Archive for April, 2009

Strong northeast trade winds wrapped around the north shore of Kauai. The dizzying view beneath our feet was incredible. Knife edged ridges dropping off 3,000 feet into tropical valleys below.

Looking out there were thousands of square miles of blue Pacific Ocean almost blending horizon and sky. It felt like you could see the curvature of the earth itself.

Awa' awapuhi Vista
Awa’ awapuhi Vista


Awa’awapuhi, named after wild ginger, a hanging valley on the Napali coast of Kauai, inaccessible from the sea is both grand and mysterious. Carved by six million years of rain erosion it is a place of Hawaiian legend and awesome beauty.

We were on the trail early noting the weather was good with slim prospects of rain in the afternoon. The trail was a downhill hike of only 3 ½ miles but a 1,600 foot elevation loss. It was strenuous with wet slippery slopes and bright scorching sunlight.

There were lots of native plants all along the trail. I especially like Ohi’a lahua. It is a pioneer plant that grows on new lava flows but also grows in the rainforest. It is rugged and can get knarred looking like a twisted bonsai tree anywhere from 10 to 30 feet tall. The rainforest species grows up to 60 feet and more.

Ohia'Lehua tree
Ohia’Lehua tree


Their flowers are most delicate looking, like a powder puff with long, usually, red protruding stamens. Its nectar is a main attraction for both the green Apapane and red I’iwi native birds. Both of these tiny honey creepers are spectacular to witness in this habitat singing away flitting from blossom to blossom.

Although not a native plant blooming Lantana filled the pathways with multi colored attractive blossoms. It is viewed as a pest plant but their colors of yellow, orange, pink and lavender are pretty cool when surrounded by them on the trail.

Lantana along the trail
Lantana along the trail




Getting to the vista overlook it was past time for a break. Dizzy from the surrounding heights and fresh Pacific air we sat, watching in silence absorbing what we could. The trade winds were all you could hear out on the grassy point.

Sharp eroded palis had a corrugated look to them. We glassed a few feral goats across the valley, owners of these precipitous slopes. It is impossible to hike into the valleys below and some people have fallen from these fragile volcanic ridges.

It was enough for us to have lunch and toast the Coast with some pineapple wine.

No rain that day, only blazing sun and a heart pounding slow trek back uphill. All were well worth the price of this memorable day in paradise on the garden isle.

There are several areas that allow camping on the Napali Coast including Hanakapi’ai, Kalalau, Hanakoa and Miloli’I but permits are required with restrictions for the length of stay.

Information resource: Kauai Division of State Parks
                                 P.O. Box 1671
                                 3060 Eiwa St.
                                 Lihue, Hawaii

Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources: http://www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw

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Images used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2009, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. Contact: wayne@rangeofvisionphotos.com






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Drivers honked horns at swarms of pedestrians who darted around vehicles never crossing at the corners. Hundreds of bicycles and hand carts carried everything imaginable, from six foot long grasses bundled high to car parts, coal and food.

People were dressed in everything from traditional Massai red blanket sukas to high class suits and ties. For most it was a t-shirt, torn shorts and barefoot. The contrasts were enormous.

Small van style busses called dalla dallas were packed with locals. They hung on the open side doors and were so heavy they could barely accelerate from the curb as billows of blue-black exhaust spewed from the overloaded vehicles.  It looked like a circus act with clowns packed inside.



Massai wood carving

Massai wood carving



There were no stop lights that I noticed. But every time the vehicle stopped people would surge toward the car. They just starred in silence, not even a smile.

Only the main roads are paved. Red mud stain was pervasive on everything. Side roads were lined with slab-wood shanties and kiosks. Drainage troughs and runoff ditches were filled with plastic bags and containers washed into the ditches from the end of the rainy season.

Shanties, sometimes not even enclosed well enough for privacy were built right up to the edge of the road. I could reach out and touch the plastic bag windows or the red tinged cloth that served as protection from the elements.

We pulled into a Shop Right Supermarket; newer than most buildings and faced with an armed guard at the door. Here I was handed over to another driver named Greg. He was rather short and round, dressed in traditional safari tan, and a big friendly smile.

This was an unannounced change but felt adaptable to me. After all this was supposed to be an adventure. We purchased some supplies and plenty of water for the next few days then headed out for a real tour of Arusha.



Traditional Massai beadwork

Traditional Massai beadwork



At first Greg showed me a beautiful coffee plantation on the outskirts of town.  Bright red Arabic beans were being tended by dozens of people working the fields. It was quiet and serene with birds singing and children playing in puddles.

