Barefoot Woman

Barefoot Woman

Barefoot Woman

The historic Kaalvoet Vrou (Barefoot Woman) statue stands proudly in South Africa’s Drakensberg Mountains. It commemorates Voortrekker Susanna Smit who, in 1837, said that she would rather walk barefoot back over the Berg than live under British rule. Bridget and Andrew Batchelor went in search of her…

We’re here – but are we there?  We should be, but here is just a small scruffy bit of tarmac behind a rusty fence and an open gateway.  No sign, no explanatory panel – and no sign of a statue.  ‘Drive for 25 kms on the gravel road’ the instructions had said, which is what we’ve done. So, are we there?

“Let’s look round,” suggests Andrew.  “There might be at least a decent view.  After all, the Voortrekkers were supposed to have thought this was the Land of Milk and Honey.”

Out of the car, we are swept by a chilly breeze. It is after all winter here in South Africa and we are quite high up.  But the air is clean, fresh, delicious.  The dust our car had kicked up has settled.  We are miles – correction, kilometres – from anywhere, the only sounds are distant bird-song and the odd hum of an insect.  The sky is an amazing, clear blue.

At the back of the car-park is a gap in the rusty fence.  Two gate-posts sag at different angles.  It looks like humans are meant to be here, and guided off somewhere, so we take the hint.  Around a bend in the path, we stop dead.  The view down, down, down over a succession of rolling hills, lush and inviting even in winter, takes our breath away.  If this is what those Trekkers of long ago saw, then no wonder they thought they had been guided by God to this land.  Even today there is nothing but emptiness; no roads, no farms, no sign of man.

“No wonder they went for it,” I whisper.  “They couldn’t have known the Zulus had got there first.”

We drink in the view in silence.  A piercing bird call seems to accentuate the isolation.  There is just the blue sky and the wind and the emptiness and the promise of a place to settle in peace, to live life as you want without interference, to worship as you please.

After a few more moments of awed contemplation, we turn back.  Andrew says idly “I wonder why someone put a scarecrow up there?”, and points to the skyline to our right.  There indeed is a scarecrow, coat flapping in the wind, seemingly protecting nothing from the odd bird of prey.

We decide to investigate.

We scramble up the steep slope, following a dusty half-path.  As we approach from behind, the penny drops.

 

“That’s her!” I shriek.  “That’s Susanna!  See, it’s a statue, with a bonnet.  It must be bronze or something.  We’re in the right place after all.”

And we were.  On this little ridge in the middle of nowhere, Susanna Smit strode back the way she and her people had come.  

The original sculptor had given her wind-swept hair and skirts wrapped around those resolute legs with their bare feet.  But someone visiting one of the lesser-known Boer landmarks  – a descendant of those stalwart Trekkers, maybe? – had wrapped her in a plaid blanket, fastened with what looked like a giant kilt-pin.  

Someone had wanted to leave a message to future visitors that the story of Susanna had not been forgotten.  To someone, Susanna was a woman of huge courage whose public declaration that she would rather walk back barefoot the way they had come than live under British rule had changed her people’s history.

We walk all the way round the life-sized statue, in awe of yet another Boer statue which told its own story, and of the visitor who had left this tribute, now flapping in the winter wind.  There was no explanatory plaque.  There was no need.  Anyone who took the trouble to come to this landmark knew the story behind what they would find. 

We take some photos, trying to do justice to the location’s loneliness and resolution.  Then we walk in silence back to the car, turning back as we reach it for one last look at the scarecrow figure highlighted against the cloudless sky, forever telling, in one piece of cast bronze, one of the more powerful Voortrekker tales.

 

Images © Bridget Batchelor

Our thanks to Bridget for this lovely piece – and watch out for our ‘Face to Face With’ interview with Bridget, coming soon.

Do you have a Tribes’ travel story you’d like to share?

