Mother and baby elephant, Kruger National Park

Travels in South Africa

Copyrighted  ©2016 by DRC

The following is my account of my trip to South Africa in 2016. I kept a travel journal and this appears below, with photographs.

16 August 2016 Tuesday

Anne picked me up at 1 pm, took photos, and then drove me to the Bluegrass Airport. It rained very heavily a couple of times on our way there. I checked in at the Delta counter, got my boarding passes, and went through security. For some reason I got an expedited pass. Maybe it's my age. I got to my gate by 1:30. I have two hours to wait unless my flight is delayed by thunderstorms.

I started my journal and adjusted my pack straps. I'm using my 44-year old red back pack. The old leather straps broke last year while I was in Korea. I took my pack to the Last Genuine Leather Company last month and Wayne and others repaired the pack. They did an excellent job and put some nice heavy-duty leather straps on it, plus they sewed up some other problem areas. I'm also taking an old field camera bag. I have no checked luggage, everything is carry on.

I'll be gone five or six weeks to Africa. I'm attending the International Geological Congress in Cape Town. I'm especially excited to attend a week-and-a-half field trip through the Karoo Basin in southern South Africa. After the field trip, I will be attending the Congress conferences for a week in Cape Town.

After the conference, I'll fly to Johannesburg where I'll start an Intrepid Travels tour of Kruger Game Park for about a week. After the game park I'll take an overnight flight to Cairo where I will join another Intrepid tour through Ancient Egyptian sites for two weeks. After that, I will fly home via Paris.

My flight from Lexington was half-an-hour late. We took off about 4:10 to Detroit. I had a small pack of pretzels and a ginger ale (my first meal of the day). Of course we were late arriving in Detroit. Upon landing I hurried to another terminal and got to my gate just as they started boarding.

The 6:22 pm flight to Amsterdam is completely full. After we proceeded for awhile, I was served an exquisite vegetarian lasagna and bun. It paired nicely with the cabernet blend. I watched Zoolander 2. Mind you, I had not seen the original Zoolander. I did not embarrass myself by laughing out loud. This is an overnight flight.

17 August 2016 Wednesday

I then watched Keanu and started Hail Caesar, but didn't get very far till I just turned it off.

They turned the lights back on over Ireland. The attendants served yogurt, a bun, slice of cheese and drinks.

We landed at Amsterdam about 7 or 7:30 am and I made my way to the next terminal and gate by 8:00. My flight won't board for another hour or so. I'm only about half way to Cape Town.

We loaded onto the plane and once again, it was completely full. This is a KLM flight with Dutch crew. This is a 10.5-hour flight, more than the other two put together. I won't get to Cape Town airport till late tonight.

I was tired when I began the flight. The movies I watched and meals I was served was all in a haze. I didn't watch any movie straight through and only ate one item in each meal. I was just not hungry. The two people sitting next to me were an older Italian couple that didn't speak much to me. I drifted in and out of sleep.

We landed in Cape Town about nine or so and it was dark (it is their winter and days are short). Passport control was easy and I didn't have to stop at baggage claim. I got an airport taxi to my hotel, Harbour Bridge Hotel (their website). The fare was 270 Rand plus tip. I had purchased Rands in the U.S. so I had them on hand.

I checked into the hotel by 10 and was shown my very nice room. I took some photos. I wrote in my journal, took my pills, and brushed my teeth. I was in bed by 11 pm.

18 August 2016 Thursday

I slept well through the night. I was awake by seven and got up at 7:30. I did my usual morning ablutions and took a shower.

There is a dense fog outside. I went to breakfast at 8 in the hotel breakfast room. Breakfast is included. I had coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon, a small sausage, croissant, mixed fruit including passion fruit, and a mixture of granola and seeds plus milk.

Today is a buffer day. I built it into my plans in case I missed some of my flights. Luckily, I arrived on schedule last night, so today is a free day. I'll go walkabout in Cape Town.

The weather is clear, sunny, and very mild, about 68-70 degrees F, with a breeze. I walked downtown through a lot of semi-pedestrian streets. There were lots and lots of stands selling souvenirs, colorful African dresses, scarves, beads, masks, etc. In one block, all of the tables had very nicely-prepared food. I looked for a Nelson Mandela T-shirt, but haven't found one I like in my size yet. I did walk to the Harley shop and bought a Cape Town T-shirt.

Around one pm, I stopped at a coffee shop and had a latte and then ordered spicy chicken wings and chips (french fries), all for 49 Rand. I sat outside and watched passersby. I was the only person in a short sleeve and I was fine. Most people were wearing jackets (holdover from winter, I guess).

I then decided to explore the Victoria and Albert waterfront (Wikipedia entry). This is a very trendy, upscale locale with nice hotels, restaurants, pubs, rides, boat tours, ferris wheel, musicians, etc. And the views of Table Mountain (Wikipedia entry) in the background were magnificent. I stopped at a brew pub in hopes of having a house-brewed beer. However, what they call a brew pub is not the same as what we call it. They had no house beer. They had four or five "local" beers. I ordered the Black Label lager. When they brought it, it was a Carling Black Label (Wikipedia entry) which we used to have in the States. I guess they have a local bottling plant here.

After the beer, I walked back to my hotel. I put in quite a few (actually many) miles today and I loved it. I got back to the hotel by five, a little bit sore. I filled out my journal while memory was still fresh. I took a shower and then typed out my journal. I'll post them after dinner.

I went to the hotel restaurant at 6:30 and ordered the fish of the day and a glass of red wine (I know, I know, but I like red wine). My top choices were fish or lamb curry and I asked the waitress what she would pick and she said, the fish.

While waiting I watched these unusual machines on stilts that drive around the harbour, picking up containers and hoisting them between the stilt legs. The machine then drives around the wharf yard depositing the containers elsewhere. The driver sits in a little cab near the top of the contraption.

If I had been more energetic I would have walked back to the trendy wharf area to a seafood restaurant. I'll do that during the conference.

The fish arrived. It was hake and it was baked, no rhyme intended. It was not fishy at all and I added lots of black pepper, lemon, and some kind of white sauce. It was served with steamed vegetables and some potato wedges. It was actually very nice.

My meal came to 210 Rand. I paid and then went to my room. I start my field trip tomorrow so I must pre-pack tonight. I turned on the TV and guess what? No Donald Trump here? Not one mention.

I sent out my e-mail posts up to the present. I packed and did my evening ablutions (if you don't know by now, ask me). I was in bed by ten. Tomorrow is an early and full day.

19 August 2016 Friday

I slept well for the first two hours, but was wide awake for the rest of the night. I got up about seven. I brushed my teeth and made some coffee. I finished packing and checked out. I walked a short distance to the Cape Town International Conference Center and met up with the others on the field trip. There are twenty or so participants from all over the world, from China to Trinidad. There were three or four that I had met before on other international conferences. 

As we were leaving, I asked about the geology of Table Mountain. Bruce Rubidge, one of two leaders, said that the lower one third was Proterozoic granite and upper two-thirds (the cliffs) were a series of Ordovician sandstones of the Cape Supergroup. The uppermost bed had Ordovician glacial tillites.

