With pristine reefs and dive resorts stretching from Barra Point in the north to Paindane in the south, the stretch of coast near the Mozambique city of Inhambane offers some of the best diving on the planet. Its friendly people, long empty beaches, range of activities and accommodation to suit all budgets combine to make it one of southern Africa’s most popular dive destinations. Fiona McIntosh, author of Dive Sites of South Africa & Mozambique, lists five reasons you should add diving the Manta Coast to your bucket list.To see manta rays Named, you guessed it, because of the high chance of seeing manta rays, the Manta Coast is one of the few areas in the world where both species – the resident reef manta (Manta alfredi) and the giant manta (Manta biostris) – can be seen on the same reef on the same dive. Top sites for manta spotting are Manta Reef and The Office. I’ll never forget my first dive on Manta Reef. The briefing had been thorough, but when the first manta swooped overhe..
If you’re interested in investing in conservation in Africa, Pete Anderson may be the man to turn to… Pete Anderson was born into tourism. Literally. Growing up on one of the earliest wildlife tourism lodges – Sohebele – in the Timbavati Game Reserve, on the border of Kruger National Park in South Africa, he started his working life as a guide at Londolozi, a private game reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park. By this time “my sights were set on a career in conservation,” Pete says. But it would be a few years before this dream came to fruition. Aged just 20, Pete and his best friend and business partner, David Dunkley, started an overland safari business. Their 16-day safaris would take in the Victoria Falls, where the statue of Dr David Livingstone would, Pete says, “always inspire us”. It was memories of this that led him to name a new enterprise after the renowned missionary and explorer, when in 1986, together with David, he founded Livingstone’s Supply Co, which pro..
Christopher Koski speaks of his perilous trail to witness the endangered mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park and his overnight trek to the active volcano Mount Nyiragongo The Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, evokes images of remote tribesmen living among the dense jungles that encapsulate the country. It is a nation blessed with immense natural resources: diamond, gold, copper, uranium, cobalt and oil, with an estimated value of US$24 trillion. Yet somehow it remains staggeringly impoverished and stuck in a state of constant chaos and destitution. Earlier this year, I sat on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, watching the sun set across its waters and behind the dark mountains of the DRC. It seemed so mysterious, similar to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: dangerous and unknown, beckoning an adventurer to take to its shores. Just across the Rwanda border is the town of Goma. The first thing I noticed was the unmistakable mark of the United Nations; their identical white vehicles a..
London-based Mike Custance has undertaken five placements for VSO. He recounts his experience of working as a volunteer in Lagos The waiter said our restaurant bill had already been paid. When I looked surprised, he added that the gentleman at the next table had paid for us. The stranger had not spoken with us, but perhaps had overheard our conversation, with me waxing lyrical about Nigeria. I quickly thanked him for his kindness and he shortly left. One day, I got off my bus from work and almost ran into a young man sharply dressed in a purple striped suit, with matching shoes and hat. Without thinking, I shook his hand and congratulated him on his appearance. A smile, a laugh… and then we both went our way. On another occasion, returning by taxi from the airport, the driver tried to charge me more than the fare we had agreed. As we argued, the young girl from the bar I frequented came across the road and asked if the landlady could have the empty bottles back. I was singled out as..
Walking safaris are what Zambia does best. They offer what is, to many, the ultimate safari experience: meeting a lion on foot. But what happens if that lion doesn’t show up? Mike Unwin recalls one of his all-time favourite safaris, where he learnt there is more to meet in the bush than just big game. Lion! A big male, too, explains my guide, Levy Farao*. We squat down for a closer look at that unmistakable signature: four round toes in front of the pad; twin indentations at the back. The single paw print has all the chilling authority of gangland graffiti. Clearly we are intruding on someone else’s patch. And not just anybody’s: this is Mr Big. Levy has little doubt that this is the lion we heard roaring during the night. Just three hours ago, at 4am, the explosive snorts of panicking impala jerked me awake. I sat transfixed in the darkness – like a child counting seconds between lightning and thunder – as the big cat’s moans reverberated through the insect throb of the Zambezi nigh..
