Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

vendredi, avril 20, 2007

Looking for Giraffes (April 12, 2007)

About 60 km east of Niamey, the last remaining giraffe herd of West Africa lives in the area around Kouré, Niger. Given the fun time watching elephants in Ghana, Patrick and I decided to spend the day looking for giraffes.

Unfortunately, transport issues landed us and our mandatory guide on the side of a desolate stretch of road a little past Kouré around 11:00 am. We would now have to begin walking 5 or more kilometers out into the hot, sandy area with no shade and an intense sun in the hopes of finding giraffes.

The hike and gallons of sweat were worth it when a pair of giraffes was spotted under an acacia tree in the distance. Mouths elevated by their long, graceful necks munched on the leaves of the acacia tree that they could reach through the pointy thorns with their long and apparently blue tongue.

The giraffes are known to be curious and watched us as we approached. Elephants are massive but the giraffes seemed elegant roaming through the acacias. Given the midday sun, the giraffes were not moving much but I was fascinated to watch a pair glide past the tops of the trees. Soon, the guide pointed to a second pair that allowed us to get quite close. We ended the tour by watching a pair of adolescent giraffes hanging out under a tree.

Just as we were finishing viewing these beautiful animals, a truck with several Swiss over-landers pulled up to our small shade tree. They agreed to give us a ride back out of the bush so I spent the return sitting on the roof of their truck, enjoying the views of a landscape different that ones I have visited so far.