Thursday, August 23, 2012



Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday March 27th, Day 12

It is fitting to save best till last. What we experienced in the last 24 hours is hard to communicate in words, it is hard to express properly what strange things happened and how to make sense of it all. I am writing this a day late because I spent last night camping out on a fucking volcano!

The arena where our last day played out was the Danakil depression, the lowest point in Africa. This place is a hotspot of tectonic activity and has created an unrivalled landscape. Because the plates are moving apart they have left two sets of mountain ranges on the edges of the depression; then you sink down to 400 feet below sea level to see a desolate white emptiness which is interrupted only by the chain of soaring picture-perfect volcanoes with their solidified lava flows creeping down the sides and along the valley floor.

On our morning visit we were witness to a spectacle of epic proportions. After seeing the alien-like salt formations which only the pictures can do justice to, we spotted a caravan of camels on the horizon. As we zoomed in closer the line extended as far as the eye could see. The camels were winding their way into the very heart of the valley and it looked like there was an endless supply of turbaned Ethiopians churning out camel after camel. What we were seeing was the caravan on its way to pick up salt rocks from the very centre of the depression. They had formed a line 10 km long which consisted of 2000 animals. Question time with the men revealed that they had been marching for 8 days straight into the blistering heat of 40 degrees with enough food to have just one meal a day. In this barren white desert landscape they seemed like the only living things around. This obvious mass of organic energy was a stark contrast to the merciless enormity of what was all around. The sorrowful donkeys, the slow trudge of the camels and the embattled bodies of the men were a pitiful sight though. It made me think of a scene from Scott’s expedition to the South Pole nearly 100 years ago. Undoubtedly heroic what comes to mind immediately after is the desperation his team endured. And this impression was matched by the odd burned out truck-convoy or abandoned laboratory which had been left to be swallowed up by the great corrosive jungle.

We went back to base for a necessary rest before we were to begin our own final push for the summit of the volcano. The approach flight took us around the smaller peaks before the looming figure of Erta Ale appeared as a superbly sculptured figure before us. We circled the crater and the signs of activity were evident. Billows of smoke rose from the centre and the gleaming lava was cracking the top surfaces with sticky power. It was not until we had approached it by foot and sat by the crater rim that its full hypnotic force started taking effect. We were glued to the spot. It put me into a trance. The mighty hissing and the mini explosions seemed like a voice from the deep, and the klashnekov-bearing guard’s insight into its religious importance for the locals seemed appropriate. We were lucky enough to have an inspired geologist accompany us whose soulful and enthusiastic explanations had us all hooked. I think he may have actually confused himself once or twice but his strangeness was moving. Dr Korkuro was to volcanoes what Dr Strangelove was to the Cold War.




Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday March 26, Day 11

After a taxing night at above 3000 metres we set off for a flight witnessing the sunrise. It worked magically because on the way out we had the sun in front of us and it cloaked the mountains in a spooky haze. After each passing ridge emerged a totally new skyline which appeared to have been cut out of the heavens. The sun was gliding gently upwards and filling the landscape with life and casting beautiful shadows in soft light everywhere around. This scene of rebirth was complemented by a very smooth chopper ride and this created a very hypnotic effect as the throbbing of the rotor blades lulled me into a peaceful dreamland. We had a coffee break on a island in the middle of a tranquil lake which was so smooth it mirrored the fascinating red rock mountains in the backdrop. The way back was even more exciting because we got to see the mountains with the sun at our backs. It created a whole different scene. More impressive than mystical this time as all was suddenly clearly visible and we even spotted one of the critically endangered Simien Mountain wolves of which only 450 or so survive.

Axum was the next stop. This city was once the capital of the once mighty Axumite kingdom which stretched across Ethiopia, Sudan and even across the Red Sea into Yemen. Our guide proudly informed us that the Axumite kingdom was one of the earliest religious centres in the world (‘warr-lud’) and that traces of civilization had been found from around 5000 BC. The Romans came to Axum to trade and it is evident that a rich history and culture exists. This was all very interesting to hear but the dramatic fall from grace, not unlike the fallen obelisk in the town square, is a matter which fascinates me. Many historical factors played there part in the reversal of Axum’s fortunes, such as worsening geological conditions and the rise of the Islam as a major economic threat, but still, when wandering through the streets which may have once boasted great palaces and churches and comparing it to the poverty-stricken reality of now, it is hard to believe.

