Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Omo Valley (by Little Max)

The Mursi People

We visited the Mursi People on Sunday in Mago nat. park. We saw the wimin with a lip plate in there bottom lips. When I first saw them I thort they were fake! The people were funey and strange becos the children were naked and some girls were showing there bumeys!

Bull Jumping

We went to a Hamer village to see the Hamer people. We saw the bull jumping. There were ten bulls lined up for the bull jumping. A naked man had to jump on to the bulls backs. The wimin were dancing around the circle. I was tiyed the hole time but I had a good day.

The Omo Valley (by Ben)

Arriving in Mago National Park

Coming through Jinka, we met and picked up our guide Andrew and went to the Park. We found a brilliant campsite right by a river and under lovely lush trees. We saw some colobus monkeys and some very naughty baboons. It was about 42 degrees celsius so we had a nice refreshing splash in the river.

Visiting the Mursi People

The next morning we drove deeper into the park and entered a village - a Mursi village. When we got there, the first thing I saw were the mud and straw huts, then the men. The men wore goat skins as clothes and had their bodies covered in chalk. Then I saw the women....They looked odd, quite crazy and scary. Scary because of their bottom lips, which had clay plates inserted in them. All of them wanted their photo taken to get some money. They were quite aggressive with that. I didn't like it at all. We then went to the river by walking through a field of tall sorghum. Xander, Max and I swam in it whilst the dads and the local men were fishing with rods. Altogether it was an incredible day

Omo Valley tribes by Xander

24 March. Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Today we visited a Mursi village. The ladies all had stretched lips and all had plates in their lips. Sometimes they took the plates out and their lips hung there.

They dressed in a nice way. The dresses on the ladies were made out of bark. On their heads they had beads and warthog tusks. The men carried AK-47's which is a cool gun. We went swimming in the river and fished with the Mursi and they used our rods.

Hamer village. Bull Jumping

When a Hamer man is ready to get married he has to do a Bull Jumping ceremony to show he is a man. When we got to the the man's village the people were singing, drinking, dancing and blowing horns. Then I noticed that everyone was moving to a shelter where they were making coffee. Ben Max and I played a game where we were all bushmen. 

Young men whipped female relatives of the man who was going to jump the bulls. The women didn't scream, shout or cry. After a bit the whippers herded the bulls into a line of twelve and the man jumped them. He jumped onto them and ran across their backs six times.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

moving on

A quick update, to mark our position, as it were... We have just had
a couple of days in Addis, where we have been joined for the next two
weeks by Mands' sister Vicky - Hi Vicky, welcome to the Jangano

Today, we leave Addis with cars cleaned, boxes repacked and laundry
done, and head down towards the wild and extraordinary Omo Valley in
southern Ethiopia, where tribes of pastoralists live virtually
untouched by the modern world. Then south again, into northern Kenya,
around the end of the month, to Lake Turkana; and Nairobi around 4th
April, in time to meet Jake off the plane from school.

We'll update as and when we can, but contact will surely be sparse
and sporadic for the next couple of weeks.


Sunday, 15 March 2009

Halfway point

We celebrated Ben and Gus's birthdays this past week - happy birthday, guys! A couple of fellow overlanders, David and Bridget, from Somerset in the UK, who are travelling across Africa in a Land Rover, whistled up a birthday cake in the car park at Aswan harbour as we waited to load our vehicles onto the ferry south to Sudan.

Cake eaten, paperwork completed, and several hours spent waiting in the sun, we waved goodbye to Jambanja and Mahali, and the Landy, and watched, with some trepidation, as our beloved vehicles sailed away down Lake Nasser on a rusty barge. Then we boarded the rusty barge that masquerades as a passenger ferry, and sailed away into the sunset ourselves.
Now we are about to leave Khartoum, south again to Ethiopia, crossing the bridge between the two halves of the Jangano expedition. We've been on the road for almost exactly three months, and have the same to run again.

