Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The little things

The little things always catches my eye just as much as the big things do. Actually, sometimes I search so hard for the little things that I miss the big ones. While we were watching the elephants drink, I was crouching down in the vegetation next to the waterhole to get a nice angle for my photo when this litte guy popped into sight.

Addo Elephant Back Safaris

This past weekend we went on a trip to Addo Elephant Back Safaris in the Zuurberg Mountains. I took some great photos of elephants, spiders, mountains and all kind of things. Today I want to show a bit of what we did there and over the next couple of days I'll show off some of my other photos.
On the day of our arrival we took it easy and only went on a guided walk through the reserve. The next morning was the big event. We met the three elephants and their handlers at the reception area and the damselfly and I got to ride on Mukwa. Now we all know elephants are big, but you don't really know how big until you actually sat on one. It is a long way down. The ride took us through the bush and was quite hard on our posteriors, as you sit bareback and not on a saddle or blanket.


After getting off again we got to follow the elephants through the bush and observe their natural behaviour. Although the riding bit is the highlight of the program, my favorite part was walking with them. It gives you lots of unique photographs at angles that you can't get from a vehicle. They also gave us ample opportunity to pose with the elephants for pics as well.

After the walk we went back to the restaurant for breakfast. The restaurant overlooks the main waterhole where the elephants come and drink which gave us even more photo opportunities.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Humewood slipway

The old slipway next to Humewood Beach is a well known landmark in Port Elizabeth. Before the PE harbour was built in the 1930's, boats that needed repairs was brought to Humewood. They would sail in between the pillars before being pulled up onto the slipway. Today it is a popular spot to snorkel and scuba dive. The diving schools in Port Elizabeth all do their students' first shore dive at the slipway.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ron Belling Art Gallery

Keeping to yesterdays' aviation theme, today I would like to feature the Ron Belling Art Gallery. I probably is one of my favorite art galleries in Port Elizabeth, if not the favorite.
The Ron Belling Art Gallery is housed in a fine Art Deco house built in 1936 and just across the road from the historic St Georges Park Cricket Ground.

Ron Belling (1933 - 1998) was a Port Elizabeth architect, aviation and marine painter, and an authority on aviation history, aircraft design, aircraft camouflage and markings. The most amazing fact about him was that he was a self taught painter who could do the most amazing things with a paint brush.

The collection consist of mainly historic military aircraft and boats, most of them depicted against a historic Port Elizabeth as a back ground. In just about all the cases the paintings represents something that really happened. Except for the main collection being on show, the gallery also hosts different artists' exhibitions throughout the year.

Friday, March 27, 2009

South African Airforce Museum

Going on a photographic expedition for a project we are doing at work, I got to visit a couple of the museums and attractions around Port Elizabeth last week. I just realised again how many interesting places there are to visit. The problem is that most of these places don't have the funds to be really marketed to the extend that they need to. So I will do my bit and feature them in my blog.
The South African Airforce Museum behind the Port Elizabeth Airport is one of those hidden gems that very few Port Elizabeth people know about. It is housed inside one of the old airport hangers.
The Museum has a very nice collection of nine aircraft, including helicopters, a supersonic jet fighter, two of the world famous Harvard trainers amongst others, and the oldest surviving jet fighter in South Africa. There are ongoing restoration projects by a team of dedicated enthusiasts, who are members of the Friends of the S.A.A.F.Museum. Another part of the display consist of aircraft memorabilia, together with a fine collection of models and pictures in the main exhibition hall.

It is actually possible to view the restoration work being carried out in a restored World War 2 hanger next to the museum. And guess what all of this will cost visitors. Absolutely nothing. Admission is by freewill donation. It is well worth a visit for both big boys as well as little ones.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sitting Giraffe

On my recent visit to Sun City I got to go on a game drive into the Pilanesberg National Park. Although we didn't see a huge amount of game, we did see this very unusual sight of a giraffe sitting down. What makes this unusual is the fact that giraffes don't usually sit down much in reserves where there are predators like lions as they can't get up that fast being all neck and legs. This makes them more vulnerable sitting down than other animals (although they can still see a long way even when sitting, LOL)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Christening

My niece was born on 15 September last year and this past Sunday was her christening.

