Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Our first impressions of the Dharavi Slum.Mumbai

This was the first view that we had of the slum.
We stood at the top of a flight of stairs and were immediately absorbed
by this cauldron of activity. 
The constant hooting of vehicles and scooters was just background 
to the overwhelming sense of purpose and community that this area engenders.
Built in 1883 to house the influx of rural Indians to Mumbai,
this 3.1 sq km area is home to almost 1 million people.
The four main industries here bring in an annual turnover of $1b.
It has suffered many epidemics, including the plague that in 1896
 killed more than half the population of Mumbai.
Many of the scenes from the 2008 film "Slumdog Millionaire" were shot here.

Dharavi is home to a diverse population.
They are multi religious and multi ethnic, 
coming as they do from all over India.
That is why there are a variety of religious buildings and
the people seem to have created a community that works in harmony.
In the 18th century, this area was an island, covered in mainly mangrove swamps.

This might look like a chaotic intersection...
however, patience seemed to win and eventually everyone moved on.
I was amazed at just how forgiving the Indian drivers actually are.
Incidents that in the West might lead to road rage and possible injury
are treated as "normal" here.
In our entire 12 day stay in India, I only saw two accidents,
neither of which had fatalities.

There are 4 main industries here in Daharavi...
Plastic recycling seems to be the predominate one.
The incoming plastics of all shapes and sizes are crushed,
washed and dried before being sent of to major factories
 where they are turned into pellets,
which will then be used in various plastics manufacturing industries. 
This image shows two of the locals washing the crushed plastic by hand.
All of the end product is dried on the roofs of the houses,
before being sent off for processing. 
The work is dirty, labour intensives and almost infinite,
as the amount of plastic being brought in seems endless.

The second major industry is leather work.
There is a leather outlet that has the most stunning products.
They would not look out of place in any high end boutique
in a major city in the West.
This is the bag that I bought my wife as a birthday gift.
Made of water buffalo leather is cost the princely sum of  $17.00!
My only regret of the entire trip is that I did not buy myself a briefcase here.

There is a thriving textile industry that can be found 
in almost every nook and cranny of the alleyways.
Often the staff work in shifts, and those that are off duty sleep on the premises.
If you can visualise a garment or an item, 
it can probably be made here.

The interiors of suitcases and bags were being constructed here.

Pottery is the final major industry in Dharavi.
It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes
and is mainly made of the local terracotta clay.

There are MANY barber shops in the slum.
Several chairs and no waiting was the order of the day

Education plays a very important part in the lives of the children here.
Yes. they might be living in a slum, 
but they have pride in their uniforms and their opportunity for an education.
Many of the child actors in the 2008 Danny Boyle movie "Slumdog Millionaire",
were from this slum.

Our tour guide in Mumbai was Salmani Oves. 
He lives in Dharavi and we were privilaged
to have been invited to his home to meet his family.

Our trip itinerary was superbly handled by this travel company.
And specifically by Mr Aman, their Senior Travel Advisor
I would highly recommend that you contact them,
should you be considering a trip to India.
For more information on what they offer,
visit their website:

This is the hotel that we stayed at during our stay in Mumbai.

Monday, April 23, 2018

KwaFubesi Tented Safari Camp, Limpopo Province

With Willie Neslon (and me) singing "On the road again",
it was time to head back to Mabula,
to stay at their Kwafubesi Tented Camp.
I have passed this roadside store on several previous trips, 
but this time I decided to stop and pay it a visit.
Called "Peet se Padstal" it can be found just as you exit Bela Bela.
It is certainly worth browsing around the home made food and crafts.

The sky was a brilliant blue the entire time I was in camp.
The only variance was the amount of cloud cover...
And the rain that came pattering down on one evening.
But no rain during any of the game drives that I and the other guests enjoyed.

My first view of the main lodge building
 and the brand new succulent garden.
"How do you know it was new"? I hear you ask.
"I watched them plant it"... is my response

Open the the elements...
The main dining/lounge/bar/ meeting area is covered by a thatch roof
but is open to the views on all sides.
Feeling chilly? Not with the fire burning away in the central hearth.

I should imagine that this pool would be well utilised in the summer months.
During my visit, neither I nor any of the other guests
 were brave enough to take the plunge.

The lounge area which is closest to the pool.

Kwafubesi offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.
As well as high tea before leaving on afternoon game drive.
This was my generous chicken salad lunch.
I was offered dessert as well, but I turned that down
in order to "save" it for dinner.
Suffice to say that with the wonderful Chef  they have in the kitchen,
 guests are NOT going to go hungry.

After enjoying a welcome drink and filling out the ubiquitous indemnity,
I was escorted to my accommodation.
I was not expecting what I discovered.
Not one of those tents that you have to bend down to enter 
and cannot stand upright in...oh no!
This was proper accommodation, 
the only difference being the fact that the walls are canvas.

From the inside looking out...
A very comfortable bed (with individual electric blankets),
a seating area indoors as well as a deck that has chairs and a table.
There was also a well stocked tea/coffee station.

It took me a moment to figure out that the shower was actually over the bath.
The reason for this momentary confusion, 
the pipe-work was covered in green canvas making it almost invisible.
But no time to dally...a game drive awaited.

Back to the main lodge (which was a short walk from my tent)
for a quick coffee and biscuit before heading out to see what awaited.
Every drive that I go on holds and element of excitement,
especially when I am in a Big 5 reserve. 

Time to let the other vehicles that we are "on drive" 
and looking for an update.

And look what we found!
This White Rhino was just one of several that I was able to photograph.
There will be more wild life images in other postings that will follow.

As the sun sinks in West, it is time to head back to camp.
It has always amazed me how quickly the sun sets when you are in the bush.
One moment it is light and the next you need a torch to spot game.
For me this is the magic time...watching as yet another day ends in Africa.
It is at this moment that the chorus of Jackal calls starts,
signalling that they are out looking for a meal.
And speaking of meal...I wonder what awaits me at camp.

This is a very impressive line up of alcohol choices for guests.

And THIS is what I had for dinner...
As well as a starter AND dessert!

There is an old adage that says
"Tummy full, eyes closed"...
So it was time to head back my tent and to what promised to be a
 wonderful, peaceful evening under canvas.
The skies were a plethora of stars and the Milky Way took my breath away.

This is why guests have to be escorted back to their tents.
This porcupine has taken up residence close to the camp
and visited on a nightly basis.
The camp has an electric fence surrounding it,
but it only has two strands that are designed to deter elephants.
All other game, including some predators have access.

Damian was my ranger for the duration of my stay.
And NO, this was not his hat...
It had fallen off another vehicle and we were returning it.
The guests on our vehicle dared him to put it on.
And he accepted the challenge!
He is a very knowledgeable young man,
 who takes pleasure in sharing information with his guests.

To find out more about this camp and what they offer,





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