Africa Day Thirteen: “All Good Things Must Come To An End” : One Last Walk Through Capetown, South Africa.

It was my last day in Capetown, and Africa, and I had a few free hours in the morning  before  we had to leave for our flight home.  So I was up early and took a taxi back down to explore  the  Capetown

It was a cool and  overcast morning and  the peaks of Lion’s Head and Table Mountain were hidden in the clouds when I arrived at the waterfront. Like many cities in the world in these modern times , it was dominated by a large Ferris wheel. capetown-waterfront-walk-8

I quickly made it to the piers  and inspected the many ships docked there, large and small, and, as I always do,  wondered  who sailed them , what they have seen and experienced on their voyage and where they were going next.  capetown-waterfront-walk-9

There are so many things to reflect on at seaports and harbor towns located at the far ends of the earth and Capetown was one of them. capetown-waterfront-walk-2

And like most ports and harbors there were birds. capetown-waterfront-2

And,  also, like most ports and harbor towns these days, there were shops, restaurants and hotels. capetown-waterfront-walk-6

I walked through the new hotels and shopping malls  and into the industrial and warehousing  areas and found an old pier extending out into the cold waters of the south Atlantic Ocean. capetown-waterfront-walk-7


I spent some time reflecting on my trip and this port here so far from home. As a child I dreamed of places like this, remote, exotic and isolated and I realized how blessed I was to be here. capetown-waterfront-walk-22

I also watched  more of the many shores birds and were everywhere along the stormy waters. some capetown-waterfront-7

I could spend hours watching the sea gulls gracefully soar through the strong winds coming off the ocean. Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the birds I saw on my walk. .

I made my way back to the commercial waterfront and past the shops and restaurants. capetown-waterfront-walk-23

I wish I had more time to explore, I would have loved to have had the opportunity to visit Robben Island, where the famous South African, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Hopefully, God willing, on another visit I will get that opportunity.  capetown-waterfront-walk-34

As I left the waterfront and walked back into the city of  Capetown, I came upon the statutes of this great gentlemen who had so much influence on the nation that is now South Africa. capetown-waterfront-statues-1

Great men such  as Desmond Tutu. Here is a link to more photographs of these great men.

I made my way through the street s of downtown Capetown, blending in with the many students, workers and business people on their morning

I retraced my walk from the previous day, walking past the old neighborhoods to my bed and breakfast. It was a nice walk to reflect on the many new experiences I enjoyed and friends I made on this latest adventure. Here are some more photographs from my hike.

After one last delicious breakfast  we traveled to the airport to begin our long flight to Doha, Qatar, and after a short layover, our second long flight to my favorite city in the world, the City of  Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. It is always goo to see the skyline of this, the first city I ever explored, and the many wonderful memories it have provided me over the years. After a short two hour drive I was back in my own home, Ready to start planning my next adventure, the home of my fathers family Poland. Unless I get tired of the cold, and head somewhere south in the Winter.  And, of course you are all welcome to join me again on my next adventure. It is always nice to bring you along. img_7497


To travel is to live.”   Hans Christian Andersen


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Africa Day Eleven: Cape Point And Capetown: Botanical Gardens And Penguins!!!!! It Doesn’t Get Better Than This.

After lunch we headed north, now along the eastern shore of the Cape Peninsula, admiring the spectacular views of the ocean along the way. cape-point-penguins-6

When we saw this sign we knew we were nearing our destination, Boulder Beach, home of a colony of African or ‘jackass penguins’. These penguins are they only species that live on the African continent. cape-point-penguins-1

I was looking forward to seeing these penguins since they would be the eleventh species, of the seventeen species that live on our planet,  that I have seen and photographed.  And it didn’t take long to see one as we walked along the windy and rocky shore. cape-point-penguins-12

I have always loved these fascinating birds.  And I  loved them even more observing them in the wild. I will never forget my first sighting of the gregarious chinstrap penguins on Bailey Head on Deception Island Antarctica. I have seen chinstrap, gentoo, emperor, king ,rockhopper, macaroni, magellanic. galapagos, adelie, little or fairy,  and now african or jackass penguin. cape-point-penguins-9

The penguins living in South Africa nest from March to May so the chicks were pretty large when we visited. cape-point-penguins-14

I could spends hours watching these curious critters frolicking on the shore or come in from the ocean. Here is a link to a video I uploaded to my YouTube Channel.

And here is a link to video I uploaded which  will show how they got there name, there braying actually does sound very much like a donkey or jackass.

Like all of their cousins i have seen these sociable birds provided us  a delightful show. cape-point-penguins-21

There were other shore birds to be seen along the beautiful coast.cape-point-penguins-35

But the penguins, in my opinion sure were the cutest. Here is a link to some more photographs of our visit to Boulder Beach and the penguins.

We now drove north back to  Capetown and arrived at the famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens late in the afternoon. capetown-botanical-gardens-2

As some of you who followed my adventures in Australia, I love to visit botanical gardens.  I can wander for hours through the trees, flower gardens and native plants that are so carefully cultivated for our sensory pleasure and education. capetown-botanical-gardens-8

Our guide showed us this  beautiful and exotic flower native to South Africa, the bird of paradise, blooming throughout the gardens. capetown-botanical-gardens-6

We learned so much about the native floral on our visit as we roamed the pathways of the gardens with spectacular views of Table Mountain in the background. Here is a link to some more photographs of our visit s to the penguins and botanical gardens.

