The World Nomads Podcast: Namibia

In this episode, we hear about Namibia’s iconic Himba tribe, surfing the Skeleton Coast, driving in remote Damaraland, where elephants roam and jumping spiders.

Shares

Photo © Photo Credit: Brian Rapsey

Listen Now

The World Nomads Podcast: Namibia

Namibia takes conservation seriously. More than 40 percent of the country is under conservation management. In this episode, we hear from filmmaker Brian Rapsey who went on the trail of the endangered black rhino and learn about efforts to protect them from poachers.

What’s in the Episode

02:08 Surfing in Namibia

03:31 Shipwrecks along the Skeleton Coast

04:39 The iconic Himba Tribe -"It is a difficult one, when you go and visit any tribe, I think one of the most difficult things is trying to find an authentic experience."

08:50 Why Namibia is a great place to travel to

10:15 Spectacular landscapes

11:50 4x4ing in the desert

15:07 #flightshame

18:33 The birth of a new travel company

25:15 Tracking the Black Rhino

30:56 Experiencing the locals

32:30 Bitten by a spider in a delicate spot -"...I was greatly relieved when my alarm went off at 5 in the morning."

33:23 Next episode

Who is in the Episode

Helen Davies is a blogger who quit her job and headed to Africa 10 years ago, sick of the 9 to 5, sick of the commute and determined to go on the adventures she’d always dreamed about. We spoke with her in our Namibia episode. Helen has heaps on information on Africa on her site Helen in Wonderlust.

Brian Rapsey has spent the past 20 years working in documentary, TV and corporate film production. Having shot a number of short films and documentaries over the years, Brian also worked for ABC's pioneering digital film channel "Fly TV" and has been a lecturer for 6 years at one of Australia's premier TV and video production training schools, Metro Screen. He's also a keen photographer.

Read his article On the Trail of the Namibian Black Rhino. The photos are stunning.

Photo credit: Katrina Greeves

Jigar Ganatra was the World Nomads 2017 Film Scholarship winner under the mentorship of Brian. Jigar has just launched his business, Halisia Travel, a travel company taking aspiring photographers and filmmakers and giving them an authentic experiences and connections with locals in different parts of the world, but particularly Africa. 

Sarah Duff is a freelance travel writer, photographer and documentary filmmaker who has been adventuring around the globe on assignments for a decade. Originally from South Africa, she currently calls Berlin home. Sarah writes about food, culture, conservation and adventure travel, and she's happiest in nature, just like this trip 4x4ing in the Namibian desert.

Resources & Links

Scholarships Newsletter: Sign up for scholarships news and see what opportunities are live here.

What happens when a traveler encounters the Himba tribe in Namibia? In2013, Sussan Mourad travelled with the World Nomads film crew to explore Namibia. Check it out.

*Note: Being invited into a Himba village and being dressed like a Himba woman is not a common occurrence in Namibia and certainly is not a tourist attraction.

Listen to our episode on Sarah Davis who lead an expedition on the Nile.

Want to Republish This Episode

 <div
class="whooshkaa-widget-player"
data-episode-id="387722"
data-theme="light"
data-height="190"
></div>
<script src="https://webplayer.whooshkaa.com/js/widget/loader.umd.min.js"></script>

Next Episode: Eric Maddox.

About World Nomads & the Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

You can get in touch with us by emailing [email protected].

We use the Rodecaster Pro to record our episodes and interviews when in the studio, made possible with the kind support of Rode.

 


Speaker 1: Welcome to the World Nomads podcast, delivered by World Nomads, the travel lifestyle and insurance brand. It's not your usual travel podcast. It's everything for the adventurous, independent traveler.

Speaker 2: There is a Namibian proverb, Phil.

Phil: Is there, grasshopper?

Speaker 2: We're off to a good start. Learning expands great souls, and that is what we're about to do in this episode of the World Nomads podcast. We're going to learn at least a little about Namibia, so thanks for tuning in.

Phil: Well, I can tell you it's got some of the highest sand dunes in the world, the second largest canyon in the world, and there are about 30 languages spoken by the 2.4 million population. Look, the place takes conservation very very seriously. In fact 40% of the country is under conservation [management 00:00:48], which is fantastic. It's also a bit of a honeymoon destination if you're a prince. Harry and-

Speaker 2: Meghan Markle. Since he married an American they have worldwide appeal, don't they? Apparently that's where they honeymooned.

