Leopards, wild dogs and more…

Leopards, wild dogs and more…

Leopards, wild dogs and more…

1

MAY, 2018

We all know cats love fish, but let’s be honest, a fish eating leopard is not the first thing that springs to mind when you are talking about a safari in Botswana, but they do exist and they do eat fish – on occasion.

Read all about them and more in Nigel Tidsall’s feature that was published in the Telegraph on Sunday last weekend, and it’s also available on online here.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/botswana/articles/the-fish-eating-leopards-of-botswana/

A cut above the rest

A cut above the rest

100% pure silver

Every one of our safari guides holds a Silver level certification from the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association, quite an achievement when just 5% of the guides in Kenya can boast this accolade. From family groups, safari enthusiasts to professional photographers, it is their depth of knowledge that keeps clients coming back to Kicheche year after year.

Giving them wings

We know that many of our clients are fascinated with bird life and bird watching, so every year we enrol one of our Kicheche guides on a Fundamentals of Ornithology training course for professional guides. This in depth, residential course on the shores of Lake Naivasha equips our guides with a firm grounding in bird identification, migration patterns and bird biology.

Fostering local talent

Kicheche currently employs no less than eleven graduates from the Koiyaki Guiding School in the Masai Mara and also provides full sponsorship for at least one student every year.

Our first long weekend trip to Marrakech

Our first long weekend trip to Marrakech

Having worked for Tribes for a number of years, myself and my wife (Karen) were given the opportunity to visit Marrakech in October, for a long weekend.

Neither of us had ever been to Morocco, so were looking forward to the experience. We were both intrigued and slightly nervous about what it was going to be like and had no idea what to expect…

Thursday 15th October

Very early start, up at 4am just enough time to check in and polish off a full English breakfast before boarding our flight to Marrakech, Morocco.

It was a smooth flight and the 3 hours was just long enough to catch up on the sleep we needed. Plane landed on time. Unfortunately 2 planes had landed before us, so passport control was a nightmare, but we eventually made our way through the queue.

 

 

 

 

 

We finally arrived at the Riad Les Yeux Bleus at 11:30am. We were welcomed and offered mint tea which was interesting and needed a couple of spoonfuls of sugar to make it sweet enough to drink.

Next was a guided tour of the riad which was without doubt amazing and very beautifully restored by the owners. We unpacked and then spent a couple of hours on the rooftop terrace, enjoying the sun and sounds of Marrakech.

In the afternoon we had a private guide around the major sites of the city and visited:

  • Medersa Ben Youssef
  • Bahia Place
  • Saadian Tombs
  • Djemma el Fna

We also wandered the souks with our guide and tasted dried figs, dates, visited a number of spice shops and of course a carpet shop!!

After returning to Riad Les Yeux Bleus we decided to have dinner there and we were treated to a lovely chicken tagine, with mountains of salad and couscous, washed down with a very nice bottle of red wine.

Friday 16th October

Once we had figured out how to work the shower (taps were muddled!) it was up to the roof terrace for breakfast, which was laid out ready for us. No full English today instead there was Madeira cake, yogurt, locally baked bread, freshly squeezed orange juice and warm pancakes. I ordered an omelette which arrived bubbling in a tagine pot.

We had a hamman and massage booked for 2 in the afternoon and dinner was also booked at Dar Moha restaurant for 7.30pm, all organised for us by the riad staff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided to try and walk from the riad to the Majorelle Gardens, with quite a few major roads to cross which were quite a challenge, but it only took us about 15-20 minutes. It cost 70dh per person to enter the garden.

Lots of cacti and with a few sunny and shady places to sit, we wandered around taking lots of photos and had a look at the tea room (very British). Found a sunny bench to spend some time people watching. What a satisfying experience people watching can be…

Made our way back to the riad. Fortunately we found it without any trouble, which was great as we didn’t think it would be easy to remember which alleyway it was down. We arrived back and changed for our hamman and massage, then went up to the roof terrace.

I can now say that experiencing a hamman, where you are washed and scrubbed by a couple of Moroccan women until your skin feels silky smooth, is something everyone should try on their first visit to Marrakech. For the rest of the afternoon, we just relaxed on the roof terrace enjoying the warm sun.

dar-moha

At around 7.15pm one of the riad staff, walked with us to Dar Moha, which was no more than 10 minutes door to door. When we got there we knocked on the door and were taken through to the back where there were lots of tables & chairs placed around a large pool, with soft music playing in the background.

We plumped for a bottle of house red, which was very nice and chose our main course. We had been told to expect lots of food, so having skipped lunch we knew we would be hungry and boy we needed to be.

The waiter came out with 7 small round dishes each with a different salad. Then after we had devoured most of the salads, came another 7 small dishes all with something different to try.  Once the 14 Moroccan salads had been sampled, next course was our starters!

dar-moha-salads

I chose a pigeon pastry dish and Karen had a vegetable pastry. By this time along with the 14 salads, bread and wine, we were both starting to feel a little full.

