Thursday, 23 July 2009

Update

I know that we are no longer on the road but old habits die hard so i
decided to post a little update. And also to apologise for the delay.
We've been home for over a month but still we haven't edited or
uploaded the final videos, we haven't had a party, in fact I'm not
even sure that we wrapped it up properly. So over the next couple of
weeks the last few videos will go up, and it will be tied up.
A few of you who have signed up to blogger will get reminders on your
email that our blog is being used but the majority won't. And we all
know how quickly word gets around, especially in Zim, so if you see
anyone who has dropped off could you just tell them that we're not
quite finished.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Some more thank yous!!

A little addition  from Nicky  to Mands' last blog entry: We were all very grateful to Majdi and his family in Wadi Halfa, N. Sudan who put us up on our way up and down to Egypt. Robert and I had a convivial evening with David Snelson and Alisha Ryu in Nairobi - thanks so muc h and dinner's on us next time! We'd like to thank Heinrich von Pezold's colleagues Antoine Millerioux and Rogerio Lopes Henriques who arranged for us to stay in Ilha and Quelimane respectively, and my colleague Filipe Charles in Maputo who made the Global Health Communication (GHC) office available to the Jambanja team to stay in for a night. Thanks too go to Leeann and Pricey in Durban - great to see you guys again! -- who hosted Alexander and arranged for the rest of us to stay at the delightful Virginia Forest Lodge which was truly a home from home.  After  leaving our wonderful hosts  in Cape Town, Loki and Lucy  ( when we split forces with Mahali), Jambanja turned up on Charlotte Bracken's doorstep in Jo'burg where we had a very happy lunchtime celebrating  her birthday. We stayed a night with our dear friends Caro Valette and Johnny, Julien, Hugo and Tom Landry, who are coming back to Zimbabwe next month!  Then on to Gaborone where after a five year gap Sarah, Tomo, Emma, David and James Thomas made us incredibly welcome and persuaded us to spend an extra night with them (Sarah's sister Alex and brother-in-law Angus kindly housed us in their guest room). And finally back home where heartfelt thanks go to Robin Powles for managing our household while we were away, to our neighbours (especially Grace Danana, Lindsay and Paul Franklin and Conor and Emma O'Beirne) for their support and to our staff, Media, Shingi and Lovemore who looked after the house, garden and menagerie for us.
 

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

And our Special Thanks Go To...

 

We have been so grateful to everyone for your support over these past 6 months – whether by phone, physical presence, e-mail, the Blog, prayers or thought. It has been a fantastic comfort and encouragement to us all.

A special thanks however, must go to the wonderful friends upon whom we have prevailed in eight of the 14 countries we’ve travelled through on our Overland trip. So without further ado, we would like to publicly say a heart-felt thank you to our following friends...

Zambia - Hugo & Alice, Zoe, Ivan & Dima FIRX

Kenya -  Matthew & Alice, Ruby & Guy OWEN

                Chris & Karen, Daisy, Barnaby & Jasper STEPHENSON

                Tony & Adrienne MILLS

Ethiopia - Ali & Johnathan & Holly NAPIER

                     Gavin & Lizzie, Isabella & Amalie COOK      

Sudan - Amy & Shaun, Noah & Oscar HUGHES

Egypt - Kate & Rick, Anna, Joe & Sam PHILLIPS

Burundi - Val & Charles, Sam, Matthew & John CARR

Mozambique -  Heinrich VON PETZEL

                              Clare & Tim, Jonathan & Zea COLE

South Africa - Colleen MEYBURG, James, Tristan & Sophie EGREMONT-LEE

                               Lucy WELFORD, Loki, Felix & Scarlett OSBORN

                               Sussi & Steve (Darling) GALLEY, Holly & Ben BEATON

                               Dibs & Rog, Jazzy, Monty & Gabes HAWKINS

                               Mush & Jannie & Jakers VAN GEMARK

 

Finally, to our team mates, JAMBANJA: Robert, Nicky, Max & Xander, without whom there wouldn’t have been Jangano 2009. Thanks guys, it has been an amazing, wonderful and unique journey travelling the African continent with you!

 

The MAHALI team,

Gus, Mands, Jake, Ben & Little Max x x x x x

Thursday, 2 July 2009

In Sickness and In Health...

After a blessed six months on the road, we are so grateful that by and large, we have remained relatively healthy.  At least, there have been no hospitalisations and apart from only four independent visits to local doctors (in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique & RSA), we have managed to rely on our trustworthy in-house medical advisor, Rob Adams! We were superbly prepared for all eventualities, however, should we have had any need for any of the highly specialised equipment we carried, ranging from basic dentistry to blood transfusions to sutures!

