) . Scary to read what happened to you there but understandable in a country with the difficulties it has.

Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 6, 2013 - 05:11pm PT
Thanks Tami! Zambia is a cool place for the most part, I'd love to come back and fish for tigers some more. Glad you enjoyed the post!

Ok where was I.

Our first night in Etosha we stayed at Numatoni Camp. There are three camps within the park all spelled incorrectly by me as: Numatoni, Halali, and Okakuhejo.

We woke up the next morning to try and see some lions or another leopard. Instead it was a quiet morning at the water hole with some endangered black-face impala.



It was our first experience of seeing an Eland, which is Southern Africas biggest antelope.





Etosha Pan is well known for its mirages.



Zebra are not always nice!





Here a springbok is pronking. Its what they call it when they bound along.



This amazing and small mammal is called a damara dik-dik. They have very large eyes.





While we were in Zambia we met a few people who lived in Africa. One of them was named Longinus. He lived in a small village north of Oshakati in the northern areas of Namibia. He invited us to his house and we took him up on it. It was quite the experience! Here, i believe it was one of his cousins, is grinding the marula nut into a paste which was added to some oil. It was then added to chicken and pap (which is almost like a heavy paste of grits.)





In these areas the whole family lives in one "village" which is enclosed by a wall. This is where we stayed.





Here is Longi and his grandmum. Who seemed pretty spry. When we arrived we gave her a loaf of bread as a gift and had learned the proper way to greet with respect in their language. It went like this.

Walala po meme?
Ehh
Nawa?
Ehh

It is basically like saying:

How are you?
Good
You are good?
Good

Only with respect.



Because she was so happy with our gift and that they had visitors, we were given a live chicken.



Shasta was told to carry it back to our side of the village.



We took it back where Shasta and Longi's mom killed it and pulled the feathers. A few hours later we were eating it with our crushed marula nut oil. Delicious!



The view from our room, also the fire and dining area of the previous night.



Nature.



They use their crops for many uses.



Heres a little story I forgot about that previous day. We had tried to get into Angola. We previously hadn't planned on it but Longi said he liked to go up there and that it wouldn't be a problem, so we decided to try. We pulled into the lot and instantly got hassled by a few guys who were even making Longi uncomfortable. We walked into the customs office where the customs guy yelled at us "Watch those men! They are trying to rob you!" In the end it was a fruitless venture, as you need to apply for a visa ahead of time to get into Angola. Oh well, next time!

That morning after being in the village we stopped at a street vendor and ate Copani. Which is just beef. The red in the upper portions of this image is where they are cutting it right from the cow. Now that is fresh! And it was amazingly delicious!



We dropped Longi off at his work in Ondongwa and then headed back for Etosha National Park. Two days there was simply not enough! So here's a bunch more pictures of animals!

Goshawk



I believe this is a Large spotted Genet. It was hard to tell has he was hiding.



I had no idea that elephants rest their legs this way.



Sometimes spotting game in the park was a real trick!



Other times, it was impossible to miss.





You stay on your side...and I'll stay on mine.



The sunset routine is something like this : Just keep taking pictures, you are guaranteed to get something good.



We stayed that night at Onguma Lodge, as we had before. It was a great place and we were happy to return for our cheap camping. The sign had some odd advice however...



The next morning it was back to driving around. These days of driving the park are great but they have one huge drawback. For the most part you are never allowed to get out of the vehicle unless you are at a camp. That includes just stretching your legs. Here's part of the reason why...



And they do get close.





They were eating something and the Jackals were wanting in on it.



Random Zeb.



Steenbok



Red Hartebeest



Zebra's...reflected in a Zebra eye.



Laying down on the job.



And that is all I have uploaded for the moment! Tonight I am going to set it to upload and hopefully I have much more to post tomorrow. I have my favorite lion photos of the entire trip still to come!! Thanks for reading!
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jul 6, 2013 - 09:23pm PT
Thanks again for posting!
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Jul 6, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
Keep the pictures coming! Seems as if you're having an amazing trip!
goatboy smellz

climber
Nederland-GulfBreeze
Jul 6, 2013 - 10:24pm PT
Thanks for the trip Kelsey, your photos are very inspirational & show deep respect to the wildlife and culture.
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Jul 6, 2013 - 10:41pm PT
Loving the share, thanks so much.
Those are painted storks on the previous page if I'm not mistaken.

Wonderful colors captured.

cheers
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jul 7, 2013 - 01:56am PT
Again, wow. Just wow.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 7, 2013 - 04:20pm PT
Jan, Brandon, goatboy, Dehli dog, and Tami - Thanks for the comments! :)

Here's another huge post.

This is going to be a big post. I apologize for those of you who have a bandwidth limit.

Remember earlier when I said we stayed on the Okavango? I finally got those pictures up. So here hey are!

This is a view from our tent.





Crocs and Hippos live in those waters.



Perfects evenings.



Now back on track...

We managed to find a place on Etosha Pan where you could drive onto the pan and actually get out of the vehicle. So we stayed a while and played around.



These are my feet. And this is what they look like since I arrived in Africa.





We jumped around a lot too. We don't get out of the car much so we took advantage.



