On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

On The Road and In Your Backyard is a weekday feature spotlighting reader submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, please share your part of the world, whether you’re traveling or just in your locality. Share some photos and a narrative, let us see through your pictures and words. We’re so lucky each and every day to see and appreciate the world around us!

Submissions from commenters are welcome at tools.balloon-juice.com


We return to the coast of South Africa – enjoy!

We shall continue/complete the set next Tuesday.


Today, pictures from valued commenter Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes.


The headlong rush….

Smells a bit, though.

Seal Island

Off the coast and close to Cape Town, over 60,000 seals live on Seal Island (along with a few penguins and sea birds).

Their cycle is wrapped around their seasonal breeding patterns. During months like October and November, the pups are small and stay close to the rock – as the mature and not the juvenile stage in late January and February, they get reckless and venture out. This juvenile period is when the great white sharks know to come around.

Approaching as we did, against the wind, they were calm and in some instances, even curious. Once we cycled to a point where we were upwind of them, they flipped out on our approach.

Relaxed seals, we were downwind.

I have about a dozen of these – they all tend to be similar.


Eventually, we left Cape Town for another few days of safari in Madikwe, a game preserve in the northern part of South Africa, a few miles south of the Botswana border.

Game drives here started earlier, at 5:30 am. You woke, got coffee and we’re out the door, stopping mid drive for coffee, Amarula and biscuits. A full breakfast awaited at the lodge. In the evenings, drives would stop close to sunset, and the guides would make sundowners; usually gin, wine or whiskey along with snacks before returning for dinner.

Madikwe Hills

This baby was really neat. He was on full display of his might!

This was one of my favorites – a young leopard next to these gorgeous flowers

This was some of the toughest photography I tried – occasionally, I got one.

Light was perfect

This guy was neat.


I didnt include the half eaten impala next to her.

These guys are feral, really dangerous and impossible to domesticate. This particular pack has been decimated by an outbreak of rabies.

This little brat was irritating his whole herd by trumpeting and harassing them all, when he noticed us and thought he’d play act at being a bull.

In a lion pride, juvenile males will stay with the group until sexual maturity kicks in and the juvenile ousted.

The son was nagging the crap out of his dad for attention; I’d have bitten him.




Thank you so much Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form or Send an Email

12 replies
  1. 1
    JPL says:

    Le Comte, When are you returning? Friends that have visited Africa often want to go back.

  2. 2
    J R in WV says:

    Swell work, Le Comte. Thanks again. Did you tell us the agency(ies) you used to set this trip up and I missed it? Wife has mentioned a desire to see Kilimanjaro and the big game and such.

    Is there still snow on Kilimanjaro? Or are we too late for that?

    Good morning all…. I’m up (briefly, I hope) early with one of my old ailments. Bletch for Ozark!

  3. 3
    debbie says:

    Awesome close-ups!

  4. 4
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @J R in WV:

    We ran most of that trip via Tauck, with an add on at the beginning. The Madikwe thing was something we laid on at the end. Accommodations and guides were spot on. The group portion was really manageable.

    Tauck also has an east Africa Serengeti/Ngorgoro Crater itinerary that Is like to do in the next couple of years.

    We also talked about maybe going to Cape Town, hanging out a bit, then renting a car and doing the garden route along the coast.

  5. 5
    arrieve says:

    I’m still not 100% from getting sick on my last trip to Africa, but I’m still considering going back next summer. It’s just so magical. And these pictures are proof. That baby elephant is so cute!

  6. 6
    Anonymous At Work says:

    No Air Jaws pics? Why visit Seal Island and the Triangle of Death otherwise?

  7. 7
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @Anonymous At Work:

    Wrong time of year – the sharks come when the pups get big enough to start ranging out more from the island. That starts this month and next.

  8. 8
    pat says:

    Awesome shots! What fun!
    Can I ask what you are using for camera and lens? Thanks.

  9. 9
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:


    The camera is several years old, lightly used – Canon EOS T3 DSLR with something like 12-15 megapixels. I’d bought it as a gift for the Countess, but she was less than comfortable with using it.

    Most of the shots were taken with a 70-250 (IIRC) zoom lens. Images were stored on a 128 GB chip and transferred by a chip reader to an iPhone 8, where I cleaned up the images with the stock photo software.

  10. 10
    pat says:

    Thanks. I have Canon cameras and use the Canon ZoomBrowserEX software on my computer to crop, etc.
    Looks like you had some ideal light and were pretty close to some of those critters!

    Guess I’ll go out looking for Bald Eagles. It is so warm in Western Wisconsin the Mississippi is almost ice-free in many places and it’s beginning to thaw on the south end of Lake Pepin. The eagles like to sit on the ice and in the trees and I try to get them when they fly.

  11. 11
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:


    We were generally in a position for golden light (sunrise, sunset) for a portion of each game drive. It didn’t hurt that we were a mere stone’s throw from a lot of the animals In the photos, either.

  12. 12
    stinger says:

    Great photos!

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