11/18/2016

New Balance Beach Run, Abu Dhabi, 2016


Reg and Clare after finishing their 7.2 km Beach Run

Have you ever tried to run far in soft sand? If you have you will know it's a killer for your calf muscles. Well, my daughter, Clare, and her husband, Reg, both signed up for a 7.2 km run on a beach for the New Balance Beach Run in Ab Dhabi, which shows just how fit they are.

The run organisers’ promotion pamphlet said, "The different run options of 1.8k, 3.6k and 7.2k mean that there’s a run suitable for everyone whether you’re an avid runner, lacing up your shoes for the first time or just looking for a fun activity for you and your friends or family."

The day had a carnival-like atmosphere, as runners of all ages got ready for their runs. Fortunately, Clare and Reg were in the first batch of runners, as it was very hot on the beach for us spectators.


Setting off with determination


Clare setting a good pace


Still smiling after the first 1.8 km lap


Competitors beginning to string out


Reg still on track


Reg keeps up the pace right to the finish


Clare receiving her medal


Reg receives his medal, as they take off his race bracelet


Well done Clare and Reg! A monumental effort!

Elizabeth Coughlan

10/20/2016

Rural Headlands, Zimbabwe


View across the land, Headlands, Zimbabwe

Despite its problems, Zimbabwe is still a beautiful country, and everyone should have it on their bucket list. The popular tourist areas like Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Kariba, and Matobo National Park, are all stunning in what they have to offer in beautiful landscapes, wildlife and wonderful experiences.

There are, however, equally amazing places tourists never get to see. While David was on his fishing trip, I went to stay with Sue and Terry on a farm in Headlands. The scenery there is awe inspiring. Every morning Sue and I went for a walk, and later in the day, we often went on a drive to visit different areas of the farm.


We visited this dam…


…where the locals like to fish.


While we were looking at the dam, we heard a shout, and turned
our heads to see this guy cheerily waving at us as he was herding cattle down the road.

Another day, we ventured into a private game park on the next door neighbour’s land. There are no predators in that park, so we were able to get out of the car and walk from time to time.


On our walk, we couldn’t fail to see fireball lilies among the rocks.

This bright red flower is actually a cluster of many tiny flowers, each at the end of a solitary stem.


You can see the tiny flowers here.

Each of these plants produces just one flower each season. These flowers only last for 2 weeks before dying off, so we were very lucky to be there in that window of opportunity.

Later, back in the car, we were scanning the bush either side to see if we could see any game. But we failed to notice this giraffe until he stepped across the road right in front of the car!


You would think this one would be obvious, but when he
is standing among the trees, he is well camouflaged.


Once we had seen one, we noticed others standing by the road.


We also managed to spot this eland, one of the biggest antelopes in Africa…


…and we were lucky to see this sable antelope.

The sable is an endangered species in Africa, because of poaching and big game hunting, and there are several programmes to protect the species and to increase its numbers.

Thank you, Sue and Terry, for allowing me to stay with you. I had such a wonderful time. I hope to see you and the rest of the family in Zim, sometime in in 2017.

Elizabeth Coughlan

10/19/2016

Fishing Down the Zambezi from Chirundu to Kanyemba, Zimbabwe

 

 Our home for the next six days.

Blog by David Coughlan

Our Brothers’ Fishing Trip this year became a different and much-anticipated venture – a six day trip from Chirundu down the Zambezi River to Kanyemba on a fishing pontoon/houseboat journey operated by River God Adventures. Brothers David, Tim and Mart were joined by Rich for a what for each of them proved to be a journey of a lifetime.


Our team.

The great difference on this trip was that every day was different and every night was spent in a quite remote and magical location, accessible only by boat and safe only with the presence of a professional hunter.


Our hosts Guy and Bruce.

One of the highlights of the trip was the eight kilometre walk down Chikwenya Island. On previous trips we had stopped for lunch on the island. But we never knew of the natural wonderland that lay beyond the shore.


