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Pictures from South Africa 2010

South Africa 2010

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Fri
26
Mar '10

Feasting on the wildlife


When saying goodbye to the camp, we drove into the typical orange sunrise to continue our journey. The only thing missing was the intro music from “The lion King”. This time we were going south, heading for Johannesburg again. Still, there was a lot of national park to cover, and on the way we had many interesting stops. Breakfast was enjoyed in a picnic-area with a flock of monkeys playing around. This was an open area, and if a lion would enter the area, we were advised to go back into our car. Sadly, no lions showed up, but we got some nice pictures of both blue birds and thieving monkeys.

Another overview-point was visited, and pictures were taken. At the exit for the park, we went out and stretched our legs and observed a man in a nice Jaguar, blasting “a lion sleeps tonight” at full volume. Thank you. After exiting the park our main goal was to get to Jo’burg as fast as possible. For us, this meant driving at normal pace. For the guide, this meant trying to break some records. I’m pretty sure he cruised around in 150 km\t at some point.

We had a couple of stops on the way, mostly gas-stations and the like. A couple hours of suburbs and less interesting surrounding  later, we arrived safely in Jo’burg yet again. We said our goodbyes to Dirk the guide, and checked in to our surprisingly nice hotel. None of the two pools looked attractive, so we decided to do something else instead. There are multiple shopping malls in the area, but we decided to get something to eat and plan the next day

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. This didn’t happen. Suddenly the plans changed, and we ended up visiting a restaurant called “Carnivore“. Some discussions later, we arrived at the restaurant, and was treated to a wide selection of all you can eat meat, including Venison, Zebra, Antilope, Impala and Crocodile.  The whole thing was were well put together, and an experience in it self.

Going back to the hotel we were pretty much tired and wanted to rest. We found some internet so we could post some info on the blog, and get updated on the current events in both Alta and Oslo. Nothing has happened apparently.  Disregard all of the spelling-errors in the posts,  mostly due to late night writing and poor eyesight
.

Thu
25
Mar '10

Ollifants and Braai


06:00 is just as early in SA as in the rest of the world
. No over-sleeping this time. Getting up early gives a better chance of seeing more animals along the way. Early morning and afternoons are good, seeing that most of the wildlife hides from the heat when the sun scorches at its worst. The trip went to Olifant, a camp in the north of Kruger. On the 3 hour drive there we stopped at a lot of attractions and saw packs of elephants, zebras, antelopes and impalas. We were lucky enough to get a somewhat close encounter with some black rhinos as well.

At Olifant we had breakfast at a camp called something Tree, which had a great view out on the steppes. Heading back we encountered more wildlife, took a million pictures, and finally got a glimpse of some lions resting under a tree. We could only get a good look through binoculars, but we made it count on our “big five” to watch list. We now had Rhino, Elephant, Bull and lion, only missing the Cheeta (Damn you cheeta with your superior camoflague and covert stealth skills!).

Back at the camp we had some time to relax. A short trip to the gift-shop was prolonged by meeting a overly-excited trainee that was overly-fascinated by our group (norwegianvietnameese-dutch-russian travelers) and discussed the soap opera “The bold and the beautiful” with Thinh. After some russian language 101, we finally managed to sneak away. The following hour got spent evenly split up between guys relaxing in the sun  with beer, and the girls enjoying a swim at the pool.

The second part of the day was spent  traveling east in the park, visiting some other well know lookout-points, along with more  animal-sightseeing. The Temperatures never were too hot, and the humidity was a lot lower than what we expected
. We saw a lot of the same animals that we did before, but in alternative settings and quantities. We finally gave up on observing a baboon holding up a lion baby on a cliff
. The trip was much shorter than the first, and we arrived back at campsite around 18. The original plan was to eat at the buffet again, but we convinced the guide to show us a traditional Braai instead. The shop inside the camp had everything we need, including but far from limited to, Kudu-sausage and Wildebeest steak. Black wildebeest & bacon shish kebab? sure! They even had their own take on the disposable grill, called a Braai-box (though you need your own grill). The concept is easy; coal wrapped in newspaper, contained in a wooden box. Place on grill, light on fire, and wait 30 minutes for the coal to reach optimal temperature.

Taking everything back to the bungalows, we prepared everything and waited patiently to test our Braai-skills. Thinh apparently has meat-flipping in his genes, because he was working that meat as a pro. Meat, vegetables, bread and sauce. Add good company, and you’re all set. Everything tasted great, and we got a little progress on the whole “Eat one of every animal in the world” project. Braai equals social cuisine, so we enjoyed our feast for some hours before going to bed. We were again aiming for a 6 am departure, so the lion should sleep. tonight

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. (You are now singing “a wimmawe a wimmawe” in your head).

Wed
24
Mar '10

Suddenly, Elephants!


Team Alta managed to over-sleep, resulting in no breakfast for any of the participants (Thinh likes his Breakfast in the morning). Hopefully he will forgive us one day. The guide had already asked us if we could be ready at 7 instead of 8, but we didn’t make it. About 15 minutes late we met up in the reception, checking out and shaking hands with our Guide, Dirk. After exiting the center of Johannesburg, most of us was sleeping parts of the way to Kruger Park, waking up every second minute to look at something interesting. It’s worth noting that Dirk is 77 years young, but drives as a Schumacher on amphetamines.

