Saturday, January 31, 2009

Barberton SA, 2009

Barberton, South Africa – Mazwita Bush Camp

There are entirely too many photos in our collection to tell the story of two days in Barberton in one journal – nevertheless, here goes. Starting with Mazwita, the hospitality, landscaping (see picture), service, amenities and food, were excellent.

It’s a small place and Diane, the owner, said that she prefers word-of-mouth references over advertising. “It’s a way of managing the type of clients that we host at Mazwita. Those who enjoy what we offer recommend us to others with similar tastes.”

The first night, January 20th, we were invited up to the lodge to watch the inauguration. It was interesting watching the Africans who had one eye on the TV and one eye on us to see how we were reacting.

Breakfasts and dinners found us out next to the pool, in the game-viewing area. There is a water hole down among the trees and critters wandered through. Lots of birds in the mornings, sitting around the fire in the evenings, relaxing at other times.

Up at the lodge it is their practice to throw out occasional snacks for the local
animals. Here you see vervets (green monkeys) and a striped mongoose. We also saw warthogs at other times.

Becky made friends with a group of mongooses as they sniffed her toes. She admits to thinking they might have been about to spray her feet, marking their territory.

Zebra, Impala, and Red Duiker appear in this photo of animal interaction. Wildebeest, Warthogs, Giraffes, Grey Duikers, and Mongooses also put in appearances.

We spent the second day in Barberton on a rock-hunting trip. Shades of ESCONI! Kurt had arranged for us to visit with Tony Ferrar, who walked us through his own collection of mineral specimens, introduced us to the geology of the region and then took us to the oldest gold mine in the area. The greenstone found throughout the Barberton area is an outcropping of the earth’s crust dating 3.5 billion years old. There are very few sites that old in the world.


The museum at the mine office was a collection of objects dating back over 100 years. This upper plate, made of some amalgam of metals, was particularly interesting as we speculated on the composition.

Tony arranged for us to go into the mine during our visit. We had been in mines before, but not one where we could hear the rumbling of active mining. The safety precautions were minimal, the holes deep, the lighting non-existent. It was great! But no samples.

Red Ochre, found along the road after our mine visit. It is a form of Jasper and was ground up to use in rock paintings and for other decorative purposes. This chunk was rather large, six+ inches on all sides.

Tony led us to this outcropping of sedimentary rock. It goes back billions of years and documents the tides at that time. PhD theses have used these rocks to calculate the strength of the tides, the pull of the moon, the distance of the moon from earth, and the rate at which the moon is moving away from the earth, about 1cm per year.

Wrapping up our stay in Barberton, this is a photo of a “Barberton Daisy.” You might also know it as a Gerber Daisy. It is the original Gerber from which all of the other colors and sizes have been hybridized.

Love to all, Swaziland is next.


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