The trip began with one patient already on board: that was Little Max with his grossly swollen mumps face, followed timely by Ben on Christmas Day, in Tanzania. Minor aliments such as coughs and colds have been par for the course, as indeed has been the odd upset tummy. The young boys have been unfailingly predictable in their various collections of cuts, scratches and bruises. Xander wins first prize here, in his astounding ability to gather such a sum of said trophies!

In the more interesting category of ailments, there have been cracked-heels and wind-cracked skin Gus & Little Max) in the Western desert, coral-sliced feet (Big Max & Jake), a marauding wart invasion over Xander’s elbow and fingers, which – when ‘burnt off’ – changed form into vast bulbous blisters (not unlike something out of Dr Who!); infected bites and suspected jiggers in the feet (Robert), a recurring earlobe cyst (Benedict) and a painful trio of armpit boils (the patient of which shall remain anonymous, to be saved from embarrassment !)

But the final category contains The Best (or is it The Worst?) of Jangano 2009’s medical afflictions...the most bloody prize goes to Little Max, who managed to put his hand through a glass door in Cairo. He sustained a very impressive cut that sliced deeply along one of his fingers – thankfully, the slice didn’t go through the finger totally and it remains fixed firmly to his hand. Even more thankfully, we were staying at the time with Dr Kate, who fixed Max up beautifully! The most conventional (and only) disease award goes to Gus, who picked up malaria in Malawi. Unfortunately, he shivered his feverish way all through Mozambique and into RSA before confirming it was indeed malaria. In the meantime, he had been consistently mis-diagnosed with bilharzia, tick-bite fever and a lung infection! Finally, Ben wins the Most Gruesome prize. When in Tanzania, as the local doctor was lancing a “boil” on his scalp just above his ear, it wasn’t pus that emerged from the sore swelling, but a fat, squirming putzi-fly grub! Yes indeed, a grim sight to behold, but one of those sickeningly fascinating moments, too, when one cannot take ones eyes away from the sheer disbelief of such a thing!

So all in all, we have been incredibly blessed in health and safety. Much has to be said in favour of our simple diet for our good health during these months, however frugal and plain it sometimes was! Though now we are about to reintroduce the ‘naughty but nice’ stuff, such as red wine and dairy back into our diet, I don’t foresee any resistance! Our final quandary is What To Do with our unused, massive box of medical kit?

Maybe we’ll just hold onto it for the next trip...?!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Our Dolphin Safari, by Ben (June 2nd, Ponto do Ouro, Mozambique)

Only four days ago, while the Adams family (except for Xander) went diving, we had our own adventure. We had organised to go on a dolphin safari. At about nine o’clock, we went to the dolphin office. After about five minutes later, a lady came to tell us about the safaris. The dolphins she said we were most likely to see were Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and the In-Shore Bottle-nosed dolphins. She also said we might see a Whale-Shark. That seemed almost impossible!

We took a Rubber Duck out to sea. It was a one hundred and eighty horse-powered boat with two engines. It was fun going over the waves! After twenty minutes, about fifteen km out, we saw a fin. Then the skipper Mitchell told us what it was...a whale shark! We saw a massive black shadow under the water. Mitchell told us to put our fins and goggles on and jump in the water. It was seven meters long, but completely harmless. These whales can get up to eighteen meters long. After that, we travelled about five kilometres and then we stopped and went snorkelling. Not everyone got in the water. I’m glad I did though, because we saw a turtle.

On the way back, another man that was with us, spotted some dolphins. We were so excited, but unfortunately they were sleeping so we couldn’t swim with them. We carried on. A bit after that, we saw a massive pod of dolphins. There were about forty of them. Then Mitchell said, “Hey look, there’s Rob!” Rob was one of the dolphins. They could tell who he was, because he has white markings on his left side. But yet again, unfortunately, they were sleeping, it was so annoying! Then a bit later on, we saw another black shadow in the water. It was the same whale shark as before, but this time, there was another one with it. We got in the water and swam with the bigger one.

When we got back on the boat and started going back, Mitchell told us to hold on. We picked up speed, caught a wave and crashed onto the beach! It was so fun! We said thank you. One of the best things that I have done is that.

 

 

My 7th Birthday, by Little Max

Three days ago I had my 7th birthday on the edge of Africa. I got a remote-controlled Batmobile and two really cool lego seta, a wobble-board and a soldier set. We woke up in Cape Agullhas . It was the last time we camped together as Jangano team.  Now we are in Cape Town and we are staying with Benjamin.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Feelings by Max A

Our last night as Jangano 2OO9 was spent camping at the very bottom of
the continent, at Cape Agulhas. Here a vote was held comprising of ten
questions about the trip.