We love to hear from our travellers with tales of their trips with us. If you’d like to submit a blog post, please contact our blog editor, Karen  – she’d be delighted to chat it through with you!

 

Magnificent Malawi – and a touch of Zambia!

Magnificent Malawi – and a touch of Zambia!

Magnificent Malawi (and a touch of Zambia)

Image ©Shutterstock – Alex van Schaik

I didn’t think that safari holidays got any better than the one to Botswana which Tribes arranged for me in 2015 – until last year!  I had long wanted to visit Malawi, and particularly the Nyika Plateau, but couldn’t find an appropriate group tour.   Then I saw that Tribes ran several 2-centre holidays in Malawi, and these included nearly all the places I hoped to visit, including South Luangwa just over the border in Zambia. Sinead arranged for me to stay at some wonderful places, and a driver to take me.

“Hippos wallowed, and waterbuck, kudu, impala, warthogs and bushbuck grazed.”

Liwonde National Park on the Shire River in Southern Malawi was a fantastic place to stay.  Mvuu Camp overlooked the water meadows, where hippos wallowed, and waterbuck, kudu, impala, warthogs and bushbuck grazed.  On river cruises we also saw elephants and could admire various kingfishers, fish eagles and many other birds as we quietly chugged between the hippos – and over the top of a couple of them!

Drives in the forest found some newly-released lions – to the vociferous objection of  nearby baboons – and, a first and a highlight for me, sable antelope.  Rhinos have also recently been introduced but had not yet ventured far from their acclimatisation site.

Nyika, in the north, was a complete contrast.  On a vast high plateau of open, rolling hills, almost uninhabited apart from the lodge and campsite, were herds of zebra, eland and reedbuck and something I found very special – roan antelope.   Much of the grass had been burnt, as a firebreak and to control bracken, and colourful flowers were among the first plants to appear amongst the regenerating grass.  Zebras particularly were interested in watching the visitors, and keen to pose for us!   Nights were frosty, but the cabins all had log fires in the evenings and this was another amazing and very hospitable place to stay.  Walks and cycling were possible in addition to game drives.  Some elephants had emigrated from another game park, and were due to be joined by others soon to be released from an acclimatisation site, but they evidently preferred the woodland on the lower ground and, like leopards, were seldom seen.

Travelling between game parks, I stayed a night or two beside Lake Malawi, with a chance to swim in the lake.  Even better, at three lodges where I stayed in transit, there were local riding stables and I was able to ride through the forests.   One each at Zomba Plateau and Luwawa were in the same ownership, with lovely, well-kept horses and excellent, friendly management.   Complete novices and experienced riders could be catered for; not having ridden for a long time I rated myself between the two and had a quiet and sociable ride with the respective managers.

 

At Zomba Plateau, I stayed at the famous Forest Lodge.  As with most places where I stayed, this was far from any town.   It is British run, and our host was much involved with the local community, arranging planting schemes, footpaths and firebreaks over a large area. How did he manage to produce such excellent meals, with no electricity and so far from any shops?  All the facilities relied on solar power or firewood.  Local people would call at the scattering of local houses to see if any of their fresh produce could be of interest and, ingeniously, our host had given a local man a loan to buy a motorbike, the loan being paid off by its owner delivering provisions up the long winding track from the market, as required. My (excellent) driver was staying in the town and very kindly charged my camera battery for me.

My tour ended, after a short flight, at the famous South Luangwa Park in Zambia.  Flatdogs Camp was another wonderful place to stay, beside the Luangwa River and just across from the National Park.  We had been instructed not to have any food in the tents, in case the elephants came to help themselves and, on my first night, I could hear the trunk of a passing elephant swishing through the leaves just outside my tent.   At lunchtime two days later, a family group of about 10 elephants strolled right through the camp, later to be seen with a group of giraffes, grazing just beyond the camp.  As at Liwonde, guests were accompanied by guides when walking between their tents and the restaurant buildings after dark.

