Posts Tagged ‘Boundary Waters’

MN Boundary Waters and North Carolina beaches, USA – July & Aug 2016

Giraffe are one of the many mammal species counted during the Singita Grumeti aerial survey in August

Giraffe are one of the mammal species counted during the Singita Grumeti Aerial Census in August

Every second year during the months of July and August, a Riparian Survey and Aerial Census is conducted across the 350,000 acre Singita Grumeti concession area. The counts are done from a helicopter with the Riparian Survey focusing on all the major drainage lines and river systems within the concession area. Species of key interest that are recorded during the survey include the black and white colobus monkey, vulture and marabou stork nests, bushbuck, lion and leopard.


Preparing to take off and begin the count

The Singita Grumeti Aerial Census follows directly after the Riparian Survey and follows a more conventional approach of flying transacts over the entire concession area in order to record all sightings of resident wildlife species to assess the overall population trends and health of the game reserve.

The results that emerged were encouraging overall with most wildlife species showing fairly stable or increasing populations. The elephant numbers were especially gratifying because this was the first count at Singita Grumeti to exceed 1,500 pachyderms and considering the way they have fared in the rest of Tanzania in recent years, these numbers provided irrefutable evidence of what a conservation anomaly and success story Singita Grumeti really is. The lion and leopard numbers were also the highest on record, suggesting a very healthy ecosystem.

Black and white colobus

Black and white colobus monkey on the move

A few species did reveal concerning trends that will require follow up research work in 2017. The number of marabou stork nests has collapsed for no obvious reason. We still see large numbers of these birds, so perhaps they have moved to new nesting sites outside of the concession or perhaps their nesting/breeding time has shifted slightly? Roan numbers also remain perilously low and a dedicated masters research study starting in 2017 should hopefully shed light on why these beautiful antelope are not faring too well. The populations of most other species surveyed remain healthy and robust.

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A handsome leopard spotted from the helicopter during the Singita Grumeti Riparian Survey

A handsome leopard spotted from the helicopter during the Singita Grumeti Riparian Survey


Boundary Waters and Figure Eight Island, USA – August 2016

We took our usual family holiday to America during the month of August. Undoubtedly, the two highlights here were spending a week in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota and a family escape to a beach house on Figure Eight Island in North Carolina.

Paddling across a glassy lake at sunrise

Paddling across a glassy lake at sunrise

The Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Area – – encompasses over a million acres of protected lakes and river systems. The Boundary Waters is in fact part of a far larger wilderness area that extends into the wider Lake Superior National Forest and up into Canada’s Quetico National Park in Ontario. Once you have acquired an inexpensive permit, you can quite literally lose yourself in this magnificent North American aquatic wilderness for weeks or even months. Simple campsites on the edge of lakes have a pit latrine toilet and fireplace. You need to pack everything else in and back out with you. This provides the recipe for an active nature experience second to none.

Enjoying a classic Boundary Waters sunset

Enjoying a classic Boundary Waters sunset

We left the boys with their grandparents in Saint Peter and Katherine and I escaped into this canoe wilderness for a week. It was our fourth foray into the Boundary Waters and it didn’t disappoint… Paddling on glassy lakes and rivers, off-the-beaten-track wilderness camping, a real chance to reconnect with my wife, spectacular sunsets and lots of downtime to catch up on sleep!!

I would unreservedly recommend the Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Area to any and every nature enthusiast who enjoys active multi-day excursions into expansive wilderness areas and camping in the great outdoors.

The final stop on our American sojourn for 2016 was a weeklong trip down to the spectacular and exclusive Figure Eight Island – – near Wilmington on the coast of North Carolina. We spent a weekend catching up with the Penry family and then stayed on for the week at their idyllic beach house. It was quality family time for the four of us with a typical day seeing us go for a run around the island first thing in the morning, followed by a swim and a morning beach session, then lunch at the pool and naps followed by the afternoon beach session and ice creams before finishing off in the evening with a braai and few cold local beers. It was heavenly.