. A couple of days of refit and "housekeeping" in Addis, and then the next big phase of our adventure - the Omo Valley, one of the wildest places on the planet!

Nubian village life by Nicky

On our way down through northern Sudan we meandered through some picturesque Nubian villages where life hasn't changed for hundreds of years and loved the whitewashed walled compounds with their colourful doorways set amongst date palm groves and brilliant green fields along the Nile.

Apparently the white donkeys of this area are the strongest in Sudan and therefore much sought after.

In every village large pottery water jars are arranged by the roadside for thirsty travellers.

A group of brightly clad women stopped to greet us on their way to a wedding.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Luxor by Big Max

I just looked at the blog for the first time in ages as we have just arrived in Khartoum. And realised that nobody has written about Luxor. I really enjoyed my time there and I plan to write a couple of pieces about it.

Im sure some people must think that endlessly going around ancient sites must completely bore most memebers of the Jangano Team. But it doesnt. Even the three younger boys never complain. They seem to possess an amazing amount of energy that just isn't dimmed by sightseeing.

And Luxor is one place where you have to be in the mood. Pretty much the first temple we saw was the Temple of Karnak which is a brilliant complex. Massive, 64 hectares of columns, statues and obelisks. It really lit the fire for all of us and showed me that there is more to the place than the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

The city of Thebes was the most magnificent in ancient Egypt and held the strongest dynasties. Rameses II, Rameses lll, Tutankhamun, and dozens of other mighty Pharoahs were based there. They built like beavers. Temples of Amun Ra here, statues of themselves there and millions of other monuments. It's just incredible what is there and what is still being excavated.

The mayor of Luxor has said that he wants to make his town into the greatest open air museum in the world. And if there is one place where that is possible then Luxor is that place!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Into Sudan

Many of our friends have expressed some qualms about us crossing into Sudan again, following the ICC ruling against President Bashir last week. We are confident that we won't have a problem, and our Sudanese friends assure us that there is nothing to worry about. We will travel fairly quickly to Khartoum - probably only taking a couple of days to cross the north of the country this time - then another day or two out to Ethiopia. So our exposure to the country on this part of the journey will be very limited. We'll post an update once we get to Khartoum, and again once we are in Ethiopia next weekend.


Susan Tsvangarai

We were stunned to hear of the death of Susan Tsvangarai in a car crash back home in Zimbabwe. It is a terrible tragedy for Morgan and their children, and for the nation.

We send her family heartfelt wishes of strength and perseverance at this awful time. Morgan's task of leading the reconstruction of Zimbabwe was always going to be immensely difficult. It is hard to imagine how he will manage it now, without Susan by his side. But we are sure that all those who wish to see Zimbabwe peaceful and prosperous will ensure that Morgan gets all the assistance he needs now.

New Videos!

I've put up six "video postcards" from our time in Egypt on our website. There's a lazy day on the Nile, our arrival in Cairo, Ben's exploration of a pyramid, our visit to El Alamein cemetery, dipping our toes in the Med at Marsa Matruh, and finally an impression of our days driving in the Great Sand Sea.

The first five are on these pages of our website -

along with several other videos from the first leg of our expedition. The Great Sand Sea vid is on the new "video gallery - going down" page at our website

which is where all our new videos will be available.

You can also see all the Jangano2009 vids on our youtube channel, by clicking the "our YouTube channel" button on the right of this page.



Sunday, 8 March 2009

Hey! from Clive

Hi Guys
I'm sure you don't want the whole world reading my update, just sent through to you!!? 
Sorry about that, I thought that I was sending it to an e-mail address, but you have to understand, that I am only a simple farmer here in Zim!! 
But I'm sure you can all have a quick read, and then get rid of it off your site!!
Cheers for now & happy travels!


Exercising on the move

We're often asked how we get enough exercise on the road. Here are some of the ways we keep ourselves fit and healthy.

1. Towing the cars. By hand.

When the children need a bit of a run around, we stop the cars and hitch them to the kids for a tow. It also gives the engines a chance to cool down.

