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Life on the road with our crew Richard & Derek in Africa

You realise at the end of each trip just why Overlanding is so special. Sometimes it doesn’t matter where we go. There are times when we might have been sitting on a border waiting for no apparent reason or times when something might not have gone to plan the way we had hoped…..  But it never seems to matter because every time we get back on the truck and start driving we have a group of people who had never even met each other before their overland trip but who are now best of friends, enjoying each others company and forming bonds which, trust me, will last a lifetime – everything else will work itself out.

Yes spending so much time together can be tough and yes at some point everyone needs to get away from the hustle and bustle that goes with group travel (including me!) but everybody misses it.  For this reason I left Cape Town at the end of our last trip in August with a hint of sadness that despite the fact we had just been on yet another awesome overland trip, we had also just said goodbye to some really amazing people who had become the main focus of our lives. I still miss them just how I miss everyone I have met whilst being a Tour Leader.

Richard, My trusty driver, seems to be able to deal with it a bit better than I do but as the week that follows, passes I start to look back with happiness at the experiences we were able to enjoy with these people and in some cases myself and Richard were responsible for making it happen for the group which is always a nice feeling – that’s why we‘re here after all.

One of my favourite memories of the last trip has got to be Lake Bunyoni in the Kabale District of Uganda. The Lake itself is one of Africa’s great Lake’s, located 2100 metres above sea level in the Highlands.  The scenery is literally breathtaking as we drive down to the waters edge surrounded by fantastic terraces, evergreen grasses and forest trees, well placed peninsulas and Islands.  There are some different options in terms of what to do at the lake ie. Visit a local orphanage or just relax in the serene surroundings.

However on this particular day I decided we would take our local guide, Frances, up on the offer to visit a Pygmy Tribe living on one of the Islands. So we spent an hour or so cruising across part of the 25km long lake, taking in the surrounds and waving at the endless amount of locals who were clearly pleased by our presence. As soon as we got out of the boats we began trekking uphill through masses of locals trying to barter and sell off chickens, fruit etc to anyone who would listen before we began hiking into the hills in search of this Tribe.  Eventually after an hour and a half we were greeted by tonnes of kids, insisting on holding hands and singing as they paraded us up a steep incline into what we soon realised was the Pygmy Village.

 The people seemed overjoyed by our presence and began performing a series of dances for us in front of the entire village.  While these dances were going on I decided to break the news to my own Oasis Overland tour group that we would be expected to perform our own dances and songs when they finished haha, cue the entire group turning to face me in horror of the very same thought.  So yeah I cant say it wasn’t embarrassing because performing the Maccarena to a bewildered Village of Africans was not what you’d really consider back home, nor did it seem normal singing songs equivalent to the well known kids song “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”….. You can now probably understand why I didn’t pre warn them about it – but it ended up being really fun and helped the group bond together in such a happy setting!

The Chief of the Village then addressed our Oasis Group with the help of our local guide and translator, Frances and expressed his deep appreciation for us coming to visit them.  He then requested that our Group’s chief did the same and addressed his Entire Village, which was all nice and lovely until I realised that, THAT SOMEONE WAS ME…..I had nowhere to run and although embarrassed to no end at being referred to as chief and asked to perform such a task I got up and thanked them for such a wonderful welcome & allowing us to visit their beautiful country.  Funnily enough, for the entire trip that followed and even to this day, some of the Oasis Passengers called and still call me “Chief” – they knew I hated it!!  I noted on this day the poor condition of the Tribes clothing and little do the Village know, myself and Richard have since collected donations to bring with our new overland tour group joining my trip tomorrow morning.  It’s a nice gesture, A way of giving something back and must be heartwarming for my last group to know we are about to trek into these same hills with such an offering J.

So here I am, Nairobi, sitting in the Cab of the Truck looking out at several of my new passengers who are beginning to chat to each other on the terrace of the bar. Richard is mingling in with them. Little do they all know, what everyone on my previous trips know, They are currently meeting some people who will go on to become Lifelong friends forever in touch with each other having travelled through and experienced some of the most amazing continent in the world….Africa J

I’ll let you all know what happens J

Derek & Richard – Oasis Overland Tour Leader  & Driver

You can visit Lake Bunyoni on the following Africa overland tours:

Gorillas & Gameparks

Apes & Lakes 38 days or 50 days

Grand Adventurer

Nile Trans

Trans Africa

Posted in Africa, All Blogs.

4 Responses

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  1. Nic says

    CHIEF!! ….we all know you loved it! Great post Derek, glad you are going back to see the Pygmy Hill Tribe, one of my favourite and most memorable days! Hope your new group is as cool as us!x

  2. Bree says

    Chief!!! That was such a great day!! However you didn’t mention the inter-boat skit challenge that we had whilst cruising the lake (that we lost 🙁 ) or the pouring rain that soaked everyone and had us all huddled around the fire trying to dry – that was a great way to get to know everyone 🙂 Miss you guys and hope your next trip is just as good – watch out for those hornbills!! hahahhaha………..

  3. Joy says

    Chief DCxx I will have an escort when you drive in todayxx

  4. Nicky G says

    Chris, almost teared up a bit there. Was definitely a higlight of the trip and such a bonding experience, pushing each other out of the way to get closest to the fire to dry our clothes. Really was an amazing experience and I find myself telling a story of the tour every day, whether people like it or not.

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