Phil: There you go. He loves Namibia and Africa.

Speaker 2: And Africa in general. In this episode, we will learn why it's a destination that not just princes and princesses enjoy, but nomads who want to travel to that area. We'll hear about a black rhino exhibition, the story of a jumping spider and we'll start the episode with Helen Davies. Her blog, Helen in Wanderlust, is packed full of information and stories about African countries. We have spoken with her before, Phil, and we have her back again, which means she must have enjoyed herself.

Helen Davies: I did. Thank you for having me again.

Speaker 2: Good one. We're going to chat this time about Namibia, and one of the things that blew my mind when we were kind of researching this episode is the idea that you could actually surf there. The more that we research these locations, Phil, the more we find out that almost every place you can surf.

Phil: Yeah, it's very popular everywhere. We're going to find somewhere where it's not and talk about that.

Speaker 2: Is Namibia popular for surfing?

Helen Davies: I think surfing in Namibia is growing. It's not the most popular place in the world, probably just due to the fact that the waters there are quite cold with it being the Atlantic and everything, but yeah, there are a few surf spots around that are growing in popularity, like Skeleton Bay. That's kind of in between Swakopmund and Kolmanskop, where the villages end, the abandoned diamond mine where people used to live, and it's now a living museum kind of thing. Yeah, so Skeleton Bay, that's quite a popular spot and it's got some big waves which are growing in popularity, and then around Swakopmund as well, you often see a few surfers out in the water, like if you walk along the pier there will be people there.

Phil: I reckon it'd be pretty sharky though, wouldn't it?

Helen Davies: Apparently there's never been a shark attack in Namibia. You would think so because there's so many seals, but maybe that's why, because the sharks are well-fed so they don't need to go for the humans, but there's never been a shark attack there. It's probably a pretty good place to surf and probably a little bit cold.

Speaker 2: That whole Skeleton Coast, too, great for diving shipwrecks.

Helen Davies: Yeah, there's loads of shipwrecks around there. I've never been diving, I'm not a diver myself, but there's definitely a lot of shipwrecks that you can visit and see from along the coast. The way that the, I don't know the science behind it, but the way that the atmosphere and the air, it brings up a lot of mist, so it used to be quite dangerous to sailors who were going along that coast, so obviously a lot of shipwrecks occurred because of the fog, and then a lot of them, they can't move, so they're still littered along the coast, and you can see them quite easily from the beach.

Phil: Where do all the names come from? Dutch background, is it?

Helen Davies: Yeah, Dutch, and I think there's some German as well in there.

Phil: Is there a movement there to rename it in the local language?

Helen Davies: I don't know, maybe in the future, but at the moment I think they're so well-embedded that they're probably not changing them. There may be some local names as well, that people use, but at the moment I think everything is staying as it is.

Phil: Speaking of local people, we have a video of our own at World Nomads as well, where we went and visited a Himba tribe, and they are the most iconic image of Namibia, in a way, aren't they? Because the way they decorate themselves.

Helen Davies: Yeah, especially the women. The women just look absolutely incredible. They kind of rub their skin in okra and like a butter, and it's to beautify themselves. It makes their skin really soft and really beautiful. Kind of one of the most interesting things about the Himba women is that they never wash. They smoke themselves clean and then use the cream on their skin as well.

Speaker 2: I like that idea, it's a little bit like me, Phil. How would a traveler, though, to Namibia, experience a Himba village without-

Phil: Yeah, because you don't want the Disney-fied version of it. Are there still authentic places where you can go and meet?

Helen Davies: Yeah, definitely. The best place, really, for Namibia is northern Namibia, so up near Opuwo. It is a difficult one, when you go and visit any tribe, I think one of the most difficult things is trying to find an authentic experience. A lot of them aren't. There's places further south do have villages you can visit, but often they're kind of set up and the village isn't owned by the people who live there. They might live on a farm and get free food in exchange for visitors going there, so basically any hotel up in the Opuwo region can organize a Himba visit, but realistically, I think the best way to do it authentically would be to go and spend some time there and get to know some of the Himba more organically, which is a hard thing to do, especially if you're a traveler passing through. That would be my ideal way, but there are some villages you can visit.

