O.R. Tambo International Airport

This year for the holidays Jhanet and I have planned to travel to her homeland of South Africa. We boarded a Alitalia flight from London Heathrow to Rome and then Johannesburg, South Africa. The 13 hours of travel was mostly uneventful and after picking up the car, fuel for camping, SIM card and money we headed out of the city towards Graskorp our destination for the evening.

Passed some small townships and I of course had to photograph the chickens.

Bush fires and coal mines were the views for the first couple of hours

We came to a scenic overlook and decided to stop for some photos. As I stepped out of the car I was promptly attacked by these crazy ants that were viscously biting me. After a bunch of yelling and smooshing I caught Jhanet trying to put a rather large log in the car for our accommodations fire pit tomorrow night in Kruger National Park. (fortunately it was too big)

Above is our first accommodation of the trip. It’s called the Wild Forest Inn, \240its a cute chalet but comes with a warning of locking all windows and doors as the monkeys will rob you when they get the chance.

We headed into the small town for dinner and saw this magnificent cloud formation, we had to stop to try to capture it. 😋


Today began our first full day exploring South Africa. Our plan was to drive along the Blyde Canyon panorama route. Unfortunately when we woke up it was raining with heavy dense fog. We continued north anyway and ran into this wonderful baboon with his whole troup of females.

Then the clouds began to lift and we stopped at Bourke’s Luck Potholes.

Definitely not your standard everyday potholes😋

There was a small nature walk near the potholes and we ran into these beauties. Jhanet thinks I’m nuts liking monkeys but since I was not tortured as a small child as she was I think I can be forgiven.

Vervet Monkey’s

Blyde Canyon overlook

Our next stop was to the second largest Baobab in South Africa

Hoedspruit Giant Baobab

This magnificent upside down tree can be described as a grizzled, distorted old goblin. With the girth of a giant, the hide of a rhinoceros, twiggy fingers clutching at empty air. With a host of names and dates carved into the tree the Hoedspruit Giant holds true to history. Intrepid explorers and ingenious hunters sat here using the tree for shelter and shade dating back to 1893. The tree is thousands of years old.

Girth diameter 15.9 meters, Height 17 meters, Crown spread 37.05 meters

We were also able to get a very tasty South African savory pancake (Baobab restaurant)

Not long after a must stop for mangoes! Did not even have to get out of the car. 10 mangoes for £2.50

Then we entered Kruger National Park at the Orpen Gate. We checked in and realized that we were running quite late to reach our camp before the gates closed for the night. So as any normal person would do we started driving a little faster. A short time later we (Jhanet) got nailed by a park security speed trap🥴

Oh well- a fine was given but take a look at all of the animals we saw on our way to the camp. (hard to be in a bad mood when elephants keep slowing you down)

This boy was such a poser came right next to the car.

Kruger National Park is a South African National Park and one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,485 km2 (7,523 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 km (220 mi) from north to south and 65 km (40 mi) from east to west. The administrative headquarters are in Skukuza. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa's first national park in 1926.

These young hyenas were lounging along the road as well

Check out the scale of this big boy.

My favorite shot of the day. Momma hyena milking her young.

We made it to Mopani rest camp, 10 minutes before the gate closed, but still had to check in and drive out again to reach Shipandeni Hide for our first night in Kruger.With checkin completed, keys in hand, our morning walk confirmed after several phone calls, we reach the closed gate that we needed to exit. After a little exaggerated story of check in delays due to the morning walk, the guard releases us to drive during dusk in the park to the hide (which is forbidden). As we cross a river bridge, we pause for a moment to capture some wonderful water waders, only for me to realise that there are about 8 hippos about 10 feet away. Needless to say, I put the car in gear and moved!

Yellow-billed Stork

Both of these photos required the use of headlights to illuminate them.

We decided not to delay getting to the hide any further. As we arrived, we realized that we were mistaken about the enclosed car parking. So we parked the car and swiftly moved between the wilderness and the safety of the enclosed hide.

We settled in for a perfect evening by our wood fire and instant mash potatoes, corn, peas and carrots. Chuffed with how prepared we were for the hide.

