Shooting with the lens at Kruger

Day 11:

Skukuza Rest Camp

We got up early in the morning at 4 am, so as to hop on to our sunrise game drive at 5am. All thanks to an American couple that we were able to spot a leopard in the dark with help of the spotlights. When we used the other spotlights to inspect the spot again, we saw his eyes shine as if he was watching us with those blood red eyes from behind a bush. As the daylight set in we next spotted a rhino happily resting very near to the road, we got some pretty cool shots.IMG_3747We then went to the same spot where the previous night we had spotted lions. They were gone! As we started to go back the American couple again spotted them, they were far away, and we could only see them well with the binoculars, the clubs were jumping. Making merry! And so were we! 3 of the big 5, an hour into the drive! The rest of the drive was uneventful but cold and windy and we were snuggling in our blankets.
As we came back, we got ready for our drive to Satara rest camp which was to be our next stop. We drove at 30-40 km per hour and this helped us spot a lot of animals and birds. Of the many we spotted were the wild buffalo, so our list was complete now! 5 out of the big 5! IMG_3783All captured through the lens. Now that we were driving on our own we could wait and watch the animals at our own leisure. We could now enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the impalas we were regularly spotting. From the look of it, they did seem scared as any vehicle approached. We also saw wild pigs, 3 of them, running behind each other, we guessed they were playing around. We saw Nyalas, along the road, a group of them. As we drove ahead we saw a car which had halted before us, we looked around but didn’t see any animal. As I looked at the driver, an old uncle, he pointed out at the road ahead, a tortoise was crossing the path. What a sight! Funny but absolutely cute! We saw many tortoises on the way and overtook some of them and halted for some to cross the road. IMG_3776.JPGNext to be spotted were antelopes, a big group of them. We then came to a water reserve, at the distant end of which we saw zebras and wild Buffaloes. This got me excited, as I find zebras to be one of the most gorgeous animals! I excited clicked pics but to my dismay they were very far to give me a decent shot. As we drove on we saw many more zebras and they were close enough for us to get some nice pictures.IMG_3814
Next in line were giraffes, 4 of them, all males and one baby giraffe who was the cutest of the lot.
We drove on for a while and stopped after half an hour when we saw a lot of cars parked on the side of the road. There was a game drive vehicle too, the ranger told us there was a pride of lions ahead! As we took the viewing spot, with the help of the binoculars we saw a pride of 9 lions with 2 clubs!  10 mins later we again saw elephants, 10 of them. 2 were playing with each other,  attacking each other head on.
We were then stopped by this couple from Brazil. They were inquiring our spottings and were trying to find out what lay ahead of them. We exchanged our experiences with them and drove on. We again reached a water reserve and what we saw there was the highlight of that day. There was a lioness who was drinking water off the reserve.IMG_3833 We enjoyed the sight for nearly half an hour, took pictures and drove off only when she decided to doze off and didn’t show much of activity. As we were nearing Satara we met a few monkeys and antelopes on the way. IMG_3864
We then reached our rest camp and retired for the day only to wake up at 6 pm and to go for a short walk to the restaurant. On our way back, Anurag pointed to the sky and all we did was look at the sky in amazement. Such a clear sky with the stars shining away to glory! We had last seen something similar and spectacular  in the Sahara desert. We held hands and walked back to our room happy and content, thankful to God for helping us experience these wonders of nature.
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BUNGEE from Bloukran’s Bridge: world’s highest commercial bungy bridge

Day 5 : Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Bloukran’s Bridge

Knysna

We got up early in the morning and walked to the Knysna waterfront to find out about the places to explore.

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At Knysna Waterfront

Apparently what was a must-see were the Knysna Heads and the lagoon. The Heads comprise of two limestone cliffs that guard the entrance to the lagoon from the surging Indian ocean.