Quality family beach time playing in the tidal pools of Figure Eight Island

Quality family beach time hanging out and playing in the tidal pools of Figure Eight Island

Catching Up with Faraway Family, USA & UK – June 2013

A thunderous five-minute hail storm turns the Sea Point Promenade snow-white

A thunderous five-minute hail storm turns Beach Road and the Sea Point Promenade snow-white

The month of June got off to a promising start with a couple of cover features hitting the shelves in SA 4×4 (×4-Southeast-Namibia-Final.pdf) and Wild magazine ( Initial feedback has been very pleasing.

Catching up with Dom in London

Catching up with Dom in London

With Cape Town experiencing some unseasonably brutal early winter weather – not to mention freak hailstorms – it was with some relief that I climbed aboard my American Airlines flight to Minneapolis to join my wife and in-laws for a ten-day getaway in the USA.  This year’s visit was a whirlwind tour that included an exciting Minnesota Twins vs Chicago White Sox baseball game, an informative and boozy Summit micro-brewery tour, my first bluegrass music concert at the zoo, regular Mississippi cycling excursions and a long weekend away boating on the idyllic lakes around Brainerd.  Summertime in Minnesota really is unbeatable.

From America, we headed to the UK to visit my sisters and brother-in-laws in London.  But it was the newest addition to the family – my nephew Dominic – that was the underlying catalyst for our Southfields visit.  He’s a classic little guy with a big smile and plenty of energy.  It was great to meet Dom and catch up with the family, but the other highlight of our London stopover was taking my wife and sisters on a tour of my old school. We spent a fun-filled Sunday walking around Harrow-on-the-Hill, exploring my old stomping grounds at Harrow School before finishing off with a tasty lunch at the Doll’s House tea garden.

So, after taking much of June off to visit my far-flung family, July sees me heading ‘back to the grindstone’ with a couple of exciting-sounding assignments on the cards – foremost among these is a 4×4 adventure to explore the full complement of Maputaland game reserves in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Bring it on…

A sizable family gathering in London with young Dom proving the main attraction!

A fun-filled family gathering in the UK with my young nephew proving that he can really pull a crowd

Minnesota and the Boundary Waters, USA – August 2011

After many months on the road, August was a month to regroup, chase deadlines and catch up on a growing backlog of unwritten stories. Saint Paul, Minnesota, provided the ideal base from which to work and simultaneously enjoy the superb summer weather and legendary hospitality of the Midwest.

After three weeks burning the midnight oil and writing like a demon, I felt that I had my head above water once more, so I took the last week off  to celebrate and headed with family to the Boundary Waters: one of my favourite place in all of America.

Located in northeastern Minnesota and spanning the international border into Ontario, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) comprises a million acres of wilderness with over 1,000 pristine lakes and streams, as well as more than 1,500 miles of canoe routes to entertain adventurous visitors.

The BWCA ( offers nature lovers a genuine wilderness experience without motors, electricity, telephone connectivity or road access to the inner lakes. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful wilderness area in North America and this brazen claim was bolstered when National Geographic named it on its prestigious list of Fifty Destinations of a Lifetime. In other words, a multi-day canoe trip through the wilds of northern Minnesota is an adventure you don’t want to miss out on.

We paddled through a maze of picturesque interlinking lakes and camped next to the water in this incredible wilderness area, as we traced a long elliptical route from Snowbank Lake northeast to Knife Lake on the Canadian border before curving back south to reach our take-out point a week later. En route we appreciated fiery sunsets, sighted moose, marmots and bald eagles, not to mention plenty of evidence of bears.  It was an epic aquatic journey through a tranquil wilderness of true solitude and the perfect place to kick back, unwind and drink in the natural beauty all around us.

Change is rapidly approaching as August draws to a close.  Early next month Katherine heads to northern Kenya on a six week consultancy contract to work on drinking water systems for the refugee camps in the drought ravaged horn of Africa, while I fly directly to South Africa to find us a new home, car and jobs. After five months of near-continuous travel, it’s time to hang up our boots and settle into the next exciting chapter of our life together in Cape Town. No doubt exciting times lie just around the corner…

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