We are staying at Olifants Rest Camp for 3 nights. It probably has the best view of any camp in the Kruger Park but unfortunately the game viewing around the camp isn’t great.  I last stayed here with Michael in October 2017 and we had the same experience. On all the drives we have done so far (morning and evening) we have only seen hyena by way of predators (and we did see hyena during both morning game drives). We have seen at least one of the big 5 every day since we arrived except so far we haven’t seen one this morning (but hopefully we will shortly when we go out this evening).

We have added to our trip birding list and are now up to 103 which is pretty good for 4 days. I have also added 2 more lifers (Spotted Flycatcher & Dusky Lark) while staying at Olifants. That takes me to 435 lifers now. Interestingly, we have seen 4 lifers this trip and 3 of them have been while we were in the camp. We saw the Spotted Flycatcher while sitting on the veranda of our hut this morning! In fact, without moving from the veranda we have seen bushbuck, baboon, waterbuck, elephant, crocodile, giraffe and impala.

We haven’t really felt we have needed to move much from the veranda or hut actually. Currently the temperature is 37 degrees C (3:45pm) and yesterday it was the same. My app says ‘Feels like 40’ … that’s pretty accurate. We also have the noisiest air-conditioner known to mankind.  It rattles, shakes, stutters … you name it, it does it. It generally only starts doing that at around 9pm just when you’re thinking about going to sleep. Right now it is purring but past that 9pm mark and it changes its demeanor.  Last night I woke up suddenly thinking we had been caught in the middle of a war, only to realise it was the aircon clanking its way through the night.

The park is relatively quiet in terms of visitors.  It seems the majority of the people visiting currently are foreigners. We seem to be magnets for them too. At Lower Sabie our neighbour (single German man), asked me what the weather prediction was going to be for next few days and then promptly proceeded to tell us his life story.  At one point Helen and I thought he was going to pour himself a drink and settle down with us for the evening! He told us that he has stopped bringing his girlfriends to the KNP after doing it twice and having them moan constantly after the spiders, bats etc.  He said one year he took the one back to Skukuza airport and told her to make her own way home 🙂

Last night the male of the neighbour species came over and asked what I was braaiing (lamb chops & wors) and then proceeded to tell me he was from Wales (not England – and how much he doesn’t like people confusing Wales and England), how often he comes to SA and then asked me for hints for driving around the Kruger (I’m a good person to ask in that regard). I see he followed my advice this morning (though he did stay out longer than us). I’m sure he will be over again tonight to admire my braaiing skills and check up on what we saw today. I may be kind and offer him some more tips.

Until tomorrow …

P & H

Lower Sabie to Olifants

Yesterday we spent the majority of the day in the camp.  At around 4:30pm we headed out for an evening games drive. We didn’t see a lot of game but did find a hippo in a puddle of water right on the side of the road. It was barely big enough for it and it definitely had a monopoly on it.  It was obviously too lazy to wander back to the river after it had been eating overnight.  We saw no predators but did see elephant drinking from the Sabie River just as we were about to get back into the camp.

The wind was still blowing quite strongly but fortunately it finally started to subside around the time I started making the braai.  Helen went for a run to keep her Discovery points up while I got the braai going. The temperature was around 26 degrees and with the wind blowing it felt much cooler so really not bad conditions to run in.  Braai of chicken wings and boerewors (with mushrooms also done on braai), melon and salad.

This morning we woke slightly later (I woke up at 5:30am and Helen at 6am), had breakfast and then packed up as we were heading up to Olifants which was just over 120 kms away.  We left Lower Sabie just after 7am.  The drive up to Tsokwane was pretty quite game wise but enough to keep us interested. It was still relatively cool at around 22-23 degrees C most of that part of the drive. The wind has unfortunately picked up again which meant only one of us could have our window at a time otherwise we felt like we would blow out of window.

Quick stop at Tsokwane picnic spot for a coffee and then up to Satara.  Again no significant sightings on that road except quite a lot of elephants including a very large herd (or possibly two herds) swimming in one of the dams and fighting a lot.  I will post the video on our instagram feed again if you want to see what I’m talking about.  A stop at Satara for an ice cream and then back in the car again heading up to Olifants.

