Elephants, and Our Place in the World

A few weeks back I wrote an article about giraffes that was informed in part by the early work of Dr. Cynthia Moss from her 1982 book Portraits in the Wild: Animal Behavior in East Africa. Dr. Moss is the director and founder of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants.

I got their latest newsletter yesterday. It makes me want to urge you to read into issues facing elephant populations for yourself. African wildlife has never been under more strain and it is just heartwarming that there are people like Dr. Moss and her team who have made a life of thinking globally and acting locally (and in Dr. Moss’s case, having a global impact).

My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Dr. Moss in Amboseli a couple of years back, and if you’re looking for a cause, we can’t think of any more worthwhile than hers. We can’t wait to get back under the shadow of Kilimanjaro, to Amboseli.

Consider signing up for the ATE newsletter (from the newsletter link above), and if you do Facebook, like ATE there. For that matter, why not consider a trip to see elephants yourself? Promise, it’ll change your life.

This photo from the EarthPhotos.com Kenya Gallery comes from Amboseli (Click it to enlarge it). Get yourself to Nairobi and there are straightforward connections out to Amboseli, and affordable lodging at the perfectly lovely Ol Tukai Lodge, as well as several other, higher-end options.

We all get caught up in our daily lives, but for those who give at least the occasional thought to our place on the planet, and how we fit in with the larger world of wildlife, a trip into the bush will be way more rewarding than a shiny new big screen TV for Christmas. Promise.

Arrow of Time Points in the Wrong Direction

Two links:

Afghanistan looked very different in the 1960s, and

Iran looked very different in the 1970s.

Another DPRK Travelogue

With North Korea acting evil again, here's another look inside Pyongyang from Sophie Schimdt, daughter of Google's Eric Schmidt, who was recently in the DPRK on another one of those Bill Richardson trips. She shares her photos of a government guest house, which is, as she puts it, "a bizarre mix of marble grandeur and what passed for chic in North Korea in the 1970s."

Meanwhile, this guy is into watching North Korea from above.


Extreme Travel: Iraq, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, More


"If something happens to them, I'm very sorry—I do my best to make sure it doesn't. But if it does, then that's what happened. Anyone who says they didn't know is an idiot. It's on television every day." – Geoff Hann

Hinterland Travel organizes trips to the places on its web site masthead, above, and some more. Sample prices: Afghanistan, 24 days from £2560, Iraq, nine day tour £1780. There's a long article here in Outside Magazine about a Hinterland trip through Afghanistan.

Kabul’s Safi Airways In-Flight Magazine


It's not everyday you see an ad for armouring cars … in an in-flight magazine. But then, this one comes from the Safi Airways in-flight magazine, and Safi Airways flies out of Afghanistan. The magazine features breezy articles about Herat ("People Smile") and Kabul, and lists eleven Kabul hotels from which to choose. It's interesting reading. Check it out. The whole thing is online here.

5 = 3

Further to the post Getting Along in Afghanistan a couple of weeks back, and this one linking to advice to first-time embeds in Afghanistan, Gadling has Five ways to get to Kabul, Afghanistan, which, it turns out, are really only three.

Getting Along in Afghanistan

A couple of items to follow up on this column last week, which discussed travel to and in Afghanistan including, among other things, Advice for first-time embeds to Afghanistan:

– Here’s the Survival Guide to Kabul

– Nicholas Kristof offers “advice on how to work in insecure or Taliban areas.”

Tpib And to set the stage, read Rory Stewart’s The Places in Between, about his crazy walk across Afghanistan back in 2002, just after the Taliban was deposed. It’s a quick, two day read that leaves impressions you can sum up in three words: Mud, snow and fear.

Okay, maybe a few more: bluster, brinksmanship, bluntness, dirty, machismo, austerity, and ignorance come to mind.

The News, Unpackaged

"News" is packaged for the audience that receives it. Lightstalkers, a bulletin board for "unconventional travelers," meaning photographers, journalists, aid workers and security professionals among others, offers a fascinating way around the packaging (read their "manifesto").

Want to know what's really happening in the war in Afghanistan? Read Advice for first-time embeds to Afghanistan, which suggests that

"Basically the situation is that the Americans and NATO have reached a military stalemate. NATO are so thinly spread they can only hold the ares they have now and are not push into any of the Taliban safe havens."


"Kandahar is much worse then in 2007. There are no foreigners outside of the military bases and you ARE a target. I did spend a day out of the KAF, it was fun, but I looked a lot like a Pashtu. If you are a women, not using a burka on the streets should call a lot of attentions there, but saying that I know women who did it last year."

(Typos are on the bulletin board. Hey, they're writing from the field.)

Some advice for visitors to Afghanistan, among many, many other things,

"Don’t wear anything synthetic, as in a blast it will melt into skin and make burns much worse."


"Have insurance that covers medical evacuation from afghanistan. The military will stabilize you if you are wounded, (but) after that you are on your own."

Elsewhere on Lightstalkers you'll find suggestions for travel gear, including the Black Animus Waterproof Backpack, Petzl Headlamp with Red Filter and, for uploading those war photos by satellite, the Hughes 9201 Bgan Satellite Modem for around $2500.

Check it out. It's fascinating. The news, unpackaged.

Can I Use Mastercard to Lahore?

You never know, but Sarwar Sukhera sounds honest in this review of flying the friendly skies of PIA Pakistan International Airways:

"Overhead compartments are jammed with carry-on baggage that make one wonder why the designers never thought of building the main cargo area overhead instead of down there in the belly of the plane."

Oh, and it just didn't get any better. Imagine. Read the whole thing.


Tourism in War Torn Lands

Silkroadhotel You see a story like this periodically, a variation on "tourism returns to war torn land." We had a story here on CS&W about a year ago about the return of tourists to Kurdish Iraq, and another here about how various airlines are returning to Iraq. For example, Austrian Airlines flies to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, but remember, those three young people hiking Iraqi Kurdistan by the Iranian border are still being held by Iran.

This is a photo of the Hotel Silk Road in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. In an article called Afghans Prepare For Tourism Development, at RFERL, Hiromi Yasui, the owner, notes that "Bamiyan itself is peaceful; but, you know, there's no direct flights
from foreign countries, so everybody must [come through] Kabul by road. It's very bumpy [and it takes] around eight-nine hours."

Rooms start at $100 a night. The hotel is now in its second year of business.

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