Peter Wilson of Three Journeys Round visits Mvuu Camp

Peter Wilson from the Three Journeys Round project recently visited Mvuu Camp and spent some time at the Children in the Wilderness Eco-Clubs, which are conducted at Nanthomba School in Liwonde.  Peter is at present on a remarkable journey and is travelling across Africa by helicopter with the goal of raising the profile of ‘a better planet through sustainable development’.  The objectives of Three Journeys Round is for Peter to meet local communities whose stories can inspire others to make an individual contribution to sustainable development, to showcase sustainability successes from Africa and to raise funds for remarkable organizations that are making a difference.  Round Africa 2016 is the first of three remarkable journeys.  In 2017 Peter will fly around the world and in 2018 he will fly around Latin America.

Peter’s Three Journeys Round project highlights that climate change, poverty and sustainable development are so interlinked that they can’t be tackled in isolation.  Here’s a day-by-day update of Peter’s experience from his travel log:

DAY 41 31/08/16, Vilankulo, Mozambique

Off to meet with the Children in the Wilderness team tomorrow in Malawi and Mvuu Lodge, here we come.  Up at 0530 to see the sunrise across the sea from my balcony…some great photos too.  Then I was off to pay up, get a quick bowl of cereal and a lift to the airport for 0700.   I lifted into the clammy day at 0754 local time and requested a routing over the JAM farm at Pambarra to take a few aerial shots, then, I was en-route to Blantyre via Beira.  It was calm at first, then the nasty little thermal turbulence with abrupt wind shear from time to time kicked in and got worse as the sun rose.  I tell you I knew it was going to be hot flying north.  The sun was ahead of me and coming in through the canopy.

The scenery was delta-like and coastal as I headed up to Beira.  Sporadic settlements, some things that looked like natural gas stations and mobile phone masts from time to time.  These features were cut by the rivers meandering to the sea.  No animals to speak of.  Zero wild ones, but only the odd sighting of goats now and then.  No cattle.  With the rivers came the greener and sometimes irrigated fields.  North of Beira, I turned towards Blantyre…only 250 miles to go.

The hills rose spectacularly to about 3,500 feet about 20 miles from Blantyre.  I climbed but still couldn’t get hold of Blantyre Control because of them.  Eventually as I rounded the corner and with 10 miles to run I established coms with Blantyre and in we went.  It was an easy landing, refuelling; pass through immigration, refiling of flight plan for Mvuu Lodge and payment of bills.  I called Claudia from the CAWS team to say that I was en-route and received instructions about where to land at the actual camp, on the grass rather than at the local airport on the dusty runway.

It was a quick skip across flat country, low level with hills around until I hit the Shire River.  Then just like the Cubango river in Angola, it was low level down the Shire river, up for the bridge and then low level all the way to the camp.  I saw loads of hippo all the way down the river.  In the park to my right hand side there were elephant.  I landed on the grass and was met by Matthews and Eddie.  After dismounting and covering my helicopter DIGA, Matthews took me off to my room and showed me around.  I unpacked and joined Matthews for a boat ride on the river until sunset.  Hippo, crocs, waterbuck, impala, warthog, wagtails, cormorants, egret, and many more animals were seen from the boat.

Matthews and Peter

Matthews and Peter

Then I headed back to the room to sort out my pictures.  I had dinner with Matthews and checked by Facebook page and my emails to sort out my visas and travel plans for the days ahead.

Day 42 01/09/16, Mvuu Camp, Malawi

I was up at 0515 to get some beautiful sunrise pictures and was then off to meet Matthews for a walk to look at tracks at 6am!   I learnt all sorts of things from Matthews…tracking various animals across the sandy paths…and learning about a couple of different plants.   It was nice and cool before the sun really took to the sky later.

Breakfast was scrambled eggs and the works before I visited the Children in the Wilderness (CITW) team in Malawi.

At 0900 Matthews and I set off across the river, we picked up bikes and rode a couple of miles to Nanthomba School to meet up with Edward and Donix who would show us around the CITW project.

img_4845As we travelled out of the park, we met Patrick and Wello who had a ‘roadside shop’ full of spectacular carvings.  They have swapped carving for poaching.  The revenues allowed them to buy wood for carving and support their families.  Their little solar panel was charging a battery that was charging their phones and also provided power to three LEDs that brought light to their home…fantastic.  Africa could do with more solar power.  This would help #sustainabledevelopment.

Edward and Donix met us at Nanthomba school.  This school is the ‘lead school’ of about five that has started an Eco-Club supported by Central Africa Wilderness Safaris (and other donors).  Matthews, who came from the area, and has risen through the ranks at CAWS to be an exceptional guide amongst very able peers, was a prime mover in setting up the Eco-Club.  Then teachers like Edward and Donix have taken up the challenge and made it a practical reality for the kids who volunteer.

