Tag Archives: Africa

Why I love travelling and working in Africa

Amanda, one of our tour leaders talks about why she loves Africa and her job with Africa Expedition Support.

A cheese platter and sundowners looking out over the beautiful scenic view of the Great Rift Valley with a spectacular sunset on the horizon… what more can one ask for? I just realise how much I love living in Africa!!

My love affair with Africa started when I grew up on a game farm not very far from the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Being a very young girl my dad took me to work with him on the farm and taught me animal and bird names and to have a respect for nature. There was no doubt in my mind that I would never be living in a city.

Now, so many years later I still do what I love and that is travelling through some of Africa’s beautiful countries and passionately share it with our groups on our guided 4×4 self drive safaris with Africa Expedition Support.

When I think of what it is that made me so passionate about travelling in Africa it will be the diversity of each country we visit, friendly African people, lots of sunny days, breathtaking landscapes and the privilege to experience the most amazing game viewings you can think off! Nights around the campfire telling stories and looking up to the starry skies while listening to animal sounds in the background.

Amanda with a new found friend in Malawi

Amanda with a new found friend in Malawi

One of my favourite experiences is game driving after a good thunderstorm. Smelling the clean washed, fresh field and seeing gazelles running around, all silly with renewed energy. Elephants drinking from the water puddles and a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Rain in these countries is a glorious blessing since water is scarce in a lot of regents and regarded very precious. Animals migrate and people travel great distances after water sources.

Another unique experience is driving through villages and looking at the different styles in which each African tribe build their houses, set up their businesses and go about their daily living. Goats, sheep, cattle and other livestock casually walking through these villages are a very common scene and makes driving days much more interesting. Shop names can also be very funny. Anything from “God Bless You Barber Shop” to “ 2 Missed Calls Enterprises” can be found here and they are very proud of their businesses.

On our overland trips we have quite a few border crossings and here you learn that patience and humour is a virtue… Africa has its own time and to go with the flow is one thing I learned very early on my travels.

Meeting the people of each country with their different cultures and beliefs is so interesting and I have learned a lot from them. Some of these countries we visit are of the poorest in Africa but these people are living their lives to the fullest and are some of the most helpful and friendly human beings you will ever encounter.

There is nothing better for me than preparing for the next trip with such excitement of the idea of sharing my passionate love for Africa with a new group!!! My heart will always be in Africa!!

For more information about our safaris peruse Africa Expedition Support

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Anzac Day a day for rememberance.

Today is the 100th anniversary of Galipoli, it is a day when Aussies and Kiwis at home and abroad stop to remember those who died on the shores of Galipoli in Turkey during WW1. Debs and I were lucky enough to lead an overland trip to Galipoli for the 90th Anniversary; it was a pilgrimage that every Aussie and Kiwi have to do at least once in their life.

Although this little story has nothing to do with Galipoli as such, it is part of WWI and the war effort to defeat the axis powers namely Russia, the Ottoman Empire and Germany. Little is known about the war efforts in East Africa so on this day we would like to share this story based in Kenya.

We have come across this typical African story at various times from totally different sources. So there must be some truth to it.

In East Africa the British Empire enrolled hundreds of thousands of locals into the Kings African Rifles and the Carrier Corps. To this day there is a suburb in Nairobi called Kariakor which used to be their base.

Germany was in possession of German East Africa, now called Tanzania.

Since there were only a handful of German troops and settlers in German East Africa they also had to rely heavily on local recruits.

Germany had neither intentions nor resources to occupy the British Colony of Kenya but orders were given to keep the Brits busy by running small incursions across the border to sabotage the Uganda Railway by blowing up bridges and loosening tracks. The idea was to weaken the British on the main battle fields in Europe as they had to send reinforcements to Kenya and Uganda to protect their Colonies.

In the 1950s the British Government decided to compensate their now very old African soldiers who fought against the Germans in WWI and WWIΙ with a one off payment for their services.

Word was sent out that a British delegation would travel around Kenya visiting various locations for one day only to pay compensation in cash. Any claimant was required to present himself in his original uniform as proof he served during the war.

The turnout was bigger than expected. The paymaster was quite busy keeping up with his books, taking records and handing out the money one by one to a long queue of people.

On one occasion he looked up at the soldier he was just about to hand over the money and immediately burst out laughing.

