Friday, November 07, 2008

Out of Africa

I'm back today from my African trip so no music to report, but plenty of travel. I escorted a party of journalists on a three country tour in just five days, to see a variety of my company's mines.
First stop was Madagascar, where the company is building an ilmenite mine in the south of the country. Madagascar is a really poor country and the locals live in wooden huts and have a hand to mouth existence. As well as building a mine, a port is being constructed which it is hoped will attract more industries and tourists to this beautiful region, roads, a school and electricity supplies. They are also saving what is left of the rain forest, which has been largely destroyed by local people burning trees for charcoal, and protecting the flora and fauna in partnership with various NGOs. I saw a fosa, which looks like a cross between a cat and a dog, and three species of lemur, as well as crocodiles and and chameleon. Truly a fascinating and unique place, but don't drink the water and beware of mosquitos.
From Madagascar we travelled to a copper mine in Soutb Africa - another remote location next to the Kruger National Park. The group dressed up in helmets, boiler suits and rubber boots to go to the underground mine. The seams were a lot higher and less oppressive than you might expect, but I wasn't persuaded to take up mining for a living. The game drive around the golf course attached to the hotel where we stayed later in the day was another highlight with giraffes, hippos, impala, springboks, wildebeest, zebras and monkeys all in evidence. While we were there there was a huge thunderstorm - the first rain since last Christmas.
Final stop was a uranium mine in Namibia, a huge open pit in the middle of the Namib desert, where there is nothing to see apart from sand dunes. It's fairly close to the Skeleton Coast, where many ships have run aground over the years and it's a pretty desolate place. But dinner at a tent in the middle of the desert was quite an experience.
The trip involved a total of seven flights in small private jets. This is definitely the way to travel. On one of the flights, after we'd dropped off our CEO and a couple of journos in Jo'burg, I had the eight seat jet to myself for the trip back. That's what I call a jet set lifestyle.


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