Category Archives: Safari Series

The Great Wall of China

Truly one of the wonders of the world. While I am stuck here in Beijing on assignment I can get out and about a little bit on the weekends to see some of the sights. Apart from the usual Beijing specials, usa there is the Great Wall itself, with many different places where you can get access and feel the majesty of it. We have been to two places on the wall, MuTianYu and Simatai. MuTianYu is more commercial, but far enough out to keep the crowds you’d get at Badaling (another Great Wall Access Point) away until mid morning, lunch time. Simatai, however, is well out and proves to be not only an amazing feat of engineering and tenacity, it’s also a good climb and your lungs and legs are going to get an excellent workout.

To get there it’s a long drive out of Beijing. The traffic gets less, but more militant and agressive in it’s actions. We even tried at one point to go to JinShaling (another access point) and the “Outer Mongolian” province of HuBei showed us what manic driving was all about. I am glad I wasn’t driving. It was nervous enough in the back. You head down a small valley road for about 10 km’s as you head into the entrance area. It’s got an “old China” feel to it, with the buildings and bridges made of brick, with smoking chimneys, small courtyards and seemingly without any planning. But it has that sort of rustic “chilled out” (literally lately) look that appeals. I must get a few Photos of it next time I go.

The main entrance itself is a testament to the new commer eggsm that is coming to places like the Great Wall of China. They have built shopping areas (empty) and inside the gate are restaurants and other areas. Outside are the usual touts trying to sell you hot coffee (needed), shirts and other paraphernalia. Good fun to chat with them, joking about the price etc. I even bought a few items. Will be funny to look at them in years to come. I am fortunate to be able to come back for a look see a few more times. Many only ever do this trip once.

One of the nice things about visiting the Great Wall is seeing the numbers of locals on the Wall with you. They take great pleasure in it, as they should. Many of them exchange greetings with us by saying “hello” as we practice our excellent ‘Ni Hao’ and ‘Xie Xie’ Chinese on them. Amazing to see them surprised when we even mutter one chinese word.  All on good fun and smiles. We spotted more than one party carting around a Chinese Flag and then sitting in a group getting their photo taken. I cannot imagine a group of Aussies or Kiwis on one of their monuments posing before their flag. It’s amazing what means something to one but not to another.

More soon . . . . .
The Great Wall of China

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Part Two:- Self Drive Botswana.

A trip to Botswana in the sense of a self drive is not one for the faint hearted. Where as in Kruger Park the amenities, Rangers and other park goers are there to assist you should anything go wrong, in Moremi, Savuti and Chobe there are no such real conveniences or luxuries. There are no shops and apart from a few circumstances, the amenities are at best rudimentary. So before deciding on doing such a trip, discuss it with people that have been there before. If you are a 3, 4 or 5 Star traveler, then the adventure of sleeping on a wonky rooftop bed for two weeks, surrounded by hostile predators, elephants and things that sting, bite and harass, will probably make the decision easier.

This trip is no camping expedition into known territory. There are no guides to help us out. The flat tires get were fixed there and then, with the girls as lookouts and the fixers breaking formula one records to get the tires changed over.

A key to a successful trip is in the planning. I was lucky enough to travel with my friend Ollie and his wife Mrs. Attenborough (Mrs. A is an amazing birder, game spotter and fount of information about Africa. of course, she’s African). Ollie is a genius with the details and with some input from yours truly a plan, day by day was made. On this sort of trip you have to plan it down to the liters of diesel carried, water, food and bathing needs and essentials. Spreadsheets make the job a lot easier.

The FULL STORY continues in the link.

Part Two:- Self Drive Botswana.

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  • ollieDecember 17, 2007 - 12:03 pm

    Dude, good summary of the trip…. it should carry a health warning: Should only be attempted by the adventurous types. Planning is critical, since you will not always find good drinking water, and fuel. Hmm having said this, I think it’s time for another adventure. I think the Caprivi and Northern Namibia…….ReplyCancel

  • ollieDecember 17, 2007 - 12:05 pm

    Dude, good summary of the trip….should carry a health warning: Should only be attempted by the adventurous types. Planning is critical, since you will not always find good drinking water, and fuel. Hmm having said this, I think it’s time for another adventure. I think the Caprivi and Northern Namibia…….ReplyCancel

Shooting from a Vehicle in Africa – Part One

Probably the most common way to shoot wildlife is from a Vehicle. Wandering around in the velt is fine, with guards (armed or not, buy that’s another story or three) but it’s slow and the key to success in the African Savannah is covering lots of territory. Animals wandering the tundra (how many cliches can I pack into one paragraph) are the ultimate nomads and constantly patrol their patches for food and to detect / repel intruders.

The FULL STORY continues in the here

Shooting from a Vehicle in Africa - Part One

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  • RayNovember 27, 2007 - 2:50 am

    Nice! Feels like I have actually spent a day with you guys in the Kriger Park. And…much better fun than a hunt with guns, bullets, blood, and gunky stuff like that.ReplyCancel

  • RSNovember 27, 2007 - 4:31 am

    A BRAAI is quite different from ‘brie’ which is a LEKKER cheese, very good with a NAARTJE.

    As an old Kruger hand (from Crocodile Bridge to Crooks’ Corner) I’d say that account was pretty good as far as it goes, but here’s a few more oddments.

    The northerly part of the park is mostly rather uninteresting mopani scrub, and can be disappointing. The far north has a small belt of interesting riparian forest close to the Limpopo (Crested Eagle, Kori Bustard), but it’s a long way to go from the ‘heartland’ up as far as Olifants.

    Night drives (you have to be taken on these by the rangers) are well worth doing and allow you to see things you will not see at all in the daytime. They typically start late afternoon (say, 17:30) and last about three hours. Use of flash is quite acceptable (but have a care for the animals).

    Daytime game walks (with rangers, ALWAYS armed) are not for the faint-hearted or ill-disciplined, and require a quite different photographic approach from vehicle-based photography, but can be very rewarding – they are the best way to get a real feel for the bush.

    NEVER get out of your vehicle except at designated hides or picnic sites, and even then exercise care – lions see you as prey, and are amazingly good at Not Being Seen. Remember the od adage that for every anumal you see, ten see you. Ten may be an under-estimate.

    Don’t let your desire to have the maximum amount of photographic equipment with you displace a good pair of binoculars.ReplyCancel