Mopani Rest camp

We awoke at 3:30am to pack up and meet our guide for an early morning 4 hour bush walk. We loaded up the car and headed back to Mopani rest camp, sounds easy right? as you can see a large Crocodile decided to bed down blocking our only way out. He was sound asleep but we managed to squeeze by...whew

The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is a large crocodilian native to freshwater habitats in Africa

Nile crocodiles are opportunistic apex predators; a very aggressive species of crocodile, they are capable of taking almost any animal within their range. They are generalists, taking a variety of prey.

Fortunately we were not on the menu this morning as he was sound sleep.😋

We met our guide Patrick and along with five others we drove south before pulling off and heading out into the bush. The animal sighting were few, but we learned what tree to use for toilet paper and how to coax a baboon spider out from its nest.

This is a small termite mound were we were told how to catch them and fry them up for a tasty snack. Super high in protein from what I hear.

After the walk Jhanet and I headed straight back to the hide to get some nice photos in the daylight and we were hoping to see some of the animals we listened to all night.

We were not disappointed

Saddle-billed Stork

Shipandane Sleep over hide

This is where we slept. Attached to the wall are beds and full mattresses are located in a locked cupboard in the corner.

Green-backed Heron

These hippos were our welcome party last night at the river crossing and then continued to chat to us all night long.

Today we are heading to Skukuza Camp for our last night in Kruger National Park. As expected we saw many wonderful animals and took as many detours as we could find (of course driving very slowly😋)

Burchell’s Zebra

African Elephants

Blue Wildebeest

Great Egret


Female Impala

Red-billed Hornbill



One of the main highlights of today was not all of the amazing animals and birds that we saw. It was this tenacious little dung beetle 😊 how great is this wildlife sighting. Might be rated one of my top ten of all time!

Dung beetles are beetles that feed on feces (dung). Beetles in some species of dung beetles can bury dung 250 times heavier than themselves in one night.

Many dung beetles, known as rollers, roll dung into round balls, which are used as a food source or breeding chambers. Others, known as tunnelers, bury the dung wherever they find it. A third group, the dwellers, neither roll nor burrow: they simply live in manure.

Malelane - Skukuza Rd

Today was a transfer day out of the park \240to Sodwana Bay for our next three days. We had a lovely night in Skukuza in our rondawel. The drive this morning was our last opportunity for wildlife within Kruger National Park. We are missing a few key animals so we could only hope for the best and pick the most obscure dirt roads we could find in the hopes of a new sighting.

My first sighting was right outside our accommodation. Some cute baby warthogs.

African Fish-Eagle

Tawny Eagle

The southern ground hornbill, is one of two species of ground hornbill, which are both found solely within Africa, and is the largest species of hornbill worldwide.

Then we finally came across a few cars parked in the road and found out there was a leopard sighting. We looked but did not even know where to search. Finally we got a tip and spotted the leopard immediately.

This was taken with a super telephoto lens and it was the best we could capture. Still seeing a leopard was rare and amazing.

Leopards are the least social - and perhaps the most beautiful - of the African big cats. They usually keep to themselves, lurking in dense riverine bush or around rocky koppies, emerging to hunt late in the afternoon or at night.

Then we finally saw the Lioness! She served us her best stare down before climbing under a bush to get some respite from the heat.

Amazing two cats on our last day and last hour in the park. Well done

Now as I type this we are nearing Sodwana Bay. We both have had enough of the car for one day as it’s approaching 8:30pm.

Coral Divers

Today we began our Open Water PADI course. We met at 7am and started with the theory section of our course, which lasted until 12pm. Michelle and I flew through it \240and at some point it became competitive.

After a morning of theory and lunch, it was time to get acquainted with our gear. 3 wet suits and blistered hands later, we managed to find a suit possibly long enough and not to loose fitting for me. Michelle’s suit was like a boa constrictor and perhaps she should’ve tried another before we entered the pool.

Warm and fresh in the water.

This was possibly \240the longest Michelle was under the water. Let’s just say that with a constricting suit and mind power, breathing under water is not that simple.

