2002 - Folorodwe, South Africa
December 4th 2002 brought us to South Africa, a country with which I always felt a strong affinity due to its strong Irish connections. It was strange driving around the countryside with its Irish place names. I remember the film Zulu as a child and was thrilled to meet these people after all these years. We were treated to a number of Zulu cultural encounters which proved fascinating.
We also had a chance to stay with real Afrikaaners who gave us a great welcome and made us feel totally at home. Many thanks are due to William Raats of Afri Zulu Tours and Frik Le Roux from African Itch for their help in organising this fabulous trip. We are also grateful to Ross Kruger,our driver, who looked after us like we were his own children.
Eclipse day was totally cloudy. We were with a large group of international eclipse chasers at Folorodwe near Tshipise. Right in the middle of the site was a large Baobab tree, an omen perhaps?
Just as we were resigned to missing our first eclipse a magical hole appeared in the clouds and we saw second contact complete with diamond ring and then the corona. We were so shocked that our cameras stayed on their tripods while we danced around like a bunch of fools. Clodie Johnson and Sinead Cawley had the presence of mind to keep their camcorders running and we will post a copy of what they filmed when it is ready. It is the only proof we have that we actually saw the event. One of our South African friends asked me what this eclipse was like compared to the other ones we had seen. I told him that it had been one of the most stressful days of my life.
Such is the effect that eclipses have.
The animals, plants and birds made up for the near miss. Spectacular views of elephants, giraffes, lions, leopards and rhinos soon took our minds off what we had nearly missed. The accomodation was excellent and comfortable, the food top quality if a little too much of it, the people everywhere humurous and helpful. I put food on a bird table in one of the places we stayed and was rewarded by a visit from an Ostrich. That was South Africa, a land of contrasts way beyond our normal European concepts.
Enjoy some of our photos
1. The near eclipse miss at Folorodwe.
2. The leopard in Kruger National Park.
3. The rhino charge at Ithala Game Reserve.
4. The Zulus of Aloe Ridge.
5. The Zulus at Shakaland.
6. Capetown, a truely beautiful city.
7. Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, must be one of the best in the world.
8. The so called "Wild Bar" at our hotel in Cape Town which was anything but.
9. The helicopter flip over Cape Town.
10. Table Mountain.
11. The Graskop Hotel in Graskop for its wonderful welcome and hospitality.
A personal view by Brian Seales.