These stories were told at Uganda’s Ndere Cultural Centre. I went to a cultural evening there after having lived in the country for six weeks, and the stories summed up my experiences – of making friends, working, travelling, my daily Ugandan life and frustrations – rather beautifully.
A tour of a Nambian township is a start reminder of what Nelson Mandela – who is 95 today – has achieved. Apartheid literally means ‘apartness,’ ‘the state of being apart,’ and to be confronted by the physical reality of this was incredibly shocking.
Namibia’s “Sand Sea” – the Namib Desert , has today been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The desert’s burning sun, unobstructed by clouds or trees, paints with light and shadow on the sloped surfaces – the rust red walls, the white clay floors, the dark, hardy camelthorn trees.
We normally assume that an architect, an artist, a businessman wishes to create something that will outlive them, which will exist long after they are gone. Yet Stephan Brückner, the creator of the spectacular Wolwedans Lodge collection in Namibia, has quite the opposite intention.
“In 200 years,” he explains, waving his hand towards the main lodge, “there will be no evidence that thousands of people stayed here.”
The Batwa – Uganda’s “first people” – were nomadic hunter-gatherers who developed advanced hunting and trapping methods. Their profound knowledge of the forest allowed them to harvest honey, fruit and roots to use produce food, medicine and shelter. But when the forest became a national park, the Batwa were moved out. Now, the Batwa Trail is their only chance to return to their ancestral home.
Some shots are a result of being in the right place at the right time – and this was one of them. But in getting to “the right place” required rather a lot of time, patience and knowledge. This is a desert-adapted elephant found in the bleak expanse of northwestern Namibia, and we had spent the morning tracking them, following footprints and droppings up and down dried-up riverbeds.
But unlike the routine travel we do back home – the daily commute, the weekend trips to visit family – “travelling” can provide some truly memorable means of reaching a destination, and as the Chinese proverb says, the journey becomes the reward. Here’s a round up of my five most memorable travel experiences – some because they were terrifying, others because they were unexpected. And many were both.