2. Jumping on Big Max.

One of our favourite exercises. Certain hefty grownups have had to be banned from it, due to complaints from Big Max's ribcage, but it never ceases to amuse the younger members of the team.

3. French cricket.

A perennial favourite on HarfordAdams/Le Breton expeditions. Our rule is that we play until we lose the ball. Some of our recent games in the desert have been very short indeed!

4. Gymnastics.

Sandy Mandy's desert gymnastics classes have proved very popular with the team. Here Ben tries the technically challenging Reverse Teapot with a Double Tuck manoeuvre.
Big Max having a go at the handstand.

5. Graffiti in the sand. An unconventional but effective means of exercising some of the junior team members.

The graffiti.

How it was written.

6. Yoga.

Not sure what this was supposed to be, but fortunately no mechanical recovery equipment was actually required to get Mands out of it, although the winch had been primed......

Inside a pyramid by Max A

I know that this is a little late but a trip into a Gizan pyramid is worth a write up.

The entrance of the Great Pyramid of Khufu is a little unprepossessing, just a hole in the wall. A short climb up the wall brings you to the beginning.

From there the adventure begins. The first corridor is wide and high with a sandy floor and feels like more of a chamber than a secret passage.

After that it becomes more intrepid; the second passage is dark and narrower and I had to stoop to get through. I can get claustrophobic at times and I began to feel the first stirrings of it there.

The massive causeway comes next, 84 metres long, 12 metres high and 5 metres wide. My sense of awe compounded by the 45 degree slope. You actually feel like it points to the heavens. It was there that I first felt the weight of stones on top of me from the atmosphere and I imagined it all collapsing.

This is not a good idea and I don’t recommend it to anyone as it is sure to excite claustrophobia. But I pushed it out of my mind and continued.

The heat levels are rising from the moment you step inside but only become unpleasant at this point. Only 150 people are allowed in every day and without this limit it would be unhealthily warm. Even with the restraint my mind was cast back to Hugo Fircks’ tobacco barns where 78 degree heats were used to dry tobacco. It wasn’t that bad at Giza but it was rather stifling.

At the top of the causeway there is a short but extremely low tunnel. I was bent double going through. And as I can’t even touch my toes this was rather uncomfortable. Fortunately it didn’t last long and rather abruptly opened up into the burial chamber. This climb had brought us to about two thirds of the way up the pyramid.

It was hot in there, uncomfortably so and we shuffled over to the giant stone sarcophagus. The only memorabilia left inside. There were some inscriptions on the walls but I didn’t hang around to study those. I was baking in a massive oven.

The route out was exactly the same but slightly quicker, everyone looking forward to the (relatively) cool air outside.

This is how I felt inside but once I was outside I finally appreciated the greatness of the ancient Egyptians. Their knowledge, their belief and their grandeur! Will we ever see anything like it again?

Xander heading off with a spade and loo roll.....

Saturday, 7 March 2009


A question almost everyone surely would love to ask, but dare not for fear of being too personal?!

There is not a lot, however, that escapes the “too personal” when travelling in close companionship with others.

Especially when you’re on the road for 6 months together!

And especially when camping!!

Camping, under any circumstances, generally breaks down most of the “too personal” barriers. We in the Jangano team have most assuredly passed into the realm of sharing personal information about our bodily functions. Many a conversation around the campfire has been inspired by a noisy release of gas from one of us – I mean, from one of the children.

Peeing is the easy part. Well, if you’re male, that is. It has been somewhat more challenging for Nicky and myself, but we have been creative in our use of kikoyis  (so long as we can persuade someone to stand by dutifully holding the cloth up, whilst looking away!) But we have managed admirably, though I say so myself.

