Posts Tagged With: Africa

Namibia: The Search for the Eternal Flame

Children

As Marko and I plan our next 6 month adventure around the world,  I look back on an amazing and formative experience in my life.

In August of 2012,  I set off on an expedition with Ken Hames, a former Major in the British Special Forces and BBC TV presenter.  Our goal was to cross the Otjihipa Mountains in Northern Namibia, one the most remote regions in the world.  We wanted to find a sub-tribe of the Himba,  the Chimba.  The Chimba are some of Africa’s last hunter-gatherers and exist in almost complete isolation.

Our journey lasted three weeks and was fraught with danger and setbacks.  It took us 6 days off-road to arrive to the Otjihipa mountain range only to have our Land Rover break down 15km from our goal, the Kunene River.  From there we set off on foot and  battled the elements; searing heat during the day and frigid temperatures at night.  During this expedition I learned the importance of team-work, determination, and the immense power we all have, the power of the mind.

For those who say there is nothing left to explore in our world… I most certainly disagree.

-Vagabrother Alex

Thank you Mark Tattersall of Ainsworth & Parkinson Ltd. for the edit.

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Our #MyBBB Bucket List: Cape Verde

As we prepare to go to London to compete against 9 other finalists for MyDestination’s Biggest, Baddest Bucketlist competition, we’re blogging about the places we’d love to include on our bucket list. We’ll spend this month in constant count-down, researching MyDestination.com’s 65 featured destinations and highlighting one per day. In no particular order, today’s post is on Cape Verde.

Andreas Urban

Andreas Urban

Whenever we travel, we set our sights on the cultures that fascinate us – the ones that draw us in on an emotional level but offer enough outdoor opportunities to balance our curiosity with activity. Cape Verde fits the bill perfectly.

Floating way off the Atlantic coast of Africa, the 10 islands that make up Cape Verde weren’t on our map until we found them through MyDestination.com. But after reading up on it’s rich mélange of Afro-Euro-American cultures, verdant landscapes and the beckoning blue waters of the Atlantic, we couldn’t help put put it at the top of our Bucketlist.

Banana Ladies

Santa Maria, Sal

Cape Verde has a vibrant culture emerging from a turbulent past. Until three decades ago, it was a colony of Portugual, where it originally served as an important center in the slave trade. Today it’s confidently stepping forward and proudly showing the world its two most exceptional exports – music that is uniquely Cape Verdean and the charm of island itself.

It was the music that initially drew us in. Check out Cesária Énora for a classic intro to Cape Verde’s mornas which blend the longing of Portuguese fado music with mellow island rhythms. More recently, a younger generation has taken the islands’ music in new directions, embracing the their mixed heritage and celebrating through festivals such as the “Kriol Jazz” fest and traditional parties like Carnival (see article from The Economist for more).  Thanks to our friends at JamAndAHalf.com for putting together the following playlist!

With these tunes in our heads, we imagine whistling our way through Praia, the capital city of Santiago. The Portuguese old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site while the island remains the most African of the isles. Santiago contains enough sites, events, and beaches to make it the perfect starting point for exploring the other nine islands.

Santa Maria Pier

There is no shortage of islands to explore from here. We’d make trips to the gorgeous San Antao, volcanic Fogo, jam to local music in Sao Vincente, or rent quad bikes to explore the deserted island of Boa Vista. Ten islands, an infinite number of ways to relax.

It would be just as easy to spend all our time in the water – from deep sea diving, to surfing, windsurfing, big game fishing or night-diving with Loggerhead turtle. We’d be so busy we’d barely have time to come up for air!

With so many fun activities, it would make us wonder how to give something back to the island. Luckily, there’s an organization called Turtle SOS that lets you do just that. We’d wrap up our time with one of their guided turtle watching tours, which help raise money for the preservation of the indigenous turtles in danger of extinction.

Seven days would hardly be enough for all ten islands, but we’re sure there would be enough to keep us busy, satiate our curiosity and make a nice, relaxing break in the midst of a six month trip.

Comments? Advice? Disagreements? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.  

Santa Maria Beach

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NAMIBIA: Into the Wild

Here is the teaser of the documentary that I filmed with SAS Major/ British TV Presenter/ Expedition Leader Ken Hames this August in Namibia.  I hope you all enjoy because there is plenty more on the way. Click on the link below the photo.Image

http://www.thinkap.com/aptv/index.20120928.php

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Photos from Namibia

Hello Vagafollowers!

Well after an amazing 3 weeks in the remote Northern frontier of Namibia, I returned home with all my limbs intact and some amazing experiences, absolutely unforgettable.  While the footage is being edited professionally in the UK,  I can give you all a brief view into the wilds of Africa with some pictures I took.  I hope you enjoy and remember to stay tuned to Vagabrothers, we got a lot of great content coming soon.

Cheers

Vagabrother Alex

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A search for the Himba of Northern Namibia

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So it’s finally here… the biggest adventure of my life.  For the next 3 weeks I will be in Namibia, South West Africa, so far out of the “comfort zone” that its hard to explain.  No showers, MRE’s to eat, scarce water, extreme heat, and all the animals of your favorite Nat Geo program…all around me.  Here is the basic explanation of the biggest undertaking of my young life.  With British Television Host retired SAS Major Ken Hames,  I am about to go “into the heart of darkness” and push my limits to the extreme.  Wish me luck!

In the north of Namibia close to the Kunene River and the Angolan border lay the Baynes and Otjihipa mountains home to the last true hunter gatherers on earth, a tribe cut off from civilisation dependent on the legacy of their ancestors to survive.  Here water and fire are king and the air is full of the sounds of stone-age tools working the earth where time is governed by the sun and the hunt for food. The Holy fire in the middle of any settlement is a marker of communal respect for the ancestors who came before, who told the stories and evolved the customs. The eternal flame never goes out 24 hours a day and all circumnavigate this point in respect of its meaning and significance.

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For millennia the Himba have lived in the highlands of Angola and Namibia enclosed by the vastness of the Kalahari to the east and the remoteness of the skeleton coast to the west.  There are no roads and no communications and life is punctuated by dawn and dusk and the dancing and singing in the moonlight.  No expedition has succeeded in crossing the range deterred by cliffs and the promise of a dark continent.  In the North the land cascades over impossible cliffs to the Kunene River, cataracts of water so close but yet so far.

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In August of this year explorer Ken Hames, and American anthropologist Alex Ayling will attempt to make the first crossing and seek the source of the eternal flame.  Their journey is as complex and difficult as it gets.  Crumbling rock, no map and searing heat await them and the promise of no rain and a search for water that could drive them mad.  All these men are experienced in the wild but there’s an air of respect when they talk about the complexities of the journey.  ‘There’s no mountain rescue and there’s definitely no support’ says Hames—we are on our own and must make the best of the resources we can carry’.  Predators aside there are other challenges to ponder –a twisted ankle, a snake bite, getting lost could also spell death as our travellers go into a lost world, a labyrinth of unknown peaks and valleys.

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Hames and Ayling go to find the lost tribe of the Baynes and Otjihipa mountains and seek eternal flame for themselves. It is a pilgrimage to the centre of one of the great tribal civilisations looking for evidence of tradition and community unmatched in the modern western world.

The trip will probably take about 3 weeks but it is super intense requiring a drive and determination that extracts value from every minute run.  Action and drama are around every corner and of course the anxiety levels will be high as our team go beyond the point of no return.  Carrying at least 70 lb packs the terrain will take its toll very quickly.

This is first and one of the last remaining obstacles to be conquered on earth. It is unique and deserves its place in the history and record books.

Categories: Words. | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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