Alas, we had to continue the drive.



Ravens.



More Jackals.





We were getting ready to head back to our camping area but figured we had enough time to check out one more watering hole. As I was driving down the road I spotted something sitting under a tree. It was a lion!! Finally!! We quickly slowed down and pull right up next to the lions as they were hanging out under the tree in the parking area.



There were two females and a big male.





I was very excited to finally get such close up pictures of wild lions!



As I was taking the shot above Shasta followed the females gaze and out of the trees walked 4 females and 3 cubs! We felt incredibly lucky to see 10 lions at once and we were right in the middle of them.



We looked out eachothers windows and snapped hundreds of pictures. The lions under the tree were less then 15 feet from our car while the others were on the other side at the watering hole.









Theres a lot of lion pictures...but I was so excited to take them that now I have to post them!











This little one was getting a little to close to the water.



So this one came and dragged it off.







This one was just watching. It's interesting because I really should have put my lens hood on but I liked the effect so much I just went with it. At time's its a bit much but overall, I'm happy.





The big male tried to mount a few females and then he walked around our car and gave us a good view from a different angle.











Had enough lion pictures yet? No? Oh good, me neither...














Okay I'll end this lion experience with the money shot. Color or black and white? I can't choose.





Okay, that was a ridiculous amount of lions! We drove back to our campsite, coming in a few minutes late due to a big bull elephant in the road who nearly charged a camper truck, and woke to another beautiful day. We were excited to see if the lions were still there so we went back to our water hole. I think it was spelled something like Neaumses. The lions were still there but they had moved off further away.



This bird was there too.



As were the Guineafowl. Because they are everywhere...



We continued to another watering hole, Reitfontein, and pulled up to find another 4 lions. These were further off but how lucky could we get!



To say there were a lot of animals at this watering hole would be a huge understatement. They were all a little skiddish.





So were just about to leave, figuring we've seen all the lions we will see for the rest of Africa. Then two big males come walking out of the bushes.



And now everything is acting a little more nervous.



After a while we decided to take a drive to find wild dogs. Which we wouldn't...so don't anyone get any hopes up because from what I have seen in pictures, they are unbearably cute. But we did find giraffe bones.



And the squirrel species called Chuck Norris Squirrels, on account of their giant nuts.



But there was someone nearby trying to take him on.



Yellow Mongoose, big carrier or rabies. How unfortunate for such a pretty weasel.



Okay, so were counting ourselves extremely lucky to have seen 16 lions in just two days. Were heading back and we decide to go to a place called Oliphant something or another (If you are really curious, I'll look it up proper). Once we arrive we see another lion. This is just getting to much!



What is he looking at? Oh, of course, its another male lion walking out of the bushes. He came right from where we were two seconds ago!



And behind him is another male. Thats 3 big males at this one watering hole!



Would you want to be attacked by this? Seriously, stay in your car.







That was a lot of lions. 19 lions in 24 hours. It was time to head back for our last nights stay in Etosha.



It was finally time to leave Etosha. I have to say I am sad to have to leave! I could spend another week in there driving around and seeing all those amazing animals. But there is a lot more country to see. So we continued our drive and stopped in a town who's name has escape me. We decided to go to a small crocodile farm and check it out.





They had lots of crocs at different sizes. Especially hungry ones.





We continued the really long drive toward Spitzkoppe but didn't quite make it before dark. We stopped at a place called Buschhotel and instantly Shasta and I fell in love with the place. We were the only ones there and it was an amazingly quiet, clean, safe, place.



If you go there, make sure you get room #3, it was the coolest room and only $50 per night for two people. We still camped, hey $16 is hard to beat, but we really wanted to do the room. But we are also pretty much out of money and coasting through Africa at this point! Just saving enough for gas and accommodation.



Dining on swinging tables.



Seeing weird trees.



A very german house and building. Reception is in there.



And then we arrive at the most awesome campsite yet and area. Oh and some rock climbing for those itching for some out of the car adventure!

It's the Spitzkoppe!



This is our campsite, there are bolted climbs on those rocks behind our tent. It took 5 seconds to get to or first climb of the trip.



This was a view to the right of our tent.



And from straight out.



This is the Spitzkoppe form the "easy" side.





Whew, that may be enough for tonigh. We'll see!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jul 8, 2013 - 01:29am PT
hey there say, wow! prezwoodz, don't know how i missed this, :O
but then, with slower dial up stuff this year i sure miss a lot, :(

and then, too, getting paintings and yard work, on going, have less time
to FIGHT with this ol' thankful-to-have-but-hard-on-the-ol-body, machine, :)


wonderful shares!!! did you get my email???
am sending the address in the morning... :)


happy safe trip, still, and more prayers...
god bless!!!
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jul 8, 2013 - 02:02am PT
Excellent straddle jump. Gnarly croc.

Still followin' along.

Safe travel to you & Shasta !!!
Nohea

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
Jul 8, 2013 - 03:25am PT
Right on! I've been from lanai, HI to St Petersburg, RU since you started and have loved this TR of sorts. Big Thanks for your efforts to carry us along.

