Raphael Kessler

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South East Asia 1999

  1. Vietnam - February 1999
  2. Thailand - April 1999
  3. Malaysia and Singapore - May 1999
  4. Indonesia - June 1999
Africa to home, the long way
- Africa
  1. South Africa
  2. Namibia and Botswana
  3. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya
  4. Uganda
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Egypt
- Middle East and Balkans
  1. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey
  2. Balkans
  3. Turkey
  4. Iran
- Asia
  1. Pakistan
  2. China
  3. Tibet
  4. Nepal
  5. India 1
  6. India 2
  7. India 3
  8. Sri Lanka
  9. Bangladesh
  10. Myanmar
  11. Thailand
  12. Cambodia
  13. Laos
  14. China, Macao and Hong Kong
  15. Mongolia
- North America and Caribbean
  Caribbean, USA, Mexico and Canada
- Scandinavia and Eastern Europe
  1. Russia
  2. Sweden
  3. Baltics
  4. Poland and Czech Republic
South America 2002
  1. Brazil
  2. Argentina
  3. Chile and Easter Island
Central America and Mexico 2002
  1. Panama
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Nicaragua
  4. Honduras
  5. El Salvador
  6. Guatemala
  7. Belize
  8. Mexico
South America 2003-4
  1. Trinidad and Tobago
  2. Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana
  3. Venezuela
  4. Colombia
  5. Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands
  6. Peru
  7. Bolivia
  8. Argentina
  9. Uruguay and Paraguay
  10. Bolivia 2
  11. Peru 2
Specific Pacific
  1. California to Fiji+ French Polynesia & Cook Islands
  2. Samoa, Niue and American Samoa
  3. Tonga and New Zealand
  4. Australia 1
  5. Australia 2

Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya


Firstly thankyou to those of you who sent birthday greetings. Since e-mailing in Vic Falls I have seen some more amazing stuff including the falls itself which was in full flood. First I saw it from the air from a small plane. En route we saw a herd of about one hundred elephants, a herd of about the same number of buffalo, about thirty sable and some other bits. It was great to see the falls from the air before seeing it from the ground, I think it makes it even more impressive, the way the broad Zambezi drops over a hundred metres, a kilometre wide into a narrow gorge that then zigzagsonward through Zimbabwe. Good stuff, seeing it from the ground was also great it is surrounded by a microcosm of a rainforest, constantly raining in bits due to the spray generating permanent clouds.

After vic falls a few of us went down to Bulawayo by overnight train, catching up with the truck in the morning. That gave us an extra day in vic falls and made things a bit more relaxed.

In Bulawayo we went to the Rhodes Motopo game park, saw several different animals the best being a mother and baby rhino, the baby being only ten weeks old. We were able to walk within about six feet of it, marvellous. We also found leopard tracks but not the actual leopard, Klippspringer, Kudu, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Rock Hirax, impala and others. Three of us from the group then went off to the Rhodes grave site which is in a great setting, which is why he asked to be buried on top of the mountain where he is.

From Bulawayo we went onto Gweru, there we stayed at a lion farm. Made good friends with a Rottweiler I named Rodney, who's a bit of a nutter. The following morning we went for a walk with Bernie and Muzza, a couple of lion cubs 4 and 8 months respectively. They weren't on leads or anything, we were free to stroke and pat them, absolutely gorgeous, little Bernie was adorable rolling on her back to have her stomach scratched like a dog. Muzza is getting quite big but he's also quite friendly. It was something really rather special to get that close to little lions. Once sexually mature (16 months) they become pretty unapproachable still we were able to get very close to some of the males aswell.

