Tawanda Kanhema - Africa Travel Extra December 2006
In this Issue...
Adrift Madagascar - Pages 8-9
Unleasing Mount Kilimanjaro - Pages 12-13
Walking With the Masai - Pages 15-16
Water Rafting - Page 18
Festival of the Desert - Pages 22-24
Zambezi - The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park - Pages 26-27
Cycling Malawi - Pages 28-29
Matetsi Game Lodge - Zimbabwe’s Tourist Haven - Pages 30-31
Designs on Africa - Pages 32-33
Bujagali, the Falls that never sleep - Pages 40-41
Akagera National Park - Page 46
Living the Cause - The Joy of Volunteering - Pages 38-39
Extra Shots - The Picture Session - Pages 42-45
Traveller’s Diary - We Hear From You - Page 53
Must Know - Travel Tips - Page 54
December 2006 ~ 1
hoever called Africa the Dark Continent without a
doubt must have been blind. If there is anything
Africa can proudly boast of, it is light. Even as the
day turns into night in Africa you can't help but notice the
excitement in the air.
It is for this reason that Africa Travel Extra is transporting you
to and from Africa in this new must read publication. All you
have to do is turn the pages and feel the thrills as you discover
what Africa has to offer you.
In a matter of minutes we are giving you an unforgettable
experience of Africa. From the warm African sun, spectacular
view, rich history of the African people to the stunning landscapes
of nature we give you a delightful insight into the unseen.
Discover Ivory Coast's bigger than big church and get to know
why Mt. Kilimanjaro is the epitome of adventure.
Acquiring knowledge of what is in Africa without knowing how
it revolves around the world is not enough believe me!
In this issue we give you an extra touch by revealing as much of
this continent as we can.
Do enjoy the unfolding journey into Africa.
Managing Director: Ben Muchenje Africa Travel and Tours
Creative Director: Joey Kigozi
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2 ~ December 2006
THIS MONTHS FEATURED COUNTRIES ARE
1. Uganda 4. Rwanda 7. Kenya
2. Zimbabwe 5. Tanzania 8. Madagascar
3. Zambia 6. Malawi 9. Mali
Please see map above for locations
December 2006 ~ 3
r ica Tr
R ivers Flow
I n and Out
C asting See It All Here In The
A wesome Scenarios Extra Touch Issue...
T ime Stops
L arger Than Life
E xperience This
A nd Take a Flight
4 ~ December 2006
he global tourism market has recorded gradual growth trends in the past
three years, and the industry is showing growing resilience to instability in
main tourism regions, with 236 million international tourist arrivals having
Up in 2006, been recorded in the first four months of 2006, a 4,5 per cent jump from 2005.
The global tourism industry, which had 226 million international arrivals during the same
period last year, recorded a 10 million jump in arrivals this year, with Africa and the Middle
East leading the way.
However, with the resurgence of hostilities in the Middle East, especially in Israel and
Global Favourite Lebanon, whose tourism sectors had been growing impressively in the past years, tourism
in the region is expected to take a dip, with prospects for Africa remaining uncertain.
The United Nations United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reported that
there had been a sustained growth in global tourism demand since 2004 and Africa and the
By Middle East had both recorded an 11 per cent increase in tourism arrivals over 2005.
The scales are tilting towards Africa and the Middle East, which led the way while Asia
Tawanda and the Pacific recorded a growth of 8 per cent thanks to the “disaster tourism” campaign.
The Americas recorded a 2,7 per cent growth, while Europe had only 2,5 per cent.
Kanhema Zimbabwe’s tourism industry, however recorded a dip in tourism earnings, with US$21,2
million having been recorded in the first quarter of this year, down from US$30.5 million
recorded in the same period last year.
in Harare In the Middle East, Israel registered a 30 per cent growth in tourism arrivals in the run-
up to the outbreak of hostilities with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement, while
Lebanon itself had registered the highest regional tourism with 49 per cent in international
African destinations, which has long suffered the impact of negative global media reports
on security threats and crime rates on the continent, is beginning to benefit from the
relative calm that now prevails in the region.
Tourism growth in Africa is reported to have been stronger in Sub-Saharan Africa, where
it recorded an excess of 12 per cent, with Kenya, South Africa and the Seychelles having
registered remarkable growth.
The UNTWO maintained that the recent events in the Middle East would not mar the
future of global tourism. The organization noted that 2006’s trends confirmed that the
disruptions would affect destinations at a local level, but would not alter global
or regional traffic flows.
“International tourism has now entered a more stable phase of
sustained demand without big peaks and troughs. Although the
rate of growth is slowing gradually, international tourism is
firmly on track to grow at a rate above the long-term
average of 4% for the third year in a row now – barring
unexpected events, of course,” said UNWTO
Secretary General Francesco Frangialli.
The major factors contributing to growth in
tourism were the favourable economic
conditions in main global source markets
and the efforts and initiatives to
expand the tourism industry by
December 2006 ~ 5
Southern Africa Tourism Gears
for 2010 World Cup
The granting of the right to host the
s the final whistle for the
2006 World Cup in Germany
World Cup to South Africa in 2010 was blown, attention
quickly focused on South Africa
created a massive euphoria and 2010. To this end, Tourism and
Sports ministers in the Southern
excitement for Southern African African Development Community
(SADC) met in Botswana in August
tourism. What with the expected 300 2006 under the auspices of Regional
Tourism Organization of Southern
000 visitors to grace the month long Africa (RETOSA) to design a
common marketing and branding
soccer jamboree and an estimated 4 strategy for the event to ensure
maximum benefits to the region.
billion of global viewers on television? One of the issues to have emerged
6 ~ December 2006
during the meeting was the fundamental need to introduce a
uni-visa system to facilitate easy entry of tourists in all the
countries. The role of tailor making regional tourism
packages was also emphasized.
It is thus hoped that the preparations will gather
momentum as the event approaches so that soccer fans
and tourists can enjoy an African World Cup thus fully
silence some doubting Thomases who have been
questioning Africa’s readiness to host the event.
