Di Robinson

dirob

Di Robinson




Africa » South Africa » KwaZulu-Natal » Underberg May 23rd 2016

Matt stopped the car at the side of the road, on a sheer slope near the edge of an unfenced drop to a smudge miles below. 'I can't do this,' he said. I don't know whose bright idea it had been to drive up the Sani Pass, the only 4WD track into Lesotho from the Drakensberg region up an unsealed and ridiculously steep road that zig zags for 21 kms to the Lesotho border. The unsealed road is in appalling condition with twists and turns up near unbelievable gradients. One skid and you're over the edge saying goodbye to the world in true Thelma and Louise tradition. You are not allowed to drive up it unless you have a 4WD. Companies do tours in buses with mega-grip tires, and locals in shonky trucks crawl up and ... read more
Dramatic Sani Pass


My feet were cold but my heart soared as I watched the sun rise over the Northern Drakensberg ranges from the patio of our room. Anywhere else in the world, such a view would cost half your holiday budget but in wonderful South Africa, it's completely affordable. The sun rose slowly over the panorama from left to right, colouring the peaks, crags and sheer rock walls in shades of rosy pink deepening to crimson. It highlighted the trees in their autumn foliage in glowing yellows and oranges. My mind played a string quartet, something sweet and almost tearful. Who needed the theatre when this live play was so absorbing, ever changing and beautiful? The mountains gained definition, shadows and features, and the woods and fields before them greened. The show was over for today. We passed ... read more
Wow, what a bird
What a fab reflection
Gentle bushbuck grazing

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » East Coast » Gisborne December 22nd 2014

The ozone at Rere Falls helped dispel last night's grogginess due to overindulgence in wine. The falls are about 60 kilometres north of Gisborne and a popular place for local people to picnic. A family was there with their relative from the USA, a laid back man who was impressed with how clean and pretty the place was. "If this was the States, it'd be covered in trash," he told Matt (my husband who I was travelling with) and I. A wood pigeon perched in a large tree; the falls splashed into a brown river that ran into a grassy distance; the sun was warm and pleasant. Ahhhhh. We drove on to Napier where we would stay for two weeks with Matt's family, to celebrate Xmas and New Year. Sadly, his lovely mother, Anne, would not ... read more
wood pigeon
fantail
rere falls

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » East Coast December 21st 2014

I woke up to hear heavy rain hammering on the roof of our motel room. Peering through the window, we could see lowering skies and a thick blanket of mist obscuring the views. We waited until ten o'clock to leave but as the downpour was unrelenting, we set off. Driving round the exposed East Cape to the lighthouse, we saw storm-tossed seas and rocks when the mist permitted. Visibility was low and we drove carefully on the unsealed road. We decided against crossing damp grassland and climbing the 200 steps to the lighthouse, especially when a sign advised us against such a course of action during heavy rains. As we drove back, though, the weather changed, quite suddenly, and the fog cleared. I could get a photo of the lighthouse perched forlornly on a crag. On ... read more
white-fronted tern
east cape lighthouse
waterfall and pohutukawa

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » East Coast December 20th 2014

The sun shone for us again as we drove down State Highway 35, New Zealand's Great Ocean Road, towards Hicks Bay. Not far out of Whakatane, we took a side trail to some grasslands in which fern birds and other native birds nest. We did not see any but the grasslands were worth the walk - swathes of land all hues of russet, rich brown and olive. The coastal scenery was gorgeous: the turquoise sea, the red of pohutukawa blossoms, pale beige sands and slate silver rocks. We kept stopping in perilous places on the road to take photos, hoping no hoons were around to end our lives prematurely. At the end of the day we drove up to Hicks Motel, a brick structure with heaps of outside motel units, perched on the edge of a ... read more
hicks bay play
around the coast
coffee stop

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Bay of Plenty » Whakatane December 19th 2014

A day of bush and birdsong. The local council has created an 18-kilometre loop walk that begins near Whakatane town centre, then ascends and descends through generally pristine native bush and hugs the coastline before descending to Opotiki Beach. After walking the length of the beach, walkers ascend through another reserve in which the native North Island robin has been released, then blunder round the suburbs before finding their way back to town. We began the walk early in the morning when the sea glowed under the low sun and everything was fresh and clean. At first, the trail to Opotiki wound up and down through beautiful woodland with fern trees and a varied canopy, or hugged the coastline with its turquoise seas and red-blooming pohutukawa trees. In the bush, tuis teased us by posing in ... read more
variable oystercatcher poses
tui
whakatane from above

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Bay of Plenty » Katikati December 18th 2014

We arrived in Auckland on the night of 16 December and were glad it wasn't far to the hotel. Rain poured; wind howled. Vile. The next day we drove to Thames, then to Katikati in our lime green hired car, staring out of the window at the rain and mist and wishing it would all stop. The rain slowed to a drizzle in Katikati and I went for a walk in my Goretex waterproofs. Katikati is cool. There are colourful murals depicting the history of the town, fun-looking restaurants and signs informing visitors of the many things to do. I opted for the haiku walk and ambled through a lovely riverside park reading poetry on large rocks interspersed among the grass and trees. I saw tuis and kingfishers that posed for me as they knew I ... read more
orchid
bird sanctuary
waterbird

Africa » Congo » North » Ouesso September 19th 2014

I stared, they stared back. The sun was slowly rising behind a thick blanket of white-grey cloud so the light was dusky but I could clearly see their golden brown eyes looking intently into mine. I breathed hard through my mask, sucking in cloth, exhaling fascination. I was in marantaceae rainforest in the middle of a group of western lowland gorillas, in seventh heaven. See footage of western lowland gorillas. The young gorilla I was eyeballing was sitting on a branch practically above my head. One of their friends came bounding down behind them, a bundle of brownish-grey fur and fun, and pushed into them, wanting to play. The two juveniles went hand over hand down tree limbs or swung on vines. A branch broke and they plummeted to the ground but were apparently unhurt. We ... read more

Africa » South Africa » Mpumalanga » Kruger National Park September 16th 2014

The lioness ambled out of the gully, blood on her fur. She had just fed, but her greedy amber eyes indicated she wanted more. She padded towards her jeep, muscles rippling beneath golden fur, and lay down beside us. I could have touched her. I wanted to stroke her, but did not fancy returning home minus an arm. Lions know they are the boss. They have an arrogance and self-assurance that is enviable. I'll never be a lion but maybe one day I can be an elephant, at peace in my environment and knowing I'm worth something. It was our last day in Balule Nature Reserve, and on this early morning drive we followed a pride of lions to where they had just finished ripping an impala apart and were resting in a tree-choked canyon. See ... read more
Sugar thief

Africa » South Africa » Mpumalanga » Kruger National Park September 15th 2014

Pachyderms dominated on our third day in Balule Nature Reserve. African elephants are huge creatures, the largest living land mammal in the world. They have massive curved tusks and tiny eyes with long eyelashes. When they walk, the ground shakes. The noise of them breaking off branches and stuffing them in their mouths can be heard from miles away. We first saw them on our dawn ride, where the glowing orange of the morning sun painted their heads and backs with vivid colours, then crossed their paths throughout the rest of the day. Here is a video clip, so you can share the thrill of watching these amazing animals: Other wonders excited us: a honey badger running into a hole beneath a tree; a baby kudu feeding from its mother; bushbuck, steenbok, zebras and buffalos. A ... read more
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impalacrocdr




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