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Western Head

At the waterfront we found out that the Featherbed excursion tickets to the Western Head were for 340 pp for 45 mins, which didn’t seem worth, so we drove to the Eastern Head where we got spectacular views and pictures from the viewing points. The ocean seemed endless and the city formed a beautiful background

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At the view point

And from Up there it  seemed as if the 2 heads were guarding the city from the daunting ocean. IMG_3540

Plettenberg Bay
Our next stop was Plettenberg bay, where we refueled the car and met this service guy at the petrol station, who excited inquired about the IPL, and wondered why we were in South Africa, when all the attention was on the Indian IPL. He suggested us to go to the Robberg Nature Reserve which is a World Heritage Site. We drove 8-9kms to reach there, the  entry fee to the reserve was ZAR 40 pp. IMG_3570We hiked along the Robberg peninsula for 3-3.5 hours, it was quite a well maintained trail, though not as challenging as Kheerganga but nevertheless fun. We took the shorter route. IMG_3554We hiked to the Witsand sand dune and down to The Island. We were able to spot many seals on the way, which was quite an exciting site. But what was even better was the view from the top of the sand dune. It was one of the most beautiful sites of our trip so far.The pictures would do more justice than any words I use to explain. IMG_3596We then hurriedly climbed the Rocky Mountains back to the exit.
I was exhausting but a lot of fun.
Bloukran

Post the hike, after half an hours drive we finally reached- Bloukran’s Bridge: world’s highest commercial bungy bridge! I coaxed Anurag into bungy jumping with me because I was shit scared. Petrified, to be true! And ofcourse, I wanted to us to experience it together. It costed us ZAR 890 pp.

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Bloukran’s Bridge

They briefed us about the whole thing, got us to sign the consent forms and made us wear the harness. They then took us through this small caged walkway underneath the Bloukran’s bridge which was made of a mesh, to reach the middle of the bridge from where we had to JUMP. You could look down and see the valley below! A sight I can only imagine because I didn’t have the courage to do that. Confession: I’m scared of heights. Had I set my eyes on the valley, I would have freaked out. I prayed to God, yearned to speak to my mom who was miles away. Seeked assurance from Anurag a hundred times. I was 3 rd in line. And as I type this my hands tremble.

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Getting ready to take the plunge

They tied this Velcro around my legs. Secured it with ropes and finally took me to the edge. As I stood there, on the edge, I begged and pleaded with them that I wasn’t prepared. I was on verge of tears. I just couldn’t do it. I just froze. They told me I had no other choice, I had do it. But I was just too scared. They got me even more closer to the edge… I was thinking was it head first or was I supposed to jump flat. What the hell was I doing on the top of a bridge, in a foreign island? This was a very very bad idea ..they just counted till 3, gave me a gentle push… And said BUNGY!

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Just before the jump

I shut my eyes and just leapt off the bridge, with upper body first and I just let gravity take control. I had absolutely no choice. What I felt was a few seconds of weightlessness and as if my heart stopped beating for a while. For a moment the freefall made me feel that they had forgotten to tie my ankle supports to the bungy rope and I was going to go straight down. Midway down I opened my eyes and saw myself hanging in the middle of a beautiful but very deep valley. I gave Anurag a big thumbs up, he was watching me on the screen. I gave myself thumbs up.. For finally having been so stupid to have done this. After the exhilaration got over, I realized I was hanging upside down, and I started to feel that the Velcro and the ropes around my legs were starting give way, they were slipping, I was going to go down in the valley, it was slipping. I hoped someone would come rescue me ASAP. I was panicking a little, and looking down at the amazing site both at the same time. A few seconds into this confused state of mind and one of the Face Adernaline guys came to retrieve me. I breathed a sign of relief. I hadn’t been so happy to see someone as I was seeing this strange but angelic guy, in a long long time. They pulled me up, to the top. Anurag came running, and worriedly and excitedly asked me how it was? All I could say was: Awesome but petrifying!

It was Anurag’s turn after sometime, I knew he would ace it. He is daring as well as a darling. I’m a chicken. He leapt off the bridge with his eyes OPEN and started waving his hand as he got down.

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Thst’s how you Bungee! Fearless!

He thoroughly enjoyed it. Not that I didn’t, but no jokes,I was petrified!  Ask me if I would do it again: NO! Never again. Even if I had to, I would still do it with my eyes closed. Haha.

On an average, the Face Adrenaline people get around 40-50 bungee jumpers, in high tourist season about a hundred! To what extend do we humans go to, just to make our adrenaline levels soar! (More about it in our blog about our travel to Dubai and Atlantis Aquaventure)
After having our share of adrenaline boost, we drove to Jeffrey’s Bay and covered the distance by 5.30 pm, watched a little bit of IPL and then retired for the day.