Reminds me of only a week I had to visit in Kenya, and I have not been to zoo since.

Well I'm back on Lanai, camping by the beach, and just wanted to say Mahalo. Great thread.

Aloha, will
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Jul 8, 2013 - 10:44am PT

wow there are some stunning pictures...you scored posting up at that watering hole, a who's who of African fauna!

great jumping shots...and crazy that asteroid was able to land in that little circled viewing area. Bulls eye! ;)


thanks for sharing, keep traveling!!!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 17, 2013 - 03:59am PT
Thanks Everyone for the posts!

Neebee - I've got your address from the email, thanks!

Tami - Glad your still following along!

Nohea - Where's the pics and TR of your journey??

Roxy - It was funny to see it in the viewing area. We expected something different too!

We’ve spent the last week attempting to get internet and its been a total failure for the most part. We got just enough to reply to some emails and that’s been it. We finally get a place that has internet and they forgot to pay their bill on time, so its been shut off and they estimate 6 hours before its on. Sometime around 2am. Which is the usual speed for anything to get done here in Africa, or as they would say “just now-now.”

Sometimes this is how things must be done in a country where you are not supposed to leave your hostel at night. I am writing this into Microsoft word, then I will transfer it later to the net and insert pictures there. Not always the easiest, but sometimes it is what works!

So, I think we were just getting to the Spitzkoppe? Well we didn’t waste any time and climbed a few routes our first day. Although I didn’t take any pictures of that climbing. It had been so long since we got on some real rock we were actually feeling pretty rusty and spent the day finding out how to move again. But where better then in the mountains to find a groove again!

Climbing in the Spitzkoppe is excellent. The rock is a very sticky granite much like Joshua Tree and there were plenty of fun sport lines on the massive boulders around the camping areas. Still, we wanted to climb something bigger. The guidebook quickly let us know that we would need two 60 meter ropes for almost any descent (we only had one) and trad gear was preferred (which we didn’t have). So it was slim pickens on the big routes. We decided on just doing a hike/scramble up a peak called Pontok 3, the nice big dome in this picture. There is an excellent looking trad line up the middle of the face.



We started our hike on a ridge and found the travel to be fairly easy.



We trudged on through some cactus and large boulder hopping that reminded us of home and Hatcher Pass in Alaska. The final portion of the hike is the best, it is easy 5th class scrambling up to the summit over slightly exposed faces with excellent views.



The mountains in Namibia seem to come from nowhere and suddenly rise to the clouds.



On top we found a rather old and nice summit register. There was even an entry from someone who carried their 8 month old to the top!





There are some really fun climbs on this section. Approaches are minimal.



At the end of the small road is a camping site. One of the many nestled amongst the rocks.



Local plant life taking over.





We decided to do some climbing on the formation that I showed in the picture above. At this time we were pretty tired after the hike. Especially since we had been sitting in the car for the last month taking pictures out the window! But it was great to be getting back into it. Shasta didn’t feel quite as confident on this one however.



It included moves like shoving yourself into a bulge head first and seeing if you could get out. Very awkward!





Then more fun moves to some bigger holes and another spot to shove yourself into.





Then a thank god jug and all is well!






Sort of…

But the approach was brutal. It took at least 5 seconds. But that was only because I parked so far away.



Many of the formations can be easily scrambled to the top for excellent nighttime viewing.



They also have some cool arches!





Shasta kissing a shadow.







And heres is a few more of the arch…because they can be quite beautiful.





I believe this is the tallest mountain in Namibia, Brandenberg Peak.



More Spitzkoppe Peak.



Some night time fun.







Pontok’s 2,3, and 4



The Rhino’s horn. Awesome! (John, are you thinking what I am thinking?)





By our final day our fingers were feeling quite tender from the very solid granite. So we decided on an incredibly easy (South African Rating 15) 3 pitch route up this lower face.



I got to the bottom and once again discovered I had left my climbing shoes at the car. It was fine though because I was wearing my New Balance Minimus shoes and they sure seem to grip the rock well!





Although to be honest some of the slabby sections seemed a bit steep for those shoes, and the 15 -20 foot runouts in a few sections made me feel a little nervous. But all went well. Shasta seemed to be enjoying it too.





A lot of not-yet-polished rock that reminded me very much of Tuoulmne Meadows.



It was a quick walk down and back to the car. One more shot of the face and the surrounding area.



As sad as we were to leave, it had to be done. There is still so much to see and our 4 days in the Spitzkoppe gave us a good light introduction. It was time to head to the coast!



Swakopmund is on the coast of Namibia and was highly recommended as a place to visit. When we got there it was mainly foggy and damp. It stayed that way the whole time we were there, but it was nice to see some water again. The first thing we did was visit a gems gallery where they housed the Worlds Largest Quartz Crystal on Display. It was pretty huge.





We only had a short time in Swakopmund so we decided on a boat and 4x4 tour that would be around 6 or 7 hours. The boat tour was interesting and included interactions where the seal would swim into the boat and then walk around. You could feed it by hand. There were a lot of them.



There were also a lot of very friendly pelicans which would land in the boat and then walk around looking for fish handouts.













They had very colorful red eyes!