The more tricky aspect of ablutions – the unmentionable – has actually proved to be quite a source of fun and amusement. One has to be prepared, however, for there are a few essentials that one cannot complete the exercise successfully without. These include the obvious loo roll, a small shovel (optional) and a box of matches or a lighter (compulsory). One can then confidently march out of camp to find the nearest -or furthest- bush, tree island or sand dune to hide behind. It’s always best if you can find a spot with a view, of course, such as atop a stunning sand dune, or amongst giant wind-sculptured boulders. It can often be a glorious moment! We can usually gauge the level of success by the facial expression of the returnee. Smiling: good; glum: not so good. If there has been a couple of days without success, we have discovered the perfect recipe: a handful of those delicious fresh dates that can be found at any Egyptian souq.

Yes indeed, us Harford-Adams/ Le Breton campers are really getting to know each other at a new level!

The Western Desert

You'll notice that our latest batch of postings from, respectively, Aswan and Luxor (Robert and Gus sorting out vehicles in Aswan, everyone else enjoying themselves in Luxor) have something of a desert theme. This is because the majority of our last two weeks have been spent in the Western Desert of Egypt, and it has been a truly inspiring experience for all of us. There can't be many places in the world quite like it....

Although it was something we were anyway hoping to do, a chance meeting in Cairo with friends of friends opened the door to a whole seam of opportunities we hadn't considered. Without a second thought, Sandy and PJ (said Friends of Friends) gave us, in short order, a map of the desert, a series of GPS waypoints and a suggested itinerary, a spare sand ladder and two more jerry cans. It was an act of exceptional generosity, as a result of which we were able to embark on some really quite adventurous, "out there" kind of desert travel.

After a flying visit to the El Alamein museum (just to get us in the mood), and a very sobering walk around the Commonwealth war graves site there, we made our way to Siwa, the famous old oasis that, amongst other things, played host to the Long Range Desert Group during the second World War. It put us firmly in the mood for some off-road adventuring of our own, and before long we were heading off on a compass bearing to find an abandoned LRDG vehicle in the middle of the Great Sand Sea to the south of Siwa.

We had several days of wonderfully enjoyable and exciting travel in the desert, during which we saw nobody else at all, and really felt at times as if we were the only people left on the planet. We found our LRDG vehicle, too, and in not much different condition from when it was abandoned 68 years ago. That gave us quite a sense of achievement, locating one small piece of rusting metal in the middle of a vast desert!

We had, on many occasions, to lower the tyre pressures almost to nothing, get out the sand ladders and dig and push to get our vehicles through the sand. But nobody complained, and it soon became apparent that the kids were enjoying the digging so much they were positively willing the cars to get stuck. I think I may have been like that when I was a kid, too....

Taking the air out of the tyres....

and pumping it back in again.....
We had some breathtaking campsites along the way, and huddled up in our sleeping bags each evening (for it was VERY cold at night!) content in the knowledge that there was nobody for miles around us in all directions.

Things didn't always go perfectly, of course, and Robert and I had to perform an emergency operation on the handbrake drum in Mahali, which decided to give up the ghost in the middle of the desert.

Naturally I don't expect the handbrake to work (functioning handbrakes being, to my mind, an entirely superfluous cosmetic attachment), but I'd rather they didn't screech and howl like a banshee. When this one started doing that, it had to go. Just as well. When we opened it up, it was in many more pieces than it's manufacturer had ever intended....

Now, sadly, we leave the Western Desert and turn back into Sudan. Although we have many more excitements ahead of us, and much fun still to be had, it's hard to imagine anything else on our route will give us quite us much pleasure and satisfaction as we gained from these few days. Thanks Sandy and PJ for your help in setting us up, and thanks too to the gallant men of the LRDG who stayed with us as inspiration throughout the trip!

New Technologies

Bizarre though it may seem on a trans-Africa overland trip, one of Mands' goals for this trip is to become more computer literate (her being the only one of us grown-ups lucky enough to have a job that doesn't require her to sit in front of a computer from dawn to dusk!).

Last week she took delivery of a brand new laptop, over which she is slowly starting to assert a small degree of control. By the time we reach Cape Town, she'll be an old pro for sure! In the interim, however, there will inevitably be a few glitches. The e-mail below, which she meant to send privately to Robert but inadvertently posted on our blog site instead, may, I suspect, be one of them!