1. Favourite campsite? Dune palm camp
in the Western desert.
2. Least favourite campsite? Bee camp in
Western Tanzania.
3. Favourite non-campsite? Staying with the
Phillips in Cairo.
4. Favourite meal? Coshery, a
mixture of rice and noodles made by the three lighties. Guess who the
winning votes came from?
5. Least favourite meal? Raw chicken in
Quelimane, Mozambique.
6. Coolest thing we did? Swimming with
the whale shark in Mozambique.
7. Most enjoyable day? Find the LRDG
vehicle in the middle of the desert.
8. Favourite landscape? No winner but
Ethiopian highlands, Rwenzori mountains and the Great Sand Sea got two
votes each.
9. Most interesting people that we met? David and Bridget,
fellow travelers who we met up with on the Aswan-Wadi Halfa ferry.
1O. Favourite beach? Jakobsen's
beach on Lake Tanganyika in Western Tanzania.

Although these were the winning votes they did not show the whole
story. Everybody had different opinions on every question. Other votes
included:

1. Guzman's Pass, Western Desert, Egypt; Namunyak, Northern Kenya
2. Russels Place, Pemba was another but Bee Camp had this category
pretty well wrapped up.
3. Chimpanzee Place in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda and Casa
Heinrich on Ilha do Mozambique.
4. Fried breakfast in Colobus Camp, Uganda and Breakfast in Mike and
Arlene's B&B in Durban.
5. Gus cooked a meal of corned beef in Sudan that had Xander throwing
up. Soggy cornflakes in the NFD got my vote and Jake picked his 'three
legged chicken' in Western Kenya.
6. I loved the White Water Rafting in Jinja, Uganda and the Gorilla
trek also ranked pretty highly. Axe-throwing in Pemba was Little Max's
choice. How out of character. NOT!
7. The desert won outright here. Four votes went to the LRDG day and
two more to the desert transect in Sudan.
8. I love the view of Kariba and the Zambezi escarpment and Marsibit
National Park also got a vote.
9. Ben liked the Mursi tribe and another one was the Australian biker
that Robert and Gus met in Wadi Halfa.
1O. The beach on Lake Kivu in Rwanda and in Pemba took a vote each but
Jakobsen's was a real favourite and got most.

This still doesn't cover everything but most of it. It was extremely
hard to choose with over 17O days on the road to choose from. I think
each section of the trip was given a fair showing except for the
desert sections. Even though we spent less than three weeks altogether
in the desert it pulled almost 4O% of the 'favourite' votes. It is
officially our favourite section of the trip!
Although this is slightly a self-indulgence exercise I hope you find
it interesting.
Max from Gabarone, Botswana.

P.S. The Adams/Harfords are getting home tomorrow. Its going to be our last day.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

13 June - Into Cape Town - by Alexander




We've got to Cape Town at last! We are staying at Lucy and Loki's house. Before we got to Cape Town we went to Cape Agulhas the southern most tip of Africa (meest sudlike punt van Afrika, in Afrikaans). We had bacon and eggs and pee'd off the end of Africa.




We had pictures of us and shouted JANGANO!!! We stood one leg on the Indian Ocean side and one leg on the Atlantic side and waved our Zim flags.

And then we drove into Cape Town. We got there at night so we basically had supper and went to bed.

The next day I got up and went downstairs to play with Felix, Lucy and Loki's son. We played with aeroplanes. About an hour later me Daddy and Max went to a shop where we bought some books. I bought a VW camper and caravan in the toy shop. We we to the top of Chapman's Peak and looked for whales but we didn't see any.



Before that we went to see some seals. They are so sweet they are furry and swim really nicely. We got about a meter away from one that barked at us. We went to a restaurant. I got an Appletiser and a sandwich> We got home and for the rest of the day we played with toys. Before supper we went to the beach where we kicked a ball around and then we had fish and chips.

5th June - Ponto D'Oro, Mozambique, by Alexander

On the second day at Ponto d'Oro the Le B's and I went on a dolphin safari. The first thing we saw was a whale shark. The boat driver said that everyone should put on their mask and snorkel and fins. We slipped into the water and swam off to find it. I couldn't see. The shark was camouflaged with the coral. What I saw was that it had white spots and was at least five or six meters long.




It wasn't a very good sighting so we got back on the boat and went to look for dolphins. We saw a turtle but I didn't snorkel with it. I only saw it's shell. After a but we carried on on our dolphin trip. We finally found a pod of three but they were all immature (so can't be swum with - RA) so we went to look for more.

