Monthly Archives: May 2010

Friendly kitties of the fantastic Kruger

Friendly Cheetah

I was lucky to get this photo of the Tshukudu game reserve's pet cheetah bearing its teeth. After taking the picture I looked at it and thought that it looked threatening, whereas Kerry-Anne thought that it looked more like it was smiling. The truth is that the friendly animal had just woken from its sleep and was closing its mouth after the biggest yawn ever!

Of all the large cats, the cheetah is the only one that can be tamed. You could try keeping a lion or a leopard as a pet, but eventually instinct takes over and you may just find yourself becoming the prey. Cheetahs on the other hand are fairly domesticable. One interesting, lesser-known fact is that the cheetah is the only large cat that can purr like your own kitty!

After watching the cheetah and the lodge's dog play-fight for a while, we headed out into the reserve on the back of a game drive vehicle. The first few photos of this album were taken at our own lodge, with the rest being from Tshukudu. Be sure to look at the second page of the album - you'll see two hippos playing Marco Polo, and two lions and their cub that we came across after the sun had already set!

An early morning bush drive

Early morning game drive

When invited on an early morning hike in a nature reserve, it's wise to anticipate it being icy cold on the back of an open LandCruiser. :) Our hike in the Balule Nature Reserve (as I mentioned previously, part of the Greater Kruger Park) started off with an icy drive to the starting point. The air was cold, crisp and the kind that makes your nose feel a little wet and ears a little numb... it was the kind of cold that makes you feel alive - it was awesome!

After the short drive we arrived at a spot somewhere in the middle of the bush. Mark, our guide in the photo, grabbed his huge-calibre rifle (just in case), explained the rules of the bush to us, and all in tow we headed out on our four-hour bush walk. We spent the morning looking at plants, insects and small animals - learning how the ecology works together to join the larger animals in the great circle of life.

We learned the most amazing things about the thorny Acacia bush, the nasty-tasting Millipede, the shy Baboon Spider and industrious Termites. If you have the opportunity to take a walk with someone who knows the bush well - grab it. After the experience you'll be in awe of a part of the ecology that many have no idea exists.

Click here to see a few more photos that I took on the our morning bush walk while on our Cape to Kruger adventure.

Kruger chameleon and a night-time game drive

Kruger Chameleon

I couldn't believe how Mark, the guide on our night-time game drive, was able to spot insects and little reptiles (like this chameleon) hiding in bushes. With one hand he drove our open-top Landcruiser 4x4 along the park's dirt roads and with the other he panned a flashlight across the bush, spotting impala, zebra, owls and a multitude of other larger and smaller animals and insects. It quickly became obvious to me why it's an absolute bonus to have a guide take you on these drives!

The night-time game drive was one of the highlights of our trip. The evening air was cool and fresh, and the smell of the the African bushveld bathed in the light of the setting sun was more relaxing than a day at an expensive spa. Although, that said, I have to admit that the spa at the Royal Legend Luxury Lodge in the Timbavati Nature Reserve (not far from our lodge) sounded fantastic! :D

If you're confused as to how Kruger Park fits in with Cape Town Daily Photo I'm guessing that you missed my previous article . :).

Cape to Kruger – a quick weekend getaway

OR Tambo Airport

I mentioned in my previous article that we would be on away a short holiday in Kruger National Park (one of Africa's largest game reserves, north-west of Johannesburg).

Kerry-Anne and I woke up bright and early on Thursday morning to catch a two-hour flight from Cape Town International to OR Tambo International in Johannesburg. Once there, we waited at the arrivals area (shown in the photo above) to be whisked away by Thabo, one of the lodge's drivers and probably the most jovial person I've had the pleasure of meeting in a while. :)

I'll tell you a little more about our our first day in the Balule Nature Reserve in my next article, but in closing let me say that the five-hour drive to Tremisana Lodge in the Balule Nature Reserve (part of the Greater Kruger National Park) was awesome, because I didn't have to drive! :) The route winds its way through some beautiful scenery, with wide-open skies and seemingly endless fields. We were driven through several towns that we'd never visited before, the prettiest of which was definitely Dullstroom, where we stopped for lunch.

If you don't fancy the five-hour drive, there is another option: you could instead fly to Phalaborwa or Nelspruit airport, both of which are much closer, though a lot smaller, than OR Tambo. If you have limited time, this would be a great idea!

Ready for our Cape to Kruger Park adventure

A lion in her own right

It's 12h48 in the morning and I've been awake for far too long! You may have gathered from one of my previous posts that we'll be heading up to Tremisana Lodge just outside of the Kruger National Park for a 4-day get-away this weekend. In fact, our flight to Johannesburg leaves in about 5 and a half hours!

I guess this may explain why I've posted a photo of a cat today.  :) While we've often seen big cats in captivity I've never had the privilege of seeing them roaming through the African bush, or lazing about on the plains. It's going to be awesome!

