Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category
I woke up with a sense of dread on Saturday morning; the prospect of 11 flights before the end of the year suddenly overwhelmed me (or to be more truthful, frightened me).
I love travelling.
I hate flying.
(Two statements which truly define me.)
Hence I have a real fondness for 2009; the year we decided not to fly anywhere and ended up in amazing Lucca (Italy) and Morocco.
But sometimes, flying is the only option… It would take too long to reach your destination otherwise, unless you had all the time (and money) in the world.
I’m in Lomé, the capital city of Togo (West Africa). I arrived last night (I’m down to nine flights now; woo hoo).
It’s hot (30 °C). It’s terribly humid.
And if you’d asked me earlier today what I made of it all… Hmmm… I don’t think you’d be rushing here in a hurry.
After a lazy morning, I left the hotel and set off in the direction of the beach. Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Lomé follows the Atlantic Ocean. The palm fringed beach is long and wide and there was hardly anyone there. The road by the seafront incidentally goes from Benin to Ghana (Togo is incredibly narrow as a country; I’m so close to Ghana, it’s absurd).
Things then took a turn for the worse. I failed to locate the presidential palace (don’t laugh at me! I tried to memorise the map before I left the hotel so I wouldn’t keep getting the map out of my bag, but clearly I didn’t do very well).
I made slow progress as I got accosted every few minutes by guys who either wanted to chat or just say hello or ask if I wanted to use their taxi-moto.
I then failed to locate the National Museum. According to my guidebook, it should be behind the Palais des Congrès. But apparently it’s inside. I’ll try again in the morning… but as tomorrow is a Bank Holiday here, my guess is it won’t be open.
Back at the hotel, dripping and red from the sun (despite the factor 30 suncream), I sat by the pool and contemplated going for a swim. Whilst I contemplated, I got bitten by mossies… who clearly don’t know that they’re supposed to be most active at sunrise and sunset. Tell them someone! Or at least tell them not to pick on me.
The success of my expedition is that I saw the tallest building in Lomé (and Togo), the Hôtel du 2 Février on Place De L’Indépendance.
But things perked up early evening when I went to the beach.
It was heaving. The whole of Lomé was out, I swear. Friends; families; teenagers; young couples; traders… the whole lot. People chatting, taking it easy; swimming; buying food and drinks from vendors; people-watching; riding horses or playing games… and the sound of music everywhere.
Lomé on a Sunday.
Africa, the latest David Attenborough programme on the BBC.
In Sahara, I was mesmerised by the sand dunes and how their movements were captured over the course of a year. And the resilience of the animals and living plants who call this unforgiving terrain home.
Congo fascinated me. This country has so much to offer I feel.
David Attenborough’s Congo focused on the rainforest and the wildlife. And two moments caught my imagination:
In Moremi, we got lucky and had our best sighting of a leopard, ever.
We saw plenty more: kudus; red billed francolins; impalas; velvet monkeys; a troop of baboons; hippos; buffalos; steenboks; bee-eaters and little bee-eaters; hornbills; guinea-fowls; waterhogs; tsessebe antelopes; marabou storks; forked-tailed drongo; open-billed storks; fish eagles; grey herons; elephants; giraffes; zebras; coppery-tailed coucal and lechwe (our first ever sighting).
Luckily, we didn’t come across the black mamba!
Back at our camp, even downtime was an opportunity to watch animals as an inquisitive antelope approached us.
It’s been fun writing about Botswana and Zambia. That was a great trip. The memories have stayed with me so strongly.
I can’t wait to go back to Africa…
Moremi gave us many more elephant sightings… and experiences.
A herd passing the edge of our camp, with lots of little ones.
Elephants spraying dust on themselves.
A bull drinking.
A little elephant copying his elders by trying to shake a tree.
At the entrance gate, a tusk recovered by the game keepers reminded us of the danger the elephants face.
The chilli bricks drying in the sun to be placed strategically as repellant. Humans and elephants having to find a way to cohabitate.
An elephant head made of orange peel… (my other half is a true artist!).
So amazing to be able to watch the herd walk past.
The matriarch. The hierarchy. The little tiny ones protected by the family. The bulls at the back, keeping us in check.
Elephants are everywhere…
Elephant footprint (with the other half’s foot for comparison).
Elephant skeleton. The skull is a big honeycomb which, I learnt, helps keep the weight down.
And… an elephant rock painting.
I loved Savuti.
The wildlife was good but not as good as Chobe.
Still. I loved our camp, the dry landscape and the dead trees, the remoteness and wildness.
As we were leaving the park, our truck got stuck in the sand.
I wouldn’t have minded staying there a wee bit longer.
Chobe National Park is known for having the highest concentration of elephants in Africa.
Strangely enough, we only saw a couple on our early morning drive.
But we saw loads of other animals: a hyena; buffalos (charging our truck); giraffes; ‘go away’ birds; hippos; guinea fowls; Egyptian geese; water monitor lizards; vultures and white headed vultures; fish eagles; impalas; sable antilopes; a lion and a lioness courting; a pride of lions; kingfishers; warthogs and we got a glimpse of a civet.
Straight from crossing the border back into Botswana, we found ourselves on a boat safari.
The wildlife was staggering. We saw so much. And all so close to us.
Being on a boat gave us a totally different perspective of the animals and their habitat.
But the Chobe river safari was all about elephants (for me anyway).
We got close to them. Really close.
They went about their business, not minding us one bit.
We saw a small herd trying to cross the river, testing the depth of the water and the currents.
We saw bulls swimming.
We saw elephants cooling down in the water.
Elephants are everywhere…