The soldier in front of him was wearing a German uniform! “Oh well” he thought, “he still fought in the war, he probably had no idea who he was fighting for” ….. and handed over the compensation courtesy of the British Government.

So on this day, 25th April 2015, let us respectively remember everyone who fought ………..

Thiemo Ebersberger, a German is married to Debs, an Aussie, and together they run Africa Expedition Support based in Kenya.  Check out http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com for safaris and expeditions.

Packing for your safari

So now your trip is booked, flights sorted, and jabs done it is time to think about what to pack. The biggest mistake most people make is to over pack – everything barring the kitchen sink ends up in the luggage. How many times have you been on holiday only to return home with over half your clothes untouched?

It is easy to fall into the trap of “just in case I had better take this and this and that”. At the end of the day the more you take the more you have to carry.

The key to successful packing is not brain surgery.

Keep it simple, pack what you feel comfortable wearing from your wardrobe. There is no need to run out and buy an entire new “travel” wardrobe – unless your wardrobe is full of business clothes and suits and lacks any casual wear.

Over the years I have heard people say never take jeans – they are heavy and take too long to dry. I personally always travel with jeans – they are comfortable, warm and don’t need to wash them as often as lighter clothing.   This is just my personal preference.

There are plenty of products on the market, quick dry, light material, durable, made for trekking …. And the list goes on. I personally don’t see the point in spending a fortune on “travel” clothes. I have several faithful pairs of shorts, 3/4 s and long trousers all purchased from Kmart, Target or Mr Price – cheap and cheerful. They are nothing special, but they are presentable, comfortable, don’t take that long to dry and if they are lost or destroyed I don’t care.

I have put my washing into the hotel reception or campsite only to see them a couple of hours later being bashed against rocks in between dipping and scrubbing in lakes or rivers. You definitely don’t want your $100 designer T shirt being put through this torture ……..

The only thing I did splash out on was a warm durable jacket – preferably something that is spray proof on the outside and fleece on the inside. For years I have travelled with the same faithful jacket and it was worth the investment over and over again.

So now you have decided to go through the wardrobe and take stock of what you have. How many T shirts, shorts and long trousers etc to pack?

This is personal preference and will depend on where and how long you are travelling. If you are travelling to conservative countries (East Africa for example) then packing hot pants and tank tops may not be the most appropriate clothing. You may decide to pack more long trousers rather than shorts and more long sleeve shirts rather than T shirts.

No matter whether I am leading a safari for 2 or 8 weeks or travelling back to Australia to see family and clients I always travel light. A couple of pairs of jeans, a couple pairs of shorts, 3-4 T shirts, 1-2 long sleeve shirts, 6 pairs of socks, a warm fleece and couple of changes of good clothing that can be mixed and matched for the odd dinner out or when dealing with government officials.

In terms of shoes, for years and years I have only ever travelled with 2 pairs; my trusty blundy’s (pull on work boots) and flip flops. Underwear is something I do pack a healthy supply (10-14 pairs) bearing in mind in some cultures it is not appropriate to hand in underwear for washing at hotels/campsites so I can get away with hand washing them myself every 10 days or so.

Then there is my camera, extra batteries and memory cards, laptop (this is for work purposes), mozzie spray, moisturiser, sunscreen, cap, swimmers, head torch and basic toiletries (toothpaste, brush, shampoo etc), sleeping bag, appropriate power adaptors, yellow fever certificate, passport and a basic medical kit with antibiotics, pain killers etc.

The one item I do suggest and something that is not often in the laundry cupboard is a quick dry travel towel. Actually, I travel with 2 – 1 large and 1 small for my long hair. These are invaluable as there is nothing worse than packing away a wet towel!

My advice is to keep it small and simple and if you feel comfortable in something don’t let other people tell you not to pack it. Not only do you want to have a great time on safari you also want to be comfortable.

Happy Packing

Feel free to drop Debs an email info@africaexpeditionsupport.com for more specific information depending on when and where you are travelling in Africa.

www.africaexpeditionsupport.com 

Why do Hippos yawn?

I love stories from different African countries, there are so many of them. One of my all-time favourites is the story about why hippos yawn. Thousands of years ago Hippos were land dwelling animals but the hot African sun meant they were subject to sunburn on their delicate pink ears. So they called a meeting with God.