We found another pod of at least forty. We saw a dolphin called Rob, who had white spots from a cookie-cutter shark. They say he is at least twenty years old. The dolphins were sleeping so we couldn't snorkel with them either.

On the way back we found the same whale shark, this time he was easier to see because the sea bed was sandy. His eye was tiny but his head was about one and a half meters wide. I had a lovely time on my ocean safari

Thursday, 11 June 2009

NEWSFLASH NEWSFLASH NEWSFLASH


At 10.15 am, on a blustery Thursday morning (11th June 2009), the Zimbabwean flag was hoisted over Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa. In so doing, the Jangano team ended the downward leg of their trip and turned towards Cape Town for the final run in. The end, sadly, is all too nigh! More news shortly.......

Ilha da Mozambique (By Ben)

Sunday 24th May (a bit late, sorry!)

 

We are on an island in the Indian Ocean called Ilha da Mocambique, meaning Island of Mozambique. We are staying in a friend’s holiday house. The house is really big with three floors and a beautiful view of the sea and the mainland. There is a causeway to get across from the mainland to Ilha. The history about this place is that it used to be the capital city and the country was named after the island.

 

We have been here three days and in that time we have gone to the Governor’s palace, which was amazing and huge. It had a big chapel in it with a huge wooden thing painted with gold paint. It used to belong to monks before it was a palace.

 

Yesterday we went on a dhow to an island called Ilha da Goa. It was the best. It looked like something from a magazine. It was paradise with its soft white sand, turquoise water, really big waves, palm trees and loads of really beautiful shells. There was a lighthouse about one hundred and forty years old and it still worked and there was still a lighthouse keeper.

 

I loved Ilha! I’m definitely going there again one day!

 

Friday, 5 June 2009

Diving by Max A

I missed the chance of diving in the Red Sea but more that made up for
it in southern Mozambique. Two wonderful spots, Inhambane and Ponta do
Ouro. In the former we had two wonderful dives, just the parents and
me, and our Dive Master, Alan.

But my favourite dive was right down south, off Ponta. Again the three
of us jumped in a boat with a few others and buzzed out to Doodles
reef. We kitted up in wetsuits, BCDs, regulators and of course, air
tanks. Then we rolled off the side of the boat and descended. The
water was amazingly clear and warm and I could feel that this was
going to be a good dive. At 18metres we hit the bottom, adjusted
everything and set off on our underwater safari.

I'd never seen such richness in underwater life. Little yellow fusilia
fish hugged the reef in the thousands, trying to avoid the hungry
tuna. Red and white striped lionfish swam in threesomes with all their
spikes upright. A large ray with a white belly and grey top 'flew'
gracefully past, flapping it's 'wings'. A Guitar fish or Sand shark
hid in the sand and didn't move as we swam past. They are quite rare
and very good at looking like the sandy bottom so you don't see them
often.

A fat, yellow and black spotted moray eel with his angular, shaped
face languished on the rocks outside his cave, most of his body and
tail hidden. It's tempting to hold onto the bottom at times like these
to get a better view, but a good reason not to are stonefish. Like the
lionfish they are extremely poisonous and a serious sting can kill you
in under an hour. Stonefish, funnily enough look just like stones,
they don't move and unless you can recognise the shape or spot the
eyes they are impossible see. I very nearly put my hand on one even
though it had already been pointed out to me. Now that would have
ruined the dive.

My two favourites though were the massive potato bass. About the size
of a sofa they dominated the 'horizon' and were like zeppelin
airships. I swam along side the biggest and looked it in the eye. It
tolerated me for a bit but got rid of me with just a shake of his
collosal head.
And the other was a turtle. He was a hawksbill with a sharp beak, a
green smooth shell and brown coordinated flippers. Very relaxed and he
just let us watch him while he chomped on coral and swayed around in
the surge. I love turtles. They are so pre-historic and all of them
look like they've lived for 65 million years since the dinosaurs left
us.

It was the perfect dive and I have no doubt that I'll be back at Ponta
do Ouro very soon.

Update

We left Ilha de Mozambique on the 25th of May and travelled hard for
three days via Quelimane, Gorongosa, over the Zambezi and on to
Pomene. From there we drove to Inhambane where we stayed for two
nights and squeezed some diving in. A night in Maputo and then a bit
more diving in Ponta do Ouro. The non-divers had an adventure of their
own which I'm sure they'll write about soon. Then into South Africa on
the 2nd. Jangano reluctantly hit the shops in Durban and then moved
on.