Africa Travel extra will strive to keep you posted on
the latest events as Africa works towards producing a
World Cup that will be immortalized in the minds of the
global audience and future unborn generations
Subscription ad to fill...
December 2006 ~ 7
When in Rome...Eat This
Now you know where the good
old bananas come from
Coffee, latté, cappuccino…
these beans tell you where to get
a good cup.
Fancy a papaya…you know where to get one now.!
Market Scene in Madagascar:
Fruit and Vegetables specially
tendered for you
8 ~ December 2006
When in Rome...Dress Like This
atherine Nabwire dresses in the Ugandan female
traditional dress called gomesi or busuti by the Baganda
people at her introduction ceremony one of the many
traditional ceremonies that come before the official marriage.
Its special feature is the sharp pointed sleeves and the big attractive
belt ekitambala tied around it.
It is widely worn around the country, and even though the tribes from
western Ugandan have their own specific wear the mushanana, they are
glad on occasions to swap it for the gomesi.
It's made from six metres of cloth that can be of very colourful, plain or
decorated material depending on the one's taste.
It's very popular at traditional wedding give away ceremonies and
public functions. It symbolises the virtual of a woman and its one of the
must give gifts a husband gives his new bride.
Brighten those grey days
with some of this accessory
Next time you feel like you want to
take off those shoes and dance, you
know what to wear
Men, here is your dancing gear
complete with shoes
Bad Hair day? This headscarf
gives you the solution
December 2006 ~ 9
e s p i t e
tribes and clans that
inhabit the island,
the country shares one
language helping to
contribute to the people’s
warmness not only to one
another but to tourists as
well. A few words from
Bantu and Swahili are
incorporated into the
Malagasy people are a mixture of Asian and
Africans and have inhabited the island for over
1500 years. Most of them migrated from India
and south East Asia moving across the
Indian Ocean before settling
at the island.
Marco Polo the great famous
western traveler reported
Popular for its strong Madagascar ‘s
culture, oneness and in the
Madagascar a South
African Island in the
Indian Ocean east of
Mozambique, is slowly narrative of
becoming a reknown his travels.
Madagascar has a wet
tropical feel and is usually warm
holiday destination. with moderate temperatures peaking above
Air Madagascar runs flights between Kenya and
Johannesburg whereas Air France runs a direct flight from
Paris. Inter Air also runs a flight from Johannesburg to Ivato
Airport in Madagascar.
From the airport your first stop over in Madagascar is likely to be
Tana short for Antananarivo a pretty crowded noisy city in
Madagascar. Built high above sea level
it has very colourful
houses that are
10 ~ December 2006
well surrounded by the green of nature.
This city is worth a tour as Southwest of it is Analakey where the post office, banks,
restaurants and nightclubs are. Uphill you can find the ruins of Rova, the former
Queen’s palace. The district of Analakey is also packed with permanent street
markets, as swarms of off white umbrellas perched precariously on old tyre rims
shade the vendors.
Another reknown site with the tourists is Nosy Be fondly called ‘Perfumed
Isle’. Nosy Be is surrounded by beautiful water and is premier resort island with
several smaller islands including Nosy Kamba, Nosy Tanikely, Nosy Sakatia
and Nosy Mitsio nearby.
Nosy Be is quite expensive but is popular for a resort style holiday
as it has plenty of restaurants, an electric nightlife and some
excellent dive spots.
The original capital of the Merina Royal family
Ambohimanga (Blue Hill) is another great
place to see in Madagascar.
Ambohimanga hosts a
castle mountain and a large traditional gateway marks the site’s
entrance to one of the seven gateways to the eyrie like hilltop. The
king’s home the Betavo resembles a black wooden shed.
If you need a touch of the wild, Park National de L ’Isalo is a great stopover for
a true African feel.
It’s a major National park with beautiful scenery and its topography is
characterised by alternating flat grass plains and sandstone ridges that shelter the
animals of the wild.
Despite being the fourth poorest country in the world, the
Malagasy are a happy people, have a sense of oneness
and appreciations of nature’s gifts. They
are warm friendly people, always
happy to help and many do
shelter tourists in their
huts as they
make inland journeys.
All Visitors do require a visa to Madagascar,
which can be acquired on entry and lasts up to 3months.
The Time Zone in Madagascar is GMT/UTC.
December 2006 ~ 11
Unleashing Mt. Kilimanjaro 5895m
By Flavia Nakagwa
Africa is blessed with a number of natural beautiful sceneries that sometimes may go unnoticed
because of their abundance. Tanzania the biggest East African country mainly known for its
Tanzanites, (gem stones) many other natural sites have also added pride to patriotic nationals.
12 ~ December 2006
anzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding adventurous good day out, which can easily be incorporated into a safari
mountain in the world and the highest peak in Africa. around the Northern Parks.
Kilimanjaro is also the highest 'walk able' mountain in the
world and is a massive draw for trekkers. For those that have With all the natural vegetation advancing from the fertile mountain soils,
managed to reach this rewarding summit, the highest point in Africa there must be few mountains in the world more alluring than Kilimanjaro.
deserve a standing ovation. This snowy summit, floating above the plains of Africa, exudes an
atmosphere of unparalleled remoteness and inaccessibility. The knowledge
The extinct volcano of Kilimanjaro is one of the world's most recognizable that it is far from inaccessible and can be climbed with no technical problems
peaks. It rises dramatically above the dusty East African plains with the lures walkers from all over the world, many of them perhaps tackling their
impressive snow-capped summit awarding awe-inspiring views of this first mountain.
magnificent landscape. The expedition travels through one of Africa's best-
known game reserves and climbs through five ecosystems, offering a full It is sad that many fail in the attempt and perhaps go away with a quite
mountain experience with the ascent of the continent's highest peak. unjustified hatred of mountains thereafter. The problem of course is height
but if you are not adventurous enough you might miss to get into the
Of the Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro with a rocky summit is the least Guinness book of record.
