Micato Musings


Posts Tagged ‘list’

5 Reasons to Travel to Rwanda

  • March 22nd 2012

1) Tracking the Endangered Silverback Gorilla

You trek out at first light, the crisp green-scented air suffused with pale pink light. You’re surrounded by the sounds of the jungle waking up: strange calls of exotic birds, hoots of distant monkeys, the last drops of dew plopping off of huge leaves. Then your Micato guide points, and time stops.

You’ve come across a family of gorillas.

There’s nothing between you and them, and there’s nothing to do but sit and stare. The family is in the throes of their everyday life—feeding, playing, resting; raising their young. As one mother turns to groom her child, she catches your eye, and you experience a powerful shock of recognition. The intimate experience of encountering the Silverback gorilla in its natural environs is sure to be the most emotional wildlife experience of your life. There are only 700 of these magnificent creatures left on the planet, so the time to see them is now.

3) Experiencing Country Clean-up Day

Hot coffee in hand, you step out onto your veranda and are greeted by a stunning sight. The landscape is dotted with people, all bent over and picking up trash. A pleasant hum of conversation rises from the scattered clusters of people. Some are in rags, others in business suits, others in tribal clothing. But today they’re all one.

This is Country Clean-up Day, a mandatory monthly event for which the whole country turns out—even the president. This is just one way in which the Rwandan commitment to preserving the environment manifests itself. Rwanda’s path toward unity was an incredibly rocky, heart-breaking one, and to see the results so clearly and positively displayed is hugely moving.

2) Hiking the “Land of a Thousand Hills”

Rwanda is called the “land of a thousand hills,” and we can assure you, the nickname is apt. The lower hills are the realm of the farmers—90% of Rwandans farm for subsistence—and the emerald slopes seen from above look like a patchwork quilt spread over a lumpy bed: each square planted with sweet potatoes or bananas, beans or cassava, tea or coffee. But the mountains—these belong to the intrepid.

The Virunga Mountains, a chain of volcanoes, is our favourite place to hike. Mt. Muhabura is one of the “Ultras,” the most prominent peaks in Africa. It tops out at 14,560 feet, and from its craggy cap all of Africa fans out around you, lush and rich and wild as far as the eye can see. Hale and hearty, pink-cheeked with the pleasure of having hiked all the way up the winding trail, you marvel at the vivid colours and spicy, earthy scent of this gorgeous country.

When you finally tear yourself away from the view, you find that your Micato guide has laid out a magnificent picnic. It’s a hearty repast you’ve fully earned, and makes this excursion truly a delight for all the senses.

4) Getting to Know the Rwandan People

The faces of Rwandan people say it all: gentle smiles paired with liquid eyes. This country has been through a lot, but its remarkable people have turned their heartaches into patience, love and gratitude for life. It’s incredibly rewarding and inspiring just to spend some time with the warm and welcoming locals.

With a renewed country comes new high spirits, and Rwandans certainly know how to celebrate. Music and dance are features of every occasion, ranging from commemorating excellence and bravery, acting out marriage or other  rituals, or teasing each other with humorous one-act imitations .

Lucky visitors may chance upon spontaneous traditional performances in a village. Even more exclusive, Micato can arrange a performance of the Intore Dance Troupe. Founded several centuries ago, the Intore—literally “The Chosen Ones”—once performed exclusively for the Royal Court.

5) Discovering the Rare Golden Monkey

With your Micato guide, you come across a group sitting in a clearing grooming each other. A mother swings effortlessly down from a tree with a tiny baby clutching her chest. Two young males come running, tumbling into each other, so much like two human children that we have to laugh. One of these males approaches a female flirtatiously but is rebuffed. The other eyes the alpha male, who is being groomed by a bevy of females—possibly he’s plotting a coup? The tableau is like one of Shakespeare’s plays, and it’s so mesmerizing that we’re moved to simply sit and observe.

The Golden monkey (Cercopithecus mitis kandti) is quite rare, and—much like its cousin the Silverback gorilla—it can only be found in the foothills of the Virunga Volcanoes. An opportunity to view these small, engaging creatures in their habitat is not to be missed.

Movie Night With Micato: Our Five Favorite Films About Africa

  • December 1st 2011

Micato’s New York offices have already experienced their first snowfall of the year, with the accompanying power outages and a weekend full of Trivial Pursuit. December marks the advent of winter for those of us in northern climes, which means a renewed need for indoor amusements.

To this end, we’ve compiled a list of our five favorite Africa films, so that even on the greyest, slushiest day you’ll be able to drift away at a moment’s notice, down the Zambezi with Katherine Hepburn or in a bush plane with Robert Redford—it’s not a bad life, in Micato’s Africa.

Out of Africa: A long-time favorite of ours, this romantic drama, based on the same-named book by Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen), defines the classic safari experience. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford fall in love over thrilling encounters with wildlife, candlelight dinners in the bush, and a breath-taking ride in a bush plane that may actually bring tears to your eyes. Warning: you will definitely be hankering to go on safari after seeing this film.

 


Snows of Kilimanjaro: Safari aficionado Ernest Hemingway wrote the short story that this film is based on. Hemingway was even around to heartily approve of the casting, being friendly with the female lead Ava Gardner. We have no complaints about the male lead being Gregory Peck either—he heats u p the screen even while playing a forlorn writer, struggling against death in the jungle.

 

African Queen: This film has it all: adventure, romance and witty banter to boot. A rough-and-tumble boat captain Humphrey Bogart reluctantly gives a ride down the Zambezi River to a prim missionary played by Katherine Hepburn. True to the time period (it’s based on a 1935 novel by C.S. Forester) they get into many a scrape involving the invading Germans. I won’t reveal the ending, except to reassure you that it’s happy.

 


The Gods Must Be Crazy: A kooky comedy of errors, this film charts the path of a glass Coca-Cola bottle dropped from a plane into the path of a South African bushman. The tribe finds that the novelty causes arguments, and so the warrior leaves with the bottle, bent on throwing it over the edge of the world to return it to the gods. On the way he comes across a bumbling scientist and his crush, a backcountry schoolteacher, as well as a band of clumsy guerillas on the run.

 

 

Mogambo: With an all-star cast of Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly and a lovingly interpreted glimpse at safari life, this film is sure to warm up even the coldest winter afternoon. Kelly and Gardener both vie for Gable’s affection while journeying deep into the bush searching for gorillas to film. Throughout, you’ll see some of the best African wildlife shots taken in this time period, and the music is all performed by native tribes.