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Kingsley Holgate’s bushnote from Chew Bahir

2 September 2016

Kingsley Holgate and his team are at Lake Chew Bahir – Amharic for “ocean of salt” – at the centre of the Stephanie Wildlife Sanctuary, in Ethiopia. Situated in the arid Great Rift Valley, where the rate of evaporation is four times higher than the average annual rainfall, the 64km-long and 24km-wide lake is in a region home to many of Africa’s lesser-known tribes.

These tribes are the focus of this expedition. Here Kingsley Holgate intends to document, record, research and photograph the continent’s rich collection of colourful cultural practices.

This is his latest bushnote:

Even in the late afternoon the heat that bounces off Ethiopia’s Great Salt Ocean on the very floor of Africa’s Great Rift Valley is mind-numbing and we’re constantly having to re-hydrate from Lumbaye’s kettle of thirst quenching Chai Maziwa (Masai tea-sweet and milky) as we off load the land yachts from the roof of Ndhlovukazi, the big 130 Defender.
The booms and masts are almost too hot to handle and repair some of the batons that got damaged on the crossing of the Chalbi in Northern Kenya. As always, it’s a race against the setting sun. Like a bunch of heat-crazed aborigines and pointing up at the sails, we perform our own Chew Bahir wind dance. Somehow it works! The wind picks up, albeit in gusts.


Ross and Bruce race off over the rock-hard crust of Chew Bahir and then back again in the dark with the Land Rover headlights to guide them back for camp stew and bedrolls under a Milky Way, punctuated with falling stars until the wind dropped and the bloody mozzies chase us into our pop up tents.
Next day Shovashova Mike in his Land Rover, Kingsley Holgate Foundation colours crosses the Great Salt Ocean, another first for one of the greatest adventure mountain bikers in the world. In strong winds, with dust devils racing across this somewhat unknown place, we get to sail the yachts across into Borana country.For the expedition team, it’s Mission Accomplished.
We’ve Land Yachted Chew Bahir, everybody in the team got the chance to sail, and now it’s time to empty the traditional Zulu Calabash of symbolic Cradle of Humankind water, carried all the way from Lesedi Cultural village in a great celebration that marked the start of this Land Rover Living Traditions Expedition…And so somewhat dehydrated, with sunburnt noses and rope-burn, blistered hands from the land yacht main sheets, it’s with a great feeling of accomplishment that we pack up and head along the base of the jagged Hamer Range of mountains to do further humanitarian work and interact with the fascinating tribes of Ethiopia’s South Omo region.

Source: Kingsley Holgate Foundation Facebook page