Just outside Satara we saw a male giraffe very interested in a younger female.  He kept following her around but she was not interested in doing the deed though and kept walking off.  It clearly was mating day as we did witness two bateleurs mating earlier in the drive. We did see two lionesses under a tree but as it was now around 30 degrees C they weren’t doing anything and so we didn’t stay long.

We got to Olifants at 2pm (just when check in opens) so we timed it perfectly.  We have had a late lunch and now just sitting at our hut looking over the Olifants river.  As we sit here we can see giraffe, hippo (some in the river and some out), waterbuck, white stork, egret and a black kite keeps flying past at eye level. Besides being a little buffeted by the wind, this is as close to heaven for us both!

Until tomorrow …

P & H


Lower Sabie

Helen and I so enjoyed last years’ 2 weeks in the Kruger Park that we decided to repeat it again this year.  It set the year up so well for us and we are trusting it does the same for 2019!

We left yesterday morning at 10am to fly into Nelspruit Kruger airport. We arrived 30 minutes early (strong tail winds) and had our car and were out of the airport before we were originally meant to land. We headed to Malelane to do some grocery shopping (selection inside the park is poor), bought some lunch from Steers and then headed to the Crocodile Bridge gate.

We were surprised by the weather.  It was drizzling slightly when we landed. It was humid and warm though (26 degrees C).  It remained overcast the whole day and became increasingly windier as the day went (and unfortunately the wind has still not stopped yet).  This morning when we woke up it was around 20 degrees but with the wind blowing it actually felt quite chilly. We were also surprised how green everything is up here.  They clearly have had significant rain so far this summer.

Last year the drive in from Crocodile Bridge gate to Lower Sabie yielded a lot of game.  There was an elephant at the gate and Helen said she would be disappointed not to see one again.  Her expectations were set high (and is it turned out they were met and surpassed).  Not 5kms from the gate we saw our first lioness relatively close to the road.  A little further down the road we found 2 more with one of them VERY close to a herd of impala and zebra.  She was down wind and clearly interested in hunting.  We probably watched them for close on an hour as we hoped to see them hunt.  At one point a warthog family came running past and the other lioness thought it was a take away delivery and came running toward them.  They scattered immediately they saw the lioness though. She was not patient enough. The other lioness kept crawling closer and closer to the impala but they did spot her and watched her very carefully.

We eventually moved on and as we drove another few hundred meters the remainder of the pride were heading to join the other 2 and crossed the road right in front of us.  I lost count of how many we saw but it was a significant pride.  One of the rangers said they believe there are 20 in the pride.  What I forgot to say that while we were watching the lion, on the other side of the road we had seen two separate crashes of 3 rhino.  2 of the big 5 within 5 kms of the gate.  We also saw Southern Ground Hornbill (one of the birding big 5 and on the endangered list) while we were watching the lions.

About 10 km from the camp we spotted a male leopard walking alongside the road and so we reversed with it and watched it until it headed into a thicket and couldn’t be seen anymore.  It was a very good sighting of a leopard walking (and it was walking quickly). Just before we got into the camp we saw elephant and then just 1 km shy of the camp we found another lioness just lying in the middle of the crossroads (causing a traffic jam).  The game viewing was quite incredible and by the time we arrived in the camp we had seen a lot of game already including lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, impala, zebra, wildebeest, kudu (though only one so far) and baboon.

Mandatory braai for dinner (pork ribs & sausage). We were both exhausted and probably asleep by 9:30pm. We were up at just after 5am and on the road at 5:30am (the gate opens at 4:30am but the sunrise is only 5:20am at the moment).  We didn’t see much game this morning (impala, elephant & waterbuck) but we saw a huge amount of birds. The swallows all are sitting on the road and we have seen three different types at one time on the road in front of us. We saw a Red-crested Korhaan doing its call (will try post the video on our instagram).

