Blog archive
Friday
Feb042011

Zinguo la Chole

The people of Chole have been preparing to celebrate a new beginning, the New Year.  Zinguo la Chole is a charm to bring good luck for the coming year; to protect the island and its community from illness, disease and evil. The festivities began three days ago as groups of men walked together on the shores of Chole reading passages from the Koran and chanting.  The ceremonies culminate in a island wide feast held at Forodhani Beach where every household brings freshly made bread and donates 2,000Tsh ($0.80) to buy a cow for the occasion.  The men get together at dawn to begin cutting the meat which is separated into various pots for different dishes including beef stew, kebabs, bones and soup.  The cow’s feet and horns are retained to perform the final offering – they are thrown into the sea with an Islamic prayer – without this, I’m told, the charm does not work.  The Chole people love nothing more than being with friends and neighbours and between the old wazees sleeping under the frangipani trees and the children running around the beach to the women chatting and weaving mats – Zinguo la Chole is a true celebration of renewed life and hopes for a successful year to come.

Lyndsey Fair, Chole Mjini Lodge Manager

Monday
Dec062010

Python passes quietly through Kisampa

While walking in the bush Richard with some of the guys came across a huge python. He was hiding beneath a tree trunk and was completely immobile having recently devoured something substantial! The girth of his body was at least 45 cm – the size of a small person! As they walked around the tree trunk and they reckoned he is at least 5m long!

Jeanann Barbour, AfrikaAfrika partner

Friday
Oct012010

Developing World Connections

Developing World Connections is a British Columbia registered society, Canadian Charitable Organization and a volunteer grassroots movement. The goal of Developing World Connections is to create mutually beneficial relationships with communities and with development partners. Developing World Connections international volunteer experiences and projects benefit all; the volunteer enjoys a meaningful and satisfying experience; the project beneficiaries gain an increased understanding of the visitors’ culture and directly benefit from the projects; the host country enjoys the significant contributions made to its local economies; Developing World Connections is rewarded by being able to continue providing these valuable experiences and world connections.

One of their host partners is our charity Tuende Pamoja. The focus is on education for the area of three villages, Matipwilli, Gongo and Kiwangwa and over a short period of time have assisted with building and renovating primary and secondary school classrooms, built homes to attract and retain school staff.  A village office and library with 500 books has been constructed. Community members’ needs for minor medical attention, equipment and supplies has been provided. Tuende Pamoja Charity has also provided mosquito nets and solar reading/study lamps for over 75 orphaned children.

We have recently had a group of 14 from Developing World Connections staying here at Kisampa while going to the village each day to help build a house for the village Medical Officer. The group contributed about USD 400 each to the costs while Tuende Pamoja has funded the rest. Before the group arrived Richard and some of the villagers measured up the site, did calculations, drew up plans and purchased the necessary building requirements. Some of the villagers with a knowledge of building volunteered to start the project.

By the time the Canadians arrived the foundations were complete and some of the building blocks were manufactured and ready.The group, led by Rick Kurzac, arrived and started work with tremendous enthusiasm and energy.  They set out from Kisampa each day at 7:30 am and laboured all day in the hot sun returning exhausted and dirty but having had a really good day.  The community embraced them whole heartedly and really enjoyed the company of these people from far away who had given their time, energy and resources to help the village.  At the end of the fortnight the walls are up, the floor is done, the roof is on, the door frames are set...there are only the finishing touches to make and there will be a very lovely new house ready for the lucky Clinical Officer.

What a wonderful legacy. They have left behind not only a new house, but a large number of friends of all ages and a mountain of goodwill.

Jeanann Barbour, AfrikaAfrika partner

Thursday
Sep302010

'Lucky' growing up strong

Sarah's maternal instincts shone through as she continues to bottle feed 'Lucky' who continues to put on weight and grow. Lucky now seems to be very comfortable with his (we did think it was a girl for a while….) surroundings and no longer needs to be closed in at night, preferring to make himself a nest in the forest by the camp. Lucky is always there in the morning ready for his milk (often assisted to our younger guests) and then spends the rest of the day foraging for fruit and leaves which will make up its diet as he gets older. Lucky will eventually move away and find a mate but is truly lucky to have been saved from an early demise.

