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Archive for South Africa / Wildlife

Alpaca Loom farm visit

At the weekend Dave and I took a trip to Alpaca Loom, a local working fibre farm near Paarl, with a herd of hundreds of alpacas (and a few rogue llamas, camels, horses and donkeys in the mix too!)

We got to handfeed the beautiful alpacas and see all the adorable newborn crias (babies) playing. There’s nothing like looking into an alpaca’s huge dark eyes and feeling its hot breath on your hand as it delicately snuffles up grains with its soft mouth…

June handfeeding an alpaca

At the Alpaca Loom, they process the alpaca fibre from start to finish on site in the traditional way, from shearing, to hand-spinning the fibre into yarn, to weaving the yarn into fabric using floor and table looms.

Take a look at a few more of my photos in the gallery below:

I also couldn’t resist buying some (unprocessed) silky soft fine alpaca fleece for… spinning? needlefelting? art weaving? I’m not sure yet, but I’m looking forward to making something with this gorgeous fibre – you can definitely expect some alpaca-fibre craft posts from me in the coming months 🙂


And, if you’d like to make your own gorgeous Alpaca, try my bestselling Alpaca crochet pattern! (I made my dark brown alpaca with real alpaca yarn and it’s so soft and snuggly!)

alpaca crochet pattern by planetjune

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South Africa wildlife X: Kruger Safari

I have lots of safari photos to share with you today, from our trip back in July. Of all my experiences in South Africa, this is the one I’d been most looking forward to; Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and is as large as some European countries! In our short visit, we saw only a tiny fraction of the park and still it was more amazing than anything I could have imagined – we saw dozens of different animals and birds, including all of the Big Five and lots more.

Kruger National Park and Cape Town, South Africa
Kruger is about 1800km (1100 miles) as the crow flies from Cape Town – South Africa is a big country!

I’ve taken quite a few of these selfies this year, with me looking dishevelled and slightly delirious at having such a wondrous wildlife experience:

me with wild elephants at Kruger National Park!

Can you see the reason for my delight, over my shoulder? (Keep reading and you can share my excitement – I have close-up photos and even a little video to share with you…)

So now let’s move onto my proper photos; I’ve spent months trying to choose from over 3000 so I could show you a reasonable number! These galleries have left out a lot, but I hope they give you a taste of the real wild Africa. I’ve split the galleries so you can click into the groups you’re interested in, to see the full-size photos, and skip any you aren’t…

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Hawaii wildlife

The natural world is amazing and varied, and there’s nothing like seeing parts of it first-hand, but I hope my photos will give you a small taste of that excitement! Every time I’m lucky enough to travel, it fills me with new inspiration and appreciation for nature.

June and sea turtle in Hawaii
Me with a green sea turtle – an overwhelming dream-come-true experience

I didn’t think I’d ever be able to top the thrill of seeing orangutans in their native environment of Borneo, but my sea turtle-spotting adventure in Hawaii last month may have just done it!

I took over 3000 photos on this trip and couldn’t force myself to narrow it down to just a dozen of the best. Instead, I’ve set up a few themed galleries in this post (scenery, turtles, lizards, misc wildlife) so you can enjoy any subjects that interest you without being bored by the rest 🙂

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British Wildlife in Spring

There’ll always be a special place in my heart for UK wildlife, and Britain in springtime is especially lovely. I’ve just got back from visiting my parents, and I thought I’d share a few British wildlife photos with you – a change of pace from my usual African pics!

Ahh, a glade of bluebells – the quintessential sign of spring in British woodlands:

ukwildlife_bluebells

My all-time favourite British bird, a happy robin:

ukwildlife_robin

A wild bunny in a field (straight out of Watership Down):

ukwildlife_rabbit

A cheeky wood pigeon gobbling up pretty cherry blossoms:

ukwildlife_woodpigeon_cherryblossom

And, best of all – my first ever photo of a red squirrel! I just love their gorgeous colouring and tufted ears. (This is a wild squirrel, by the way – it was just eating nuts from a squirrel feeder.)

ukwildlife_redsquirrel

Whenever I post photos of South African wildlife, I get comments saying “you’re so lucky; there’s no interesting wildlife where I live”. I’d like to dispute that – everywhere I’ve lived (various places in the UK, three cities in Canada, and of course here in Cape Town) I’ve enjoyed photographing my local wildlife. It may not always be as ‘exciting’ as zebras and flamingos, but, as I hope you can see from the above photos, that doesn’t make them any less interesting, or enjoyable to watch out for. Even in cities, there are parks and wilder areas, and venturing out into the local countryside is a great way to look for photo opportunities when you have time (and, as an added bonus, getting out into nature is good for your physical and mental health too).

If you just take the time to look, I bet there are always some birds or animals you could try to spot and/or photograph fairly close to home…

I hope you’ve enjoyed my photos, and that this post will inspire you to keep your eyes open and enjoy the wildlife that lives on your doorstep 🙂

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South Africa wildlife IX: Ceres and Sutherland

Just before Christmas, Dave spent a week working at one of the big telescopes at Sutherland, 400km from Cape Town. I decided to take a road trip to meet him out there and bring him home for Christmas. I thought you might like to see more of the South African landscape and wildlife, so I documented what I could for you to enjoy too!

The drive was lovely and I saw some amazing animals along the way – baboons, pelicans, blue cranes, lizards, and various birds of prey and brightly-coloured songbirds – but it’s not easy to take photos of moving targets while driving! By the time I’d stopped the car (when I could), the wildlife had run or flown away. In fact, the only animal I managed to photograph en route was a slow-moving baby tortoise…  But the scenery is pretty spectacular too, and I did get some nice wildlife pics once I reached the observatory.

Sutherland, Ceres and Cape Town

This doesn’t look like a massive road trip on the scale of the size of the whole country, but it goes through farmland, mountains, and semi-desert, and both the scenery and weather change completely as you go.

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    June Gilbank

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