We are now in Howick. Where? You say. It is just inland from Durban
where we parked up last night. We were aiming for Sani Pass near
Lesotho but unfortunately a bit of plastic on the front of Mahali was
melted by some over-enthusiastic grease. So the wheels are wobbling
all over the place, but hopefully it will be fixed today.
And then onwards to Cape Town!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Finally - Our Mountain Gorillas Encounter!! (by Mands)

Before I begin, I need to apologise for the extreme tardiness of this blog . The combination of remote travel over the past 6 weeks which has presented very few opportunities for internet or electricity, plus an unaccountable inertia on my part, has meant a loooong delay in getting this piece written. My sincere apologies. But at last, here it is...

 

As if seeing the chimpanzees wasn’t enough good fortune. How do we continue to be so blessed on this trip? It had never occurred to me that we would get to see gorillas: the cost alone, at US$500 pp, is prohibitively expensive for most backpackers’ budget. In spite of the cost, however, the lure of seeing mountain gorillas (of which there are a mere 720 remaining in the world) still attracts plenty of tourists to Rwanda and Uganda. So much so, in fact, that there is a waiting list several months’ long for obtaining a permit. Not having booked months in advance, it didn’t enter our heads that a visit to the gorillas was even a viable thought. Not until we crossed the border from Uganda into Rwanda, that is...

 

Suddenly finding ourselves in a Host Country of these magnificent creatures, where every other hotel, motel and hostel is called Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Nest Inn or Silverback View Hotel did the thought enter our minds: how silly to be here, Right Here, in the heart of Gorilladom and not at least try to see them. So we decided to test Fate and enquire at the National Parks office. After all, it was low season and still technically the rainy season – a factor which severely reduces tourists’ chances of seeing the gorillas. We didn’t expect a positive answer, therefore we were not going to be disappointed. But at least we would have tried.

 

We stopped off at Ruhengeri and enquired. The office not only had available permits, but several of them, and for every day of the remaining week we were around. On hearing this news, for an instant I couldn’t breathe. Then my insides burnt hot with the desire to see the gorillas. I could not believe that it was possible, yet here we were, confronted with the decision Should We Go or Not. Suddenly, the $500 fee lost its importance, knowing that however much it is, it would be more than worth it. How can one weigh up the price of a Once in a Lifetime experience such as this? I waited to see what the others would decide, holding my breath with anticipation. But when Nicky asked me what I thought, I blurted out my answer. YES!! I really do want to go! Gus and Nicky have already seen mountain gorillas, so it was up to Robert and Big Max. Fortunately, they both ended up agreeing to seize this unique opportunity and so we bought 3 permits and prepared ourselves for a Once In a Lifetime treat!

 

Fast forward to Saturday 2nd May...The dawn sky shone brilliantly on the surrounding volcanoes, as if in apology for the glum, cloudy day we’d had the previous day. It was a good omen, I knew it! Robert, Max and I drove from the camp (to a chorus of farewells from the rest of the gang) to the National Parks HQ. We’d given a lift to three others: Seth from the States and Belgians Annike & Kris, who also ended up in our tracking group. We were ‘assigned’ the Amhora Group of gorillas (of which there are 16 family members). An aptly named group, given that they were the first gorilla family discovered in the forest after the Rwandan genocide: Amhora means Unity in the Kinyarwanda language. Our guide was a young and enthusiastic man named Oliver, who knew every single gorilla in all seven of the groups that have been habituated on this side of the volcanoes. My toes tingled in anticipation and I was impatient to get going. But we still had to drive out to the starting point, about 50 minutes away and then spend another 40 minutes walking through rural villages and fields, before finally arriving at the start of the forest. It began in wild bamboo, but changed shortly to thick forest undergrowth that climbed upwards, becoming increasingly steeper as we headed up the unrelenting volcano. This was no easy stroll, it was hard work as we fought entangling vines, long sharp grasses, giant stinging nettles I’ve never before encountered the size, or sting, of and the most hostile of all, the aggressive, biting Army ants. I didn’t mind any of it one bit, however, because I knew we would be richly rewarded. Which indeed we inevitably were.

 

After a hard hour’s climb, the trackers (men from the local community who spend every single day with this particular group of gorillas) called down to us that they had located the forest dwellers. My heart pounded as I scanned the mountainside, searching desperately to catch a glimpse of one of them. Before I knew what was happening, however, I walked into the backs of our group who had stopped abruptly, on account of the sudden appearance from seemingly nowhere of an adult silverback! Totally unperturbed by us, he nonchalantly loped in front of us and went ahead to find another bush where he could uproot a tasty bunch of the wild celery plant that grows abundantly on the mountainside. We were astounded! With mouths agape at our first and unexpectedly close encounter with this huge furry beast, some of us tried to suppress the nervous, incredulous giggle that welled up. We were told very strictly that no noise or sudden movement was allowed in their presence and as much as was possible, we had to maintain a 7m distance from the gorillas. This stipulation is less a security factor for us, rather more a health consideration for the gorillas, who are vulnerable to human germs.