Thursday March 25, Day 10

Day 10

One of the most astonishing and impressive visual spectacles of the trip so far. The landscape on the way to the Simien mountains was just mind blowing. Over millions of years erosion has created a series of valleys which stretch endlessly into the distance in every direction. The Grand Canyon is this awesome expanse’s well-known little cousin! But because it is so hard to reach this place so little people know about it. This makes it even more exciting and may explain why we had a rock thrown at the chopper by a confused child on the way!

There are deep gorges which sink down into the valley floor and awesome rock structures which stick proudly up and out. These formed some jaw-dropping pinnacles which looked like enormous tombstones. But the incredible thing was the gigantic scale of it all. Up to the horizon these huge rocks jutted out and created some fascinating silhouettes, especially when it became a little hazy. Flying next to the vertical cliff edges made my stomach churn as it became clear what scary big dimensions we were witnessing. Non-stop ridge after ridge gave this place a grandeur to remember.

It was incredible how this landscape just extended and extended and with its steep sides seemed such an inhospitable place for humans to live yet everywhere I looked there were tiny settlements. At first when I arrived I found it hard to believe that Ethiopia has 85 million inhabitants, but that changed after what I saw today. On the most devastating steep slopes there were perfectly groomed fields and groups of houses in places where you would think only a professional mountaineer could reach. But nearly everywhere there were signs of human civilization…cattle was being reared at 13,000 feet! Yet I wondered to what extent this civilization had developed. These people were completely isolated and I couldn’t see how they had any sort of communication with the outside world. Even the satellite dishes which I had seen on most roofs in the towns had disappeared. There was no road anywhere in sight, no indication that they had ever left their desolate mountain homes. I am fascinated by the idea that they have no concept of what life is like for us and vica-versa. The idea of belonging to a wider world and being aware of its interaction is probably inconceivable to them. We fly over them and it’s like a window into a bygone time for me. I am shocked at the distance in terms of realities which lie between us. Yet although they seem so alien to me it was interesting to note how organized and structured their existence was. The dot-like huts were all grouped together with the fields on the periphery and it was evident that they are pretty good at what they do. Order is in their lives which is actually quite a comforting thought. Sleeping at above 3000 metres tonight may give a small insight into what they experience every day.

Another cool experience were the Gelada baboons we visited today who seemed most interested in their long lost homeboy Michael than the remainder of the troupe. After hours getting to know them one of the friendly baboons apparently opened up to him with a welcoming show of the breast and a private masturbation show!


Wednesday 24th March, Day 9

Juicy, smooth, Ethiopia

It was relaxation time yesterday upon arriving in the busy Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. After a whole 3 days without a metal shower-head with adjustable thermostat we were beginning to feel the pang of the wild, so it was with some relief that I switched on the tele for my fix of celebrity gossip, Pay TV and silly-sounding Australian news presenters.

It did bring to an end our Kenyan sojourn which has felt a lot longer than one week to me. The countless impressions that I have gathered, I am beginning to see, take a while to digest properly and only when you have time to relax do they sink in. When constantly on the move they seem more like a never-ending fantasy and the days seem to morph into each other. That is why our break in Addis was so refreshing. I was able to think back on what has happened already, the heights of Kili to the slender beauty of the Painted Valley, and must say that, quite apart from the visual wonders, one of the main things I have enjoyed and taken from this trip is our group social dynamics. Due to the nature of our trip we haven’t interacted much with the majority of the local population. Overnight stays in lodges have given me a glimpse of the kind of luxury safari culture which is characteristic of Kenya. Our hospitable lodgers have often given us very interesting opinions and stories, such as the shocking fable of female circumcision among the Turkana tribe, but it has been hard to see what the normal people are like.