Manikaran & Mystical Malana

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Manikaran

Day 4

Manikaran
The next morning, from village Tosh we walked to Barshani and took the bus to Manikaran, which is famous for the hot spring and various temples and gurudwara there. We first visited the temple and then the very famous Gurudwara, after taking blessing from there, we sat down to have Langar which apparently is prepared from the hot spring water. It was one of the best meals we had during the entire trip.
Mystical MalanaIMG_3133
After the Langar we ran to catch the bus from Manikaran to Jari, which is the entry point to Malana. At Jari, we took a cab to Malana which took us on the broken roads, through tunnels, it was indeed a ‘jumpy’ ride. When we reached atop,IMG_3140 we were told that it was again an hour long trek to Malana. I gave up! I sat at a tea stall and waited for Anurag to trek up to village so that he could take some pictures and unveil the mystery of ‘malanese being untouchable’. When he reached half way up to the village, he shouted my name from up there, which was the ‘highlight’ of my Malana trip. Haha
About the ‘untouchable’ story. Apparently, a young malanese lad did warn Anurag not to touch him, else he would be liable to punishment or fine. IMG_3156Also, a local priest inquired about his caste, his vegetarian status and whether he took alcohol or smoked; after being satisfied by the answers he told him that he qualified to touch the village walls, malanese people but not the temples.
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As I waited for Anurag and chatted with fellow tourist, I again heard the cannabis stories and that of the Malana cream, being the best  in the world.
We then started our journey back to Bhuntar from Malana. After waiting for an hour, we boarded our bus to Delhi, which loads of pictures stored in the camera, cannabis stories to recollect, Kheerganga trek to boast off,  and the memories of our adventures to look back on and bring those ‘satisfying’ smiles.

 

Tosh village: a paradise for all

Tosh village: a paradise for all!IMG_3013
The village has rich scenic beauty and of course a rich supply of cannabis. Nearly half of our day was spent in finding a hotel accommodation with ‘attached’ bathroom, you see I’m a luxury traveler! Haha. Apparently, there are only 2 hotels in the entire village which have rooms with  attached bathrooms. Sadly, My better half had to compromise on his ‘breathtaking’ view of the mountains in lieu of my choice of hotel and he unhappy did so!

 

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Amazing view of the mountains
We later interacted with the locals, heard their intriguing cannabis stories, IMG_3041and I gave a few inputs from my knowledge of ‘substance abuse’ in FMT( forensic medicine and toxicology). We strolled around the place, took pictures, sat and enjoyed the beautiful view. Wherever we went in the village, everyone offered us some hash/hashish and assured us that they had the best ‘product’ in the whole wide world. There were many groups of young tourists who were enjoying the trans musical, just sitting around, smoking! As if, this was ‘heaven’. This was a different place altogether.IMG_3108

 

Exploring Parvati valley

4 days
Places to be covered: Kasol, Kheerganga, Tosh, Manikaran and Malana village
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Parvati River
Our Holi getaway during the extended weekend was a trip to the ‘magical and mesmerising Parvati valley’. We took a Volvo in the evening from Delhi around 7pm and reached Bhuntar  in about 12hours, from there it was a short 40 mins ride to Kasol which was then buzzing with tourists, all thanks to the extended weekend.
In Kasol, we explored the nearby cafes and Israeli restaurants,IMG_2660

enjoyed breakfast at a cafe overlooking the Parvati river, went for a short trek to Chalal ,

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On the way to Chalal

strolled around the place, explored the flee market. What I enjoyed the most was our climb up on the top of a boulder and our short nap there,

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Our cozy moment

surrounded by huge mountains, some of them snow capped and some of them lush green, full of looming pine trees and the ‘musical and mystical’ sound of the Parvati river churning and frothing, underneath the clear blue sky.  That one hour was a complete bliss!

The Kheerganga trek
The next morning we took the bus to Barshani, to begin our 12 km trek to Kheerganga.

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At the start of the trek

Various blogs had described it as an ‘easy’ trek, but for me it was far from being easy, trekking my way up challenged every single muscle, joint, ligament and tendon of my body.