We have a jam-packed four days ahead of us, filled with game drives and walks in the bush, along with traditional African food and just enough time to laze about (like said lions) as not to be completely worn out when we return home on Sunday.

So, please excuse us if Cape Town Daily Photo heads off into the bush for a little while. We'll definitely be back with photos and stories, but if you'd like, follow Kerry-Anne or myself on Twitter... we may just give you a preview of what we're up to. :)

A rustic rural shop

Rustic Rural Shop

I discovered a small shop that sells a few baked goods, plants, trees, and other odds and ends out on the R302 behind Durbanville (map). It was strange in that the building was filled with smoke from a fire that had been made inside, and there was nobody else except for the proprietor who was chatting with two of her friends. It's really a strange little place!

Grand Central shopping centre

Grand Central shopping centre
This photo of the mall was taken near the bus terminal and taxi ranks in Cape Town - just next to the Grand Parade. I don't think I know of anyone who actually shops at the Grand Central shopping centre, and in fact, I've never actually been inside! Suffice to say that I have an idea that I'm not missing out on too much though...

The Winchester Mansions Hotel

Winchester Mansions Hotel
I previously wrote about the awesome scones and tea that we enjoyed at Winchester Mansions in Sea Point. This perspective looks from the courtyard through the reception hall and onto Beach Road outside. Isn't the dark wood and afternoon sun streaming in though the doors simply beautiful?

Nelson Mandela’s first public speech

Cape Town City Hall
What you see here is the Cape Town City Hall, built in 1905. What makes this building special is that on 11 February 1990 this was the place that Nelson Mandela chose to make his first public speech after being released from prison!

Don't you just love that he's released from prison and on that same day addresses the public, opening with:

Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans.
I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all.
I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.


I don't smoke, and (due to curiosity) I've taken only one puff of a flavoured cigar - and I'm happy to report that it just wouldn't grow on me.

A few years ago our government imposed laws banning the advertising of tobacco products and made it mandatory for packaging to carry large health warnings. They also banned smoking in public places (like shopping malls), although they made provision for for designated areas. They even imposed legislation governing the ratio of smoking vs. non-smoking areas in places such as restaurants and enforce particular requirements around the use of separate ventilation systems.

Where in years gone by I recall co-workers smoking at their desks, today it would be a completely foreign thought for someone to smoke while they work. Assuming that you work indoors, do people where you work smoke where they work, and if so, does the law permit it?

District 9

District 9
District 9, the movie in this photo, is a South African sci-fi movie and Hollywood blockbuster set in Johannesburg. While the movie is fictional it also represents many aspects of our apartheid era and the recent xenophobic unrest that we experienced about two years ago.

I recently spoke with an American who said that she didn't really enjoy the movie. On reflection I mentioned to her that (while it had a solid and serious message) the film was filled with jokes that had me rolling in my seat. The reason why she never found it so was because the jokes are largely cultural and based on events in our history and would thus be difficult for non-South African's to catch. Give it a try though, watch the movie and leave a comment to tell me what you thought about it.

Oh, just a side note, Johannesburg is nothing like how it's represented in the movie. ;)

Bunches of flowers

Bunches of flowers
Isn't it sneaky how supermarkets place the array of beautiful flowers in a position that forces you to look at them while waiting at the checkout? I can imagine that it must make it *very* difficult for woman to decide between the chocolates (also conveniently placed where you wait) and the flowers that they seem all to love.

Bunches of flowers bought in a supermarket in Cape Town generally cost between R50 and R80 (between 5 and 8 Euro). What would you pay for a similar bunch where you live?

Bath outside

An outside bath
I discovered this bath outside a small guest cottage in the back of Durbanville. This is Africa, so it's of course normal for us to bath outside - not! :)

I've seen many ingenious uses for a bath - one being as a huge plant pot and another being as a braai fit to cook the meat for an army of hungry people. I wonder, there must be someone out there who's turned a bath into a poor-man's swimming pool. Assuming that you live in a warm country, imagine having one of those large Victorian baths outside your home. Instead of relaxing on a deck chair in the sun, you could relax in a cool bath. Is it just me or does it sound like an awesome idea?

Pizza ovens

Pizza Oven
I guess what's displayed in this photo ads to the problem that I mentioned in my previous article about getting into shape. I'm certainly not fat, but could really do with some muscle making and toning.

Eating correctly is the first step to becoming a lean, mean, healthy machine, but with awesome pizza places like Col'Cacchio being close to home, and time to make descent food being scarce - it's really difficult! Working late and having (well-meaning) project managers buy pizza to sustain the troops is just the push that one needs to fall into a cycle of poor eating habits.

