A Travellerspoint blog

Day 32

Our last safari

sunny 34 °C
View Needham's in South Africa 2024 on NeedhamSA2024's travel map.

With some sadness, we realise that there is time for just one last safari on this adventure of a life time.

When we arrived at Kwandwe you might recall that we were not as excited as we felt we should have been. I am pleased to say that was very short lived. We have loved our time here beyond measure.

And wow, have we seen so much in the last few weeks. In fact, way more than we ever could have dreamed of. We have also seen so many birds but they are usually too quick for us to be able to snap. A couple of days ago, we saw the enormous secretary bird. It was clear through the binos but too far away for our camera. The secretary bird is instantly recognizable as a very large bird with an eagle-like body on crane-like legs that give the bird a height of as much as 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in).

We also saw an African red-billed hornbill or for those more familiar with the Lion King, Zazu.

We did manage to snap this Goshawk (from Goose Hawk of years gone by). 99% of its diet is other birds.

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Anyway, we headed south with Matt for one final hurrah. This afternoon we fly to Joburg where we stay with Karen before all 3 of us fly tomorrow, to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Today, we searched for nothing in particular. It was more to enjoy and appreciate all that we have witnessed over the last few weeks. But we were not to be disappointed.

But before you get to see a couple of delightful videos and photos, let me tell you about Spekboom, seen here in front of the lodge. Matt gave us some quick facts and it is so incredible I researched it further now. It is worth passing on some of the details for your amazement;

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"Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra) is a succulent plant found in South Africa. It is indigenous to the Eastern Cape province and has been deemed as a miracle plant. It is a bright green, small-leaved plant.

Facts About the Spekboom Plant & Its Uses;

Leaves are Edible
The taste of spekboom leaves are pleasant but changes throughout as the sun rises and sets. During the day leaves have an acid flavour and they become less acidic towards the evening. The delicious greenery is heavily browsed by game and firm favourite of several wild animals, especially elephants that can eat about 200 kilograms a day.!

Communities Use Spekboom Leaves for Their Medicinal Values
The leaves are used medicinally and in traditional home construction. Here are the most popular traditional and contemporary uses of spekboom leaves:

Sucking a leaf to quench thirst, treat exhaustion, dehydration and heatstroke.
Using crushed leaves to provide relief for blisters.
Chewing leaves can treat a sore throat and mouth infections.
Juiced leaves are used as an antiseptic and to soothe skin ailments such as pimples, rashes, insect stings and sunburn.

This miracle plant species can be beneficial in rehabilitating and restoring semi-arid and thicket habitats. More impressive still is the spekboom’s fantastic growth rate and its drought-resistance, making it an ideal plant for arid areas.

What Makes Spekboom Such a Special Plant;

It Helps to Fight Climate Change and Air Pollution;
This plant helps to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by acting like a carbon sponge, improving the quality of air we breathe. More specifically, spekboom can absorb between four to ten tonnes of carbon per hectare. This incredible tree uses carbon to make plant tissue and produce oxygen. According to The Spekboom Foundation, spekboom’s“capacity to offset harmful carbon emissions is compared to that of moist, subtropical forests. This remarkable plant is unique in that it stores solar energy to perform photosynthesis at night. This makes a spekboom thicket 10 times more effective per hectare at carbon fixing than any tropical rainforest.”

SpekboomCan Live Up to 200 Years Old!
This plant propagates easily. A broken branch tossed onto the ground by a grazing elephant will grow roots and create a whole new plant. It can sprout up to five metres tall. It also stimulates biodiversity, enabling other plants to grow and live in its mini biome.

It is High in Basic Nutrients
This plant is edible and high in nutrients, especially Vitamin C, and a perfect addition to a salad. It is a firm favourite in the animal kingdom, especially for elephants, kudu and black rhino."

We tasted some and it reminded us of apples. 2 leaves contains more Vit C than a Kiwi fruit!

So back to this morning and what we saw. These were the southern pride, different from the ones with cubs I posted in my last blog. It was getting hot so they were not in hunting mode but they were still playful and two lionesses greeted each other with joy. Matt is clearly well versed in the behavior of these cats as you can hear in the video clip. Soon after it was time to rest in the shade.

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You should recognise these I think;

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And saving the best to last, we were greeted by the same mother and calf that had been eyeing us two days ago and for which I had posted a video. This time, they came even closer to check us out. Matt's comment about the Rolex watch is her AI collar round her front leg.

Ah, magic!! :)

Thank you South Africa. We will miss you.

Posted by NeedhamSA2024 10:46 Archived in South Africa

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