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Most Dangerous Volcanoes in Africa

Most Dangerous Volcanoes in Africa  

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Most Dangerous Volcanoes in Africa Ol Doinyo Lengai in Tanzania named as one of the Most Dangerous Volcanoes in Africa. Parts of Africa are highly volcanic, especially the East African Rift Zone. Ethiopia alone has 50 volcanoes that are still active. However, other countries like South Africa, Tanzania, Cameroon and DRC also have volcanoes.

So how dangerous or deadly are these African volcanoes? Below is the top 10 most dangerous volcanoes in Africa!

10) Dabbahu, Ethiopia

The Dabbahu Volcano is also known as Boina, Boyna, or Moina locally. It is an active volcano in the Afar region in Ethiopia and is part of the Rift Valley volcanic system. An eruption in 2005 created a fissure in the earth with a length of 60km.

Ash of the eruption reached villages up to 40km away. An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 hit three days after the eruption started. In total 11,000 people fled the area due to the eruption and earthquake.

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The eruption created a massive fissure in the earth – Image credit to Anthony Philpotts

9) Marion Island, Prince Edwards Islands, South Africa

Marion Island is the top of a 5000m high shield volcano (similar to Hawaii) that rises 1242m out of the Indian Ocean. The volcano is active and erupted in 1980 and 2004 and is the only active volcano in South Africa. The only inhabitants are a changing crew of approx. 50 scientists who can only escape by boat.

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The Marion Island shield volcano

8) Ol Doinyo Lengai, Tanzania

Ol Doinyo Lengai means “Mountain of God” in the Maasai language. An eruption in 2007 caused a number of earthquakes. The strongest of these had a magnitude of 6.0. Older eruptions caused ash fall as far away as Loliondo which is more than 100km away. The volcano remains highly active with eruptions in 2008, 2010 and 2013.

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Ol Doinyo Lengai erupting in March 2008 – Image credit to Cessna 206

7) Manda Hararo, Ethiopia

The Manda Hararo is a group of volcanoes that first erupted in 2007. There were no warning signs according to the local population. The violent eruption continued for three days while the local people fled the area. In 2009 the volcano erupted again and lava flows were seen up to 5km away from the Volcano. No casualties were reported.

The volcanic field around the two main volcanoes is considered the most active volcanic field in the world.

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The Manda Hararo volcano system – Image credit to Earthweek.com

6) Mount Cameroon

Mount Cameroon is the most active volcano in West Africa. Locally it is also known as Mongo ma Ndemi or Fako. It is one of the largest volcanoes in Africa with a height of 4040m. In 2000 lava flows caused by two eruptions came very close to the town of Buea. In 2012 there was a small eruption, but this time it mostly produced ash that posed no danger in the area. It did however injure two guides that were on the mountain at the time.

With around 500,000 people living or working on the flanks of the volcano a larger eruption would cause catastrophic damage.

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Mount Cameroon – Image credit to Savannawood.com

5) Nyamuragira, Democratic Republic of Congo

This is the most active volcano in Africa. It erupted roughly every two years for decades. However, it has been fairly quiet since 2011 when the last major eruption occurred. In 2014 the volcano became active again creating a lava lake in the caldera (crater) with a depth of 500m.

There are no villages close to the volcano fortunately. However, its lava flows could still be dangerous as the volcano lies only 25km north of Lake Kivu. A large lava flow into the lake could lead to lake overturning. Lake overturning is when a sudden change in the lake brings CO2 and other dangerous gasses to the surface. In 1986 this caused the death of around 1700 people at nearby Lake Nyos.

Lake Kivu is almost 2000 times larger and around 2 million people live around the lake. An event like that at Lake Nyos could have a devastating effect. The chance of this happening is luckily quite low as the CO2 concentrations in the lake are not as high as in Lake Nyos.