Gearing down at the end of a long and intense day. We were in the pool for 4 hours straight. Learning how to breath, flood your mask, flood and clear your breathing apparatus and how to float and sink all under water!

Do I need to say more......

Ok now that I have had my little nap I’ve read what Jhanet wrote. She was way to easy on me.

I really struggled today with the mind over drowning thing. I would go down and immediately start to panic and come back to the surface as quick as I could. Ok mind you that is a really bad thing in diving, Fast ascend=very bad things can happen. So I took some time and settled down after Nikki came into the pool to assist me. Yup I was the slow one in the pool, I required extra support to get through all of the skills required for this certification. Always humbling not to be comfortable immediately, but I really am a fish out of water.......if only it was frozen😋

Jhanet was a fish.....amazing with every task

I’m looking forward🥴to tomorrows open water dives and hopefully controlling my mind.

Sodwana Bay

Today was our first day of actual diving in Sodwana Bay. Well for Jhanet it was, for me not so much. Once we had our safety briefing we loaded into the boat with all of our gear and headed out to 2 mile reef.

Sodwana Bay is a bay in South Africa on the KwaZulu Natal north coast, between St. Luciaand Lake Sibhayi. It is in the Sodwana Bay National Park, and the Maputaland Marine Reserve

They move all of these boats around with massive tractors because of the sand. When I originally saw these tractors I thought they were a bit overkill but then after seeing several vehicles stuck it made sense.

Sodwana National Park is a narrow strip of forested sand dunes located along the east coast. Proclaimed a national park in the 1950s, it is frequented by anglers and divers. Sodwana is situated in the Maputaland Marine Protected Area and is the only recreational scuba diving area along the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park (now renamed to iSimangaliso) coastline. Classified as one of the top dive sites in the world, the park is visited by some 35000 scuba divers per year. The bay is near the southern end of the tropical western Indo-Pacific marine ecoregion, and reef-building corals are present. The 50 km reef complex is the habitat of a wide diversity of resident and migratory species. Several submarine canyons cut into the edge of the continental shelf, which is very close to the shoreline.

Gearing up, connecting our BCD’s to the oxygen cylinder and checking that everything is working.

Once you’re near the launch site of the dive, you get your BCD on, then your fins and mask on, make sure all the straps are tight and brace yourself for launch.

We all entered the water together. As we were were preparing my anxiety level kept increasing. Since I struggled so much in the pool I had serious concerns that I would be able to make the dive. My head (mind) just kept getting in the way. I made the drop just fine than made my way to the bouy. Then that was it for me. I could not get comfortable with lowering my self down the line 12 meters. That’s when I called it. This time diving is not for me.

Not so for Jhanet...see the photos as evidence. Amazing!

Dan our instructor below.

Today’s schedule was for two dives. The second dive did not go as planned as there was a reverse current that was too strong even for the instructors. I was very relieved I had decided not to participate in the second dive.

I did quite enjoy the boat beach landing. Play the video below.

After we returned to camp we both took a quick nap then got up and went exploring.

Communal Braai - apparently barbecue is a South Africa lifestyle

We took a short drive and found a trail down to the beach. What a difference from the tractor beach launch earlier.

I made Jhanet chase crabs until she got a good shot with the camera.

After dinner we went out to the same spot to look for sea turtles. No luck on the turtles but got this great crab photo.

Looking forward to heading down to Durban tomorrow to see Danie & Bev

Cape Vidal

Left Sodwana Bay this morning and headed to St. Lucia. We past by many street stalls along the way.

I love the sign below, Beware! for sharks, hippos and crocodiles.......don’t get those warnings in London. Although maybe we should.

We were looking to do a boat ride to see hippos so we stopped at the park visitors center. Although we were to early for the boat an amazing hippo came next to the car, chomping on grass and was very willing to allow me a photo shoot of my very own.

The common hippopotamus, or hippo, is a large, mostly herbivorous, semiaquatic mammal and ungulatenative to sub-Saharan Africa. It is one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae, the other being the pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis). The name comes from the ancient Greek for "river horse". After the elephant and rhinoceros, the common hippopotamus is the third-largest type of land mammal and the heaviest extant artiodactyl. Despite their physical resemblance to pigs and other terrestrial even-toed ungulates, the closest living relatives of the Hippopotamidae are cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises, etc.) from which they diverged about 55 million years ago.

