Wednesday 8 May 2013

The Joys of Living in Zululand.......Part 2

So after the pineapples and pottery and Pongola, I had a rerun of the early morning drill of Saturday, except for the fact that BOTH my camera batteries were fully charged.

I made a beeline for the park at 5.45 and drove straight through to the very far southern end of the iMfolozi section.

Along the way I saw a reasonable variety of wildlife. Giraffe and zebra are pretty much a certainty on the Hluhluwe side of the park. They are often found together.

Giraffe have managed to combine haughtiness with curiosity.

 I do not know why people go on early morning drives as I seem to see very little on these drives. It was a good while later that I got a good sighting again.
Vervet monkeys are to be found in reserves as well as urban areas. A pest in towns and cities but cute in the park

Glossy starlings are quite spectacular when seen in sunlight. They are often to be found with larger game where they catch the insects that get disturbed by grazing.

I was slowly but surely making my way to where the cheetah with the three cubs have been seen. Driving and looking for game can be a bit of a job when you are on your own, so adding taking photographs into the mix makes for some strange contortions sometimes. It also means that sometimes you miss something that was worth photographing or you end up in a deep rut or hit a stone because you were not watching the road.

And this is exactly what happened when I HIT THE JACKPOT!

No, not the cheetah and cubs, but eleven lions on the sandbank in the White Umfolozi river.

By the time I parked the car without ramming the one other car that was there, got my camera ready and started taking photographs, the pride had scattered and only five were visible.

The standing lioness was either very pregnant or had just eaten a huge meal or both. She tried to lie down and relax but could not settle down.

I realised that there was no way that the cheetah with the cubs would risk staying in the same area. She has most certainly moved off somewhere where her cubs would be safe from lions. In the wild predators do not accept competition from anyone and would try to kill other predators on sight.
I sat and watched them lazing around for a good half hour. By this time another car had arrived and I left to give them a good vantage point.
I must admit that I find it rather difficult to get enthusiastic about buffalo. To me they are too much like cattle on the farm to get excited by them. They even sound like cattle.

Rutting season has arrived and all the male impalas have gathered their harems together. They are very protective of them and will chase any males that dare to come close.

The ever present warthogs.

By this time it was quite late in the day and I had seen no elephant. All the signs and tracks were there, but no ellies. Mountains of poop and lots of devastation but no elephants. Elephants can be very destructive but this is part of grazing management. Savannah will turn into bush if the elephants did not help control the trees.
Wildebeest and impalas often hang around together for protection.
Such a beautiful face.


The last part of my day was going along the Lower Mangangeni road. And there in the middle of the road was this old gentleman.
There are a number of game reserves in Zululand that houses an abundance of different ecosystems and biomes. We are truly privileged to have access to all this so close at hand.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

The Joys of Living in Zululand.......Part 1.

I have spent the past week planning and scheming. The southern part of the park has been beckoning for ages and I wanted to spend my Saturday roaming around the area where the cheetah with the three cubs hangs out. I woke up very early, got myself ready, packed lunch and made a flask of coffee. Everything was waiting at the door and all I had to get ready was my camera equipment. And then the realisation hit me.....neither of my two batteries for my camera had been charged.

So, change of plan. I decided I was going on a roadtrip. I set off on the N2, travelling north. First stop, Mkhuze. After looking around the street market, I remembered that we bought some fillet steak at the supermarket a couple of years ago. It was VERY cheap. So I went to inquire if they still had specials on fillet steak.  Lo and behold, R73.00 a kilo. Needless to say, peppered fillet is on the menu the next time the family get together.

Further north is the town of Pongola. The town itself won't win any beauty contests but the setting is magnificent. I could easily live there. next time I go there I will make sure my camera batteries are charged and take some pictures.

I managed to find some preserving jars at a reasonable price at one of the supermarkets and set of for home. Just outside the town I saw a board for Vincents Pottery. Now if there is something that really gets me going, it is hand made things. I just love the amazing variation that something handmade has. Two people can use exactly the same materials and produce startlingly different results.

After an hour of chatting and discussing the possibility of hand wash basins for the new rooms we intend adding in the future, I headed home. By this time I was in a hurry as I wanted to put my new preserving jars to good use.

Besides the nearby game parks, Hluhluwe has another claim to fame. Pineapples.

Acres and acres of pineapples.

So my new jars got put to work and some of them are now filled with a delicious Pineapple Relish, or Chutney, or Pickle. Whatever you want to call it, it is delish.

So here is my recipe for Pineapple Delish
(makes 1,5 litres)

3 tbsp oil
1 tsp turmeric
2 cups finely chopped onion (350 g)
2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
5 cups finely diced pineapple ( 750 g)
1 - 2 chillies
1 cup wine vinegar
400 g brown sugar
2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp salt
a couple of sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup raisins
1 large orange, yellow or red pepper, finely chopped. (NOT green)

1. Lightly fry the turmeric, onion, garlic and ginger.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium to low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. 3. Put the lid on at an angle and cook slowly till the pineapple is cooked through. At this point I like to use my hand held liquidiser and turn about a third of the mix into mush. Leave the lid off and reduce to a thick consistencty.

1. If you like your food to have a kick, chop chillies including the seeds. If you prefer a milder version, remove the seeds.
2. Red onions give a nice dark colour.
3. For a yellowish relish, use white vinegar, bleached sultanas and white onions.

Part 2 and 3 of why I love living in Zululand will be up soon. Please come back and check it out.