We're going on a short holiday to the Balule Game Reserve and Kruger National Park soon, but when we're back... we'll be on track for healthy eating again! #holdingthumbs

Cyclist cycling

Cyclist cycling
Did I ever mention that I was moderately into cycling towards the end of high school and while I was studying? While I never actually took part in any races (it's not my thing), but my cousin and I enjoyed taking rides out towards Stellenbosch or to the Big Bay and around to Melkbos. They were fun times, and I was far fitter then than what I'm now. The irony is that it would be far better for me to be fitter now than back then, and while I've been saying it for a while now - I really have to do something about whippin' myself into shape again!

This photo was taken on Wellington Road, as it leaves suburban Durbanville and enters the farming district.

Cash Creators

Cash Creators
First there was Cash Converters, and next came Cash Crusaders... and to my surprise another bright businessman opened the third in the trio of Cash* shops, Cash Creators. I guess if you're going to copy another business you may as well take on a similar name - I guess it makes advertising cheap. :)

Cash Creators in Durbanville, much like the other two, is essentially a pawn shop that stocks a lot of items that you probably wouldn't want, along with a few items that may be of interest to a more discerning browser. They had a few large LCD monitors at pretty reasonable prices when I popped in... along with a few not-so-great home theatre systems. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the coolest part of the shop for me is the tools section where you're able to scratch through old well-used tools like spanners, screwdrivers, and strange wrenches and pretty decent prices.

What I actually popped in to look for was a camera lens or two... but alas, they only had a couple of really old ones that would more likely fit on the front of a '66 Mustang GT than on the front of my camera. :(

National Ostrich Day

Upside down people
I think this guy took "National Ostrich Day" way too far, and besides, it's a fallacy that ostriches stick their heads into the ground when afraid. Based on what I've read there are various reasons why people may have believed this at some silly stage in history. Some say that ostriches dig holes in the ground in which to lay their eggs - apparently keeping the huge eggs below ground-level makes them more difficult for predators to spot.

However, the more likely reason for people having believed that ostriches bury their heads is because when they sense danger that they're unable to run away from they flop on the ground and keep their long necks and round heads flat on the ground as to (from a distance) look like an ant hill, or a perhaps rock. Kinda clever if you ask me. :)

Oh, and just for the record, there is no such thing as National Ostrich Day. ;)

The Elephant and the Fever Thorn Tree

Fever Thorn Tree
The Fever Thorn Tree is a very common tree in the African bush. According to the trees are often found in poorly drained clay soil next to lakes and rivers and has a fairly shallow root system that reduces the possibility of water-logging.

The thorns on these trees are long and extremely sharp - I've been stabbed several times. The amazing thing though is that elephants pull the leaves off the tree to feed to their young, and themselves eat the pods and branches (reference). Wow! Imagine eating one of these branches - especially without thumbs! :D

An uncommon perspective in the city

Cape Town
I took a photo of this uncommon view from the top of the Golden Acre building (map) in Cape Town. The road below is Castle Street that further on becomes Parliament Street, finally leading right to our parliament buildings.

Old signs: Nestlé Cocoa

This is the last of the four old advertising signboards that I wanted to share with you.

Cocoa contains a substance called epicatechin, which appears to have huge health benefits for humans. Unfortunately cocoa (and chocolate) contain other substances called xanthines that are deadly to dogs and cats. Isn't it strange that a food that's perfectly good for humans is deadly to their most loved pets?

Old signs: Simba chips

Simba Chips
Simba is one of the well known potato chip (sometimes called "crisps") manufacturers in South Africa. The company was founded way back in 1956 by the Greyvenstein family, and is today still one of the most loved brands. Perhaps this is because they make great chips, or perhaps because kids like friendly lions. Or, perhaps it's because of their extremely well-known tag-line "Simba roarrrs With flavour".

Many years ago, when in primary school, our teacher took us on an outing to the Simba factory. It was fascinating to watch how potatos got skinned, chopped up, and dumped into huge baths of oil. I however remember at the time being mildly disenchanted by the thought that the chips that I loved weren't lovely made by friendly ladies in nice kitchens, but by machines in dirty-looking factories. :(

Old signs: Coca-Cola #2

This is the second of two Coca-Cola signs that I discovered at a small nursery outside of Durbanville. I promise, I don't work for Coca-Cola, and I'm not subliminally trying to suggest that you absolutely need a cool, refreshing Coca-Cola now... :)

Seriously though, I wouldn't go around encouraging that you drink the stuff - I guess we all know that it's not the healthiness thing to be drinking. I normally don't order Coke, but every so often I find that I do crave it - do you think that perhaps they plant subliminal messages or do you think the drink is just awfully addictive? *Sigh* The human condition...

Old signs: Coca-Cola #1

My next four posts will be of signs that you may remember from many years ago. The first is this classic Coca-Cola advert. Wouldn't it be cool to have been the designer who'd designed this sign? There can't be too many of these around today still, so imagine being that designer and bumping into this sign after so many years.

