A Travellerspoint blog

Dzanga Sangha National Park

Dzanga Sangha is a National Park situated in the Central African Republic and listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This reserve is the place inhabited by unique animals — forest elephants.

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Forest elephants differ from their relatives savannah elephants in several ways-taste preferences, behaviour and a smaller size. Forest elephant is 2 meters in height and has very thick hair. They inhabit the tropical forests of equatorial west and central Africa but the largest population of these species live on the territory Dzanga Sangha. The role of the elephant in the reserve is unique as it regularly disperses seeds over unprecedented distances and also damaging the branches of the trees providing light to the plants and bushes of the "second layer". Also these hard-working inhabitants of the rainforest compensate the lack micronutrients in the soil. It happens this way.

The soil of the Park is rich in minerals that elephant need for replenishing the lack of elements in plant food and for maintaining a healthy balance in the body. The ingredients contained in groundwaters of Dzanga Sangha possess healing properties from stomach disorders and help to get rid of parasites and toxic substances. The round eared elephants dig rather deep pits in the soil, to get the mineral substances from the beds of rivers and streams. These places collect up to 400 individuals where they have to communicate, share the information and get the first experience in their social life therefore that often leads to conflicts between the species. Forest elephants unlike their relatives live in small groups of 3 - 5 individuals. They are very amazing animals - forest elephants, but their population was strongly reduced in recent months. Unfortunately, the person in the pursuit of material goods, loses a sense of respect and gratitude to the nature. This happened with the Dzanga Sangha reserve.
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On the 23 March 2013 there was a coup in the Central African Republic, as a result of it a group of Sudanese mercenaries gained control over large areas of the country, including the territory of the reserve Dzanga Sangha.. World famous scientists working in this area were forced to leave their jobs, and go down the river to the neighboring countries. Among them there was an outstanding scientist Louis Sarno, who has lived in the area for more than 20 years and has given the mankind the priceless works about the life of the unique pygmy Baaka. The wave of violence swept through the territory of the Republic.
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In addition to human casualties, there is information about 26 dead forest elephants. The poachers were active in the Dzanga Sangha about a month. By June, the CAR government could take back control of the state, which made it possible to carry out a series of operations to clean up the park from poachers, in the course of which were seized 44 firearms, including two automatic AK47, and more than 2,000 snares and traps.
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But recently according to the information the rebel troops of Seleka still spread chaos in the country's rural areas.From the report of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on August 10: "For the last time Arbitrary arrests and detentions, sexual violence against children and women, targeted killings, recruitment of child soldiers by the rebel army were fixed in the Central African Republic , and made a number of attacks by SELEKA troops on settlements, in order to plunder. Health Care System of the country is destroyed. Due to this level of malaria has increased by 33%.
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In the territories conterminal to the lands of the Dzanga Sangha Reserve bandits looting the local population. And when there was nothing to take from an already impoverished population, looters turned their attention to forest elephants. World circle photos showing the horrific murder scene of forest giants. As well as photos mutilated carcasses of unique animals photos showing the horrific murder scene of forest elephants spread all over the world... Forest elephants were victims of poachers, not for the sake of satisfying hunger, but for the sake of profit. After all China takes tusks with great desire and it does not matter which way they are got.
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The kilogram of ivory costs up to 2000 U.S. dollars on the black market. At the present the scientist Rod Cassidy returned to Dzanga Sangha and tries in vain to attract the attention of the world community to the problem of the destruction of forest elephants. According to the proverb "One man in the field is no warrior". And I know one more thing...the whole cities are build brick by brick.

Posted by Olga Michi 12:11 Archived in Central African Rep. Tagged animals elephants africa war photographer dzanga-sangha Comments (0)

About Shangri-La, New Guinea and the meaning of life. Part 3

Our small missionary plane is landing. We can see a small village immersed in the greenery. It is Yaniruma.

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There is a real welter on the runway: people are going from all over the village and just in a couple of minutes all the native population is already here.

