travel

Nyami Nyami: The River God

Nyami Nyami is the Zambezi River God. He is the protector of the Tonga people and gives them sustenance in difficult times. Believed by the Tonga tribe of the Zambezi Valley to be a serpent-like creature of about three metres wide and a length no one dares to guess at. Many years ago, Chief Sampakaruma is recorded as seeing him on two occasions but since the white man came to the Zimbabwe Nyami Nyami has been in hiding. Legend has it that Nyami Nyami would turn the river water red when swimming past.

Close Encounters of the Gorilla Kind (2)

“Stand your ground. Stand tall and don’t look him directly in the eyes,” said the guide, calmly.

That’s all very well, but when standing in front of a six foot 500 pound silverback gorilla it was difficult to compose myself and follow his instructions. One minute I had been observing the silverback sitting quietly in a glade; the next minute he stood up, ran over and mock-charged me. He let out a deep, grumbling rumbling sound from deep in his belly: a silverback warning intended to intimidate without becoming physical.

Close Encounters of the Gorilla Kind (1)

I was instructed to leave everything behind except my camera. I left my rucksack on the dense forest floor and followed my guide, my excitement building. A variety of birds were perched on high singing. I spotted a fabulous looking Blue-headed coucal, its deep and resonant song calling through the forest. The air was heavy with a heady mix of heat and humidity.
A clearing in the dense forest afforded a unique view: Rwanda to the south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the west. I was in Mgahinga National Park, a least known about gem in south western Uganda.

Pilgrim’s Rest: A Living Museum

Pilgrim's Rest is a quaint living museum of a mining town which experienced a gold rush in 1873 when the South African government declared it a gold field. This well-preserved little town is the setting for the book about the famous dog "Jock of the Bush Veld" by Percy FitzPatrick. His writings are preserved in a building in Pilgrim’s Rest, which served as the location for the 1988 motion picture of the book. The tarmac road in front of the Royal Hotel was covered with gravel for the movie.