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Travel and Photograpy with Damon Crawford

Travel and Photograpy with Damon Crawford


Photographs by Damon Crawford
Follow Damon Crawford on Instagram: @beardedwiseman

When it comes to travel and photography Damon Crawford is one of the people we at Country Life choose to help us find the ultimate peace and quiet in South Africa.

He is a photographer based in Cape Town, loves escaping the city to venture around South Africa at the most opportune moments, and has honoured us by letting us in on his ultimate Bucket List for all Nature Lovers in South Africa.

The Kalahari Desert – specifically the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

This is where time truly revolves around sunrise and sunset, and has done so for millennia. The lack of cellphone reception in the Park allows one to disconnect from the world that we live in and engage with and absorb your surroundings in their entirety without notifications of what’s happening in the ‘real world’. It is a beautiful and harsh landscape that will etch itself into your heart forever.

It’s remarkable how anything can survive here, let alone thrive in this environment but the immense variety of mammals and insects, and sheer impressiveness and abundance of the large carnivores such as the Kalahari black-maned lions will forge memories you won’t soon forget. You’ll be back for more, and your appetite for exploration of the vastness of Southern Africa will have been awoken. The red dunes of the Kalahari are something to behold.

Urikaruus Wilderness Camp

A couple of young male lions come around empty-pawed for a braai at Urikaruuss, Kgalaladi Transfrontier Park.

Stay at Urikaruus Wilderness Camp. Set on wooden stilts overlooking the Auob River, you’re a couple of hours away from any other camps and there are only five wooden units accommodating a maximum of two people per unit in the wilderness camp itself. This will provide some extremely personal sightings in the early hours of the morning and late afternoons (the best times to see game) as other visitors to the Park simply won’t be on the roads around you as there is quite some distance between Urikaruus and any other camp.

Visit the Auchterlonie Museum – approximately 35km from Urikaruus heading south east – and see what it was like to live here 100 years ago. Doubling as a picnic site where you can leave your vehicle (at your own risk of course – seriously, check properly before doing so as there may well be a pride of lions relaxing in the shade of the structure) and a museum preserving the way the borehole caretakers lived, you’re in for an interesting history lesson. The route along the Auob River that traverses Namibia and South Africa is filled with history and the museum will leave you enlightened about a unique part of South Africa’s history.

Rheenendal, Knysna Forest

Stay at Homtini Guest Farm on the edge of the Knysna Forest. Pour yourself a Gin and Tonic and play a game or two of backgammon while you take it all in.

I love Rheenendal in the Knysna Forest – stay at Homtini Guest Farm and book either the Wild Olive Forest Chalet or the Canopy Forest Chalet. You will not be disappointed. The views of the forest are some of the best and you’re set high up above the valley that descends pass by pass through the area. There are some fantastic hikes in the area as well as an abundance of mountain biking trails. Knysna is of course a mere 10km or so away if you feel the need to leave the forest. The area is rich in history and the forest itself is enchanting and beckons you to explore its prehistoric splendour. You probably won’t see a Knysna elephant, but you’ll definitely believe they still exist.

Biyamiti Bushveld Camp in the Kruger National Park 

Elephant family portrait at Biyamiti Weir in the Kruger National Park

I’ve been travelling to the Kruger National Park once a year for about 20 years and I long ago fell in love with this camp. It’s proximity – down south and close to a few entrance gates to the Park – makes it very accessible, but still leaves one with a feeling of privacy due to the limited number of chalets available for accommodation. A stretch of private road heading west from the Crocodile River toward the camp itself have provided numerous fantastic sightings for me over the years from wild dog to honey badger to leopard.

I’ll be back there in November to enjoy a few more evening sundowners from arguably one of the best (and private – only accessible to Biyamiti guests) viewpoints in the Park. This viewpoint has also provided terrific sightings over the years.

Olifants Wilderness Trail, Kruger National Park

Lovers of the Kruger National Park should put the Olifants Wilderness Trail on their list of things to do in the Park. Along this four day and three night guided and catered walking safari you can hike to where the Olifants and Letaba rivers have their confluence – one of the only ways for the public to access this historical part of the Park that is only a few clicks out from the Mozambican border.

An innumerable amount of elephant were hunted in this area for their ivory and tourists will be left astounded at just how easy it was to hunt elephant from the massive natural arena the confluence created. While poaching has yet again left the area rather bereft of big game, the smaller things will capture your imagination.

For example, the thrill of watching Matabele ants off on a raid and marching like a determined army is quite something.

Follow Damon Crawford on Instagram: @beardedwiseman

Country Life Magazine also recommends taking a look at 8 Unusual Hideaways and 11 Eco-Friendly escapes.

Young male lion at Urikaruus, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Camp along the West Coast or in the Kalahari full moon
Elephant calf having a great time at Biyamiti Weir in the Kruger National Park
Sunrise along the Biyamiti road
Young male lions at Urikaruus, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

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