Just before we got back into the camp we went up to the Sunset Dam which is about a km outside the camp to the north. We added numerous birds to the list and also saw a crocodile with a Carp in its mouth. We watched for a long time (over 30 minutes) hoping to see it eat it but it never did. By 9am we were wanting breakfast and so headed back into the camp. After breakfast we walked around the camp and managed to see numerous (we reckon well over 20) birds including 2 lifers (Trumpeter Hornbill and Greater Southern Collared Sunbird).  We have already seen 60 species of birds since we arrived yesterday (in less than 24 hours).  To put that into perspective, we only saw 61 species in 6 days in Kglalagadi in June this year!

Until tomorrow

P & H

Vilamoura … another few days

Tuesday was a busy day. The 3 of them went running in the morning and then after breakfast headed off to Praia de São Rafael (beach for those of you who don’t know praia means beach). Lying on the beach in the sun is my worst nightmare (glimpse of what hell might be like) so I respectfully declined to join them and rather spent the morning working instead (cleared some of the 1000s of emails in my inbox).

After a late lunch, we headed off to Carvoeiro to visit the Dos Santos Craft Brewery (http://dossantoscraftbeer.com/). The family that started this went to the same school as my kids. The sons were ahead of our oldest at school but we also know the parents through the school. Our plan was just to do a beer tasting but when we arrived the mother (Anne) saw us and was gobsmacked. The surprise on her face was amazing and she kept saying “I can’t believe it’s you”.  She was staggered.  She then showed us around the whole setup which includes a brewery, tapas room, shop and vineyards. They haven’t harvested their first grapes yet (will do so this year). They plan to produce their own wine. The one son is the brew master (he learnt how to do brewing from a German brew master). (Picture at the top is Helen with 3 family members if you haven’t figured that out yet!)

We did eventually sit down and got beers and just one tapas to try (cod-fish fritters – which were incredibly good). They currently have 3 beers available – a lager, a pilsner and an amber ale. They did have a honey lager available but had just finished the last batch so that wasn’t available. Once we finished, we tried to pay but she simply refused and said it is on the house. The brothers had also come to say hi (one was in the vineyard earlier) and then the brewer showed us the brewery and explained all the equipment to us. It is great setup and is a really nice place to visit.  If you are ever in the Algarve area I would suggest you go and visit them – you won’t be disappointed! It was about a 35 minute drive away from our house in Vilamoura.

Wednesday was B & S’s last full day with us. We basically did nothing but lounge around. Late morning we had to take B down to fetch a car (so they could drive back to Lisbon for their flight). Helen and I went to the Quarteira fish market as we wanted to get some sardines for dinner. It was the first time I had been inside and the quantity of available fish (and types) was incredible.  Definitely the place to go in future for fresh fish. They had great looking calamari, prawns, clams, mussels and fish of every shape and size.  Next time we are here I am going there for sure to get some fresh fish. We got 1 kg of sardines for Euro 7 (17 sardines in case you’re wondering).

That evening after B cleaned them (he is becoming an expert and I didn’t want to get in his way). I then put the sardines on the braai. They were really nice again – I am hooked on fresh sardines on the braai now! I will have to see if we can find some in Cape Town when we get back.

P, H, B (because he cleaned the sardines so well) & S


Vilamoura continued

On Sunday we went to Church at the same Church we attended the previous trip and week.  There was a visiting pastor from Ireland as the pastor and his family were on holiday for 2 weeks.  Apparently the visiting guy has done this for the last 8 years – he comes over for 2 weeks of holiday in the Algarve and runs the services for 2 weeks while the pastor and his family go away. Unfortunately we missed his name so we couldn’t google him.  We wanted to do that because he led the service very well and then preached an excellent expository sermon on John 3:22-36. Burgers for lunch, Sunday afternoon nap, dinner and then a walk on the beach at sunset.

The beach was obviously a popular place on Sunday afternoon as there was a traffic jam getting out from there when we came in. The club on the beach was also absolutely packed and pumping out the music. Helen was determined to try to have a swim this time as well and after a few attempts gave up citing the seaweed was too annoying.