Penguins and gardens, what a perfect way to spend an afternoon. We made our way back to our lodging, and after a short rest  had a delicious dinner at the Millers Thumb  restaurant. It was another great day on our African adventure. capetown-botanical-gardens-27

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”- Eleanor Roosevelt”capetown-botanical-gardens-23


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Africa Day Ten. Farewell To Zimbabwe, A Quick Tour Of Livingston, Zambia, And Off To Capetown, South Africa

I awoke early on my last day at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, hoping to catch another African sunrise and to explore the grounds of the lodge. I ran into a couple who were also looking for the sunrise and we asked a groundskeeper we met who showed us a clear view of the rising sun. And it was a beautiful sunrise, as they all are. victoria-falls-lodge-13

I walked through the ground and asked about seeing some wildlife and another employee led me down a trail to a quiet little pond.  Not wildlife, except the songs of the waking birds, but it  was a peaceful place and I wish I had more time to spend and enjoy the solitude.  victoria-falls-lodge-18

On my way back to the lodge, to finish packing, I ran into the friendly guide and employee dressed in native costume  and had a nice chat about life in Zimbabwe.victoria-falls-lodge-21

After finishing packing, and a nice breakfast I left this the lodge, but took with me many fond memories.  Here is a link to some photographs of the sunrise and my morning walk .

We left out lodge and once again drove across the famous Victoria Falls Bride into Zambia and into the town of Livingston.  Livingston is much larger than the town of Victoria Falls, with a population of about 150,000. We took a driving tour of the town, observing the schools. zambia-livingston-tour-5

residence andzambia-livingston-tour-10

 businesses of the town. zambia-livingston-tour-13

We then drove to one of my favorite places to visit on my travels, the local market. zambia-livingston-market-3

I always enjoy seeing the local produce displayed at these markets zambia-livingston-market-14

And there sure was a large variety  of different items at this one, including these yummy looking worms.zambia-livingston-market-22

Or dried fish.zambia-livingston-market-47

And if none of these delectable items appealed to you there was plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods  to be found.zambia-livingston-market-30

I enjoy watching the market goers  and vendors as much as the  produce and other items for sale. many of the vendors did not want their photographs taken, and I always honor their requests. However some don’t mind.zambia-livingston-market-43

And others. such as this fellow actually love the camera.Here is a link to some more photographs I took at the market.

After visiting the market we continued our tour of the town and visited a modern shopping area including a supermarket. zambia-livingston-tour-18

We continued our tours, visiting more schools and a hospital which had this sign showing that health care cost are even a problem in Africa. zambia-livingston-tour-28

After our tour of Livingston we drove to the airport for our long flight to Capetown South Africa. Here is a link to some more photographs from our tour of Livingston.

We arrived in Capetown after sunset and got only a tease of what was in store for us the next day. by the silhouettes of the towering mountains in the distance and the lights of the city below.  After a nice late dinner at a local restaurant  near ou bed and breakfast I I was ready for a good nights sleep and an early start in the morning. img_7473


“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”
Roman Payne



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Africa Day Nine: Botswana: More Wildlife In Chobe National Park

After returning from our cruise on the Chobe River, we had a nice lunch at the Chobe Safari Lodge and I had a few minutes to relax a bit. botswana-chobe-river-drive-1

We were soon off to the Chobe National Park for a safari through another area  known for it’s high concentration of wildlife. And it didn’t take long to see why it earned this reputation. I spotted this bird while waiting for our paperwork for admission to  the park. botswana-chobe-safari-6

And the park entrance  also had a number of these monkeys scampering about, enjoying whatever food discarded by the humans  they can find. botswana-chobe-safari-wildlife-2

Once the paperwork was processed we drove along the arid. almost desert like landscape produced by the lack of rain in the dry season in Botswana. botswana-chobe-safari-landscape-9

Still, despite the dry conditions, and it being the middle of the afternoon,  there was plenty of wildlife activity. We encountered many types of antelopes including the beautiful kudu, here is a female.botswana-chobe-safari-wildlife-6

And here is the stately male. botswana-chobe-safari-wildlife-10

We also saw herds of impalas along the road as we continued our safari. botswana-chobe-safari-wildlife-21

It is always exciting to see the graceful giraffe, and even more so when striding freely along your vehicle in their environment. Here is a link to video of  some giraffes we saw I uploaded to my YouTube channel.  botswana-chobe-safari-wildlife-41 

This beautiful animal was born free , and will live it’s entire life roaming freely throughout the wilderness of Chobe National park.  These rare and special places must be preserved for all future generations can enjoy this wonderful experience. botswana-chobe-safari-wildlife-47

Even though it was mid day I was surprised with the number of birds that were active. And many were so exotic and colorful on the mid day sun. botswana-chobe-safari-15

I am sorry I forgot their names but here is a link to some more photographs of the birds we encountered on our safari .

As were drove the sandy roads we came across the unpleasant sight of a few  elephants that had died, probably from old age or disease. it is part of the cycle of nature. botswana-chobe-safari-landscape-15

And we found some of the living elephants hiding under what little shade they could find to avoid the midday sun and heat. botswana-chobe-safari-wildlife-29

As we neared the  banks of the river we spotted a few zebras.botswana-chobe-safari-wildlife-37

And we were treated to the very rare sight of civet taking a drink at a small puddle of water. These nocturnal creatures are not often seen in the day. This  shy creature lay perfectly still, blending in with the rocky landscape and thinking he had escaped our sight. botswana-chobe-safari-wildlife-25

It was getting late in the afternoon, but no one in our group were in any hurry to leave this nature sanctuary with it’s diversity and abundance of wildlife. But  all good things must end and so did our safari. Here is a link to  photographs of some of the wildlife we encountered in the Chobe National Park.