After Gweru we went onto Masivingo to the great Zimbabwe ruins, from where the country took it's name, very interesting place. Yesterday we arrived in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Last night was the last night for most of the group and we went out for a meal at a game restaurant, there was live entertainment including music and zulu dancing etc. which was interesting if a little cheesy. I decided to be a bit experimental with my food had crocodile tail to start with, slightly fishy but not bad, then had the game platter which was Ostrich - nothing special, Kudu - quite nice, Wildebeest - slightly coarse and livery tasting, and Zebra - not too keen, funny texture. Still it was all quite interesting.

This morning I met the new folk joining the truck to Nairobi as it is only Franziska, Martin and I from the original group carrying on. The new ones are two Norwegian girls and a Canadian. Seem okay so far we shall see.


Now I will attempt to bring you up to speed on events since departing Harare. Most of the folk on the truck jumped ship in Harare which left us with two Swiss, Franziska and Martin and three new additions, Guro and Marit Norwegians and Erin a Canadian. All new arrivals are perfectly decent folk, or seem to be thus far. Ziska's okay if a bit serious at times and Martin is a bit of a self opinionated tosser. Anyway, so this merry band set forth from Harare to Kariba, one of the biggest damned lakes in the world (A lake created by a damn that is). On Kariba we spent three nights on a houseboat having our food prepared, beds made etc. which was a welcome break from tents and cooking etc. furthermore there was a jacuzzi and swimming to be had, as well as game viewing when we saw a plethora of hippos and elephants, snake eagles, impala, great birds, crocodiles and a pride of lions. Very nice indeed.

From Kariba we crossed into Zambia, the damn actually forms the border, which one drives across. On to Lusaka, the first central African city we saw. Leaving the white, southern Africa behind. There appears to be a stark contrast, although the previous countries are not so affluent, it seems that we slipped several rungs on the ladder of wealth in the space of a few miles. Zambia was essentially a transit as it poured continuously (as Toto said "I guess it rains down in Africa" - too bloody true) which makes some of the game viewing impractical. From Zambia we crossed to Malawi and Lilongwe - the capital. Did some shopping, namely for ciggies and a football as the previous one got punctured. The following day we drove on to the lake which the country is based around, bloody big lake at that. In Salima we chilled a lot, bought some carvings and chilled some more, it;'s a hard life. After a couple of days there, we went further up country to Kande Beach home of the inimitable Dave Barton, for those of you who have the discovery channel, there is a program called "Africa the hard way" which features him and his truck. Chilled some more and then from there went up to the Nyika plateau, a region 2,500metres above sea level that looks like Dartmoor or something similar, with antelope, jackals, hyaenas and leopards. Saw all but the leopards - elusive buggers that they are. From there back to the lake and a really nice bar, that ruined me in one night, for the next couple of days on Malawi Brandy. Not bad going down, but unfortunately not great the morning after. I can honestly say that I was a victim of the hospitality of the house as I stopped buying drinks at 10.30 but whenever I attempted to leave John, the barman thrust another glass of brandy into my hand until about 2 in the morning. It may not sound lat, but considering that we get up at the crack of dawn every day and most of our group are often in bed by about 9 p.m. it wass pretty late, especially with a 5.30 start the following day. My head seemed to have the trooping of the colour going on inside it, only the elephant back version, whereas it felt like I had hippos performing a trapeze act in my stomach. I still don't feel entirely recovered.

From Malawi we have essentially driven for three days across the width of Tanzania to the Indian Ocean where Zanzibar awaits. The place we stopped last night was in the middle of Baobab valley, for those of you who don't know, a baobab is a huge tree that can be several thousand years old that looks as though it has been planted upside down, it was an interesting sight to see these for as far as you could see. We also saw hartebeest, little elephants, giraffes and more warthogs en route to Dar.