Next was main course, the waiter brought out to the table large two tagines. I had ordered the seabass and Karen the lamb. The waiter said ‘Here are your chicken and vegetable tagines’. We both looked at each other and said but we ordered the… at which point the waiter lifted the lids and said ‘Only joking!’. We did have the right dishes after all… what a comedian…

For dessert we both decided to have the lemon and plum sorbet.

Saturday 17th October

We were awoken by the local mosque call to prayer. Had our breakfast and decided to relax on the roof terrace before heading out on our own. Bit cloudier today, so made our way down the Djemma el Fna. On our way down we bumped into one of the Moroccans from the riad and got chatting, he showed us the bakery where all the locals get their daily bread.

He offered to show us the around the souks, but we politely declined as were sure we would have ended up in his brother’s or cousin’s shop and try to sell us something…

We ambled around the square, watching the snake charmers and avoiding the monkeys, as well as everyone on their scooters, then onto the Koutoubia Mosque and around to the gardens behind the mosque.

By this time the clouds had turned grey and looked threatening so made our way back to the square to one of the restaurants with a roof terrace. Just as we sat down the heavens opened and everyone made a rush for cover. The rain lasted for about an hour. We left and headed back via the souks to the riad.

For our last evening we decided we would eat out at one of the many food stalls that had been set-up in the square. We sat down at stall 147, and had all manner of fried fish, barbecued meat, chips and couscous, plus the obligatory mint tea!

Sunday 18th October

We had packed the night before ready for our flight back to the UK, so we had our breakfast, settled our bill with the riad and said our goodbyes.

The entire trip was just a brief taster of Moroccan life within the hustle & bustle of the old walled city (medina) of Marrakech. Who would have believed that behind such unassuming walls, down a tiny little alleyway we would find a friendly, relaxing oasis, a haven away from the chaos of city life.

Aaron Millar – travel writer and photographer

Aaron Millar – travel writer and photographer

This months interview is with Aaron Millar.

Describe yourself in no more than 3 words.
Not usually still.

What real or fictitious tribe would you be a member of?
The beatnik writers of 1950’s, just because they were so free in their style and had something to say.  They also drank a lot of whisky apparently, which would have been OK by me too.

How and when did the travel bug bite you?
At the turn of the millennium I spent 3 months travelling across Brazil with my best friend.  We were 22 years old, crazy and it’s a miracle we survived.  But, somewhere in between the parties of Bahia and the forests of Lencois, I fell in love with exploring the world.  For me it’s about connecting with that travelling state of mind, which – at its best – is open and fearless, and I think has the capacity to change us in surprising and positive ways.  It’s something I write a lot about on my blog The Blue Dot Perspective

Being a travel writer sounds like the perfect job.  Is it?
If you don’t care about money or jet lag, it’s pretty close. Trying to capture the essence of a place, or experience, is a huge creative buzz.  But a challenge too. It demands that you be absolutely present in the moment and take in all the elements of the experience – the sounds, smells, the particular look in someone’s eyes – while at the same time piecing these things together, like a mosaic, and deciding which elements will best recreate those feelings and emotions in the mind of the reader.  But more then that still, writing about travel forces me to go outside of my comfort zone and seek new experiences and new kinds of people.  It’s the ultimate form of personal growth – without a workshop or self-help book in sight – just you and the world, and that’s why I love it.

Which piece of your writing are you most proud of?
The piece of writing I am most proud of from last year was a relatively small article for Positive News, a niche newspaper that reports on the people and initiatives that are helping to create a just and fulfilling world.  I love writing for them.  The article is about the remarkable Kogi Indians of Columbia: 20 years ago they came out of centuries of complete isolation to warn humanity that we are destroying the world.  We didn’t heed their warning, so they decided to team up with a BBC director to make a film, called Aluna, to try and get our attention again.  It hasn’t hit the mainstream yet, but I hope in 2014 everyone will get a chance to see it. The article was based on an interview with the director, Alan Ereira, about his experiences with them.

Other than home, is there one place which keeps drawing you back?
I like exploring new places, so tend to move around … this year I’m really excited to see more of the Americas, north and south.  I’d also love to go back to Africa, there’s nothing comparable to the feeling of being close to animals in the wild.  I miss it, and my camera does too.

If you weren’t a travel writer, what would you be?
If I had the brains, I’d be an astrophysicist: Richard Feynman, one of the greatest minds of the last century, said that he felt sorry for people who don’t understand mathematics because they don’t know how beautiful the world really is.

If I had the talent, I’d be a musician: I think music is, perhaps, the ultimate form of creative expression on the planet.

