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SOUTH AFRICA
 29/1-17/7 2007    DIARY  4

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 Diary 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8   

 From Diary 3
24/3. Perfect weather, and I got a car! Head for Bergplaas, to look for different mosses and especially their "flowers". Find the mosses, but apparently it is out of their "breading time". Never the less, I have a great tour in a magnificent landscape: In between the steep hills, glimpse of the flat costal area or even higher mountains appears. Bare vertical rocks, sapphire green grassland, old forests, rivers and creeks. It is all within few kilometres.

 25/3. Decides for a relaxing day, the first in nearly two months. Last for one hour, and I'm working again. Back-up of the 2500 photos I have been taking, and try to find a way to store them logically. Fails...

 I have to repot a few plants. They were not planted in a material minded for constantly watering like my watering automats provides. Change the button soil to rough bark pieces, and hope that reduces the up-flow. I have this theory that plants will grow better, provided with a constant humidity, if the pot is large enough to give them different humidity. Then they can set their roods where the conditions are just right for them, and they will not loos their capillary roots to drought or drown when suddenly watered. I have always found the tip on plants: "Will benefit for drying out between watering" completely nonsense. Of cause, some plants might need a dormant period, but fare from all those that can stand it.

 The garden have been worked on, but the vegetation around my rondawel were not cut back, and it needs! Got to have some sun and light through the windows! Last job is making a semi-roof for the large Fockia: When it rains, it not only get rain, it get it from the roof as well.

 27/3. Went to the Garden Route Botanical Garden with Mandy. She is one of the Trustees, and have wanted to show me the garden for some time. It is surprisingly large, and real well placed around a large natural lake. It have a large selection of the local plants, both to show tourists and to show the locals which fine garden plants they have access to, without using foreign plants.

 I am defiantly going back to take some photos and explore the garden more. By some reason, I ended in the Southern Cape Herbarium, and was not able to draw my selves out, before it was time to leave. On the way out, I spot a small chameleon in some low vegetation. Mandy tells they are numerous in the garden. I haven't thought I would seen one on this stay.

 31/3. The whole family have gotten down to the river cottage, which turns out to be a great idea: It is Saturday, and the temperature extend 30 C. I got a car, and decides; it is time to start exploring the mountain road to Oudtshoorn. It is cross town, and it is even more busy in the weekends.

 The road winds it way up to 800 meters, where the Outeniquapass give access to a beautiful valley. It is hard to find parking place on the way up, but I manages to squeeze the car in a few places. Rocks, ferns, bulbs and a few succulents between the scares fynbos. To my surprise, I find sundew; Drosera aliciae in rather sun exposed and dry places.

 My camera runs out of battery, and the spare battery is flat. First time I experience that, and hopefully also last. Real bugger in a great area like this! Try to continue, but it is just not the same without a camera. Make a few stops on the way down, where I wasn't aloud on the way up. One one wall, some small springs emerges, and a completely other vegetation occurs.

 I take a few specimens for the new self-watering bawl I constructed yesterday. Spend most of the night working on the plastic parts for the interior of the stainless bawls I bought. Should be able to administrate water for a dry, medium and wet bawl for several weeks.- I hope.

 In the granite moss, I find a little yellow and blue flower, which I think belongs to an orchid. It's leaves it two till four millimetres long, the flower three centimetres high. Turns out to be a Utricularia.

 Back at the nursery, I make the wet bawl and start the monthly photo uploading and editing. Takes for ever: The internet is slow/not there.

 1/4. To celebrate I start the last two years of my education to day, I head for the Outeniquapass. As hoped, the clouds is only covering the coast, and above the pass; sunshine and no winds. Drives to where I quit yesterday, and start  exploring the dryer parts. This is the start of Little Karoo, famous for it's succulents. The green tour on MAP.

 At the first parking area, a roadtrain takes most of the room. Not much to find, still too low. When I get back to the car, the driver ask me for a lift. He have been stranded for two days with a engine error. According to my rough map, there is a town a bit back, and then left for ten kilometres. We passes ostrich- sheep-, goat- and vine farms, and to my big surprise, a single Opuntia field as well. Twice we drive by puff adders, lying on the road.

 It turns out to be a tiny village with a closed general store. Try the valley, ten kilometres back at the George road: Same. End up at a small coffee shop, but he get bread, cheese and something to drink. Drops him off at his truck.

 A nice gravel road with a sign: Zebra looks irresistible. I got a wake idea of, it might lead to the Mooselbay/Oodshorn road, and heads out of it. It leads through a dry area with hills, a few small fertile valleys with few farms and a breathtaking landscape in general. At the first stop, I find at least twenty different succulents. I'm glad I returned yesterday, and have brought three fully charged batteries and a few spare chips.

 New sign: Mount Hope; why not? I drive for a few kilometres, and a new set of plants occurs. I only explorer the few metres of vegetation between the gravel road and the fence. I have spotter ostrich on some fields, and I'll hate to interrupt a group of those giant birds. Further more: Here are plenty, actually more than on the other side of the barbwire.

 Just as I think it can't be any better, fat Euphorbias occurs. It can be Euphorbia tuberculata, but I'm not sure. Here are Adromischus alsener, Crassulata namiquiensis, Mesembryantiva squamulacum, real dry Conophytum flavem, Sacarcola crasicola, Alvonia albissima, Hodia gordonii, Alvonia albissima, Euphorbia rudis, Euphorbia longiflora, Caridopsis denticrlata, giant Tylecodon paniculatus, Bulbines, Eriospermun, Monsonia (herrei?), Delosperma and many, many more. I would not have been surprised, if a Welwitschia should turn up!