The fieldtrip guidebook is Smith, R. and Rubidge, B, 2016, Karoo Transect: One hundred million years of evolving terrestrial ecosystems in the main Karoo Basin, XXXV International Geological Congress, Field Trip Guide, Pre4, 19-27 August 2016, 74 p.

There is a heavy regional fog and we drove through vineyards and steep mountain ranges. The mountain scenery is magnificent.

After 1.5 hours we stopped for a coffee and I got to meet more of my fellow travelers. We are split into two groups and two vans. The driver in my van is Michael. I had a large latte and talked to a couple from Durham University, two Chinese professors (one at Melbourne and the other in China), a paleoseismoloist from Israel, and Roger Smith, the other leader of our group.

As we drove northeastward, I noticed the presence of sheep. I saw one Vervet monkey on a roadcut at one point.

Around noon we stopped at a gully or wash and had a very nice picnic. It included a meat and veggie wrap and, biltong (dried meat), toasted bread, cheese, apple juice, etc. This was our only geologic Stop 1 Witbergs  River section (the Dwyke Diamictites) for the day. Instead of following the guidebook precisely, we started at the Dwyke (lower part of the section) and worked our way upward. I photographed lots of Pennsylvanian and Permian diamictites with dropstones from the ancient glaciers to the north and to the south as far as Antarctica (Cambrian archaecyathids in limestone dropstones). We also saw old ash falls that have been dated and the source was either South America or the Falkland Island Bank (which would have been adjacent then). We also saw a eurypterid trackway.

On our way back we stopped at an outcrop of turbidites that were equivalent to the ones at our Stop One (the upper part). It included a subaqueous turbidite channels.

We drove a short distance to the small town Matjesfontein (Wikipedia entry) and entered a very charming old-style hotel, Lord Milner Hotel. This town is everything old style. After I dumped my luggage in my room, I joined the others in the next door bar and had a Windhoek lager.

At six thirty a large man came into the bar blowing a bugle and said that it was time to take the world's shortest tour, ten minutes. We entered an old London double-decker bus and we had a very funny tour of the little town. Then we toured the old Milner House. After the tour, we were all led back to the bar, and the same man played the piano and sang Louie Armstrong songs. He was a very talented man.

At 7:30, we went to the hotel restaurant. I ordered rare ostrich salad, springbok antelope for entre, and Malva pudding (Wikipedia entry) for dessert. I had Springfield cabernet to drink. It was all very good and we had great conversations.

I went back to my room by ten, did my evening ablutions, and filled out my journal. I went to bed at 10:20.

20 August 2016 Saturday

I got up at seven. I slept a little better last night but was still a little wakeful. I brushed my teeth and got ready for the day. It is a beautiful morning.

I went down to breakfast at 7:20 and had omelet with mushroom, bacon, and tomatoes. And a lot of coffee. I also had cold cuts, croissants, and cheese.

We loaded onto the buses and headed out. We stay in Fraserburg tonight. The landscape is nothing but hills, no trees, and mostly knee-high bushes, this is the "Succulent Karoo."

We made our first stop, Stop 2 Base of Verlatenkloof Pass (the Beaufort-Ecca contact), at 9:20. We looked across the valley at coarsening upward subaqueous packages. While there, we heard a troupe of baboons barking. We are at the foot of the Great Escarpment, and heading uphill and up section.

We skipped Stop 3 Top of Verlatenkloof Pass, but we passed it and saw the fluvial channels and pedogenic overbank deposits at the top of the pass.

Stop 4 Sutherland Astronomical Observatory is the South African Astronomical Observatory (their website, Wikipedia entry). We saw a Springbok on the way. We had a tour of the big 11-meter telescope on this mountain. This hill is held up (capped) by Early Jurassic dolerite sills (red caps). I took photos of fresh dolerite and the red weathered dolerite boulders. I also took photos of a Cretaceous carbonatite volcano plug in the distance.

We had our picnic lunch on the observatory grounds. I had ham and cheese sandwich with excellent local bread and I had a hard-boiled egg. All the other things, I gave away. I had lots of interesting discussions including one with Christian Kammerer about Permian tetrapods.

We boarded the buses at 1:30 and headed to Stop 5, and Fraserburg.

So far on this trip I've seen (including Cape Town) Springboks, baboons, Vervet monkeys, vultures, fish eagles, reddish-brown backed hawks, Pied Crows, geese, ducks, coots or sori, Red Winged Starlings, variety of pigeons and doves, weaver birds (active nests), and many other unidentified birds.

On the way, on the bumpy gravel road, I saw a group of 8-10 hyraxes and a Duiker antelope. We stopped at Stop 5 Gansfontein Trackway Surface (Emergence, dessication, and colonisation sequence of a mid-Permian crevasse-splay sandstone) at low light to better see the features of the three-dimensionally preserved bedding surfaces. There were lots of ancient ripple marks, rill and runsel marks, insect larvae tracks, arthropod tracks like horseshoe crab (Kouphichnium, Wikipedia entry), fish-fin marks (Undichna, Wikipedia entry), and large tetrapod trackways, probably from large dinocephalians. Everyone loved this locality and we all took lots of photos.

Then we headed back to Fraserburg (Wikipedia entry). The town is small so we had to divide into three or four different groups and stay in different B & B's and guest houses. I stayed in the last one, a half-mile from the others. I took a much needed shower and shampooed with hand soap.

It was time to walk to the restaurant for our group's dinner. It was already dark. We headed out and Megan from Australia joined us. We got to the restaurant and many of the others (who were staying at that hotel) were already there. We got our various wines and beers and had most interesting discussions till it was dinner time. I sat next to Roger Smith, one of the leaders, and Yi Zhang, a professor from China. I ordered grilled lamb chops, Greek salad, and red wine. The lamb chops were more like large steaks and there were three of them. And they were really grilled. They were excellent. This is a sheep-growing area. I also had steamed vegetables. For dessert, I once again had Malva pudding with some kind of sweet cream sauce. It was all excellent.

Roger gave a sideshow presentation about the tetrapods that we would be looking for in the next few days. It was a very interesting talk.

We caught an early ride back to our particular B&B and I was in my room by 10. The temperature is about 40 degrees F outside and getting colder.

I filled out my journal and did my evening ablutions by 10:30, going to bed ten minutes later.

21 August 2016, Sunday

I got up at 6:45 and brushed my teeth. I went outside to wait for the others. There is frost on the ground but it did not seem that cold. It is late winter here and the trees have not leafed out yet. We are in the Karoo, and there are not normally any trees anyway, but in the communities, there are plenty of trees. Water is an issue here and gardens have to be irrigated. Sheep are grazed in the veldt and water for them often comes from water wells. There are also a few dams to collect water from rain in the rainy season.

At 7:15 we went to breakfast at our B&B. We had scrambled eggs, bacon, mutton meatballs with sautéed onions, toast, and coffee.
After breakfast I loaded my gear onto the bus and we drove to pick the others up.