Therefore we have had the time to chill a lot with each other. Being 7 guys who have many different perspectives and experiences, have worked in a wide range of fields and are separated by a more than 40 year-wide age gap it has been very amusing. Through this communal adventure we have grown together and, I believe, have had a lot to say to each other and share. Sipping on a whiskey late at night around the campfire I have been impressed and amused by what Jamie has shared with me. His completely diverse array of jobs, from redecorating houses in grimey 80’s Clapham to designing African lodges to piloting, is in someway an inspiration for me to spread my own wings. I have recently romanticized about the possibility of doing something whacky like becoming a pilot in a far away country, but there is a big gulf between this idea and if I would really have the guts to pull it through. It seems like a dream job, daily soaring above the endless beauty that is Africa. This is ideally seen and I am probably not aware of what it actually means to just take off like that, however the easy-going and relatively calm lifestyle which I have peen presented with over the past 10 days or so (disregarding the beautiful luxury lodges, etc.) awakes a certain curiosity in me. I am curious to see what a change of tact could do. I am curious to see how I would respond.

Well, amidst the lingering shishah smoke and veiled depictions of paradigmatic Ethiopians we got our first taste of the local talent at Addis’ stylishly seedy Champions sportsbar yesterday evening. We managed to escape just before the hazy dungeon swallowed us up whole, but the facially refined Ethiopians definitely showed themselves as some pretty eye candy.

The vibe here in Lalibela is very different to the busy capital. Lalibela has been named the Jerusalem of Africa because it s here where many African Christians pilgrim to visit the mind-boggling underground churches. The earliest African churches were built here, down into the ground to avoid being seen by potential enemies. The fascinating thing is that they are carved out of one big rock. The builders not only carved the outside part down into the rock, but once this was complete they had to scoop out the whole inside of the structure and create the necessary arches and beams to support it all. Architecturally this is an absolute master class. All mistakes were completely irreversible because it is all one big rock, yet still the dimensions, the arches, doorways and windows are all perfect. The care, precision and skill needed to create these edifices is just unimaginable and it is hard to make sense unless you are really standing there 20 metres under the ground and can look at every single chisel mark and see the connecting underground tunnels which must have served as thoroughfares for the construction teams.

A priest serves each church (there are 3 in total) and he is there every day from 5 in the morning until it closes late in the evening. We visited late today and were nearly the only visitors which gave us a great chance to see the architectural magnificence of the place, but it was clear that there was something extra about Lalibela and these churches too. A special vibe hung over this place, which hit me quite naturally when walking around. It seemed like there was a fundamental peacefulness and happiness surrounding the town and these wondrous churches. Alex celebrated Christmas here among 80,000 pilgrims who filled every nook and cranny of the town. The streets were overflowing with mysteriously robed figures with worn faces and being underground during the ceremony it seems you had the feel of being completely engulfed by the mass of believers as they hung over the precipices and packed the tight alleys. He says he witnessed a truly exceptional spiritual phenomenon. This I can definitely acknowledge after what I saw in this poverty-riddled but energy-beaming place. The town really exuded a strange presence which did seem to lighten much of what I saw. Even our hilarious two obligatory governmental escorts were grinning from ear to ear, which is a feat in itself!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday March 22, Day 7

By clicking into the image you will be taken to a larger version of the image along with a map where it was taken (if GPS position was recorded)

The Gods are definitely crazy

I am very sad that we have to leave this amazing port-a-camp after only 2 nights. What has been built up here for us by the merciless effort of Willie and the gang has been a real treat. It is nice hearing your book’s pages flutter in the sweeping wind while taking a siesta in the sweltering heat and hearing superman Felix’s stories of how he was up all night chasing the roaming lion pack out of tent. I am very fond of this tent style because of how close you feel to the wilderness; everything around you screams hostility at first but then you realize that it is just a punishing environment for humans. Only the most hardcore living things can survive here in the northern Kenyan savage wild.

