Category Archives: Africa

Namib Desert and Sea, keep your heart warm

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Welcome back! I missed our blog while I enjoyws the summer and vacation. Any new sites I visited? Actually only one, Edinburgh. We went to Scotland with Edinburgh, Glasgow an Islay. More about that trip later, now let’s look at Namibian desert and sea. It’s a new UNESCO world heritage site and one of my favourite on the list.

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Desert has its creatures, this is desert zebra

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Where the desert meets the sea

I visited Namibia together with a friend during three weeks in December 2010 and January 2011. I’ve written about it in three -part story in following posts: part one, part two, part three. This part is only about Namibia, its desert, its sands, its sea, its wonderful nature and its great people. Namibia welcomed us with warmth and calmness and during the entire time in Namibia I felt calm and happy.

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Sand, sand, sand, where doeas desert end and the beach begins?

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Definetly the beach, or desert

We saw and visited different kinds of deserts here. Grey sand, yellow sand, red sand, white sand. We saw sand dunes and rock desert. In Swapkomund, on Africa’s East coast we saw the sea and its creatures. We saw few flamingos, other water birds, playful seals, we ate shrimps and sea food and we interacted with local people, among them women traditionally dressed in cow-hats.

Going to Swapkomund was interesting. We travelled through the desert for hours. suddenly the desert became a beach, just by the sea. Where is the border? What is the desert? What is beach?

We also saw Himba people, that live closed to the nature, keeping their old traditions and customs. We actually visited a Himba-camp and were welcomed there by the people living there. We were shown their way of living and their customs. Some guys in our group found this quite disturbing and uncomfortable, like going to a zoo with people, but I see it as a wat to connect and actually understand that the other people might be different, but are also people, like everybody else. Understanding and connecting.

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Desert is not as deserted, as you think

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Fish River Canyon, no sea, only desert

On the New Years Eve we visited Fish River Canyon, worlds second largest canyon after Grand Canyon. The desert here was more stony, but still very dry and very, very beautiful. T first there was cloudy and rain in the air, we almost gave up the thought of a sunset, but then the clouds just split and we got to view the most magical sunset over the canyon.

Some of the places we visited actually had some rain, like Fish River Canyon. Others haven’t had any rain since lat year in February and others for the last five years. But even if there was no rain the desert was very much alive. There were insects, spiders, lizzards and snakes. We went out with a guide and watched different signs of desert creatures.

The desert was also filled with all the different plants. There were trees with just few small leaves on top, there were bushes that were poisonous and other bushes that moved with the wind. We saw dry plants that opened up and spread their seeds when they were hit buy a drop of water and then went to sleep until the next rain. Desert is very much alive.

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Dune 45

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More dunes

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Dune 45 again

We also visited the red sand dunes and climbed up on Dune 45. They are numbered in order and they actually move in the wind. They change shape and position a little sometimes. Climbing the dunes is not easy. For every step up you glide two steps down. It’s easier without the shoes. Finally we made it and saw a magical sunrise.

By the dunes we saw huge crows. They were black with white collars and were waiting for food from tourists probably.

In the desert there are also some mammals. There are desert elephants that live here. We haven’t seen any, but we saw few desert zebras. They are a little bit different that the usual zebras. I’m not sure if I could see the difference, but our guides could.

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Desert, no rain here

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Evening in the desert

We visited a part of Namibia called ;oon landscape. It was a stony desert, a bare landscape, that is pretty big, pretty amazing and very pretty. It’s like being on a different planet.

All the different parts of Namibia were like different planets, many different planets.

We met another people group in the desert, Bushmen. They communicate with click-sounds and live in small huts out in the desert. They live of what the desert gives.

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Beautiful desert

We saw sand, mountains, rock, beach and sea. The desert showed us that it’s alive, just as the sea is very much alive. I’m impressed with Namibian desert it gave me warmth, live and happiness. The fesert is alive.

Link: Namib Sand Sea

My grade is five, five, five.