On our way to Stop 6, one of the trailers had a blowout, so everyone got on one bus to our stop, which was nearby. The drivers will repair the tire and trailer.

Stop 6 Oukloof Pass-Wilgeboschkloof, (Teekloof Fm {Hoedemaker Member} floodplain facies and Diictodon taphonomy study site) is a Permian tetrapod locality. We walked up a wash and then climbed a small hill. We spent the rest of the morning here, all of us looking for the famous Permian therapsids (Wikipedia entry). Everyone found something good. I found the back of a skull of Diictodon (Wikipedia entry). There were a number of entire skulls found of several different genera. It was a pleasant but very windy day.

We made our way back to the buses, the tire had been repaired. We had our bagged lunch which had been prepared by the restaurant where we had dinner last night. There were large ham and cheese sandwiches, biltong (dried meat), home-made raisins, banana, two mandarins, orange juice, bottled water, and Kit Kat bars. I ate one sandwich, the fruit, water, biltong, and raisins, and gave the rest away. We were back on the bus by 1:30, heading to our next stop.

While traveling, I saw a herd of Kudu antelope, wildebeest, Hindsbok, zebras, ostriches, and several smaller antelope. We are driving next to the game fence of the Karoo National Park. There are lions, leopards, elephants, etc., but I don't expect to see any of them on our drive.

At Stop 7 Putfontein (Fluvio-lacustrine palaeosurfaces and pre-mammalian tetrapod fossils) we walked a short distance to see several exposures of bedding planes showing all sorts of ripple marks, ladderback ripples, double-crested ripples and truncated ripples. We took a lot of side-lit photos. We then walked to a mudstone exposure where lots of therapsids have been found. I also took photos of these.
We then walked back to the buses and headed to Beaufort West and the Lemoenfontein Game Lodge (their website).

When we got to the Game Lodge, it was almost dark. They do not have single rooms for all of us so we have to share. My roommate is a very nice Israeli fellow. However, the beds are together, as in one queen-size bed. We tried to separate them but only managed to get them one-foot apart. This is not my favorite arrangement, but I will have to adapt.

We went to the bar/lounge fireplace room and we all had several beers. Then we went to the dining room and had a very nice buffet dinner. I believe I had beef and mutton but some of it could have been wild game. There was also cauliflower-broccoli casserole, carrots, green beans, potatoes, salad, and a small quiche. I had the house red wine for drink. For dessert there was an orange muffin with citrus zest and ice cream.

After dinner, it started raining steadily and the wind is blowing as well. I did my evening ablutions and pills, and then filled out my journal. My roommate went to the office to make calls back home. I went to bed before ten.

22 August 2016, Monday

I slept fairly well and my roommate did not snore. I expected to see snow on the ground, but I guess it was not that cold. I got up at 7:15 and took my shower and brushed my teeth. I dressed and went up to the lodge in hopes of coffee. I took some photos.

After breakfast, we loaded onto the buses by 9:00. The temperature is just above freezing. We are at the town of Beaufort West (Wikipedia entry), the hometown of Christiaan Barnhard (Wikipedia entry) who preformed the world's first heart transplant. I remember when this happened.

We are traveling along a very straight and flat road for most of this morning. It is in arid landscape with mostly short scrub and no trees. There are occasional stands of spineless prickly pear cactus, which are not native. There are also short conical termite mounds here and there, some with aardvark holes in them. One can easily locate homesteads by the presence of trees and wind-driven water pumps.

We made a pit stop at our hotel Drostdy Hotel, in Graaff-Reinet (Wikipedia entry), and then headed for our field stop.

We stopped at an old farmstead, had bagged lunch, and then walked to Stop 8 Doornplaats (Cistecephalus AZ stratotype). We saw lots of sedimentary, pedogenic, and biogenic structures including therapsid burrows and skeletal material. We also saw contact metamorphism between a Jurassic dolerite dike and sandstones and mudstones. It was quite cold and windy. We also saw meerkat mounds, but no meerkats.

We walked back to our buses and headed to our next stop, Stop 9 Valley of Desolation (Jurassic dolerite sills and Great Karoo scenery). We entered the Valley of Desolation within Camdeboo National Park  (Wikipedia entry) and saw ostrich, eland, springbok, Kudu, hartebeest, etc. The rocks at the overlook are dolerite caprocks.

We arrived at our hotel, Drostdy Hotel (their website) around six. I went to my room and was amazed. I have a fireplace, living room with animal skin rugs. Everything is very plush. Not what a geologist would expect out in the country. I took a shower and got ready for dinner. I am also hoping that they have good WiFi here.

At seven I walked over to the main building with several of the Chinese. They remember two of my daughters from both the Beijing congress in 2006 and the Perth congress some years later. I remember all four of the Chinese participants including the fifth Chinese-Australian member. One, Zhang Yi, gave me a very nice book on his fern art. I need to get him to sign it. Some of my Chinese language is coming back to me.

We went to the bar and I had a large glass of local Protea cabernet. We soon were seated at the dining room and we had a set menu. Of course we were all talking a great deal. We had a chicken liver pate for starters, then I had the chicken dish with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, and garlic pita-like toasted bread. We had a nice panicot for dessert.

I was back in my room by nine. I brushed my teeth, took my pills, and filled out my journal. They say we have WiFi, but it is complicated to sign in, I was not able. I am very tired from the active and very cold day, so I will go to bed.

23 August 2016, Tuesday

I woke up about 6:30 and got up a little before seven. I brushed my teeth, got dressed, and joined the others for breakfast. I had the "Full Karoo" which included, in my case, two over medium eggs, bacon, lamb sausage, mushrooms, tomato, potato fries, toast, and coffee.

After breakfast, I loaded my pack onto the trailer and filled out my journal on the bus. Today is clear, blue skies, and cold, and there is a breeze.

Stop 10 Wellwood (The Rubidge Fossil Collection) was a short distance from Graaff-Reinet. It is Bruce Rubidge's family sheep farm and goes back to 1848 when his family started it. His brother operates the farm. Bruce's father and grandfather started collecting tetrapod fossils (almost all are therapsids) in the farm area and opened up a private museum here at Wellwood. We went through the amazing collection and I took lots of photographs, mostly through the glass display cases. Then we met the family in the farmhouse and they offered us tea and cookies. They are a very charming family.

[Please note that the photographs below are titled by their old labels and that those names are most likely no longer valid. Also note that the specimen numbers show up on most of the labels.] [Additional note: Therapsida (Wikipedia entry) are mammal-like reptiles, and, as a clade, include mammals. The ones here are mammal-like Therapsids and are not mammals.]

We then boarded the bus and hit the road again. We stopped at the top of a pass and had our bag lunch. I had two wraps with cheese, sauce and maybe some meat. I also had a yellow apple, a peanut energy bar, and some Earl Grey tea. I also looked at the Katberg sandstone roadcut at our lunch stop.