It is hard to think that it is here where the earliest humanoid specimens were found almost 2 million years ago. This is the cradle of mankind, the birthplace of our existence. Our oldest ancestors were roaming this land, a land which looks so dangerously inhospitable and is now only accessible by the most modern technology. No road could lead us to the place we visited today. A site where we found the fossilized remains of an elephant from over 1.4 million years ago perfectly preserved and, apart from being bigger, looked nearly the same as an elephant from today. There were whole tree trunks fossilized which looked as though they had been cut down yesterday. The incredible thing is that this barren land was once bountiful and supported 15 different species of rhino alone and a further 8 hippo variations. Now all that remains are the fossils and our imaginations. I looked out over the vast emptiness and thought of how millions upon millions of years of minute changes have led us to how it is now. I was amused by seeing all these fossils and not really understanding how I feature in the grand scheme of things, but I was able to enjoy the craziness of the concept. Sometimes I do a sweet swing and make great connection and my golf ball still doesn’t land on the green. I am annoyed because the concept is actually quite simple (and I fulfilled it with a good shot) and yet the outcome is perplexing. Now, however, I am content because the outcome of all the preceding craziness is that I am in the position to take it all in, to experience first hand what is such a mystery. The crocodiles, which maraud the edges of the lake where I was fishing today, still maintain some of that Jurassic feel.

Even though now the desert has taken on a rare but more welcoming green appearance (due to the heavy rainfall), the desert itself presents a powerful link to the past, its indifference. But then, I am again drawn back to the ‘creation myth’ element of what I saw today. The desert and all that has come before and will be is free and boundless in its elemental power, but through this comes the feeling of a design, an ‘instinct to be’ which may be only pure luck but I believe is ordained and instructed. I have been made more aware and felt closer to this idea since coming on this trip because after a week of isolation it is hard not to recognize the force around me. The desert along with the mountains are the rawest symbols of life I can imagine.



Sunday March 21, Day 6

By clicking into the image you will be taken to a larger version of the image along with a map where it was taken (if GPS position was recorded)

We are now at Lake Turkana in northern Kenya. This lake was first seen through European eyes in 1888 when a Hungarian aristocrat and a Austrian scientist teamed up with around 1000 expeditionists for a momentous 2 year exploration. It took them nearly 6 months to complete what we covered in 3 days. Dozens perished on the way. By the end the porters were being forced to carry 50 kg packs through the sweltering desert heat loaded with the ivory tusks of the expedition leader. Every evening enough food needed to be found for everyone and elephant meat was no rarity for all the African porters. In some sense this was an absurdity.

It fascinates me to see how things have changed. On our expedition there is no scouring the country for animals for fear of starving but a portable desert camp erected on the lake shore where ice chinks in cool gin tonics and Pantene pro V adorns the hot-water shower shelves. Now I most certainly am not complaining, Willie’s camp is marvelous and I witnessed one of the most amazing sunsets of my life just now flying over the proud central island of this ocean-like king of lakes. It is just amazing how the human capacity to explore has evolved. I think evolve is a good word because it evokes what happened in the past. I am overcome with awe when reading about Tileke and von Hohlen. Practically, how they meticulously planned every inch of their journey, the logistical effort needed to assemble such an expeditionary force and, still, their reliance on local guides to help them interact with the alien land and its people. But I am more impresses with their spirit and iron will their duty to exploration and discovery which is the greatest test of all because you face the complete unknown. Tileke’s expedition came across African tribes who had never before seen a white man. His experience must have seemed quite absurd but so is our crazy trip, which is more like caked in the absurd. However, we are in some sense also exploring, from a different angle, and we are challenging a new frontier - from the air.

Michael made an interesting point about how we have evolved from the sea onto land and then soared into the air. Evolution favours the brave in a comic way because anything unusual is at first a little repellent. The Turkana tribesmen who we encountered on the side of the lake today must have thought we were deranged aliens when we alighted on the lake shore whilst they were moving past with all their possessions in the world lumped over a few donkeys. Absurdity can cause amazement and dismay but it is certainly fascinating. But it is the human spirit I want to come back to. Evidently Tileke and von Hohlen were adventurers of the very toughest stock but has that spirit itself changed? I believe we can be just as keen and curious nowadays although the methods are different. I personally romanticize about the idea of fighting the elements, the danger of a rhino around every corner and being one of the first people to pay homage to this momentous lake I am seeing disappear in front of me as the sun sets. But to be honest I am delighted in my own reality too.

Reading and thinking about these explorers is particularly evocative when sitting here by the babbling lake, around the campfire and when I see the tribesmen dressed in their magnificent attire.