 On our way out of the park we saw one of my favorite trees. I remember learning about them in geography class in grade school and always wanting to see one. I still remember the first time I saw one in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania.   The strange looking baobob tree.botswana-chobe-safari-landscape-32 We  drove back to Zimbabwe, and the lines of trucks still waiting for the ferry. We left Botswana with many experiences that will provide many happy memories for the rest of our lives. Here is a link to some more photos of Chobe National Park.

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
botswana-chobe-safari-landscape-29Theodore Roosevelt


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Africa Day Nine: Botswana: A Cruise On The Chobe River And Lots And Lots Of Elephants

Well if you like elephants, you should enjoy this post. We again had an early start, and I had  a few moments to catch the setting moon from the observation deck while I had a quick cup of coffee before breakfast was served. botswana-chobe-river-drive-1

After a nice breakfast, I loved the freshly made pancakes, we were off to a new country Botswana, and the Chobe National Park. We again drove through the  arid and leafless landscape, awaiting the Spring rains to change it back into  lush forest. botswana-chobe-river-drive-4

After about an hour ride we came to the Zimbabwe/Botswana border and made our way  through immigration.botswana-chobe-river-drive-5

In Botswana we passed long lines of  large commercial trucks waiting to take a ferry to Zambia. Some of the truckers were waiting for three days to use the ferry.  We learned this was because of the high tolls the Zimbabwe government charges for truck traffic. We also learned that there is a bridge under construction which will allow the trucks to cross into Zambia and avoid the tolls. Here is a link to some photographs from our ride to Botswana.

We drove a few miles through the Botswana countryside and arrived at the beautiful Chobe Safari Lodge where we boarded our boat for a cruise on the Chobe River. botswana-chobe-river-birds-1

The Chobe flows into the Zambezi River a few miles downstream from the lodge and serves as the border between Botswana and Namibia. There are large parks preserving wildlife on both sides of the border and some of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa our found in these parks. We soon learned this firsthand. botswana-chobe-river-birds-34

As we set out on the blue waters of the Chobe River our first encounters with the native wildlife were the mainly the many beautiful and exotic species of birds that live here such as this, I believe,  African darter  or snake bird. botswana-chobe-river-birds-5

This relative of the  anhinga that are so common in the Florida Everglades gets it’s name as  snake bird from the long neck that often protrudes from the water as it searches for fish. botswana-chobe-river-birds-8

We saw a multitude of birds  including this Goliath heron, from what I understand the largest in the world. botswana-chobe-river-birds-18

And we saw a few more fish eagles. botswana-chobe-river-birds-11

They did not take kindly to other eagles, not sure of this species, moving in on their fishing territory. We watched the tow eagles engaging in a sparring match and I believe the fish eagle won. Here is a link to some of the birds we saw on the river cruise.

We soon began to see some many other animals including cape buffalo enjoying the still green grass near the river botswana-chobe-river-wildlife-4

And occasionally we shared the waters with some wandering hippopotamuses. botswana-chobe-river-wildlife-21

Large flocks of birds  were roosting in the trees along shore. botswana-chobe-river-wildlife-14

 We also saw some of them more than nineteen species of antelopes that like in the  along the shores. botswana-chobe-river-wildlife-13

And we go to witness the efforts of this amorous male in pursuing a female who sure looked like she was playing hard to get. We watched him chase here so some distance until he finally caught up to her. Here is a link to some more of the wildlife we encountered on our river cruise.

It truly was a remarkable cruise, the extent and variety of wildlife was amazing. But it would get even more amazing, with our first  sighting  of elephants. botswana-chobe-river-wildlife-24

I have seen these  magnificent animals in the wild before, on the plains of Tanzania and Kenya, and I have loved them ever since. To see them live in the wild, from birth to death, enjoying each day as they forage for food, taught me that no animal should live in the confines of a zoo. They, like humans, were born to live free. And this opinion was further re-enforced seeing these elephants enjoying life on the Chobe River. botswana-chobe-river-elephants-11

The elephants of various ages seemed to really enjoy playing in the mud and swimming in the waters of the Chobe River. botswana-chobe-river-elephants-16

We were able to get very close to  them and we were able to observe their interactions. Here is one of many videos I uploaded to my YouTune channel. Feel free to watch them all.

One group decided to swim across the river. Unfortunately another boat blocked their route but the eventually made it across.  Our captain reported the captain of  this boat since these elephants may not take the effort to cross the river if they are prevented from making it.  Once the elephants made it to the other side, they actually crossed into another country Namibia, they enjoyed playing in the mud and dirt. botswana-chobe-river-elephants-31

As we made our way back to the Chobe Safari Lodge I was  amazed by the number of elephants along the shores of the river. I was thankful I had the opportunity to watch them in there natural environment but so wish i could have spent much more time in this wonderful place. Hopefully. I will return again someday. Here is a link to some more photographs of the elephants of the Chobe River.

The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?” – David Attenboroughbotswana-chobe-river-elephants-35



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Africa Day Eight: Across, And Under, The Bridge To Zambia, Voracious Vultures And An Elephant Ride.