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We are quite a novelty for the natives, just like they are for us. Some of them are examining our group with a wary curiosity, the others are turning away when see the lens of my camera. But they don’t show any open aggression. Our guide gives competent instructions and soon all our luggage, which is just a little less than 500 kilos, has been loaded on some backs or heads. The long caravan, resembling of an ant column, moves steadily to Simon’s house at the far end of the village. For a couple of days this ramshackle building will be our home.

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Yaniruma village consists of several streets. Its population is about 500 people and composed of three nationalities: Kombai, Korowai Batu, Korowai. Korowai Batu build their huts very high, whereas for conventional Korowai seven meters is enough. The tribes speak different dialects, but, in principle, they all learned to understand each other and live side by side, though conflicts still arise. Once we have happened to see it, but about it a while later...

There is only few municipal institutions in the village: a school (if you can call it that), an unfinished hospital with some basic medicines that looks like some kind of a store. All the houses were built by the government and look almost identical - they thrown together in haste from the rough coarse planks. There is no glass in the windows as well as electricity, running water, toilet facilities and gas. Diesel generators are only in a few houses - it is not cheap, only a few people can afford it. And it is so fun to watch satellite dishes near the huts, they are rusty and full of water - it is the only sign that the village embrace together with the other world the XXI century.

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There are no any functional church or a bookstore or a newsstand -these people are not interested in the world news. However, Yaniruma residents learned about its existence only 30 years ago, when in 1977 the first family of missionaries came to the village. The romantics from Holland dreamed to convert Papuans to Christianity, build the first school and the first so much-needed hospital. But the people (apparently, the parents of the current villagers) did not want to see strangers at their land. At a general gathering, it was decided to kill the whole family. And the natives did it not sparing even the children. The big missionary house stands as a gloomy reminder of this story, built as a sample of modern European buildings and evidently stands out among the other buildings.

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The first tourists came to Yaniruma in the early 90's, and the enterprising natives settled them in the most infamous house. Soon, however, the visitors began to refuse sleeping there. Maybe, they saw the nightmares and the thought of a similar death gone them away from that place. We were decided to settle nearby the local people, so we set off to the representative of the village "power" - Simon. We had to use his hospitality for a few nights.

Simple, unfurnished house, no different from all the others, consisted of three small rooms: two walk-through rooms and a very small kitchen with a fireplace right on the wooden floor.

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"Facilities" in the form of modern toilets have been hammered together specially or us in the yard. A shower ... "Shower" was on the opposite street as a knee-deep river, however, in a week, as the result of heavy rains it turned into a full-flowing course of the Dayram river.

Despite of the asceticism of our temporary shelter, the life in the village was quite romantic. In the evenings we went swimming to the river, although we knew that there were huge crocodiles. Now, after my diving with the Nile reptiles in the Okavango, I have no longer feel fear near these monsters any more. People often afraid of what they don't know. We had dinner by candlelight, telling each other funny and sad stories of life. And we wondered how strangely our fates intertwined ... three of us met in hundreds of thousands of kilometers from civilization in the midst of swamps and jungles, in a distant world that knows no cars as well as TV, radio, mobile phone, Internet. A simple real-life communication brought us together and made clear to each other.

Here, on the edge of the universe, silence was filled by the thoughts about the eternal and the stars shone especially bright. Nothing annoyed and on the contrary, every trifle brought please. Soon, we were used to the gang of kids who were always near and always follow us, even when we were just sitting at home. And the sleep on the hard floor with the sound of rain seemed particularly sweet.

At such moments, willy nilly you think whether the missionaries brought happiness to people inhabiting these places? After all, people continiue to live here as well as they lived here before, just wearing out someone else's clothes, loitering about and selling their unusual lifestyles to the tourists.
We studied the life of the villagers, and they studied our lives. At six o'clock in the evening it is getting dark, so the villagers go to bed early and get up with the first rays of the sun. At half past six in the morning our small house was filled with people. Some of them played homemade instruments, others smoked cigarettes without a break, while others incessantly argued about something. Periodically, this noise included in itself the yells of pigs that were under the floorboards, endlessly weeping neighbor' kids and the eternally clapping doors. As there were no furniture in the house, guests placed directly on the floor, so did we.