Stop 11 Lootsberg Pass Permo-Triassic Boundary Sequence ( High- to low-sinuosity transition and the "Mother of all Mass Extinctions") was the same series of roadcuts going up a mountain pass. We started by walking up a creek till we got to the road. [Note: this stop includes the Permo-Triassic boundary which was the world's greatest extinction event, The Great Dying (Wikipedia entry).]

We made two short stops, the first, Stop 12 Burgersdorp Formation (Short roadside stop to view stratigraphic continuity), to look at a hill with some exposures, and then Stop 13 Giant ?Cruziana (Burgersdorp  Formation burrows, crevasse splays, overbank floodbasin deposits, and meandering-channel sandbody), at a trace fossil locality possibly made by burrowing vertebrates.

We drove to our hotel, Umtali Country Inn (their website) in Aliwal North (Wikipedia entry). I was in my room by 5:30. I filled out my journal and then took a shower.

I went to the reception building and joined some of the others in the bar. I had a Windhoek beer, a Namibian beer made in South Africa. It's really the best beer around for a major beer. We then went to the dining room. I had lamb chops, baked potato, sweet potato, spinach, chicken wings, and finished with another Malva pudding and ice cream. I couldn't eat everything.

I went back to my room, did my evening ablutions. I was very tired from the cold fresh air and long days, so I went to bed by 8:30.

24 August 2016, Wednesday

I slept very well and I had the heat turned off. I woke up at six and got up at six thirty. I brushed my teeth and dressed. It is a little below freezing.

I went to breakfast and had two over-easy eggs, wide bacon, toast, and coffee. Roger told me that the conference people called him and that my hotel reservation in Cape Town that I already paid for has been canceled for the conference. The hotel overbooked. They are trying to find another room for me. So now, I do not know where I'm staying for the conference.

Apparently, one-third of the people on this trip are sick from some sort of stomach ailment. The leaders are going to the pharmacy in Aliwal North to get lots of immodium for whomever is sick. I am OK so far.

We made our first stop, Stop 14 Bamboesberg Member of Molteno Formation (Road cutting showing the geometry and architectural elements of bedload-dominated channels) to look at several sandstones of the Molteno Formation (Triassic). There were extrabasinal quartz pebbles in the lag gravels of these sands, which is the first occurrence we've seen of these.

As we headed to our next stop, we have entered the level of dinosaur-bearing strata. Stop 15 Wolverhoek Pass (Overview of the stratigraphy of the Molteno, Elliot, and Clarens Formations, as well as channel and floodplain sediments of the Upper Elliot), we stopped for coffee, and an overview-lookout. The Lower Elliot is Late Triassic and the Upper Elliot is Early Jurassic, and both have dinosaurs in addition to therapsids and crocodiles. There is snow on top of some of the mountains on the way to the next stop.

We stopped at a roadcut Stop 16 Elliot-Clarens contact (Road cut showing the nature of the Elliot-Clarens contact) to look at the Clarens Sandstone and the underlying Elliot Formation. There was a troupe of baboons barking, first at us, and then at a black eagle flying overhead.
At Stop 17 Drakensburg volcanics (Road side stop, showing interbedded Drakenssburg basaltic lavas and fluvially generated sandstones), we saw intertrapean sandstones, transported ashfall between an amygdaloidal basalt below (traprock), all Jurassic. These are part of the Drakensburg basalts.
When headed to our next stop, we saw snow-capped mountains.

At Stop 18 Barkly Pass Upper Elliot Continuous Section (Semi arid floodplain facies showing meandering streams, crevasse splays with trace fossils, wadis, sheet floods, playas, aeolian dunes, and mass flow), we stopped at the top of the Clarens sandstone and had lunch on a paleodune. After lunch, we were driven to the base of the outcrop at the level of the Lower Elliot. We walked up the section looking at red floodplain sediments including floodplain silts, ephemeral floodplain siltstone flood deposits, white sandy flood deposits, loessite, etc., overlain by lower Clarens wadi sandstones with channels and finally aeolian dunes.

We then headed to our hotel, Mountain Shadows Hotel (their website) near Elliot. We received a nice glass of sherry in the reception area. I went to my room, took a shower, and then filled out my journal.

I then met the others in the bar. It was an interesting bar with fireplace and lots of mounted antelope heads. I had a Windhoek Lager. Then the dining room opened and we all went in. Another fire was in the fireplace there too. It is pretty cold here, we are about six thousand foot elevation here.

We had buffet and I had cream of mushroom soup, potato, cooked carrots, minced green beans, rice, gravy, lamb, and chicken. I still had my beer for drink.

I was back in my room by nine. I brushed my teeth and took my pills. I filled out my journal and went to bed in a pretty cold room.

25 August 2016 Thursday

I slept very well. I woke up at six, but got up about 6:40. I brushed my teeth, dressed, and went to breakfast. I had coffee, brown toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and tomato.

At eight we loaded onto the buses and I filled out my journal and got ready for the day.

Along our drive we stopped several times for photos. A couple were of the Molteno formation with the Indwe sandstone on top and five Boersburg sandstones below.

At Stop 19 Nonensi's Nek (Type section of the Burgersdorp Formation), and Stop 20 Fort Brown (Ecca-Beaufort contact) we walked up the section. An amphibian skull and a cynognathian skull, amongst other bones, were found. We examined several layers of floodplain crevasse splays and paleosols. A vertisol, near the top, illustrated fluctuation of groundwater levels.

We drove through Queenstown and a few kilometers past, and stopped at a roadside picnic area for lunch. I had a scrambled egg sandwich and a scrambled egg-cheese sandwich. I also had a couple of slim-jim type of homemade sausages (Biltong), apricot leather, apple, and water.

This afternoon we have a long drive to our next stop. I saw a Springbok, and a lot of ostriches at one point. Aloe plants are native here and they grow wild everywhere. There are several varieties that I have seen. One grows to about two meters in height on a rough sort of trunk and has up to four or five bright orange flower spikes. I do not have a good photo yet. The similar looking agave is also everywhere, but they are very tough and spiky, and also are not native. After a few kilometers I saw a ridge lined with large electrical generating windmills, perhaps forty or more. As windy as it is everywhere here, I would think there is more potential for these.

We arrived at the Kuzuko Lodge (their website) in the Addo Elephant National Park (official website, Wikipedia entry) at twilight. This is a very luxurious lodge, I couldn't believe my room. I took lots of photos.

I took a shower and then joined the others in the main building. I got a glass of red wine and then we all went to dinner. I had a nice carrot soup, salmon starter, the Springbok dinner, and a chocolate-vanilla mousse. It was all very good. I sat next to three Chinese and they asked me about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. They were all very interested about what I thought and who was likely to win the elections. I told them my opinion, but that I could not predict the elections.

After dinner I went to my room and tried many times to log onto the WiFi and was never successful. I called the desk and got no answer, so I was not able to contact my family.

I have to get up very early tomorrow, so I went to bed as soon as possible. I did my usual evening ablutions and went to bed by 9:45.