Personally, I take it as a sign that she's doing her utmost to become a technohead like the rest of us. But perhaps it's her way of subtly telling me that I won't actually be getting a Volcano stove for my birthday this year! Oh well, I have a few birthdays ahead of me yet.......

Gus XX

Driving in the Desert (By Ben) With Pictures

Getting the cars out of the sand is a real team effort!

It’s been fun coming down some of the dunes. Personally, getting stuck is really good fun. We have to get everybody out of the cars and digging under the wheels to move the sand out of the way.

Jambanja got extremely stuck at one point, when we were coming over a steep dune and it got stuck on the top. We had to dig not only under the wheels, but everywhere else also.

Jambanja's wheels spinning on top of a dune.

Every time Daddy stops the car, we love to jump out and play around in the sand – unless we’re stuck, of course!

It can get very hot and on one side of our car the window is broken, so we can’t open it. But when we do open it, it can’t close again and then it gets very cold because it’s very windy. Daddy is a good driver in the desert, because he’s experienced this kind of sand-driving before. The desert sand is sometimes hard and sometimes soft. We can go fast on the hard sand, but we go slow in the soft sand.

Driving fast on the hard sand

Friday, 6 March 2009

The Pyramids by Little Max & Ben



Little Max: I thought they were very good. You have to climb up a lot inside the biggest, the actual Great pyramid. We climbed ladders up through teensy tunnels. We didn’t get to the very top, but half way up there was the burial chamber. It was hot in there and a bit hard to breathe! We saw a sarcophagus with a broken lid, but it was empty.

We didn’t have time to go to the small pyramid, but we did go to the Sphinx. It wasn’t as big as I was expecting and I thought you could go inside it, but I was wrong. Two sarcophagi were just behind the feet of it. I loved the Sphinx and the pyramids! I would like to go back some day.


Ben: I felt really happy that we went there and grateful that we are able to go there. Around the pyramids, there were lots of tourists and guides and camels and a lot of plastic bags flying around in the air! At Giza, there were the 3 great pyramids. They were probably the biggest I will ever see in my life and they are very famous. They’re magical.

Inside the biggest pyramid, I felt happy, excited, scared and annoyed.  Annoyed, because they took our cameras away and we could only have them if we had a guide and we didn’t want a guide. It was really steep going up to the middle of the big pyramid, which is as high as you can go. In the burial chamber, it was really hot; I felt as if I would collapse and there was a massive stone coffin with half its lid off. There wasn’t anything inside, though. It was a bit disappointing to come all the way into the pyramid and up and up and up and being worried that we might fall, and then getting into the room full of tourists and finding an empty stone coffin! They should have left the body inside, but taken all the treasure, to make it more realistic and more exciting!

Desert Adventures by Alexander

Getting Stuck

We got stuck about ten, twelve times. Once we got bogged so badly we
had to get the Hi Lift Jack out and lift the car up and dig. We also
had to use the tow rope to tow the car out.

LRDG truck

We found a Long Range Desert Group truck which me and big Max slept in. It had a machine gun holder and six ammo closets. We played a soldier game in it. The underneath was in brilliant condition. The top was OK but rusty - I mean RUSTY. The bonnet was missing and it was very deeply dug in.

The Dunes

The dunes are so smooth and they moved so fast and the edges were so sharp they were brilliant. The tops were like snakes and you got sunlight on one side and shadow on the other. The longest dune line in the world is 120 kms long and we drove along it!

Desert fox

We saw a desert fox. He ate one of out sweets. He or she was beautiful. It came to our camp and drank water from one of our cups. And he wasn't at all afraid of us. It looked a lot my my Granny and Grandpa's dog Pippin with long ears and a long bushy tail.

Sleeping Out.

We sometimes slept out under the stars and on some nights it was warm, some cold. My Dad taught me how to use Orion and the Plough to find the North Star.