Our guide Olfit cooked for us. He did it on a makeshift kitchen, right on the fire. Frankly speaking, we have never regretted about the decision to leave the cook. Moreover, our meal is always consisted of soup, rice, meat and vegetables. Generally we have never been hungry. I have always been touched by the cooking process. The whole crowd of men gathered at the "kitchen", half of them just sat on the floor, smoking and it seemed as they were discussing something important. As a rule, among my friends in Russia such gatherings in the kitchen are especially female activity.

Generally, there are a lot of men who loiter in the village, whereas women do not have to be bored. Many of them have more than three children, mainly the same age. Our neighbor, which lives next to us has five children. The youngest is no more than one year old and the oldest is about nine years old. Time to time, she went out somewhere taking only a junior child with her, the other were locked alone in the house. I've never seen that the men helped their women. And I've never seen a woman bathed or washed their children. But there are rather a lot of sick kids.

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The children play outside without any supervision. They have no toys, only that ones they can construct by themselves. Some have fun by smashing the pigs, which they call "Babi", others ride the logs on sticks, still others relentlessly follow the tourists or twine around the men. Older children attend school, which consists of only two rooms that are located in the rundown building.

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Even in a total poverty the schoolchildren are required to wear a school uniform. And how do the girls in torn shirts and pants change when they put on red skirts and white blouses! Generally, if you see white clothes in these places it is like seeing a UFO. Villagers wash their things in a special way: either on themselves or taking out into the rain. Alas, even after a week, most people have mangy underwear hanging on the fence.

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On the eve of the "X" day we sat at the floor with a cup of tea for a total checking of duffels, equipment, food and the people. Olfit gathered a team of 12 strong men who are ready to go with us to the expedition. He recommended them as particularly good and strong men. After all, we'll have to travel in the wild, swampy and impassable tropical forests, where the way may have to be laid with a machete. Aborigines much more adapted to survive in these conditions, they were born here, grew up, know the terrain ... and the jungle is a place of their work as well. Most of them work part time for felling, which floated on the river to the nearest city.

We agree with the choice of Olfit, shake hands and pleased with good course of events go to sleep. Tomorrow we are waiting for the Great, long and difficult day. As we crossed to the other side of the river, we went into the forest and come face to face with all the difficulties and dangers of this region, our destinies will be fully entrusted to the hands of God.

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Posted by Olga Michi 13:14 Archived in Papua New Guinea Tagged new tribe photographer guinea Comments (0)

About Shangri-La, New Guinea and the meaning of life. Part 2

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We leave the friendly village and get into the car. It's time to go back, because we have planned to buy fruit at the local market. Along the way we constantly come across with sad and concerned people who are in a hurry somewhere, carrying bags of rice, small pigs, vegetables and fruits. I am asking the guide where they are going. "To the funeral", he answers and asks me for the permission to drop in there for a while. And so we are going there together, but it seems to me, we will be there out of place.

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The yard is crowded with people. Men and women are sitting separately. We can hear only the hum of voices. Actually, this is the right tradition - to get together and mourn a common and certainly a beloved and respected friend. Our guide is joining the men, and they start crying bitterly and loudly. People go on lamenting, we can't understand their language, but we do understand that they are talking about the pain of loss.

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Late Justinus Dhabi was a famous conductor for more than 25 years. He was the leader of the Association of guides, belonged to the Dani tribe and was fluent in English. The person who had worked all his life with people and headed more than one hundred expeditions in the jungle, died from malaria. Today his friends have come to remember him. The funeral will take place tomorrow. And tomorrow his wife's finger will be cut off and cremated together with the body in the yard of this house. But at the moment all the guests are treated with rice, vegetables and even pork during the whole day, that undoubtedly is a great luxury. All these treats are brought by guests , paying a tribute of respect to the deceased. They will share the meal, but the hosts and close relatives have no right to eat during a month, they are supposed to follow a special feast.