Is that enough pictures of Pelicans? Probably....




But since they were posing so nicely. Here's just one more!



We also saw dolphins.



And Pelicans! Oh wait...



Get out of here pelicans...were on to dolphins now.







As you can tell by the weather it was a bit cold! Who knew we would be cold in Namibia?



We were in Walvis Bay which is apparently world famous for oysters. Here are some oyster farms.



They are very proud of their oysters and say they are less slimy and more meaty. I didn't notice to much difference but I'm not that well versed in oysters.



What is that....?





Ok guys seriously?! You had your turn pelicans...ok that is pretty cool.



Oh and there were seals. But we would see many more of those later.



And Humpback whales. A very active day for wildlife!





We then landed back on shore and hopped into a land rover with a few other people to be driven to Sandwich Bay which, we had heard, was supposed to be excellent. On the side of the road were flamingos! I had been wanting to see flamingos this entire time! So here's a bunch of pictures of them.













Greater and lesser flamingo's!





That should be enough for now! I was going to post more but just found out that I don't have any of the next photos online! Somehow I uploaded some from later but missed those. Double darn!

Hopefully I can post some more soon!
crøtch

climber
Jul 17, 2013 - 10:44am PT
Awesome photos, Kelsey!
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Jul 17, 2013 - 11:26am PT
My vote is the B+W on that lion image.

The sunrise/ sunset colors especially the tree is killer!

Maybe you already shared this but what lens have you found to be the one most used?

Maybe somewhere in Africa will be my next move I'm thinking.

Keep them coming! Absolutly wonderful.

cheers
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Jul 17, 2013 - 12:09pm PT
Hopefully I can post some more soon!

I sure hope so!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 17, 2013 - 05:41pm PT
Finally the hostel got its internet running again. Time for a big post.

Dehli Dog - I use a 70-200mm f2.8 with a 2x converter for all the up and close stuff. I wouldn't come to Africa for pictures without at least one lens thats 400mm or more!

My last picture was of flamingo's (if you haven't seen those in my pictures yet there on the previous page).

Our drive continued from a paved road to a dirt road, then a salt road, then something consisting of sand which resembled a road. Namibia is one of the only places in the world where the sand dunes meet the ocean and it was this sight that I most wanted to see on the 4x4 trip.

As was normal with our Swakop trip, the clouds obscured most of the view.





But when the clouds opened.......it was an incredible sight.



Behind Shasta as she climbs the sand dune, is the Atlantic Ocean.



And there are so many!



The sand dunes further inland are much more red (pictures of these later) because the dunes contain iron, which has further oxidized at that point. Now it's fresh and a bright orange.



Sandwich Harbor



Awesome shapes.





The atlantic ocean, Sandwich Bay, and the sand dunes of the Namibian desert.



More shapes, and iron deposits.



Shasta giving thanks to the mountain gods.



Then trying to fly, because that's what we do off of every dune!







I like this one.



But this ones great!



On our drive back our guide took use driving across the dunes and we parked on top of this one. The dunes in Namibia are the tallest in the world. It's amazing how they sweep down so steeply.



But there is life out there.



We decided to do something I've wanted to do since I was a kid. Visit the Skeleton Coast! I mean, who didn't want to when they first heard about it? Right away we come across a wreck. While it wasn't an especially old one, it was helping give name to the coast.





We continued along the coast which is wide open, with some hills and mountains off into the distance. The scene is barren and seems lifeless. But along the coast, this is anything but true!



This is the Cape Seal Colony. It's huge, smelly, and noisy!



But, as with all the other animals, here's a bombardment of photos!













Oh it smelled so bad....



You could not pay me enough to club one of these baby seals....How could anyone do that?!



Except that one....he's scary.



And mean!





But some are so cute! Here is Shasta being daring.



They love the water too.



And talking back.



And synchronized land movements .



But not fishing line...think about that before you toss your excess line in the ocean!



We stayed the night about 108km down the Skeleton Coast and the next morning drove back toward civilization. Along the way we saw Meerkats! Another animal I had been wanting to see! It was quick, but they posed just long enough for a shot.





That was the end of our fun along the coast of Namibia, it was short but very enjoyable. We decided to drive the paved roads through Windhoek and south to a small town called Sesriem. We could have shaved about 200km from our drive by going along dirt roads, but the risk of flats are high and we wanted to avoid that if possible. Our trip through Windhoek (the largest city in Namibia) wasn't generally unpleasant and after a quick lunch we continued along our way. We did stop just outside the city at a war memorial that was pretty cool. It was being worked on and we parked in the center of the main square. I'm pretty sure that wasn't right but I had no idea where else to park.





And the drive continued on. We drove many of these types of days, around 500km or more. This one was over 650km.

Ol' Bluebear is looking a little rough.



Oh and we stopped that night at a place called Hammerstien Lodge. It wasn't exactly what we expected but it was pretty cool. Here is a leopard, her name is Lisa.











Had enough leopard photos? No, of course not! It's a Leopard!!









And a Caracal! There like really big cats with small heads and big ears.







The money shots.



Why yes, I would appreciate it if you posed there and looked off into the distance.







