I’d heard the tales of the ‘Greater Honey Guide’ and their extraordinary relationship with man but never seen one before… But now at last here was one right in front of me. Of course it was Laetato, our tracker who heard it first, and now he was imitating its call as it fluttered ahead of us. In case you haven’t heard about this remarkable bird here’s a brief synopsis…
Many tribes throughout East Africa have developed a unique working relationship with this bird. It leads humans to a bee hive and in return the hunters offer the bird a little of the honey they find. Legend has it that if they fail to honor their side of the bargain then next time the bird will lead them to a snake or a lion.
Laetato is accompanying me, our guide Patnei and Alex Hunter on this late afternoon walk along the river bank in the northern sector of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy a little south of Mt Kenya. We’ve already spotted a pied kingfisher perched in a branch. Also on display were the tracks of Egyptian geese and buffalo, both after liquid refreshment.
The Namib desert dunes have been there for millions of years. Some believe it was the sand of the Orange river that was spilled into the strong Benguela current and carried back on land by strong winds that created these staggering high red sand dunes.
Any photographers dream, these red sand dunes are among the highest in the world. Dune 45 at 170 meters tall is the most well-known dune chosen to climb by those who visit the Sossusvlei area.
This relatively ‘easy’ climb takes anywhere from 40 minutes to one hour to reach the top, for most people. Coming down takes less than 5 minutes.
However the tallest dune, which towers over the iconic dead vlei with its 800 year old desiccated trees is Big Daddy at Sossusvlei. Only the brave, and possibly self-deluded, would take that on…
“In Africa, if you see lots of people walking in the same direction then they’re either going to market or on their way to church”. So said our guide Amos as we drove towards Nyanza, at the beginning of our week-long safari through Rwanda. The 5 of us had arrived the previous morning in Kigali off a one and a quarter hour connecting flight from Nairobi. None of us (Clare, Stuart, Olivia, Chris and myself) had been on a gorilla safari in Rwanda before. And the Land Cruiser buzzed with excitement and anticipation as we started to settle into the rhythm of our road trip.
Amongst the chatter and banter of getting to know each other and Amos we watched myriad Rwandans walking along the road with bananas, pineapples & furniture balanced on their heads; others pushing bikes loaded to what appeared to be breaking point with sacks of potatoes; others still hurtling downhill at alarming speeds on bikes. Laden with plastic barrels of banana beer swollen out of shape by fermentation. And masses of children waving or rolling tyres along the road with a forked stick. Or carrying water on their heads in brightly coloured jerry cans. Or standing around in small groups playing or running after our vehicle. A favourite pastime on the slower roads was to try and hitch a ride on the back bumper.
Of course such sights are common in Africa! But in Rwanda you see more people in constant motion than usual. The country has a population approaching 11 million in a land less than half the size of Scotland. Whatever time of day, there were always people on the move. . .