Helen Davies: You won't get the same experience, I don't think, if you just visit for a day, as if you kind of went and got to know people, but if you're around Opuwo, there's a lot of Himba, they're in town, it's not unusual to see different tribes walking around town, so you could get to know somebody that way, or if you've got a local friend who can introduce you to the Himba, that's a much more organic way to do it.

Phil: Because it's very important to us, it's part of our Responsible Traveler Manifesto that you don't objectify people and turn them into a tourist attraction of themselves, so I take it, if you do something like that, you can contribute something, there's some sort of cultural exchange that you can do, something that makes it not a tacky tourist experience?

Helen Davies: Yeah, it's a very difficult one really because I think nowadays a lot of the villages, they can't always live in the traditional ways that they used to live because, for whatever reason. We do live now in a money society. If they need to go to hospital, they need money. It's that kind of thing, so how else do you earn money? That's one way of them earning money, and tourism is a great way to do that, so yeah, I think you as a tourist have a big responsibility to not objectify people. I think it is a very difficult one, but yeah, cultural exchange is something that, I think, is very important, and also if you're going to take pictures or anything like that, make sure you ask people. Some people really don't want their pictures taken, but people take them anyway, and I think it is important to ask, especially for the women.

Helen Davies: I think often the agreements made between the tourists and the village are done by the men, and the men aren't the ones being photographed, because they're often dressed in normal clothes. So yeah, I think it's really important to kind of build that rapport and not take advantage of people.

Speaker 2: As always with your site, which we'll link to in Show Notes, there's so much about Africa. What's something else that you can leave us with with regard to Namibia?

Helen Davies: If you're looking for a really epic type of adventure, Namibia is that place. It's so different from everywhere else. Culturally it's very different from other parts of Africa, and I think it's just one of those places where you can have that really wild experience, and you really can appreciate nature for all that it does, because Namibia has so many natural beauty points. The starry skies, the incredible coastline, sand dunes going into the sea, great wildlife. It's just a really different kind of experience from anywhere else that you're going to visit in Africa.

Speaker 2: Thanks Helen, and World Nomads contributor Sarah Duff agrees.

Sarah: I've always wanted to go to northern Namibia. On my previous trips I have been to southern and central Namibia, and what's special about northern Namibia is its remoteness and the fact that it's one of the last places in Africa where wildlife is roaming free, so you find rhinos and lions and elephants that are not constrained within national parks, they're just roaming free in the wild, which is something that's very special and that was one of the reasons that I wanted to travel there, also just because of the remoteness and the really spectacular landscapes of Damaraland, which is the area I was in.

Sarah: Animals are roaming free, they're not inside. Most places where you go and see animals in Africa, they are inside a national park. One of the big reasons that people travel up there is to see desert elephants, to see these free-roaming desert elephants, which can be very difficult to track because they cover such large areas, but we were pretty lucky and we managed to see them pretty much everyday of our trip up there.

Speaker 2: I watched a doco on those elephants, and they live a hard life. Those particular, the desert elephants, don't they?

Sarah: Yeah, its' a very harsh existence. It's a harsh environment. It's very hot, it's very dry. They've adapted to surviving for, I think it's up to three days without water, and they have to walk very long distances to find water, so it's really an existence living on the edge of existence, because they're not like other animals, like, say, an oryx, that can get water from standing on dunes and just picking up the mist from the sea. Elephants do need water, so it's a harsh existence for them to live.

Speaker 2: You went four wheel driving, which is what we call it in Australia, or four by four. Tell me about that experience.

Sarah: Well, we traveled in two cars. There were a group of six of us. It was myself, my husband, and some very good friends, and the leader of our trip was our friend James Kidd, who is a wildlife guide and a very experience four by four-er. I've never been four by fouring, and I was a bit nervous of driving in the actual four by four routes that we took, but he kind of coached me through it. It was my first four by four experience and it wasn't exactly four by fouring for beginners. It was quite intense four by fouring, but it was really fun. It was such an adventure. We got stuck a couple of times in the sand and just had to dig the cars out. There's no other cars to come along and help you out, so you have to be really self sufficient. I felt comforted by the fact that I was traveling with someone who was so experienced.

Sarah: I wouldn't do a trip like this on my own, and it's important to travel in a convoy. There's a lot of safety rules that you should follow when four by fouring through such a remote area, just because, if something goes wrong, no one's going to come and help you.

