To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here. I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A New Day at Panzi Bush Camp

My chalet at Panzi Bushcamp
The next morning, Glynn arrived at Marc's Treehouse Lodge to pick me up and carry me off to continue my South African odyssey at Panzi Bush Camp.  Panzi is a small reserve with boardwalks radiating out from an open veranda/dining room to little A-frame chalets.  The railed boardwalks which rise up through ravines to the rooms allow close-up views of the ravine vegetation as it arches alongside and over the path. 

My room was the furthest distant one from the dining room, at my request, to be closest to the viewing deck and waterhole, and I was within breathing distance of any passing wildlife, which I knew might include the resident porcupine or bushbucks, or passing hyenas and baboons, to name a few, which gave an exciting tang to the whole experience.  At night I would hear baboons and hyenas, and unknown things rustling around in the thornbushes.  Exciting!
The boardwalk to my chalet
 
To my delight, the A-frame had a tiny deck on the front end with a couple of deck chairs in which I could sit for sketching. I would spend lots of time here writing and coloring my sketches.  

My sketching gear and bird book

Here's my gear ~ my sketchbook, bag full of art gear (watercolor pencils and waterbrush, pencil sharpener, extra pens and all that other fun stuff we journalers like to play with) plus the pretty wooden bowl I had bought from a local artisan, in which I kept the interesting things I picked up along the trail, like seedpods, feathers, etc.  

My bushbuck sketch
An inquisitive bushbuck doe
After getting settled, I stepped outside to be met by this gentle bushbuck doe, a mere six feet from my my door. I was struck by her bright orange coat and liquid, black eyes, and although she didn't stick around more than a few moments, I took several photos of her which turned into one of my favorite sketches.

Notice the plant beside her in the sketch?  This is the Mother-In-Law's tongue which is found as a houseplant in many American homes and offices.  I was fascinated to find it poking up at random spots under thorn bushes in the South African soil, so I included one beside the little bushbuck. I'd never seen a Mother-in-law's Tongue plant outside a house or pot before.  They say travel is broadening. If so, it widens one's mind in the oddest places. . .

Glynn, Bev, John, and Margaret ~ plus Sally the dog and Kitty.
I was ready to relax, now, after all my game drives and moving from treehouse to treehouse at Marc's Treehouse Lodge, and Panzi was the ideal spot to do it.  Run by a family which includes Glynn, who used to be a park ranger, his mom Bev and dad John, and Margaret who takes care of the rooms, I felt very comfortable in the homey atmosphere.  

Most guests don't stick around during the day and lodges don't generally provide lunch, so I had come prepared to feed myself midway through each day with energy bars. This had added quite a bit of weight to my luggage, but it was essential unless I wanted to lose some weight (not a bad idea, but being hungry makes me grumpy and not inclined to sketch or write in my journal). 

Breakfast at Panzi Bush Camp
But Bev kept a fruit bowl supplied in case I got a yen for a banana, and coffee or tea was always available, which pleased me mightily.  And in my opinion Bev and John could cook for a 4-star restaurant if they chose.  Look at this classy breakfast!  Dinners were incredibly good, too,

The elevated viewing deck provided a great view of the waterhole, particularly at dawn and dusk, and I spent a lot of time birdwatching and keeping an eye out for wildlife.  

A kudu stops by the waterhole
One evening I watched a hamerkop (a big bird with a head like a hammer (which is what its Dutch name means) bathing at the water's edge. I saw kudu bucks visit in the dawn light, posing self-consciously as I watched through binoculars and sketched furiously in my sketchbook. 


All that remains of an ostrich
Glynn took me on a couple of walks in the bush, where we checked out termite mounds and antelope tracks in the dusty trail, and found a pile of ostrich feathers and the ostrich's skull, all that was left of a leopard's midnight feast.  

Giraffe with ox-pecker
The walks were terrific.  I had a chance to get so close to a giraffe that we were looking UP into its face as it placidly chewed its cud and gazed back down at us.  Notice the ox-pecker clinging to the side of its face ~ these birds remove (and eat) ticks and other parasites from larger herbivores. I wonder how they figure out it's not a good idea to remove a tick from a lion.......?  

We also found a zebra skeleton and skull, leftovers from another leopard kill.  There are leopards at Panzi Bush Camp, but not lions, because the lions can't get through the fence.  


Aloe tree
There are fascinating things growing out in the bush.  I really enjoyed the aloe trees, with clusters of big seedpods and thorny leaves.  The ravines around which Panzi Bush Camp is built are also beautiful, although they can be a big problem in the summer when the rains drain down off the Drakensburg Escarpment to sluice through such ravines as these.  
Rocky ravine

The boardwalks at Panzi are occasionally wrecked or washed away in these floods, and roads to the camp sometimes wash out as well.  But not in the winter, which is when I was there (August)

Uh-oh, I've run out of time.  I will finish up my saga in the next blog. I've been working on the sketchbook tutorial (like these) for several weeks, which is why so much time had elapsed since the last blog entry.  I'll try to get to the next/last one sooner!

 BTW, I wrote a review about Panzi Bush Camp for TravelAdvisor here if you want to read my recommendations.



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