Africa Archives - Venture Co WorldwideVenture Co Worldwide Africa Archives - Venture Co Worldwide

31

Oct 2019

Crossing Kenya by Train

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales / No comments yet

Taking the train across Kenya.

Take the train from Nairobi to Mombasa.

Travelling by train in Kenya used to be “unpredictable”. The colonial period narrow-gauge train that ran from Nairobi all the way to Mombasa on the coast was called the Lunatic Express and was a 15 hour overnight sleeper service.

Brand new for 2019
The brand new Chinese-built railway has reduced the travel time to 4 ½ hrs and is really reliable. It follows the same route as the Lunatic Express, so spotting big game while you travel makes this train journey unique.

The new service is called the Madaraka Express and can carry 1,200 passengers. The train departs Nairobi in the morning and you can be on the beach just after lunchtime. The Nairobi terminus is close to the international airport (6 Km from the city centre) so you could go direct from airport to beach. The Mombasa terminus is less than a Km from the airport, or about 15 mins from the Likoni Ferry which gives access to Diani and the southern Mombasa beaches (which are the best!).

Buying tickets: crossing kenya by train
Tickets are incredibly cheap (approx £10 second and £30 first class, each way) but can’t be bought on-line, only in person. Venture Co can obtain tickets via our partner in Nairobi (no fee charged). 2nd class is crowded, but perfectly comfy. 1st class has reclining, rotating seats, fold-out trays, power socket and air conditioning; and only first class has access to the buffet car. All the rolling stock is made in China.

Crossing kenya by train: the Nairobi terminus

Crossing kenya by train: the Nairobi terminus

Time to kill in Nairobi: here are some ideas.

Security
The safari business is incredibly important to the Kenya economy, and the nation is justifiably proud of their new train service, so security is really tight. You go through two separate screening processes: the point being, allow plenty of time to board the train.

The Lunatic Express Remembered
In 1898 the Brits began building the ‘Coast to Kampala’ railway line. Local Kenyans had no clue how to build such a thing, so the Brits imported several thousand labourers from India where railways were an established institution. Several canvas villages were established to accommodate the labourers in the area of Tsavo National Park through which the track runs. Then the mysteries began: labourers kept disappearing … at night. Lion attacks were identified and the horror spread through the workforce. The project leader was a military man and he decided to employ 20 experienced Sepoys to track the lions, which proved elusive. Weeks and months passed and the lion attacks continued, munching their way through 31 people. Eventually the first lion was shot and it was a huge, mane-less male which looked terrifying. The other lion was identified as another mane-less male of equal size but possessing more cunning. Night after night they tried to shoot it, but it transpired that the lion was stalking the guns, rather than vice versa. The second lion was eventually shot an incredible nine times before it died and they say it was crawling towards the guns and sank its teeth into a fallen branch in defiance, with its dying breath. The lions became known as “The Man-eaters of Tsavo” and the skins and skulls were sold to America and now reside in the Chicago museum.

And so the Lunatic Express was born!

I remember the old train service, with three classes, as a mission in itself. You would leave Nairobi in the evening and chuff through Nairobi National Park before settling down for the night. 14 hours later you arrived in Mombasa, maybe. Break-downs were not unusual; big game on the tracks slowed things down and the whole thing was a bit of an adventure, but great fun. The rolling stock was all British and had that ‘Agatha Christie’ feel to it. Now it’s all Chinese and utterly reliable …. ‘plus ça change’.

Crossing kenya by train: the Mombasa terminus

Mombasa terminus

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

25

Oct 2019

Lady Gorilla-guides

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

Many years ago while travelling in Uganda I met a guide with ambition: jog on through the decades to 2019 and Kazinga is a well-respected tour operator in Uganda with outstanding guides. It’s still run by that original founder/guide, Felex Musinguzi and Felex and his team look after all Venture Co clients visiting Uganda.

Our most popular trip (max 6 clients) is the 15 day Highlights of Uganda.

And to this day, we have never had a bad report.

Felex is a forward thinking chap and has been instrumental in establishing a formal guide qualification in Uganda, not dissimilar to the highly respected qualification that exists in South Africa, the Professional Filed Guide. He has gone one step further and pushed hard for more female guides so we can now guarantee a lady-guide.

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

21

Jun 2019

If Rhinos could fly ….