Wednesday
Sep152010

Wildebeest rescue

In mid September Raymond Teekishe and I were visiting the Serengeti ranger posts of Kenyanganga and Lamai to meet some new staff over there. Our camp is in an area that is rarely traveled by clients. Between the two ranger posts we started finding a lot of wire snares that had been placed in the acacia thickets to catch animals for meat by the local communities we are engaging on the northwestern side of the park.  We immediately started pulling up snares and eventually came across a young wildebeest caught in a snare by one of its back legs. Fortunately the little wildebeest was still strong.

I was very wary of its sharp little horns and every time I moved towards it, it tried to charge me.  I managed to position myself behind the tree it was tethered to and reeled it in carefully.  I finally managed to grab its hind leg and release the snare. The wildebeest was not all that thankful and tried to charge me again. All through this Raymond (my brave Maasai warrior brother) was shouting encouragement (mainly to the wildebeest!) and managed to snap off a few images from the safety of the Land Rover bonnet. All of the snares we remove are given and reported to the closest ranger post. Pen has also pulled up a number of snares on different occasions and we will continue to do so in collaboration with the rangers. One of the benefits of our presence in the Lamai wedge is that it will deter poachers to be in the area if we are constantly driving around patrolling.  Our mission with the communities is to try and show them that the park can add value to their communities and also to offer them choices other than poaching from the park.


Rob Barbour, AfrikaAfrika Managing Director

Wednesday
Sep012010

The rescue of 'Lucky'

Recently at Kisampa I was walking close to Kisampa camp when a troop of very excited yellow baboons ran past. On spotting me they moved quickly into the bush. I noticed a little red shape in the grass and on further investigation found a Harvey's Red Duiker fawn, lying panted and exhausted.  It had obviously been flushed from it’s hiding place by the baboons who would have likely eaten it after separating it from it's mother. I scooped it up and carried it back to camp where I tried to rehydrate the little duike with a substitute milk solution and some vitamin drops - much to the delight of my children, Sarah and James.

Rob Barbour, AfrikaAfrika Managing Director

Sunday
Aug152010

Turtle-hatching season on Mafia Island

It is Green Turtle hatching season on the Mafia Islands off the coast of Tanzania, East Africa and I had the pleasure and privilege of recently seeing these little amphibians starting their long and difficult life journeys. I was in Mafia to revisit the place where my love affair with Tanzania started almost 12 years ago when my wife, Jackie and I helped build Chole Island's community clinic and assisted to train the staff so that they could run it themselves. This project was funded partly funded by the bed night fee levied by Chole Mjini Lodge.

From my base in my exotic, slow paced, low carbon footprint tree house of Chole Mjini, set amongst lush tropical gardens and the ruins of Shirazi trader houses and markets I went by local Mashua (locally made sailing boat) to the outer Island of Juani. Here I met my guide Nassoro who has to be the champion for turtle conservation on the East African Coast. Nassoro has personally protected over 1000 turtle nests from destruction or plunder by local fisherman, who considers adult turtles and their eggs as a delicacy.  Nassoro is a volunteer with Sea Sense, a locally established grassroots NGO with the objective of protecting turtles and turtle breeding habitat and the endangered marine mammal, the Dugong,  along the Tanzanian coast line. Nassoro's enthusiasm is infectious. As we landed on the coral shores of Juani Island and started the 25 minute walk through the cool, shaded coastal forest, punctuated by ancient and majestic Baobab trees, Nassoro started to explain the importance of his work. East Africa hosts both Hawksbill and Green turtles, the majority being Green turtles. Each adult turtle travels thousands of miles across oceans and eventually returns to the same beach on which they were born to lay their eggs.  As they exit the water they traverse the tidal zone and dig deep into the soft sand to lay their precious clutch. They then cover their eggs with loving care and return, exhausted to the ocean to continue their odyssey. In East Africa nesting generally starts in late February and continues to June. 