Monday morning B & I had another golf round booked at my favourite course in Vilamoura – Millennium.  We had booked the first tee off time to (a) miss the heat of the day and (b) be able to play without having to wait for anyone in front of us.  We unfortunately got paired up with another 2 ball (husband and wife, English but spend a lot of time in Vilamoura). The first thing they said to us was “We hope you play quickly as we need to finish by 11am”.  No introducing themselves or anything. B goes over and says “Hi my name is B” and you can see they are a little taken aback. Not the most pleasant of starts to a round of golf with unknowns. We tee off and B & I both hash our first drives and they are probably thinking to themselves “Great … and these guys can’t play golf”. But hopefully after the 3rd or 4th time of me driving about 50 meters further than him when he thought he had hit a good drive they might have thought otherwise! Unfortunately B didn’t play very well so they might not have altered their opinion about his golf (sorry B!). The ladies (I seem to remember) might have gone shopping again in the afternoon.

P, H, S & B (still being punished for marking the car location)

Sevilla back to Vilamoura

Friday morning we had breakfast in Sevilla (we found another place around the corner from the apartment to do that). S went traditional and had a Spanish omelette. The rest of us went for non-traditional American type breakfasts. Helen said they dropped the salt pot into scrambled egg – which looked like fried egg that someone run a fork through a few times.  They clearly don’t know how to make scrambled eggs in Sevilla. We then packed up and walked (with our luggage) to where we had parked the car and then drove back to Vilamoura (it is about a 2-hour drive).

We stopped on the way back and bought some groceries for the next few days (actually we tend to end up at the shop every day – we aren’t very good at planning ahead it seems). Helen made a prawn risotto for dinner which was top class.  Didn’t know she could do so good a risotto … have high expectations for risotto at home now more frequently.

Saturday morning is traditional for 2 things – for 3 of them – a morning run. Usually that is in Cape Town with a whole lot of other people – now the competition was on for better photos and who could run further (nothing competitive of course). After they got back we head off for the 2nd traditional thing – Saturday market at Loule (traditional only when you’re staying in Vilamoura). The market has plenty of fresh produce – fruit, vegetables, meat & fish. We particularly wanted to get sardines and prawns so we could have them for dinner. Not much else done on Saturday but we did enjoy the sardines and prawns that night on the BBQ. So much so we need to have sardines again on the BBQ in the next few days.

Saturday ended with H & B on their backs plotting the stars in the sky with their apps!

P, H, S & B (B is deservedly at the bottom of the blog because he saved our car position when we parked at Loule because he didn’t trust us to find our way back to our car even though we told him we knew exactly where we were going)

Sevilla Day 2

We had the whole of Thursday to explore Sevilla.  The lady who met us at the apartment told us that she like La Canista for breakfast which was pretty close by and so we went there and had pastries and coffee for breakfast. It was right next to Seville Cathedral which was open with no queue so we wondered in and took a look around.  The main section was closed off and there was some kind of display/altar with what looked like Mary in it.  Given we speak no Spanish, it was pretty hard to figure out what was going on.  The rest of the Cathedral is also pretty impressive though and includes Christopher Colombus’ grave.

Our plan was to go to the Real Alcazar (royal palace) afterwards but by the time we arrived (again just a short walk from the Cathedral), the line to get in was already very long (I reckon close to 500 people) and probably would have been over an hour to get to the entrance. None of us fancied standing in a line in the scorching sun (it was already in the 30s C).  We had read that the number 1 attraction in Sevilla is Plaza de Espana which was a relatively short walk away.  On route we stumbled across a university building which was open and so we wandered in.  The building was very impressive with statues, marble etc – we just couldn’t figure out what faculty it was (again our lack of Spanish didn’t help)!

