• Around the Green Isle: Pemba October 5th, 2011

    Nowadays everything is kept secret from the Europeans, and even those who have spent most of their lives in the country have only now and then discovered hints of the wide, infinitely ramified cult which still flourishes below the surface. (Evelyn Waugh)

    Not many people make it to Pemba, which is half the charm of this mountainous island. Arabic traders in former centuries referred to it as ‘Al khudra’ – the Green Island, and it’s easy to see why. It is as lush as a tropical destination at 4° degrees south of the equator could be.

  • Zanzibar revisited September 22nd, 2011

    “”there are certain places, surrounded by a halo of romance, to which the inevitable disillusionment which you must experience on seeing them gives a singular spice”. (Somerset Maugham)

    The village of Kipumwe wasn’t marked on my map, but I was assured there were dhows sailing to Zanzibar from there. The plan had been to reach neighbouring Pemba first, but unless I was going pay a lot and charter a boat alone, this option wasn’t available.

    Following the recent sinking of the overloaded MV Spice Islander, in which some 240 people died in the Zanzibar channel, I really ought to have been more careful in choosing what vessel I took to transport me over the sea.

  • Waiting for a boat September 10th, 2011

    “There are three things which if one does not know, one cannot live long in the world: what is too much for one, what is too little for one, and what is just right for one.” (Swahili proverb)

    The sky is definitely bluer on the east African coast. Here the wind blows in off an ocean and not out of a desert, which is often the case throughout much of west Africa. Even as far south as Cameroon that Saharan wind – the harmattan, caused the mountains to become lost in a dust-filled haze and the sun to disappear long before it reached the horizon. Well not anymore. That cleansed azure sky should be over me all the way south, assuming I follow the coast into Mozambique and don’t encounter a rainy season. The wind direction might be more of a concern though.

  • The Kilimanjaro Loop August 30th, 2011

    “I went out to Mount Kilimanjaro, which I thought was very beautiful, but there were a lot of people there”. (Ralph Fiennes)

    One of those new Chinese roads provided my exit from Kenya. There are a lot of these in Africa. In fact there probably isn’t a country on the continent that hasn’t had some Sino-African road-building agreement signed. Well Africa needs better roads, and the Chinese do a good a job at providing them. I think you could travel most of the length of Africa if you wanted to on Chinese built roads, but dirt tracks are always more interesting.