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

And the good news is that they can! African Parks has just announced that five Black Rhino will be taking a trip from the Safari Park Dvůr Králové in the Czech Republic to Akagera National Park in Rwanda.

All five were born in captivity and are particularly valuable because of the genetic vigour they bring to the very small resident gene-pool. Since 2010, when African Parks took over wildlife management at Akagera poaching has largely been eliminated allowing wildlife populations to surge. In 2017 eighteen black rhino were reintroduced to Akagera after the last one was poached in 2007.

Akagera National Park has experienced an economic revitalisation and today welcomes more than 44,000 tourists a year, half of whom are Rwandan nationals, which is an unusual statistic in Africa, where local people don’t often visit their own national parks.

Read the full press release and please visit rhino move to follow their journey.

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

29

May 2019

Kilimanjaro cable car ….. ?

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

A cable car for Kilimanjaro? Is it April 1st?

This week saw the tragic and insane shenanigans on Mount Everest with a queue from the Hilary Step to the summit, and 12 fatalities. Last month the Peruvian authorities announced their cunning plan to build an airport at Machu Picchu to boost tourist numbers. And now we have the Tanzanian offering: a cable car for Kilimanjaro. Check the report from Reuters

Beggars belief: apart from anything else, how can a human being go from Moshi town (altitude 950m) to Uhuru Peak (5,895m) in an hour or so?! I hope their plans make good provision for body bags.

There are about 50,000 Kili trekkers annually and no matter which route you take to ascend, it’s hard work. The altitude is a definite challenge. Trekkers who climb neighbouring Mount Meru first do themselves a huge favour because they allow the acclimatisation process to work more slowly, thus avoiding the headaches and nausea. Besides, I’m old-school and believe achieving a peak should be personally earned rather than being helicoptered in.

Shame on the Tanzanian authorities for suggesting this nonsense and shame on the Chinese construction firm bidding for the contract.

Sign the protest here:

Kilimanjaro cable car

Safari and Kili climb – the perfect safari

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

17

Apr 2019

Okavango Delta water level Apr 2019

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Horse Riding Holidays, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

Water level in the Okavango Delta. (17th April 2019)
Recent updates from Botswana suggest that it is likely to be a dry year. Rainfall levels have been lower than normal and flood levels are lower than previous years. This will limit water activities in areas without permanent water, such as rivers and lagoons. Water activities are expected to start later than normal in 2019, probably around August time. However, when water is scarce wildlife congregates around pools making the game viewing spectacular, particularly from the back of a horse. Riding and game drives have been good, as have walks. All transfers in and out of camps that we will be using in July will probably be by land / donkey, rather than by makoro.

Riding Holiday in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Big Game viewing frm the back of a horse

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

05

Apr 2019

Grow your own clarinet!

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

Yes – you read that right!

Buffet Crampon is a French manufacturer of woodwind musical instruments, including oboes and bassoons, but they’re best known for their clarinets which are the brand of choice for many professional musicians.

Venture Co has been working with the African Blackwood Conservation Project  since 2002. ABCP collects ebony tree seeds; propagates; and gives saplings to shamba farmers (shamba = smallholding) to plant around their fields and homes thus establishing beyond doubt their boundaries. After all other field markers could be moved! Ebony trees take a lifetime to grow (70 or 80 years) to a useable size, so boundaries become well-established, and there now exists an incentive to protect the young ebony trees. The Makonde carving industry in Kenya and Tanzania, combined with sapling-nibbling goats, have devastated the ebony trees creating the need for some conservation.

Grow your own clarinet

Ebony seedlings

Even with all our clever technology and material science degrees, the best woodwind instruments are still made from Dalbergia Melanoxylon or ebony, or Mpingo in Swahili. Ebony’s density, dimensional stability and machinability are difficult to replicate. So there are all sorts of stakeholders in the future of the modest Mpingo.

Last year Buffet Crampon visited the nursery and tree planting sites in Tanzania, and agreed to finance the project. They continue to lead the industry with the manufacture of “Greenline clarinets and oboes” made of recycled blackwood. This material has the same acoustic properties as the harvested wood, remains stable in all playing environments and is not prone to cracking. It is therefore reducing current harvesting demands for ebony. And before too much longer modest supplies of mature ebony will once more become available.

If you visit the project for an hour or so, after a Serengeti safari, who knows, you could plant a clarinet for your grandchild.