And nearby was the fastest land mammal.



Those eyes make you feel like lunch.



And the claws make you feel all minced up.



Camouflage.



This was Shasta's favorite bird of the trip. The red breasted shrike.



Break Time!
goatboy smellz

climber
Nederland-GulfBreeze
Jul 17, 2013 - 05:53pm PT
Outstanding!
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
Jul 17, 2013 - 06:36pm PT
I hate to ask what you do for a living, because if it ain't taking photos, then something is wrong.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 18, 2013 - 03:09am PT
Thanks goatboy and k-man for the replies!

"A living" can be such a variable term!

This is my last morning in Africa and I am in Durban, SA. This place is known for having over 320 days of sun per year! And over a total of 7 days, we've had 3 days of rain. Doh! Oh well, good for continuing the post!

After Hammerstein Lodge we continued along the dirt road toward Sesriem and a park area known as Sossusvlei. We had heard great things about this area so we expected much.

Have you ever seen a picture where you immediately thought "I have to go to that place, and try to take that picture"? Well the picture of Namibia that made me immediately do that was a recent one from a National Geographic Photographer. It was the image here:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/namibia-park/behind-the-photo

Now, before I go into these images I'll admit that I wasn't about to get the shot. Not for lack of trying though! But I'll go into that later.

We arrived in Sesriem and got our campsite all figured out then headed on a drive into the park.



These are the red oxidized dunes that I was talking about earlier. This area is considered the oldest desert in the world!



The area is very well known for its "vlei's" which are pans of water that dry during the dry season and for its dead trees that are left after the dunes pass over them. Some as long as 600 years ago.



The desert was teaming with life.





Our first day there we only had a few hours so we took a short 2km hike over the sand to an area called Hidden Vlei. This pan was very quiet and the were the only ones there.









AFter the hike, which took longer then we hoped and sure felt like quite the slog, we headed to an iconic dune called Dune 45. Which was really windy!



Just taking my camera out in this probably added a new layer of dust to my lens/sensor.



But how could I miss out on these views?!



Such amazing shapes of beautiful red dunes.



And the way they seem to instantly disappear into the valley floor.







If you've seen postcards from this area, they probably looked like this, with this dune.



We went back to camp and spent the night looking at the stars though our tent, since we had still never used our rainfly. The next morning we were up at 5am to be through the gate by 5:45am when it opened. We drove with a convoy of other cars to the end of the road and paid $10 each to get a drive by 4x4 into the Deadvlei parking area. Unfortunately an unusual mist had settled over the dunes and turned into clouds. But we pressed on.





And this is the reason I couldn't get that iconic shot. It was made by waiting for the morning sunlight to fall down the dune until just where it reached the pan. We had even light until well after the sun was up. Oh well, maybe next time!



And now we get to the point where there are going to be a lot of images of dead trees and sand dunes. If you really just don't care about them then I urge you to scroll quickly!!

We decided to hike the biggest dune in Africa, which they claim is the tallest in the world. Not sure about the specifics but we'll go with it even if google doesn't.



It's called Big Daddy (seemed like a terrible name for such a feature) and we did our usual antics from the top.





Deadvlei from above.



This dune is really big! I was very excited to run down at full speed off the tallest dune so I set a timer and ran for it. It felt like it took forever and my legs were exhaused by the end! It was like a full sprint downhill! My clock said 8 seconds but I think it broke. Was more like 20 or 30 I think. Who knowsl but it was awesome!



The pan.









Shasta all bundled up! Always a smile on her face, best girl in the world!







Those tiny dots on top of the dune are people.



And then we finally got a little relief from the clouds and the sun decided to make a visit. I was able to shoot some images that made me happy and I was thankful for that.















We spent quite a bit of time there.



A few other souls climbing their way up Big Daddy.





While I didn't get the shot I was aiming for, in some ways I feel we were quite lucky for the weather. It was unusual and that made the shots interesting.



See you later Big Daddy and Deadvlei.






Breakfast break!
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jul 18, 2013 - 04:12am PT
More great photos! I'm with you til the end of the trip. Thanks again!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 18, 2013 - 04:20am PT
In an effort to catch up with the country I am in before actually leaving it, here is another post!

After the dunes we headed into Sesriem Canyon, which felt like a slightly less strong Maple Canyon.



It is a popular hike with 0 difficulty.







Quite the feature!





We spent a few hours in the canyon then continued our drive along random roads in the park. Then we stumbled on something we had previously spent almost an entire day trying to find, bat eared foxes!



The cuteness is nearly unbearable.







The next day we debated on stopping at an area called Fish River Canyon. Until we had seen the Travel Namibia book we had never even heard of it and how impressive could it be anyway? Well we decided to check it out and wow!



I had no idea the second largest canyon in the world was in Namibia.



This is a necessary image. Did you know that here in Africa they make cereal that is basically just choco squares filled with nutella?!



John, I made this image as an homage to our Grand Canyon trip. Although I can't find that image right now and will have to dig it up later.



Then I saw something really awesome to walk!



Thanks Shasta for snapping the images!







There is an 80km hike through the canyon that I am very much planning on doing next time!



