Fourth Wife Flies Free

Unusual promotion on South Africa's – via its Facebook page.

"Inspired by regular VIP travellers with sizeable spousal entourages, the offer is open to all fourth wives when the family travels together on the Jo’burg to Cape Town route."


Grasshoppers and Spiders and Africa, Oh My

Working on a new e-book about the African safari experience has got me poking around into my photos from Africa. Here's one I reprocessed yesterday. It's a huge, finger-sized grasshopper from South Africa. Click it to make it bigger.


And while we're in safari mode, here's a random, short bit from the upcoming e-book. It's from a walking safari in Zambia:

Rains from November to April flood the Luangwa river system, and from then until November it's perfectly dry. The water will dry and recede and force the animals into greater and greater concentrations, with more and more conflict and danger from predators, but for now, there is peace, there are lagoons for crocs to eat catfish and places for hippos to eat and live apart from the river. The grass is still green and tall and thick, and Aubrey shows us how hippos change the landscape as they come and go from the river, creating an indentation on the water's edge that grows when it rains, collapsing the soil into gullies and washing it into the river.

Other animals use the trampled paths, that extend far up onto land, and sometimes hippo trails even evolve into rivers. We set out away from the river on a hippo path old and wide enough that there's a sandy bottom maybe half a meter wide with the grass on either side. Can't see ahead of us or to either side beyond the grass and Isaac pushes on toward a stand of mopane trees.

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Cats The consistently interesting site has a story, with photos from camera traps, called Photos: highest diversity of cats in the world discovered in threatened forest of India. If you're in for an adventure vacation, as we've just learned many people are, it ought to get you going. The site has a just-the-facts page on wild cats.

When we eventually get to track the Bengal Tiger I've already got the lodging picked out – we'll stay here.

(Photo from the Animals and Wildlife Gallery at You might also check out the South Africa Gallery. The wild cat in the photo is a cheetah, and the photo was taken on an afternoon game drive at the very nice Mkuze Falls Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa.)

New Year Travel Travails

Ethiopian Airlines fooled us. Last time on board it hadn't looked like an African airline. Everything worked and the plane was relatively new.

This time, boarding time of 0:05 on New Years Eve in Rome had already been moved to 1:00 on the monitors by the time we arrived at the closed, shank end of some dark terminal at FCO where the business lounge was manned (womaned) by a disinterested gum-popping young woman and a man behind a bar with old finger food under plastic. And as always, there was no information (it eventually turned out the delay had been in Stockholm where the plane had to be de-iced).

Everybody has a travel horror story, Bub. Live with it.

Yeah, but I can tell it.

By the time they loaded us up, after 1:00 we knew we were… in an unfortunate situation. A tight connection in Addis Ababa was already blown. And here was a tatty old 757 with torn upholstery in which neither the overhead entertainment system (forget about seatback) nor the reading lights, nor a few of the sixteen seats in "Cloud Nine" worked. So we just slept.

Boarding time for our flight from Addis to Johannesburg was 8:05, our boarding cards told us, and it was an hour past that as we flew into Addis. The prospects, best we could figure, were for a night in Addis with a lost hotel room at JNB and a missed flight to Namibia the next morning (which doesn't operate every day) or at best a number of hours in the Cloud Nine lounge before a routing through Nairobi.

And then, as they opened the door on the tarmac at Addis, the smiling man at the bottom of the stairs instructed us onto this minibus, directly across the tarmac to a waiting 737 and off to JNB. They'd held the flight for over an hour. Delightful. Even the torn upholstery looked better.

Except, naturally, that they left our bags in Addis. So the rest of the day we worked the phones from the U.S. to Namibia with the added challenge that it's a holiday, and this morning we've just missed that flight to Walvis Bay anyway, on the promise that those bags are flying in even now. There is no flight to Walvis Bay before our ship leaves on Sunday. Right now it looks like we'll fly to Windhoek, pick up a car from Avis and drive out to the coast.

We'll see.

Fifty Photos #32


This cheetah lives on the Mkuze Falls private game reserve in South Africa.
See 135 more photos from South Africa in the South Africa Gallery, and lots more animals from across Africa and beyond in the Animals and Wildlife Gallery at

Get top-notch professional 8×12 Glossy & Matte prints of any of the Top Fifty Prints for just $11.50 at

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On Antipodean Weather, and a Story of Australia

The northern hemisphere marked the Summer Solstice at 1:45 a.m. EDT yesterday. In the southern hemisphere, of course, winter and summer solstices are exchanged, so that as we bask in these longest sunlit days, it's the middle of winter and days are short down under.

Conditions today in Punta Arenas, Chile and Ushuaia, Argentina, both at the southern tip of Patagonia, are forecast to be similar. Punta Arenas looks for a 30% chance of snow the first part of the week, with temperatures just either side of freezing, while Ushuaia expects about the same, with perhaps just a little more snow.

Moving east, there's a fifty/fifty chance of rain today in Stanley, Falklands, with snow likely later in the week. Cape Town, too, is wet, but positively balmy by comparison, with a forecast high tomorrow of 57 (14). Farther east into the Indian ocean, next stop the very remote French Kerguelen Island (previous posts on Kerguelen: 1, 2), it's wet every day, with an even chance of snow on Wednesday. Finally, at Hobart, on the southern tip of Tasmania, temperatures stay shy of 60 (15), with a chance of rain the entire last half of the week.

(Incidentally, find your own personal antipodes with this handy tool. Here's ours.)

Photo of Hobart, Tasmania from See photos from Chile, Argentina, South Africa and Australia on, and here are two stories (1, 2) about our visit to southern Patagonia.

Read on, after the jump, for a new story from our visit to Tasmania:

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Drug Searches for South African Flight Crews

… says the BBC, after “customs officers uncovered 5kg (11lb) of cocaine in luggage at London’s Heathrow airport” a week ago, and “On another flight from Johannesburg to Heathrow in January, 50kg
(110lbs) of cannabis and 4Kg (8.8lbs) of cocaine was discovered.
The crews of both flights were arrested….”

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