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We were surprised by the way of cooking pork. They dig a hole in the ground and cover it with palm leaves. Then they put the hot stones on the bottom and big pieces of meat on them. After that the pork is covered with leaves and hot stones . In 50 minutes the dish is ready. We thank the hosts for their hospitality and opportunity to take photos, than we express our deep condolences once again, donate small sum of money and quickly leave the yard.

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Out next stop is the local market. There is almost everything here! Vegetables, fruit, souvenirs mixed with people, sitting on the ground and children crawling under the customers, sellers and grazing animals's feet. And in the midths of all this chaos I unexpectedly find a really worthwhile souvenir - two unique ritual headdresses decorated with stuffed birds of paradise, feathers of the cassowary and precious shells. Of course, I immediately start bargening. Here, as well as in any other market, it is necessary to haggle. After 15 minutes of stormy negotiations we determine the price acceptable to both sides, and here I am the proud owner of one more exotic rarity! Now we may come back to the hotel, especially since it's getting dark outside.

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A small hotel Baliem Pilamo is a clean and cozy place. The small restaurant is almost empty. One table is occupied by a small group of tourists. August is considered as an unsuitable season for visiting New Guinea, though a festival of Papuan tribes takes place here right at this time, but unfortunately we were late for two days. The guide says that the best period in Papua lasts from October to January, and August is a very damp and wet month.

Early in the morning we set off to the same tiny airport more reminding me a rusty hangar. The tight room without glasses and conditioners filled with travelers. The local tributes are bustling between them, trying to sell something and earn some money or get cigarettes at least. Asike also comes here. Today he is sad, explaining that he will miss and wait for us back. And I am surprised very much again how such simple, “little” people can have such huge souls!

We load our huge baggage into the tiny plane. Obviously there are more bags, than it should to be. We come to the conclusion to fly without a cook.

The overcrowded aircraft is heavily gaining the altitude. The beauty of the landscape takes my breath and I feel as I am back in the pages of the novel “Lost in Shangri-La” again. The beautiful valley stretched below us is replaced by the chain of mountain ranges. The rivers like curly snakes, cross thousands kilometers of absolutely impenetrable jungle. These places are fraught with danger. There are hundreds of poisonous insects, reptiles and plants, millions of bacterias, high humidity and sultriness heat. We have to face all of these the next few days, but we are ready just to to meet the Korowai tribe. The tribe of my dream.

What is waiting for us, whether we'll come back safe and sound? And if there are hardships, whether we'll overcome them with dignity? No tour operator gave us any security guarantees. Moreover, we have signed the document that we are warned about everything. We interfere in the world, where we are absolutely alien. Now everything depends only on our physical and moral preparation. We'll have to try our willpower and spirit in this trip not once and in full.

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Posted by Olga Michi 02:29 Archived in Papua New Guinea Tagged new travelling guinea tribes aboriginals Comments (0)

About Shangri-La, New Guinea and the meaning of life. Part 1

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The soothing rain is knoсking upon the roof. Simon`s wooden house hastily hammered together fell into a deep sleep. Two of our guides and a whole team of porters are sleeping in the next room. Judging by the rumbling snor, everybody are exhausted. Now, in a relative safety, the men finally dared to relax . Only Simon is quietly walking around the house, checking the locks on the doors and windows. I can hear the creaking of the floorboards under his feet. We are his guests and he care of us.

I'm lying on a straw mat, right on the wooden floor in a room with no furniture, having wrapped in a dirty and damp sleeping bag. The candle is burning down in the corner of the room, and next to me my best friend and the most important companion in my expeditions - Svetlana is snuffling heavily and sweetly. Now I start realizing that everything is over.... but my brain and my body is still on the alert, and I’m listening to any sound beyond the walls of the room. Only yesterday just at this time we were thinking how we were giong to ascape from the aggressive tribe at night in a pitch darkness, in the midst of the impenetrable jungle.