Common hippos are recognisable by their barrel-shaped torsos, wide-opening mouths revealing large canine tusks, nearly hairless bodies, columnar legs and large size; adults average 1,500 kg (3,310 lb) and 1,300 kg (2,870 lb) for males and females respectively. Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it is capable of running 30 km/h (19 mph) over short distances.

We then continued down to Durban where we will be staying with Jhanet’s family (Danie & Bev)

9 D Hotman Pl

Arrived just in time for a nice thunder storm and settled in for a nice evening of visiting.

I’m very much looking forward to our next few days exploring the cultural side of South Africa.


Today was our (my) first day exploring Durban. We all piled into the car and headed to Shongweni farmers and craft \240market in the Valley of a thousand hills.

I enjoyed seeing all of the foods and had to sample a few.

Vetkoek- yeasted dough that is fried and filled with various fillings (either sweet or savory)


Curry spiced pineapple.

Small doughnuts

Danie and I sampling some hot chilli sauce. Not really that great, a little two watery for me.

I keep trying the cheese but the reality is South Africa is not known for their cheese making.

After the market we travel to Chantecler. This is a hotel where Jhanet trained fully as a chef over 18 years ago.

She toured me around and met some old friends who were still there. It was really nice to finally see a place that was such a key influence to Jhanet’s life in the past.

This peacock was showing off for everyone.

Unfortunately the chef school has closed and the entire place has seen better days.

Norbert the owner lives in Dubai and has just brought Betty back after many years to try to turn things around. It’s still a stunning place but I was sad to see Jhanet face as she saw what it had become.

It was great see Betty’s surprise when she saw Jhanet though. She immediately tried to convince Jhanet to come back as the head chef.

After a quick break at home we went to Danie’s work. He runs the Durban Port Control, South Africa’s largest port. He arranged for us a tour heading out into the port on various boats. (well for me, since this was something Jhanet has done many times as a child)

All the ships requesting entry into the harbor have to be piloted (steered) by Durban Port pilots. That requires tug and pilot boats to transfer the pilots to the ships. We jumped on a tug boat to drop Ian (a pilot) off on a large tanker ship to steer it out of the harbor.

Our safety briefing......not so much (bit of a laugh really)

The tanker below.

On the bridge of the tug boat

Ian making his accent onto the ship.

The tug then pulled the ship into position and Ian steered it out of the harbor.

After that we were deposited onto a quay and then the pilot boat came to pick us up. (Definitely no H&S going on here)

The pilot boat below.

What a unique experience. Definitely not your average tourist tour. Very lucky to have experience this in South Africa. \240

Ian the pilot.


Today began with Jhanet taking me around to where she grew up, houses she lived in and the schools she attended as a youth.

Its really is amazing to see the differences between how I grew up and how Jhanet did.

State school below- grades 6-12

She also showed me some townships and some various other areas around Durban.

We then joined up with Danie and Bev and they were really interested in showing us the newly opened boulevard along the Durban coast.

Had to get some milkshakes along the way.

I thought this menu was great.

Zulu rickshaws

Then we stopped off at a local conservation area near their home and captured some interesting photos.

This is a nest of some unknown bird that I liked, fastened to the cattails

This wonderful little dragon fly was a good poser while I’m trying to learn the faster shutter on the camera

Vervet monkeys

They are also called blueballs (for obvious reasons)

Tonight we were assigned to make dinner for everyone. We made Bunny Chow (it’s a South African, Durban thing) which is basically a vegetable curry (usually made with meat) in a bun (almost like a bread bowl)

I made the buns and Jhanet made the curry.

and Danie was somewhere in the middle.