The Plaza de Espana was pretty impressive though and what made it more impressive was the fact that it was only built in 1929 (it looks like it couldn’t have been built in 1800s).  It was built for a Spanish-American exposition and now houses some government departments. It was also used for various films and TV shows including Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars (if you’re in to that sort of trivia). No photo I took does it justice.  The tile work is quite incredible around the plaza and over the bridges. There is a park alongside the Plaza and we spent some time wandering around there as well and then headed back to our apartment walking along the river and past Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza (the Sevilla bullfighting ring).  Unfortunately no bullfighting happening at the moment.  As the temperature was now up in the mid 30s C, we decided siesta was necessary after lunch. The plan was to head out late afternoon (around 5pm) to see the Real Alcazar (hopefully the queues would be gone by then).

When we got to the Real Alcazar, unfortunately there was still a queue but it only took 20 minutes for us to get to the entrance.  That gave us just over an hour 30 minutes to wander around the palace. It is Europe’s oldest palace that it is still used (it is the official residence of the King in Seville). Each room is tiled from floor to ceiling. It is impressive and then eventually it feels like the same thing every time you enter a new room. B said “it feels like I’m at CTM” – some people have no culture (but I did find it funny)! The gardens around the Palace are also very impressive and are quite cool.  One of the King’s of Spain asked to be brought to Seville to die in the Palace as the gardens were his favourite place.

We had dinner at another recommended Tapas restaurant.  It wasn’t as good as the first night so we ate less and then rather had gelato for desert. Some street musicians were playing brass instruments (tried to post the video but was too big for this site apparently) which made for a nice atmosphere while eating our gelato.

P, H, B & S



We had booked to stay for 2 nights in Sevilla. It is only a 2 hour drive from our house in Vilamoura and so quite easy to get to (on a motorway).  As Helen’s luggage was meant to be arriving from Madrid (via Costa Rica and London), and because we could only get our accommodation from 3pm, we decided to go via Faro airport (which is sort of on route).  We arrived at 12:30pm. Unfortunately the baggage handling is only in the arrivals hall and to get into the hall you have to apply for a temporary access permit. Only 1 of us could get the access permit so I did the chivalrous thing and went for Helen. You have to go through security scanning (why I have no idea because you can only get into the baggage hall and nowhere else). They then wouldn’t allow me to go to the counter without an escort (which finally arrived after a few minutes). There was a queue at the counter but the good thing was that I could see Helen’s bag … yipee! I sent her a whatsapp photo as proof before I got my hands on it.

When I re-emerged from the baggage hall, Helen’s irritation that she was holding back for 5 days came flooding out! She asked me to type an email to BA complaining about their service and to tell them I was doing it with my middle finger 🙂 It took her a few hours for her irritation level to subside to normal levels.

We arrived in Sevilla at about 4:30pm (there is a 1-hour time change when you cross the border so it felt like 3:30pm for us).  I had told the handling agent (we had rented an apartment for 2 days) that we would be there at around 3pm (not knowing that there was a 1-hour time change). Waze (the navigation software) took us down some pretty smalls streets again and then said we had arrived at our destination. Wasn’t clear to us that we had arrived.  Managed to pull over (not understanding whether we could park there or not) and phoned the agent and she said she would be there in 3 minutes.  Turned out we were at the correct place – the door just wasn’t very obvious. We unpacked the car and then B and I went to find the parking we had reserved (you don’t want to drive in Sevilla unless you have to as the roads are ridiculously narrow). They also make the parking garages with the smallest possible entrance (I reckon they must have a deal with panel beaters) and the parking spots are built to only fit a mini (but we had to get our station wagon into one of the spots). We managed to negotiate everything without damaging the car and then walked back to the flat (temperature was around 36 degrees at this point).

We went for a late afternoon walk around the area we were staying.  The Plaza Nueva was very close to the apartment (that is the Plaza at the centre of the city apparently and contains the city hall). We also walked around the shopping district and then back to the apartment for a quick rest before dinner.

We had dinner at an appropriate Spanish dinner time – around 8:30pm – the temperature being 32 degrees at that point still! We had been recommended a few tapas restaurants which were all pretty close to us so we picked the one we liked the most (and could get a table in). We really enjoyed the food and some sangria (for ladies) and good Rioja (for men). The pork cheeks in sauce, the calamari and the grilled goats cheese were undoubtedly the favourites.