26 August 2016, Friday

I woke up at five and got up at 5:30. I brushed my teeth and met the others in the lodge. We had a quick coffee or tea and then set out on game-drive vehicles at six. It was still dark, but the sky was beginning to lighten.

We were gone for two hours on the four-wheel drive vehicles. We saw a large group of elephants, a variety of antelopes including Kudu, wildebeests, hartebeests, gemsboks and springboks. We saw zebra, ibis, crows, bee-eaters, blue-winged starlings and many others. In one area we saw two female lions and two males, and a little further, a stockade for the famous male lion, Sylvester (his Facebook page) and another male.

After two hours we returned to the lodge and had a nice breakfast. After breakfast we loaded onto our buses. All the game drivers like my old-school red pack and commented about it. The short aloe with flat and orange flowers is Aloe striata. The tall one with spiked flowers is Aloe ferox.

On the way out, in addition to the usual, we saw Blesboks, baboons, Vervet monkeys, and many birds. The next time I come to this area, I will bring the English version of Robert's Bird Guide of South Africa.

After a long drive past Port Elizabeth (Wikipedia entry)(starting the Garden Route, Wikipedia entry), we stopped at Tsitsikamma National Park (official website, Wikipedia entry), a shoreline park. We first had lunch along the rocky shore with waves crashing on the rocks. We then walked on a boardwalk to a small inlet and walked on several swinging bridges. When we returned to the parking area, we encountered a group of about six Hyraxes (this one is Procavia capensis Wikipedia entry), a diminutive relative of the elephant and about the size of a ground hog.

We returned to our buses and headed on our way. We had another long drive till we got to the town of Wilderness (Wikipedia entry) and the Wilderness Hotel (their website). I went to my room and took a shower.

This is the last night of the field trip and we have a special fish braai (grill) with all sorts of good food including foil-baked snook, grilled big prawns and small prawns, curry seafood, rice, special braai bread (grilled onion and tomato sandwich), and we had cole slaw. We were served cocktails as well. We gave group gifts to the two leaders and to the two drivers.

After that, I went to my room and was able to connect to wifi and the internet for the first time in over a week. I sent out a quick e-mail letting everyone know that I'm alright. I then brushed my teeth, took my pills, and went to bed. Tomorrow is another early day.

27 August 2016, Saturday

I up at six and got up at six thirty. I brushed my teeth, got dressed, and packed my red pack. I went down to breakfast at 6:45.

I had two eggs over easy, bacon, mushrooms, potato wedges, ripe olives, croissant, and coffee. After breakfast, I finished packing, and got ready for the day. Today is a travel day and we will be heading back to the conference center in Cape Town, but it will be a long drive.

We stopped at a scenic overlook at Kaaimans River Pass and I took a few photographs. Our route back to Cape Town is along the coast and is very scenic. We saw lots of ostriches along ostrich farms, and many fields of rapeseed (canola). I also saw two very large crane-like birds. In the early afternoon, I saw a couple of Guinea Fowl.

We drove along a whale-watching area, but there was a very heavy fog obscuring our view. We drove past a lot of white Ordovician quartzites (orthogquartzites, mature but poorly sorted sediments)(part of the Cape Fold Belt) with fining upward sequences of braided river deposits. At the top were Ordovician glacial sediment with iceberg grooves disrupting the bedding (grounding of icebergs). It was a beautiful route overlooking the cliffs and rough surf below, but visibility was only a few tens of meters at the most.

We stopped at Gordon's Bay (Wikipedia entry) for lunch. The mist here was offshore a bit. This is a Saturday and a warm day, and the beach was full of locals. For lunch I had a nice caponata (I was the only one who knew what it was because my family makes it), olive tapenade, pesto butter, nice baguette, cold cuts, and a brownie. I gave the brownie away. After lunch we all walked around the area. It is very picturesque with mountains on one side and beach and bay on the other.

We boarded the buses at 3:30 and headed to Cape Town. The mountains are still Ordovician sandstones, and the rocks along the bay are 700 ma Neoproterozoic low grade metasediments (Malmsburg Sh.?).

We were dropped off at the conference center about 4:30. I wasn't sure where my new hotel was or that I even had reservations for it. The last that I heard was that it was the Park Inn, Radisson (their website). It is supposed to be more expensive than my original hotel, but I get it for the same price (I hope). I knew about where it was. I wandered around four or five bocks till I saw a sign for Park Inn. I went to the desk and, to my relief, was able to check-in. I got to my room by 5:15. I filled out my journal, unpacked, and took a shower.

I walked around a bit to examine my new surroundings. After awhile, I went to the roof-top bar/lounge. I had a red wine and watched the people around me.

I went to my room and watched some news for an hour or so. There has been an earthquake in Italy. I did my evening ablutions, took my pills and went to bed.

28 August 2016, Sunday

I woke up at seven, got up, brushed my teeth, dressed, and made some coffee. Today is an easy day. The only thing scheduled is registration for the conference and the ice breaker in the evening. I heard that six or seven thousand geologists are expected, which makes this the largest geologic conference in the world.

I typed out a lot of my journal and managed to send out an e-mail entry. The typing is pretty tedious on the small keyboard.

I went to the conference center at nine when registration was supposed to start. There was a large number of delegates standing in line to register, but registration was not open due to computer problems. I met some friends and had a coffee and snacks, but by eleven the computers were still not working. I decided to amble around the downtown area instead.

I walked around for a few hours. Most of the shops were closed in the morning, but a few opened up in the afternoon. Many do not open at all on Sunday. By two in the afternoon, I headed back to the conference center and registration was open, and there were no lines. Excellent. I registered and got my bag of conference literature.

I walked back to the hotel to type some more.

At about five, I took a shower and went to the conference center again. The "Ice Breaker" event in the exhibition hall opened about 5:45. I hung out with some of my new friends. I then saw Margaret Fraser, and then Bob Gastaldo and hung out with them for awhile. We had tickets for free drinks, but there was a mob at all the drink tables. We eventually got our drinks. I had red wine. Many food tables were set up as well. I had some Indian-style pancake-like things, some coconut-curry chicken, plus some other items. This was my dinner. I had a great time talking to Bob and Margaret.

After the event, I walked back to the hotel. I watched a Denzel Washington movie on TV, and then did my evening ablutions and went to bed.

29 August 2016, Monday

I got up at 7:30 and brushed my teeth. I fixed some coffee and studied the conference program to prepare for the day. Most of the talks start in the early afternoon, so I typed a lot of my journal in the morning.

I walked till I found a nice little bakery. I had a large croissant sandwich with bacon and scrambled eggs and a coffee.

I did not eat lunch, but went straight to the talks. I attended several different sessions, but my favorite was on the Permian-Triassic mass extinction.

After the talks, I went to my room for awhile and sent out an e-mail entry. I then walked up Long Street to a restaurant/brew house called Tiger's Milk (their website). Several of my friends recommended it. When I got there, I saw several of my German friends and I sat with them. I had a Triple-Bypass Burger and the house IPA beer which was all very good. The burger was very messy but good. Meanwhile, several of my other friends also came in. So, this is a real geologists' bar, we so designated it.