difficult to climb. However, at over 19,000ft high, it is still a tough ascent and John Mallonga a Mt. Kilimanjaro porter/guide says, “A tourist route
trekkers will need to be in good physical condition in order for one to enjoy starting from Marangu climbs to the summit in four days which for many is
their trek. too fast and results in mountain sickness and an unsettling retreat. This
usually happens to many people who after the trek are not even able to feel
The trekking get better and better at the top where one is assured of a their feet, due to the freezing conditions.
superb view of the southern cliffs of Kilimanjaro towering up into the clouds. With clear stunning views of the Sunrise at Kilimanjaro, sections with in
the mountain have a rain forest where sometimes trekkers have a camping
For those of you who can't face the prospect of spending days on end spot in the areas the vegetation turns to giant heather.
clambering up a mountain, but are up for a serious day hike, then the
active volcano Oldonyo Lengai, the Maasai In several spots tiny huts used only for cooking are visible. Many tourists
(Mountain of God) as its called, is one trekking up the mountain are taken through the rules and one of the
important rules for acclimatization is to drink many litres of fluid although it
may not be possible to do so on some ascent when the water is frozen
in the bottles. On that note remember to carry some hot tea
or coffee in strong flasks.
December 2006 ~ 13
t is the middle of the night. I am sitting outdoors on a pit toilet,
while a Masai warrior armed with a spear, stands guard nearby. I
peer nervously into the inky darkness, hoping that the lion I heard
earlier has moved away from our camp, and wondering just what I'd do
if suddenly confronted by a luminous pair of feline eyes. A crackle in
the undergrowth sends me rushing over to my guard, who escorts me
back to my tent. I zip it up and climb into bed, heart pounding. A few
minutes later the roar of a lion shudders through the night.
I was on an eco-safari in Kenya and every activity - even a trip to the loo -
was proving to be an adventure. Our camp was in the Masai Mara, home to the
Masai people and boasting the greatest diversity of animals in Africa. Come
here and you can see everything from lions and leopards to giraffes and jackals.
And on an eco-trip you get as close to nature as is possible, staying in
comfortable camps in the bush - rather than the luxurious bubble of large safari
lodges; and walking, as well as driving, through the wilderness.
It was a 45 minute flight from Nairobi to the Masai Mara. We were met by a
tall Masai warrior, wearing traditional scarlet robes and holding a spear. He
smiled and introduced himself as William our driver /guide. It was the end of
the migration period, and hundreds of wildebeest were still grazing on the arid
plains, their clumsy hulks mingling with the muscular frames of zebras. As we
drove to Base Camp in an open Land Rover, William pointed out elegant
gazelles, impala, a Secretary bird strutting slowly past, an olive baboon and a
Tawny eagle flying lazily overhead. Later we saw a male ostrich, his neck and
legs flushed a passionate pink, an indication he is ready to mate. It was my first
trip to Africa and I was amazed at the proximity of the animals.
Eventually we reach Base Camp - 15 tents on raised platforms with
14 ~ December 2006
verandahs, large beds, bathrooms with open- to- the -
skies showers and toilets - even hot water and electricity.
The toilets are simple pits, but wooden seats preserve the
western conceit. Situated on land leased from the Masai,
the camp is solar powered and run on sound eco lines. To
my relief, it is also very comfortable. We lunch in the
central lodge, a feast of fresh bread, soup, meat and
vegetarian stews, and lots of fruit.
Late that afternoon we take a game drive into the
National Nature Reserve (animals are most active at dawn
and dusk). We quickly find jackals, hyenas, a bat eared
fox, eland, impala, and a family of warthogs trotting across
the plain, their tails pointing skywards like fuzzy
flagpoles. Everywhere we look there is some new
creature at which to wonder. Wildebeest edge cautiously
down a riverbank to drink, then charge out wildly to
escape any lurking crocodiles. Birds land on thorn trees
like animated jewels, while vultures circle in the distance
- avian testimony to some recent drama. It all fascinates
me. And then we find a lioness and three young cubs.
She is trying to lead them across a stream to join others
in her pride, but while two follow, another sits looking
dismally at the water. She growls encouragement, but
refuses to go back. It is five minutes before he plucks up
the courage to splash across. His mother rewards him
with generous licks of her thick pink tongue.
I hardly sleep that night, a mix of excitement and
elephants tramping noisily in the nearby river. We rise at
six, and after coffee and biscuits, set off for another game
drive. We are already blasé about the wildebeest and
zebra, but squeal at a giraffe with a baby, still wet and
wobbly from its recent birth. Then we find some
elephants. They also have a tiny baby in tow, but have no
intention of letting us near and vanish into some scrub.
But we find more, and observe them until a large male
suddenly faces our vehicle and widens his ears as if
preparing to charge. We drive on.
That evening we transfer to our Bush Camp. After
trying our hand at spear throwing - which the Masai find
immensely amusing - we eat delicious bean stew,
December 2006 ~ 15
then all sit round the fire, swapping stories in the
gloom. Night brings the bush to life, and I hardly
sleep again, ears alert to every rustle.
At dawn we set off on our first bush walk,
accompanied by three Maasai: Daniel and Amos,
who carry spears; and Ndorobo, ('the hunter') an ex
poacher and expert bushman, who is armed with a
bow and arrows. No-one has a gun. Amos tells us
the rules. If we meet a lion - stand close together,
to look like one large animal. If we meet buffalo,
climb a tree (I groan inwardly, I don't do agile) or lie
face down. As for elephants, we'll keep well away,
walking downwind as soon as the Maasai spot them
- elephants have poor eyesight but an excellent
sense of smell. Above all, we mustn't run. I feel
increasingly nervous. What was that - lie down for
lions? No, that was buffalo. What if we meet a
long-sighted elephant? And what if my legs panic and run away before I hyena droppings - coloured by the
can stop them? calcium in the bones they consume.