Crossing Arusha town there seemed to be even more people were out and about. Makeshift planked table markets and kiosks were everywhere. Garden goods and fruit were the biggest choice of product. However you could also find shoes, shirts and most anything else set out along the roadways. Children ran wild throughout the streets. My senses were blasted.

We wound our way through old colonial style buildings and bent trees, up another muddy road to a rock quarry on the edge of town. Dozens, perhaps as many as two hundred people of all ages were breaking small slabs of grey slate into smaller slabs. Greg said that the smaller the pieces the more money they could make.

The quarry was large, terraced it was a good two hundred feet deep and spread out over twenty acres. Workers were too busy to look up even as we drove down into the huge hole in the ground. Once the road started to crumble beneath the tires did anyone seem to notice rocks were falling in on them?

Slate is carried up from the pit in five-gallon plastic buckets by boys and dumped into hand carts. Older boys took the carts down the road to a stone crusher where it would be ground into gravel for local construction. It was like slaves in a movie scene, workers in an open pit mine toiling away under the equatorial sun.

Many of the women had their hands wrapped in strips of cloth to protect their fingers from being smashed and cut from sharp splintered slate edges. Most everyone wore rubber slippers or their feet were bare. I asked Greg how much money they made but he just shook his head saying “You don’t want to know”. We drove on.



Drummers at the Tanzanian Cultural Center

Drummers at the Tanzanian Cultural Center



There are thousands of wood hand carts in Arusha. Pulled by young men and older boys they hauled everything from rocks to coal and food items at a running pace. These guys labored barefoot straining against the weight of their loads in the hot streets.

They darted in between cars and the dallas, bicycles and pedestrians. Nothing seemed to block their progress although no one gave them the right of way either. You could see the harshness of their work in their straining muscles and the salty sweat that burned their eyes bright red.

In contrast we pulled into a very dramatic looking cultural center on the other side of town. It was designed to promote tourism and cultural pride in the country’s multi-tribe population. The building displayed a huge Massai warrior shield and a spear that crossed the entire roof and sides like a flying buttress.



Traditional Massai suka and beadwork

Traditional Massai suka and beadwork



It is a nice peaceful setting in such a chaotic town. The Center features a circular shaped boma art gallery that presented the artwork of more than 1,200 local artists, many who are Massai.

Large black shinny ebony carvings, some ten feet tall and more, were carved from a single piece of hardwood. Extremely intricate, most were impressions of native people, faces and entire families, their history molded in detail, polished to a shine.

Many other items of batiks, beadwork and oil paintings were spread across the walls through three wings off a central circular open courtyard.

Two costumed men outside drummed African riffs and a tall Massai man dressed as a warrior in traditional bright red suka blanket greeted travelers. His neck, chest and right arm hung with detailed beadwork, a highly prized Massai cultural craft.

His english was perfect. He was a college graduate specializing in tourism and the cultural affairs of Tanzania. His wife designed and made his precise beaded dressings and allowed me to come close for photographs.

So this was my intro to Arusha. I was never sure as to why we toured the areas we did other than Greg just wanted to see my reaction. The scenes will stay with me forever. They still tug at my heart and are equally as powerful as the wildlife safari that started the next day.

Images used in this enrty are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2009, All Rights reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. Contact: wayne@rangeofvisionphotos.com 

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Headed for an African safari, nervous, anxious but not afraid.

By the time my plane landed, I had been flying over 14,500 miles, through 10 time zones and 25 hours of airtime from Montana to Tanzania. It was eight p.m. with heavy cloud cover and very humid.

Flying over Arusha a city of more than one million people I was surprised that there were so few lights. The city was mostly dark like the countryside surrounding it. Electricity just isn’t very widespread yet, in Tanzania.

Stepping from the plane I immediately noticed the scent, like someone digging in a garden of moist earth. It will always be the scent of Africa for me now.

Kilimanjaro International Airport isn’t very big either. It is located several miles from town out in the darkness. Even though I saw my bag placed on the plane in Amsterdam the customs agent just 100 feet into the terminal stated it did not arrive.

I had to fill out several forms describing the bag and its contents. They said it would be on the next plane at 10:30 in the morning. I was to leave on safari by seven. At least I had my camera gear and computer with me. I was exhausted and didn’t really care about the clothes. Jet lag had set in with a vengeance.

Luckily, my guides were there at the airport. I would have been lost had they not shown up. A small sign with “Mr. Wynes” scrolled on it was my introduction to Levis and Adam whom I thought would be my safari guides.