Brenda Fassie, a South African legend

Brenda Fassie
I can't say that I was a fan of Brenda Fassie's music, but that's only me. Millions of people all over South Africa regarded her as the greatest pop icon of the pre- and post-apartheid years. An article on even referred to her as "Madonna of the Townships"!

Brenda unfortunately passed away 2004, at the age of 39, after suffering an asthma attack and cardio-respiratory arrest, and I recall at the time the mood in the country turned extremely solemn. I believe that even ex Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki visited Brenda while she was in hospital - which, I'm sure, speaks for how important she had been to the nation.

I'm sure that Brenda is still today still.

Sunset over Table Bay

Table Bay
One of the beautiful things to do in Cape Town is to walk along the Sea Point promenade while the sun sets over Table Bay. However, this day, the air was cold, a bone-rattling offshore breeze blew right through our warm tops, and I was wishing for someone to have had the wisdom to open a take-away coffee shop on the promenade.

Alas, it's not so, I don't know of a single takeaway coffee shop in the area! Do you?

Pool-fun is over

Swimming pool and deck chairs
We're approaching winter, and even though we have the occasional warm days - our pool-water stays insanely cold, so I'm afraid that the days of relaxing at the pool is over... unless of course you were smart enough to install some kind of heating device!

Friends of mine have installed a heating system consisting of fine black tubing that's carefully layed to cover several square meters of their roof. The sun heats the black tubing as the swimming pool pump forces water through the thin, warm, pipes. I believe that it's able to heat the pool by up to 10°C - which makes their winter-water about the same temperature as my pool's summer water!

Take-away food

Take-away food
Besides for the prominent "Masala Steak plus 2L Sparletta" in the photo, you'll notice several signs advertising Gatsbys (Gats-bea) - a common meal bought at small shops like these ones, near the castle, at the top of the Grand Parade (map). A Gatsby is similar in a way to a Subway sub, but filled with hot chips (French fries), various meats (often sausages), perhaps some salad, and certainly plenty of sauces.

Don't expect eating a Gatsby to be easy - it's large, very messy, yet surprisingly and delightfully tasty. :)

Tea and scones in Sea Point

Winchester Mansions in Sea Point
I've just returned from a business trip to sunny Las Vegas, so over the next few day's I'm going to put in effort to get up to date with our daily photos!

Since the weather in Cape Town currently seems like the kind one would expect to experience in England - you know, the wet, cold and rainy kind, I think it's perfect to write about Winchester Mansions (map), a local little gem where one can go to have the most awesome English tea with scones.

Besides for the service being good and the scones being tasty and warm, the venue is simply exquisite. One enters at the hotel's reception area and walks straight past the concierge's desk to this little courtyard, filled with trees, a large water feature, tables and chairs, and surrounded by the quaint-looking hotel rooms. It really is a beautiful setting for a quiet afternoon outing.

The courtyard is a little chilly on cooler days, so consider taking a light jersey or jacket along if you, like me, easily get cold.

Well-hidden entrances

Concealed driveways
This road-sign always puzzled me when I was little. I couldn't understand why they would actually put up a sign to tell us about these "concealed driveways". I mean, surely they'd been concealed for a reason? Wouldn't their owners be a bit annoyed that someone was going around putting up signs alerting everyone to their existence, when they'd tried so hard to hide them? (I've always been a rather literal thinker.)

These signs still baffle me a bit, to be honest, although for a slightly different reason. I presume their purpose is to warn us that people might unexpectedly be turning out of these concealed driveways - but surely it's the responsibility of the motorist doing the turning to make sure that the road is clear before they pull out into it?

The Taj’s metamorphosis

The Taj Hotel
As I mentioned in my previous post, the South African Reserve Bank and BoE buildings were transformed into what we know as the Taj today. What I never realised is exactly how young the hotel actually is. Click through to this post (on their own blog) to see what the hotel looked like only a year ago! Comparing my photo with that one - isn't is astounding what can be achieved in under a year? Perhaps there's a life lesson in that somewhere. ;)

Yes, that hot babe in the photo is indeed Kerry-Anne patiently waiting for me to finish taking photos. :D

The stylish Taj

Cigar lounge
I never mentioned it in the previous post, but the Taj hotel is a renovation of the old South African Reserve Bank and BoE buildings (at the bottom of Wale street where it meets up with Adderley). I have an idea that this is what helps gives the hotel that old, classic yet elegant look.

I took this photo of the hotel's cigar lounge after visiting Bombay Brasserie. Besides for loving the classically opulent décor of the cigar lounge, what is awesome is that just outside there's a quiet bar area with comfortable chairs and couches that look perfect for enjoying a drink or perhaps cup of coffee after a night out in Cape Town.