We set off, Daniel and Ndorobo out in front. As we walk I see impala Suddenly we stop. Daniel and Ndorobo point to some scrub about a
and Thompson's gazelle, but whereas in the Land Rover they would hundred yards away. They shout and I catch the word 'simba' - Swahili
have ignored us, now they scatter hurriedly. On foot we are just another for lion. Daniel and Ndorobo race forwards, shouting and waving their
creature of the plains. Then the Maasai spot three lionesses and several spears. An enormous male lion stands up, opens his mouth and roars.
cubs in the distance. My legs wobble. We could fend off one lion - but With impressive speed I dart behind Amos. The lion
three? We change direction and slip away. I start to imagine buffalo in roars again, then turns tail and lollops into the bush. I
every bush and hope desperately that we meet nothing larger than a do a cartoon character gulp and note with
warthog. interest the sound of my heart pounding wildly
We find an 'olpul' a fenced camp used by young Maasai warriors who in my ears. But, as we return to camp in the
live for months alone in the bush, practising skills like spear throwing - cool of the evening, I realise that I
and hunting lions. They show me acacia trees that are used to aid can't wait to do it again.
digestion, and we come across a fresh kill. I still feel scared, but the
beauty of walking is that you see the small things. It is the best way of
getting to understand a landscape. Eventually we return to camp, and
breakfast on fresh bread, beans, bananas and rich brown coffee.
I shower, then laze outside my tent reading. After lunch the others leave
and I am alone with the Maasai. We are due to have an evening walk.
I want to go, but feel my courage failing. I request a walk in which I meet
nothing bigger than say, a mongoose. They say they'll try - but there are
no guarantees in this wilderness.
We walk slowly, talking about their uses for trees and plants, like the
African greenheart tree, the roots and bark of which contain quinine and
are used to cure malaria. I find an arrow head, and we examine large,
fibrous mounds of elephant dung, dainty gazelle droppings, and chalky
16 ~ December 2006
Eco-resorts offer a wide range of specialist safaris in Kenya - and dik dik (Africa's smallest antelope)
www.eco-resorts.com ranging in length from 4 days to 2 weeks. They Small carnivores - hyenas, bat eared fox, banded mongooses, jackals
donate 10% of their post tax profits to community projects in Kenya. Primates - baboons, sykes monkey, vervit monkey
Kenya Airways - www.kenya-airways.com, fly from London Heathrow Birds - hundreds of species such as black headed kites, tawny eagles,
to Nairobi - their Premier World Class service has comfy seats that small bee eaters, marabou stork, hoopoe, vultures, ostrich, Secretary
convert to flat beds, prices around £1,680 + tax; economy class prices bird and Kori bustard - Africa's heaviest flying bird
around £411 + tax.
What you might see on a walking safari
What you could see on a driven safari You might come across most of the above - but are unlikely to get close
The Big Five - lions, leopards, buffalo (more dangerous than all the others), to them (you hope in some cases). You also see trees and bushes like
rhino and elephants - also hippos and rarely, cheetah thorn trees and acacia, wild flowers, insects -
Herbivores - wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, Thompson's gazelle, Grant's including stunning butterflies, Maasai camps, animal tracks and
gazelle, Impala, Eland, Topi animal droppings.
December 2006 ~ 17
White Water Rafting
“Activity of the weekend”
By Dyton Mupawaenda
18 ~ December 2006
afting on the Zambezi River, the fourth largest river in Africa, is an
exciting experience but only for the daring traveller “adrenalin junkies”
who enjoy living on the edge each time they perform.
The sport of white water rafting on the Zambezi, as we know it, started with
the North American Adventure Company, Sobek.
Their name comes from the ancient Egyptian River God, which they adopted
in 1973 when they first braved the Omo and the Awash rivers of Ethiopia.
Sobek have pioneered 200 rivers in 60 countries.
Today white water rafting is a major industry in Southern Africa, the focal
point of the annual Zambezi River Festival, and the main reason why many,
especially young people visit the falls.
The concepts of water rafting appear to be simple but can actually turn out to
be for those who want to taste the characters.
River-runners, in groups of five to seven people, listen to a safety pep talk, don
life jackets and helmets, and tackle the water with one trained oarsperson at
the at the helm.
Each run usually covers 10 rapids, and up to 22 km of bucking, twisting,
screaming adventure. The oarsperson calls out when to shift your weight and
how to pop out of the maelstrom if you are thrown overboard.
The ferocity of the Zambezi as you are blasted through the gorges is combated
by the flexibility of the big rubber rafts, growing confidence in your raftmates,
and the sheer adrenalin rush of riding the roughest rapids in the world.
The quiet stretches stretches of water between the rapids, and the high cliffs
on either side, bring welcome contrast and relief, but soon the current builds up
again, the river rumbles and churns, and once again you are hurled over the
precipice or slammed into surging walls of green, white water.
Then suddenly it is all over as you drift across the calm, deep water of the
Batoka Gorge, you realise, finally, that you have done it. You have joined the
elite band of river runners that have challenged and beaten the Zambezi.
December 2006 ~ 19
“Honeymoon of a
By Tawanda Kanhema in
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
frica Travel Extra Magazine caught up with San
Francisco-based movie producer, Paul
Greenstone, and his wife Naomi Schnyder
Greenstone an attorney at Matetsi Game Lodges in
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and the two gave a testimonial
of their experiences in Zimbabwe, and other southern
“The wildlife, sights, sounds and people of Mozambique,
South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana made for the most
wonderful honeymoon and the perfect way to begin our life
together as husband and wife.” Paul Greenstone said.
“My wife, Naomi and I were married on March 26th in Santa
Fe, New Mexico surrounded by approximately 110 of our
closest friends and family. On Monday, March 27th, we began a
three-week honeymoon in Southern Africa, which was nothing
short of perfection.