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

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How Green is Green? Costa Rica vs Bwindi in Uganda

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The daily prompt today is about jealousy and green eyes and the color green. The first part is not really my piece of cake, but I love green. I love the fresh color of spring grass, I love the green trees and I love green jungle with all its creatures, the tiny and the huge ones. The jealous part, well, I’ve been jealous sometimes. It’s mostly about someone else getting something that I want or going somewhere where I want to go. But life is too short to sit and be jealous. Let’s do something about it. Enjoy life, try to live it as best as you can.

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The jungle is green, so are its creatures

This post is about my trip to Costa Rica compared to my trip to Bwindi and Uganda. Green jungle in the both parts of the world. Green monsters (with black eyes living in the both jungles. Tiny creatures and huge creatures. Insects, birds, lizzards and wonderful monkeys and apes. The green world is wonderful.

My previous posts about Costa Rica are here and here, so I will not describe the trip. Let’s go for the green parts and compare to Bwindi. Are all the jungles the same? What is similar and what is not? My post about Bwindi and its gorillas is here.

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Tiny ants carying green leaves for their nest

 

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Green frog under a green leaf

Rain forest in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a green place, no questions about it. There is rain forest, plants grow on top of each other, the humidity is high and rain days many. A neighbour country, Nicaragua has desert, sand, draught. Unfair? Our guide said that it was due to Nicaragua cutting down it’s rain forest. When there is rain forest there is lots of humidity from its plants that drop down. From the water drops the clouds are created, since the air is warm, and clouds raise to the sky and fall down as rain. And so on. When you cut down the forest there is nothing to start the process, there is no homidity to drop from the trees and soon the cut down forest becomes a desert with only sun to make it worse.

Creatures of the forest

Costa Rica kept the forest and its creatures. Most of them are tiny. The biggest we saw was a crocodile. The are several types of monkeys and lizards and birds and turtles.

We saw tiny ants occupied with carying leaves. They are using them in their nests. Pretty cool sight. We saw also small green frogs under the leaves. There are also poisonous frogs, but we didn’t see them and they are not green.

There were many birds in Costa Rica, but only the tiny humingbirds were green. And fast.

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Even the tiny hummingbirds are green

Bwindi impenetrable forest in Uganda

Now let’s go to Uganda, from Latin America to Africa, from tiny creatures to bigger onces, from rain forest to impenetrable forest. And still green, still wonderful and still warm. The jungle here is dense, it’s situated high in the mountains, so the hiking is hard, very hard.

Bwindi in Uganda, or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the few places on this planes where there are gorillas. They are not green, but black, their eyes are black as well and these are not monkeys, but apes. And huge. The silverback that we saw weights about 250 kilos. Imagine a creature like that climb trees. And they do, pretty fast.

 

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The jungle in Bwindi is green as well

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The black beast hiding in the jungle

Creatures of the forest

Other creatures of the forest are not as green and tiny as in Costa Rica either. We passed killer ants. The forest rangers told us to RUN when we encountered them. They bite hard, over and over again until they or you die. Not so nice.

There are also chimps, elefants buffaloes and other large animals in Bwindi, but we saw only gorillas. And the ants. And pretty many mosquitoes. I would say that the creatures of Bwindi are more dangerous and deadly that the onces in Costa Rica and not as green.

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Green jungle, black gorilla

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Beauty and a beast in one

What is better

I loved Costa Rica and I loved Bwindi. They are both better, both are worth visiting, both are green. Let’s say: green is better. Green is life, green is hope. Jealousy? Let’s give it another color. Green is too good.

Over and out.

//Monika

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Green-Eyed Monster.

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Proud Masai Warriors

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Last year in July we visited Kenya and Uganda. We saw several World Heritage sites, like Rift Valley Lake system, Kasubi Tombs in Uganda and Bwindi Impenetrable forest. It was both nature and  culture, gorillas, hippos and Bugandi kings. It was educational and interesting. But meeting Masais, although it’s not a world heritage was interesting, exciting and very nice experience. They are the people who choose to live in symbiosis with nature, in simple huts. They hunt, they have cattle and goats and they just live, like they always used to.