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Nyamuragira volcano eruption in 2014 – Image credit to MONUSCO Photos

4) Mount Fogo, Cape Verde

After a few days of increasing seismic activity the eruption of Pico de Fogo started on the 23rd of November, 2014. Local villagers spend the first night outside because of the strong earthquakes. Evacuations started once the eruption got underway. The eruption only stopped after a total of 77 days. By that time two villages were destroyed and over 1500 people had been evacuated. Fortunately there was no loss of life.

The entire island of Fogo is part of the volcano that has a diameter of 25km. A major eruption would give the 37,200 people living on the island little chance to escape.

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Mount Fogo – Image credit to Aldo Bien

3) Karthala, Comoros

Mount Karthala (or Karthola) is an active volcano with a height of 2361m above sea level. It is one of two volcanoes that form the Grande Comore Island. With more than 20 eruptions since the 19th century it is considered highly active and dangerous.

After a long quiet period the volcano blasted into action in April 2005. The large lava flows and deadly volcanic gases that were spewed out by the volcano caused the evacuation of 30,000 people. In 2006, 2007 and 2012 the volcano erupted again, but these were much smaller than in 2005.

With over 300,000 people living on the small island a large eruption would cause massive damage and loss of life.

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Mount Karthala is very active – Image credit to Afrotourism.com

2) Nabro, Ethiopia/ Eritrea

On June 12, 2011 the Nabro volcano erupted and spread its lava and ashes over hundreds of kilometers. The eruption caused a series of earthquakes with the strongest reaching a magnitude of 5.7. The ash plume reached a height of 15km and reached a size of 50km by several hundred km. The ash cloud severely disrupted air travel in the region.

Afar, a state in Ethiopia, felt the brunt of the impact. By the time the eruption ended at least 31 people had died and thousands had been evacuated.

The worst part is that this was the first eruption in recorded history. The volcano was considered extinct so very little research was done before 2011. This means that the danger of the volcano is not known.

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Image showing the massive size of the 2011 Nabro Volcano eruption – Image credit to Phil Plait

1) Mount Nyiragonga, Democratic Republic of Congo

Mount Nyiragonga is the most dangerous volcano in Africa. Since 1882 it has erupted at least 34 times and at times remained active for years. The lava from Nyiragonga is very fluid and lava flows can reach speeds of 100km/h when racing down the mountain.

In 1977 an eruption cracked the walls of the crater and the lava lake inside was released in just one hour. The lava reached speeds of up to 60km/h, destroying villages and killing at least 70 people.

In 2002 another massive eruption happened. A large fissure quickly spread from the volcano that reached the nearby city of Goma. Lava flows between 200 and 1000m wide with a depth of 2m streamed through Goma. 400,000 people were evacuated. A combination of noxious gasses, earthquakes and lava flows killed around 147 people. At least 4500 buildings were destroyed (about 15% of Goma) and around 120,000 people were left homeless.

Another danger of this volcano is that carbon dioxide seeps from the ground. When this can’t be spread by the wind (like in buildings) it can cause death by asphyxiation. This has happened to several children very recently.

The most dangerous part of this volcano is that Lake Kivu is very close. In 2002 lava flows reached the lake causing fears that the lake could see a similar event as that at Lake Nyos in 1986. Fortunately this did not happen, but scientists are still monitoring the situation.

The 1986 Lake Nyos disaster killed 1700 people. Lake Kivu is about 2000 times larger and over 2 million people live closeby. A ‘Lake Nyos event’ could cause damage on an unimaginable scale.

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Mount Nyiragonga lava lake – this is the most dangerous volcano in Africa – Image credit to Cai Tjeenk Willink

SUPERMOON Extraordinary Sight

SUPERMOON Extraordinary Sight
 
The supermoon will look especially big because it’s so close to Earth at the moment it reaches its fullest point. Share this sight with someone special, because we won’t see a supermoon this close until 2034.
 
About the Supermoon-From NASA
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supermoon

NASA/Bill Ingalls
 
The moon is a familiar sight in our sky, brightening dark nights and reminding us of space exploration, past and present. But the upcoming supermoon—on Monday, Nov. 14—will be especially ‘super’ since it’s the closest full moon to Earth since 1948. We won’t see another supermoon like this until 2034.
 
