Out of Africa


lik-setting-sun.jpg As the bus sputtered into Nairobi in the early hours of Monday evening while our last glorious African sunset was fading from view, it seemed we had conquered our 3000+ km of African soil just in time to make it for our return flight to Paris.

After seven-and-a-bit weeks, it was now time to swap from our beloved Swahili time (a very flexible form of measuring the hours and one that I found an uncanny attraction to!) and return to the precision of GMT. As we had been told on our travels – “In Europe, they have the clock. In Africa, they have the time.” Now, after many, many hours of waiting for our various forms of transport to get moving, we had certainly gotten used to the languid, and rather elastic quality of African time.

“Pole, pole” became a frequent refrain. Swahili for “slowly, slowly” it emerged as the mantra for the trip, as everything happened (whether you liked it or not) at a very leisurely pace. A bus trip in Mozambique, meant to leave at 11am and take 2-and-a-half hours, would perhaps leave at 2pm and take 5! If you didn’t remind yourself – “slowly, slowly” – especially as the overcrowded chappas would do yet another lap around the town trawling for yet more customers to squeeze onto the already, ambitiously-overloaded structure, you may just go a little crazy.

Despite the slow pace, we certainly managed to carve up just a little bit of southern and eastern Africa during our all-too-brief stay – soaking up the music, attempting (unsuccesfully!) to improve our dancing skills, eating our fill of beans and maize (the apparent national dish of each of the five countries we visited), and savouring more spectacular sunrises and sunsets than we had probably seen in the rest of our lives put together.

We commenced our journey in Johannesburg and then swiftly headed east to do some big-cat spotting in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. After managing to espy four of the five of the famous “Big Five” (the leopards proving far too elusive), we then made our way to Mozambique for a spot of diving and on a quest to luxuriate in what we had heard described as the “gin clear waters” of the Bazaruto Archipelago. (Christophe, I think, had been reading too many tourist brochures and was most disappointed when we first hit the Mozambican coast, only to find that the water was blue – Outrageous! Thankfully, we did manage to find that gin clear water before the trip was out, and he could float around indulgently as if in a bottle of “Bombay Sapphire” to his heart’s content. All we were missing really was a swizzle stick and a slice of lemon, for the gin-clear experience to be complete…)

Anyway after frolicking with the turtles and hiding from the sharks in Mozambican waters, we trundled further north to the Ile de Mocambique – a beautiful, yet neglected city that was the former capital of the country during the days of the Portugese rule. The faded glory of the old capital stood in stark contrast to its very lively (and very friendly) inhabitants, and we spent three days here just soaking up the atmosphere, indulging in local seafood, playing football with the kids, and enjoying the hospitality of the locals.

Afterwards, we took a sharp left hand turn and made our way cross-country and into Malawi. Here we spent about 10 days (most of which on a blissful island on Lake Malawi), where we were constantly being disarmed by the incredible, out-of-the-way friendliness of the locals. Then onwards to Tanzania, for our assault on the Serengeti and the mountains of the north. Unfortunately, the majestic Kilimanjaro eluded us this time (not only did we not get to climb it as we ran out of time – “pole, pole”… but we never even managed to see it as during the entirety of our stay the mountain was enshrouded in cloud.)

Despite this, we managed to finish with a flourish – savouring the beautiful, classic landscapes of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, as well as rounding out our collection of the Big 5 with a final spotting of a leopard (not to mention, plenty of lions and some cheeky cheetahs as well).

Now, we have returned to France for some time – to catch up with family and friends, and for a bit of fine wining and dining (including some steak to make the Masai proud..!), and already thinking of all the places in Africa that we’d like to explore the next time… (and of course, we still need to learn to dance…!)

4 Responses to “Out of Africa”

  1. 1 Andrew Posted June 29th, 2008 - 18:34


    Wow!!!!!!!! It all sound so awesome, crazy, unreal and just plain nuts, now that i mention it, it sounds like a very Kate holiday. If the photos and your running commentary are anything to go by it seems all you fan club should back there bag and meet up with you.

    Hope you keep enjoying yourselves and can’t wait for the next installment of kate&chris take a trip.


  2. 2 kate Posted June 30th, 2008 - 0:35

    hey matey… how are you?!
    i should have dropped you a line while we were in mozambique so you could have helped me brush up on my portugese – unfortunately, the only words that i could remember you teaching me, were probably the sort that could only get me in a lot of trouble overseas…

    …now i have managed to extend my extensive vocabulary to include “lulas” and “obrigado” – very handy!

    anyway, hope the beach and the big-O is treating you well…

    cheerio for now
    kate xx

  3. 3 Andrew Posted July 1st, 2008 - 17:24

    lulas, im impressed. just don’t try to translate tenticles.

    i know your on “france time” so the beach might sound great, but its freezing here, so that beach and big-o comment really not imprising many plesent thoughts. anyway, theres always the rest of the week to think about and catching up with saki is always fun (you know to married guys talking about the good old days).

    Hope your exhibition goes well, all those photos are amazing. By the way whose taking them???? no-matter who it is they should give up there day job because they are great.

    ok. gotta go go.



  4. 4 richard Posted August 9th, 2008 - 9:35

    Hey guys, please just drop me a line on richardlebreton@hotmail.com so I’ll know how to get in touch with you in case I am in South-America early october. Chile would be nice…

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