At the meeting they asked God if they could spend their days in the cool water of rivers and ponds so they could cool their hot bodies and prevent their delicate pink ears from sunburn. God, at first, was not sure about this. He was worried that the Hippos wanted to feast on the numerous fish in the rivers and ponds. The hippos protested at this assumption.

So they decided to make a deal with God. If he would let them spend their days in the cool water they would several times a day open their mouths toward the heavens and show God they did not have any fish in their mouths.

God thought about this proposal, after some time he agreed. So the hippos entered the water and several times a day opened their mouths to show God that they did not have any fish in their mouths. And all this time you thought hippos were yawning!

Deborah Thiele                                                                                                     http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com                                                         info@africaexpeditionsupport.com

Masai Mara – more than just game viewing

There are not many people who have not heard of the Masai Mara Game Reserve for its incredible game viewing, abundance of wildlife, large lion populations and the Great Wildebeest Migration, after all it was just voted again as Africa’s premium game park.

However not many know, the Masai Mara Game Reserve hosts a number of vital research projects that are contributing to the conservation of several species globally. Some of the well-known research projects include hyena, lion, cheetah and elephant. The research is not just about the life span, reproductive cycles and behaviour of the species but also looks at human-wildlife interaction, impact of agricultural and grazing as well the impact of tourism on specific species.

This research is vital to understanding how we as humans impact on a species. The more we understand the better we can manage and act to protect species. This recognises the importance of finding ways for humans, who often impact negatively on a species or several species, to co-habitat in a way which protects and supports resident wildlife.

So next time you are game driving and stop to watch a pride of lions hunting, cheetahs sunning themselves in the warm winter sun, hyenas roaming the savannah or elephants taking a mud bath, stop to think that out there, somewhere, vital information is being gathered ensuring these animals are around for generations to come.

Check out www.africaexpeditionsupport.com or email info@africaexpeditionsupport.com for more information.

The Good Old Days

I was recently asked by 4WD Touring Australia to write a short article about how I left Australia and ending up living and running a tourism business in Kenya. While I was trying to put fingers to the keyboard I spent more time reminiscing over the past then I did writing about it. Over the years, Thiemo and I,  have had some incredible experiences both together and separately. Our most memorable experience was being bogged in the Sahara desert for 3 days in thick wet clay in 2013.

I still remember the sinking feeling (literally) I felt as I watched Tim, who was driving Medusa the MAN, break the crust of the salt pan and start to slow down. He thought he had a blocked fuel filter, until he looked in the side mirrors and saw the rear sinking.

What started out as a “oh well this is overlanding, this is what it is all about” soon turned into a mission. The more we dug, the more we sank. Medusa was heavy. So we needed to lose weight, off came the beer (that made a considerable difference!), the luggage, spare tyres, kitchen and everything that could be removed. Still sinking …..

sand driving tips

my greatest memory and achievement in overlanding

 

Sand mats simply had no grip and although we had 28 people to push and me trying to pull Medusa out with Betty, our support truck, it was not enough to get us out of the clay. We were still sinking ….

On day 2 we stopped digging and as Tim wrapped steel cables around the tyres the rest of us walked off into the distance to collect soft volcanic rocks from about 700m away. We filled the tracks with rocks and tried to get them under the tyres as much as possible. Finally by the middle of the 3rd day we were ready to try again.

I hooked Medusa to the back of Betty, Tim climbed into the cab of Medusa and 28 people were at the back ready to push.   I gave a shunt and effortlessly Medusa drove out of her hole much to our relief.

Thinking back now it was one of the most stressful times of my overlanding career. As road crew our number 1 responsibility is for the safety and well-being of our clients. While we knew we had more than enough food and water to last us days (and we had passed a fresh water hole only a few kilometres before being bogged), we still had to ensure we kept level headed and confident.

We always knew we would get out …….. Eventually

Although we still drive overland trucks, the routes we take through East Africa are a little less isolated.  Sure there may be a random dirt road somewhere along the way where we may slide to the side and get bogged but nothing like our Trans Africa days (UK to Cape overland). And with our land rovers on our guided self drive expeditions …. well …. They are pretty hard to get bogged!

Africa is a Continent – not a country!

With the Ebola virus dominating the global press I thought I would share this article from the Washington Post about the geography of Africa.  It is far too easy to refer to Africa as if it is a country, I even find myself doing this sometimes and I live in Kenya!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/10/13/its-columbus-day-lets-talk-about-geography-and-ebola/