Chikwenya Island is a paradise for game…


 We surprised this hippo, and ourselves, as he was hidden beneath the bank…


We were able to get close to these elephant…


And to these buffalo…


On the night before full moon, we camped on an island in the middle of the river. 
Looking upstream, we watched the sun set.


And looking down river we watched the moon rise.


We shared the island with a number of residents including this elephant 
which continued to dine while we did.

Having a professional hunter with us meant that no game, however big or small, could move on either side of the river without being spotted. Guy kept pointing out animals, quite invisible to the rest of us, as soon as they blinked an eye or took a breath.


One bonus of his expertise was his sighting of a group of lionesses which Guy walked us up to.


We camped on this sandbank at the entrance to the Mupata gorge…


…and on another sandbank at the eastern end of the gorge.

Although it was a fishing trip, we did not have too much success, despite having lines in the water at every opportunity. But everyone had some success.


My Catch

Once through The Gate, we passed the Red Cliffs in the face of an incredibly strong upstream wind; the strongly flowing Zambezi River was being driven upstream by the wind and navigating this stretch of the river was an exciting couple of hours.

Our last night was spent in the comparative luxury of Sawa-Sawa Lodge near the confluence of the Luangwa and Zambezi rivers, with a Zambian village across the river and the mountains of Mozambique visible just downstream.


The following morning, Guy drove us to the Chipota airstrip where our plane soon arrived
to take us back to Harare…..

David Coughlan
Elizabeth Coughlan

9/26/2016

Whovi Wild Area, Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe



The natural rock formation named, “Mother and Child” in the Whovi Game Park

One day, while staying in Bulawayo we decided to drive out to the Matobo Game Park for the day. We chose the Whovi Wild Area because we hadn’t been there before. Although we didn’t see much game, the scenery was glorious, and we felt very privileged, especially as we hardly saw another person all day.


The country was waiting desperately for the rains.
We crossed this dry river bed, with not a drop of water to be seen…


…although as we drove along, we did see the occasional puddle,
in what should have been a flowing river...


…as we made our way to this hide, hidden among the rocks.

I wasn’t able to photograph them, but we met up with an anti-rhino poaching unit, armed with AK47s. They were recharging their phones with solar powered chargers, before going out on patrol. Their task is aided by the fact that Whovi has been entirely ringed with a rhino fence, so that these endangered animals can more easily be protected.


The view from our hide.


We did manage to spot some rhino from a distance


As we continued on our drive, we managed to see this duiker,
hiding in the undergrowth


Eventually we found this dam. Even though it is drying out,
it still has a beauty of its own.

It’s easy to understand why Matobo is considered the spiritual home of Zimbabwe when you experience the dramatic scenery that could almost belong to another world.

The word ‘Matobo’ means 'bald heads', and was the name chosen for the area by the great Ndebele King, Mzilikazi. He is buried in the Matobo Hills just a short distance from the park.


We came across a large expanse of water, and David wandered over to look at a couple of hippo.

I decided to stay in the car. We didn’t see any crocodiles, but they are sly creatures, and I didn’t want to take a chance. David is a very fast runner, and very fit, so he was braver than me!

The landscape is extraordinary. Everywhere you see huge rocks randomly balanced one on top of the other. Millions of years of erosion and weathering have shaped the granite into seemingly impossible structures that appear to defy gravity.



Balancing rocks in the Matobo Hills


Eventually, after thousands of years of erosion, the whole structure gives way, 
and the rocks come tumbling down.


We were surprised to see bundles of thatching for houses, gathered by locals.
They must have braved the wild animals to do this.


On the way out of the park we saw this sweet little Dassie (Rock Rabbit) 
peeping out from the rocks

How lovely to be staying in Bulawayo, within easy reach of this remarkable park. If you have never been to Zimbabwe, you should definitely have it on your bucket list. It’s a wonderful country.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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