Will this type of journey be possible in 50 years time? How much more will have changed by then…will commercial exploration take us above the outdated helisafaris to outer space? I think we are naturally explorers even though it is not that evident to me when I am surfing the web and checking out the latest Apple accessory at home. Somehow, after 6 days here with my fellow travelers, after only six days of being together night and day I am beginning to feel something brew in me which is hard to describe but is somehow quite raw and exploitative…I want more; this thing is getting me hooked. I wonder what Tileke must have felt like after 2 years, having climbed both Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro and gone deeper than anyone before him.



Saturday March 20, Day 5

By clicking into the image you will be taken to a larger version of the image along with a map where it was taken (if GPS position was recorded)

Pleae read Day 6 for a summary of 5 and 6


Sunday, March 21, 2010

All well !

We have gone where they used to say in the early days: They will be dragons !

Greetings from Lake Turkana in the North of Kenya. Communication are down until until Tuesday. Expect a big update on then directly from Addis Abeba, Ethiopia.


PS. We are loving it. Lost of photographic climaxes....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday 19th March, Day 4

In WW2 the German general Rommel led his troops in fierce desert warfare which spanned across large parts of Africa. He dressed with characteristic precision in his tank-commander goggles and khaki accessories and developed into somewhat of an iconic figure. He came to be known as the Desert Fox.

Team ACE has many common qualities with the desert fox and not only because of our Rommell-like attention to detail and expeditionary prowess. A desert fox must display highly shrewd tactical cunning and must be extremely knowledgeable of his terrain in order to survive. He must understand the structures and patterns of the environment around him in order to live more fully. By prowling above the ground we are also trying to witness and understand the natural patterns which occur in our world. With a view from above we are spying stealthily and fox-like on the elemental order of the things below. We can reexamine the ordinary way of looking at things because we are able to take in the bigger picture. The world ceases to be a vision of man-made structures resting on each other and transforms into something much more raw, into a web of interrelated forms, colours and elements. The creational force of nature and the patterns it creates become visible to us. These pictures really grabbed me deep down at my core by communicating a beautiful but simple order. It made me think of how this natural order is remarkably powerful and also strangely reassuring. I feel that, through this artistic brilliance, there is something intrinsically creative in everything on earth.

There is some real energy in the group at the moment which is great. I’m flying in the chopper with Michael and his enthusiasm is very nspiring. We may have to circle over the same place 5 times to get the perfect shot but it’s definitely worth it because his love for the project rubs off on me. At times, however, I’m not quite sure if a crazy talking-weasel hasn’t somehow slipped into the chopper and is clicking away furiously at Michaels camera. Alex is habitually working into the early hours of the morning and producing some stunning videos which are of the very highest quality.

It is fun to work together in a group environment with many different creative influences. It is 4 days in and after a quite overwhelming start we had a nice relaxed afternoon today which is important for some recuperation so that we can attack the future. The stories around the campfire are becoming continuously more graphic and I feel a vibe of teenage holiday camp adventure grow over everyone and Jamie’s intoxicatingly funny laugh has already become an uplifting cornerstone.



Check out the Map on Google of Day 3

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday March 18, Day 3


Mountain high, River deep

It is becoming increasingly difficult to document all the breathtaking adventures we undertake every day. The experience of flying over such vast and impressive landscapes is actually quite bewildering. One moment I am standing on the top of a pre-jurassic mountain range inspecting the heart of Africa thanks to a sweeping 80-mile view, and then I’m weaving along a glistening river feeling the rush like on a hell-bound rollercoaster. The pace of change is really quite surreal and I find I need to pinch myself now and again to remind myself that I’m not daydreaming while watching Wednesday afternoon’s ‘Countdown’ on channel 4.

The crazy thing is that just when I think that the sublime cannot get any better, another beautiful absurdity blows away everything that had previously left me speechless. One of those moments came this evening. The sun was extending its warm goodbye as we approached an amazing geometric rock structure which is venerated by the Samburu tribe as God’s very own chill-out pad. Like a lazy brick it sits on the green plain and on its flat top rests a dark green band of hair-like fluff which from a distance gives it a strangely human appeal. This awesome block was being majestically illuminated and its face was displaying crazy abstract patterns of bright yellow moss, brown clay and black shadows. The rock was crying out with amber tears at not being able to join us in the choppers for the view.

