Friday, 30 January 2015

Dubai: The NEW city of Lights?

Paris is frequently referred to as the City of Lights but spend a couple of nights in Dubai and you can see how this city could topple Paris. 

Visible from almost everywhere in the city is the Burj Khalifa like a needle pointing skywards. It dominates the skyline and can be seen from every direction. 

By day it dominates by its sheer presence and by night it is lit up, appearing as a sliver of light emerging from the lake and shops that surround it.

At 830 meters, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure in the world. Impressive now, it really is a sign of the excesses that can consume Dubai. Opened in 2010 and originally called the Burj Dubai, it was renamed as the Burj Khalifa honour the President of the UAE for his crucial (financial) support.

Although spectacular the Burj Khalifa is not the 
only reason to consider Dubai as the city of

Lights. Spectacularly lit buildings, lakes and forecourts abound throughout the city. At this time of year (January) Dubai is unbelievably pleasant to stroll around, particularly at night. 

Stick your head into one of the many entrances to the luxury hotels around Dubai and you are likely to see beautiful fountains, water features or arches like the one here. This is the entrance to the very grand and upmarket (USD$1,104/night) The Palace Hotel that is part of the "The Address" group of hotels. (No, I DON'T get to stay there!)

The Burj Khalifa is pretty spectacular and stands out at all times of the day. This is a shot taken from the Ras al Khor Wetlands east of Dubai. Taken at around 0630 one morning, it shows that even when not lit up, the Burj is still an impressive sight!



Friday, 27 June 2014


Africa still looms large in our imagination.  Even though it has been nearly 7 months since we were last there, many of the sounds and experiences remain vivid and almost touchable.

videoTwo of the funniest sightings on our last trip were of elephants. As much as we enjoy all of the animals that we encounter, I am pretty sure that elephants are the most amusing of them all. The interactions within the herd are positively touching. The video here is a classic example.

We came across a herd of about two dozen animals exiting a waterhole and crossing the track we were travelling along. There was plenty of noise and commotion as the youngsters in the herd were playing around as they came up to the track.

One of the senior females took up a "guard" position to ensure that we kept a respectable distance from the youngsters as they crossed. She had a bit of attitude which you can see towards the end of the video, she was reminding us just who was the boss.

Elephants, you could watch them all day!



Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Wild Dogs in the Kruger

Here's a short video of some wild dogs at play we saw early one morning in the Kruger. We had watched these guys for about 20 minutes when they turned in our direction. They trotted to within a few metres and then relaxed for a while.

They are hyper active, hardly able to stay still for more than a few minutes.



Sunday, 26 January 2014

South Africa Nov/Dec13 part 2

My wife and I stayed at Jock's for 3 nights at the beginning of our recent 2 week trip to the Kruger and surrounds. It is one of the older lodges within the park and you do get that feeling. It is immaculately kept though with an extremely well run and efficient operation.

Our host was Louis Strauss who is an extremely personable person who relates the history of the dog Jock (after whom the lodge is named), the Jackal Berry tree story and the history of the lodge with an obvious enjoyment for what he dos.

Our guide, Jacob, was very knowledgeable and showed a passion for what he was doing. He tried hard to ensure that we got the most out of our drives. He went above and beyond one evening when after dinner, we received news that 3 male lions were about 15 minutes away and wandering along the roads.

Jacob grabbed us and off we went. We were treated to a display of the 3 lions reestablishing their territorial markings after the rain and the sight of a large male lion being frightened of by a scorpion. Not sure if he was stung but it was comical.

Young male Hyena, South Africa, Nov2013
We were also fortunate enough to come across a juvenile male Hyena sitting by the side of the road. He was reasonably relaxed at first but slowly became more animated as we stayed a while. The reason was obvious when after a few minutes one of the more senior males emerged from the bush. 

Male Hyenas have an unusual and very intimate way of introducing
Hyena greeting
themselves. They spend quite a few minutes smelling each others penis, if that doesn't inspire confidence in each other, I am not sure what would.

Jacob was also aware that we wanted more than just the big 5 and ensured that we met two of our favourites, the wild dogs and also hyenas. 

It's not always about the Big 5 or the predators. It is also about the birds, lizards and the other mammals that are out and about at different times of the day.  Jacob made sure that we saw just about everything that there was to see as we wandered around the Kruger.  Well done Jacob!!

The food was good, the place nice and clean, the staff very welcoming and the drives conducted by a great guide.

Rating 4/5, well worth a visit when you're in the Kruger.