The ceremony took place at the NG Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church) in the town of Kirkwood. Little L was very good and didn't say boo or baa when the minister put the water on her head.


A bit of a deviant look afterwards

As well all drove out to Kirkwood for the day for the christening, my sis and her hubby took the family out for lunch at a little local restaurant. Here I got the opportunity to take a couple of pics of the family taking turns to hold Little L and Little L took the opportunity to stick her fingers in her cake. Here a proud mom and dad is with their little angel. Angel for now. Believe me, I have two. I know these things.
The cake, which in the end we didn't get to eat of. Brother-in-law must be tired of cake by now.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rain spider nest

Have you ever seen a strange tennis ball sized nest hanging in a bush somewhere? Ever wondered who lives there? It belongs to a Rain Spider (Genus Palystes).

Rain spiders are grayish in colour with slightly darker markings on their abdomen. Their legs are banded yellow and they are dark brown underneath. They are nocturnal hunters who build their nests of dried leaves hung in vegetation. Often if you look on the back of the nest you will see mama spider sitting there.


A couple of years ago I found a rain spider's nest in the spekboom at the main rest camp's lookout in the Addo Elephant National Park. Spun into the nest was an empty sugar packet. It probably blew away from the park restaurant across the road and the spider thought it would make a good wall.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dragonflies

For the random theme today I am covering Dragonflies. I find them to be amazing insects and just love to sit and watch them zoom around and skimming the water at breakneck speeds. If you look at them up close you can see why they were called dragonflies. Imagine seeing a giant dragonfly coming towards you.
Darner Dragonflies (Aeschnidae) is South Africa's largest dragonflies and grow to a length of 40 - 80 millimetres and a wingspan of up to 140mm. They are aggressive predators and feed on other dragonflies and insects.


Skimmer Dragonflies (Libellulidea) are found throughout South Africa and is the most common family of dragonflies. They feed on other insects and grow to a size of 15 - 35 millimeters long.

The Damselfly (Zygoptera) is also found throughout South Africa. The difference between dragonflies and damselflies is that the damselfly's wings are folded back above the abdomen when at rest while the dragonfly's are held horizontally. Damselflies can be found in bright blue, red and yellow colours.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

White spider lilies

Another of the flowers I got from my mother when she moved house decided to surprise me the other day by flowering. I called her and asked what it is called and she replied that it is a spider lily. I have done some searches on the internet and have found many different types of spider lilies, amongst others my own. Unfortunately I couldn't find the scientific name of my specific one, but does it matter?



Friday, March 20, 2009

Water Lilies

A week or so ago I did a post on Victoria Park, here in Port Elizabeth. On my visit to the park it was lovely to see the water lilies in bloom. The one pond had pink one's and when I got to the next one, there were yellow flowers. It kind of felt like a two for one sale.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Features around the Palace

The Palace at the Lost City is surrounded by a lot of different features, all of which ads to the theme and atmosphere.

The Palace is set is a man made forest with lots of streams, waterfalls and cascades. Just below the swimming pools in the forest is a suspended rope bride over beautiful cascades.

At the bottom of the gardens just above the Valley of the Waves is the pool deck overlooking the wave pool. On the deck level there is yet another swimming pool surrounded by "ruins" and an amphitheatre.
Right in front of the main entrance to the Palace hotel is a fountain with bronze sculptures of two cheetah chasing some impala. It depicts an action scene and is extremely well done.


In one of the courtyard of the Palace stands the life size bronze sculpture of a bull elephant. It is an absolutely awesome sculpture. Unfortunately there was nobody around when I was in the courtyard to get a photo that shows the scale of it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Palace of the Lost City

The Palace of the Lost City is an ultra luxury hotel situated in Sun City. The Palace was designed as the royal palace of the ancient civilization that used to live in the Lost City. It is surrounded by Fantastic gardens and a man made forest with all kinds of features.
The Palace Towers at night

The Palace as seen from one of the forest paths with one of the cascading streams in the foreground

The main swimming pool area

Palace fountain

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lost City at Sun City

The Lost City at Sun City is a fantasy development which recreates an African themed lost city which was inhabited by an ancient civilization complete with ruins of lost temples, statues and carvings of animals, caves, lakes and much more.