Speaker 2: Okay, so there's that, and then animals? Is that something that you fear?

Sarah: Elephants can be a bit of a problem, not a problem, but just something for people to be aware of in this area, because sometimes you're driving through a riverbed, a dry riverbed, and there's a lot of high grass and reeds and you can't really see, so there's a chance that you can happen upon an elephant and give it a bit of a fright, so we were just really cautious and just always trying to be aware of our surroundings, so not just looking at the road in front of us, but looking either side for reeds rustling and foliage in the distance. It's a good idea to, if you're traveling in this area, just do some reading and do some research and educate yourself on how to stay safe and how to keep a safe distance from elephants, because that's the issue is just getting a little bit too close and going past their comfort zone and pushing their boundaries a bit and when we did actually encounter elephants, we always maintained a really respectful distance and we didn't have a problem with them at all.

Speaker 2: Okay, so for a World Nomad, someone that's adventurous and independent, why would this particular country be of interest?

Sarah: I think Namibia ticks a lot of boxes if you are into adventure travel, nature, and landscapes. It just offers diversity and dramatic landscapes by the bucket load. If you want to get off the beaten path it's incredibly easy to do that. If you really want to get deep into nature like we did, where we didn't see another car or human for days and days and days, it was just us and the animals, then Namibia offers lots of places where you can do that, and for adventurous travelers who like four by fouring and hiking and canoeing and mountain climbing, there's all of that in Namibia and more.

Speaker 2: I'll link to Sarah and the story she's written for us in Show Notes, but Phil, what is your travel news?

Phil: A couple of episodes back I mentioned the emergence of that new movement, #flightshame, which was encouraging travelers to shun air travel because of the high environmental impact. I think we should investigate that properly in an episode coming up soon, but this week I received, coincidentally, a media release from the Hamad International Airport, which is in Doha. I passed through that airport recently. It is huge and it's lit up like Times Square in New York. Apparently the airport is one third the size of the entire country.

Speaker 2: Why do you build an airport that big?

Phil: They've got their own airline, so it's a major transfer route. They make a lot of money out of that for when the oil runs out. They want to be a transport hub. Anyway, in this media release from the airport, they're talking about their efforts in reducing energy consumption in such a huge place.

Speaker 2: Irony.

Phil: Yeah, and also in a country where sometime temperatures reach 50 degrees, so they've got to try to keep it nice inside. Good to know this issue's on their radar and good to know that, according to this release, they've made efficiency savings of 8% in the past year by doing one simple thing. They turned up the temperature, the air conditioning, by one degree.

Speaker 2: Who was the Einstein that came up with that idea?

Phil: I think the UN's got it as well. There's a couple places, I think there's somewhere in India have done it as well, and I think the UN is asking air conditioner manufacturers to set the default temperature when you open it up out of the box at one degree higher so that we can get this energy saving around the world. Good idea, good to know that, airports are massive contributors to the carbon footprint as well as airlines, so in the whole #flightshame thing, it's good to see that people are actually thinking about it at least

Speaker 2: I see what you've done.

Phil: Thank you.

Speaker 2: #flightshame, [#crosstalk 00:17:02].

Phil: There you go. We all love a road trip, but they can be a bit hard to organize, can't they, doing too much backtracking.

Speaker 2: Exactly.

Phil: Well, a complete nerd, I'm sorry, I mean data scientist, he's used a [inaudible 00:17:19] computer and a special algorithm that he's come up with to calculate the ultimate European road trip. It takes 45 of the 50 sites that you must see in Europe before you die, and he's worked out it would take two weeks. Two weeks nonstop driving 24/7.

Speaker 2: To see how many must-sees?

Phil: 45. Leaning Tower of Pisa and Eiffel Tower.

Speaker 2: Pizza.

Phil: Pisa. The scientist Randy Olsen recommends putting aside three months for the trip if you want to actually eat, sleep, and visit the sites.

Speaker 2: Ah, there's the two weeks right there.

Phil: Two weeks of actual driving without backtracking too much. There you go, that's my news.

Speaker 2: Thank you. Well, you may be familiar with Jigar Ganatra, I know you are. He was our film scholarship winner, can you remember the year, Phil, off the top of your head?

Phil: What are we now-

Speaker 2: 2015?

Phil: No, '17? I'm going to look that up now. I will have the answer after this interview.