Tala Collection Game Reserve

Today was my opportunity to see Rhino’s to complete The BIG Five. We headed to Tala Private Game Reserve which is a wildlife sanctuary located in the hills of a farming community, close to the city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Saw a few new birds in the reserve. Below is a Long Crested Eagle

It’s super hot today and all of the animals were trying to cool of in anyway possible, including my first Rhinoceroses


In 2014 the founder of RAVE approached the Tala management asking if they needed assistance with regards to the security of the Rhino and wildlife at the reserve. This was as a result of the attack and senseless killing and de-horning of two female white rhino’s and a third female white rhino being de-horned and left for dead. After intensive medical assistance this rhino has survived and is still on the reserve at Tala. An opportunity was seen to merge and upgrade conservation efforts with the reserves existing anti-poaching unit and so with the assistance of four other directors that come from extensive military and police backgrounds and expertise, they got together and started RAVE in order to assist Tala in protecting their rhinos and wildlife against the senseless killings, injuries and de-horning in their natural environment.

As part of the efforts the Rhinos on our reserve have been dehorned, we believe that it's valuable to have living species without horns or none at all.

You can see the female de-horned Rhino with a her young calf above.

Common Ostrich

Red-veined Dropwing

Belanogaster juncea is a typical quasisocial paper wasp from sub-saharan Africa and south-western Asia. It is the type species for the genus Belonogaster.

Southern Red Bishop

Giraffe (this boy above was just massive)

Blue Wildebeast



Christmas Day (feels a little like 4th of July to me with this weather)

Farther Christmas made an appearance this morning

I’m showing Danie & Bev the Maple Syrup process on my tablet.

The glazed Gammon roast with pineapple and cherries for the feast this afternoon.

Finishing up the final touches for dinner. Carving the apricot & pork stuffed chicken.

We travelled to Linda’s (Bev’s sisters) to meet many many family members. Below is Danie & Duncan monitoring the meat for the feast. This is a BBQ unit designed by Duncan, in which he added an oven to. A lamb and beef joint is cooking away in there, fired by wood.

On the menu: roast gammon, chicken, lamb, beef, curried beans, salad, corn bread, garlic bread, creamy mushroom sauce, gravy and Linda’s special savory rice. We skipped dessert.

At about 3pm we travelled to Didima Camp in the Drakensberg where we will be spending the night before we start our trek.

Didima is neighbored by the thukela region, Monk’s cowl and Lesotho and lies in the Maloti Drakensberg Park which is 32 000 hectares in extent.

Didama Camp is inspired by the San people. The accommodation is styled to symbolize the cave-dwellings of the San people who once dwelt in these mountains and left a \240priceless legacy of rock art.

Didima Camp Cathedral Peak

After a bit of a slow start finalizing permits, finding safe parking and putting the last touches to our packs we were off for our trek. Our plan was to do the Bell Traverse via Cathedral Peak. It’s not a very long route but as we soon found out it had its challenges.

It was so hot out! Yikes

Last bit of shade we saw for most of the day

Didima Camp / Cathedral Hotel in the valley below.

As we continued up we heard a warning call - then we saw him.... a large male baboon calling his troop to him because we were trespassing in his territory. He is just below were I am standing watching our every move.

This was the last water stop (which we did not immediately realize) but being good hikers we filled up everything we had - just in case

After a while we came to a junction where we had to make a decision. Keep climbing up to Orange Peel Gap towards Cathedral Peak or camp below and try to find some water. This landscape is magnificent but there are actually no flat tenting spaces anywhere. We decided to shoot off on a side trail and camp at the bottom of the gorge and hopefully find some water.

The koppie foam grasshopper or rooibadjie. It’s name derives from it’s ability to produce a toxic foam due to the poisons it derives from it’s diet, such as milkweed plants.

We made it to the bottom of the gorge and alas the river was dry. So we continued on and got off trail slightly......after a spell of \240bushwhacking nightmare we regained the path and headed back to the dry riverbed and got our knifes out to clear a space for the tent.

After we set up camp....Jhanet headed down the dry riverbed in search of water and amazingly found a wonderful pool. She camp back to get me and we were able to wash in glorious cool water.

Making dinner for the evening. The cool bath was such a treat after a long day on the trail. We will reassess our route tomorrow as it is proving more difficult than expected with the lack of water available this time of year.

Cathedral Peak Hotel

After a nice nights sleep we awoke to a glorious sunrise, despite the rain spell we had over the night.