But probably, and hopefully, I’d be working to promote sustainable tourism and/or environmental causes.  And, no doubt, writing still – even if only in my journal, as I did for many, many years before getting paid to do it.

arron-miller

Describe the most poignant, funny or scary moment on your travels.
I have two recent poignant moments that changed the way I look at life, the world and everything: taking part in a Navajo Medicine Man ceremony and an interview with a Japanese Shugendo Monk.  Although very different traditions, both believe in the power of the natural world to inspire, heal and enlighten people.  And now, so do I.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. (Jack Kerouac)

Do you support a cause?
I’ve supported Greenpeace and Amnesty for a number of years.  But this year I plan to get more involved with Native American charities: their traditional beliefs and way of life is absolutely beautiful, but under threat from a dominant American ideology that isn’t doing nearly enough to protect, and preserve, the culture of its First People.

ABOUT AARON MILLER

Aaron Millar is a freelance journalist specialising in travel. His work has been seen in the Guardian, Financial Times, Independent and more.  He is also the travel editor of Positive News, the world’s leading positive newspaper, where authentic sustainable travel is promoted.  Aaron writes an interesting blog called thebluedotperspective.com, and he is also an accomplished photographer.

 

Amar Grover – Travel Writer

Amar Grover – Travel Writer

Tribes is delighted to present an interview with Amar Grover who is a freelance travel writer and photographer.

Describe yourself in no more than 3 words.

Amiable

What real or fictitious tribe would you be a member of?

I’d probably be some kind of Silk Road merchant-adventurer.

How and when did the travel bug bite you?

The seeds were sown growing up in Hong Kong. Along with a pal, I set off one day for the ‘closed area’ (as it was then called) which ran alongside much of the New Territories’ border with China. Armed with a basic map, we first caught a train, then walked beyond a few hamlets up through a hillside cemetery and eventually gazed down across a small stream or canal at….forbidden China! It was very much a schoolboy lark but there was a definite sense of a journey coupled to ‘adventure’ and a mysterious place. A few years later I was InterRailing across Europe and met a couple of guys riding motorbikes to Kathmandu – I couldn’t join them but that encounter fed more ideas. So one small trip simply led to a six-month jaunt, and then another…..and so on.

Being a travel writer sounds like the perfect job.  Is it?

It is…and it isn’t! There’s no denying the travel is usually wonderful and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to visit such varied and unusual parts of the world. Yet to do it well does require real commitment and drive from the moment you start chasing assignments from editors to reaching your destination and, senses sharpened, sniffing out its quirks and oddities, nooks and crannies. It’s a job that certainly looks easier than it is – and being freelance is often a somewhat precarious existence.

Which piece of your writing are you most proud of?

Village Ways inn © Amra Grover

The Village Ways inn occupies a berklay in Supi village in the Saryu Valley – by Amar Grover

Recently I wrote about Village Ways’ (www.villageways.com) rural tourism project in Uttarakhand in the Indian Himalaya for the Financial Times. That piece – ‘At home in the Himalayas’ – featured in the top five entries for AITO’s Travel Writer of the Year 2013. A laudable project further publicised with well-regarded writing: now that’s a perfect fit.

Other than home, is there one place which keeps drawing you back?

I’m no mountaineer but the Himalayas keeping drawing me back. It’s not just the mountain peaks themselves but the fascinating life and culture in their valleys and villages, the stunning contrast between lush fields and plentiful orchards, and the beautiful yet harsh terrain beyond. The region’s colonial-era explorers had their work cut out for them and they left a rich and engaging seam of literature. I still find the whole region – from Pakistan through India and Nepal to Bhutan and the fringes of China – as captivating now as on my first ever visit back in 1987.

If you weren’t a travel writer, what would you be?

I’d probably be an operator arranging rather off-beat tours to India – there’d be quite a bit of walking and some great photography.

Describe the most poignant, funny or scary moment on your travels.

The most surreally scary moment on my travels occurred in Georgia (the former Soviet republic). I was up in Svaneti in the Caucasus Mountains, a region even most lowland Georgians regard with a mix of awe and caution for the Svans are, traditionally, a fairly wild and independent-minded bunch. Actually, they were all very kind to us but during my visit a Georgian TV crew and flown in by helicopter, possibly to make a documentary on the region and its distinctive tower houses. While sitting in our car nearby, the helicopter took off sluggishly and immediately drifted straight toward us. It felt like a slo-mo movie moment – as we froze, the craft kept coming, barely cleared our car’s roof and then flew off. Our driver winced and swore. I’ll never know if that pilot was careless, showing off and just incompetent.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Do you support a cause?

To be honest my sympathies and empathy have not (yet) evolved into a supported cause.

ABOUT AMAR GROVER

Amar Grover is a freelance travel writer and photographer. He has travelled widely across the Indian subcontinent and China, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. You can see some of his work at pictographical.co.uk, blogs at https://pictographical.wordpress.com/ and occasional tweets @samarkandHK