Saturday, May 24, 2014

New Kiko

Kikos last moments were undignified and all hands available battled to save her. It was a mighty storm that took her, 2m waves broke 150 metres from shore and there was nowhere to hide. Our rugged faithful friend soon become another piece of beach furniture. We grieved her loss and will remember her services for years to come.

A replacement for Kiko was commissioned to be built soon after shutting and leaving the camp in March. Boat builders in Ujiji have been building the camps boats since the very beginning.
These Africanised versions of a traditional sailing dhow have crossed the oceans for possibly 3000 years. Some theories suggest they came originally from China, then India, Arabia and more recently Africa.
 We have decided to put one of the beautiful, graceful lateen sails on our new boat for added romance and peace while enjoying your afternoon drinks and pulling fish from the lake.

A break on Mafia island gave Kerrie and I a good opportunity to sail and learn more about these excellent boats.
Kerrie checks comfort levels aboard our Mafian dhow
Learning the ropes
We are adapting some of the coastal design to our new build. Mainly the upper deck for lounging, sunbathing or diving from into the pristine waters of lake Tanganyika.

After milling of the planks, the whole boat is built using only hand
tools. An incredible and very traditional craft.

The new boat is just a few weeks away from completion and
looking mighty fine

A team of  skilled and resourceful locals install the upper
deck members

I was sent to Ujiji this week to inspect progress
and discuss some of the important details that will help our new Kiko sail well. Much time
was spent looking at keel design, rudder positioning and rigging. Photos on my laptop from the coastal boats intrigued our lakeside Fundis (craftsmen).


We are very excited to see the progress that has been made. Our guests are sure to enjoy time aboard a very historical and elegant vessel when we take delivery of her in just a few weeks.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Porridgy goodness in Katumbi

Nearly 80 nursery school children in local  Katumbi village here on the eastern shore of lake Tanganyika will grow strong and be able to concentrate better in class thanks to the very generous donation of $1000 from Nigel Palmer of Stearn Electric.
 The money is now providing a meal a day of Uji for these lucky children. Uji is a local form of porridge made from maize meal, sugar and water. $1000 will provide the children with this meal for a whole year!
Kerrie just returned from the school this morning having visited the kids and asking them how much they enjoyed this supplement to their day. Check the pictures to see how happy they are to be receiving this regular meal.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One a minute...

Malaria continues to take many lives prematurely here in Africa and at present one person (mainly children) dies every minute across the continent. It is completely avoidable and thankfully compared with year 2000 numbers have halved.

While Linda and Gary Nishioka were staying with us here in Greystoke a few weeks ago they decided thoughtfully to donate $50 towards some Malaria medication. This money has bought 12 packets of Coartem potentially saving just as many lives here in the local community around Katumbi village.

 Nurse Elizabeth at Katumbi clinic is extremely grateful for this and any help our guests can provide. She is overwhelmed by the generosity of outsiders to the area here just north of the Mahale mountains on Lake Tanganyika.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Flight of the "Big Bird"

It was nearly 4 months ago now that Big Bird swam in from Lake Tanganyika and promptly waddled up our beach here to the astonishment of lunching guests.
There had been a big storm that day and he may have been sucked up into a large cumulonimbus storm cell and relocated on the lake. The nearest flock of  Great White pelicans is considered to be in Katavi national park around 150kms away as the crow flies.
 He was young but already large, maybe 3 months old then. He couldn't fish without his flock. This species doesn't dive for fish, instead they corral the fish co-operating with each other and then scoop the cornered prey into their large stretchy pouches below the bill. So we have been given permission from Tanapa, the park authority to feed him.
 We only recently worked out that he is a male due to the size and shape of his bill and the colour of his facial mask (pink). He was all brown when he arrived but the colours are really coming through now and his pouch, legs and face are changing to bright yellow and pink, the colour of the mature birds. The male is also larger and can grow to 12 or 15 kgs and have a wingspan of around 3.6m. Only the Wandering Albatross has a greater wingspan of around 3.8m. So this Great White boy of ours is amongst the largest flying birds on the planet, up there with the Marabou Stork and Andean Condor.
 He didn't fly for some weeks but with encouragement he got the idea. We aren't sure how much flying he may have already done before arriving here but he was pretty shaky in his next attempts on the beach. We would run up and down flapping our arms and simulating flight for him. He would look on curiously until one day he showed us how it was done! It was short and uncontrolled and we would look away when he was landing as he seemed to not distinguish between ground and air speed coming in way too fast and endangering our beach furniture.

The link below demonstrates some of his more advanced flying prowess. We are so proud of him and he is such a clever bird. He can FLY!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kayak fishing fun

If your legs are tired after chimp trekking and you want to use your arms instead we suggest time spent on the lake in one of our very bouyant and stable kayaks targeting the quite large Tanganyika Perch!

You'll know when you've hooked one as the line will soon be exiting your reel at an incredible rate. Make sure you have a couple of hundred metres available and remember to tie a good knot at the end!

These Forktails can grow to 11 or 12 kgs and around a metre in length. They hit the lures like a freight train swimming hard and then jumping to throw the hook.

Bringing one ashore is satisfying indeed. Our chefs await eagerly your return to clean and prepare the trophy catch for the dinner table that evening.
It's just one of many awesome experiences our guests can enjoy while staying between the lake and mountains.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Laptops on the lake shore

A very generous donation of 9 laptop computers made its way to Katumbi primary school yesterday here in remote western Tanzania midway down on lake Tanganyika. The computers were kindly and thoughtfully provided by Chris Martin of Newbury Investments, UK.
 Katumbi school have been preparing a new classroom which will become a computer studies room. Probably no other west Tanzanian primary school could boast such a thing! The lucky children will learn vital skills which will give them a much better chance in life if they decide to move away from their families fishing and subsistence farming lifestyles one day.

The Nomad Trust are heavily involved in projects in our local village. If you would like to help here is a useful link to get involved

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Outside of M group

The Tanzanian parks authority plans to start habituating Y-group who's territory is just north of the already habituated M-group. Y has about 40 members and does already share some of M's females who migrated there which may make the process easier. No bribes of food will be offered so it will be a case of living and spending a lot of time as close as possible to relax them in the presence of humans. It should take around 2 years.
 N-group to our south have been seen these last days by our boat-cruising guests close to the lakes edge. A nice bonus while out fishing and relaxing with a cold beverage.