It was amazing to see how the light played tricks with the landscape. The many hills, which in the clear early-morning light formed desolate peaks in the openness, took a different appearance in the fading light. Suddenly all the mountains were cast in a deep blue shadow and when I looked around they engulfed me on all sides. It was like being in a natural Colloseum with Mt Kenya towering above with Caesar-like grandeur.

Passing Pride Rock, the famous coronation rock from the Lion King, I though of the power relations involved in safaris. On wheels it can be highly intimidating to pass by a pride of lions mainly due to their close proximity and the immediate danger they pose. In the chopper we experience a weird reversal of this relationship. We present an otherworldly intrusion which can have both funny effects, as when the ostriches run around frantically in circles, and intrusive ones, like when the fierce Rhino hurriedly leave disturbed dusty trails. The dragon roar of the chopper is both exhilarating and fearsome. What do our extreme expedition methods symbolize to you? We would say we are bringing it to a next level. Is it rude or simply future-viewed?

In any case, I am looking forward to a change from my shity London alarm-clock when the cackling birds wake me with their boisterous opera.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday 17th March Day 2


Gotta love the above !
We find ourselves in a different world. When you can dart through a cloudless sky towards the summit of Africa before even sitting down to eat your cornflakes, you know what it means to kickstart your morning. As a sign of respect to the mountain and the blue-blooded arrows ascending it, the clouds kneeled at its base giving us an astonishing unobstructed approach. The climb to the near 6000 m peak is far from easy; the first feelings of light-headedness crept in at 4000 m and at 5000 m I stole a glance to my right to find Felix pale-faced. Jamie looked unmoved and expertly directed us along the sparkling rock face to the very top of Africa. However, after circling at over 6000 m for over 10 minutes, even Jamie started dizzying and we decided to return with our bearings still just in place.

Although we didn’t encounter any creepy hippos in the underwater viewing arena at our next stop, Mzima Springs in Tsavo West, we were amazed by the crystal clear lake water which revealed many playful fish jostling for good positions to pose for Michael’s camera.

With our stomachs rumbling we landed at the foot of the Chyulu Hills with an exquisite white table glistening below. The table was laid with some essential bush-survival supplements such as Colmans mustard and marmite and we happily filled our bellies. Sitting there facing the endless plateau it felt as though we were transported into a bygone time, not a soul in sight but with plenty of scrambled eggs heaped on our toast.

Flying onwards we had a slightly longer leg to go. The back window seats give its occupants the chance to fully slide open the door and feel the great speed of the chopper in relation to the ground. It is another step more intense than the front seat as the wind really smashes into you and howls past your face. It also allows easier shooting ability with the camera and so Alex dutifully took position to capture some remarkable scenes including what looked like a brightly-coloured local marriage ceremony and many buzzing school playgrounds.

We arrived at lunch exhausted by the ascent and the long trip and were soon on our way again after some tasty African burgers. We encountered a friend of Ben’s who gave us a spectacular demonstration when he steamed up his enormous combine harvester in the midst of his 5000 acre farm and let us swoop up, down and around him as the machine sprayed its dust all over the vast field. It was an exhilarating interaction of machines at high speed and intensity.

We are now at Sirikoi, the beautiful and relaxed camp of Sue and Willie (Jamie’s brother). The camp is situated so that the animals come close to drink at your doorstep. Majestic giraffes might accompany you on your way to dinner and a warthog is more than likely to be found using your toothbrush in the morning. Day 2 has ended on another high.


PS. During dinner there was a heated discussion about whether the hostile public reaction to poor Tiger Woods is justified ? Please give us your comments....

Tuesday 16th March - Day One


The complete team was assembled this morning at the helipad in Nairobi for an early  start. Alex, the missing eagle, had finally arrived after enduring a deep and painful interrogation by UK custom officials in London. We were greeted by a warm welcome from our expert pilots Jamie and Ben, who certainly looked the part in slick matching ACE outfits.

