Browsed by
Category: Africa

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

The violent thunderstorm erupted without warning. It seemed like one minute our family was walking happily in the sunshine, admiring the lush green meadows and brilliant wildflowers on Malawi’s Mulanje Massif, the highest mountain in central Africa, when suddenly angry black clouds came pouring in, transforming the massif’s bright rolling hills into dark, featureless mounds. “Quick, get out our rain gear,” my wife Philippa shouted, as we pulled off our day backs, slipped rain ponchos over our three children and…

Read More Read More

Backpacking in Africa With Kids

Backpacking in Africa With Kids

Many of our friends thought we were being wildly ambitious, if not outright irresponsible. Why would you want to take your young children on a 12-week backpacking trip to east and southern Africa, they asked. How can you justify them missing three months of school? Aren’t you going to dangerous places? What about the health risks? Are you guys nuts? Edmonton Journal librarian and friend Deb Dittrick was the frankest. “If someone told me I had to go on a…

Read More Read More

Mountains of Mystery

Mountains of Mystery

There is no place on earth like the Mountains of the Moon. The gigantic vegetation that lines the alpine meadows, great bogs and valley bottoms of the fabled Rwenzori Mountains, and the majestic beauty of its great snow peaks shining through the constant mist have inspired many an intrepid traveller to poetic imagery. There is nothing to break the spell, nothing to dim the sense that one has journeyed back in time to a forgotten, almost primitive world, where the…

Read More Read More

An (Un) Reasonable Amount of Risk

An (Un) Reasonable Amount of Risk

I was shocked and deeply shaken when my pal Mick handed me a London newspaper with a terrifying front page story about wanton bloodshed in Uganda. The timing and the news could not have been much worse for me. It was January 23, 1984, the day before I was scheduled to fly from London to Nairobi, Kenya, on my way to Uganda to hike the spectacular but notoriously difficult circuit trek of the legendary Rwenzori Mountains, better known as the…

Read More Read More

Muammar and Me

Muammar and Me

I will never forget the day I set sail along the “line of death” with Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to challenge the US Sixth Fleet. It was January 25, 1986, and it started out like any other day in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, where I was one of about 20 foreign journalists covering a worsening dispute between Colonel Gaddafi and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The Americans were making threatening noises about Gaddafi’s alleged role in a plane hijacking and two deadly…

Read More Read More

Gorillas in the Mist

Gorillas in the Mist

I’ve had some very interesting wildlife experiences in my lifetime. I’ve seen dozens of giant Nile crocodiles basking on the shores of Kenya’s Lake Turkana; got way too up close and personal with a few poisonous snakes; and had a few nervous encounters with black bears and a young grizzly in Canada’s Jasper National Park. I’ve watched lions stalking game, feeding on a fresh kill and even having sex in front of my young children as I blushed, speechless. I…

Read More Read More

River of My Dreams

River of My Dreams

There are some adventurous moments that intrepid travellers occasionally experience which are seared into their memory forever. Moments so exotic, so far removed from their day-to-day life back home, that even decades later those memories seem to jump off the page as if they were written in italics. Chasing such experiences is like an addictive drug for hard-core backpackers, which I certainly was in my younger and not-so-young-anymore days. The episode I am thinking about occurred in January, 1982, while…

Read More Read More

The Lake of Fire

The Lake of Fire

When I travel in the developing world I pretty much jump at every tantalizing and slightly crazy opportunity that pops up. Cross the Sahara Desert on the back of local trucks in 1972? Hell yes! Ride the broken-down barge up the mighty Congo River in 1982? Absolutely! Climb up to and over the spectacular 5,540 meter (18,176 foot) Kongma La mountain pass in 2014 instead of taking the easier and less interesting route on the way to Everest Base Camp?…

Read More Read More