 

South Luangwa was truly safari paradise: from seeing and hearing hippos, elephants and impala from the camp, to the abundance of animals and birds seen on game drives.   The drivers knew the best places to see lions and leopards, as well as huge herds of buffalos; many antelopes, zebras, warthogs and the odd civet cat.  There were a great many birds too – so much to see that sometimes it was hard to know where to look!  One special morning a group of us followed some giraffes on foot.   Evening drives revealed the smaller, nocturnal, animals including genets, mongooses and a very well camouflaged chameleon – and a stalking leopard.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this very special safari holiday was seeing different species, such as elephants with hippos or giraffes, impala with zebra grazing together in the wild, often with attendant egrets and also sharing predator alerts with baboons and flocks of helmeted guinea fowl.   I should also mention how friendly and helpful everyone was everywhere I went and how well all the organisation worked.

 

EXPERIENCE MALAWI FOR YOURSELF…

There is so much beauty and wildlife to enjoy in this wonderful country. We have a range of fantastic holidays for you to choose from, plus unforgettable experiences such as snorkelling in Lake Malawi.

And, of course, we can always tailor-make a dream holiday in Malawi just for you…

All photos © Janet Van den Berge, except header image.

The unexpected is often the best

The unexpected is often the best

The unexpected is often the best

 

When Dr. Robert Climie travelled to Northern Tanzania with Tribes in January 2019, he wasn’t expecting one of the highlights of the trip to be a simple road journey…

…children waved and shouted greetings…

It was Sunday morning and we had just left the wonderful Tarangire National Park.  We weren’t really looking forward to the three-hour drive to Lake Manyara, despite the possibility of seeing lions in trees.             

After an hour or so on a main road, driving past Sunday markets and various Maasai warriors and their cows (interesting, but not the Big Five) we turned into a small road, happily leaving behind the white-uniformed police who pull you over demanding money for their breakfast.

Heading past a couple of small rather run-down towns and some paddy fields we were suddenly confronted by green cliffs. Peter, our excellent driver and guide, told us this was the edge of the Great Rift Valley. Grabbing our binoculars we scanned the area but could not see palaeontologist Richard Leakey anywhere, which was slightly disappointing.

Our journey started to take us through villages consisting of small houses surrounded by lush vegetation and crops of corn and mangoes. Immaculately dressed families filed out of tiny churches, the children in – I think – their school uniforms, the boys in pristine white shirts and red ties. They were almost immediately replaced by files of similarly dressed people going into the church; clearly there was no rest for the priest on Sundays or the ironing board on Saturday night.

As we carried on children waved and shouted greetings. We waved back but our Swahili was not up to replying. On a few occasions Peter stopped and chatted to the children while we gave them biscuits and the fruit from our lunch boxes – admonishing the older children who ran away with most of the spoils but, to be fair, they always came back and shared!

They all looked very healthy and had very good teeth so we didn’t feel too guilty about the biscuits.

Eventually we reached Lake Manyara National Park. We saw lots of flamingoes and hippos – and the famous lions in trees –  but by far the overriding memory is of the happy, friendly children and not a mobile phone – or even one of the Big Five – in sight.   

 

Let our Tanzania Specialists take you on your own Tanzanian adventure!

If you’d like to have your own friendly encounters while exploring Northern Tanzania – or, indeed, any part of Tanzania – why not have a chat with our experts?

Footloose in Africa

Footloose in Africa

Footloose in Africa

If you’re staying in a lodge or camp outside of the National Parks on your African holiday, you may be given the opportunity to take a walking safari or a nature walk together with an experienced and knowledgeable guide. It’s well worth taking up the offer…

Why?  You may well ask!  Nowhere can you connect with your surroundings quite as much as you can on a walk through the seemingly untouched wilderness of Africa. It’s a very different beast to a game drive or boat cruise – it’s just you, and nature with nothing in between.