Contact us for safari ideas and quotes.

 

Sebastian Chewa, founder of the Mpingo Project

Sebastian Chewa, founder of the Mpingo Project

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

05

Apr 2019

Black rhino in Tanzania

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

Black rhino
The black rhino population in Ngorongoro Crater has been decimated by poaching over the last 50 years – that’s not news. What is great news is how successful the conservation efforts have been. Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) have been the ‘feet on the ground’ and it’s all been paid for from income derived from wildlife tourism: conservation funded solely from safari visitors to the Ngorongoro Crater.

Here are the stats:-

Year    Popln
1968      108
1977         25
2018        52

Nowadays the rhinos are under 24-hour camera surveillance which has reduced poaching and improved husbandry allowing more calves to survive. A few blacks have also been reintroduced to Ngorongoro, from South Africa, to improve the gene pool.

The oldest resident is Fausta (54 years) and she is now on a special care programme because they recon 50 years is the usual life expectancy for a rhino.

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

05

Apr 2019

Poachers in Kenya

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

The Fate of Elephants & Black Rhino
“Wildlife poachers in Kenya will face the death penalty”, so says Najib Balala the Minister of Wildlife in Nairobi.

Kenya is home to a wide variety of species and remains a popular safari destination, but its reputation has been damaged by Al Shabaab activities and the continued niggle of poaching. In 2018 69 elephants, out of a population of 34,000; and 9 rhinos, from a population of under 1,000 were poached.

The highly social African elephant

“We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of US$200,000” Mr Balala said. “However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence.”

Needless to say, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights opposes the move and would like to see the death penalty abolished worldwide.

Recently 2 black rhino and a calf were poached in Meru National Park, virtually cancelling out the overall rhino population’s growth in Kenya, according to the Save the Rhino organisation; gestation periods are 16 to 18 months.

Social-media reaction varies from some users applauding Kenya and calling it “fantastic news” and others insisting it should never happen. Watch this space.

Happy as a rhino in a mud-wallow!

Happy as a rhino in a mud-wallow!

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

05

Mar 2019

Quagga

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Horse Riding Holidays, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

I must admit I’ve never heard of a quagga, and couldn’t guess what one is!

Picture a zebra that’s been put through a washing machine and lost the stripes from its quarters and belly: that’s a quagga. They went extinct in the first half of the 20th C.

Enter the Heck brothers who were Nazi geneticists at Berlin zoo during WW II. They specialised in resurrecting extinct animals. Another German, Hr Rau picked up the baton in the 1980’s, after the death of the brothers Heck, which subsequently passed to the South African National Parks a decade ago. And hey-presto, derived from the Plains Zebra of Etosha, Namibia, please welcome back the Quagga. The first quagga foal, Henry, was born 5th Jan 2005. Numbers are now up to about a dozen, mainly in the Cape Town area.

 

The quagga

This is not a Quagga – but it’s equally strange to look at!

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

22

Feb 2019

Duma the Mozambique Dog

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Horse Riding Holidays, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

Meet Charlotte who looks after the horses for the Mozambique ride.

Mozambique horse riding holiday

Duma the Dog in Mozambique

 

Last month she came across Duma, one of several semi-independent beach dogs. Duma had broken his front leg which was dangling awkwardly in-front of him. As Charlotte approached to get a better look he took flight and raced into the bushes on three legs. She spent hours persuading him to come out but Duma was terrified and very sore. Eventually Charlotte managed to coax him into her room with a bowl brimming with rice and chicken.

The vet was 800 km away and not due to visit for some time, so she sedated him with pain killers and kept a close eye on him. Like most of the beach dogs Duma has a gentle temperament and it didn’t take long for everyone at the stable to fall in love with him. Finally the vet arrived and poor Duma was coaxed into a cage. A short drive into town, which was a painstaking journey as the road was bumpy and Duma was in a lot of pain. Monica, the vet, took one look at Duma and in no time at all had the leg set and bandaged up in a bright coloured bandage.

He has now settled into his new home at the stables and joins Boots and Peppy, two of the other rescued beach dogs. Today he had his bandage removed and his leg is perfect, he just needs a bit of time getting used to being a four legged dog instead of a three legged dog.

Mozambique horse riding holiday

 

Please select the social network you want to share this page with: