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 Post subject: Morkel777 Landscapes and LambChops-Golden Gate & MZNP,Jun'12
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 11:44 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
So I've finished with October 2010...and I'm still 4 TR's behind!!! :big_eyes: :wall:
What have I gotten myself into??

Best to keep going once you are on a roll... :dance: :hmz:

I couldn't think of a more apt title for this trip than:

LANDSCAPES & LAMBCHOPS :mrgreen:

This was to be our first "road trip" with our new daughter - she was between 3-4 months old at this stage.
I had booked the following itinerary en route to my brother-in-law who lives in East London:

4 nights in the Highlands Mountain Retreat - landscapes (what a visual feast!! :big_eyes: :cam: )
3 nights in the Mountain Zebra National Park, Karoo - lambchops
and then some time in East London...
:thumbs_up:

All aboard??? :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

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Last edited by Morkel777 on Fri Jun 22, 2012 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:29 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Good to have you on board, kite!! :dance:


Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Day 1 & 2

We left home as soon as I got off work, and drove straight to the park. It was gloomy and rainy so progress was slow, and we arrived when it was getting dark.

The next morning it was still raining...but I was determined to get a photo of the stunning view we had, so I climbed to the ridge above the chalets to capture this one...

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My heart sank as I thought of not being able to photograph this lovely place in good light... :cry: :wall:
Would the rain end??? :hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 11:20 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks folks! Good to have so many on board already.

This won't be a very lengthy trip report...I'll share a lot of images, but I really want to get to the good stuff (which is the subsequent batch of TR's I need to complete - 1x KNP and 2x KTP with AWESOME sightings in all 3 8) ).

Still - many people want to see these parks and I think it's important to cover them. I love both, and MZNP is really an untapped gem in the SANParks crown. :mrgreen: :thumbs_up:


Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Day 2

So like I said, the weather was abysmal. Still, we took the time to take a quick drive around the main loops of the Park, and here's what we saw...

First - another shot of the landscape as seen from the cabins...still a lot of mist around, but I liked the mood here.

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We drove around and found some baboons at the picnic spot...

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And who can ignore the magnificent sandstone cliffs?? :big_eyes:

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On the higher loop we found 2 secretary birds. They were initially quite far off, but I stuck around and waited at a spot that seemed to be where they were headed systematically...and they came. :mrgreen: :clap:

This guy picked out a snake from the long grass, and proceeded to eat it like it was a New York City Hotdog...fast and furious...
:sniper: :lol:

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the light was still worse than CRAP - I wish to have been able to photograph this in decent light... :cry: :evil:

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Here's a close-up of the last swallowing action. Image quality is shoddy but just for interest' sake - I noticed that the bird had kept its nictitating membrane shut throughout the ordeal, probably to protect its eyes against the thrashing tailtip of its prey.

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...to be continued...

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:17 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks for the wonderful response thus far, folks...
:D

Let's carry on - I am cracking on the pace :dance:


Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Day 2

After finishing the snake the Secretary Bird did what I was hoping it would do...it started to run and then took off over the edge of the cliffs! I buggered up the entire running takeoff but was happy with this in-flight shot (my first proper one for the species :clap: )

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We headed back to the cabins. Here's a telephoto image of the sandstone cliff down in the valley below the cabins - I quite like this perspective - what do you think? :P

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There was a nice blanket of fog in the valley below - so I strode down the slope a bit for some more shots:

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And here's a view of the amazing log cabins from where I stood:

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View from the cabins:

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View from the "green roof" of the cabin in front of ours:

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It didn't look like the gloomy weather was going to clear... :cry: :wall:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:49 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks everyone - your comments are flattering! :redface: :lol:

Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Day 3

We had lazy day further, and slept well (albeit COLD :big_eyes: ).
The next morning we slept in as it was still raining... :evil:
Eventually we decided to head out to the town of Clarens for breakfast :hmz: :popcorn:

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On the way back we saw some zebbies...

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And these eland were grazing in the valley FAAAAR below the cabins. :big_eyes:
Used a long lens, a converter, and did a big crop here :naughty:

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Later that afternoon - lo and behold - the skies opened up a bit for some SUNLIGHT! I was stoked...and immediately went out to do some shooting...

Close-ups of the sandstone cliffs below:

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And of course that lovely view - you'll get tired of this view by the end of this TR haha :mrgreen: :whistle:

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We had a lovely braai that night.
Our daughter woke up at like 2am, screaming and wanting attention. While the missus attended to her, I seized the opportunity of being awake to go outside and try to capture some nightscapes...the moon was out in full force, which made seeing many stars tricky.

I did some long exposures to show cloud movement. Look how bright the moon made it look - this is the dead of night! :big_eyes: :cam:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 12:25 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 624
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks a lot for turning the page, and for the continued kind words :D

Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Day 4

I woke up well before sunrise to check the sky...clear with some clouds on the horizon!! :dance:
This means - sunrise shoot!! :wink: :clap:

I scuttled out with my tripod and camera and started taking in the scene in front of me...and deciding on compositions... :hmz:

The cabins under the fading moon...

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View to the Southeast...

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View over the valley...

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The sun starting to come out!

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I quickly got in my car to drive down to the lookout point past the vulture restaurant while the light was good... :pray:

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By this time I was practically frozen, so I went back to the cabin for a hot cup of coffee and some breakfast...
:whistle: :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:59 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 624
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks so much, guys! I really like that you like it!
These TR's are actually a crucial part of my photographic workflow as I never really go through all the images from a trip until I compile these reports.


Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Day 4

I got back and took some images of the cabins again...

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The view from our porch that morning! Note the "green design" with grass planted on the roof of the cabin below us.

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A self-portrait...

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Later that afternoon we went down to Glen Reenen to refuel.

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And I went back to the lookout point for the sunset shoot...

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It was our last evening here...on this trip...we will be back!
Still some sunrise photos to come, and then off to MZNP!! :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:04 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 624
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
onewithnature wrote:
Morkel, actually true that when a TR is compiled, it forces one to collate and sort. :thumbs_up: I'm enjoying your photos; thanks for the self-portrait. :wink: Did you see much in the way of animals in GGNP?


Thanks a lot OWN!! :lol:
We saw general game - zebras, wildebeest, blesbok...everytime in shoddy weather so I mostly didn't bother with photos or outright deleted the photos that I did capture. :? I'm kinda hard on myself that way :wall:

Let's finish up GGNP! :hmz: :cam:


Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Day 5

Last morning! It was a morning of mixed feelings as something was not right with our 4-month old daughter, and the plan was to head out to Bethlehem first, to the Paediatricians there and have her checked out before continuing our voyage to the Mountain Zebra National Park where we had booked 3 nights. I hope she would be finished with the doctors soon as the road was loooong that day... :|

First off, before the SO and little one were awake, I captured another sunrise...and this time it was a stunner! :clap: :dance:

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We had a quick coffee and set a course for Bethlehem...

What followed was a horrible day of doctors, tests, booking our little girl into the hospital for observation, having to sleep in a strange town... :cry: :shock:

...but it turned out okay in the end and we could continue our journey the following day... :whistle:

So I will jump right into MZNP...with the next post :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:00 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Mountain Zebra National Park
Day 1

So we only got away from the hospital shortly after 9am, and had to make a lot of ground to get to Cradock and the MZNP!! :big_eyes:

Eventually we arrived safely, breezing through about 11 "stop-go" roadworks sections without losing more than 10 minutes in total! :dance: sometimes it just works for you... :hmz:

On the way in past the main park gate:

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I saw something small and furry run across the road ahead...AARDWOLF!! :big_eyes:
Didn't even stop for a photo, the shy little guy :cry:

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And he disappeared over the ridge... :mrgreen:

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We arrived and checked into our chalet...
8)

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:35 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks a lot folks!!

Let's carry on - want to get this done and dusted as there are plenty more trip reports to come with some exciting images :dance:


Mountain Zebra National Park
Day 1

From behind our chalet over the rocky kopjes behind the camp, I saw 2 Verreaux' Eagles soaring...bad pics as they were far, but just for the record.

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I love driving on the Rooiplaat loop at first and last light to catch animals agains the stunning vistas as the golden light hits them. It takes a while for the light to hit the valley in the morning and it disappears quickly in the afternoon.

These are some photos from my first afternoon drive...

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And to top it off, some Blue Cranes in the dam at the Ubhejane loop turnoff.

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We had a nice braai, put the little one in bed, and then it was time for me to photograph some stars! :whistle: :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:05 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks so much folks!! :mrgreen: :clap:


Mountain Zebra National Park
Day 1 (night!)

Here are some nocturnal images captured from the rocky outcrop behind the chalets...

I had to move quickly before the moon came over the ridge.

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:popcorn: :thumbs_up: :cam:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:21 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Mountain Zebra National Park
Day 2

Got up early, and went for an early morning drive down to Uhbejane and up the Rooiplaat link road...

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...to be continued...
:thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:42 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks so much folks...

Mountain Zebra National Park
Day 2

And what would a visit to this park be without spending some time with the namesake?? :hmz: :wink:

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I was surprised to see a Plains Zebra among the Cape Mountain Zebra. Can one of the Park gurus help me out? Isn't there risk of cross-breeding??

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Not the difference between the species:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:16 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Let's carry on!! :think: :popcorn:

Mountain Zebra National Park
Day 2

this guy was ambling along...

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when he suddenly took off in the opposite direction - quite like this shot.... :thumbs_up:

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Had some fun with black wildebeests...

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And some sprinboks...

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And then I saw this cutie and his mom...

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Dad was also around, giving me a mouthy greeting!

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On the way down from the plateau, we saw some harties against a nice backdrop!

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We went back and ate a nice brunch, looking out at the mountains that form such a lovely view from the rest camp...

:thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Landscapes and LambChops - Golden Gate & MZNP, April 201
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:47 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks Lion Queen & Radman! :P

Mountain Zebra National Park
Day 2

We shot to town (Cradock) in the afternoon for some supplies, and found this guy on the way:

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I was surprised to find a brown-hooded kingfisher in this area... :dance:

On the way back these 2 were having a tiff... :wall: :sniper:

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Friends again!

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Eventually we set off on our afternoon drive - again up to Rooiplaat...but we took the long way up via the scenic and vertigo-inducing Kranskop loop...

This little guy and his family greeted us on the way up:

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I love the views from atop the plateau!

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Then, again, like a flash, I saw something scuttle across the road...AARDWOLF!! :big_eyes:
Again he was not very accommodating to photos!

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Then we found a colony of ground squirrels...

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And again some zebbies...

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As the sun began to set, some lovely colours came out...

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We headed back and had a nice braai under the stars...it was quite cold at night!
:whistle:

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