This is where it starts.









We stayed at a campsite that was 10km away from the rim called Hoba Campsite.







That is a huge canyon.



The dragon.



Our plan was to continue on to a campground called Ai/Ais where they supposedly had hot springs to swim in. We got a flat on the way though and a nice family that stopped to help us told us the place was a real resort fest with way to many people. We decided to check it out and they were completely correct. We got our tire fixed there and drove right on out. The hot springs are swimming pools now. You couldn't tell they were hot springs any more then you could tell they were heated kiddie pools. What a shame. We did see this really cool armored cricket though while waiting for a ride.



We decided to push on through to Aussenkehr where the climbing guide had listed some fun looking stuff. The drive was also quite beautiful and our tire patch was holding up well.





We stayed at a lodge called Norotoshama Lodge. A totally awesome place! Really great priced camping, with internet, boats to use at no extra cost, and they provide a ride for you to get into the canyon and climb! They didn't even charge us for the ride! Definitely stay there if you get a chance, its right on the Orange River and the fishing is good.

The next day we headed into Aussenkehr Canyon for some climbing on the oldest rock I think I've ever climbed. It's said to be 2 billion years old.



The climbing routes are strictly enforced and you have to talk with the farm manager before any new routes go up. Thats because of the large amount of crappy rock that must be bypassed to find some good routes.

As you can see here, some of the routes look pretty darn scary! Those blocks are precarious!



But it was a really beautiful and quiet place with only two cars going by in the 6 hours we were there climbing.





We thoroughly exhausted ourselves by climbing 10 routes as fast as we could and then waited the 10 min we had left for our ride happy as could be.



Then headed back to Aussenkehr for our last night in the town.





I am going to end this post here because the next day we would be heading back into South Africa and toward more awesome climbing. We were still very much out of climbing shape and the next few days of fun would have our fingers fully tender!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 20, 2013 - 10:04am PT
Time to cross the border back into South Africa and, for he first time, head back in the direction we started.

We drove from Aussenkehr to the Cederberg Mountains in South Africa trying to get to Rocklands. We instead ended up 60km on a dirt road at a place called Cederberg Oasis, you see we were trying to get to rocklands but googled sport climbing. I'm not much of a boulderer. And it brought us to this area of the Cederberg. It all turned out though because the rock in this area was amazingly featured! We drove into a place called Truitjies Kraal where the sport climbing was and climbed about 8 really enjoyable routes.



We were still feeling tired from our climbing the other day at Aussenkehr but the routes had such large holds it didn't really matter!











After pulling the small roof, Shasta is glad to find the good holds.



Looks like she was holding on pretty tight!



The surrounding area. There is a huge amount of route potential. Unfortunately, the current program worked out with the park service and the mountain club goes as such "If you want to put a route in, you have to take one down."







After climbing most of the day we decided to explore around a bit. There are awesome caves all over the place.



Then I got a little artsy with it. As a photog I noticed the light in the caves was amazing with the angle of the sun. So heres me just appreciating the beauty of Shasta, and the caves.







I am pretty lucky to have this girl to travel and be with!





Awesome features.



Bushman paintings.



The landscape here is awesome! It's the first place in South Africa we really felt we could actually live, if we didn't already love Alaska.





This is the view from our campsite at Cederberg Oasis. If you are in the area definitely go there. Great place with super nice people and they have the biggest dinner of ribs I have seen yet. Over 900kg of ribs imported from France! You picked up the bone and they fell right off it....mmmmm....I would have a picture of it but neither Shasta nor myself were willing to go get it with those ribs in front of us. Plus it was only $11 US.



The roads are dirt and steep, but good quality.



Our tent surrounded in orange trees.





The bouldering potential here is amazing. Lifetimes worth. This isn't even a climbing area in the photo.



This one is the size of a cabin.



Probably undeveloped walls.



The road up.





Well we knew had not yet been to Rocklands proper so we decided we had better do that. To do so we had to drive the 60km back up the dirt road, then into a different section of the park. We drove into Rocklands proper, which is all paved now by the way, and all the way to de Pakhuys campsite. de Pakhuys is the climbers camping area for the most part. They rent crashpads and sell climbing guides as well as gear. We found a somewhat slopey area to put up our tent and then headed into the park to check it. We checked out the other camping areas and found out that Klien Kliphuis is run by a really friendly elderly couple and was almost completely empty. They have nice campsites and really good tea so we decided to move there. The social life of climbers can often be a bit much for us since we prefer the quiet and don't drink. Then we went bouldering at an area next to Kliphuis Campsite around the Flagship Boulders.



We had rented a crashpad for $2 US per day.



And put it to use.





Awesome landings and amazingly featured boulders, its easy to see why this place is so well known.





Quick approaches too.



Also there's a few rocks out there.



A lot of them.





We climbed until our fingers were shredded and then headed back to our campsite.



I started a fire to cook and saw a big spider crawling around in our rock made cook area. It was just a harmless one though so I mostly ignored it. Then I looked again later and said "Oh the spiders crawled into the top now" as I saw him near my hand in a crack. Shasta made the note of pointing out that the original spider was still where we saw him before on the side of the bbq area. So I looked closer and noticed claws. Hmmm...

