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!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kruger National Park ~ August 4

Thorns are good sketching subjects
As a sketch journaling instructor, which I have been for many years, there is a possibility that I might be included in the Coyote Trail's entourage for next year's South Africa immersion expedition. With this in mind, I was intent on not only participating in the tracking instruction, but also in the sketching possibilities associated with our ten-day expedition at Moholoholo Mountain View.  Let me backtrack just a bit here to give you some background:

My room at Moholoholo Mt. View
Colin, Becky and their delightful children, live at Moholoholo. It appears that Becky oversees the smooth working of the lodging and food aspect of Moholoholo Mountain View, both of which were top notch values for the price. Colin, who heads the tracking programs there, is a consummate naturalist and tracker, skilled in identification of the species found on his turf, the environment in which they dwell, and the interactions of the fauna and flora (he could answer any question I threw at him!).  

We listen intently to Colin's teachings
But more than that, Colin is a superb teacher. We would go out as a group together to learn the tracks and trailing techniques, but since I was focused on EVERYTHING ~ including interesting seedpods, thorn arrangement on acacias, duiker (a small antelope) topknots, identifying birds, and photographing and sketching everything I could, my intake of Colin's instruction on tracks and trailing was imperfect at best.  But even with my peripheral in-and-out attention, I picked up a great deal of useful information in record time.  
Colin discusses a leopard track
Sandy and Joe (Joe heads Coyote Trails School of Nature) were there to get tracking certification as well as scout out the course for next year, so their attention was focused pretty much "heads down" on tracks and trailing.  Johann was there as a student, so his input on the proposed course was invaluable from a high school student point of view. Johann's mother, Alessandra, is a professional entomologist and saw the course from a parent's point of view ~ a good addition to our party. As artist, journalist and board member of Coyote Trails, I lent gravity to the situation (uh-huh, sure!).

Kruger National Park   
Elephants at Orpen Gate
Early in the morning on August 4 we headed for Kruger's western entry at Orpen Gate.  It was several kilometers distant from Moholoholo, and we arrived at sunrise, a good time for viewing animals.  Virtually at the entrance we watched, entranced, as elephants fed on tree foliage only yards away. It was easy to see how their tendency to push over trees might affect the environment in a major way.
A black-backed jackal studies us
A few moments later, a black-backed jackal trotted across the veld beside us. With my little click-and-shoot camera, I had a problem getting good, sharp distant shots (my little camera does wonderful things at close and medium range, but is lacking in the telephoto department).  Still, I'm happy with this jackal picture. Jackals remind me a lot of the coyotes in my Oregon forest.

Impalas are most common in the park
 Impalas seem to be the most common denizens of the park, and we found ourselves saying repeatedly "it's just an impala" as we greedily searched for new species to admire.  
Cape buffalo (not water buffalo)
The animals are undeniably wild, but they have become quite at ease with being stared at, ignoring the cars entirely. It seemed as though this Cape buffalo might start chewing on the car's trim at any moment.

A crocodile with a charming smile
Crossing the Oliphant River, we got out to take photos from the bridge. I was quite taken in by the pleasant smile on this crocodile... looks like a friendly chap, doesn't he?  Hmmmm.............

Elephants so close we could almost touch them
It was near sunset and we were running out of time when we came across an elephant family browsing right next to the road. This lady was so close she over-filled the frame, and the teenagers below entered into a friendly tussle which we could have stayed to watch for a long time. 
But vehicles must be out of Kruger Park by dark, and the sun was close to setting, so we reluctantly pulled away ~ only to come to a sudden stop a short way down the road when we saw this beautiful caracal, a rarely-seen tasseled-eared cat about the size of our American bobcat, only a few feet away in the grass.  For a moment it stared directly into my eyes, and I had an indescribably deep feeling of connection. Then it was gone. We'd been hoping to see lions, but to me this was far, far better.
Caracal in the grass

Exiting at Phalaborwa Gate (the locals pronounce it pal-uh-BOR-uh) it was well after dark when we reached Moholoholo, tired and hungry, but filled with satisfaction with our day's adventures in Kruger National Park.

I forgot to mention, just before we left the park we came across a helicopter, and a truck filled with armed men beside the road, preparing to launch an anti-poacher operation.  It was good to see that poaching is being taken seriously there. Rhinos are the most at risk.

Okay. More tomorrow or the next day!

1 comment:

Kate said...

A caracal! I am SO envious.

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