Even  though we had another long, but adventure filled day ahead of us, I was still up early hoping to capture an African sunrise from the grounds of the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. It took a while to find a good observation spot but I finally did.It’s always nice to see a sunrise but even more special when traveling. victoria-falls-safari-lodge-wildlife-1

I also had time for a  short walk on a nature trail where I was greeted with the loud, and almost human like, calls of these birds fluttering in the trees above. victoria-falls-safari-lodge-wildlife-11

I walked through the brown and parched landscape, wondering how different it would look after the rains arrived and changed it into a forest of green. victoria-falls-safari-lodge-wildlife-5

I had some time before breakfast so I sat with a cup of coffee and admired the scenery and tried to photograph some of the many colorful and exotic  birds that were now active with the morning light. Here is a link to some photographs from my morning hike.

After breakfast we headed back down to Victoria Falls, and this time, after a short stop at the border immigration station, crossed over the famous bridge into  Zambia.victoria-falls-safari-lodge-bridge-tour-41

Once on the Zambian side of the river, we were treated to an entertaining theatrical presentation about the history of the bridge and it’s construction by a young  actor who played the role of the  young French chief engineer who oversaw the construction. We learned it was an engineering marvel when it opened in 1905 and was, at that time, the highest railway bridge in the world. victoria-falls-safari-lodge-bridge-tour-15

The actor, Peter, than became our tour guide and led our group on an exciting  walk on the catwalk under the bridge, 420 feet above the Zambezi River. victoria-falls-safari-lodge-bridge-tour-27

We were secured with a safety harness attached to safety ropes as we walked under the bridge. We learned so much about it’s history and construction as well as the  Zambezi River Gorge and Victoria Falls. We were shaken by a  train passing overhead as we finished our tour.victoria-falls-safari-lodge-bridge-tour-30

 It was an informative and adventurous walk. We ended the tour and headed back to the Visitor center were we were able to get a drink at the cafe. Here is a link to some more photographs of out visit to the famous Victoria Falls bridge.,-Zimbabwe,-Victoria-Falls-bridge-tour-October-16-2016-victoria-falls-safari-lodge-bridge-tour-11

We headed back to the lodge for lunch and had some time to check out some of the local wildlife that showed up on the grounds of the lodge. victoria-falls-safari-lodge-wildlife-4

And after a nice lunch (doesn’t it seem like we are always eating on this trip) we had the unique experience of watching lunch being served at the vulture restaurant. The lodge feeds them everyday so as to keep them on the park grounds were they are safe from local residents who consider them pests and poison them.  There ravishing attack of the food was amazing .Here is a link to a video I uploaded to my You Tube channel.   Amazing And here is a link to some more photographs of the vultures and other wildlife at the lodge    victoria-falls-safari-lodge-wildlife-9

Our next adventure was at  the Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary. We were going on an elephant ride.  At first I was not too enthusiastic about the elephant ride. I have heard stories of how the elephants are treated cruelly  to make them carry humans on their backs. My fears were quickly laid to rests by our guide at the sanctuary. He explained how these elephants are rescued and live freely  on the sanctuary.  They are not prodded into obeying their riders but rather by positive re-enforcement  including being rewarded with treats at the end of the ride.  Here is a link to more information about the wonderful work of the Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary.zimbabwe-elephant-ride-2

We were soon introduced to our elephants and their  handlers.zimbabwe-elephant-ride-8

The elephants ranged in size from the gigantic males to smaller females and juveniles. We soon became familiar with our elephants and they us. We were divided into two groups and my sister and I climbed abroad our elephant, a  young male  named Izibulo handled by Farai. zimbabwe-elephant-ride-9

I will have to admit, it took a bit getting used to straddling atop a three ton elephant but the ride was interesting, more so to become familiar with and observe  the elephant than the ride itself. zimbabwe-elephant-ride-18

The elephants walked at a slow pace through the brown parched landscape seeming to enjoy the experience as much as we did, although that is just my observation. zimbabwe-elephant-ride-15

The elephants were free to roam on their own a bit and some took advantage to grab a quick snack on the way.zimbabwe-elephant-ride-24

We also  learned so much from our informative handler Farai, not only about the elephants, but about the environment, history and culture of Zimbabwe. zimbabwe-elephant-ride-9Our ride came to an an end and we waited at the cafe, enjoying a drink, and a conversation with the Sottish bartender and shopkeeper about his experiences in Zimbabwe, were he has lived most of his adult life. After the other half of our group finished their ride we had the delightful experience of rewarding our elephant for their work. They enjoyed the treats we tossed them, either into their open mouth or outstretched trunk. I really feel like I bounded with our elephant Izibulo and hope to meet him and our handler Farai again some day. Here is a link to some more photographs of our ride with the elephants.


After some appetizers and a beverage we had time for some shopping, and to watch the beautiful African sunset before we headed back to our lodge for dinner. It was another long, but wonderful day exploring some of the wonders of Africa. Here is a link to some more photographs of the beautiful sunset.

“But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that there are no walls between humans and the elephants except those that we put up ourselves, and that until we allow not only elephants, but all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.” 