 

As we continued our almost-vertical scramble up the mountain, we came to a natural clearing, where Lo and Behold! Our expectations were fully realised at the sight of the core members of the Amhora family of gorillas!! The bush was still incredibly thick in parts, so we continued to be surprised by sudden appearances of these huge creatures. I had my own special experience when – being at the back of the group – a mother gorilla had followed after us through the leafy tunnel into the clearing, without our knowing. Without warning or fuss, she simply carried on her way with baby on her back, right past me. I had no idea what to do other than put my head down in a submissive posture, making sure not to make eye contact (I’d learnt that from the Dian Fossey movie!), but the space in the thicket was tight and didn’t allow for space off the path and she brushed her strong body against my legs. A small part of me was terrified, but not because I thought she would turn on me, rather because I felt I had crossed a sacrilegious boundary by making physical contact with a wild gorilla, however unwittingly. Mostly, though, I bubbled with euphoria and the amazed awe of having been so close to one of these special, rare creatures. The best bit was seeing the 10 month old baby gorilla – as cutely clich├ęd as all the magazine photos portray – make eye contact with me as it passed by, turning its head to maintain its bewildered gaze upon this hairless creature that grinned so stupidly at it! It was so unutterably cute, it took an enormous amount of self-control not to put my hand out to touch it!

 

Once having located a gorilla family, the deal is you get to spend only one hour with them. For many obvious reasons, this is clearly a good stipulation for the gorillas’ sakes. As the observer, however, the frustration lay in the fact that 60 minutes of absorbed focus and awe whittled down to what felt more like 6 minutes! We stood up the mountain from them constantly amused and amazed by at the antics of the baby gorilla: playing tag with its young ‘toddler’ sister, rolling over, falling backwards down the slope, climbing over adult relatives who were too busy eating shoots to pay any attention, and hanging upside down from the branches of a small bush. The other gorillas, the adults and sub-adults, concentrated solely on eating; we were fortunate enough to have found the group stationary at snack time. Watching the way these massive, hairy beasts delicately stripped off the bark of stalks before eating them, the way they itched themselves, the way they communicated between themselves, as well as with us, was a constant source of wonder. In so many ways, gorillas appear to mimic us humans: the raise of an eyebrow, a sideways glance, the tender touch of affection, the selective appraisal of which shoot to eat for lunch. So uncannily human. And yet still intrinsically wild and beast-like. We were all fascinated.

 

I was also extremely conscious of the fact that what we were experiencing here was something so fragile, so tenuous. These mountain gorillas – blissful as they currently are – are incredibly vulnerable. Not only do they live in a habitat that happens to be a live volcano, but also within an area of extreme tension and human aggression, sandwiched between volatile DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. Their long-term future is not rosy. We were phenomenally privileged to have shared an hour in the lives of these wondrous animals. It was very hard to tear ourselves away from them. But the visions and memories of each of the Amhora family members are strong. May they always remain so. Most fortuitously for us, one of our group is a professional cameraman – our very own Rob Adams! I’d just like to end by saying a special Thank You to Robert for being the one to forgo a degree of intimacy with the gorillas, as his hour’s experience of them was witnessed largely through the lens of a camera – for the benefit of us all. You can see his stunning short video through our blog site connection............. Great job, Robert, thanks so much!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

out of the mountains and down to the sea...

Well, we're on the homeward stretch now. Or so it seems. We've
followed the shore of Lake Malawi down to Cape Maclear, turned east
to Lishinga, crossed the mountain and forest of Niassa province, and
arrived on the Indian Ocean coast at the exquisite Ilha da
Mocambique. Here, we've settled in for a few days at Casa Heinrich,
the beautifully restored house of a friend from Zimbabwe, eaten
prawns and Lula (calamari), swum in the clear sea, ridden a dhow out
to Goa island and climbed to the top of the hundred year-old lighthouse.

Ilha is an astonishing place, capital of Portugese Mozambique for
over four hundred years, full of decaying grandiose buildings in the
great Imperial Portugese style at one end of the island -the Stone
Town -, and tightly packed reed-roofed African houses at the other -
Reed Town. Today, Sunday, we were lucky enough to meet Franciso
Monteiro, a passionately committed young Portugese architect working
here for UNESCO on a project to rehabilitate the mighty fortress that
dominates the island's northern end. He gave up part of his weekend
to show us around the fort, and we stood on the battlements at the
end of the island, looking out over iron cannon at dhows sailing down
the sunset.