After all of the bush-whacking last night we actually ended up with a pretty nice tent site. It had a wee slope so we woke with our feet against the foot of the tent-comfortably

Stunning Drakensberg Mountains

Jhanet’s pool was occupied already.

Watching her every move

When we returned from the pool we had a visitor. Rock Hyrax / Dassie. We heard a warning call, but couldn’t see anything. Until he came out stalking us with direct eye contact and teeth showing. If looks could kill, we would have been dead on the spot!

This animal is common throughout the Drakensberg up to 2600m. They live in colonies of up to 40 animals. Dassies are grazers but also browse.

Nice camouflage

The trail was quite narrow, overgrown heavily in some parts and contoured all along the steep slopes of the mountains. Constant concentration was required, but still spectacular.

Drakensberg cycad- often described as living fossils’ as they have survived two million years relatively unchanged. All South Africa’s cycad species are threatened and are strictly protected. They are also known as the “fire and ice” as it withstands both veld fires and the freezing winters.

Another junction=another decision. We continue on for another 4km to a gully with the hopes of water and flatness for a campsite or we continue the same distance in the direction of the hotel, with the chance of finding a camping spot along the way....

We chose heading towards the hotel as storm clouds were building

Carrying the extra water and weight, necessary but unwanted.

There was a definitive green line in the grasslands that stretched for several miles and even after a closer look, we couldn’t quite pinpoint as to why

The storm is brewing in the background

We stopped off on One Tree Hill- one type of tree-Protea for a spot of lunch. The only time Mac ‘n Cheese tastes so good.

Lipped Protea

As we arrived near the hotel the rain started. We checked into Didima camp and had a nice rest and shower. Then the thunder and lightning made an appearance. This time lapse above showed the clouds lowering. We were planning on being out in the backcountry longer but a smart decision kept us safe and definitely cleaner😋

Didima Camp Cathedral Peak

Today we awoke to pouring rain and heavy clouds. We decided to take a rest day and just hang around Didima for the day.

First we checked out the Rock Art \240Center/museum.

It was really done well and we learned all about the history of the San people that once occupied this land.

The San, or Bushmen, are indigenous people in Southern Africa particularly in what is now South Africa and Botswana. Their ancient rock paintings and carvings are found in caves and on rock shelters. The artwork depicts non-human beings, hunters, and half-human half-animal hybrids. The half-human hybrids are believed to be medicine men or healers involved in a healing dance.”

Then for the afternoon we had Baboons for entertainment.

She is very pregnant!

And here is the father!

Dinokeng Game Reserve

This was captured by Jhanet in the very early morning outside of our chalet.

This mornings plan was to head towards Johannesburg and find a camping area possibly in a nature reserve. We found Dinokeng Game Reserve (about an hour north of the city) and found Kyleu Bush Camp.

Camping with an ablution (new to me) very private spot with a toilet, shower and running hot water. Very nice😋

First thing we did was make dinner. Can’t go wrong with black beans, corn and all the other fixings + Misses Balls Chutney (it’s a South Africa thing?)

Then we strolled around a little, being mindful that this camping site is completely at our own risk as this reserve contains the Big 5 and we are in an un-fenced area. Translated - we could get eaten at any moment 🤭

As Jhanet was gathering fire wood she came across a water divining rod (wish we had that in the Drakensberg)

What a spectacular sunset we had!

Then it was fire time! Can’t wait for the game drive tomorrow and then hopefully some clear sky’s in the evening for some stargazing (which has been very elusive this trip)

Dinokeng Game Reserve

Here is our Bush Camp we found yesterday. We had a nice night sleeping to the grunts of Lions and a variety of other loud birds and insects.

We then were off for a self driven safari around Dinokeng Reserve. Below are some of the animals we saw.


Cattle Egret

Tsessebe & Egret

Burchell’s Zebra

Blue Headed Dragon

Male Common Ostrich

Red-billed Hornbill

Blue Wildebeest

Banded Mongoose (momma & baby)

Daddy Mongoose

Female Kudu

Female Giraffe and baby

Mom & Dad

Another beautiful sunset to mark the end of the day.