Image by Jim BrownRose Gamble relays her experience of walking in the remote Gonarezhou National Park, one of southern Africa’s great untramelled reserves It was our first dusk. We’d parked by an enormous baobab tree, decanted G&Ts into glasses and walked 200m through the dimming bush. Somewhere in the shadow of the reddening cliffs, a lone jackal called. We headed towards the empty riverbed, intent on watching the sun set from its gentle, sandy depths. As we left the last of the trees, a huge bull elephant lumbered up the bank, only metres away. For a moment, as time stood still, I noticed nothing but its sheer size, silhouetted against the orange sky. “Move behind,” whispered our guide, Scott Slatter, calmly. And together we reversed, as quietly as we could, back among the trees. Then he said, “Follow me.” And so I did, adrenaline unfurling its fiery fingers in my stomach. I felt tiny, fragile and, with a G&T in one hand, faintly ridiculous. We walked diagonally, slipping silentl..
Andrew St Pierre White tells us why Namibia is such a brilliant place for a road trip, regardless of your past experience — and how you can make the most of it It’s Etosha National Park in December. A summer storm darkens the sky and against the blinding-white pan, billowing nimbus clouds are building. Springbok and zebra walk away, with purpose, into the mopane scrub. And then the rains begin, with splashes the size of dinner plates. There is an intoxicating odour of grass, wild sage and shrubs. With each sense enlivened, you absorb every part of this unforgettable spectacle, one of the richest experiences in Africa. Rather than being rushed back to the lodge for tea, you stop and stare at the marvel before you — for it is experiences such as these that, in my opinion, make self-drive in a 4WD the best way to explore Namibia. You are driving your rental Land Cruiser between Kamanjab and Opuwo in Damaraland. The gravel road is smooth and gently curves around the acacia woodlands. You..
Gregory Hutton travels to northern Ghana to discover the nutritious qualities of the baobab fruit and the transformative effect a sustainable supply chain is having on local rural communities Towards the end of my 12-hour overnight bus journey towards Ghana’s Upper East Region, I began to notice the giant baobab trees. They were the only things growing on the parched savannah — turned black against a yellow sky by the hot, blinding Harmattan, a dry and dusty north-easterly wind that blows in from the Sahara causing impressive sandstorms. I have come to see what this distinctive tree means for those who live here. Its thick trunk and web of twisted branches produce a fruit that, when powdered, is one of the most nourishing on Earth, packed with antioxidants and anti-ageing micronutrients. Despite these qualities, this fruit has traditionally generated very little income. Without any strategic collective system, women could only take it to local markets and sell it for mere pennies. We..
The delectable food on this archipelago is in itself a draw. Anna Vujicic reveals what to expect on your plate in this Indian Ocean idyll Much like the diverse culture, Seychellois cuisine is a mishmash of African, Asian and French influences. The dishes are based around fresh seafood and meat, infused with herbs and curried spices, and packed with flavour. The most popular food in the Seychelles includes lobster, octopus, shellfish (particularly tec tec) and beef — with fruit bat, controversially, featuring in many restaurant menus. The islands also grow a variety of tropical fruits, including papaya, mango, jackfruit and coconut — a key ingredient in many curries, soups and desserts. Best bites Kari koko zourit Diced octopus in a creamy coconut curry. Caris masala Indian-influenced spiced curry served with meat, fish or vegetables. Cooked breadfruit A local staple to be enjoyed as a snack or alongside any meal. Coconut mousse Creamy pudding made with coconut milk. A recipe for su..
The Timbuktu School for Nomads: Across the Sahara in the Shadow of Jihad, by Nicholas Jubber ‘Timbuktu’ is used in the English language to describe an inaccessible, distant land — so much so that it is often deemed a myth. Yet this mysterious land is very much real, with a fraught history to prove it. Once the heart of African civilisation, this North African city is now a remote land haunted by terrorist occupation. It is said that its inhabitants hail visitors with the greeting, ‘Welcome to the middle of nowhere.’ Writer and traveller Nicholas Jubber set out on an adventure through the Atlas Mountains, the “teeth-janglingly dangerous” Sahara and up the Niger River. He aimed to follow in the footsteps of 16th-century explorer Leo Africanus but found himself following in the trail of the nomadic people. The book is written with energy and humour, while presenting the strong resilience that the nomads have maintained despite being under constant threat. From goat-milking to saddling ..