Four days at Marlin Lodge on the beaches of Benguela Island
off the Southern coast of Mozambique was a wonderful way to
start the honeymoon. This luxurious hideaway with about a 12
beach front stand alone chalets served fantastic gourmet food
and had as many or as few activities as you could want.
Beach walking, snorkeling, a sunset dhao ride, and a special
"bush bath" (complete with privacy, flower petals and bubbles
on our deck) on the Indian Ocean helped us relax from the
stress and excitement of the wedding weekend and the various
flights that got us from New Mexico to Mozambique.
Three days in Cape Town was our next stop. We stayed at
Acorn Lodge at the foot of the Table Mountains and viewable
from our window. We toured Robben Island (the prison where
Nelson Mandela was held for many years) and we sampled
foods and wine at vineyards in Castancia and then at Cape Point
and saw penguins and baboons.
Matetsi Water Lodge was splendid; three nights at this
Zimbabwe luxury lodge was incredibly breathtaking. Morning
and afternoon/night game rides got us close to leopards,
buffalo, giraffe, zebra and elephants, not to mention countless
impala and many species of birds.
Victoria Falls views from both the Zimbabwe and Zambia
sides, the arts and crafts markets, the magical sunsets,
crocodiles and hippos at Zambezi River all gave us a brighter
picture about Africa.
Our final stop was CC Africa's Nxabega Okavango Lodge.
One day, our tracker had to walk us back to our room because
several elephants had "wandered" into our camp. Our luxury
tent made it very easy to hear all the wildlife at night and in the
middle of our first night at the lodge while everyone was
20 ~ December 2006
sleeping, a leopard came into camp and killed and dragged away an impala.
At the public areas where we dined and had tea, we got to enjoy baboons and monkeys resting
on the hammocks.
Naomi had taken a tour of Eastern Africa in 2001 as a birthday gift to her father and she spoke
so fondly of that trip and it's because of her experiences in Africa and my love for photography that
we chose it as our honeymoon destination.
The wildlife, sights, sounds and people of Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana
made the most of our wonderful honeymoon and set for us perfect way to begin our life together
as husband and wife.
December 2006 ~ 21
The Festival of the Desert
f ever a festival was 'far out', this is it, both musically and geographically. It started with a revival of the
traditional gathering or takoubelt of nomadic Tuareg families who, after the end of the Tuareg rebellion in
1996, were able to meet annually at the oasis of Essakane, sixty kilometres out in the desert from Timbuktu
- itself two hundred kilometres from the nearest road. In the last five years it has become “the Woodstock of the
Sahara” and it's all thanks to the efforts of one Tuareg of whom Habib Koite, one of Mali's leading musicians said
“I was thrilled that it was my friend Manny Ansar who had the power and the vision to make this happen”.
And what a vision! Who could have imagined it would be possible to create an international festival in such a
remote place, difficult to reach, yet exquisitely beautiful, almost lunar, with its surreal snow-white dunes rolling
wave on wave out of the endless tree studded sahel.
We heard about it when it first started back in 2001 but other trips intervened every winter so this year we
decided it was now or never, before the festival became too popular and lost its roots. We needn't have worried,
over half the fifteen hundred visitors were local Tuareg, many coming in from the desert with their camels,
families and tents, creating a truly ethnic ambience that permeated every aspect of
the festival. Manny wants it to
22 ~ December 2006
stay that way.
Getting there has its problems. Small planes fly to Timbuktu from
Bamako and Mopti, but unless you can get on the larger festival charter, you will be lucky to get a
seat. That leaves two choices - a boat down the Niger from Mopti, or a long desert drive. The three-day river
trip is a good option, but this year, as is usual, the last passenger-cargo boat sailed two weeks before the festival,
which is in mid-January. After then, the river is too shallow for the boat to make the journey, so it's necessary
to hire a small pirogue, which entails spending a few days in Mopti trying to meet other travellers. You might
be lucky - we weren't - the only alternative you are left with is to hire a vehicle for the four hundred kilometre
journey, half of which is across the desert.
If the vehicle and driver are good, as ours were, this is not a bad option and you really get to appreciate the
remoteness of your destination. If you are lucky you may even make Timbuktu in a day, crossing the Niger by
ferry as the sun sets, turning the river red. Once there, your problems are still not over; unless you arrange a
festival pass with transport to the site, you will have to hunt round for vehicles heading out west into the sands.
Not that it matters unduly, Timbuktu is a laid back place in which to spend a few days - apart from the festival
and the end of the Tuareg rebellion, nothing much has happened there since the sixteenth century when it was
a centre of Islamic learning and Saharan trade. The day before the festival there will be plenty of vehicles going
your way and, if like us, you've booked accommodation at the festival, there are goatskin benders concealed
amongst the dunes with food tents not far away, all maintaining the Tuareg ambience. For this reason, if you
bring your own tent, you will need to camp out of view in the trees on the perimeter of the site.
It's well thought out and organised and we were impressed. Living in a bender was great, the food was plentiful
with good breakfasts and main meals of Tuareg staples twice a day: rice, couscous or pasta with veg or meat.
There were even toilet cubicles and showers (though water ran out in the showers after the first day, but what
do you expect sixty kilometres beyond one of the Sahara's remotest towns!). Strangely some Belgians expected
more - they left in mid-festival complaining that their bender had no door, the food and the toilets weren't up to
standard and the showers didn't work. How sad can you get!
We arrived there the day before the festival, to watch the Tuareg arriving in their indigo or otherwise colourful
flowing robes, swords slung over their shoulders, sitting high on their decorated camels. Tents and benders
were going up, fires lit, old friends gathering, musicians jamming together, a true festival atmosphere building.