We are hurriedly packing our bags for the expedition. In a couple of hours we are going to New Guinea. The trip won`t be easy as we are going to live in the trees in the very middle of the tropical rain forest either in the houses of Korowai tribe or in our tents. Under such conditions, we need a lot of useful staff: waterproof bags, a supply of dry warm and comfortable clothes, rubber boots , two pairs of convenient shoes, a stock of personal hygiene means, medicines for all occasions, disposable tableware, food, thermoses, penknives, flashes, sleeping-bags, towels, a set of packages of different sizes. The clothes become damp immediately at the place where we are going to, and it is almost impossible to dry it up. Wounds and cuts heal hardly there. And it is necessary to calculate and think over each detail of luggage because during the expedition we will rely and entirely depend only on this stuff.

The local tour operator intimidates us, telling about dreadful diseases, the poisonous jungle and wild people. But we are determined. Moreover, this trip is going to become a turning point in my career as a travel-photographer, I am going to shoot a documentary film this time. For this purpose I am taking a professional operator and a huge number of various audio, video and photo aquipment with me.

Our point of departure is Bali. We are waiting for night flight with two stops and one transfer.

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Oh, my Goodness, I have never had such a difficult flight yet! I caught a viral infection before the travel and during the flight I was suffering from hight temperatura and nausea. After a 10-hour fly I am completely exhausted. I fall on a bed in my room in Baliem Pilamo hotel in Wamena. But we have such a busy schedule that I have no time for the rest. I hardly force myself to get up, check the equipment and ready to continiue my way again. Today we are visiting the hills of NAPA and getting acquainted with Dani Tribe`s customs and culture.

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Even despite a terrible weakness, I feel an emotional lift. I have been going to it for so long that no circumstances that can break my determination. In general, visiting New Guinea was almost unrealizable dream for me for nearly 10 years. And during these long years I was eargely looking at the map of this island and soaking any information about it. I remember how a few years ago I came across the book “Lost in Shangri-La” of Zukoff Mitchell. I read it with such a great interest! And now I am standing in the Baliem valley or as it is called in the novel “The secret valley” and can't believe my eyes: how precisely, according to the colonel Ray T. Elsmor, the author described this place! But for me the most surprising thing is that practically nothing has changed during this period.

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The same flat green countryside framed by the high mountains shrouded in thick white clouds and the same small huts with tiny well-groomed gardens. It’s unbelievable but the same naked men with holim on penises and the same naked women in short grass skirts inhabit this valley. The only innovation is a small airport due which the travelers can visit this place.

By the way, the first tourists arrived here in the early 80th. And our friend Asike Haluk from the Dani tribe tells us how he saw a huge “steel bird” for the first time, it happened 25 years ago. Since then almost every day he makes a two-hour way from Pidgima village to the airport to greet "white alien", so strange for him. Asike has been living all his life in the village; he has seen a huge number of planes already, but he hasn’t got inside the plane yet.

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Asike immediately won our hearts and we decided to take him with us. He was so delighted that right here got into the trunk of our car. The native asked only some packs of local cigarettes for his help. And I gave him a Russian nesting doll- matryoshka. It was worth seeing how the old man laughed exploring these wooden rosy beauties!

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It is hard to define Asike's age. The natives don't keep chronology, don't celebrate birthdays and don't know how old they are. The local guide and Daniss`s loyal friend Alfit Kulu supposes that Asike is about 56 years old.

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Asike is deaf and dumb, but he understands everything with a help of gestures. Due to his congenital defect he is considered the `holy fool` in his village. His wife left him, and he has no children. I ask the elderly Dani if I agreed to marry him, what bride price he would give to my family then. Without hesitating Asike says that he is ready to give me 40 pigs. It flatters me very much as the cost of pigs reaches 5000 dollars here. Even according to our standards the amount is absolutely heavy and prohibitive. So Asike is considered a very rich man in the village.