Speaker 2: We're back to Phil's quiz question. Anyway, he was the scholarship winner who was mentored by filmmaker Brian Rapsey, who we will also hear from in this episode.

Phil: Look, he's certainly turned his passion into a profession, launching his own production company and his own travel company, which helps other aspiring filmmakers and photographers who don't necessarily have the skills or resources to learn or go to film school. That sounds like a very familiar model.

Jigar Ganatra: Definitely, so the scholarship, exactly, was a big part of the inspiration for this business, and so was another company that I worked for. I worked for a company called Operation Groundswell, and they do travel around the world but they partner up with local organizations, grassroots organizations ranging from Amazonian artists in Peru to monasteries in the Himalayas. It really allows you to experience and connect with other people on the ground who you otherwise wouldn't connect with, so it's a hybrid between the World Nomads scholarship that I won, as well as this company that I used to work for.

Speaker 2: I think the first assignment is Tanzania, which is, of course, where you are. Sorry, not where you are. Where you're from.

Jigar Ganatra: That's right, it's where I'm from, Tanzania, and actually this time, in January, I went back home to Tanzania after three years of being abroad. The last time I was in Tanzania I wasn't yet a filmmaker, so this time I went there as a filmmaker and that allowed me to experience and connect with my country on a whole new level, to go to places where I otherwise wouldn't go to and ask questions and have conversations. That's what filmmaking allows me to do, connect with people and ask questions that opens up their world and allows me to have a deep insight into it. I want the first country to be Tanzania.

Phil: What did you learn about your own country that you didn't know?

Jigar Ganatra: There was this one experience that I had. I was living with a lot of different communities while I was there, but I was living with the Chagga community in the base of Mount Kilimanjaro at this time, and they still don't have electricity in 2019. As of January 2019, this community, which is just an hour away from Moshi, doesn't have electricity and the [inaudible 00:20:35] sanitary situations, for me as a Tanzanian, that's very surprising, because almost all of Tanzania that I know of have electricity. That was very surprising. I didn't know about that, and all these other stories and faces that you don't see, normally, as a Tanzanian person, unless you travel to these lands.

Speaker 2: Are you sticking to your mantra of uncovering world issues and giving a voice to minorities?

Jigar Ganatra: Yeah, the notion of minorities has changed a little bit for me. Just being around the world, I see minorities is a bit of a problematic word, because the idea is to, I don't really like the word anymore, but you can say, yes, I am sticking to the mantra of going to people who have not been heard, or whose stories that you don't normally hear in the news or in normal media, on YouTube, and going to these places, using the advantage of me speaking languages to uncover their stories.

Speaker 2: Yeah, so six languages, so giving them a voice. I know what you mean about the connotation behind the word "minority," but it's giving people a voice.

Jigar Ganatra: That's right. Exactly. That's what I want to do.

Phil: They're not really minority because there are so many groups like that. It's probably a majority of people on the planet.

Jigar Ganatra: Exactly. That's what I realized, okay, these people that I'm visiting all over the world, they have a lot in common. They're a huge group of people who share a lot of things, so at the end of the day, they are a majority, they're not a minority.

Speaker 2: Tell us the name of your business, and people that are interested, how would they connect with you?

Jigar Ganatra: Right, so the name of the business is [inaudible 00:22:27], or, in Swahili, [inaudible 00:22:30], but in daily language it becomes [inaudible 00:22:33], because that's how most English words are. [inaudible 00:22:36]-

Phil: Wait until we get hold of that word, mate.

Jigar Ganatra: Myself, I've transformed the word as well in daily language, but [inaudible 00:22:46] means to make something authentic in Swahili. It's to find the essence or the truth behind a certain thing. That's a big inspiration for me in the way that I travel, is to really get deep and get out of the comfort zone, to see what's beneath, see between the lines, see what's beneath the surface, and have real, deep connections with people, so that's the philosophy, because when you travel to Tanzania, when many people travel to Tanzania, at least, they usually have a prepackaged trip or they have some sort of trip where it's very luxurious and very beautiful and they have an amazing experience of Tanzania, but it's very surface-level. They are not connecting with the stories on the ground, and it's not really helping the image of Africa.

Jigar Ganatra: It's either, "Wow, that was so amazingly luxurious and beautiful," or it's a really impoverished place. There is no depth in the story, so the whole idea behind my company, apart from a workshop of photography and filmmaking is to find the [inaudible 00:23:50] of Tanzania and soon other countries in Africa.