December 2006 ~ 23
Mornings - as at all festivals - were lazy, music playing in the distance, Tuareg assembling for camel races
and demonstrations of riding prowess and swordsmanship. By mid afternoon, dancers, singers and
musicians including Tuareg groups such as Tiris and Tartit who have appeared internationally, were
coming together in tents and at the small Dune Stage. The women performing the Tinde dancing and
drumming were in their finery, their hands hennaed and silver jewellery braided into their hair. The men,
flambuoyant in their coloured robes, assembled in a circle for the strange 'love dance' of Takamba,
meaning “give me your hand” in which seated dancers make slow, sensuous Tai Chi-like movements of
the arms and hands. The Songhai entertained us with a different version done standing and using the
As the dune shadows lengthened and the full moon rose, the Main Stage came into use, a hidden
generator soundlessly powering amps and lights for the night-time gigs which continued into the early
hours. There's even a beer tent, which can't be bad! How wacky can life be, crashed out opposite the stage
on a silver dune one night and up close with Tuaregs on camels on other nights for the full-on audio-visual
experience of colourful and renowned Malian and African bands such as Takamba, Takrist, Dimi Mint
Abba, Baba Salah, Sekouba Bambino and Habib Koite. Magic!
The festival continues for three days of great music and culture with bands from across West Africa. A
South American dance group gave a remarkable performance of Native American and African music and
a couple of Irish bands with bodrum and didj brought a change of sound that fitted well with the African
music as lovers of Afro-Celt will know as did the slide guitar playing of American Markus James,
accompanied by members of Tinariwen.
We left early the morning after the festival, being amongst the lucky few with a plane to catch, but
getting back across the desert to Timbuktu proved tricky. Our beat-up car collapsed when it hit a bump.
The rear spring connection had broken, which didn't bode well; if we missed our Timbuktu plane we would
miss our flight home!
The driver wasn't worried. Having chopped a small tree down, he cut it into two short pieces and
hammered them into the joint, forcing it open and lifting the body of the car marginally off the wheel. He
then tied the wood in place with a piece of rope and we limped into town in plenty of time for our flight.
It had been a great festival and an unforgettable celebration of the varied and vibrant Saharan culture
in a remote and beautiful desert location. Truly far out!
24 ~ December 2006
West Africa Tours (who arranged our festival visit. The owner is the cousin of Manny Ansar,
the Festival Director) email Deo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuareg Tours also provided information, email Natascha: email@example.com
Saga Tours, Mali (not the UK Saga) email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dogon adventures, website www.dogon-adventures.mali.com
Dogon Guide (at Maison des Arts) Abdina Lougué, email: email@example.com
Hotel Maison des Arts, Sevaré, Kay & Amadou Bedar Guindo. Tel 00223 242 08 53
Desert guide, Timbuktu, Mohamed al Hassane, known as Halis, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chaufeur driven ORV, Boubacar Mazour Cisse. Tel 00223 281 0000, mob 00223 639 2365
Sarah Castle, Secretary, Friends of Mali. Tel 07800 872051, email: email@example.com
Visas & International travel from UK and Europe
Visas - Consulat Général du Mali, 64 Rue Pelleport, 75020 PARIS, FRANCE
Afriqiyah Airways. Gatwick to Bamako. Website www.afriqiyah.aero, tel 0171 430 0284
Point Afriqe, charters from Paris to Mopti. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Imaginative Traveler, email: email@example.com
Dragoman, website www.dragoman.co.uk/
Guerba, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Festivals & Festival related CDs and DVDs
Desert Festival, annually in Jan. Website: http://www.festival-au-desert.org
Festival on the Niger, Segou. Feb. Website http://www.festivalsegou.org/homepage.htm Kidal
Traditional Tuareg Festival every Jan. Website http://www.kidal.info/ESSOUK/
Desert Blues 1 and 2. Two double CD sets of Saharan music including many festival performers
Savane. Ali Farka Toure. CD
Tinariwen. Tuareg 'rock' band. CD.
The Festival in the Desert. 2003. Lionel Brouet. DVD.
December 2006 ~ 25
or a rare experience of the world's best elephant, lion and craggy cliffs and meandering rivers.
leopard sightings in a mega-park straddling across the Spanning over 35 000 square kilometers, Great Limpopo is Africa's
frontiers of three countries without immigration hassles, largest mega-park, and encompasses Kruger National Park in South
the newly established Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) Africa, Limpopo in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park
is the ideal destination. in Zimbabwe. It has become one of the biggest tourist
Resonating with diverse animal species and gaping deep attractions in the region, attracting more than 1,3 million
into Zimbabwe's southern frontier with South Africa tourists annually.
and Mozambique, Great Limpopo is one The park sits in the heart of a region that is home to
of the last parks where wildlife the World Cup 2010 soccer tournament to be held in
can be viewed in its South Africa, and international conservation unions,
natural habitat, tourist operators and investors have turned their
with its attention on the expansive sub-Saharan wildlife
scenic, habitat, with amazing results.
26 ~ December 2006
Great Limpopo's Zimbabwean side, Gonarezhou (Shona for “the place all corners of the park, camp and engage in photographic safaris
of many elephants”), has risen from over two decades of stony sleep, without having to go through immigration hassles.
with over 10 000 herd of elephants and now has some of the region's So far, South Africa has already torn down the game fence on Kruger's
biggest safari operations. The park has fascinating natural sceneries border with Gonarezhou, making way for animals to wander to either
along the course of the meandering rivers that tear through it. side of the border. The park's development into the vibrant wildlife
The Frankfurt Zoological Society this month (November 2006) habitat warranted by its vast animal population and diversity has led to
pledged over US$4 million conservation and infrastructural support to the creation of one of the best wildlife safaris in the region.
assist in the development of the Zimbabwean side of GLTP and the , The Save (Sabi), Runde and Mwenezi rivers meander through the
park is going to get a facelift in anticipation of growth in tourist arrivals park, forming scenic pools and oases along their course and in them can
in the region. be found the Zambezi Shark, Freshwater Goby, Black Bream and the
Tourism in southern Africa is mainly concentrated in the region's vast turquoise killifish.
wildlife habitats. Before being incorporated into GLTP Kruger National
, GLTP features some of Africa's largest tusked elephants, and rare
Park received an average of one million tourists a year, just about predators such as the king cheetah, and it easily qualifies as the world's
Zimbabwe's annual tourist turnout for all resorts put together, and most diverse and scenic wildlife habitat.
arrivals have grown significantly since the opening of the mega-park.
