In the Omo Valley, Ethiopia. Towards sunset, the goat herders of the Kara tribe were bringing their goats back to the village. With the red of the sunlight filtering through the dust, I jumped straight in with my camera, sometimes through thorns on my hands and knees, but was fortunate to have captured some beautiful scenes.
The annual Lake Turkana festivities see around a dozen tribes, mainly from northern Kenya, take part in cultural exchanges and traditional dances. It’s quite a fascinating couple of days and provides opportunities to see local tribes who are not normally on a safarist’s bucket list. For example, I found one local El Molo village to be just a few rudimentary huts loosely strewn together, surviving largely through fishing. A dwindling tribe, the El Molo may soon disappear through assimilation and intermarriage with other local tribes.
With the day’s festivities finished and with the onset of twilight, a few miles from the nearest village, the tribes of the Turkana and Samburu dance well into dusk on the windswept shores of Lake Turkana. Seeing the tribes enjoying each other’s company, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that cattle-stealing is causing much strife between the different tribes. But initiatives such as the Lake Turkana festival will help promote trust and understanding.
We had already journeyed through the sandy deserts of southern Namibia using our overland truck, and we were now heading up north. Along the way, we stayed overnight at Spitzkoppe. This is where we set up camp. Except some of us didn’t use a tent; I slept out on a rocky outcrop and watched the clear night sky before nodding off to sleep.
Our tripods, a gaggle of which are already standing to attention, were essential to taking night sky photographs.
I was very satisfied with the photos I took that night.
The town of Hpa An in Myanmar, surrounded by a karst landscape, offers opportunities to visit the caves in that region. Many caves are used for Buddhist shrines, and some are used for navigation. Here, nearly 20 kilometres from Hpa An, fishermen are shown outside a cave entrance that runs through to the other side of the karst hills.
There we were, travelling along the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. A journey through mountain passes and dry valleys, along dried river-beds and empty places on lonely roads, with nothing more than dust-devils keeping us company. Low temperatures and the glare of the sun added to the harshness of the landscape.
However, it was a challenge that I enthusiastically seized in my quest to reach the fabled Minaret of Jam, a place that only a few travellers reach. But here, in the middle of nowhere, there was human activity; a rest-stop for truck drivers hauling their goods across the country, a place to stretch the legs and take shelter from the elements.
Although it was August, the place was cold, and I couldn’t imagine what this place would be like in winter. A hardy landscape creates a hardy people. This man tendered to our needs with chai and food, his face betraying the challenges of the environment.
It needed a small truck to get here but, up here in the hills of Kayah State (Myanmar), there was plenty to like as we experienced a wonderfully foliaged landscape interspaced with small villages. In what seemed to be the most substantial local village, we were warmly welcomed by the Padaung, and we had the chance to explore the area by foot. Outside the village, we came across some children who were clearly enjoying each other’s company! Afterwards, we decided to forgo the truck and return to base by hiking down through the hills, which added magnificently to the experience.