Speaker 2: That' so lovely. Are you thinking, at this point, I'm going back to my Tasmania, Tanzania, it's really hard to say that word to you, because I'm from Tasmania, so it's just-

Jigar Ganatra: I get that a lot from all around the world. "Oh, Tasmania, you're from where the Tasmanian Devil is."

Speaker 2: I know, okay, we've got something in common. Will you look at places like Zambia, Namibia?

Jigar Ganatra: At the moment, my next African country is going to be Ghana, because I have a friend who also used to work for the previous company that I used to work for who has a lot of experience in the travel industry, as well as the way that we travel, so Ghana will be the next one, but yeah, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ethiopia, all these places are so rich and so deep in their culture that I really want, myself, as well, I have to be honest. Even as an African myself, I don't know much about these other countries. This is going to be a journey for myself to expand into knowledge and experience in other parts of Africa.

Speaker 2: Congratulations to you, well done. Have you remembered which year he won the film scholarship?

Phil: I was right. 2017.

Speaker 2: You're always right. Now, this is the guy who mentored Jigar when he won the film scholarship. Brian Rapsey, as we mentioned earlier. World Nomads sent Brian off to Namibia where he tracked the black rhino.

Brian Rapsey: It was wonderful. It's kind of like, for me it was a bit like, I've spent a lot of time in the Kimberleys in northwestern Australia. It's hot, the earth is red. There's quite scrubby bushes there and there's a lot of stones and rocks. It's super hot, the guides tell us to be extremely quiet, because the rhinos have a really keen sense of hearing, so the whole trekking experience happens in stages where you start out in vehicles and you drive down into this valley, which has a sense of being like Monument Valley. It's incredible. We start by driving down into the valley in these open vehicles, and then we're stopping along the way to try to find evidence of the black rhinos, which are footprints or dung.

Brian Rapsey: We stop and we get out and look, and we eventually find some footprints. That's a good sign. The trackers are, they're wetting their fingers and finding which way the wind's blowing and trying to work out whether or not, keen sense of smell, these rhinos, making sure that we're downwind. It takes a while, but you get to go out and stand next to these guys as they're looking for all the signs and the great sign that we found was some fresh rhino dung. Then they make a pretty good plan, and the really interesting and frustrating part of it was Harry and I were the youngest of the lot. The rest of them were a couple decades older than us, and they were clumsy on their feet, and they kept kicking and knocking the rocks, so it was like, bang bang and that was going to warn the rhinos, and I thought, "Oh God, this is going to be a write off, those rhinos won't have to put up with us."

Brian Rapsey: Then we spotted them way off into the distance and we managed to sneak up closer and closer.

Speaker 2: On foot?

Brian Rapsey: On foot, yeah.

Speaker 2: Is this something that was only afforded to you being a travel junket, or is it something that anyone that goes to Namibia can do?

Brian Rapsey: It's something that anyone can do. What's the interesting part about this whole place that we went to called the [inaudible 00:27:47] Lodge, is that it was like a social enterprise. It was a travel destination, like a lodge setup in partnership with the local tribespeople, so they would get employment from this and they'd get training from it. Their tribespeople would be trained as guides, etc., so for them, for these people in the local area, the conservation value of the black rhino and the environment would be more valuable to them and their children and their community than poaching them, so anybody can do this.

Phil: The rhino that you spotted had been protected from poachers?

Brian Rapsey: That's right. What they do, because they're so endangered, unfortunately, sadly, but I think, ultimately to their benefit, is that the rangers de-horn them, so that they're of no value to poachers, and they paint big yellow crosses on their backs so that you can tell from a distance that they've been de-horned and you're not tempted to shoot them with a long-range rifle or anything like that.

Speaker 2: That kind of doesn't make sense to me though. Why would you de-horn them?

Phil: They get to reproduce and so maybe rebuild the numbers up again. The horn, it's not horn, anyway. It's some kind of very matted hair, basically. It just has to be sawn off. It's pretty sturdy stuff.

Speaker 2: Just thinking of the rhino here.

Phil: I'm sure it's like cutting toenails, I'm sure it doesn't-

Speaker 2: Yeah, you're probably right.