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Masai warriors performing a traditional dance

We were previously told that Masais don’t want to be photographed. The explanation we were given was that some believed that we were stealing their souls. Maybe, maybe not. But it was OK if we previously payed and visited them in their village. Well, whatever the reason and explanation I’m not surprised. I would also be very unconfortable if everyone poited a camera at me, just because I had colourfull, traditional garments. And I would come up with an explanation, that at least some people, would respect. I admit that I took a photo or two in secret, and other people on the tour did as well, but we never put cameras in their faces.

When visiting the Masai village in Masai Mara we were allowed to take as many photos as we liked and ask as many stupid question. Happy hour for happy tourist.

Masais were traditionally dressed as they usually are, they were tall and gracefull and very friendly. They treated us with respect and accepted our cameras, our curiosity and our, sometimes strange, questions.

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A Masai next to a hut

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A Masai kid

The Masai warriors started with showing us a traditional dance. There was a lot of jumping, very high. I still don’t know how they do it, but they reach great highs from standing still, like there was no gravitation. Very fascinating.

There was also a kid running around the village. He abserved the dance and we all could see that he was learning. In a few years he also is going to be jumping, like the others.

After the dance it was time for women in the village to sing for us. They are as colourfull as the men and also short haired, but a little bit shorter. The little boy did not observe them as intensively, but he was running around with a stick. Future warrior.

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Jumping high

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Masai women

After dance and song we were divided in groups of two and went inside the huts. Why? To drink goats blood? No, Masai do that, we were just going to see the huts and talk to the warrior that the hut belonged to.

Our warrior was son of the chief, as several others, since the chief has several wifes and several children, and maybe future chief. He told us that not only humans, but sometimes also goats sleep in the hut. The village is moved every seven years, mostly because of the termites that destroy the houses. The Masais choose to move before the houses are destroyed and find a new place for a village.

We asked some questions and talked about their lifes. Very interesting. Finally we bought some necklaces. They looked like a lion tooth, but we were told that it was a soft rock, carved as tooth.

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Masai kid observes and learns

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One of the warriors and chief’s son

After visiting the hut we went out to the village again. The questions continued. Masais showed as a plant that was used as mosquito repellent and some other plants as well.

Finally the son of the chief showed us some fur. It was lion’s fur. Masais used to go out and hunt a lion to proove their manhood. Nowadays it’s a little bit different. Enough animals die because of the poachers, so Masais work as park rangers. When a lion has to be checked by a veterinary, or chipped, Masais help out and get to cut some of the hair from the fur. The tradition still lives, a little bit altered. Lions stay alive and happy and Masais as well.

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In colourfull garments

The visit in the village was indeed interesting and giving. I would for sure go again and see these friendly people.

People are never world heritage sites. Should they? I think so. Entire cultures should be protected as well. It has today become survival of the one with most money and biggest gun, not the fittest, smartest and most connected to the nature.

I’ve read lately that there are plans in Tanzania to throw out Masais from their land to build a hunting ground for rich, spoiled people who want to kill lions and leopards. (source: Avaaz) I hope it’s wrong, but money talks. I hope that it’s not going to become reality.

//Monika

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I met a rhino in Ngorongoro, is that possible?

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I have always said that nothing is impossible, just slightly improbable. But when you least expect it it might happen, just like that. And you don’t know it beforehand, but if you just say that it’s impossible, you might not notice it and miss the opportunity. So let’s say less probable from now on.

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Impossible to see rhino

Before going to Serengeti and Ngorongoro I was said that it’s almost impossible to see a rhino. There are so few of them, so you have to be lucky, very lucky. Impossible? Neh, maybe less probable. But we saw them, not one, but four then and there. Impossible?