The moon’s orbit around the Earth is slightly elliptical, so sometimes the moon is closer and sometimes it’s farther away. When the moon is full as it makes its closest pass to Earth it is known as a supermoon. At perigree—the point at which the moon is closest to Earth—the moon can be as much as 14 percent closer to Earth than at apogee, when the moon is farthest from our planet. The full moon appears that much larger in diameter and 30 percent brighter.
 
The biggest and brightest moon for observers in the United States will be on Monday morning just before dawn.

Africa’s Last Warrior Tribe

Africa’s Last Warrior Tribe

Meet the Masai – Africa’s Last Warrior Tribe

 

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If you are planning a visit to Africa it is useful and practical to have a little knowledge about the local people you will be meeting.  A visit to Kenya and Tanzania means you will have the privilege of meeting the Masai (aka Maasai) people, who are the most famous and easily recognized indigenous tribe in these two countries.  Most people have heard of the Masai – their rich culture and particularly distinctive clothes make them stand out on the Continent, and they are known for their exceptional courage as warriors.

A Little History

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The Masai are one of the many tribes (125 altogether!) found in Southern Kenya and the Northern part of Tanzania. They are thought to have originated in the Sudan, and their own oral history relates how they migrated through the Nile River into Kenya and then Tanzania, around the 15th century, either forcibly displacing the previous inhabitants and raiding their cattle, or assimilating some of them into their own culture.  

The Masai have always been a pastoral people – they practice cattle rearing and are always on the move to newer greener pastures.   The size of their territory was at its largest in the 19th century, however a huge percentage of the tribe was wiped out in the 1890’s by the effects of three cataclysmic events – a Smallpox epidemic ravaged the people, a Rinderpest epidemic killed over 90% of their herds and the final blow came when the rains failed completely for more than two years, resulting in thousands of deaths from starvation.

Unfortunately, this was not the end of their problems!  The recovering tribe were faced with more hardship in the decades to come – two treaties in 1904 and 1911 saw them forced to give up over 60% of their land to the British to make room for settler ranches.  Later, in the 1940’s, even more land was confiscated by the Kenyan government to create the many Wildlife Reserves and National Parks that Kenya and Tanzania are famous for today.

Amboseli, Nairobi, the Masai Mara Reserve, Samburu, Lake Nakuru and Tsavo National Parks in Kenya and Manyara, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks in Tanzania all stand on land that was once Masai territory.

The Masai Today

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Despite the influences of education and western culture, the Masai people have largely resisted change and most of them remain nomadic pastoralists, albeit in a greatly reduced area.  They principally live along the borders of the aforementioned National Parks in the Kajiado and Narok districts and in several areas their territory overlaps the National Parks and they still graze their cattle inside the protected areas – in some instances this has led to episodes of human/wildlife conflict when cattle are attacked by Lion and other predators.

Many members of the tribe have been absorbed into the Safari industry (“Safari” is a Swahili word meaning journey) where they showcase their extensive knowledge and impress the tourists with their remarkable talents as wilderness guides.

The tourism industry creates many employment opportunities and has been directly or indirectly responsible for several co-operative schemes which have benefited the local communities and helped provide schooling for the children.  In addition, there are educational programs aimed at educating the tribes about the importance of conservation of natural resources and all wildlife, including Lions, which were often hunted and killed in retaliation for cattle losses, or to demonstrate a young Warrior’s courage.

The Masai Culture – Who Does What

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The Masai are probably the last of the world’s great warrior cultures and the bravery of the Masai warriors is still a source of pride to the tribe.  Young boys are given the responsibility of herding and guarding the cattle from a very young age, while the girls learn to clean and milk the cows.  Rites of Passage are very important and all young boys learn about the responsibilities they will require as men.  

Eunoto is an elaborate ceremony when boys and girls come of age and graduate to be warriors and wives.  Young warriors must face painful circumcision without flinching if they wish to emerge as full-blown warriors with the respect of their elders and tribe.