Lawrence Anthonyzimbabwe-elephant-ride-19



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Africa Day Seven: Zimbabwe ; Mosi-oa-tunya or Victoria Falls And A Cruise On The Zambezi River

It was a short stay in  Johannesburg, South Africa.  No  time for sightseeing.  We had an early flight,  so a nice breakfast,  a quick ride to the airport, a smooth clearance through security and boarding,  and we were off to Zimbabwe.  We landed  at  the Victoria Falls airport and soon were on our way to our hotel, the   Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, perched on a hilltop overlooking a  portion of the Victoria Falls National Park. . victoria-falls-ride-5

We quickly checked into our rooms, with just little time to admire the  spectacular views and scenery. victoria-falls-ride-1

I was surprised at how brown and dry it was here in central Africa, but learned from our guide that we were at the end of the dry season. We were told in a few weeks, rain would fall,  and change the brown leafless trees to a sea of green. It seemed the local vultures didn’t mind the heat of the central African sun, the temperature was near 100 degrees, as they enjoyed a mid day snack near the lodge.victoria-falls-ride-3

After settling into our rooms,   we were off again to see a world heritage site and one of the seven wonders of the natural world, the famous  Mosi-oa Tunya or Victoria Falls.  We drove through the small town  named after Victoria Falls and a few miles to the Victoria Falls entrance , which also is near the border crossing with Zambia. The Zambezi River, which creates the Falls is the border between the two countries. Here is a link to some photographs of the lodge and our drive to the Falls.

Upon arrival at the entrance to the park we were greeted by a few of these  local residents, distant cousins to their larger kin, the gorillas who we visited in Rwanda.  They busily gathered whatever food we humans left behind. victoria-falls-ride-7

After a short walk we heard the roar of the first set of cascades of the almost two mile long waterfalls. Moisi-oa Tunya means “the smokes that thunders” in the native language and we soon saw how it got this name.   Even the first view we had of the Falls, from a distance, was breathtaking.  And  the thunderous sound of the  Zambezi River dropping from a plateau over 300 feet to it’s explained how it got it’s native name. Here is a link to a video of the falls I uploaded to my YouTube channel

Even though it was the dry season, and the flow of the water greatly reduced, the famous rainbows still appeared over falls. It was a truly awe inspiring experience. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-44

We walked along the almost two mile rim, taking in the spectacular views from different perspectives. In addition to the almost overwhelming  beauty of the falls there is  a lot of history too, During my hike I came upon this explorer, responsible for giving the Victoria Falls  it’s modern name, the famous Scottish explorer David Livingstone.zimbabwe-victoria-falls-10

The walk along the rim took us  under a canopy of large trees dripping from the continuous mist coming off the falls. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-39

Across the gorge we were able to see some brave fishermen and bathers getting pretty close to the edge of the falls. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-17

About mid way  along the gorge we came to the main cascade and it’s rainbow and I stopped to reflect on this marvelous display of the power of nature. Here is a link to another video of the falls I uploaded to my You Tube channel.

As we got further down the rim, the evidence of the effects of the dry season the the falls was clear. The waters of the Zambezi river were too low to flow over the gorges here and the rocky surfaces were exposed. In the rainy season this entire area is one large waterfall. It looks like I will have to come back again to experience this. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-53

After spending some time along the edge of the cliffs it was time to head back, allowing me one more chance to  enjoying  this amazing wonder of the natural world.  Here is a link to some more photographs of our visit to the renowned Victoria Falls. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-54

We took the short ride back to the hotel, had a late  lunch and we were off again for a cruise on the calm waters of the Zambezi River. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-13

While most of the folks on the cruise enjoyed the beautiful scenery, and some cocktails and appetizers,  myself, and the birders in our group, took advantage of the cruise to look for  the many beautiful and exotic birds living  along the river banks. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-16

We were able to see and, with the help of a guide, identify many different bird species, including  this majestic African fish eagle. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-23

We also saw some other animals on our cruise,  including  a few hippopotamuses including this big fellow. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-40And some reptiles too, including this fellow hidden along the river bank. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-12

And, as the sun began to set, we saw some elephants  playing in the water, before crossing the river and heading to shore for the night. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-38

We were not only treated to a beautiful sunset.zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-30

We were also able to enjoy an almost full moon rising. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-42

The river cruise was a delightful way to spend our first afternoon and evening in central Africa and we reflected on the beautiful evening as we headed to shore under the bright African moon.zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-41

After a nice dinner I spent some time enjoying the moon which from viewed south of the equator, appears, upside down from the way it appears in the Northern Hemisphere.  before I retired for the night, looking forward to another day of adventure. Here is a link to some more photographs from our cruise on the Zambezi river.

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy









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Africa Day Six: Birds, Travel, Horrors And A Short Stay In Johannesburg .

I woke up early again the day after our memorable encounter with the mountain gorilla,  and again found  the air cool but the skies mostly clear. We were lucky on our visit, since these mountains get a lot of rain this time of year. lodge-2

A few of our group had arranged for an early birding hike with some local naturalists but I  first took a quick walk around the grounds of the lodge and took some photographs of the  grounds, the lodge, the gift shop. Here is a link to  some photographs of the lodge and grounds.

Out small group met our two local guides and we hiked around the perimeter of out lodge in search of  local bird species. . We did not have to hike far to find a number of exotic and beautifully colored species.gorilla-lodge-bird-walk-33

And we also found  more common looking ones such as this plain, but still strikingly beautiful. . Our birding members collaborated with the local guides in identifying them and, while I actually have a list of the birds, provide by an expert birder I still can’t identify them, and haven’t the time now to look them up. Sorry Sharon.gorilla-lodge-bird-walk-20

We  encountered a few farm animals and two young boys tending to them on our hike and we were also treated to spectacular views of the extinct volcanoes while we walked under the hot equatorial sun in the cool mountain air. gorilla-lodge-bird-walk-22

We encountered a number of species of birds, much to the satisfaction of the birders in the group, as we made our way back to the lodge. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds we saw on our morning hike.