I lifted the rock that moved near the spider and dropped in on the ground in time to see a scorpion crawl out. First scorpion I had seen in Africa! Since he wasn't an especially deadly variety I threw him off into the woods.



We know we didn't give those climbing areas their proper time but alas, we were running low on time ourselves. So we continued south a few hours and drove into Cape Town. Cape Town is known as an area with tons of things to see and do. We were staying with friends but had only one full day there. What do you do in just one full day?! Well, I had never seen a penguin in the wild so that seemed like a good thing to do. Although in the wild may be a relative term...



Walking around and looking at penguins is like a continual moment of "ooooo's" and "aaaahhhh's" and "Their so cute!"



The babies are dark and fluffy.



Then they become regal.











Being a poser is actually a good thing in photography.



Word.



Whiny babies.



[img] http://www.kelseygrayphotography.com/Africa/South-Africa-May-2013/i-h7KfBrv/0/L/IMG_5073-2-L.jpg[/img]





The walkways to the viewpoints.



From Simonstown we drove through the mountains and along the coast back toward Cape Town. What a beautiful drive!







And we continued onto to Table Mountain, which is next.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 20, 2013 - 12:36pm PT
Were nearing the end!

Originally we had wanted to hike up Table Mountian. I actually wanted to do the climb but we didn't have any trad gear and that is what it takes. So we settled on the hike. Then we took our nice enjoyable drive and penguin viewing and ate up most of our day. So we had to settle even further on the tram.



Cape Town





We drove along this road earlier to get to Cape Town.



Table Mountain is a pretty awesome feature.



This is the trail we probably would have taken up if we had time.





Clouds were forming on this peak.





We were already running low on time when we took the tram but couldn't miss the opportunity to run over to the actual top of the peak which took about 30 min.



Oh and do some quick easy bouldering along the way! These rock formations were awesome with very sticky rock.







The beauty of being on the top when the sun went down was catching the most amazing sunset.











Beautiful.





Unfortunately that was the end of our cape town time and the next morning we drove toward Bloukrans, which touts itself as the highest commercial bungy jump in the world.

Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Jul 20, 2013 - 01:25pm PT
Now THAT is a vacation;...thanks for sharing and thanks for the inspiration;...it's a big beautiful world out there..
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Jul 20, 2013 - 01:33pm PT
This thread is remarkable. . . THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR TAKING US WITH YOU!

ox
goatboy smellz

climber
Nederland-GulfBreeze
Jul 20, 2013 - 01:43pm PT
Kickass!
Nohea

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
Jul 20, 2013 - 03:22pm PT
Another great share, thanks for taking us along. That was quite a hump on that one seal, must have the rarely seen and never before photographed Mirounga horribillis
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Jul 20, 2013 - 04:20pm PT
You sir, are an artist. I hope you make money taking photos, because your eye and skills are exquisite.

This has been a most excellent vicarious journey. Thank you. I hope we cross paths someday.

Again, thank you for sharing with us.

Brandon
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Jul 20, 2013 - 09:36pm PT
Fantastic. Thank you.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 21, 2013 - 10:50am PT
Thank you for the replies Todd, eKat, goatboy,Nohea, Brandon, and Elcapinyoazz! Thank you everyone for coming along with the journey. It's been a really enjoyable one that has definitely opened my eyes up to Africa! I really appreciated all the excellent replies!

Mirounga horribillis - Is that a Elephant Seal Bear?

So this is it, this is my last post of Africa (for now). Although I do still have about 40 panoramas I shot here that I won't stitch until later where I have a better program for it.

We drove to Bloukrans Bridge from Cape Town which was about a 6-7 hour drive. Bloukrans Bridge bills itself as the highest commercial bungy in the world, at 216 meters. Regardless of its current status it was awesome!

Heres the Bridge.



The next day we drove over 900km into the small mountain kingdom of Lesotho. We figured that, since we had 3 days left, we should drove an extra 600km or so through Lesotho just to get in another country. It was a very long drive but quite the beautiful place! The next day we drove 300km through the countryside on what has to be the most windey paved roads in all of Southern Africa. That morning we woke in Malealea Lodge, a great place to stay!



And the views were amazing.



Poor Bluebear, feeling the strain!



On our drive we stopped by the house of a famous missionary. We really just wanted to see this house built in a cave. Cool place!





More awesome views. You can see the road on the right side of the mountain cutting across the landscape.



Some climbing potential.



We continued our drive and arrived in a town on the border of Lesotho and South Africa called Qachas Nek. The next day we drove back to Durban and after a few nights at Nomadic Backpackers we flew out of South Africa saying some sad goodbyes to our kit and car from the trip. An 8 hour flight put us into Dubai and then a 14 hour flight over the north pole and were back in Seattle. I'm spending a few days here with my brother before heading back to Alaska. Then it's time to grab he rack and some running shoes. We've got some travel pounds to work off and some climbing to do!

Thank you all once again for joining on this journey. John (coldclimb) can also be thanked for hounding me to make sure I write this as I travel and not just when I return.

Here are some facts about the trip.