I had been living in Botswana for a number of years before I finally embarked on a guided walk, and I wished I had done it sooner. The feeling of being out there, a tiny dot on the landscape, (together with your armed guide of course) gives way to a humbling feeling.  Your senses come alive and start to work in overdrive, particularly when you come close to wildlife. Speaking in hushed tones and hand-signals, your guide will relay more of his or her invaluable knowledge. 

 

 

“Each walk will probably leave you wanting more as you soak up the tiny details and the in-depth knowledge that your guide will pass on to you .”

On one such walk, we came across an elephant a short distance away, browsing and slowly making his way, oh so quietly, through the undergrowth.

As instructed by our guide we stopped, dead still and observed this magnificent gentle giant from a distance.  We were downwind from him, so at that point he had no idea we were there, observing him as he went about his daily business. It’s a surreal feeling. The hairs on my neck started to bristle and I realised I was holding my breath and somehow my senses of smell and hearing seemed heightened.

There is something very different about seeing an elephant on foot, away from the comfort of the vehicle. I consciously tried to file away the feelings, sights and smells of this encounter so that I could relive it at a later date – it was unlike any other experience I had ever had and it left me wanting to repeat it – and I have been lucky enough to be able to do so.

 

Each walk is unique and this can be down to many things –  the area you are walking in, the guides you are with and what you see and encounter on the walk.  You may not come across a lot of wildlife on some walks, but they will never be dull. There will always be tracks to be examined, bird calls to identify, animal droppings to study, plants and trees galore, some with medicinal or everyday uses for local people, it’s a fascinating learning curve and I guarantee you’ll never look at nature the same way again.

Each walk will probably leave you wanting more as you soak up the tiny details and the in-depth knowledge that your guide will pass on to you and file it in your memory banks.  Their knowledge is seemingly endless – I can now identify whether giraffe droppings come from a male or female giraffe and I know the difference between an active termite mound and an abandoned one.

These are just two tiny snippets of what I have learned on various walks in the African bush – there is so much more but we’ll be here forever, why not try it out for yourself and see how much incredible bush knowledge you can pick up?  It will astound you and it’s a memorable experience to boot!

 

If you fancy going footloose in Africa, talk to us about including a walking safari or an experience such as a Maasai walking excursion in Kenya or a walk with San Bushmen in Botswana in your itinerary.

Or why consider one of our itineraries that already feature this experience, including:

A morning encounter with wild dogs

A morning encounter with wild dogs

A morning encounter with wild dogs

It’s 5.30am and I’ve had my shower, coffee and fruit muffin, and I’m jumping aboard the 4×4, armed with my camera and binoculars. It’s my first morning game drive in the private Kwando concession in Northern Botswana…

African wild dogs are elusive creatures.

As we leave camp we are greeted by the call of the African fish eagle – or ‘bush music’, as it’s known. The tracker, perched on a special seat built onto the front of the vehicle, points out a day-old impala, a family of chakma baboons and wallowing warthogs, all in the first 15 mins. His eyes, along with the guide, are scouring the bush and trees for signs of life and movement. Added to that, they constantly scan the ground for tracks and spoor, pointing out anything interesting.

The vehicle stops suddenly and while the floor is being scrutinised, the tracker jumps down from his ‘perch’ and the guide gets out. They follow the ‘signs’ on the floor together, pointing out possibilities and conversing deeply. Then it’s back to the vehicle and they announce they’ve picked up wild dog tracks and ask if we want to try our luck and follow them…???? Um YES PLEASE! 

 

African wild dogs are elusive creatures. Endangered and beautiful, they are also known as ‘painted wolves’, and if you get a chance to see them in the wild, grab it!
It’s a matter of minute
before we find the pack
– and they are on the hunt.

