13 May 2012

Paradise Lost?

paradise island africa travel mozambique

We were driving in a speedboat to Paradise Island. Ruins of a building were rising on our left on the island when we were approaching. I learned later that the ruins were the former famous hotel of Santa Carolina. Bob Dylan was writing the song “Paradise Island” in the hotel’s ballroom and many other artists like Elton John had a great time there. But it all changed when the hotel owner’s wife died and the hotel eventually was closed. The cyclones, the sea and the plunderers made from the place what it is now. Even the windows from the small chapel were stolen.
But there is something nobody can steel or destroy. The spirit of Paradise Island is still there; one can feel it with every step. It’s easy to imagine Bob Dylan in the ballroom, although it is now just a floor with some pillars and an open view over the ocean. Maybe that’s what the song anyway captures, the spirit and not the buildings. It’s just such a pity that this beautiful old Portuguese architecture is lost. The promenade to the beach is majestic and then this amazingly beautiful beach.
There are rumors that an organization bought the hotel and is going to built a new resort. That’s just the point; it will be new. I hope when a new project starts the people will remember the paradise spirit and integrate some old parts of the architecture to continue the story of Paradise Island.

View the video about Paradise Island:

Ute Sonnenberg, rohoyachui.com

The Sweetest Cherries

horse photography course safari weekend south africa

There is a saying in German that the sweetest cherries hang always in the top of the tree. That wants to say as much as that one needs to do some efforts to get the best.
I always have to think of this saying when traveling to
Pakamisa, the Private Game Reserve in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa where I conduct the Horse Photography courses. It is really an effort to get there, at least from Johannesburg or even from further away. Driving down there shouldn’t be a big effort, if there weren’t the road works. Flying to Durban is a quite convenient solution, yet the drive from Durban is also 4 hours. But its so worth it. The moment I enter the reserve, drive up the mountain to the lodge and get the first glimpse of the vista, I know again why I came. This oasis of peace, silence and beauty is a paradise. And this is only the start. The stables are in a valley, surrounded by bush, with a dam where the horses can swim in summer and plains game sharing the paddocks with them. The geldings are roaming free, warthogs are following them and the ostrich expect their daily treat at the stables. Not only the animals get spoilt with good food also the guests. The restaurant of the lodge offers the most stunning views and the food is delicious. By the way, the rooms are spacious, comfortable and the view is great.
Well, this place is one of the sweet cherries.

Ute Sonnenberg, rohoyachui.com

The People

people horse photography course safari south africa

You can have a photography course on the most beautiful locations, with the most amazing animals around and the most luxury accommodation, but it will be nothing without the people who make it a wonderful experience.
The people who cook these wonderful meals, the ones who make your stay as comfortable as possible, the people who keep your room clean and do your laundry, the ones who track down the leopard for you, those who drive you safely through the bush, the groomers who assist you with the horses, the guides who explain the trees to you, the specialists who explain their animals to you. All these people make your stay a wonderful one.
Thank you all on behalf of all of us who stay with you during our photography courses. Your passionate support makes our experiences special.

Ute Sonnenberg, rohoyachui.com

The Unknown


The discussion has been going on for two years. What is going to happen when Greece has to leave the Euro? All sorts of scenarios were on the media except one. What if nothing is happening or put it this way, what if it will be a relieve, if it will release recourses for innovation and growth? For what reasons are only negative scenarios spilled all over the media and nothing positive? Pulling on a dead horse will not bring the horse back to life. It’s a waste of energy. Letting go will free resources for innovation and growth. But something like the Greece case had never happened before. So we don’t know.
Last weekend I was visiting a tourism show. I walked through the halls quite quickly. I didn’t spot something new and I mean some new content, innovation. A lady put it quite right. She said that the people had seen enough bathrooms. A few years ago it was new to pay attention to the bathroom design at hotels and lodges. The guests loved it. It gave a new feeling to their stay. But now they have seen pretty much each possible bathroom design. Where is the innovation? Some exhibitors thought, lets present our product on an iPad. Well the iPad is the innovative product, unfortunately not what you are presenting. What makes your product different from the product of your competitor? Innovation!
And then I read this article today about the downfall of Flickr since it was bought by Yahoo. Flickr was the first big photo sharing social network, highly innovative. It looks like Yahoo bought it to destroy innovation and to get access to the gathered data on Flickr. They choose for integration instead of innovation and that killed Flickr. Does Yahoo realize that it is also working on its own downfall? No innovation means no growth and stagnation means downfall. Ignoring that fact will only accelerate the downwards process, just like in Greece.
For what reason do people and organizations ignore, deny or repress the need for innovation and change? Something is innovative or new, because it hasn’t been there before, so we don’t know it. Is it the fear of the unknown?

