Blog Launch

22 December 2010

Well we're launching our blog and it's a good day in Chada Katavi, slightly overcast, winds out of some direction or other, chance of rain a strong maybe, chances of sunshine about the same, and chances of us winning a writing award, nil. From today onward, "Chada" will be how we refer to the camp where we live and host safari guests, and "Katavi" will mean we're talking about the national park in which Chada camp is nestled.

Chada is a Nomad Tanzania creation, and to learn more about that, google it. Nomad is the company who can put together your safari, if you so choose to do it some day. We think you should, but we are not the marketing department. As a matter of fact, they don't want us anywhere near the marketing department, which is why we're stationed in the most remote place on the planet. I think we're allowed to say things like that, even though no study has been done to prove how remote we actually are. Simply stated: If you walk for days in any direction, seeing another human is not an expected outcome.

What you will see are animals. Animals by the savanna-load, so to speak. Herds of buffalo, pods of hippo, prides of lions, flocks of vultures, journeys of giraffe, melodies of larks, blah blah blah. Some people spend hours trying to figure out what a bunch of zebras should be called. We call them a beautiful gathering of wild, striped horses, faster than most other animals out here, except some types of antelope and, of course, the Cheetah!

We spend our working hours being civilized, studying wildife behaviour, patterns, seasonal migrations...
We have dinner parties with our guests in a big tent, with some rather fine dining, if we do say so ourselves...
We take people on professionally guided walks and drives and our local guides' knowledge is staggering...
Sometimes our guests do some staggering of their own...

So the blog is our lighter side of safari life, our chance to show you what's really going on out here; our chance to be less scientific about wildife, to showcase how much the bush gets under your skin, how much fun it is and how much work it can be too.

Tomorrow we are expecting 6 guests, that means our camp will be exactly half full. Yes, we are tiny. Not only are we tiny, but the camp is too. 6 big tents on decks with outdoor showers. The tents are, I just told you, big, so there is space inside for beds, tables, old fashoned's really not too bad.

Only the insane drive here, so no offense to those few of you who have driven in this season (not to name any names, Paul and Erika, owners of Twiga Lodge overlooking Arusha National Park), but the way to get here is to fly. Even by air, people step off the plane, turn in a bewildered circle, and then sprint to the nearest bush to pee. These little planes don't have toilets and the flight is long. The drive, and honestly Paul and Erika were the only 2 people this year to drive here, takes 4 days from Arusha. 4 days!

The above paragraph is exactly why we are not allowed near the marketing department. Plugging another safari camp so shamelessly like that is grounds for banishment to the deep beyond...Katavi. Frankly, we came to Nomad because of the Chada opportunity. Having worked in southern Sudan, Kenya, Burundi and Uganda before, we really thought we were living in the middle of nowhere. Maybe we were, but if that was the middle of nowhere, this is another planet.

To answer your question, if we are so remote, how are we able to blog? We have a satellite dish, some wires, two lap tops, and a tall thin contraption with blue lights up the side. We had to put a fence of thorny acacia branches around the dish to stop elephants from rubbing on it. That is not good for reception, the rubbing, believe it or not. This was never mentioned in the installation instructions.

Speaking of Acacia trees, the Australians of all people, no offense of course to any Aussie safari clients or potential ones, you know, just saying. Maybe we should be more specific. Australian botanists have claimed that Acacia trees only exist in Australia; that African Acacia trees should be put in a different genus. So just to be clear, this blog site will ALWAYS refer to them as Acacia trees. Their fame is second only to maybe lions and elephants, and we will not be calling them Faidherbia any time soon, even if we could pronounce it correctly.

See you next time. Mark, Kristen and 21 intrepid Tanzanians

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