Time in the Middle East: 7 days
Time in Africa : 67 days
Countries Visited: 8 - United Arab Emirates, Oman, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia, Namibia, Lesotho
Driving in Middle East: 2026km or 1258mi
Driving in Africa: 16496.9 or 10250mi
Total Driving: 11,508 miles
Highlights: Was in a wedding with friends, Saw the big 5, Climbed in Namibia and South Africa, Saw the stars brighter than I can ever remember, no muggings, no robbings, only hit one other car with ours (we shook hands and continued on our way), Learned to drove on the other side of the car and road, first bungy jump, saw Dead Vlei, Saw the dunes meet the sand, no gear was broken or lost, WE LIVED.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 21, 2013 - 11:26am PT
As a friendly thank you to everyone who followed this post I'd like to share my photos with everyone.
So if anyone is interested -

If you really liked like one specific photo out of all of them just let me know. I'll give everyone here one full resolution, un-watermarked, image from my trip that you can use as a background or print or whatever you would like. :) You can also look on my website where there are even more images, since I didn't post every image on here, and just let me know which one you would like.

My website is http://www.kelseygrayphotography.com/

Thanks again!
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 22, 2013 - 12:34pm PT
Heres a few pano's

Cederberg, SA



and Table Mountain,SA

crunch

Social climber
CO
Jul 22, 2013 - 01:33pm PT
Wow!

I last looked at this when there were just a few pics of Dubai, interesting but nothing special.

But now....the wealth of really top-quality wildlife photos is incredible!

Inspiring! Love the sand dunes and all the photos of wild, out-of-the-way places.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 23, 2013 - 11:21pm PT
Thanks crunch! and thank you for coming back and checking it out. Its been awesome!
QITNL

climber
Jul 24, 2013 - 03:56am PT
I've enjoyed this thread, thank you very much. We live on a beautiful planet.

Only within the last 100 years could we travel so much. In the last 10 years, easily share what we see, our thoughts.

Very generous offer, to boot! < Previous
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jul 24, 2013 - 07:02am PT
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Thank you so much for taking the time to post all these. I really enjoyed this thread.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 24, 2013 - 07:37pm PT
QITNL - Thanks for checking the pics and replying as the post went on!

Jan - Thank you for reading as well! Always great to know they are being looked at. :)

I don't know if you guys read my last post at all on the previous page but I offered a full size image of any that I took, if you are interest for a background or print. It's up to you!
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Aug 10, 2013 - 07:47pm PT
Man. . . I just went through this remarkable journey, one more time. . . I just have to say THANK YOU. . . one more time!

:-)

ox
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Aug 10, 2013 - 07:49pm PT
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 21, 2013 - 08:26am PT
As a friendly thank you to everyone who followed this post I'd like to share my photos with everyone.
So if anyone is interested -

If you really liked like one specific photo out of all of them just let me know. I'll give everyone here one full resolution, un-watermarked, image from my trip that you can use as a background or print or whatever you would like. :) You can also look on my website where there are even more images, since I didn't post every image on here, and just let me know which one you would like.

My website is http://www.kelseygrayphotography.com/

Thanks again!

Wow. . . this is a beautiful offer!

ox
John M

climber
Aug 10, 2013 - 08:51pm PT
Thanks for taking us along on your trip! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of places that I will probably not get to see this lifetime.

You definitely found a special lady.

MH2

climber
Aug 10, 2013 - 11:23pm PT
WHOA!

Not only do these photos look great, they say something, too. There are quite a few people who can take good-looking photos, but these have LIFE in them, and they tell many stories.

My estimate of the value of Supertopo has gone up a full 50% on the strength of this thread. I didn't look earlier because I thought it was a previous thread bumped to the front. It was good to be wrong this time.

We saw some of the same things during 5 months based in South Africa. Especially evocative was the Table Mountain sunset, bringing back the feel of a few days spent climbing and sleeping up there.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Aug 11, 2013 - 01:50am PT
so like!
cupton

climber
Where the past and future meet
Aug 11, 2013 - 06:08am PT
Wow mate. Just wow. Phenomenal photos... you have killer eye. Thanks for taking us on such a grand adventure.

To answer a question from way back in the thread, wadi literally translates to valley in arabic.
Prezwoodz

climber
Anchorage
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 13, 2013 - 02:51am PT
eKat: Thank you eKat for reading! I haven't actually had anyone take me up on the offer yet. Still stands though!

John M: Thank you! She is a pretty special lady. No matter what I say were about to do during the trip she just smiles and jumps right in.

MH2: Thank you for the generous compliments. I am glad to add something to supertopo as well! I really wish we had the time to climb the mountain instead of the tram. Next time it is definitely on the list!

cupton: Thank you for the translation! Valley does make more sense then just water. I am glad you enjoyed the thread!

eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Aug 15, 2013 - 09:39am PT

eKat: Thank you eKat for reading! I haven't actually had anyone take me up on the offer yet. Still stands though!

You're welcome. . . but really. . . thank you. . . this is a remarkable thread.

My problem with asking you for an image stems from not being able to decide which one. . . they are all just fantastic!

:-)

TFPU!
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