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23

Apr 2020

Botswana: finally! a good news story

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On Safari in the Okavango Delta

On Safari in the Okavango Delta

During these dark times we can still dream, and there is good news around: Botswana’s famous inland Delta is renowned for being Africa’s best wildlife spot. The Delta’s ecosystem depends on the annual flood and for the last five years it’s been weak. This year it’s outstanding! Good news for wildlife, birds and the whole ecosystem. Whether you ride, drive or walk a safari to Botswana is as good as it gets.

Rainfall in the mountains of Angola determines the water level in the Delta which is measured at the village of Rundu in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip. This morning (St George’s Day) it reads 6.6m compared to the five-year average of 5.38, so it’s going to be an outstanding flood.

We can’t travel to Botswana at the moment, and my heart goes out to all those remote, specialist lodges that make a Delta safari so life-changingly special. But one day it will come back. And perversely, the absence of human traffic and activity is really good news for the animals, great and small. It’s a funny old world.

For all you technical people, here’s the Rundu report

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06

Feb 2020

Namibia: long distance riding

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From prototype to perfection
It’s been several years in the making, but new for 2020 is the ultimate safari saddle.

Horse riding in Namibia

Before: the original McLellan hybrid

 

Horse riding in Namibia

After: the brand new design! The McLellan-Namib Special!

 

It will be used on all the Namibia safaris and is fully adjustable to both horse and rider. A specially designed woollen girth with lots of built-in padding, will be much appreciated (by horse) on those long desert days. The handy water-bottle holders have been moved to behind the rider’s leg so no longer knocking on your knee! And there’s a little pocket for small things like camera, lip balm and sunblock which will be much appreciated (by rider).

Excellent leather, plenty of air-flow along the spine – it’s a work of art!!

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05

Feb 2020

Machu Picchu Summer Solstice

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The Incas and the Sun
Inca lore has it that the Sun God, Inti, rose from Lake Titicaca to control the heavens and the seasons. The Inca, the eponymous emperor of the Inca people, was believed to be a direct descendant of Inti.

Inti was anchored to the earth by The Intihuatana Stone, known as “The Hitching Post of the Sun” in English, which stands inside Machu Picchu. This remarkable stone is a precise indicator of the two equinoxes, spring and autumn, as well as other celestial events.

Temple of the Sun, Machu Picchu

Temple of the Sun, Machu Picchu: Note the sun shining through the window and the light falling directly onto the Intihuatana Stone.

The name Intihuatana is derived from the local Quechua language and is rumoured to have been coined by Hiram Bingham. It comes from inti meaning “sun”; and wata which is the verb root “to tie or hitch” (huata- is simply a Spanish spelling). The Quechua -na suffix changes a verb into a noun for things like tools or places. Hence inti watana is literally an instrument or place to “tie up the sun”; in English that makes “The Hitching Post of the Sun”.

There is a similar, though totally unconnected, link with Ra, the Egyptian sun god. You could say that the dynasty of the pharaohs in Egypt and the much later dynasty of the Incas were each sun cults. And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of sun worship!

Machu Picchu and the Spring Equinox
Machu Picchu is south of the equator, just, so the spring equinox happens in September rather than March; March is the beginning of autumn here in Peru, whereas in the northern hemisphere, it’s t’other way around.

What is the Equinox?
The Earth is in ceaseless orbit around the sun and is tilted at 23.5° off the vertical which means the sun’s light and warmth swap between the two hemispheres twice per year, March and September. At equinox the sun is directly overhead at noon, as seen from the equator; night and day are of equal length. The name equinox comes from Latin aequus = equal and nox = night.

What is the ‘Solstice’?
A solstice occurs when the sun reaches the end of its tether, either in the extreme north, or south. There are two solstices: Summer on the 21st June and Winter on the 21st December. This year we have a very special opportunity to witness the Summer Solstice inside the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in the company of one of the foremost Inca specialists, Edwin Duñeas.

Details of Edwin’s 14-day trip are here.

Intihuatana Stone, Machu Picchu

Intihuatana Stone, Machu Picchu

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03

Feb 2020

Kilimanjaro: light aircraft, helicopters and porters.

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Scenic flights around Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, Tanzania

There is now a light aircraft stationed at Arusha Airport that takes guests on a scenic flight above and around mounts Meru and Kilimanjaro, an ideal way to either end, or begin a visit to the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

The one-hour flight takes off from Arusha Airport at 06:45 am and heads east soaring above Arusha city, Arusha National Park, West Kilimanjaro then across the Shira Plateau, the Arrow glacier, Reusch Crater, Mawenzi Peak (Kili’s neighbour) before turning west over Mt. Meru and landing back at Arusha at 07:45 am. Be sure to bring your camera!

A concern when climbing Meru and Kili is to acclimatise properly. This flight goes much higher than the summit of Kili and the aircraft is not pressurised, therefore oxygen masks and oxygen is provided in-flight.

Max Occupancy: 9 window seats only
Aircraft details: Cessna Grand Caravan operated by Northern Air
Fare: £475
Days of operation: Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun. Weather dependant.

Route map of the scenic flight, Kilimanjaro

Route map of the scenic flight, Kilimanjaro

While on the subject of Kilimanjaro …..

A word about emergence evacuation while trekking.
It’s now possible for the resident helicopter to reach the following places on Kilimanjaro to effect an emergency evacuation:-

Machame route: Machame Hut, Shira Cave, Lava Junction, Barranco, Karanga, Barafu, Kosovo, Millennium and Mweka Hut.

Lemosho Glades route: Shira One, Shira Two, Moir Hut, Lava Junction, Barranco, Karanga, Barafu, Kosovo, Millennium and Mweka Hut.

Rongai route: Second Cave, Kikelelwa, Mawenzi Turn Hut and Kibo Hut.

Marangu route: Horombo, Last Waters and Kibo Hut.

Shira route: Simba/Sekimba, Shira Two, Lava Junction, Barranco, Karanga, Barafu, Millennium and Mweka Hut.

Northern route: Shira One, Shira Two, Lava Junction, Moir, Buffalo (Pofu), Third Cave and Skull Hut.
Umbwe route: Barranco, Karanga, Barafu, Millennium and Mweka Hut.

Kili from above

Aerial view of Milimanjaro looking down on the Kili crater.

And finally, a word about porters:-

The exploitation and mistreatment of porters can be a troubling challenge in the trekking industry. By contracting with a qualified KPAP Partner you can be assured that porters are well cared for. We provide a fair salary to our porters, paying salaries on time, issue fair load weights, provide 3 meals a day on the mountain as well as proper shelter and equipment, policies to care for sick or injured porters on duty to ensure a happy, healthy and great support team for your trek.

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02

Dec 2019

Winter Rides

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Northern lights ride

Horse riding in Iceland during the winter months has real charm.

The perfect winter horse riding holiday in Iceland.

The perfect winter horse riding holiday in Iceland.

Venture Co offers a fantastic multi-day ride during winter where you have a good chance of seeing the northern lights, as well as exciting riding:-

The Northern Lights ride comes in a 6 days package and is also available in a 4-day format

The Northern Lights

The Northern Lights

And of course a little riding can be combined with some dog-sledding, whale watching or some quality time exploring Reykjavik’s Chocolate Cafe, Omnom!

Reykjavik fromthe harbour (whale watching)

Reykjavik fromthe harbour (whale watching)

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