 It seems to last forever, but I'm getting deeper and deeper inland, and have been driving around 30 kilometres without seeing one single car. Just one corner more, one more stop... A gorge at one side, a rocky hill to the other. Awesome! Any botanical garden would be proud of ten square meters of this waste area.

 Shoots a hundred photos more, and spots a larger road in the distance. It turns out to be the Mooselbay/Oodshorn road. Almost three o'clock, and I better head home. According to the map, the shortest way will be up to Oodshorn and then down to George. Unfortunately, there is a huge music festival, and it is held on the George road! Takes me some time and twice the packed centre out town to get out of the right road.

 Home to sort out photos. After the first, real rough look through, I'm down on 175. Gona be a long night... Finish up packing stuff for the Port Elizabeth tour.

 2/4. The little bakkie get a fast service at the workshop, and get loaded with plants. I take the Garden Route 335 kilometres to the east, which brings me to Port Elizabeth. Make a single stop at Storms river and the breast taking gorge. It is not wide, but it's deep! I try before, and failed, but never the less: I try photoing it again.

 Arrives at Linda's place around two, and get a real nice apartment. Spends the rest of the day chatting with her, and planning the rescuing of Fockea edulis, and what ever rare plants I will find in the area due to be bulldozed. In a matter of safety, I will be assigned a helper. Ten years ago, you wouldn't bother to lock your doors, leaving your home, in this neighbourhood. Now, you don't go out in your fenced garden at night.

 3/4. The car have a flat tire, and after I have changed it, Michael (one of the nursery partners) get it fixed for me. Meet up with Alexander, one of the partners of the rescue nursery. We starts digging up Fockeas little to nine, and it turns out to be a real challenge. We only achieve half of, what I estimated, and after six hours, with a lunch break, I have to give in. I'm not a quitter, and I can't recall ever to give up a job, but this is too tough. My head feels like it is about to explode.

 We lay with our buds in the air all the time, and give all we have within us. It is over 32C in the shadow, if there were any! I ask Alexander, if he wants to continue, and he does. After ten more minutes, both his hands starts to cramp, and I stretch them for him several times. Then he's ready to stop. Got to come up with a plan B.

 Takes some photos of the most interesting plants in the area: Schotia afra, Kedrostis, senecio, different Euphorbias, thin and fat, six succulents, Aloes, Portulaceria afra, Raphionacme, Bulbine suculenta, and others Bulbines, plus some others, which I can't recall the names on.

 Discus our "progress" with Linda, and we agree on renting a small digging machine. Should be able to get in the Easter (where I thought I were going on tour with Paul and Mandy).

 4/4. Alexander and I drives out to the Fockea site, and starts marking plants, which will be dogged up. It is not that hot to day; only 31C. After lunch, we drive a bit around in the waste area. It is an area of 12.000 hectares that are due to be bulldozed, but we can't find a better spot to dig. Few places are open enough to walk throw, and those that are, have been dog up.

 There are plenty of wildlife in the bush. Yesterday, we saw a monkey, probably a vervet, and to day a turtle and two small bushbucks. Glimpses of lizards and small rodents all the time. A real strange beetle; black with red and yellow hairs occurs, and I event get a few photos, before it fly away again.

 It feels a bit weird to walk around here: Looks like a botanical garden, but I can take all the plants I like, just like a nursery, but I don't have to pay. If we have to cut one down to get to an other, it does not matter at all. Returns to the house little past five, much more alive than yesterday.

 5/4. Get up real early, to be at the gate of Addo Elephant National Park, when they open at seven. I hope to make it before the great Easter-chaos. They have the worlds biggest elephant population, and the entrance is just 40 kilometres out of town. The park it selves stretches for around 50 kilometres, I think. It have been heavily expanded the last couple of years, but they have still to get animals for the new half.

 I make it in good time, and go for the old main entrance, which is in the other end of the park. Drive between two police cars, and make it five minutes before opening. Within a half hour, I find a group of 21 nursing elephants, with their really small calves. They stay around my car for an hour, before anybody else find us. And yes: I shoot a few photos...

 Last time I were here, two years ago, I only saw the back of four elephants in half a day, this time, I think, I see all the 460 they have, several times. At one watering hole, more than 60 are gathered. Some commotion, and they all gathers in one tight group. It turns out to be a mating. Some later, one of the other large bulls gets a bit to close, and he is, very noisy, "followed to the door".

 Here is a lot of other animals, and very few cars. I see two different snakes, two huge leopard tortoises and a small, flightless dung beetles, Burchell's zebras, kudus, plenty of warthogs, ostriches, bokmakieries, red hartebeest, white storks, black-headed heron, Egyptian gooses, martial eagles and a lot of other birds, one black and white with extreme long tail feathers. Drives around for nine hours, to cover all roads, and give all species of animals a chance to expose them selves.

 I'm running low on fuel, but never the less; I take the road through the new part of the park. Here is a huge amount of Opuntias, but also many indigenous plants. Stop a few times to shoot plants, and end up with 501 photos.  An other long night in front of the PC... Ends up with four groups: All animals (but few elephants) [Animals from 3. month]. All elephants [Elephants]. Plants, views and few animals [Addo ENP], and even fewer for [Highlights of month 3].

 6/4. The weather follows exactly the same patterns as in Denmark, and probably the rest of the world: Public holyday is a guarantee for rain (unless you are in a way too dry area: Then it will be a sandstorm). I catch up on my office work, and take it easy in general. That is an other term for not leaving the PC for 16 hours.

But in Diary 5, it improves.

  

 


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