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On our way up

Most of all was the mental challenge of not looking back or down in the valley but to keep going on, there were many others on the way who overtook us and whom we overtook and some who were on their way back, they reassured us that it would get easy as we went ahead and that it was ‘definitely’ worth the effort.

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Beautiful waterfalls on the way

We crossed plenty of water falls, a few bridges, jumped over boulders, trekked our way up in the forests. And after all the complaining, muscle aches, haults, we finally reached Kheerganga at around 3.30pm!

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We finally reached Kheerganga!

Here, I must thank my better half for bearing with my constant complaints, my slow pace and my frequent requests for being photographed. I doubt, I could have done this without you, Anurag.

And what was our ‘reward’, the geo thermal spring water! After booking an accommodation at the Dharmshala, we went to take a bath in the hot spring. It was so warm and refreshing, it was magical and medicinal for our aching muscles. We did not want to come out of the small pool, but our empty bellies craved fuel so we went and sat at a nearby cafe and had food to our hearts content. Later half of the night was spent battling the cold, even after having been covered with two blankets. It started raining early in the morning and as we came out in the open we saw the mountains were covered with snow.

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Snow capped moutains

It was a breathtaking sight! We packed our bags and started our descent to Barshani around 8.30am, trekking down was more ‘painful’ than the ascent. At one point, I thought my knees were going to give way. My cruciate ligaments, ouch! But we kept going on, cheering each other and the fellow Trekkers on the way.

When we finally reached Barshani, we felt a sense of achievement of having been ‘there’, on the top!

 

Wah Taj!

IMG_2595Starting Time, Place: 7.30pm, Mathura

Time taken to reach Agra :1.40hours

We reached the city which houses one of the seven wonders of the World, later in the evening and crashed in bed to feel fresh and rejuvenated in the morning to witness the splendour of the monument of love, Taj Mahal.

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Our first horse carriage ride

Our visit to ‘the’ monument started with a short horse carriage ride to the entrance leading to the Taj Mahal.

As we entered through the Royal Gate, what lay ahead was a sight of complete splendor.

After having captured the Taj Mahal from all angles and having posed in all ‘our’ customary poses, we made sure we had enough pictures to update on the blog. Having done all that, we just stood in the awe of the beauty of Taj Mahal.

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Us 🙂

Our next stop: Vrindavan

Highlight: Holi celebrations at Bihariji ka Mandir

Mathura: Riot of Colours

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2 Days Trip

Places to visit: Mathura, Agra and Vrindavan

Starting time :6.30am, Delhi

Time taken to Reach Mathura: 2.30 hours approx

First stop: Sri Dwarkadheesh Mandir,Mathura

Having heard a lot about the colourful Holi celebrations which start about 10 days before the D-day in Brijbhumi, we decided to experience the festivities, first hand. After performing a few Pooja rituals at the nearby Vishram Ghat, we pushed our way into the temple.

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Rituals at Vishram Ghat

Yes, we literally ‘pushed’ our way through. The celebrations started around 10.30-11.00 am with devotional songs and dance. The priests then came armed with colours and gulal and threw them all over, creating a riot of colours.

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Happy Holi!
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Riot of colours
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Have colour? Will play!

Our next stop was Gokul, where Lord Krishen had spent his childhood. IMG_2504

After having heard the tales of his childhood wandering in the narrow street of Gokul and after having Rabri (an Indian sweet made with yogurt and flour) and lassi to our stomach and heart’s content, we then set out to witness Holi celebrations at Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi, Mathura.

The crowd was maddening at the Janambhoomi, with everyone singing and dancing. I don’t thing any cricket or football stadium can accommodate so many people as there were in that temple at that very moment. After much wait, the celebrations started and they created a fog of different colours atop of the temple. Then came the gopis and started playing Lathmar holi in which the females playfully beat men with sticks. It was a very different and wonderful experience.IMG_2484

Our next stop: Agra

Hightlight: Taj Mahal

A new beginning

imageSo this blog has come into existence to do justice to my super talented Husband’s travel photography and excellent  itieranary making skills. Travel and everything related to it, is his passion and there is never a dull moment with him around in any trip.

Oh! I forgot, this blog is not just about my wonderful husband but it’s rather about our travel discoveries and about our adventures and mis-adventures!

Welcome to our cozy place in this World Wide Web.

Let the adventures begin!