Unfortunately it was now time to pack, as we were leaving soon for the next leg of our tour, and I reflected on the two delightful nights I spent in this cabin, in the cool mountain, warmed only by a fire. lodge-1

We left the lodge and began our long journey back to Kigali retracing our route here from only two days earlier, but which seemed so much longer.  once again we drove through the cultivated mountains past locals walking along the busy highway. rwanda-ride-to-airport-5

I always enjoy taking in the passing scenery during my travels, looking at the local trees, flowers and shrubs, trying to see any  local wildlife and looking at the homes and business of the local residents. rwanda-ride-to-airport-15

I also like to compare the similarities and differences between the stores, shops and business in my country and the countries I visit. rwanda-ride-to-airport-11

We again approached Kigali and took a break for lunch on a hill overlooking the city.  We could see the location of the hotel we stayed on our first night atop one of the cities hills. rwanda-ride-to-airport-10

We once  drove through the busy streets of the Kigali and  headed  to the eastern and more rural areas surrounding the city and were may more atrocities occurred during the genocide. We visited one of  these places the Ntarama Church Genocide memorial. rwanda-church-genocide-memorial-2

Once again we learned of the horrors that occurred here, as they did throughout Rwanda. including infants being killed by having the heads smashed against a wall. You could still see the stains from their blood. Once again we were overwhelmed by the evidence of the killings.  piles of blood stained cloths were piled in one room. rwanda-church-genocide-memorial-9

Photographs of the skulls and coffins of victims weren’t allowed but I can say the sight will always be carried in my mind and impressed on my soul. It was a very real lesson on man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. rwanda-church-genocide-memorial-5

Once again, it was with a heavy heart that we left this vivid reminder of what occurred here, and with a hope that it will never occur anywhere on this Earth ever again. Here is a link to some more photographs  taken at the memorial.

We were now running late so we made our way to the airport, passing more of the rural countryside on the way. rwanda-kigali-ride-to-airport-20

At the airport we had some time to grab a quick bite to eat while we waited for our flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. We were surprised to find that out Secretary of State John Kerry was in Kigali for a global environmental conference and even more surprised to see his airplane on the runway near our plane.  We boarded our plane and arrived in Johannesburg after midnight. It was almost 1 a.m. when we finally checked into our rooms, exhausted from a long day of travel. and discovered we had a very early flight in the morning, to our next stop on our tour the famous Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Here is a link to some photographs from our journey to the airport.

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”
Hans Christian Andersen



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Africa Day Five: Volcano National Park Rwanda: A Memorable Close Encounter With Mountain Gorillas.

On the day of our gorilla trek, we had to be up early  for our  adventure but I got some much needed sleep   in the cozy, but chilly, cabin.  I awoke  excited with the hope of encountering   some of our   endangered cousins, the mountain gorillas found only in these forested  mountain areas of  Rwanda,  the Congo and Uganda.volcano-national-park-1

I ventured outside for a quick walk around the grounds of the lodge and enjoyed the dawning of the new day in the skies above the extinct volcanoes in the distance.volcano-national-park-3

After an early breakfast, we drove to the  Volcano National Park’s administrative center where we had to obtain our gorilla trekking permits. Here is a link to some more photographs of my morning walk and our drive to the park.

The park only allows  small groups of 8 to 10 people to visit each of  the 10 gorilla groups or families. So there is usually only a small crowd of about 80 to 100 individuals at the park each day. While we waited for our permits we were greeted. and entertained, by a local dance group. volcano-national-park-25

It was a wonderful experience watching these young individuals perform local dance with the majestic mountains in the background.  Here is a link to a video I upload on my Youtube channel.

And here is another. There are a few more uploaded on my channel so feel free to have a look at these amazing performances.

After a short wait we were assigned a gorilla group which depended on how difficult of a hike you wanted to take to see them.  We were given a “more difficult”  “easy” hike and were told we would look for  the Amahoro group, Amahoro means “peaceful” We were given a orientation on how to approach and interact  with the gorillas in the wild. Although accustomed to humans they are still wild animals and still very dangerous. We realized the danger when were were advised there would be armed rangers accompanying us on our hikes.volcano-national-park-27

The groups of gorillas are wild and roam the vast mountain forest each day. So there is no guarantee that you will encounter  your group on a given day, but the rangers and guides are aware of where they are and the chances are pretty good. After a little delay due to some misplaced paperwork, we  drove through the crowded rural streets of rapidly growing  Ruhengeri and out into the more rural areas adjoining the National Park. ride-to-gorrillas-8

After a bumpy ride over these rural “roads” we arrived at our departure point and began our hike to find our group of gorillas. Little did we know our gorillas weren’t co-operating and didn’t stay in the area they were usually remained. Here is a link to some more photos of our visit to the park offices and drive to the departure point.