Soon we were gliding over the Kenyan heartland and could see Mt Kilimanjaro strike a magnificent yet lonely figure in the distance. The vast and lush greenery which accompanied us, transformed into vividly-coloured lakes as we closed in on the Amboseli swamp system.. We saw several carefree elephants elegantly taking an early morning plunge. Soaring onwards toward Kili and its icy summit, we were surprised to see that the first chopper was powerful enough to lift Michael all the way to the top. Even through the clouds surrounded the peak, it struck me as a noble watchman over the surrounding land. Unfortunately the other chopper was just a bit heavy, as it carried one more person.

After a brief revitalizing lunch break in our friendly camp for the night, Ol Donyo Wuas, we set off for the next stage, the Chyulu Hills. The feeling of towering over these magnificent emerald hills was unreal, and it allowed for some more adventurous flying where we came pretty close to grazing the roof of the canopy below. We sunk down into a small clearing amid the thick forest and followed our guide, Kanni, on foot, encircled by ominous-looking trees and creepy noises.

Kanni’s ancient rifle was little reassurance, but our very own Turkish survival-expert and walking-pharmacy, Felix, provided good cover. After re-boarding the choppers we stopped off for a cool sun-downer (a drink while watching the sunset) and some interesting stories from our bush-specialist Michael.

In the failing light the jet blue choppers cut solitary figures amidst the magical African landscape, but somehow, as we sat there on the ridge, it worked, it felt just right. Our shadows sailed harmoniously along the now yellow-glowing hills as we returned.

The expedition is off to a very promising start.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On top of Kili

19000 feet above sealevel, minus 3 degress centigrade, this is not Africa, is it?

The team is finally complete

Breakfast at Giraffe Manor

After a short but good sleep we are gathering at the breakfast table with some Giraffe friends.
Alex has finally landed in Nairobi and we will meet him in about 30 minutes.  His first words after coming off the Airplane were:  Can you guys please bring me a bacon sandwich !

We will! And update you later!

Need some sleep..

Take off is only six hours away.  But i had to finish a lot of work for my latest book on South Africa before going on this amazing Safari....  mp fbok

Monday, March 15, 2010

Late night visit....

Just before midnight this beautiful young giraffe lady showed up at our doorsteps. What a beautiful long neck!

MIck & Moritz

and with a long tongue

Moritz is here...

The next eagle has landed....

Felix & Mick have arrived

Alex held up by UK customs

We just got news that Alex is still sitting in London and missed his British Airways flight to Nairobi.  We keen to find out the details. Speculations run high. Did he forget his passport ??? Anyway, it looks like he will be on the night flight with Kenyan Airways and hopefully will arrive at 0630am in the morning. We will keep you updated.
In the meantime, Mick, Felix and myself had a wonderful candlelight (no women present) in the old Dining room of the Giraffe Manor. It felt like in the nineteen thirties.  A really great start for our trip with excellent food and great claret. We expect Moritz anytime now, the Eagle has landed....

While we are waiting we continue to have a great story telling evening at the fireplace.

We cant wait for the Giraffe to wake us up in the morning by sticking up their heads into the window....

Settling in at Giraffe Manor

I am the first to check into the Giraffe Manor Guesthouse in Karen, Nairobi.
Mick, Alex, Moritz & Felix will arrive this evening from Zurich & London.

Its a wonderful small guesthouse in Karen and has a few resident Giraffe that live 
on the property and interact with the guest sometimes.
I am all excited about our upcoming trip and cant wait for it to finally start tomorrow.
In about 1 hour i am meeting with Ben & Jamie, the two Helicopter pilots 
that will fly our B3 Squirrels.
MP fbok

Takeoff Tuesday 0830am

18 hrs to go. Tomorrow morning at 0830am we will take off for our KENYOPIA Expedition !

ACE Expedition Map

This is our planned route thru Kenya & Ethiopia !

Update from JAVA Cafe, Junction Shopping Center

Hello everyone, we are sitting here in the CAfe and are testing our new features !


Check out this video about an expedition i took 4 years ago !

Fog in Nairobi
Sent from my 3G iPhone

Friday, March 12, 2010

Three days to go !

While I am already close to the African continent, Mick, Alex, Moritz and Felix are still in Europe getting ready to depart for Nairobi on Monday morning. We will all gather at the Giraffe Manor Guesthouse in Nairobi !