Well, I have arrived in Nairobi, Kenya end of the truck part of the journey and beginning of the real bit. Going on the truck was good but had its limitations, namely very little local interaction and not being able to spend longer in some places. Still you can't have everything. Since Dar - which I misrepresented as the capital of Tanzania, it's actually now Dodoma, although it is Dar for all intents and purposes. - Went to Zanzibar which was nice and relaxing, had some great curries, did a spice tour which was interesting and generally vegged. Then back in Dar went to the National museum which was kind of interesting, had some of the Leakey stuff. From there we headed north (En-route had a great view of Kilimanjaro, for those of you who don't know - the tallest mountain in Africa and largest free standing mountain in the world) to Mto-wa-mbo. A village just near lake manyara. The lions around there have taken to climbing trees during the day to keep away from Tetse flies - apparently unique amongst lions. Did a village tour with one of the locals which was interesting, he showed us how the locals live and work etc. all about the local agriculture and the social systems. Not at all touristy, which was nice. The food we had for lunch was really not to my liking at all, but interesting to try the local stuff.

The following day we went to Ngorogoro crater, a national park inside a crater about 20kms in diameter with a very diverse ecosystem. Most types of African landscape (savanna, pasture, forest, desert and lakes) are represented in a small area. This makes it possible to see a great concentration of game as they don't migrate out the crater. We saw thousands of gnu (wildebeest), thompsons and grants gazelles, lot of cokes hartebeest, lions, elephants and black rhinos. It was nice but too many other jeeps rushing around. That evening drank and played Tock in the bar at the camp site and watched crap TV. There was a great competition where you could win a trip for two to Lagos (for those of you who don't know Lagos, Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places on the planet. People have been killing each other in a semi-all out war for years, at the football matches every week they have full scale riots) it didn't say anything about it being a return trip or not, probably not, no point.

Following day went to the market and swapped a torn pair of trousers and a split football (that I bought in Lilongwe, Malawi) for a crappy masai shield, bloody fools. From there we went on to Tarangire Nat. Park. Saw hyenas, rock hyrax, baboons, monkeys, elephants, gazelles, waterbuck, impala, crested eagles, read and yellow barbets, white helmeted shrikes, superb starlings, marabou storks, black shouldered kites, bateleur and a whole bunch of other stuff over the course of two days. My favourite bits were the five legged elephant (it's breeding season at the moment) and at night we could see and hear hyenas all around our camp, just out of the fire light, but when you shone your torch into the brush you could see a whole pack of them twenty yards away just staring at you. They were also laughing and cackling through the night, good fun.

Anyway from there we headed to Arusha, not much to say about that (sorry Sanj). Then from there to Nairobi. On the way we have seen more and more Masai folk wandering around. I unfortunately didn't have my camera on me for what would have been a great photo of a couple of Masai guys cycling along the horizon, in full regalia with their spears over their shoulders.


So, spent a few days her in Nairobi, I'd like to say it was a beautiful town complete with friendly people and beautiful tree lined avenues, smells of sweet spices down every street and the cars and people expel marvellous odours as they pass you by. Unfortunately as you may have already presumed this is not the case. I haven't been mugged yet, which is promising and the toxic fumes haven't yet killed me. So, there is a lot to be positive about. Since being here I have managed to some posting, cost too bloody much, but too bloody much to carry. (Dave / Moose bits arriving surface mail in April or May.) Got my visa for Ehiopia again bloody expensive but c'est la vie. Ate more interesting animals - Hartebeest - very nice, Impala - also very nice, more Wildebeest - much better this time, Crocodile again - my advice is stick to just the tail it isn't so fatty. Talking of eating - some useless trivia, there are only three countries in Africa with McDonalds (South Africa, Morrocco, Egypt) basically in a triangle across the continent, so they don't have the world domination people think they do. Nandos however is all over the shop which is good as I prefer it anyway. Otherwise, got my sandals stitched, arranged for passage to Kampala (capital of Uganda) - leaving tonight at 8. Went to the national museum which is very good with some excellent fossils and the skulls the Leakeys found in Olduvai gorge. They also have just about every bird found in Africa stuffed, in display cases. Kind of not nice, but also rather a good way of looking at those feathered folk I've seen all over the shop without having them fly away.



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