Girls still have very few choices and no voice – no place here for Woman’s Lib!   They will be married off by their elders into traditionally polygamous marriages and are responsible for all household chores including the building of their temporary houses, using mud, grass, wood and cow dung as well as cooking, beading and child care.  The warriors, of course, build fences and bomas to protect the cattle and fearlessly defend them from attack by wild animals.

Dress and Ornamentation

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Most Masai people dress in the well-known red “shuka”- a sheet of red fabric which is wrapped around the body and adorned by elaborate beadwork around the neck, arms and ears.  Both sexes dress alike and both sexes practice ear piercing and stretching of the earlobes – greatly stretched earlobes are regarded as very beautiful.  Masai beadwork is very intricate and beautiful and is a very sought-after souvenir for many tourists.

Cattle in the Masai Culture

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The importance of cattle to the Masai cannot be over-emphasized and borders on a sacred relationship, where they believe that they have a God-given role as the custodians of all cattle.  They measure their wealth by the number of cattle they own and the number of children they have produced – you need to have many of each to be considered wealthy!  

Cattle and other livestock (they also raise some sheep and goats) provide almost all their food, in the form of meat, milk and even blood, while the skins and hides are used for bedding and the dung is used as a type of plaster to water-proof their houses.  If you have no cattle you have no food, no shelter and no standing, which is why the warriors are so fiercely protective of their herds.  One of the most common Masai greetings translates as “I hope your cattle are well”!

Song and Dance

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A distinctive feature of Masai music is the lack of instruments and the amazing harmony of their vocals.  Most songs consist of a responsive pattern, where the women sing one part and the men respond with the second part, while the only musical accompaniment to the singing is the jingling sound of all the beads worn by both the singers and the dancers.   Head and neck movements are an important part of singing and form a kind of rhythmical “bobbing”.

Although the Masai jumping dances “adumu” are the most popularly performed, there are also other types of very structured dances for various special occasions.  In the jumping dances the men all stand in a circle and each has a chance to jump as high as he can while the others encourage him in song – as the voices get higher the jumping increases – this is a sight you should not miss!

The Importance of Respectful Greetings

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African culture is composed of many myths, legends and taboos that have been passed down from one generation to the next – having at least an inkling of how to interact in a respectful and dignified manner is just good manners, and will go a long way towards establishing a good relationship with your hosts.

As the adage goes, when in Rome, do like the Romans!   Many practices that most visitors take for granted back home could be regarded as the height of bad manners in Africa…for instance, you should never just walk up to a local and ask for directions or a service without at least a few sentences in greeting and general “small talk”.  Knowing when and with whom you should shake hands is also important (see below) and memorizing a few phrases of greeting and thanks in the local language will win you a large measure of respect.

Handshaking is a very popular form of greeting, practiced by just about everyone. As a sign of respect, most Masai shake hands with their right hand while holding their right elbow with the left hand. Sometimes the right hand is covered by the left hand in a form of double handshake, but you need not worry about getting it right – a normal one-handed shake will do the job!  

You should never try to shake hands with your left hand if your right hand is otherwise occupied – this is considered very rude – rather do not shake at all!  Men should not attempt to shake hands with female Masai, unless the lady makes the first move; usually she will just nod in greeting.  If a young Masai child leans their head towards you while greeting then you should tap them lightly on the head – this is considered the polite greeting for children.

Experiencing Masai Culture at First Hand

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One of the very best ways to experience some of the mystery and legend that is interwoven into the Masai culture is to go on a Walking Safari with one of the excellent Masai guides, who will be only too happy to share his extensive knowledge of his country with you.  

You can also arrange to visit real Masai homes on a Cultural Excursion and be entertained with a traditional song and dance show.  Cultural visits are offered by most of the Camps and Lodges in the National Parks.