Folks around here are not well off and the rains for about the last 10 years haven’t been great.  On top of that, the severe drought of the last three years has been devastating.  Nanthomba school has about 1000 children of all ages and the volunteers range in age.  The school ‘teaches the theory’ and has a vegetable garden and a plant nursery as teaching resources. The school sells its vegetable to the lodge.  Central Africa Wilderness Safaris (CAWS) provides opportunities for the kids to experience the lodge and practical guiding.  This is a coveted opportunity that changes lives.  Sponsoring a child, or school fees, or other activities really helps.  Have a look at the website and to help.

img_4869Matthews and Edward ran a Q&A session translating as Matthews and I talked with the children.  The questions were salutary.  These children have very little, but aspire to live within the earth’s means…developed countries need to pay attention…these children already live close to nature and they understand the essence of #sustainabledevelopment intuitively…it is a matter of life and death to them.  The Q&A experience was humbling.  One lady, 20 something, with two children, who willingly attend the Eco-Club, asked “was it possible, against a cultural expectation to do what she wanted to do and not what was expected of her in society”.   This folks, is the why women and children play such a critical role in eliminating extreme poverty and achieving #sustainabledevelopment.

We said our goodbyes to the school, the Eco-Club kids and then Edward and Donix.  The bicycle ride home and the boat ride back across the Shire River was a time to reflect.  This was not extreme poverty like I had seen in Angola…it was poverty with ‘desire to change’.  If we can ‘enable’ the ‘capability’ and the ‘desire’ of these individuals, then they can go a long way.  Please don’t do nothing…sponsor a CITW child.

DAY 43 02/09/16, Mvuu Camp, Malawi

Off to Lilongwe and then up the length of Malawi…looking forward to that.

I was sad to be leaving the absolute tranquillity of the welcoming surroundings of the Mvuu Lodge (Central Africa Wilderness Safaris, CAWS).  A BIG THANK YOU to all the lodge staff for their wonderful interactions and service.  Particularly Matthews who looked after me and introduced me to the very special Children in the Wilderness (CITW) project he and CAWS support.  The CAWS team have been faultless to a person in attending to the needs of clients, feeding us and informing us. It was special to land DIGA in the camp.

I woke this morning at 5am to the twittering of excited birds, the chirping of crickets and bugs, the deep laughing of the hippos in the river really close by and the barking, squealing and pitter patter of baboon feet outside the lodge.  Africa is wonderful as nature wakes up.

I went off to the helicopter, in the safety of the camp to prepare her and take an early morning picture in the bush.  Then back for breakfast, settling up, checking out the more scenic route I might take to Lilongwe, and then goodbyes.  The questions and ambitions of the Eco-Club kids from the CITW project still made me think…the first world really has no idea how it can help make the earth a better place for all.  The other question that was a challenge was “exactly how can your visit help me/ us”.

The flight to Lilongwe was lovely.  I flew low across the flat land, then climbing over the big hills in the way.  The turbulence buffets DIGA, but has never been too bad.  An on my right Lake Malombe, the big lake at the bottom of Lake Malawi that is not Lake Malawi.  I enjoy a bit of skimming the tops of hills.  It is amazing that folks farm the slopes, manually, and high up.  It has just got to be really hard physical work.  Then in just over an hour, the land falls away to the flat that presents Lilongwe and in I go.

You can also visit his website (here) to find out more about his journey, which is now almost at an end.

Here’s the latest update from Peter’s travels:

“The physical journey is nearly over.  74 days after I left on the 22nd July, I anticipate landing at Booker Monday morning, 03 October.  I have had wonderful experiences on this journey, met many extraordinary people, and seen things I shall never forget. I have SO MANY people and organisations to thank for supporting the platform I have enjoyed to raise awareness for Sustainable Development. That task is not over.  Sustainable Development is a BIG deal IN and FOR Africa.  I will be reflecting on this later after a short process of debriefing.

The Facebook page has about 1850 likes and the website about 2450 hits.  Continue to help me get Facebook to 2000 by sharing a post you like with your friends.  Please don’t be shy, this is important for our children.

In the meantime, there is always time to help support my two chosen charities, namely; Motivation International and Save the Children!  Donate whatever you can via the link below and help these fantastic organisations help make a difference to people’s lives.  And thank you so much for your donations so far.”

About Us: Central African Wilderness Safaris (CAWS) is an ecotourism company that offers the finest quality safari experiences and the ultimate holiday getaways in Malawi, the warm heart of Africa. CAWS offers both up-market tailor-made luxury safaris as well as more affordable budget safari options. The company is dedicated to offering personalised and authentic travel experiences that have a minimal impact on the planet and a lasting impact on people.

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