We  first hiked  up the rural “road” we drove in on.ride-to-gorrillas-8

We  continued our  walk on the edge  of fields planted with crops of potatoes and pyrethrum, a flower  used in insect repellants, and we we watched by the curious folks, mainly women and children, tending the fields or living in the few homes adjoining the park lands. ride-to-gorrillas-14

We soon crossed a rock fence with marked the beginning of the park lands and began our uphill hike through the thickly forested slopes of  Mt Bisoke, accompanied by our guide and armed rangers. ride-to-gorrillas-21

It wasn’t an “easy” hike as advertised and the uphill climb, under the hot African sun at an elevation over 9000 feet wasn’t an easy one. We were able to hire porters to assist us with our backpacks, cameras and other items. I hired one for the very reasonable rate of $10 dollars but only had him carry my walking stick, which I never use. ride-to-gorrillas-23

The upward hike first took us under some larger trees on the lower slopes.  It is hard to imagine but there are still buffalo and elephants roaming these narrow forested paths as evidenced by some of their droppings we found. ride-to-gorrillas-24

We also found the largest worms I have ever seen.ride-to-gorrillas-20

The forest gave way to more brush and  smaller vegetation including nettles which left a nasty burning sting if even touched ever so slightly. ride-to-gorrillas-28

The guides seemed to be having a problem locating our gorilla group and we learned they had moved higher up the slopes of the mountain. which of course meant we had to hike up higher too. It was a strenuous hike, I will admit, even for me, and I am in fairly good shape form a lot of hiking. It was harder on on some of the other members of our group and I will admit I was getting tired and anxious as we continued our hike in the high elevation and through the increasingly thicker brush and nettles.  It wasn’t easy folks but the views were spectacular. But we didn’t come 9000 to see the views and we were all hoping we would see the gorillas.  ride-to-gorrillas-26

We were all exhausted, and our guide was pushing us on, when I was a little ahead of the group with the lead guide, I heard the first grunt of a wild gorilla. It was amazing and I knew we would finally see one. I signaled down to the rest of the group and the excitement quickly gave us all a new strength., gorrillas-17

We were on the side of a steep slope, thankfully, now overgrown with wild celery and not the pesky nettles. We soon learned this is why the gorillas were here, it is one of their favorite foods, and soon we saw a huge silverback male gorilla lead his group down the slope and right into our group of humans. An absolutely amazing encounter, one which forever will  live in my memory. gorrillas-21

What occurred over the next hour  was almost surreal. Our small  group of humans was able to observe, and somewhat interact, mainly by getting in their way as the foraged for food, with a group of gorillas on a steep, heavily vegetated slope in Africa. Truly amazing. baby-gorilla-1

Obviously these gorillas had seen humans before and were accustomed to us. It seemed they trusted our guides, who were making reassuring sounds, grunts  and noises familiar  to the gorillas, and particularly this fellow, the huge silverback who supervised and protected the group. gorrillas-13

The silverback  and his group seemed unconcerned, or even annoyed with our group of smaller primates and went about ripping up the large plants and  wild celery and eating the goodness inside the shoots and stalks.  It isn’t all peaceful in the gorilla world and you can see the wound our silverback had on it;s head from a fight with a rival silverback. . Here is a link to video of some of these  beautiful creatures I uploaded to my Youtube channel.

The mothers cuddled their very young, but allowed their older juveniles to roam freely with the adults of the group, almost oblivious to our presence. Here is another link to a video I uploaded to Youtube.

We were on the side of a steep slope, which was actually slippery because of the wild clery that grew there and was what attracted the gorillas up here. They scampered in the thick vegetation, appearing out of nowhere in front of, behind and beside us.  Some even tumblesetted their way down the slope. It wasn’t the best location  for photography but the interaction here, on this heavily vegetated and isolated slope, with these wild creatures, could not have been better anywhere else.  Here is one more video of our close encounter of the gorilla kind.  gorrillas-44

We only were allowed one hour visiting with the gorilla group so as not to cause too much stress in their lives. and the hour went by so quickly. None of us wanted to leave our new friends but it was for the best. Our intrusion in their group is not natural but, the fees generated, it cost $750 per person for a permit, are used to protect this critically endangered species. There are only about 900 gorillas living in these mountains and they are found nowere else on our planet. Truly we were fortunate to see this closely related primates in their  home. Here is a link to some more photographs of the mountain gorillas we encountered.

It was a long walk back, but at least most of it was now downhill and we had our wonderful experiences to keep our mind off the exhausting hike. We were out on our trek much longer than expected and didn’t return to our lodge until late in the afternoon. We missed the afternoon activities but we all agreed it was  absolutely worth it. afternoon-at-gorilla-lodge-7

I spent the remainder of the afternoon enjoying the beautiful scenery and birds living in the woodlands near  the lodge. We later had a nice dinner were we shared stories of out encounters with the gorillas. I retired early after dinner, falling asleep while recalling my  wonderful experiences of the days,  wishing I could remain do it again, but also, looking forward to the next part of my African adventure. gorrillas-46

I feel more comfortable with gorillas than people. I can anticipate what a gorilla’s going to do, and they’re purely motivated.  Dian Fossey




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Africa Day 4: The Kigali Genocide Memorial: The Horror That Was Rwanda. When Will We Ever Learn.

I can’t believe it’s been over three  week since I returned from my trip to Africa. Time goes so fast as it is , and the pressures and commitments of our busy life here in the industrialized world, makes it go even faster. We are here for such a short time. I have had little time to work on editing my photos or working on my blog since I’m back and looked forward to recalling the many marvelous things I saw, heard, smelled and felt. Today however  my blog post will be much more somber and reflective. In Kigali I had the opportunity to visit the Genocide Memorial Museum. I wish I had more time to devote to my many observations and thoughts I have on this moving experiences. kigali-genocide-memorial-grounds-26

On the way to the museum we were driven through the winding and hilly streets of Kigali.kigali-auto-tour-8

It is hard to imagine, observing the multitudes of people, walking, driving and bicycling as they went about their daily activities, that these very streets ran red with blood as neighbor killed neighbor only 22 years ago.kigali-auto-tour-14

