Sunrise

Being on the west coast, Cape Town is definitely better known for its sunsets rather than its sunrises. Want one of those early morning pictures taken from an urban environment? Go to Durban.
Durban’s geographical location on the east coast of South Africa means that the sun tends to pop up there way before the sleepy Cape has even contemplated leaving its slumbers. Sunrise City, Durban is.

I’m not in Durban, but when I saw the sky beginning to light up this morning, and with Mrs 6000 volunteering to take on the school run, I took the opportunity to chuck Florence the Mavic Pro up to about 120m and snapped this:

Not bad, Cape Town. Considering you’re more about the evening thing, not bad at all.

And no, I’m not a bad workman blaming his tools the local atmosphere, but the mist and the pollution over the Cape Flats makes this image look misty and polluted. The camera isn’t to blame. The subject actually is misty and polluted. Photograph is accurate. We need some wind and rain to clean things up a bit, although then that makes flying less possible.
Catch 22, ne?

As ever, this looks better bigger and on a black background, here.

Z is for…

Phezulu Safari Park was arguably the second most bizarre place we visited in KZN. (More on the winner of that auspicious prize at a later date.)
A mish-mash of animals, posh housing, a curio shop, an apparently traditional Zulu village and a snake park, the reviews on Trip Advisor were divided, from the sublime through to the frankly terrifying. It wasn’t cheap either, so we were taking a bit of a chance.

First up was the tourist-aimed – but still educational – Zulu dancing and village tour. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this was that about 70% of the audience was Zulu. The dancing was good, the story-telling and village tour, interesting. I learned a lot.

The (45 minute) game drive was initially disappointing, but then I had been rather spoilt recently at San Bona. Still, the kids got to see a giraffe up close (real close) and then we headed back towards the reception place, through the larney housing complex. And, weirdly, that’s where all the animals were. We were asked not to take photos with houses in the background, and we did our best to comply, but it was difficult, because literally, that’s where all the animals were. Wildebees, impala and zebra all over your grass: lawnmowing and fertilising in one.

The beagle would have (rightfully) gone bonkers. The guide told us that there was nothing there that would eat you (‘erbivores, in’t they?), but that an irritated wildebees would happily trample you to death. (And we all know about the dangers of giraffes already.)

It wasn’t San Bona (although in fairness, it never claimed to be), and the kids did enjoy seeing the animals at such close quarters. But it was a bit of a weird experience.
As I mentioned above, the reviews do seem to be a bit hit and miss, and that describes our experience pretty well.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you are headed that way, this might just be for you. Or it might not.

Photos

Some of you may have guessed by now that the vast majority of what you’ve been reading over the past week was actually written the week before. I wasn’t sure about what connectivity I’d have while we were away (and with good reason, it turned out), and I certainly wasn’t going to spend my entire break writing blog posts, fun though it (sometimes) is.

Even back here, just 6000 miles from civilisation…, the internet isn’t exactly “quick”. Thus, it’s taken several (or more) hours to get some photos of our recent escapades uploaded onto Flickr. There are birds, kids, sunsets, beaches, steam trains, a lighthouse, a pier, a stadium, a… look, there’s a lot of stuff, ok?
Some of the photos were taken on my camera, some on my phone – just to make immediate sharing amongst the family a little easier.

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Now though, the whole lot have been uploaded into the imaginatively-named “Durban/Umngazi Trip – Jun/Jul 15 ” Flickr set, which you can view by clicking here.

I’m sure that there will be a few more things to add here and there, a few more photos shared on here over the forthcoming weeks and surely some words about where we stayed, what we did and what we thought, but until that time, please just look and enjoy.

Durban…

Durban has been cool. It’s a scruffy place, but that’s not necessarily a criticism. It handles its scruffiness well. It’s part of its character.

We’ve seen giraffes, zebras, a steam train, a host of exotic birds, dolphins and several (or more) water slides.

One thing we haven’t seen is any reasonable way of uploading photos to Flickr, and as we move on, there seems even less chance of that being sorted in our Wild Coast home for the next few days.
I know this will hurt you, dear readers, but not bringing a laptop along was very much part of the idea of this whole trip.

Beware the Beagle Eagle

A [collective noun] of eagles in Durban’s western suburbs are thought to be to blame for the death of a Maltese poodle and the disappearance of several kittens in the area. This is obviously very sad for the owner of Buttercup (for it was she what was killed), but is great news for birds everywhere. Not only because it proves that the Crowned Eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) is successfully adapting its diet despite human intrusion into its territory, but also because it is adapting its diet (in that area) away from the Hadeda Ibis. And that’s obviously good news for Hadedas.

Those of you who are aware of the size of a Hadeda (they stand up to 85cm tall) will now understand that the Crowned Eagle is a bit of a monster.

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It’s not South Africa’s biggest eagle, either. Both the Martial Eagle and the Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle (seen here) are bigger, but anything that has Hadedas as its first diet item of choice is to be applauded. Feared. Is to be feared. Yes.

There are no Crowned Eagles in Malta, which is probably why the Maltese poodle is so very prolific there.  Incidentally, I guess that there are loads of Hadedas as well. I don’t know. I’ve never been, but I suppose that they must be everywhere. Malta is basically a hot lump of rock populated by nasty, yappy, hair-shedding little shits and annoying, honking, drably-plumaged birds. I’m so glad I don’t live there.

Fortunately, there are no Crowned Eagles in Cape Town either, and that means that our beagle is safe in our back garden. From eagles, at least. The hadedas remain an ongoing issue.