The three parks have pooled their
resources and are now operating as a
“peace park” wherein tourists are
able to tour
Fact Box GLTP
• The total surface area of the Transfrontier Park is
approximately 35,000 km. • Five major river systems cross this eco region in a generally
• It is a link with Limpopo National Park in Mozambique,
Kruger National Park in South Africa, Gonarezhou • The park is home to at least 147 mammals, 116 reptiles, 49
National Park, Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari species of fish, 34 different species of frogs, and an incredible
Area in Zimbabwe. 500 or more species of birds. In addition, at least 2 000
species of plants have been identified.
• The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is a world-class
eco-tourism destination that comprises a vast area of the • GLTP a great animal kingdom indeed.
lowland savannah ecosystem.
December 2006 ~ 27
iding the sometimes unpredictable hybrid
"It looks like Scotland” shouted one,
mountain bike northwards had begun early in
“reminds me of Wales” responded another, the morning to avoid the barbaric heat and
humidity. Every couple of hours it was necessary to re
voices quivering and shuddering from the apply sun cream over filthy and sweat soaked skin,
snack, drink and perform any maintenance needed on
impact of ruts and pot holes on the larynx.
bike and body. People passed-by, many stopped to
Suddenly, landscape comparisons turned to stare. Men wanted to practise their English while the
women seemingly all with close cropped hair
yelps and profanities as unexpected and remained silent, coy yet prone to the occasional
pointing and giggling at our quite wretched state.
undignified separations from the saddle
That evening was spent at the Nkotakhota Pottery Lodge,
brought a select few closer to this country the first of the overnight pit stops by the lakeshore before
continuing our journey up the middle third of the lake.
than was really necessary. We were Across the water to the east, were the mountains of
Mozambique and Tanzania. In the foreground, like smoke
already exhausted, both hot and bothered,
plumes from burning tyres, dense clouds of lake flies, known
covered in mud and three out of a group of locally as Kungu, hovered over the surface. Godfrey, our
guide, told me they were caught in nets, crushed to a pulp
ten inexperienced cyclists just had a taste of and then eaten. I spent the week content to eat a steady,
bland but always welcome diet of chicken and rice, followed
sub-Saharan dirt amongst a tangled heap
by liberal applications of deep heat and the rather good local
of limbs and bicycle parts. Having left the gin - the extra quinine in Malawi tonic was said to deter
interest from mosquitoes.
capital Lilongwe on the plateau region At sunset, wallowing in the warm lake water that gently
lapped an idyllic, pristine, white sandy beach was further
some 5000ft (1500m) above sea level we
relief for complaining muscles. The therapy was short lived.
plunged literally on the second day over While drying myself off, Godfrey then decided to warn me of
the potential dangers from all the local aquatic creatures
pitted dirt tracks through deciduous great and small. Clusters of reed beds scattered along the
banks of the water can be colonised with snails infected with
woodland to the fertile and lovely Shire
bilharzia. (A nasty parasite that will enter the body through
Valley and Lake Malawi below. any orifice available, whether clothed or not). It may be
worth - he also suggested rather too calmly and belatedly -
staying out of the water between 6pm and 6am to avoid rare
but potential attacks from hippo and crocodile. Having
witnessed the Keystone Cop nature of our abilities and sloth
like characteristics of getting started in the mornings, it was
almost surprising he was still around to give any advice at all,
Continuing north, the following days were spent cycling
the undulating, almost traffic-free two-lane M5 highway. Past
smallholdings of fruit and vegetables and larger fields of
cotton and tobacco from which decorated Shaman emerged
having exorcised the evil spirits amongst the crops. Through
villages and past remote thatched homes the constant shouts
from children in Chichewa of “Azungo”(Foreigner), ”Give
me money” (in English) was, like the heat, relentless. As the
days passed and with our spirits and energy running on
28 ~ December 2006
A drinks stop attracts the curious
empty our once enthusiastic
replies became more and more
muted to eventually mumbled
rudeness. What was once
harmless interactive fun and
banter soon became tiresome
and grated on the nerves. The
sight of the not so great
unwashed wheezing an
overweight and abused body
always brought crowds of the
curious and amused out.
Malawi has the highest
population in Africa with the
majority of homes
concentrated around the more
lowland areas, as the lake has a
valuable food source. Simple farming and collecting food appeared to be the major occupation for many of the inhabitants, though it
was sometimes difficult to distinguish working land from scrub.
In the hectic, dusty and generally run down larger towns we stopped at grocery stores to pick up a lunch usually made up of fresh
bread and tinned sardines before carrying onto find the always elusive secluded spot to eat away from prying eyes of the often hungry
residents. It's never easy to eat when being stared at. It's even harder when you know those looking on intently are so very hungry.
I don't believe anyone of us ever completed a meal.
Peeling off the tarmac onto dirt track for Njaya Lodge, we met up with children on their way home from school. Saddle sore, but
happy to be approaching the next gin and tonic, I got off and started walking with them. Within seconds I had surrendered my bike
and, too tired to care, watched as it carried on ahead wobbling dangerously under a boy less than half my size. The remaining children
then took turns to lead me by both hands wearing my crash helmet; their heads completely disappearing under its crown.
Later reunited with my bike, my feelings of disquiet towards nature returned when I had to share my bamboo hut with more
creatures of the night than you could shake that gargantuan stick insect on my bed at. But the fire red sunrise across the water and
distracting antics of Vervet Monkeys in the neighbouring trees was worth the uneasy penultimate night by the lake.