By Bridget Halberstadt

How to locate a lost travelling companion

How to locate a lost travelling companion

If you find yourself alone in a foreign country or a strange place instead of surrounded by the friends and family you set off with, don’t panic – these tips will have you reunited in no time

When you’re on holiday, getting lost is half the fun. Wandering around a strange city and stumbling upon a picturesque little street or charming courtyard is the kind of thing that tempts us out of our cosy homes in the first place.

But if you’re part of a group, and especially if you’re part of a smallish group, getting unexpectedly separated from the rest of your gang can be an unsettling experience.

It’s especially worrying when you’re travelling with children, who may not be carrying mobile phones and can’t therefore call you to explain that they’ve just found an interesting little shop selling salty caramel waffles or something.

Good preparation can cater for most eventualities, but fate always has a way of catching you out. Here are a few tips to reunite you with your travelling companions.

Get on up

If you’re in a crowded place, a busy shopping centre or theme park, you need to get as high up as possible. Not only will you be more visible to your lost pal, but you have more chance of catching sight of them.

No handy fountain, chair or ornamental wall to stand on? Seek out the tallest person you can see and ask them for their help. Describe your lost friend or …

A picture is worth a thousand words.

You’re on holiday. Chances are your phone or digital camera has a recent picture of the person you’re looking for. Show it to your new tall friend.

If your companion has been missing for a while, or if they’re very young, then you’ll want to speak to the local police; taking along a recent picture of the person wearing the clothes they had on when they went missing would be very helpful, especially if there’s a language barrier.

Find the centre

If there’s a major landmark, some sort of Eiffel Tower for example, or a Taj Mahal perhaps, head for it. Is there a sign pointing to the Tourist Information Office?

While it might be tempting to stand still and let the person come back to you, you might be in for a long wait if they’ve had the same idea. Heading for an easily recognisable landmark is not only likely to bring you back to your pal, it will also put you near police and other sources of aid if you’re still having no luck.

Go with the flow

Young children, dogs, and easily distracted adults always follow the path of least resistance. If you’re somewhere without obvious landmarks to seek out, there’s a better-than-average chance that the wanderer went in the direction that the wind’s blowing.

As in any crisis situation, it’s hard to resist the natural temptation to panic. But keep a cool head, think about the psychology of your quarry, and you should be enjoying those salty caramel waffles together in no time.

10 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Kenya

10 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Kenya

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For those who are not entirely familiar with their Atlas, Kenya is a gorgeous little country in the Eastern side of Africa. she is home to the second highest mountain in the continent (Mount. Kenya), home to the Maasai Mara and her breathtaking annual wildebeest migration, home to a majority of the world athletics champions and home to an insanely gorgeous coastal line that just so happens to include Mombasa and Lamu.

Although Kenya is synonymous with quite a few wonderful things, Ski holidays, winter sports and being snowed in are all things she is NOT known for. We are in the tropics, and on this side of the sun we have breathtakingly beautiful weather.

Kenya is a touristic mammoth. That’s how beautiful this country is. But as world famous as she may be in some circuits, there are still some facts about this country that even Kenyans are not too familiar with. That being said, here are 10 things we bet you didn’t know about Kenya

Kenya has 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places that are recognized as being of great physical or cultural significance. It is a privilege that only some of the most exclusive locations in the world hold; these are places worth preserving, and Kenya has 6 of them!

  • Fort Jesus, Mombasa
  • Lamu Old Town
  • Mount Kenya Forest
  • The Sacred Kaya Forest, South Coast
  • Lake System in the Great Rift Valley
  • Lake Turkana
Kenya has a ‘cheese tasting’ culture

Almost no one would associate Kenya with cheese. But wouldn’t you know it; the country has a rich cheese tasting culture that is the preserve of a few enthusiasts who know where to look. In Limuru, there is a farm called ‘Brown’s Cheese’ that has a cheese factory which offers tasting tours to those interested. You get to see and learn how the cheese is made, eat quite a bit of it and drink some wine. Visit: Brown’s Cheese

You Can Go Snake Hunting

You have probably heard of pythons, mambas, cobras and puff adders. Most of us prefer to keep our distance from these slithery vials of poison. But for the dare-devils, a chance to act out scenes from Anaconda and go hunting for pythons in the wild is simply too tempting to pass up. Kenya has well over 100 documented snake species, most of which are illusive, poisonous and not the kind of creepy-crawlies you want keeping you company by the way side. In Watamu, there is an outfit called ‘Bio-Ken’ which has taken it upon itself to show you all Kenya has to offer in terms of snakes. You can book tours that will take you through some of the most dense forests, rugged rocky cliffs and watery riverbeds (all this in the name of finding these illusive creatures).