Posted by Olga Michi 12:43 Archived in Papua New Guinea Tagged new tribe guinea video Comments (0)

Along with the river monster. Part 3

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Day 5

All night I couldn`t fall asleep. Moreover, the story told by Greg about unfortunate last year`s diving of South-American group added the fear. They arrived two weeks after Amos left the island. Initially the season was chosen wrong. In addition, the number of participants exceeded five. And when such a large group of divers surrounded the large male, the croc panicked and attacked one of the divers. The other diver could rescue the unfortunate tourist. He survived of course, but he is still working on the recovery of the limb. There is a rule - no more than 3 people at a time. Two divers have to secure the one who works with a reptile. You must always give the animal a chance to escape and in no event deprive it its own space, thereby causing it to defend itself.

I understand it well, but, nevertheless, the further we go, the more nervous I am. Every day I realise what a dangerous trip I have organised. The sense of alarm is increasing day by day and I am really very scared when someone starts a countdown which inevitably leads me into the abyss of the murky water where I can`t control the situation at all. We all realize that we interfere in the world that belongs to the ancient reptiles and we are absolutely helpless in this conditions. It is our fifth day when we risk our lives in search of the huge crocodile, but every time we go down to the bottom, I can not help thinking that he has already found us .
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This day is particularly frightful. All morning I am feeling sick and have absolutely no appetite. With the last bit of strength I delay the time when it will be necessary to pull a suit for diving on and to prepare the equipment... finally we load everything on the boat and set off to search the one who can search any of us much easier... Most part of the way we don`t talk with each other. Everyone spends this time in his own thoughts, only occasionally, we meet the eyes and I understand that all of us are anxious about the same, only the motivation differs. I can not understand for myself, why I do it, I don`t think it is cool or fun anymore, but to give up is impossible for me because of my nature.

It seems like everything is as usual, but now my whole body shudders at the thought that again and again I have to jump into the icy water in the vicinity of the huge crocodiles. My poor body gets shock from the ice water. It is very hard to repress the feeling of cold, my whole body trembles and desperately struggle against water. Guys have already stuffed my pockets with heavy goods, I have a rather heavy camera with a protective box in my hands, but still it is not easy to get to the bottom. And only when I reached it I can breathe a sigh of relief. Here it is rather safe. Despite the stream, we can look around calmly and start looking for the croc. As a rule, each male occupies its own territory. It is winter in Botswana, and the animal prefers to be on the surface, as much as possible in the sun. In the coldest month the water becomes extremely cold. The Nile crocodiles is a very shy and timid animal, having heard the sound of a motor boat, it immediately slides into the water.
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As a rule, crocs stay not far from their favorite place in the sun, and it is not difficult for us to find them under the water in the niche of clay or papyrus stems. The crocodile has a poor sight in the water, that is why it mostly relies on its sensors that are on the snout. And if you are not going to touch this toothy part of the body, you can spend with it quite a lot of time to explore this huge creature and take pictures. Walter and Amos even have a risk to hold its tail, I can not... The huge size of the tail which equals my size scares me no less than its famous smile.

Today we have already dived 4 times, but all to no avail. Crocodiles escape from us all the time, unfortunately we find them in the places where the bottom is covered with black clay and at any movement of flippers, the visibility becomes nearly equal to zero. In such moments it is especially terrible to me to rise up to the surface. We almost can't see the croc and we don't know where it is. Here is one more rule. We mustn`t float near the shore, as this is a zone which crocodiles protect, and at this time of the year they try to be closer to the bank of the river in order to bask in the sun.
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Thus, we swim off to the middle of the river, I should completely unbutton the vest at the bottom, so that sometimes it keeps only by means of the air regulator in your mouth. Then I must as a bullet from a gun jet to the surface, instantly get rid of the vest and jump into the boat.

How often these days I emerged far from the boat and at such moments I was captured with the despair and terrible fear...as this monster never attacks its victim at the bottom, he always catches it on the surface. And every time when I am on the boat, I thank God for a successful immersion and emersion.

