Sunday, 25 September 2011

I have been at Lajuma for a few days now. It is up in the mountains and not the traditional African safari kind of place. There is some grassland parts but much of it is dense brush and everything has thorns. Big thorns and little ones, curved or barbed, and all out to get you. It is worth it though. I have seen mongooses (mongeese?) and klipspringers which are funny little antelopes. The bushbabies are funny. I have not seen one yet but they make funny noises at night, little startled screams. There are lots of brown ibises that make a kind of hooting sound that I keep mistaking for a baboon.

And of course there are the baboons. One troop is habituated to people and they will keep doing their normal behaviours within a few meters of people. They came to the house yesterday and spent a few hours grazing on the lawn. It was amazing to have dozens of wild animals going about their business just meters away. Apparently once they are fully habituated you can walk among them and they won't even look up. These ones were still more suspicious than that. There are about 70 baboons in this troop but they are usually spread out enough that you can't see them all at the same time. It is not easy to find the baboons. We have gone out looking for them a couple of times and spent hours walking and listening and not found them. Once we really get started we will follow them all day and see where they spend the night and meet them at the sleeping site at dawn. The first thing I need to do is find my way around the site. Sometimes the baboons will go somewhere that people can't, like down a cliff, so I need to know alternate routes to catch up with them.

I am surprised how cold it is here. We are just north of the Tropic of Capricorn (there's a sign on the highway marking it) but it is downright cold at night. Days are warmish as long as you are in the sun but shade drops the temperature about ten degrees and it can still be chilly. The other night there was the most massive epic thundercloud ever. There was lots of lightning and everyone thought it would be the start of the summer rainy season. We got lots of wind but only a few raindrops and it has been sunny since then, so I don't know when the rains will come.

Tomorrow is town day when everyone will pile into a van and go to Louis Trichardt for groceries. I am looking forward to seeing the town. It is safer than Johannesburg so we can walk around and see stuff.


  1. Yes. Thorns and antelopes. Those are two of the defining characteristics I've heard of up there. It would be nice to see live antelopes.

    So. What are baboons like, in behaviour?

    Summer rainy season and cold? That's not the way I would have expected it either. Hope you packed enough warmer stuff.

    Enjoying your blog.

  2. What about the rush hour traffic? If you have to go look for the troop at dawn, how can you get there from the hostel in enough time? Or am I missing something?

  3. re klipspringers: when I was in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) for a few months in 1956, I found they liked to tease newcomers by telling them that there was a breed of klipspringer that has longer legs on one side of its body than on the other so it can walk around the sides of kopjes (little rocky "mountains") without tipping over. ha ha.

    P.S. "Kopje" is the Afrikaans for "cup".

  4. sounds like you are having quite the adventure...why are you there if you don't mind me asking...for vacation or education?