It’s a matter of minutes before we find the pack – and they are on the hunt. There are only four on the hunt, and they spot a small herd of impala in the distance and stop. They seem to converse for a few seconds before flattening their ears and forming a single file, a stalking tactic. They are able to get pretty close, as they resemble another antelope, and then they bolt!

The impala panic and run away in various directions. We race after them, hanging on as the 4×4 bumps through the bush in a desperate attempt to find them. After reading more ‘bush signs’, a couple of minutes later we find three of the wild dogs tucking into two baby impalas, devouring every part. The fourth wild dog is a short distance away eating a third baby impala. It’s a brutal reminder that safari can be about nature very much in the raw; of course, there is sorrow for the tiny impala, but this is the natural order of things in the bush.

From start to finish the exhilarating experience was around 20 minutes. It’s only 6am and we leave the wild dogs, excited about what else the Kwando concession has in store for us! The beauty of Kwando is that you can go on day and night drives, walking safaris, boat trips and canoe and mokoro safaris – so we have much to look forward to!

HAVE YOUR OWN WILD DOG ADVENTURE

We love Botswana – in fact we love and know it so well we have our own specialist division that is dedicated to this stunning country. To learn more about this wonderful place, and to discuss your perfect safari, contact our expert Botswana Specialists team.

If you would like your own encounter with wild dogs in Kwando, our Falling for Wild Dogs trip could be perfect for you – and it also takes in the private Kwara reserve in the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

 

Shutterstock

In the Tribe: face-to-face with… Jeff Webster

In the Tribe: face-to-face with… Jeff Webster

In the Tribe: Face-to-face with… Jeff Webster

In this first of a new series meeting some of Tribes’ travellers, Suffolk-based Jeff Webster, a keen photographer who is now retired from a career in banking in London, tells of his and his wife Sue’s love of wildlife, Africa and Antarctica.

When did you first experience wildlife ‘in the wild’?

The answer may not be what you expect! In 1981 Sue and I – who had spent our lives in the suburbs until that point – moved to a rural location near Bishops Stortford. Until then my only experience of wildlife of any sort had been through the television – David Attenborough, of course, but before that (for those who are old enough to remember!) I also watched Armand and Michaela Dennis, who were earlier pioneers of wildlife broadcasting.

That first summer in our first rural home was very hot and one night, sleeping with the windows open to try to let some breeze in we heard a strange noise from the garden. We shone torches around the garden and to our great surprise and delight it was a badger! It had found a group of snails and was snacking away.

That started a love of watching wildlife that has endured ever since. Badgers became regular visitors to our garden. Sue and I would turn off the house and outside lights and sit on the terrace and they would wander into the garden and walk amongst us. We would even invite friends to join us sometimes. The badgers attracted foxes, and we would have visiting fox cubs in the spring. We joined a badger protection group, learnt how to handle injured badgers and dug sets for orphaned ones. Over the 25 years we lived in that house we were visited by badgers thousands of times. Strangely, since moving to rural Suffolk, we have only seen one live badger – and that was an injured one we found by the roadside, which died in my arms.

When did the travel bug bite you?

As a child growing up in Leeds and Manchester my holidays were restricted to family trips to Scarborough and Morecambe.  I didn’t go abroad or fly at all until I was 38 years old, when Sue and I went to Crete, which was the beginning of nearly a decade of Mediterranean holidays for us. However, in 1989 we decided to take a long-haul trip, and did so quite comprehensively, with a trip that included India, Hong Kong and China!

It was quite an eye opener for us both – when you have only travelled in Europe and then you land in Delhi…. I remember the taxi taking us from the airport to the hotel and Sue exclaiming “Good heavens, there’s a naked man walking along the street!”, and our driver explaining that it was a holy man.

On that trip we saw macaque monkeys and Asian elephants and that inspired us to take our first African safari, which we did in 1990, travelling to Kenya with a travel company that we picked because they promised us a window seat in the safari vehicle!

To say we enjoyed it is very much an English understatement – since that trip we have travelled once and sometimes twice every year and have visited every continent on earth apart from Australia.