P, H, B & S

Vilamoura – Tuesday

On Tuesday B & I played our first round of golf. As the temperature rises quickly we opted for the earliest tee off time we could get at Pinhal Golf Course (https://www.dompedrogolf.com/courses/pinhal-golf-course/). B played better on the first nine. However, I managed to shoot one of the lowest back 9s I have ever shot including a birdie on one hole (pic of shot of birdie putt) and a few pars. It was mainly due to my putting as I rolled in a few putts from off the green even. We finished at around 11am and it was already well into the 30 degrees at that point.

Overnight I had received a text from BA saying that Helen’s luggage that was meant to have arrived from Costa Rica (after its sightseeing trip) on Monday midday, had in fact gotten delayed in Madrid and now would only arrive at Faro airport on Wednesday midday. That meant she had to go and get some more essentials items including a charger for her Apple Watch. The only Apple store we could find was in Faro. We dropped off H & S so that they could go to H & M at the relatively newly opened mall near Loule and then B & I went to the mall in Faro to find the Apple store.

On the way there we drove behind a minivan converted into a hearse. As you can see from the picture, it had a glass back and you could see right in to the coffin. While that was a bit weird, why it makes the blog is that when we had purchased the watch charger at the mall and were heading back to fetch H & S from H & M, we ended up driving behind the hearse again. Not sure if there was a message in that or not … we are hoping not!

Braai for dinner (pork strips, turkey kebabs and chicken wings) …

P, H, S, B (because S moaned that she was always at the end and so I simply moved her to stop the moaning but read it P, H, B & S)


Monday morning the 3 of them went for a run as the sun rose. On the way down to the marina, they saw a roadblock with numerous people sitting on the side of the road outside of their cars.  It seems that Sunday night was a party night and many of these people were only heading home in morning (and weren’t quite sober). Unclear on whether they were arrested or just being detained until they sobered up.

After they got back from the run, we headed to Silves which is an inland town about 30 kms from Vilamoura. It is also in the direction of where the Portugal wildfires had started (they were at Monchique on Monday but heading south). We figured Silves would be OK (and it was) but it was clear that there were major fires in the area from the smoke haze in the sky over the whole area. On a side note, it is nice to know that people worry about you when something major like wildfires are taking place.  We have had numerous family, friends and even work colleagues checking on us to see if we were OK.

Silves is the former capital of the Algarve and is a small town (about 30000 residents) with the major landmark being the Castle. They are not entirely sure when the current Castle was built but they believe somewhere between the 8th and 13th centuries. The Moors occupied it and expanded it and it is remarkably well-preserved. However, they reckon the Romans were the first to use it as a castle in 201BC! That is probably the oldest place I have ever visited.

Driving around Silves is a major issue as the roads are very small and can hardly fit a car down them. B reckoned I was within a hand width from hitting the walls at points (when I say hand width I don’t mean the size of your hand, I mean the thickness of your finger!). Fortunately (despite the backseat driving) I did manage not hit anything at any point. We did have to park at the bottom of the town and walk up to the castle (which wasn’t as easy as it sounds given it was around 35 degrees C). By the time we were finished with the castle, the only thing on my mind was where we were stopping for a beer on the way down.

We spent the afternoon relaxing at the house and then in the evening after dinner we headed to the marina for ice creams. August is clearly the busiest month in Vilamoura. The traffic to the marina was backed up to such an extent that we took an early turn and packed at the far end of the marina and walked the extent of it to get to our standard gelato shop. There is also a distinctive change of tourists present in August – mainly families with young children. When we have been here previously in June/July it was generally couples (with the lady usually dressed up in high heels, make up plastered on etc). The quantity of people in the town feels like has doubled from what we are used to from being here in June/July. Add to that the extreme heat – even at 9am it was around 28 degrees – it probably isn’t the best time to actually come to Vilamoura.

Until later …

P, H, B & S