Article “How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet is available here:

Ute Sonnenberg,


tosca horse photography courses safaris south africa

Tosca was born three years ago. She was a very sweet foal with a gentle nature. When she was still little she got an infection in her mouth. Isabella, her owner, had to clean the wound a couple of times per day. That was very painful for the little horse and after the treatment she hid immediately behind her mom, wanting to be safe. She stayed behind mom only for a minute or two, before she came back to us humans who just caused her pain sniffing friendly in our faces and enjoying petting and attention.
The infection was so bad that it destroyed the bone in her jaw. That was the moment to decide to put her down or not. Isabella decided to get her an operation to remove the infected bone and to keep her alive. Little Tosca recovered very well. Only her tongue is telling the story of her operation, because there is no bone to hold it properly back in her mouth. For the rest Tosca is a beautiful young horse, with a very friendly and sweet nature. A decision from the heart and a well-executed operation kept this lovely horse alive and we are grateful to see her enjoying life.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com

Seen Enough Bathrooms

travel africa site inspection photographic safaris

I was yesterday at the Indaba, the tourism trade show in Durban. While wandering around through the halls, I noticed that I wasn’t drawn to the stands, although many companies created nice stands with beautiful decoration. There wasn’t something new, really new in the sense of content, an added value to the trip or stay at the destination. The innovation was missing.

I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but a lady from a Kenyan lodge did. She said, the people have seen enough bathrooms. What she meant is that all the brochures are showing close ups of decoration in the lounge, bathrooms and close ups of the towels with a flower. But a bathroom is a bathroom and most of the bathrooms have nowadays the modern “clear lines” style and look pretty much the same. But just to clarify, this is not a plea for new styled bathrooms; this is a call for innovation.
Well, we had a chat and the photography courses can offer that innovation people are looking for. They are innovative, because of the way of teaching and the guidance through the ins and outs of photography. The courses open new dimensions to the participants in order to grow in that field of activities. And besides that they are fun!

The lady and I looked at each other and thought, yes we understand each other and we’ll do something about it. For example photography courses on magical places in Kenya.
Thank you Tamsin!

Ute Sonnenberg, rohoyachui.com


horses digital photography course safari

It’s early morning. The sun is clearing the mist over the valley. Kudus are on the road. We are going down to the stables at the house. Dogs are welcoming us. They are excited, tail wagging, friendly and naughty. The horses are still in their boxes, curiously observing what’s going on. We are preparing to photograph them when they rare running from their boxes into the garden. Hopefully we will get some nice images of horses in motion.
They make a short run into the garden and look surprised, like wondering, if there is some playing ahead. With gentle encouragement they start running through the lush green sub-tropical garden. And we photograph their movements, trying to capture their beauty. The sun is behind them; sprinklers are spraying fresh water onto the fields in the background. It’s a beautiful setting. We are photographing continuously and sometimes it would be great, if the camera would be faster. But well, lets see what comes out.
Back in the lodge I look at the photographs of horses in motion and they turn out to look like images of unicorns.

Ute Sonnenberg, rohoyachui.com Horse Photography course

Being Prince

prince horse photography safari south africa

There is a magical place in the rolling mountains of Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, called Pakamisa. It is the peaceful “kingdom” of beautiful horses and it is the home of Prinz (German for prince).
Prinz is an Arab stallion. He knows about his beauty and he is anxious to make sure the ladies know that too. Unfortunately he is not accepting any other male next to him, what makes him staying in his paddock by himself. He keeps himself busy by marching the boundaries of his territory and observing the mares from a distance. Every now and then the free roaming geldings pay him a visit and polite sniffing is exchanged. From far the king is watching him, conscious about their competition for the mares and territory.
Well, there is space for all of them and when Prinz is back in his stable for the night, the nyala and impala move in and graze in his paddock. I wonder, if he cares.

Ute Sonnenberg, rohoyachui.com, horse photography course