The Noels in SA and Namibia 2018 travel blog

Checking into Chisomo Lodge

Our tent camp at Karongwe Chisomo Lodge

Sausage tree, very odd!

Inside our tents at Chisomo Lodge

more of inside our tents at Karongwe Chisomo Lodge

Buffet area at Chisomo, check out the "Christmas tree"

Cape Buffalo

Cape Buffalo

Hippopotamus (not easy to spell)

little teeny weeny baby Monkey

baby Monkey

baby Monkey

Mister Baboon


momma and baby Vervet Monkey

momma and baby Vervet Monkey

I spy with my little eye something that is ... blue ......

Red Hornbills



Val's Leopard, as Rick calls it ...

Today's itinerary

Continue on to a private nature reserve in the Greater Kruger area. This afternoon, meet with a researcher from the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project who will share information about their efforts to protect cheetahs and other carnivores. This National Geographic-sponsored project is part of the Big Cats Initiative. After, the researcher will join us on our evening wildlife safari drive. For the next two days, enjoy ranger-led morning and evening wildlife safari drives in an open safari vehicle in Karongwe Nature Reserve. Search for buffaloes, elephants, leopards, lions, and rhinos – Africa's famed Big Five. With over 9,000 hectares (22,240 acres) of supreme African bushveld, Karongwe Private Game Reserve is home to many creatures, and our safari drives provide several opportunities for wildlife viewing. Wildlife safari drives are conducted with qualified wildlife rangers and Shangaan trackers who will share their vast experience of the African bush.

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Carnivore Conservation Experience

Meet with a researcher from the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Cheetah Metapopulation Project, a project managed by National Geographic grantee Vincent van der Merwe. A member of Vincent's team will give a talk about cheetahs in South Africa and the important research CMP is doing. We will also discuss conservation within parks and reserves in South Africa and National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative. You will then be accompanied by the researcher on a wildlife safari drive to give you more insight into cheetahs and other carnivores.

Off to Karongwe Game reserve

We had a bit of a sleep in today which was lovely. By 730 we had squared up the bill and we were off to Karongwe Private Game reserve in the Greater Kruger area. Mom's card was still not working the good ole swiping way and so it looks like we will be carrying her costs for the rest of the trip. We headed 3 hours north west to the northern end of Karongwe. The area is considered to be part of the greater Kruger area but is not part of Kruger. Elaine explained a bit of the indigenous culture to us. In the olden days it was pretty normal for men to have many wives. Lots of help was needed around the homes. The first wife either allowed or disallowed additional wives. In fact the first wife would pick the next wives based on how hard working the women are. Payment of a bride is called Lobolo (Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa,Silozi, Ndebele). Hence daughters equal wealth. The price was negotiated and often paid in cattle. The average price was 12 head of cattle. Nowadays it is paid in cash and one cow is about 8000 Rand. If the woman is barren a full refund is possible. This is all legal in South Africa although in white cultures this is not done. You have legal rights if you live with one person for a long time. Pats president Jacob Zumba has 7 wives, the youngest wife is 24. He is in his 70's and has 24 children. There are 57.7 million people in South Africa, 11 official languages and 1/4 of the population is Zulu. There are black, white, colored and Asian. Black comprise 80%, Colored 8.8%, White 8.4%, Asians 2.5%. We drove by an interesting cemetery plot. Elaine explained females live an average age of 62 and males 59 due to the prevalence of HIV, AIDS and TB. 94% of people over the age of 15 can read. The smoking rates are high. A large portion of the population only attains grade 7. 14% of the population reaches grade 10 or higher. Tourist guides have a minimum of Grade 12. In 2000 1 Rand equaled 1 Zimbabwe dollar, now the Zimbabwe dollar is no longer in currency. We passed through a township called Acornhoek and it's impressive Plaza shopping centre. We saw goats, chickens, cows and garbage along the road. As we drove along the Drakensburg range we passed logging trucks using only rope to secure their load (in Canada this is a violation). We saw mango groves and a rolled vehicle. Elaine explained rolled vehicles can be the result of fatigue, weather or beer. Pretty much just like Canada. In this area they grow paprika, tomatoes and bell peppers. At one point we stopped at a very old and big Baobab tree. Legend has it God decided to give each animal on earth a tree but the evil hyena did not get a tree. The hyena complained and so God said "you can have this Baobob seedling." The angry hyena grabbed the seedling and shoved it branches first into the ground. That is why the Baobab tree is called the upside down tree. This tree is the furthest southern baobab tree although there are more in Limpopo province. I had no idea how old this tree was, perhaps 2000 years old. The baobab tree is a succulent and when it hollows out it doesn't die. These trees can grow to be hugenormous - it can take 25 adults with stretched out arms to circle a tree. That is definitely a big tree. People have built bars, toilets and even jails inside baobab trees. The baobab tree has a fruit and the white seed has been used for nausea in pregnancy. An oil is prepared from the cold pressed seeds which rejuvenates and protects the skin. We drove along the 1000 km Drakensburg range. We saw very interesting checkstops. The police scan the license plate via a camera and pull people over if they have unpaid tickets. You go to jail over Christmas and wait until court January 4th or 5th. Bah humbug! As we got closer to our destination Elaine explained a few things about Karongwe and the area. Karongwe is 10,000 hectares of photographic safari farm. It used to be a farm but was converted into a game farm by the Haini family. The Karongwe river is a seasonal river running through the area. For 6 months of the year there are less leaves on the trees, considered "winter" I suppose. Try our Canadian winters LOL! The Karongwe portfolio participates in wildlife research and controls the amount of animals on the reserve. They know exactly how many animals of each species they can keep on the reserve. Excess animals are caught and sold off to ensure genetic diversity. The area is completely fenced so nothing can come in or out. Interestingly leopards were never introduced to Karongwe portfolio but there is a high number of them living there. To manage poaching all of the rhino have been dehorned which can't be done in Kruger proper. All rhino have to be dehorned so there is no unfair advantage to those with horns. We pulled into the Karongwe portfolio and headed to our lodge. There are several lodges in Karongwe and we will be staying in Chisomo lodge. We enjoyed hot towels on our arrival and a refreshing drink. We headed to the main lounging area and spotted an interesting sausage tree. Very interesting sausage shapes! We had lunch and a quick rest. At 3 pm we enjoyed tea and fancies during our 1 hour presentation from Endangered Wildlife Trust. The talk focused on cheetahs. We headed off for our evening safari in uncovered safari vehicles with our researcher. The safari was awesome and included a stop with drinks and snacks. During the safari we saw kudu, impala, baboons, warthogs and lots of rhino. In fact we spotted two rhinos sparing over territory. At first it looked like they were just horsing around and "dancing" but later things got very serious and there was some major head butting going on. On the way back I spotted a leopard on the side of the road. It was pretty awesome since the tracker and guide didn't even notice it. It was pretty obvious to me as we drove by that is was a big cat with spots just sitting on his haunches. We got incredible video of this cat as he was off to hunt for the night. There were impala close by and the big cat was definitely stalking them. Thank goodness them and not us. It is sort of scary when I look back that cat didn't jump us. We headed back to the lodge where we enjoyed a very late dinner and headed for bed in our lovely tent . Yet again this was a luxurious tent with an ensuite at the back. This tent though did not have air conditioning which would prove to be rough the next night after a blistering hot day.

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