A Trip to the Augrabies Falls..

An early morning start took us through the grape lands that just never seemed to stop till just short of the Augrabies National Park.. and then the site to see…

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A welcome sight as the short distance just seemed to get longer with every passing kilometre…

A few details about the Falls….

The Khoi people called it ‘Aukoerebis’, or place of Great Noise, as this powerful flow of water is unleashed from rocky surroundings characterised by the 18km abyss of the Orange River Gorge.

Few sights are as awesome, or a sound as deafening, as water thundering down the 56m Augrabies Waterfall when the Orange River is in full flood.

The Falls: As the Orange River approaches Augrabies Falls it divides itself into numerous channels before cascading down the 56 meter high waterfall. The river then continues its path through an 18 kilometre gorge. The sight and sound of the power of the water will not be easily forgotten.

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The Orange river is susceptible to flooding and when one looks at the channels it flows through, it is an awesome sight when full as all that water is channelled into a single gorge… below is a snap shot using Google earth showing the falls area…..

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I took a few photos of photos that show what it looks like in flood…

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TOMORROW WILL BE PHOTOS TAKEN IN THE PARK AREA… WHAT MAGNIFICENT SCENERY…

African Wild Dog

(Lycaon pictus) the African wild dog.

It is also known as, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf.

This is the largest African canid and, behind only the grey wolf, is the world’s second largest extant wild canid. Adults typically weigh 18–36 kilograms (40–79 lb.). A tall, lean animal, it stands about 75 cm (30 in) at the shoulder, with a head and body length of 75–141 cm (30–56 in) plus a tail of 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in).

The African wild dog may reproduce at any time of year, although mating peaks between March and June during the second half of the rainy season. Litters can contain 2-19 pups, though 10 is the most common. Weaning takes place at about 10 weeks. After 3 months, the pups leave the den and begin to run with the pack.

Females will disperse from their birth pack at 14–30 months of age and join other packs that lack sexually mature females. Males typically do not leave the pack in which they were born.

In a typical pack, males outnumber females by a factor of two to one, and only the dominant female can usually rear pups. This situation may have evolved to ensure that packs do not over-extend themselves by attempting to rear too many litters at the same time. The species is also unusual in that some members of the pack, including males, may be left to guard the pups while the others, including the mothers, join the hunting group.

The African wild dog hunts in packs and small groups. Like most members of the dog family, it is a running hunter, meaning that it pursues its prey in a long, open chase. Nearly 80% of all wild dog hunts end in a kill; for comparison, the success rate of lions, often viewed as ultimate predators, is only 30%.

After a successful hunt, the hunters will regurgitate meat for those that remained at the den during the hunt including the dominant female, the pups, the sick or injured, the old and infirm, and those who stayed back to guard the pups.

There were once approximately 500,000 African wild dogs in 39 countries, and packs of 100 or more were not uncommon. Now there are only about 3,000-5,500 in fewer than 25 countries. They have been decimated by stock farmers who believe they are vermin. In South Africa very few are found outside of protected areas…

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Sishen–Saldanha railway line, a record breaker.

A train of true significance.

When we recently visited my Son in Kathu I had the pleasure of observing a train being loaded with iron ore. 342 trucks each with 100 tons of ore, 34200 tons on its way to Saldanha Port, 861 km (538 miles) away.

Here are some interesting facts about the train…

Trains employing Radio Distributed Power (RDP) technology. These 41,400 tonnes total mass, 3780 metres (2.36 miles) long trains, that use 8 locomotives and 342 wagons, are the longest production trains in the world.

The longest and heaviest train that carried ore from Sishen mine to Saldanha Bay, was a 7,5km (4.69 mile) train of 660 wagons which carried 68 640 tonnes of ore.

Here are some interesting facts about the Port…

Significant capital has been spent to increase iron ore exports from the deep-water port to meet the growing demand. The infrastructure’s set to further expand as the port is gearing up to increase capacity on the rail line in the future. Current infrastructure at the port comprises two rotary tipplers, four stacker/ re-claimers, two ship-loaders and 25 conveying systems, providing the terminal with a capacity to load 10 000 tonnes per hour into a vessel.

  • Operating 24/7, the ore quay at Saldanha has two berths where two vessels of 310 000 DWT can simultaneously berth at the iron ore jetty.
  • From arrival to departure – including piloting, berthing, loading, draft survey and de-berthing; an ore vessel carrying 170 000 tonnes will be in Saldanha Bay for just 24 hours. A vessel carrying 210 000 tonnes will spend 32 hours in the port, while a vessel carrying 240 000 tonnes of ore will be there for 48 hours.
  • Saldanha Bay Port is bigger than Durban, Cape Town’s Table Bay, Richards Bay and Port Elizabeth’s harbours combined.
  • Saldanha Port Operations submits an annual Environmental Report in line with the Global Reporting Initiative. It respects that it’s located in an ecologically sensitive area, and takes all measures possible to manage the area responsibly.
  • In 2011, 37 100 000 tons of iron ore was exported by Kumba from Saldanha Bay to customers in countries and regions around the world. (approx. 1000 train loads of ore)And the few photos that I managed to capture… it is difficult to photograph a train of this length… but suffice it to say, it is long…

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and this is what they are loading… although it would be crushed to a smaller size than this piece of approx. 2.5 tons…

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Elephant. Natures Big mother.

Elephants are the largest living land animals on Earth today.

The way I eat chocolate, I’m doing my best to haul them in.. Elephants are a symbol of wisdom and are famed for their memory and intelligence; their intelligence level is thought to be comparable to that of dolphins. The saying is “An elephant never forgets”, I’m like that, till it comes to birthdays and wedding anniversaries, but this is a monster that I love to watch. So many stories are bandied about of their memory, how they live in the deserts and know exactly where to go for water and food at certain times of the year. I just love the critters…..

This one was not too friendly and gave us fair warning of that, I gave him a smile and he forgave me, never to forget…

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Hippopotamus. The Killer Greatly Underestimated.

The hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius),

or hippo. Hippopotamuses are by nature very aggressive animals, especially when young calves are present. Frequent targets of their aggression include crocodiles, which often inhabit the same river habitat as hippos. Nile crocodiles, lions and spotted hyenas are known to prey on young hippos.

Hippos are very aggressive towards humans, whom they commonly attack whether in boats or on land with no apparent provocation.They are widely considered to be one of the most dangerous large animals in Africa.

The hippopotamus is semi-aquatic, inhabiting rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps, where territorial bulls preside over a stretch of river and groups of 5 to 30 females and young. During the day they remain cool by staying in the water or mud. While hippopotamuses rest near each other in the water, grazing is a solitary activity and hippos are not territorial on land.

It is the third largest land mammal by weight (between 1½ and 3 tonnes), behind the white rhinoceros (1½ to 3½ tonnes).

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This female exited the water near us and entered a smaller stream… she returned hours later accompanied by her young…

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