What are your most memorable wildlife experiences from your travels with Tribes?

In 2011 Tracy arranged a trip to Western Tanzania for us, taking in Selous, Ruaha, Katavi and Mahale. Our main aim was to see chimpanzees in the wild, something we had failed to do with previous trips to Rwanda and Uganda. We very nearly saw them in Uganda – we had walked to be very close to them but then it started raining and they went quiet and that was it! Tracy understood what we wanted and she suggested Mahale because the chimps there are habituated to humans, as they have been monitored for years by, I think, Kyoto University.

The experience was memorable for many reasons – not least the flight from Katavi to Mahale. It was a small plane, of course, and Sue and I were the only passengers. As we flew over the Mahale mountains it started to rain – torrentially. Lightening was crackling around us and the fuselage was battered by the downpour. You know it’s not a good a sign when the pilot stops talking. When we finally landed the pilot said “Now that was interesting.” He followed that up with, “And what you didn’t know is that that’s only the second time I have ever flown solo with passengers”….

The next day we trekked for two hours to meet up with a group of chimpanzees, and Sue and I got our wish. It was fantastic and well worth all the effort – I was 66 at the time, and there was an American lady on the trek with us who was celebrating her 38th birthday and said it was the physically hardest thing she had ever done.

 

In 2010 we travelled with Tribes to Botswana, where we encountered meerkats on the Kalahari scrublands. We sat down and they were all around us. It was enchanting – but also surprisingly cold. We had to be there in the early morning for this and I hadn’t expected to encounter frost in Africa! On that same trip we slept under the stars on the Makgadikgadi Pans. And we were literally under the stars – no tent, just a double bed and the sky above us. Magical!

Old Mondoro Camp in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi is one of our favourite places. In fact, it’s the only one we have every visited twice, and it was there, on a night-drive, that we saw honey badgers for the first time. And last year we went to Zimbabwe where we saw Boswell, the big-tusker elephant made famous by David Attenborough’s Seven Worlds One Planet programme, in which he stands on his hind legs to eat from the higher branches of trees. He stayed on all four legs when we saw him but was still a magnificent sight.

Travel is also about the people that you meet – you must have had some fascinating encounters over the years, both with native populations and your fellow travellers?

I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the American gentleman I met in Zimbabwe last year, who asked ‘Hey man, can you explain the difference between a rhino and a hippo?”.  Sue answered for me – ‘One is endangered and the other isn’t.”

But it’s the poignant encounters that leave the most lasting impression. In 2005 we went to Rwanda, ten years after the genocide. Rwanda was just opening up to tourism at that time and the devastation caused by the genocide was still very much in evidence. I remember the holocaust museum, with its mummified bodies, and the caretaker there, who had survived being shot and bore a bullet hole scar in his forehead.  He asked me to photograph him, “So that the world can see the horrors we suffered”.

Do you prefer walking near wildlife or watching them from a safari vehicle or a boat? I imagine it rather depends on the wildlife…

I like to do it all! That’s why I find Zambia so very special – you can go on walking safaris, night safaris and also boat and jeep safaris. Walking safaris are fascinating. The bigger wildlife spots you long before you spot it, so you start to notice the smaller things instead. I remember a trapdoor spider that lurked underground…

To get closer to the larger wildlife you need to be in a boat or vehicle – though we have at times been a bit too close to hippos while in a boat!

You’re a keen photographer – is this something that you’ve always done or something that became a stronger interest the more you travelled?

It’s something that has become a greater interest the more we have travelled. I started with print film then switched to slide film, as slides take up less space. Now, of course, I shoot digitally. I still don’t have the most expensive kit but I travel with two camera bodies and include a long lens.

Your most recent trip (not a Tribes one) was to Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean. Obviously a rather different experience to an African safari or the SouthWild Jaguar Flotel in Brazil! Tell us about the wildlife you saw on that icy trip.