We went full speed from Johannesburg towards the Kruger Park. On the way, we had a few stops. The first one was at Pilgrims Rest, an old gold mining community. Very cozy, but not so interesting that we stopped. A bit later we had a short stop at a famous pancake-house. The pancakes lived up to their name, and we left from there happy and full. In that small town there was surprisingly many people selling nuts and avocado from baskets on their heads. Another well known attraction is “Gods Window”, a great panoramic view into the Blyde canyon (if you’re lucky with the weather). We weren’t, so we pretty much just met a wall of fog. Not that we complain, fog can be pretty nice too.

The canyon revealed its glory from other angles during the rest of the trip, so we got some nice pictures from it. We also passed lot of small villages and half slum-ish places, but nothing too special. The trip to the park left us a bit sleepy, but after entering the “Orpen gate” to the Kruger national park, our eyes we’re pinned out the windows.

The plan was to go east to Satara where we had accommodation for two nights. The trip there was filled with animal-sightings and great scenery. If a picture is worth a thousand words, we have some novels ready in the “Evidence” section on the left. At least in a while.. thus far we have only uploaded the pocket camera snapshots. Keep in mind that the censoring and quality check is not in order, so a lot of pictures might be sub-par. Right before entering the camp, we finally ambushed some giraffes having a evening snack. We counted seven beautiful specimens, including one overly-cute small one, and of course the girls in the group went wild (OK.. the boys were fascinated too).

Our accommodation for the following two days were Bungalows in a camp called Satso in the middle-ish of the Kruger park
. Each bungalow had an outside kitchen, with a braai (barbecue) that we were eager to try. We met up with the guide for dinner, which was a small buffet at the camp restaurant. The food was OK, and the beer was great. Nice signs on the premises informed us not to feed the hyenas, which was a pretty good tip

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. During dinner, suddenly a flood-light was turned on outside the fence, revealing an elephant sneaking around. We were amazed by the concept, and enjoyed some combined beer and elephant-watching.

Seeing that most of us had a long trip we were pretty tired, and went to bed around 23. Our plan was to start the next days safari at 6 am, so we needed our beauty-sleep. The beds were comfortable, and the animal-sounds were soothing.

Tue
23
Mar '10

The Arrival


The trip to Amsterdam went great
. It’s worth mentioning than that the city looks like a Sim City\Transport Tycoon map from above

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. We didn’t have much waiting time on the airport, so after some shopping where team Oslo bought a nifty Canon SLR camera for safari-use, and a quick trip to Starbucks, we were on our way to our gate. Thanks to KLM we had a great flight to Johannesburg with a great selection of entertainment (A-Team!), fantastic food and most important of all, somewhat comfortable seats for sleeping. The time went by pretty fast, and before we knew it the pilot hinted towards that we were descending to Johannesburg.

Both the passport-control and baggage-claim went smoothly, and it only took us five minutes to get scammed for the first time
. Apparently the people who worked in the information desk were good friends with some taxi drivers. Pirate taxi drivers that is. NOK 300 for a five minute ride is not that bad, but we learned our lesson. At around midnight we arrived at the hotel, which was better that we had imagined. Big bedrooms with separate bathrooms and all the South African soap-opera one could wish for. Instead we tried sleeping, which also was good.

Tue
23
Mar '10

A Great Start


Team Alta’s Journey started around 17:00 today, getting ready for departure from Finnmark.  At least thats what we thought. I think the weather would classify as a mild storm, but we’ll refer to it as a “class 5 blizzard” for dramatic effect

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. We didn’t think much of it, and focused more on the plus thirty something degrees awaiting us in the coming week than on the knee-deep snow surrounding us. After being dropped off on the airport by N’Forsberg, we went through the normal routine with baggage, fingerprints and both un- and re -dressing  in the security point before being able to relax with a cup of coffee in the departure hall. As the time went by, and delay upon delay kept ticking in along with more and more snow outside, we started to get worried-ish. Sure enough, 45 minutes after the original take-off time, the nice speaker system lady informed us that the pilot was about to give up on trying to land the plane in Alta. “Wohoo” Sveta replied. They were going to try landing one last time, so we should keep our fingers crossed, and they would come back to us within 15 minutes with more information. This is where “The Journey to the metropolis known as Lakselv” begins.

Seeing that the plane couldn’t cope with the immense amounts of snow that Alta has to offer, the pilot gave up and headed for Lakselv. With the alternative being not going to Oslo until the next morning, we didn’t have much choice but to board the bus and keep our mood positive! 20 minutes later the bus started driving. 5 minutes after that we were back at the airport. Another 20 minutes and we  started driving again, this time for real! At some point we were worried that even the bus would get lost in the snow somehow, but half-sleeping made the whole trip seem less scary and confusing. Around 22:45 we arrived at Lakselv International Airport (LA-X), using only 15-20 minutes on getting through security and getting on board. They bribed us with free soda and nuts, and it worked. One fourth of a sleep-cycle later we got welcomed to Gardermoen at 01:30.

Now we are just relaxing on Gardermoen, waiting for the yellow team team Oslo. The plane leaves for Amsterdam at 06:35, so we still have some time to kill
. Blog-updates are always plentiful in the beginning of a project like this, and then slowly declining in both quality and post-rate. In other words, we guarantee a interesting read in the weeks to come.

Thu
18
Mar '10

Travel-Blog up and running!


The blog is up and running thanks to Wordpress and magic

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