Our guide gave us an insightful history of how and way this tragedy occurred. The history is complicated, but my take is that it had its  inception   in  colonialism and how we, in the “modern” and “educated”  world of Western Civilization viewed our African brothers.  Distinctions based upon meaningless physical characteristics were made and one group, the minority Tutsis  were favored because they were taller, thinner and more “European” looking. .  The Christian church, of course was involved, as it has been in many areas of slaughter I have seen on my travels around the world. (I say this not to condemn my heritage or religion, but to point out that there is evil in all religions, cultures, races and nations. And there is also far more good. We must not let the actions of a few prevent us from seeing the good in the many.  But hatred has a way of spreading that sometimes is unstoppable, and so it was in Rwanda.)genocide-memorial-2

We arrived early at the Memorial and,  after a brief introduction, we were left to explore the well maintained  grounds and graveyards outside  and the many exhibits indoors. It was a very moving and emotional experience for all of us. Here is a link to some  photographs of our drive to the Memorial.,-Rwanda-morning-Drive-October-12,-2016-genocide-memorial-1

I decided to first tour the grounds outside of the Memorial exhibits and walked through well maintained gardens until I came upon the mass graves, over 250,000 of them, murdered, most in unimaginable ways, only because of their ancestry.  And, as the exhibits inside would show,  many were murdered by neighbors, whose families lived, and children played together for many years.kigali-genocide-memorial-grounds-4

It was a very troubling, and thought provoking, experience. How could it happen? How can such base hatred be stirred in the human soul? . Could it happen again?genocide-memorial-8

After spending some time at the mass graves I roamed through the many beautiful and peaceful gardens, each having different themes designed to allow reflection on the events that lead up to, and followed the genocide.genocide-memorial-19

There were the gardens of Unity, Division and Reconciliation , each containing many  statues and landscaping symbolizing the feelings of the Rwandans throughout this horrible ordeal, but, to their credit, they have put behind them and have embraced a unity which we can all look to as an example how love and understanding can overcome revenge and hate.kigali-genocide-memorial-grounds-20

There were other gardens with themes about memory, life, national  unity  and self protection.All of them well maintained and allowing one to ponder and reflect on the horrible events that occurred here. genocide-memorial-22

I found the forest of memory,  a section of the Memorial planted with trees in memory of the departed, to be especially beautiful.  I wish I had more time to spend in these peaceful gardens but I also wanted to see the exhibits inside.  Here is a link to some more photographs of the gardens of the Memorial.

Once inside the Memorial, we were reminded not only of the horrors of the genocide that occurred in Rwanda but also other genocides that have taken place in our modern times.genocide-memorial-1

I was, unfortunately, too familiar with all of them, except one that was the first to occur in the 20th century, the Namibian Genocide.  As  with most of this horrible events, it was motivated by greed and racial hatred. genocide-memorial-23

The exhibits showed the horrors of the genocides that occurred  in Europe, Cambodia, Armenia and other places during this past century. So hard to understand why, with all the beauty that surrounds us, entire nations are driven to hate a race, religion or culture. genocide-memorial-21

I wish I could have spent more time in the exhibits, but as always, time is limited. I spent a little more time learning about the genocide in Rwanda and moved on to the children’s exhibit.genocide-memorial-16

This exhibit was the most emotional and  heartbreaking presentation in the Memorial. It displayed photographs of some of the multitude of children who were murdered.genocide-memorial-children-1

And provided information about their lives, loves and,  most tragically, the way they died.genocide-memorial-children-2

“Shot in the eye”, “killed with a machete” “beaten to death” were just some of the horrible way these innocent children died.  And where was the world? So sad.genocide-memorial-children-3

It was so difficult to read all of these stories and not sense the horrors that occurred, in the modern world, with all of our mass communication networks, only twenty years ago. Here is a link to some more  moving photographs of the children’s exhibit at the Memorial.

After leaving the children’s exhibit I watched a  movie, narrated by victims of the genocide, who lost friends and family and showed how quickly neighbor turned on neighbor. genocide-memorial-31

But it also showed how the victims found peace in forgiveness and how the nation came together again after this unimaginable nightmare that left over a million dead. I have posted photos of the video and they are worth having a look at, for their message of despair, sadness and eventually reconciliation and hope. genocide-memorial-46


It was comforting to find,  in these rooms filled with the horrors of the genocide,  some rays of hope. So many victims forgave their murders.This is an example of the path, all of us, who share this small blue planet, in this brief moment of time we have been blessed with, should take when  confronted with evil, forgiveness and healing. Of course we must confront and end it, but continuing the hate will never leave to healing. And I think they learned this in Rwanda. It is a lesson we should all learn.genocide-memorial-children-27

We must  all keep  ever vigilant of any person, organization or government  which tries to  divide people by race, culture, ethnicity or religion. It will only lead to darkness.  We must, as varied and different as we all are, look for the things that we have in common and learn to live together in peace during the short span of year we are allotted on this Earth. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the Genocide Memorial in Kigali.

And this is a link to the wonderful organization that manages and maintains this very moving and informative Memorial.   Please visit their website it provides so much more information about the genocide. We must never forget these horrible events so they never again occur again.  .

“There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.”
Mahatma Gandhigenocide-memorial-12



“Nonviolence is only for the brave men and women of the world because it requires courage – courage to love the beauty of life, beauty of humanity and the beauty of the world.”
Amit Ray


“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”genocide-memorial-14Mahatma Gandhi



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