I met a rhino in Ngorongoro and it made my day. Few other places as well, but that first time in Ngorongoro was extra special. I was on my first safari trip, first visit to Africa ever. Another post is here. I want to return to this spectaular place, yes, I do. The initial thought was that we were not going to see so much and that the nature films must be a photographer waiting for hours, days, and weeks. And there were animals everywhere. And we saw rhinos as well.

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Coming down to Ngorongoro crater we hoped to see Rhino as well. But we were not sure, you know, impossible, or almost. And we saw it! First one, very close, it just walked behind our truck like nothing happened. A while later we saw a whole family, one large and three small ones. Wow! I was speechless.

After that we saw one at Nairobi National Park and two more by lake Naukuru, but the first time in Ngorongoro was the most special one.

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Family, one more young was just behind

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In Ngorongoro

Faith of rhinos

Rhinos are very much endangered. That’s sad. Some people seem to think that their horns are ultimate medicine. And some others just kill them to steel the horns and sell for lots of money. Greed, that’s very much human. Can this be stopped? I’m sad to say, but as long as someone is willing to buy the horns the answer is no. People cannot be nice to each other, simply by greed, then they cannot be nice to animals either. Not everyone of course, but as long as there is one doing it, it’s one too many.

Many would say that it’s impossible for rhinos to survive human greed, pocher’s hunt for horns, no matter the price. But it’s not impossible to save the rhinos, it might take an effort, but it’s not impossible.

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A smaller inhabitant of the area

Impossible to win

“It’s impossible to win, let’s not waste our time.” We went to an travel and adventure fair and visited an African travel agent. If you don’t compete I would use word impossible this time, but if you do it is possible. So I did compete. And today I’ve got a mail anout first price. Being doubtful I checked their webpage and there was my name. Impossible? Not really.

So now I’m planning to use my prize and go on another trip to Africa to see those impossible, I mean less probable to see animals, like rhinos or leopards.

Links and globes

Ngorongoro Conservation Area has been a world heritage site since 1979.

Some links:

My grade to Ngorongoro is still five globes.

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

Daily Prompt: Impossibility.

via Daily Prompt: Impossibility.

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I would erase it, if I could

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This was one of the best trips of my life. This was one of the worst trips of my life. This was a goal, as vague as the thick  morning mist on the way to the top and as clear as the air above the clouds. This was a goal that was never reached. And the question is do I want to erase it? No way, but I want to erase a meeting with the travel agent who recomended one day less, then we wished to have on the way to the top of Kilimanjaro.

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What a beauty!

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On the way, still believing we are going to make it

The travel agent told us we would make it, no problem. We started out and we walked, for hours and hours. Day after day. We passed jungle, bushes with “beard”, smaller plants and we arrived in hostile environment and yet, so beautiful. It was hard, but it worked. Step after step. One breath of air at a time. More and more beautiful. More and more will to make it. Until the last day. The last day we were supposed to walk two day-trips in one day. Something like eight hours up, up, up to 4600 meters. The view up there was great and we just fell down sleeping.

The guide woke us up after maybe an hour: “You have to eat!”Sure, we ate a lot, but still like in a dream. And fell asleep again. Sleep! The whole body was screaming. Sleep!

After a few more hours at midnight the guide woke us up again. “Time to go”. One is our trio decided to stay, we went. Step after step, eyelids fell down, we were trying to keep awake. Step after step. Were the first snow started to cover the ground my friend turned back. I continued for one more hour, maybe two. Step after step, trying not to sleep while walking. Step after step. Finally I gave up. I felt if I ever make it to the top, I’ll have to go back too and I’ll never make it in one piece.

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The last stop

Yes, if I’d to delete anything it would be that meeting. I would prefer to meet some other agent who would plan this trip differently. One more day.

Kilimanjaro is a UNESCO’s world heritage site since 1987. Link to the site: Kilimanjaro.

And Kilimanjaro still gets five globes.

 

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

Daily Prompt: Erasure.

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