After the burger, I walked back to my hotel. I typed out a journal entry and sent it out as an e-mail.

I took a shower, did my other ablutions, took my pills, watched a little news, and went to bed by ten.

30 August 2016, Tuesday

I got up at 7:30, brushed my teeth, and made some coffee. I also studied today's program to see which talks I should attend.

I walked to the conference center and saw lots of interesting talks. The talks start at 8 am and last till 6 pm with a one-hour lunch break. Lunch is free and is buffet style. There are a series of short geologic movies in the evening.

There are lots of exhibition booths in the exhibition area. There are agencies, countries, and companies represented by booths, but also for all the countries vying for future conferences. The next congress in 2020 will be in Delhi, India. That is already settled, but for the 2024 meeting, Berlin, Germany, St. Petersburg, Russia, Istanbul, Turkey and other countries are competing. I have talked to all of them.

After the evening talks, I looked for tomorrow's program, but learned that it was late from the printer's. I'll have to wait for tomorrow to see which talks I'll attend.

When I left the conference center, it was dark. I went to my room and got rid of my conference accoutrement. Last night, I remembered seeing an Ethiopian restaurant so I headed for it tonight. I went in and sat at the usual low table. I ordered a chicken, a beef, a fish, and a lentil dish, and I special ordered the tef-grain version of injera bread. You have to ask for tef. I had a Leopold 7 beer, the first of that brand that I've tried. My meal was alright, but I could only eat half of it. I've had better Ethiopian elsewhere.

After the meal, I walked back to my room, filled out my journal, and checked e-mails. I then brushed my teeth, took my pills, and went to bed. I'm sorry that these conference entries are short. Once I head to Johannesburg, they should pick up.

31 August 2016, Wednesday

I got up at 7, brushed my teeth, and had some coffee. After a shower, I went to the conference, talks start at 8. I went to the session on the Ediacaran fauna (Cryogenic to Cambrian) (Wikipedia entry) that lasted most of the day. There were many other interesting sessions, but this is the one I stuck to.

I asked at the conference how much the shuttle to the airport costs. I then went to my hotel and asked how much it costs. The hotel bell captain gave me a placard with the rates on it. It was over 300 Rand to get to the airport. I told him that the conference center had a rate of 150 Rand. The Bell Captain became very angry with me, which I thought was unusual because I was polite. I guess he had been receiving a sizable kick-back. So, I went to the conference center, paid 150 Rand for my shuttle on Friday and they will pick me up at my hotel.

After the talks, it was dark. I walked to Tiger's Milk and had a nice thin-crust pulled-pork pizza and a house pilsner. They were out of IPA.

After the pizza, I was pretty tired and stuffed. I walked back to my hotel. I did my usual evening ablutions and took my pills. I watched a spy movie and went to bed about 9:30.

1 September 2016, Thursday

I got up at 7:30, brushed my teeth and took a shower. I fixed a cup of instant coffee as well.

I went to the talks and searched for today's program. Apparently, they didn't print enough because they were all gone by the time I got there. Half of the attendees were looking for programs. I was able to look at monitors scattered around and went to a series of talks on Asian plate tectonics. I should have given one of my talks here.

I took a break from the mostly Chinese talks and went to the only (single) talk on the Central Appalachian Basin Late Carboniferous deposition, it was in a sedimentary basins session. The professor, a Brit from VPI, used my Carboniferous model for the structure of his talk and cited my publication. His work not only confirmed my model, but added value to it with his study of detrital zircon provenance. I was pleasantly surprised, and it made my day.

For lunch, I did not eat, but scouted out where the conference dinner was to be held. It is about one-half mile from my hotel, but it will be dark when I go.

At 7:45 I walked to the Zip Zap Circus, a very large tent set up for the conference dinner. There were about eight or ten food counters set up for different ethnic food styles from Cape Malay, and Indian to Boer, to Afrikaans and South African. There were drink stations and lots of stand up tables and some plush seats and couches. There was also a great African band. I sat next to several Indian gentlemen in a side tent. We were all a little put out about the very long lines at each of the counters. I talked about Indian geology. As it turns out the fellow I'm sitting next to is the president of the next IGC. We had a very interesting conversation about Indian geology. I also talked to another India geologist about the Precambrian sandstones in Rajasthan and mentioned the Ediacaran sandstone at the fort at Jodhpur. He excitedly mentioned that he discovered and studied that sandstone. After an hour or so, the lines decreased and I got in the shortest—Cape Malay. So I did get something to eat. I left early and said goodbye to everyone. I leave early tomorrow.

I walked back to my room, packed up everything, and threw away a lot of unnecessary conference items.

I filled out my journal, brushed my teeth, and took my pills. I went to bed by eleven.

2 September 2016, Friday

I woke up at six and got up at seven. I had some instant coffee and completed my packing. I took a shower, dressed, and filled out my journal. I got a call at 8:30 that my driver had arrived, so I gathered my things and checked out. I had no room charges.

The driver was a nice fellow from Zimbabwe and we talked all the way to the airport. At the airport, I went to a self-help kiosk and entered my trip locator code. My boarding pass was printed out and I proceeded through security and was at my gate by nine. My flight to Johannesburg leaves at 11:15 and I board in about 1.5 hours.

When they called for boarding, we got onto buses and were driven to the plane. Once again it was completely filled and I was in a middle seat. Neither person on either side of me was friendly and so I did not talk. Mid-flight I was offered a drink and a ham sandwich on croissant.

Upon landing, we were transferred to the gate by bus again. When I exited the restricted area, there was a fellow holding a placard with my name on it. He told me his name but I did not understand him. We drove for about half an hour to my hotel in Johannesburg. It is still winter here so it is the arid season and sunny. The temperature seems to be about 80 degrees F.

I checked into the Holiday Inn Sandton Rivonia Road (their website). This Holiday Inn is better than what we think of the ones in the U.S. I checked in and was in my room by 2:30 pm. I filled out my journal and took photos of my room.

I knew that the Harley Davidson shop was only about one or two kilometers from my hotel. I knew how to get there so I set out walking. Almost all of the sidewalks were under construction for utilities I think, so I had to dart in and out of traffic while I made my way there. It was actually quite an obstacle course and the traffic didn't seem to observe pedestrians with much respect. But I got there. I took several photos of the store and bought a Johannesburg t-shirt there. However, my credit card was declined twice. I had another card and had to use it for my purchase. I had registered my travels with the bank, but apparently it didn't matter. It was very inconvenient for Visa to do this to me.

I walked back along the same perilous path. I went to the hotel bar in the lobby and had a local beer, Jack Black lager. I had my beer at the roof lounge.

Because it was too difficult to get around, I decided to just eat dinner at the hotel. I ordered, for starters, chicken livers in a marinara-type sauce with toast. I ordered the chef's special which was a lamb cutlet with steamed vegetables and, in my case, french fries. I also ordered bread. The unique wine here in South Africa is a grape varietal called pinotage (Wikipedia entry). I've had it throughout my trip and liked it, so I ordered a glass with dinner. I don't believe I've heard of it anywhere else. The lamb chops came and there were four of them, medium rare. I did not have dessert. I was able to pay with my Am Ex card, fortunately.

I was back in my room by 7:30. I have a very early day tomorrow. I filled out my journal and repacked for my upcoming trip. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, took my pills, and was in bed by 8:30, watched a little news, and went to bed early.

3 September 2016, Saturday

Well, it was an interesting night. With the pipe noises in my room, I could not sleep. I called down to the desk and the phone did not work, so I went down to the desk in my bare feet (I did put clothes on). They gave me a new room and so I carried my things to it. Someone had been in the bed in my new room, so I went back down to the desk in my bare feet and mentioned that. However, a bunch of Chinese came to the desk at the same time, complaining about their rooms too. There must have been twenty, but I beat them to the desk. I got another room which seemed to be alright.

My alarm went off at five. I brushed my teeth and went down to the lobby. Another fellow was waiting as well, Bob from Adelaide. Sam, our driver arrived and Bob and I got on the bus. Later, a lady from the Gold Coast of Australia also joined us. We then went to another hotel and picked up two Italian ladies.

Sam told us that we have a seven-hour drive ahead of us. The three of us from our hotel had a box breakfast to take with us, but Sam said that we would stop for breakfast in two hours.

We are going to at least two different lodges.

I ate my breakfast as we drove and we made several comfort stops. As we approached the Drakensberg Mountains (Wikipedia entry), I told the Australian fellow about the Jurassic dolerites and basaltic lavas forming the caprock in the Karoo Basin. The Italian ladies asked me if I were a geologist and I said yes. They were too. They had been to the same conference in Cape Town. I told them I had been on a field trip in some of the same region. They asked me to tell them about the geology of the region (the nature of the Drakensberg Escarpment in the Karoo is different compared to this region).

We descended the Great Escarpment and traveled parallel to the base. Three of us (the geologists) were dropped off at the Matumi Lodge (their website) in Hoedspruit (Wikipedia entry) by 12:30 and shown our rooms. We are not to walk around at night because of snakes, scorpions, spiders, hyenas, leopards, etc.

We had a lunch of nice salad and very nice fried chicken strips in pancetta. Ricu, the staff host, helped me to make an international phone call to resolve a credit card problem I had. Hopefully, it is fixed.

We were picked up again by Sam and driven to a private game preserve. We got into a vehicle driven by Isaiah. He drove us around a vast area and we saw all sorts of animals including duikas, Kudus, wildebeest, zebras, Cape Buffalo, rhinos, hippos, warthogs, elephants, and two female lions. Because of the severe drought, hay had been scattered at certain localities to keep the animals alive. At sunset we stopped for drinks and snack in a hilltop clearance. On our long way out, it was very dark. When we got to one of the prime lion-hunting areas at a pond, the vehicle was stopped. However, Isaiah could not get it started again, the battery was too low. We could not reach anyone by radio. As a last resort, Bob (the Aussie) and I got out to try and push the vehicle down a slight slope in hopes of jump starting it. It worked. Later, the driver told us that he was very worried about our situation and had even started shaking.

We rode back to our lodges. We had salad with biltong, ostrich steak with sauce, potato wedges, another salad and we had pinotage wine. One of the ladies had a birthday and so we were presented with fudge brownies, one with a candle in it.

After dinner, we went directly to our rooms. I did my ablutions plus malaria pills, and then filled out my journal. I was in bed by ten. Tomorrow is another very early and long day.

4 September 2016, Sunday

My alarm went off about 4:50. I got up, took a shower, and brushed my teeth. I dressed and got ready for the day. There was a wake-up knock at my door a little after five.

About 5:30 a new vehicle arrived with a new driver, Johann. He was familiar with out struggles last night on our game drive. Apparently, all the game drivers heard the story.

We loaded onto the new vehicle and headed to the Orpen gate of Kruger National Park (Wikipedia entry for park), I'm guessing one hour away. We had to enter two gates, an inner and an outer, and had to supply our passport numbers. We also learned that there had been a great deal of recent rhino poaching. We drove along the roads and stopped at an overlook over a dry river wash. We had our bag breakfast there. I only ate a cheese sandwich, but there were other items. I had a cup of instant coffee. I took photos of several Yellow Billed Hornbills and even fed one by hand. I also took photos of a Francolin, a pheasant-like bird.

We drove around the park and saw abundant wildlife including Steenbok, Gazelle, Impala, Waterbok, Kudu, Nyala, Wildebeest, Warthogs, hippos, rhinos, elephants, crocodiles, fresh leopard prints, giraffes, a female lion suckling a cub, etc. I also saw many birds including flamingos, Wool-necked Stork, Hammerkop, White? Stork, guinea fowl, many Francolins, many vultures, several eagles including Batelur, heard a woodpecker, saw and heard many Go-Away Birds, saw several Southern Ground Hornbills (very large), Yellow and also Red Billed Hornbills, swallows including the Red Breasted, Magpie Shrikes, a Lilac Breasted Roller, Pied Crow, Cape Wagtail, Blue Ear Starling, doves, Red Billed Ox Pecker, Fork Tailed Drongos, and many other birds.

We ate lunch at a tourist rest station. Most of us had pizza and I had a carbonated water for drink. I bought a bird book (can you tell?). After lunch, we continued our drive looking at animals. At about three in the afternoon, we headed back to the lodge. We got there about 4:15.

I took a shower and hand washed two shirts and a pair of socks (I had also washed some clothes in Cape Town). I hung them up to dry in my room.

I went to the dining room about 7:30 and had a Black Label beer and talked to Ricu and the owner's son. When the Italian ladies came, we ordered a bottle of Shiraz for the table and we had sweet chili chicken with couscous and mixed vegetables. We had chocolate mousse for dessert. Tonight there are new guests, a young couple from Germany and we talked a short while before dinner. The young lady was from Berlin originally.

I was back in my room by 9:30. I filled out my journal. I do not have an adapter for the electrical outlets that they have at this lodge so I cannot charge my computer.

I did my evening ablutions, took my pills plus anti-malarials (I did kill a mosquito trying to bite me tonight). Tomorrow is an early day, but not as early as the last two days.

5 September 2016, Monday

I woke up at five, but got up at six-thirty. I brushed my teeth and dressed. My washed clothes are almost dry, by the end of the day they should be completely dry. I filled out my journal and then went for coffee.

I took photos of the grounds while drinking my coffee. Breakfast was served soon after and I had bacon, sausage, two eggs over easy, toast, sautéed onions, roasted tomato, and coffee.

Around eight our new driver/guide, Shoes, picked us up for a driving tour of the escarpment. This tour was called the Panorama Route (Wikipedia entry) of the Blyde River Canyon (Wikipedia entry). Shoes was born at Kruger and his parents worked there. He's an expert birder and helped me throughout the day with my identifications.