Many buildings in Stone Town are in ruins, the consequence of forty
years of decay, and the forty thousand war refugees who thronged onto
the island - only two kms long by a few hundred meters wide - in the
eighties. Some have been restored, others have survived the gruelling
past decades. There are a handful of delightful restaurants and
cafes, a good hotel, a Centro Nautico offering dhow trips, and not
much else. Ilha is a long way from becoming Mozambique's Zanzibar,
but the beginning of it's rebirth is perhaps apparent.

Over the next few days we'll head south, through central Mozambique,
passing, at Inchope, only a couple of hundred kilometers from the Zim
border, only 6 hours from home. Then south, to Inhassoro, where we
hope to finish our Mozambique time with some diving, and more prawns,
and another spectacular Indian Ocean sunset or two, doubtless
accompanied by a cold Manica (or two).

Malawi to Mozambique photos

Jangano goes boating on Lake Malawi.

Another busy border crossing - Malawi to Mozambique


Camping wild under an Inselberg in Niassa Province, northern Mozambique

The hundred and twenty year old lighthouse on Goa island, off Ilha da Mocambique

Sunset over the Indian ocean, from Casa Heinrich

Friday, 22 May 2009

East African Lakes - by Benedict

We have travelled a lot in East Africa and something we have seen a lot of are lakes. Some lakes we can even swim in, such as Lake Langano in Ethiopia, Lake Kivu in Rwanda and Tanganyika in Burundi and Tanzania. Otherwise, other lakes we’ve seen but not swum in, is Lake Nasser for the border of Sudan and Egypt, Lake Turkana in Kenya, the second biggest lake in the world which is Lake Victoria in Uganda and Lakes Albert, George and Edward also in Uganda. A few things I forgot to say about the lakes we swam in, was that Lake Tanganyika  is the second deepest in the world and the longest in Africa. Lake Kivu has big gas bubbles that are poisonous and Lake Langano has fluoride in it.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

moving on

We've had a lot of travel the past few weeks. Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and now into Malawi. Much of it in the rain, on slippery roads. The tents have hardly had a chance to dry out, insect bites go septic fast...

But it's been an astonishing month of volcanos and tea estates, genocide memorials and gorillas, lakes and rivers and mountains, long days and rainy nights. Food's been a little short at times, though we enjoyed cheese from Goma in the DRC, and ripe avocados almost everywhere. 

And now we are firmly back in familiar territory, on Lake Malawi, heading south and east down the lake towards Mozambique in a few days time, then onto South Africa. In four weeks time we'll be dipping our toes in the southern ocean, and celebrating the southern-most point of our journey. 

Onwards and downwards!

R




New videos!

I've just uploaded two new videos to our youtube channel and the website. The easiest way to access them is to go to www.jangano2009.com and click on "videos - going down". Alternatively you can go to the jangano2009 youtube channel, or click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-aJypn-bgM to watch an account of our visit to the Hope Centre Burundi, where Val and Charles Carr from Scotland are helping build an orphanage outside Bujumbura; or to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsegommK0iot to watch a music vid of a tough day driving the muddy roads of western Tanzania.

I should apologise for the low quality of the videos uploaded - we are sending them from our satfone, and we're trying to keep the costs down. The better the quality, the more data there is, so the more it costs to upload. We think you would rather get regular updates in not-so-good quality. Once we have a good connection, and some time to spend on updating, I will try to upload higher quality versions. In the meantime, please bear with us!

R


Food, glorious food

Many of our devoted followers have commented on how skinny we are looking in our photos and video clips. Thank you! Before we left there was concern that we would all balloon in size because we would be sitting in our cars all day. As well as fears amongst our nearest and dearest that our brains would become addled without gainful employment or school to stimulate the grey cells. Well, as you will have seen there has been plenty of food for the mind on this trip. But perhaps we haven't demonstrated quite as clearly the variety of physical fodder we have consumed. Personally speaking, my culinary experiences have been an important aspect of the expedition, one to which my diary bears considerable testimony. Memories of specific places are accompanied by recollections of what we ate, who cooked it and even who washed up!

FOOD 1 is the key food box in Jambanja containing tins, carbs, condiments and the odd packet of popcorn that was evidently purchased in Zimbabwe circa 1999 because it still has a price label saying 10 dollars (zim) on it. Its looking a bit empty now as we are well into southern Africa and never more than a day away from a supermarket or seafood. We have another box, FOOD 2, which by contrast contains the malt whisky, several Rwandan baskets, and an old bottle of Angostura bitters which I fondly and erroneously imagined we would be mixing into our gin and tonics at the end of a hard day's bush bashing. Each car has several other ammo boxes full of utensils, cutlery, saucepans etc. as well as gas stoves.

