Tag Archives: Africa

The Namib Desert, revisited

Saturday 4th February 2023, 5.50pm (day 4,181)

Namib Desert, 4/2/23

Tried to resist the temptation to put up another shot taken while flying over Namibia, and failed. The Namib Desert is apparently the world’s oldest, and runs straight down to the sea, making it look like a gargantuan beach, stretching hundreds of miles in every direction. You wouldn’t want to come here for a holiday however. No water anywhere, and combined with thick sea fogs and strong currents which can make it impossible to launch again, this is probably the most dangerous coast in the world for seafarers. Little wonder it has been termed the ‘Skeleton Coast’. Personally I think it appears as Mars might. Perhaps contrarily (but I’m like that), I find myself now quite wanting to visit this country properly. Maybe next year.

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On the descent into Walvis Bay

Saturday 21st January 2023, 10.05am (day 4,167)

Near Walvis Bay, 21/1/23

Random African country, 2/2, although unlike Ethiopia, this one — Namibia — was on the original schedule. Walvis Bay is where the Johannesburg to St Helena flight stops to refuel. On the approach, over miles of utterly barren desert, it is inconceivable that there could, or should, be a town of over 60,000 people here, but it seems that Walvis Bay is the one natural harbour for hundreds of miles in either direction, and so is the principal port for the whole country, not to mention handling traffic for landlocked Botswana and Zimbabwe as well. What the construction visible on this shot is, I have no idea for sure, but it might be the top of an artesian well, as almost all the water supply for the town comes from underground.

That’s it for my 3-day perambulation around two continents, and six airports (Manchester, Geneva, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Walvis Bay and St Helena). Two weeks on St Helena will now follow.

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Addis Ababa (unexpectedly)

Friday 20th January 2023, 7.05am (day 4,166)

Addis Ababa, 20/1/23

Until late morning yesterday, if you’d have suggested this blog might feature the capital of Ethiopia at some point in the near future, I would not have treated you seriously, but it’s amazing where one ends up (at 7 in the morning) when airlines are obliged to work out alternative routes of travel for passengers let down by non-optimal handling of local weather conditions (see yesterday). In fact I have always quite wanted to go to Ethiopia, it’s definitely on the bucket list — but a 90-minute stopover in Addis Ababa airport won’t really count when I come to sum up the itinerary of my life at some future date. It looked good from the plane, though, and one day I might come back. I like the flash of sunlight off the building to the right. Always get a window seat — always.

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Slavery Museum, Liverpool

Saturday 11th January 2020, 11.00am (day 3,061)

Slavery Museum, 12/1/20

A day out in Liverpool with Joe. The day as a whole was a good one, but let’s not talk about the football match later on. More agreeable was the Slavery Museum on Albert Dock, which while rather (understandably) depressing in places was certainly interesting — if not very big. These are Igbo carvings, I believe. The message in the back is pertinent. But yes, the black line, separating the panes of glass in the display cabinet, does bother me.

This pic was taken on my phone, as something happened today which has always been a possibility — I didn’t charge the camera battery properly and after the first picture of the day, when we were already on our journey, it died. Phone cameras these days do just as good a job of course, so act well as a backup. But one of these days a technical fail may well lead to a day with no photo: the most likely one I can think of being that my SD card breaks when I try to upload pictures the morning after, and thus too late to grab any emergency replacement. I hope that never happens of course, but I do wonder what my reaction would be. After (so far) 3,061 consecutive days of photography it would be something of a blow, to be sure.

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The roof of Africa

Sunday 2nd August 2015, 6.40am (day 1,438)

Roof of Africa, 2/8/15

So here it is, the culmination of this walk, the highest point in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world, Uhuru Peak, the summit of Kilimanjaro (5,895m or 19,341 feet above sea level).

You were getting a photo of it for today even if it had been as flat and featureless as a bowling green, but in all honesty this was the most beautiful, spectacular summit of any mountain I have ever visited. Believe me though, the effort it took to get here was intense. I don’t mean the five days of walking which had proceeded it which — if one can avoid altitude sickness (and I did) was not all that difficult — but the final climb up the ash slopes of Kibo, done between about 11.30pm and 6am, because during the hours of daylight it would be a) too hot and sunny and b) next-to-impossible anyway because one needs the ash to be semi-frozen in order to have a chance of ascending it. I had heard reports of people saying that one took about three steps up and then had to rest for about twenty seconds before having a chance of moving on, and dismissed them as exaggeration, but I can assure you they are not. That is really what it was like.

But once up there… time it right and one is there at sunrise. The light gradually reveals a wondrous landscape of delights, all over three-and-a-half miles up in the air. Here, the summit itself is on the far right of the picture, just caught by the sun which has also (I love this) projected a shadow of the whole summit cone onto the far horizon, neatly laid over Mount Meru, Tanzania’s second-highest peak, which at 4,565m or nearly 15,000 feet is no dwarf but from here is quite overshadowed (literally) by Kili. On the left is one of the mountain’s remaining glaciers, although don’t expect it to be around for much longer as within ten to fifteen years the ‘Snows of Kilimanjaro’ reported by Hemingway will most likely be gone — maps and pictures that show the whole summit area as covered in ice are now obsolete. Still, it’s a landform I’ve never been so close to before, and added an unearthly, or at least an un-African, element to the scene. The full moon above, which had illuminated our climb, is just the final touch.

What a place. Will I be back? Who knows, perhaps. I probably would do it again. If you do get the chance, and fancy putting in the work, I highly recommend it.

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21st Century Nun

Monday 14th January 2013, 2.00pm (day 508)

21st century nun, 14/1/13

In case you thought I was just here to soak up some rays (though it’s a valid reason to travel, I admit), this picture is taken at the KAPC campus, our collaborative partner here in Nairobi. Evidence that much of Africa has totally skipped the landline era and gone straight into mobile. I wonder how the world would be different if Alexander Graham Bell had tried using radio for his communications experiment instead of copper wiring.

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Fishermen, Lake Naivasha

Sunday 13th January 2013, 12.20pm (day 507)

Lake Naivasha, 13/1/13

Guess that’s me in Africa, then.

Awesome day today, so many things seen and shot that it was very difficult to choose a single photo; the only reason I didn’t go with one of the wild giraffe that I was, at one point, stood about 20 feet from, was that I did the wildlife theme yesterday. Crescent Island, on Lake Naivasha, may have just become the most beautiful place I have ever seen – a complete trip back in time, had a brontosaurus been spotted munching on the acacias it would not have looked out of place. These four guys were working in a lagoon by Crayfish Camp, where we had lunch. (For a few more see my Flickr stream: the link is at the bottom of the page.)

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Monkey family, City Park, Nairobi

Saturday 12th January 2012, 4.30pm (day 506)

Monkey family, 12/1/13

First day in Nairobi. It’s only 5.30 as I post this but there’ll be no more photography today – flashing a digital camera around on a Saturday night in downtown Nairobi probably isn’t an advisable tactic. Anyway, the photo of the day has clearly already been won. Note the babies clutching to the chests of two of them (centre and right). The City Park in Nairobi was actually full of these critters, and probably the locals treat them as pests, but like the squirrels in public parks in the UK, they know when they’re on to a good thing with the tourists.

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