The incubation period for turtle eggs is 55 days so Nassoro patrols several beaches on Juani daily during the nesting season from April to September to identify nests and then carefully disguises them to prevent exploitation. He is also able to financially reward fisherman when they find a nest, which he then disguises and records. After 55 days he carefully monitors the hatching of the baby turtles as if they are his own children. It is the very predictability of this gestation period that allows for a tourism experience as guests are almost guaranteed of seeing the turtles hatch.  For this privilege guests contribute a $10 per head fee to SeaSense, helping them continue to pursue their passion for turtle conservation.  It is hard to describe the feeling of seeing newly hatched turtles instinctively leaving their nest and struggling down the beach into the surf zone. I was exhilarated and relieved at the same time to see them reach the water, but understood their vulnerability and the perilous nature of their life journey from then on. I was also hopeful that one day, thanks to the dedication and hard work of Nassoro and SeaSense, my children and I could perhaps witness the same turtle coming to lay it's eggs on the same beach. I pondered this prospect as we sailed theMashua with the "Kuzi" wind at our backs towards my heavenly escape at Chole Mjini Lodge. 


Rob Barbour, AfrikaAfrika Managing Director

Sunday
Aug012010

The Serengeti Mara experience

From the moment you step onto the Kogatende airstrip and onto the land that is known as the Serengeti, you know that you have arrived at a very special place. From your aircraft you might have seen the towering Mount Kilimanjaro, the incredible Ngorongoro Crater and possibly flown over Ol Doinyo Lengai (“The mountain of God” in Maasai) that is an active volcano that towers almost 3000 meters above sea level and last erupted in 2007. Or maybe the vast Lake Manyara with its thousands of flamingos, shimmering pink in the distance… or the varying sized circular shapes, dotted on the landscape that are Maasai boma. The Lamai Wedge is a wilderness area, within the Serengeti National Park and it is here, upon a ridge, overlooking the vast endless stretches of the Serengeti long grass plains towards the east, and with the Isuria escarpment to the west, that is home to AfrikaAfrika’s “Serengeti Mara Camp”. It is from here the magic of the Lamai will be presented to you in all its remarkable beauty and natural synchrony.

In my 23 plus years of guiding, living and working in Africa’s remote places the Lamai Wedge must certainly be one of the last vestiges of a truly wild unspoilt Africa. On your way to our camp, after crossing the Mara River, you break over the first ridge and are awarded with a vista, coupled with hundreds of thousands of animals that I continue to marvel at and our guests have never really experienced before. In this place it seems that time and space have come together, where it is difficult to determine whether you are truly there, or merely an insignificant time warp of a beautiful giant painting stretched out across the horizon.  I like to call it “big sky country”.

Every morning apart from those synonymous African sounds of the Nubian Woodpecker, Rufous Naped Lark, or the early morning whoop of the hyena that complete the symphony of the African dawn, the gnuing of hundreds of thousands wildebeest around the camp herald the dawning of a new day.  On our game drives and walks the sights and sounds of 1.7 million animals, wildebeest, zebra, elephant, Thompson’s gazelle, topi and even the collection of birds, vultures and hyena’s surely make this place a wildlife paradise that stuns and overloads all the senses. Loud vocal and tense Mara River crossings, an endless sea of wildebeest crossing the Lamai plains, predator sightings or just a quiet golden glow sundowner overlooking the Maasai Mara are hardly interrupted with the sight or sound of another vehicle or human….! It is all quite incredible and often our guests have commented on this remarkable phenomenon. Just to experience this truly amazing natural event is certainly enough, but having for your self is even more amazing.

Africa’s wildlife will take your breath away, but so will the people. Tanzania is made up of an amazing colourful and friendly collection of cultures, tribes and languages. On the borders of the Lamai Wedge AfrikaAfrika has made some very important inroads to working with the Gibaso Village community who consist primarily of the Wogakuria people. We at AfrikaAfrika are dedicated to helping this small community to acknowledge and reap some of the benefits of what we have to offer in the Lamai Wedge to our guests. As they live right next door to one of the worlds most amazing wildlife spectacles we feel that they too should take some part in experiencing this with us. AfrikaAfrika believes that through education and employment these people can also enjoy the fruits of a resource that is their constant neighbor and heritage. Furthermore we greatly encourage our guests to be involved in community projects whether it is through manual labour, teaching, donation, or even merely a visit to the Gibaso Village.    

The “Serengeti migration” in such an impeccable setting as the “Lamai Wedge” our small private and camp is something I would recommend anyone from whatever walk of life to witness, at least once in his or her lifetime. I believe it is here that if we are seeking to be at one with nature, we shall certainly catch a glimpse of something of what we are missing in our often-fast paced and hurried lives…

Pen de Vries, professional guide 

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