This journal is a place to record my travels and the adventures along the way. It doesn't get updated all that often, but I'm gratified to see that quite a lot of people do seem to read it.
I have travelled in Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East but my principle love is sub-Saharan Africa. From the moment I first set foot there in 2004 (Kenya) I fell completely and utterly in love with the place. I feel very much as if I have left a piece of my heart here and I have to keep returning. As I write these words I not only have travelled through ten African countries from Ethiopia in the north to South Africa, but am now living and working in one of them. There are also many, many more new places to see...
Comments and suggestions are encouraged, and indeed, deeply appreciated, but I may not always be able to respond quickly.
I prefer doing things myself - truly independent travel, i.e. me, plus a guide book, plus whatever transport I can find at the time. In general, I rarely know where I'm going until I get there and even the guide book is optional.
July 29th 2011
I woke early this morning, and as I lay in bed ideally wondering what the time was and how long I had before my alarm forced me to rise, my thoughts turned to home. Or, more precisely to my many friends back in the UK that I haven't seen in months, and in a few cases for years. There are so many of you that I wish I could bring out here, and show you my life in the bush, show you my mornings, show you my afternoons, and give you the chance to share some of my adventures first hand. Alas, money and time, or rather the lack thereof generally scuppers such plans, but in their place, I thought it was time (and possibly time overdue) to write here again. The following happened over a ... read more
May 14th 2010
I arrived just 2 hours ago, so my contact with the city has been somewhat limited, but I do feel the desire to record my initial thoughts, and here seems as good a place as any. I stepped off the plane into darkness at around 9 p.m. local time and the first thing that struck me was the spicy smell. Windhoek smells like the dry dusty desert that surrounds it while Johannesburg, much like the cities of Europe, smells of pollution and not much else. Addis is different though, it smells like the Arabian East, a pungent aroma of spices overlaying even the jet fuel of the surrounding aircraft. The airport is largely modern, although the customs area and arrivals hall reminds me more of Nairobi than the cities of the south. My Visa on Arrival ... read more
May 4th 2010
It is 10:30 on Sunday morning, and I've just woken up after three and a half hours sleep. Last night, instead of spending time in my bed, I was huddled in a sleeping bag 15 ft off the ground, overlooking one of the most beautiful water-holes in the area. I've spent much of various nights in the past at the waterhole in Halali camp, Etosha National park, but this was my first full dusk till dawn session, and to be honest, although the variety of game we have is much less, I enjoyed it far more. Around 5pm on Saturday night, while most people were looking forward to dinner, undoubtedly followed by a few drinks, I drove into the centre in our violently converted open bakkie and picked up my companion for the night. Although ... read more
December 31st 2009
I have shown numerous people the decaying remains of a broken signpost with the words "Wilderness Camp" enscribed upon them. A few I have driven a little way along the road it used to mark, but no one to my knowledge has been to the end of that road for years. Once I'd explored every other corner of the farm however, I became determined to see the mysterious campsite for myself. --- Almost a year ago today I tried driving along the poorest condition road on our property in an attempt to reach the abandoned Wilderness Campsite at it's end. I had no idea when I started just how bad the road would get, and the first kilometre and a half definitely gave me a false sense of security, since while narrow and with acacia bushes ... read more
April 1st 2009
I’m on the road to Windhoek as I type these words. In the horse trailer behind me are two wooden crates, each containing a lovely young cheetah. We are all three en-route to the NamibRand Nature Reserve (NRNR) on the boundaries of the Namib-Nauklaft National Park. UK readers may recognise this reserve as the one featured in the Channel 5 documentary “Cheetah Man” that aired a few weeks ago. That programme showed the release of a coalition of five male cheetahs into the reserve, today is the first step in a process to release these two females. Since “Cheetah Man” aired, the release has been proved an unqualified success. CCF and NRNR staff carrying out intensive monitoring have witnessed the five boys making many successful hunts and have also tracked them to additional kill sites. A ... read more
January 4th 2009
After a brief sojourn in the UK, I returned to a Namibia far different than the one I’d left scant weeks before. The mild winter sun was gone and temperatures had risen into the mid thirties. Stepping from the shade to the sun now resembled a close approach to a blast furnace or blazing bonfire. It is no wonder nearby Zambia refers to October as “Suicide Month”! There isn’t really an equivalent to the season of spring here, nor is summer quite what a European would expect. As winter draws to a close, the temperatures get steadily hotter and hotter, and then, abruptly, the rains come. For weeks on end, (joyous weeks for anyone in a desert country like this), we had intense rain storms virtually every afternoon or evening. The mornings dawned hot, the afternoons ... read more
September 2nd 2008
Sunday dawned bright and clear, and I crawled out of bed far earlier than I’d have liked. Nominally a day of rest, some jobs still need to be done, and today I had agreed to drive our new cheetah keeper; Kate; on the rounds of all our pens, checking for damage to the fences. From the office it’s 24 km to the big enclosure on our neighbouring farm of Bellebenno, and the road wends its way through some lovely scenery. Away to the right rises the deep red of the Waterberg Plateau, while all around us are the browns and greens of the acacia bush. Ahead on the road we see a steenbok scamper away from the throaty roar of our old diesel, while other, larger antelope, raise their heads and glare at the interruption to ... read more
July 19th 2008
I'm afraid that this isn't really one of my usual entries, but just a real quick update about where I am and what I'm up to. First off an apology; the email address I had set up with travelblog has been having problems for the last few months so I haven't got any recent messages. I've set up a new one now, so future communications should get through. I've just had a short holiday (18 days) in the UK. It used to be that the leaving the UK meant going on holiday for me, but these days it's the other way around. I'm working in Namibia now, and having an amazing time in the process. I expect to make it back to the UK every 3-4 months, but time will tell if I can continue to ... read more
May 15th 2008
I’ve spent the last six weeks volunteering for the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia. I’ve had a fantastic time so far, and the best part is that I’ll be here for six more weeks as well. CCF was founded in 1990 by American born Dr Laurie Marker and in the decades since has made one of the greatest single contributions to the future survival of the wild cheetah population of Africa. In 1900 there were around 100,000 cheetahs in the wild, but the twentieth century saw a sharp decline in their numbers due to the pressures of an expanding human population and the demands for hunting trophies, and by 1975 this figure had dropped to 30,000. Even with increased environmental awareness, their numbers continued to drop, with farmers killing almost 1000 every year through the ... read more
March 16th 2008
Gaborone is an odd city. It was built from scratch as a capital, but despite it’s modern origins, it seems to have sprung up with little forethought or planning. The land area that it covers is vast, and long taxi or combi rides are needed to get anywhere. Much of the population live in the widely dispersed suburbs, now organised into numbered ‘blocks’ some of which are themselves as large as small towns. Dividing these blocks are major highways that cross each other at great ‘circles’ (the local name for roundabouts). In theory, all the streets have names. In practice though, most of them are missing any clue as to what they might be. There is also a great lack of maps to be found. Indeed, many of the locals I asked didn’t seem to really ... read more