Just round the rocky coast, the small town of Nkhata Bay - the most northerly point on the Lake reached by David Livingstone -
busily dedicated itself to fishing, ferrying across the lake and separating its few visitors from hard currency. A hectic street market
was selling everything from postcards to coffins (a tragically thriving industry in these days of high HIV infection), while bars blasted
reggae music in the warm late afternoon. There was hustling but it was half-hearted and certainly not persistent or aggressive. Back
at my lodge, local entrepreneurs came to sell jewellery, boats trips, marijuana and wooden crafts or to watch European football on the
bar's television. Business complete they were then quite happy to sit and chat for hours. Joseph a very polite and animated Arsenal
shirt wearing 14 year old told me he was simply trying to earn enough to pay for his
education. He must be making money - his English was excellent.
For those who have never been to Central Africa, Malawi is the perfect introduction
and often said to have the friendliest people and most diverse countryside on the
continent. Don't go expecting to cycle across vast plains covered in big game. Malawi has
little in comparison to its bordering countries. Do go for winning smiles and a genuinely
warm welcome from just about everyone, grand and varied vistas, lovely beaches,
cycling, hiking, watersports and some very effective cheap gin.
A repair and rest stop
December 2006 ~ 29
Matetsi Game Lodges,
Zimbabwe's tourist haven
Aggressive marketing pays off
By Tawanda Kanhema
in Harare, Zimbabwe
panning 15 kilometers of river frontage in an area
with abundant wildlife, the 50,000 hectare reserve
easily stands out as one of Africa 's best venues for
family holidays and photographic safaris with its
abundant water and wildlife safari.
Matetsi Game Lodges easily stands out as the ideal retreat
and resort for game drives, game walks, canoeing, river cruises
and near-exclusive photographic safaris.
Matetsi Water Lodge, located just 38 kilometers upstream
from the Victoria Falls is one of the precious few places along
the entire length of the Zambezi where one can have breakfast,
lunch or dinner on the banks of the river.
The Game Lodges are made up of a Water Lodge, spanning a
considerable length of the Zambezi and the Game Lodge,
At a time when planted in the middle of a vast wildlife habitat with vast herd of
Zimbabwe's tourism buffalo, elephants and some of the best giraffe and zebra
industry is going through Many other species roam the private reserve's 47 000 square
kilometers of safari. I spent a day in the wild at Matetsi Water
one of its most challenging Lodge with groups of tourists from the United Kingdom, the
United States, Ireland and Australia.
phases, Matetsi Private I arrived at Matetsi by shuttle around 11am, and life was still,
showing the sharp transition from the bristling life of urban
Game Reserve, an up Victoria Falls to the tranquil wilderness.
market luxurious retreat The first thing that struck me was the density of wildlife at
the Game Lodge, where more than more than 2000 herd of
tucked in Zimbabwe's far buffalo and over 7000 elephants roam the salty swamps and
forage across the vast private reserve.
western corner on the Creatively designed lodges at Matetsi's West, North and East
lodges give the resort a phenomenal elegance that leaves fond
banks of the mighty memories with anyone who spends time in its tranquil
Zambezi River, a few Tourists spending time at Matetsi Water Lodge remarked
minutes drive from Victoria that the lodge's hospitality was unexpectedly superb, giving
them royal treatment in an environment that has evidently
Falls, continues to hold up taken a lot of resources and effort to create.
“I found Matetsi to be a pleasant surprise, the
against the odds. accommodation is perfect and game viewing has been
exceptional,” said Carol Ward, an English tourist from the
I was astonished to find my bath bubbling on my return from
an early evening game drive on the first day, and other tourists on
honeymoons and anniversaries even had a bigger shock, with red
roses, candles and bubble baths awaiting them.
Everyone wondered whether they had gone to the correct
room. “I am gob smacked as they would say in the UK,” said one
tourist when asked what he thought of the Water Lodge's quality
of accommodation and catering facilities.
“We employ these small tactics to attach fond memories in the
minds of our guests so that their holidays become memorable,
guests will market our resort by word of mouth, and this is an
important component of our comprehensive marketing effort”
Lovemore Chihota, Executive Chairman of Conservation
Corporation Zimbabwe said.
The Namib Desert's sand dunes, Walvis Bay, Botswana's
Okavango Delta and Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls and safaris at
Matetsi Game Lodges are combined in one safari package that
markets resorts irrespective of national boundaries.
CC Africa offers international tourists complete safari packages
beginning from South Africa, where its central reservations are
done. Game lodges and other resorts in the CC Africa chain
therefore benefit equally from the group's central marketing.
From hunting, Matetsi Game lodge, took over to photographic
safaris after great concern, when it's Pretorious Westhood lion
population had been depleted in 1996.It has since established one
of Africa 's most abundant and sought after photographic safaris.
CC Zimbabwe's Matetsi Game Lodge operates on a three-hub
system, which emphasizes on International adventure, wildlife
conservation and assisting communities living in areas near the
The group has so far assisted Monde, Sidobe and Chisuma
communities with health care and health training to reduce the
impact of HIV and AIDS.
December 2006 ~ 31
Designs On Africa
By Ron Toft
t was a suggestion that came completely out
of the blue - and it changed Gillie Lightfoot's
At a bit of a loose end after graduating from art
college, 22-year-old Gillie was advised by a friend to
consider working in Africa.
“Africa was the last thing on my mind at that time,”
said Gillie. “But the suggestion got me thinking and
one thing led to another.”
A year later, much to her surprise, Gillie found
herself working at a safari camp in deepest Zambia.
“It was a complete change, but I loved it. It wasn't a
country I had ever dreamed of visiting, let alone living
in. There were no lifelong yearnings - nothing like
Zambia captured Gillie's heart. “It's such a colourful,
friendly country with an amazing climate and
She worked for several safari camps over the next
three years, “doing whatever a girl in the bush was
allowed to do in those days, which was basically
catering,” before heading down to South Africa where
she bought and briefly ran her own horse safari
Gillie then returned to Zambia. While living in a
remote, game-managed area of the bush between
North Luangwa and South Luangwa National Parks,
she decided to set up a business making and selling
32 ~ December 2006