This is something we have wanted to do for quite a while. Five or six years ago we travelled along Russia’s Kamchatka coastline and after we left the boat it was going on to Wrangel Island. We weren’t sure at that time if politically it would be an easy place to visit but this year on a ‘if we don’t do it now we may never do it’ impetus, we went there.

It is obviously very remote – it’s the last place where woolly mammoths survived – and the wildlife, and the quantity of wildlife, is astonishing. We saw over 50 polar bears, hundreds of walruses and, I’m told, some 250 humpback and grey whales. Birdlife is impressive here as well, notably the horned puffins and the lovely tufted puffins. We were looking out for snowy owls but, strangely, saw just one! Then we sailed along the Northern Siberian coast, where we spotted Arctic foxes and Russian brown bears.

We also met several of the native Inuit people, who have been restricted to one settlement since the Stalin era; I remember the distress of an elderly lady as she reminisced about the village from which everybody had been evicted in the 1950s.

What is the wildlife photograph that you’re most proud of, and why?
On that trip to Tanzania in 2011, it was the end of the season and we basically had Katavi National Park to ourselves, other than an Australian couple who shared our vehicle. Our guide suggested that, rather than driving around in search of wildlife, we park up under a tree and see what unfolded before us.

We were entertained for a while by a lion cub repeatedly jumping onto its father until the adult gave it a whack and it scampered up a tree, gazing reproachfully down on its parent. We then drove down to a riverbed, where three female lions were stretching out in the sun, with four cubs nearby. The lionesses started to walk away and a crocodile walked towards them. They all appeared to be ignoring each other and then something triggered the lionesses and they circled the crocodile then launched an attack. It was quite a tussle but ended in a stand-off, albeit with the crocodile sustaining a nasty gash on its rear leg. Then the lionesses sat down as if nothing had happened – and it’s the shot of the tussle, with the four cubs watching from a safe distance, that I’m the proudest of.

And what was the most memorable photograph to take? It may not be one that you consider your best, but the experience itself makes it particularly satisfying.

There are two. The first was when we were gorilla trekking in Rwanda. We left at 7am and trekked to a family of 46 gorillas. However, the male silverback wasn’t well and, rather as with human ‘man flu’ he involved everybody as he decided to head up the mountain to cooler climbs. It took us six hours trekking up the steep sides of an extinct volcano to find them…

The second photo was taken when we travelled to Borneo and the Malay peninsula one year with the aim of seeing wild orangutans. We saw them in the reserve at Sepilok but hadn’t seen them in the wild, and we had arrived at our last camp and our guide was becoming anxious! Then he announced “The good news is that a male orangutan has built a nest just outside the camp. The bad news is that we’ll have to get up before sunrise to see him.” So, the next morning we all got up and got dressed in the dark and travelled to beneath the tree where he was nesting. Dawn came and there was no sign of him. Then one hour passed. And another hour. People started to give up and head back to camp for breakfast, but we stayed put. Finally, at 9.10am a hand appeared on the edge of the nest and there he was! His name was Abu and it was definitely an experience and picture worth waiting for.

Clearly Africa is a great love – why do you and your wife love it so much?
The wildlife! There are still some elusive creatures that we have yet to see there. On our recent trip to Zimbabwe our guide asked us what we wanted to see. “A caracal would be nice” I replied. He was quiet for a while and then said “Anything else?”

We also love the colour and wildlife of India.

Where else in the world that you have travelled to (not necessarily with Tribes) do you consider to be particularly special?

The Antarctic – it is so special and, with global warming, it is changing all the time.

Finally, if you could only travel to one place – either one you’ve been to before or have yet to visit – where would it be, and why?

Well, Africa is always front of mind of course but I think if it really was a case of ‘this is the last place you are allowed to travel to’ it would have to be the Antarctic.

 

All photos © Jeff Webster