Back to Nature: Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens

No matter how you slice it, Johannesburg is a big, sprawling city. And as much as we like it here, sometimes we just want to get out of the concrete jungle and amongst real nature. There are a few great parks near us, like the Emmerantia Dam and the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens, or the grassy Delta park where we went on a 5k Park Run this weekend. But still, I was anxious to get outside to enjoy the spring weather, so on Sunday we packed a picnic and drove 45 minutes out of town to the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens.
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Tuli Block, Botswana

Wedged between Zimbabwe on one side and South Africa on the other, the Tuli Block is a narrow strip of land on the south-eastern edge of Bostwana. It is where we finished up our Botswana road trip, and despite the crippling effects of a drought, it is also where we had some of our most exciting animals encounters to date.

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Makgadikgadi Pans

There is a place in the middle of Botswana that is unlike anywhere else on earth. It covers an area the size of Connecticut, and it is as featureless and devoid of life as the surface of the moon. These are the Makgadikgadi Pans, one of the largest salt flats on earth. It is also where we spent a night as far removed from the rest of world as is possible on this planet. Continue reading “Makgadikgadi Pans”

Okavango Delta

My parents made the big trip out to visit us, and we didn’t let them have a moment of rest. As they had already been to South Africa twice before, we decided to take them along on a road trip to Botswana. For two days, we drove north through the middle of the country, across the Kalahari Desert. It was the end of winter, the dry season, and the great Kalahari was desperately parched. The landscape was nothing but flat, dusty plains as far as the eye could see. We would go hours without passing a single town, the only signs of life being forlorn donkeys and cattle, and even they looked achingly thirsty.

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Animal Encounters

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With 13.2 million people living in Johannesburg’s province of Gauteng, it’s no surprise that the city is not exactly a refuge for wild animals (these creatures excepted). No elephants wander the streets, no zebras munch on our grass. The roars of the lions at dusk from the zoo down the hill are the closest thing we’ve got to real African wildlife in our neighborhood.

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Crafty Monkeys

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Back in May, we visited the Bushbabies Monkey Sanctuary just out side of Hartbeespoort, North West Provice with Rebecca and our nephew Jacob. Set in an enclosed forest on the side of an escarpment, the sanctuary is home to dozens of squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, and lemurs. Most of the residents were rescued from the illegal pet trade, or adopted from homes of owners who got tired of having a monkey around the house. They were cute, curious, endlessly entertaining, and most of all, mischievous.

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