Today I am so scared that I cannot fight the cold any more and I refuse to dive for the fifth time.This time we find a crocodile in a peculiar lagoon which, undoubtedly, it considers only its house and that is why such places are very dangerous for divers. The croc is just 3 meters long, that means that he is rather young and unpredictable. Amos begins to persuade me to dive one more time, the last one for today. And I was about to agree, but some inner feeling, so called the Gut feeling, does not allow me to take a step.
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I apologize, very upset with my cowardice. Amos and Walter decide to go without me. A few minutes later, they discuss who and how will act, because the situation is complex. They decide to be on both sides from the entrance to the lagoon, in order not to break the territorial integrity of a crocodile. They dive into the water, and here we see that the splash has attracted the attention of a reptile, and it is swimming rapidly to the exit from the lagoon. And here with horror we notice that Amos, disregarding the rules is floating towards the crocodile. Suddenly we see the seething water and that something is happening underwater. Then the water becomes muddy. We are paralyzed with fear, only our paraphysician Francois peers into the depth in the hope that it wouldn`t apply his knowledge today.
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Within several minutes there is a fight under the water, now we all understand it. My heart is beating with breakneck speed. I can not believe my eyes. It can not be!....The long 15 minutes pass, and Walter and Amos show up on the surface safe and sound! Thanks God! As it turned out the crocodile tried to attack the divers, and but it missed and grabbed the monopod. We were diving during two days after that in search of this ill-fated camera, but it is gone, it seemed the crocodile has swallowed it as in Korney Chukovsky`s verses together with the sun.

Actually, it is necessary to tell that it was the only attempt of the river monster to attack us. And in this case it was only our fault. We violated the established rules: never swim in the place where it is not deep enough and that creates all conditions for the attack.

The remained days passed without any excesses, we dived five times a day, and in the evening we had a good time catching small crocodiles, taking pictures with them and the next day released them back to freedom.
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Epilogue.

Therefore we have achieved our goal, we have made more than 25 dives in the icy waters of the Okavango. All these days I was fighting against the feeling of cold, fear, problems with ears and with myself. On the third day of our trip, I failed to sink to the bottom . A sharp pain squeezed my ears and then it hit my temples and the forehead. The pain was so strong, that tears came out of my eyes. I gave a sign to Walter that I had problems with the pressure in my ears. I tried again and again to equalize my ears, but everything had no effect. I needed to rise at least a meter up. However, the crocodile was nearby and one wrong movement could cost me my life. Walter fought between the common sense and a compassion for my suffering. Nevertheless, he decide to keep me at the bottom while the crocodile goes downstream. These minutes seemed to me an eternity filled with terrible pain. Next two days I wrestled not only the pain in my ears, but I was thinking about not returning to the water at all because I had seen the crocs already. And at this difficult moment for me the doc Fransua found the right words, saying :" Do you know how many people were on the top of the Everest? More than one thousand. And how many people have been able to overcome the fear and go down the water and dive with the Nile crocodile? No more than twenty. And you are the only woman who dared to do it. You did it! And you have done it so much bravely that I would never thought that it was for the first time. Do you know how many men came here and refused to go into water after having seen by their own eyes the real size of the reptile? But you did it! You came her to fight your fear. So you must fight. Otherwise you will give up the halfway the whole your life. Moreover you are not along. You have Walter. I trust him like my own father ". How important and necessary were his word for me. I do appreciate it. He didn`t let me give up. Thus, I earned a respect in the men`s eyes and in my own. You know, it is a very important quality to compose yourself in a difficult situation. The life is different and sometimes the meeting with crocodile may be just a lovely walk under water.
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But I must say that not only the feeling of fear accompanied me the whole trip. There were unforgettable evenings filled with laughter and endless life stories nearby the fire and the best in the world bush TV-TV in the wild nature! There were the numerous fishing and feeding the eagles by freshly caught fish, the daily picnics in the middle of the river. Sometimes we were moored to the land, and were occasionally met by a huge hippopotamus. And yet it was the endless starry sky, the air filled with the sounds of newlyweds` frogs, which to inspire each other were producing so fascinating sound that reminded me the ringing of bells or crystal glasses. And how many shooting stars flew past our camp these days! And how many times I have thought to go back there again, with the same company, to the same place next year again to test myself one more time and to meet alone with the River monster!
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Posted by Olga Michi 12:25 Archived in Botswana Tagged diving africa crocodiles botswana okavango Comments (0)

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