Phil: Can I say, I've had a similar experience on foot. I think mine was a white rhino, the docile one, the less dangerous one. I was in South Africa, and I'd spent three or four days in the open vehicle, where you're told not to get out. The vehicle we were in, at one stage, was used by a leopard to stalk some impala, which is pretty exciting, but then when we found the rhino, the guide said, "Who wants to come stalk a rhino on foot?" And as soon as I stepped out of the vehicle I had this overwhelming sense that I was in the food chain, and it was like, "Oh shit. We're food now." I could immediately smell everybody's soap and perfumes from the group that I was in, and same thing, the noise we made as we were all trying to walk as carefully as possible, every twig that snapped I realized deeper and deeper into the food chain.

Speaker 2: It was exhilarating?

Phil: Oh yeah.

Speaker 2: And did you find it exhilarating?

Brian Rapsey: Oh yeah, absolutely, and it was wonderful, because when we found these two rhinos, it was a mother and child. They were beautiful, and the child was sort of just chasing on the tails of the mother and they spotted us fairly quickly and we saw them bolt over the hill and stuff like that.

Speaker 2: Great. What was your experience like with the locals? In your story you talk about a dinner, lots of singing.

Brian Rapsey: It was wonderful. I think it's a tradition there, or it seems to be at a lot of lodges, once you've wound up dinner is all the cook and waitstaff and everybody else come out and provide entertainment. They do singing and dancing, which is wonderful. I've always loved African vocal music.

Phil: I love that time lapse that you've got of the valley that's in the story as well.

Brian Rapsey: That's an interesting story as well. When you're out there, sun was going to set soon. I went to my cabin, which was the most beautiful, rustic building, and the view that you have of the time lapse is basically out of the window of that, yeah. I've been in a lot of hotel rooms in my life and I find them generally pretty sterile and whatever, but this felt like a hobbit hole built with the local stones on the top of it and [inaudible 00:31:57], but really well-appointed. I went in, set up this time lapse, and I went and had a shower for the first time in a couple days, and was promptly bitten by a jumping shower in the region between my legs, which kind of freaked me out, because everything went numb, so I was in a state of high anxiety for a little while until dinner, where I asked somebody, "I got bitten by a spider," I didn't tell them where at first.

Speaker 2: Was it dangerous, the bite?

Brian Rapsey: No, it wasn't, and I was greatly relieved when my alarm went off at 5 in the morning.

Phil: "I've made it."

Brian Rapsey: Where I went out and reset the time lapse to get the sunrise.

Speaker 2: Beautiful, so beware of jumping spiders in Namibia.

Phil: The Namibian groin spider.

Brian Rapsey: Amongst the sheets.

Speaker 2: Not good. Well, the story will be in Show Notes. Brian, thank you so much.

Brian Rapsey: It's been a pleasure. It's great to see you guys in person.

Phil: I know, we love a studio guest. Thanks for coming in, mate.

Brian Rapsey: Thanks.

Speaker 2: We will have a link to Brian's experience, which he has written about for us, and some stunning photographs that he took in Show Notes, but Phil, that brings us to the end of this episode as we prepare for another amazing Nomad Next Ep.

Phil: Looking forward to this one. Eric Maddox, he created the Virtual Dinner Guest project, bringing people from different cultures together over a meal via video link and it's really breaking down the barriers. A really interesting project.

Speaker 2: Yeah, you will enjoy this man. Speaking of amazing Nomads, we're soon catching up with Sarah Davis, who's finished paddling pretty much the length of the Nile. We'll hear more about her story, so it might be a good time to have a listen to the episode we shared before she set out on her adventure.

Sarah Davis: As I've said before, it's like, "Where's the wiki on this?" There isn't one, and there really isn't and it's just being, well, I came up with the idea, it was like, "Okay, no one's done this, and I love traveling to Africa, it's kayaking," it was just that ultimate light bulb moment. This is what I want to do. That was sort of the easy bit, the next bit was: how?

Speaker 2: You'll find that episode in Show Notes, and you can get the World Nomads podcast through your favorite podcast app. Don't forget you can ask Alexa and Google Play to play the World Nomads podcast, and Phil, to get in touch?

Phil: [email protected] Be very happy to receive your email.

Speaker 2: See you next time.

Phil: Bye.

Speaker 9: The World Nomads podcast. Explore your boundaries.

Related articles

No Comments

Add a Comment