It all starts on the Bridge of Time. Lined with elephants and surrounded by cliffs carved with wild animals, the Bridge of Time moves and rumbles every hour as if a volcano is about to erupt, smoke and all...
The Kong Gates open up on the Monkey Spring Plaza with magnificent view to the Palace of the Lost City in the background and the Valley of the Waves below.

The Valley of the Waves is an awesome playground with a wave pool creating surfable wave washing onto the man made beach. Other activities in the valley includes several ault slides, tube rides and the Slide of Courage, a near vertical slide that will leave your heart (and stomach) in your throat. The Valley creates an amphitheatre of fun and relaxation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gardens at the Cascades Hotel


The gardens behind the Cascades Hotel at Sun City is absolutely awesome. Not gardens in the traditional sense, but a man made forest garden with streams, ponds and waterfalls. At the bottom of the garden there is a small lake with an aviary next to it, so there are bird sounds all the time. Everything is super green as there are so much water around.
On the walk through the gardens visitors will come across several more secluded paths as well as a suspension bridge.
The cascading streams and waterfalls make for some wonderful photo opportunities. Personally I love the sound of water running, so it is great that you can open your hotel room's windows and get the sound of water coming into your room.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gary Player Country Club

Just beyond the Cascades Hotel in Sun City is a golfer's paradise. The Gary Player Country Club is one of the country's premier golf courses.
The course is one of the world's longest golf courses and stretches over 7000 meters. It borders the Lost City golf course (also designed by Gary Player) as well as the Pilanesberg National Park.


In 2008 Compleat Golfer awarded it the #1 position on their Top 10 Courses in South Africa list. It is home to the annual Nedbank Challenge (previously known as the Million Dollar Challenge), an invitation 12 player event which features some of the biggest names in world golf every year.
The clubhouse is situated between the Cascades Hotel and the Sun City Hotel (top). I did not get to play it (I don't really play golf), but the bit I did see of it made me want to have a round to be able to say I did. Maybe one day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sun City - Cascades Hotel

Sun City is situated about two hours away from Johannesburg in the North West Province. The resort was opened in 1979 and was developed in the old independent black homeland of Bophuthatswana. The reason was because it contained a casino and gambling was illegal in South Africa. As was topless revue shows which was very popular at the time. Today the resort is a world renown holiday destination with 4 hotels, three of them 5 star. It also has casinos, the Super Bowl arena for shows and exhibits, some awesome "forest" gardens, a wave pool with slides and two Gary Player designed golf courses. The centre piece of the resort is the Palace of the Lost City Hotel. I got to spend four days in the resort earlier this week and over the next couple of days will show off some of the sights and sounds of Sun City.
I got to stay in the Cascades Hotel which is very centrally located in the resort. The hotel is named after all the (man made) streams and waterfalls flowing through the gardens around the hotel. These gardens I will feature another day.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Victoria Park

Port Elizabeth is very fortunate to have many open spaces and natural areas around the city. Unfortunately unlike in other countries, the inhabitants of the city don't really utilise these parks as much as they should. Most of the time the excuse is safety and although safety is sometimes an issue, it shouldn't be. If the inhabitants of the city go to parks like Settlers Park, St Georges Park and in this case Victoria Park in their droves, there will be no gap for opportunistic criminals to try something. But I digress...

I have driven past Victoria Park many times as it is just around the corner from my office, but I have never been there. I popped in the other day during lunch with my camera in hand just in case there is anything to photograph.


The park itself wasn't as big as I expected, but that is because there are many sports fields and open areas around the outer perimeter of the park. But it is a very nice park with lots of space for walking, relaxing and for children to play in.

There are several ponds with waterlilies and lots of dragonflies and damselflies. Of these I will do a post at a later stage.
Tomorrow I am off to the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) conference in Sun City in the North West Province. I have never been to Sun City so I am quite excited. Obviously my camera will make the journey with me, so I will come and show you all there is to see at Sun City when I get back on Thursday.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Secret Army

Today's post is very different from the normal travel and nature pic I usually post. I've wanted to experiment with this for some time now and the other day went and bought myself a pack of green toy army men. I had some fun with it and looking at the pics afterwards I already have different ideas for the next attempt.