Most of you will want to know who does most of the cooking. Well some of our resident chefs have made it easy for us both to recall their contribution and at the same time ensure they get off lightly on cooking duty thereafter. After trying out several recipes of his own device which put corned beef centre stage I think Gus realised that it was no coincidence that first Alexander and then he were violently sick a few hours later.

Here is the famous Le Breton chapati making team. This morning Gus decided he would make pancakes but at the sight of the gluey wholemeal gloop he had created, he convinced us that he was planning to make chapatis all along.
Bread is of course a staple, and when we can't buy it en route we have occasionally baked (burnt) our own loaves in the camping bread maker that was purchased from a 4x4 shop in Joburg last year. Of course its all in the kneading.....
What of the other chefs at the Jangano 5 star restaurant? Max and Jake have proven dab hands at fried eggs, popcorn and general tin opening duty. The three laatjies made a memorable and delicious meal in which they re-created kosheri, a favourite Egyptian dish of rice mixed with noodles. They did this by cunningly cooking some rice and yes, wait for it.... mixing it with 3 minute noodles. And Mands takes first prize for doing the most to ensure we don't go to bed feeling hungry every day. My speciality is a buffet supper which involves opening tins of humus, tuna, sweetcorn and anything else suitable, and artfully arranging it with some raw carrot and tomato. Decorated with herbs and spices it looks good and has become a favourite quick fix especially when firewood or gas or imagination are in short supply.

Fortunately sometimes we are staying with friends and enjoying the luxury of a fully equipped kitchen to play with....or else their long-suffering staff may even cook for us. Having breakfast with Kate Phillips in Cairo:


And other times we eat out. One of the cheapest and best meals we had in Egypt was at Mustapha's street cafe near the (rebuilt) library in Alexandria.

And one of our most upmarket meals was at the New Cactus restaurant in Kigali, Rwanda, when Robert treated us to excellent oven-baked pizzas!

Fashion Violations

The time, sadly, is drawing all too rapidly to a close. And with it we, inevitably, start to reflect. Sitting on a lakeshore in Malawi, watching the absolute disregard of my youngest son for anything remotely connected with fashion (inherited from where, I wonder?!), it occurred to me that none of us had escaped the last few months without occasionally straying from the bounds of what might be called Sound Fashion Sense. Some of these may have been circumstantial, but others were clearly premeditated. Here, for your enjoyment, is a cross-section of some of the more serious Fashion Violations of the trip to date......

The leading causes of Fashion Violations are, of course, climatic. Take, for example, the following item of rainwear recently modelled by Nicky on a back road in western Tanzania.

Ben and Mands were clearly struggling to cope with the unexpected chills in the Western Desert below.

But quite what was going through Mands' head as she adopted the following attire to keep warm at over 3,000 metres in Ethiopia remains a mystery!

The next most-common cause of Fashion Violations were our (sometimes desperate) attempts to blend in. Take, for example, Robert's ill-conceived attire as he tried to mingle in Egypt....



Or Xander and Ben's sorry efforts at local headgear (cunningly fashioned by a passerby from a rug he found on the floor)....



Big Max's attempts to pass off as a Hamer warrior in South Omo were laudable, and he even followed local custom by decorating his AK in appropriate style with a piece of goatskin wrapped delicately around the nozzle. Not everyone's idea of top fashion, but not bad!



Below is a genuine Hamer warrior who, for reasons known only to him, chose to abandon his rather fine traditional dress and instead don an ancient satin ball-gown, presumably appropriated from a passing Victorian explorer's wife. Not one of the Jangano team, but an outstanding Fashion Violation, nonetheless!


Not all Fashion Violations were circumstantial, and some were quite clearly premeditated. Take, for example, the bizarre decision of the entire Le B family to pluck purple flowers from the grounds of a hotel in Lalibela, put them behind their ears and then allow themselves to be photographed in such a pose. What WERE they thinking?!


If we were to award a prize for the most serious Fashion Violations of the trip, however, there's no doubt in anyone's mind who it would go to. For his persistent ability to mix and match the most unlikely combinations of clothes, and for the utter lack of self-consciousness with which he sports them, Little Max scoops all the prizes. Here, in one of his more imaginative ensembles (green sleeveless vest, blue boxers, long grey socks and charming cammo crocs), is Little Max, the undisputed King of Anti-Fashion in the Jangano team!

And as for me, well, I can only feel a sense of relief that the baton is now in the hands of someone else!