We went to several famous overlooks and saw the tufa (travertine) deposits at a large waterfall (Kadishi Waterfalls). I saw a Rock Kestrel, a Marico Sunbird, a Dark-Capped Bulbul, Kurrichane Thrush, Red Winged Starling, a Black Headed Oriole, a Yellow Billed Kite, and other birds.

Most of the overlooks seemed to be composed of sandstone and quartz-pebble conglomeratic sandstones (cap rock is Archaean Black Reef quartzite and below the cap rock is Wolberg Group sandstones and shales). We saw amazing canyons and gorges and cliffs through the dusty atmosphere. There were obvious changes in direction of waterflow in the past. Early canyons seemed to be etched by westerly flowing rivers, but then subsequent stream piracy diverted the flow to the east, as seen by the really big canyons. I also took photos of Proteas, Coral Trees (bright orange-red flowers), and many other plants. We ate lunch at a pancake house in Graskop and Shoes and I both had Chicken Livers Bowl in Peri Peri sauce (much better than the one I had in Johannesburg).

We got back to the lodge about 7:15. I took a shower and then joined the others at an outdoor fire-pit area with a big roaring fire going. The Italian ladies and I had gin and tonics and we soon had an Afrikaans braai (grill) of lamb chops, Boer sausage (Boerewors), corn on the cob, potatoes, and a nice salad. We had a pinotage to drink. Then an African group came out and danced and sang as we sat around the fire (some were more into it than others). They were part of the staff at the lodge. For dessert, we were served the best Malva pudding I have had while in South Africa.

We have an early schedule for tomorrow, so I filled out my journal, did my evening ablutions, and went to bed by eleven.

6 September 2016, Tuesday

I got up at 5:30, brushed my teeth, and got dressed. At 5:50 the Italian ladies and I met our naturalist walking guide, Koos ("kwees"). We walked up the road a bit and then he unlocked a gate and we hiked in a preserve area. He said that because of the drought that most of the big game will be out of the area and he thought we'd be safe. In more dangerous areas, he carries a rifle. We saw lots of animal tracks and poop including civet cat, mongoose, porcupine, African hunting dog, hyena, leopard, giraffe, hippo, elephant, and antelope tracks ranging from Duikas to Kudu. We saw a variety of birds including a tree full of bulbuls, several Green Wood-Hoopoes, swallows, crows, starlings (not like ours), and a group of Blue Waxbills. We also saw weaver bird nests. I learned that the millipedes are poisonous to eat for most animals except the civet cat, and we saw evidence in civet cat poop.

We walked back to the lodge and had breakfast. I had a bowl of fruit (oranges, pineapple, and strawberries), minced venison (Springbok?), two eggs over easy and toast, plus lots of coffee. I caught up in my journal. The two Italian ladies left on the bus after breakfast and I'm the only guest for most of the day.

A little before ten, Ricu drove me to an interesting compound of shops. He had some business to do in town, so he dropped me off. He booked a massage for me at a salon and spa. I had a very nice massage, and then went to a vintage car and motorcycle museum. I took a number of photos. I then went to Anne's Cotton Club Café that Ricu also recommended. I got a coffee milkshake and a goat cheese-sautéed onion-tomato tart (in a very flaky pastry). It was very good. I talked to the owner, Anne, and she knew about the thoroughbred industry in Kentucky. She asked me about what they did with retired race horses and I told her that they were well taken care of and mentioned the place, Old Friends (their website) near Georgetown. Ricu came to sit with me after he had taken care of his business, and we talked a great deal. After we finished our order, we went back to the lodge. On the way back,, we saw a Marabou stork flying overhead. We got back to the lodge by 1:30.

I took my journal to a shaded table near the pool and filled it out. I moved into the dining area when the insects got bad. I typed a lot of my journal entries and sent them out as e-mails.

Dinner was served about eight. The starter was a very artistic series of slices of roasted eggplant, mozzarella, and tomatoes with balsamic vinegar. Very nice. The main course was stuffed chicken breast (with nuts and sauce), rice (with soy?), and a mushroom-zucchini dish. And all of that was very good. They have a new chef Ursula and everything has been great. Dessert was an apple dish with sauce and nuts, and that was also very good. I had pinotage. I sat at the table with the staff with whom I had gotten to know.

After a lot of conversation, I went to my room by ten. I brushed my teeth, took my pills (including malarials), and filled out my journal. My laptop is charging with an adapter that I borrowed from the lodge. Tomorrow is a travel day.

7 September 2016, Wednesday

I got up at 6:30 and brushed my teeth, and dressed. I packed most of my things. At seven, I went to the dining area. I had granola and toast and coffee. Ursula, the chef, asked if I wanted a hot breakfast, but I told her I didn't want a lot of food on my stomach on a travel day.

I settled my bill and bought a handmade Nelson Mandela-style shirt (not a t-shirt).

I took a shower and finished packing. While waiting for my bus, I saw swallows, perhaps a swift, a Black-headed Oriole, a vulture, and bulbuls.

Shadrack, the bus driver, picked me up a little after 8:30. There were three young Scot ladies already in the bus. One was from Inverness and one from Glasgow. They attended university optometry school together and had been working on the traveling health train clinic (that I had seen earlier) to help the local people. I told them that I had three daughters about their ages and talked about them quite a bit.

While driving I saw an African Hoopoe. Before I forget, the yellow-colored tree (all the bark, roots, and stems are yellow) is the Yellow Fever Tree. I had seen it several places. It was so named because people used to think that Yellow Fever came from this type of tree.

We made one stop at the Three Rondavels overlook (I had already been there a couple of days ago) and I explained just a wee bit of the geology.

At lunch time, on our journey to Johannesburg, we stopped to refuel. I got a Wimpy's cheeseburger and fries. Closer to Johannesburg I saw a flock of flamingos in a wetland and a magpie shrike.

I got to my hotel, the Holiday Inn Sandton Rivonia Road, at 3:30 pm. This is the same hotel I stayed at several days ago. I went to the desk and told them I had a reservation. They asked for my passport. They said that they couldn't find my reservation in their system and asked for my confirmation documents. I showed them my Intrepid Travels voucher for tonight, confirming that I had already paid for the room. They made calls and still didn't know what to do. They were fully booked. They asked me to wait in the lobby sitting area while they contacted housekeeping to see if a room had been freed and cleaned. I had to sit till 4:15 before I got a room. I will be mentioning my problems with this hotel when I do my Intrepid evaluations.

I went down to the bar for a Castle draft which I took to my room. I typed out my journal and sent out an e-mail.

I went down to the dining room about 6:30. The Chef's Special was a T-bone plus starch of your choice. I went in and ordered the Chef's Special. However, there was also a very large buffet and most of the guests were doing the buffet. The buffet was not advertised. The cooks were busy restocking the buffet. After 45 minutes the waiter came by and asked if I'd been served yet. When I said no, he said he'd check into it. After 15 more minutes, nothing came, so I left and went to my room. An hour wasted.

I watched a little television, did my ablutions, and went to bed.

On to Egypt