Thursday, August 27, 2020

Far from the madding crowd

Michael - Thursday

This blog is courtesy of Aron Frankental, a very good friend and superb wildlife photographer. His other claim to fame is as a character in A Carrion Death where he became one of the murder victims. Well, a lot of characters suffered that fate in the book. It was nothing personal. He and Jenny decided to abandon the slings and arrows of Covid 19 in Johannesburg and spend lockdown at the bungalow we share in the Olifants River Game Reserve, which borders the famous Kruger National Park. They have been here for about two months now, lucky devils!

Waterbuck in the Olifants river in front of the bungalow
Stan and I decided that they had the right idea, and three weeks ago headed up here to join them. The only difficulty was getting permission to travel (finessed by the need to do "maintenance" at the bungalow), and the ban on the sale and transport of alcohol. Of course, we would never do anything illegal. Maybe we did bring rather more boxes of books for the shop here to sell than was absolutely necessary given the rather limited clientele. 

On patrol
Our timing was perfect. While Knysna and Cape Town have been experiencing cold and rainy weather, it's been mostly warm and pleasant here. Sometimes very warm. Wednesday reached 95 F.

It's amazing how quickly the whole Covid stress and rigmarole falls away. Here we need no masks, wash our hands as usual, and relax. The only difference is that we keep away from the other visitors more than usual. Fortunately, we now have a good internet connection at the bungalow courtesy of a radio link to the town of Phalaborwa to the north. So we have no withdrawal symptoms requiring frequent trips to the central office half an hour away

So much to learn!
Apart from the good company, food and wine, the main attraction here is the animals and birds, many of which come down to drink at the river that flows in front of the bungalow. Game drives through the surrounding wilderness areas yield all sorts of interesting sighting and experiences. I've taken some pictures with my cellphone, but Aron's professional ones are incomparably better. The one at the top is not from this trip, but it was taken here and won the Wild Planet Photo Magazine Leopard Day photo competition. 

Here's a selection of ones from this visit.

Long day
Elephant storming down the riverbank for a drink
African hunting dogs
Seems to be a small altercation about whose pool this is
White Fronted Bee eater sunning itself
A wake of vultures
Great title for a book!
Any questions?

Once again, Thanks to Aron for sharing these great pictures!


  1. Great photos, Michael, as they inspire me to want to get back to my farm. Especially the elephants... a harbinger of what continual isolation can mean for the physique.

  2. When you travel to such places, it provides so much welcome relief from the stress of "real life." About now in this atmosphere of strife and home-grown terrorists in the US, I could do with just such a change!

  3. How wonderful! The photos are superb. Please give Aron and Jenny my warmest regards and tell them that I have fond remembrances of the their kindness and the lovely luncheon at their home in Jo’burg. I am so glad you two got away to that marvelous place.

    (Please note the total absence of envy expressed here. Just say hello for me to the Slow Owls next time you go by their sign!!!)