Kenya Values Conservation

With all that is going in the world today, from impossibly high levels of environmental pollution and encroachment into lands meant for wildlife, Kenya is one of the countries that are leading the fight against the kind of damage that we can do to our world as humans. We have 65 protected areas specifically meant for wildlife. These are beautiful National Parks such as Meru National Park, amazing Marine Parks, national reserves and sanctuaries. Aside from that, the very first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize was Prof. Wangari Maathai; an environmentalist from Kenya.

Kenyans are highly religious people

About 70% of the people in Kenya can be classified as Christians (Catholic and Protestant); roughly 25% still adhere to indigenous religions and the remaining 5% comprise of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’is and Parsees. The deeply rooted religious culture within the country can be witnessed by simply reading the words of our National Anthem (it is a heartfelt prayer for the nation that was adapted from the Pokomo tribe).

Elizabeth became Queen while in Kenya

Princess Elizabeth was staying at the ‘The Treetops Hotel’ with her husband, now Prince Philip, when she got the news that her father, King George VI, had passed away. Of course, she had to go back home and get coronated, but technically, she became Queen of England while in Kenya.

Kenya is perfect for big blockbuster film locations

You may not know this, but every now and again, big movie production houses in Hollywood do tour the world to produce all those wonderful silver screen pictures that we simply cannot get enough of. Kenya, being an annoyingly gorgeous country, has been host to some of the most renowned on-location film shoots. Here are some of the most famous movies shot on-location in Kenya.

  • Out Of Africa (Perhaps the one movie that shows Kenya’s beauty in its full splendour)
  • King Solomon’s Mines
  • Nowhere in Africa
  • The Constant Gardener
  • To Walk With Lions
  • Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
  • The Ghost and the Darkness
  • Mississippi Masala
Kenya is the ‘Strong Silent’ type

Although there have been a few skirmishes within the country, Kenya is known as one of the most peaceful Nations in Africa. With no civil war, no internal strife and a reputation for undertaking ‘Peace Keeping’ missions within Africa, Kenya is not only a pretty nation, but a peace loving one as well. But just because Kenya isn’t known for her violence and invasions does not mean the country does not have an army to speak of. KDF (Kenya Defense Forces) is ranked as the 46th strongest standing army in the world and the 6th in Africa.

Kenya is OLD and has the scars to show it

There have been discoveries of Paleolithic remains in Turkana that have led scientists to believe that Kenya might just have been the birth place of humanity. If that does not impress you, then try this, the Great Rift Valley, which runs across the face of the country and can be seen from space, is well over 20 million years old. It is said that it was formed when the Earth’s crust started that tedious splitting business that formed all the continents.

You can swim with Dolphins in Kenya

Okay, this is not an exclusively Kenyan thing, but it is still pretty cool. From having dinner on floating restaurants, to feeding crocodiles and having breakfast with Giraffes, the number of weird, yet thrilling things you can do in Kenya is simply mind boggling. Did you know you could ride and eat an Ostrich? But we digress. Back to the dolphins. Yes, you can swim with dolphins in Wasini. These are dolphins in the wild, so you can’t quite get them to stand still long enough to hold a conversation or pet them, but they do swim up real close.

With well over 40 million people and some of the most fascinating wild life on the face of the planet, Kenya is not only beautiful, eclectic and insanely sunny, but she is also strong and peaceful.

If you haven’t toured this country, you should make a point to do so before you are all out of touring days. For those who have, let us know some of the lesser known facts about this beautiful country from your point of view.

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