Anyway, so it really is a contrast. Both places are incredibly wild and you almost get that idea that it’s a bit like combining Okavango with the Namib. It’s the same sort of feeling but it’s almost the opposite because the Namib’s spectacular – it’s got mountains and things – but the Okavango’s dead flat. Well, Katavi’s pretty much dead flat so the safari area or the dry area is dead flat and then the Mahale Mountains are obviously proper mountains. So there’s that same sort of contrast and I just love that contrast from no water to I think Lake Tanganyika’s the deepest lake in the world or second or something – I don’t know – but it’s just a contrast of places within about an hour or two’s flight away. It’s phenomenal.
You land at the airstrip in Katavi and immediately you get nailed by a swarm of what I call Messerschmitts – tsetse flies. They hand you a cow tail and you’re like, “What the hell? What’s this for?” and they almost give you a look of, “Just wait”. The camp there is a classic. It’s not basic, but a proper tented camp. If you go and look at photos of it, it’s my idea of what a safari camp should be.
Sorry, just to go back for a second, they give you this cow tail. Are they expecting you to beat your way through the tsetse flies?
STEVE: You’re basically beating yourself. You’re basically hitting yourself as hard as you can every time a tsetse fly lands. This is in pre-Rid insect repellent days but, really, the tsetse flies start at Katavi – and, in fact, there are tsetse flies at Mahale which we’ll chat about later – so you land, tsetse flies.
I was probably lucky, but we had the most phenomenal guide. You know, he’s one of those “don’t judge a book by its cover” type of people. We met the guy. I can’t remember his name, unfortunately. He had teeth missing and I thought, “What’s going on here?” but I’ve never, ever, ever in my life had a guide that good. He was off-the-scale amazing. So that obviously added to the experience. So you’re in this dramatic landscape and I remember him driving along and we stopped suddenly and I went, “What?” and he said, “Fiery-necked nightjar on that branch.” Well, which branch? We were in a forested area. It turned out it took me – no word of a lie – ten minutes to find it through my binoculars, staring at the branch and the branch wasn’t two metres from the road. It was about twenty metres from the road. I went, “How the hell did you see that?” I don’t know if it’s something he’s familiar with, but he said, “No, I saw it. That branch was different.”