They assured me my bag would make the flight and not to worry. Suddenly we were off racing down a dark black topped highway headed for Arusha. Pedestrians crowded the roadside in both directions on the very edge of the pavement. You could not see anyone unless they moved. Hundreds of faceless shadows melting into the darkness.

So here I was jet lagged, a little scared, racing down a dark road on the left side, crowded with people unwilling to move aside with trucks and high speed cars switching lanes and passing on both sides of our vehicle. Ciaos. My head was spinning as I gripped the armrest at 100km per hour.

It took about 45 minutes to reach Arusha from the Airport. The entire way was like a scene from a night of the living dead. Expressionless people of all ages appeared in the night and then disappeared in the flash of headlights.

My destination that night was a bed and breakfast, called the Outpost. Located in a residential section of town it too was dark and quiet. My room was actually a small rustic cottage. Two twin beds and bug netting took up 60% of the space. But there was hot water, flush toilets and a spooky feeling of being in a strange place. I could hear Swahili being spoken just outside my window as I fell asleep. Excellent.

Outpost B&B

Outpost B&B

By morning I felt rested and ready. Walking the grounds of the Outpost I thought that it could have been a real outpost at one time. Surrounded by lush growth and a wall each white-washed cottage was private with stone walkways leading through the garden that bloomed with more than a dozen different kinds of tropical flowers.

My bag that didn’t make my flight and was supposed to come in by 10:30a.m.the next day was there at the check in desk before eight in the morning. There must have been something interesting, worthy of inspection but nothing was missing.

Just three blocks from the B&B the city was alive and kicking. Arusha was teeming with people, safari vehicles, cars, trucks and small van busses throwing clouds of diesel exhaust into the air.

Part two to follow.



Photographs used in this entry are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2009, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited. My image gallery can be viewed at www.rangeofvisionphotos.com You can contact me through this blog or email: wayne@rangeofvisionphotos.com



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Little steps making a difference.


We all know about the decline of lions among the many animals at risk in Africa. There is a research scientist in Tanzania that is making a difference.

His name is Bernard Kissui and he works for the African Wildlife Federation. He is dedicated to the prevention of lion loss and studies the famed cats of Tarangire National Park.

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is one of the world’s leading international conservation organizations that focus solely on Africa for more than forty-five years now.

Their mission is to work together with the people of Africa to ensure the wildlife and wild lands of Africa will be there for generations to come. They truly believe that protecting Africa’s wildlife and wild landscapes is the key to the future of Africa and its people.

I have been fortunate to have experienced the savannahs and exotic wildlife of Tanzania, including the tree climbing lions of the Tarangire where Kissui is based.


Ngorongoro lion

It doesn’t take much to realize that Africa’s wildlife and eco-tourism play an enormous role in Africa’s vitality. Even for those who may never have the chance to explore these World Heritage Parks just knowing that they, wild animals, and open spaces remain as they are for future generations to experience is a natural when it comes to its promotions and safeguards.

So Bernard has a blog that enlightens his readers about his ongoing efforts. Kissui studies the movements of lions in and out of Tarangire National Park and works with local people to prevent the loss of livestock which unfortunately leads to human-lion conflicts.

From field observations he has learned that poor livestock security, especially at night contributes considerably to high levels of livestock predation. At night the Massai keep their livestock in enclosures called bomas that are made of thorn bush. Bomas do not provide much security against predators, especially the big cats.


Saba - lion

The AWF works with pastoralists’ communities like the Massai to employ a livestock security program that reinforces bomas with stronger materials such as chain-link fences. Pastoralists’ families contribute 50% of the costs towards the purchase of these materials for their boma protection while AWF provides the second half.

The point is that with simple solutions Kissui and the African Wildlife Federation successfully promote the coexistence between human and large carnivores in this unique landscape by reducing retaliatory killings of lions and other predators.

Sometimes it does not take massive amounts of money to make a difference; however, it does take some monetary support. So I am encouraging everyone to read, learn, connect and help Bernard and the other dedicated scientists that work for the African Wildlife Federation in their most important efforts to secure the remaining populations of large cats along with other wildlife throughout the Serengeti – Tarangire ecosystem and the Massai steppe heartland. Simple steps can make a positive difference.

Bernard Kissui’s blog connection is http://awf.org/blog/category/wildlife/lions/

African Wildlife Federation connection is:

Photographs used as illustrations in this entry are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, All Rights Reserved, 2009. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr. Contact: wayne@rangeofvisionphotos.com



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