Playing with some astrophotography tonight, need much darker sky’s and more knowledge 😊


As I was packing away the tent this morning, Jhanet noticed this guy making a comfortable home beneath. Hummmm.....best not to think about this to closely.

The common yellow scorpion, it’s venomous and the African specimens sting can be fatal.

Our plan after packing up was to head towards Johannesburg to spend the evening at Lisa & JP’s (Jhanet’s cousin) On the way we stopped at the Cullinan Diamond Mine.

The Premier Mine is an underground diamond mine owned by Petra Diamonds in the town of Cullinan, 40 kilometres (25 mi) east of Pretoria, Gauteng Province, South Africa. Established in 1902, it was renamed the Cullinan Diamond Mine in November 2003 in celebration of its centenary. The mine rose to prominence in 1905, when the Cullinan Diamond – the largest rough diamond of gem quality ever found – was discovered there. The mine has produced over 750 stones that are greater than 100 carats (20 g) and more than a quarter of all the world's diamonds that are greater than 400 carats (80 g). It is also the only significant source of blue diamonds in the world.

The carrot shaped pipe with a volcanic neck is considered to be the largest kimberlite pipe in the region. The surface area of the mine is 32ha and the dimensions of the hole: 3280 ft(l), 1312ft(w)

The mine has 3 shafts that go underground and each shaft has an ore collector. On average the mine uses 872810m³ water a month.

Storing silos for rock prior to processing. These silos store 8000tn and 5000tn of ore each. There are two more silos like this, underground.

The mine currently use a total of 151 conveyor belts with a planned reduction to 22 belts, once the new plant is in operation.

Nearly 43% of rocks are extracted to carry out the mining operation.

The diamonds are removed from site, via helicopter.

The Cullinan Diamond is the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found, at 3,106.75 carats (621.350 g). It was found by Frederick Wells, surface manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company in Cullinan, Gauteng, South Africa, on 25 January 1905. The stone was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the diamond mine.

There have been various other notable diamonds that have been recovered from Premier Mine. These include:

  • The Premier Rose – 353 carats (70.6 g) rough
  • The Niarchos – 426 carats (85.2 g) rough
  • The De Beers Centenary – 275 carats (55.0 g) rough
  • Golden Jubilee Diamond – 755 carats (151.0 g) rough
  • Taylor-Burton Diamond – 69 carats (13.8 g) polished

The Cullinan Heritage—507 carats (101.4 g) rough—was recovered from the same mine. In February 2010, it was sold for USD 35.3 million. Until now, this is the highest price on record for a rough diamond.


Lisa & JP’s house

Today we decided to visit the Cradle of Humankind World Herage Site.

The paleoanthropological site self-proclaimed as the Cradle of Humankind is located about 50 km (31 mi) northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, in the Gauteng province. Declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999, the site currently occupies 47,000 hectares (180 sq mi) and contains a complex of limestone caves. The registered name of the site in the list of World Heritage sites is Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa. According to existing archaeological and fossil evidence, the Cradle of Humankind is the Horn of Africa and along with East Africa it is often referred to as the Cradle of Humanity.

The Sterkfontein Caves were the site of the discovery of a 2.3-million-year-old fossil Australopithecus africanus (nicknamed "Mrs. Ples"), found in 1947 by Robert Broom and John T. Robinson. The find helped corroborate the 1924 discovery of the juvenile Australopithecus africanus skull known as the "Taung Child", by Raymond Dart, at Taung in the North West Province of South Africa, where excavations still continue.

Sterkfontein alone has produced more than a third of early hominid fossils ever found prior to 2010. The Dinaledi Chamber contains over 1,500 H. naledi fossils, the most extensive discovery of a single hominid species ever found in Africa

After a long day at the cradle of human kind and caves, we headed back to Lisas’ place for a spot of lunch/ dinner. We were hoping to shower before heading out to the airport, but when we reached the house, there was no water, due to a burst pipe. Apparently a regular occurence.

This wraps up our South African exploration. Amazing to see and experience where Jhanet grew up. Also saw some wonderful animals along the way.