March 1, 2020
A few years ago I was in a small car park in Prince Albert, a deliciously quaint village in the Karoo region of South Africa. I noticed that the car park was surrounded by a huge hedge of spekboom and decided to snap off a little cutting to take back to London.
Spekboom is one of the best carbon munching plants in the world and supposedly, hectare for hectare, just as effective at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the Amazon rainforest. This succulent used to grow in abundance in the Karoo over an area the size of Cyprus.
With the assistance of the South African government, a group of passionate people is now aiming to re-wild a vast area with spekboom thicket. Plants take ten years fully to mature and need moisture in their early stages of growth, so it will take time.
Elephants, black rhinos and kudus love eating this plant, and top restaurants in Cape Town use it in salads. It has lots of vitamin C.
Samara, a Karoo safari lodge I especially love, has a planting programme in which guests can get involved. Sarah and Mark Tompkins started the lodge in 1997 with the vision of restoring an area of 70,000 acres to its former natural glory after years of intensive livestock farming had exhausted it.
A century ago this area witnessed an animal migratory spectacle to rival the Serengeti. Slowly but surely with the help of guests their dreams are being realised.
They have a special reduction for a five-night stay when you can see how conservation activities are working. The scenery here, in part reminiscent of the vast savannah of East Africa, is incredible. The animals are pretty abundant too.
Many big players in finance institutions as well as some world leaders have grasped the importance of natural climate solutions in mitigating climate change. The miracle spekboom is one little part of the story.
Meanwhile, my spekboom cuttings have transmogrified into six healthy small bushes. If you would like a cutting, do visit me at The Old Aeroworks factory off the Edgware Road in Central London.
For further in depth reading click these links:
and for an innovative forest conservation project in Tanzania click here.
NB prices shown were current at the time of writing the newsletter and are not necessarily current now.
Please ask for an updated quote.
- A Sense of Place – A favourite place: Tanzania and Ruaha
- A Sense of Place – A favourite place in Botswana: the Okavango with elephants galore
- A Sense of Place – Here be dragons and a dark past
- A Sense of Place – Justice Regained
- A Sense of Place – Summer rains make the roads impassable
- A Sense of Place – ‘Those two ladies put light in my future.’
- A Sense of Place – The bird who lost its nest
- A Sense of Place – Talking with the Maasai
- Newsflash: first American guests to Tanzania since March 2020
- A Sense of Place – AFRICA NEEDS YOU
- Escape to Italy?
- Covid: the road still to be travelled.
- A trio of treats. Series of 3 (Part 3): Tiger reserves.
- A trio of treats. Series of 3 (Part 2): Khajuraho.
- A trio of treats. Series of 3 (Part 1): Lucknow.
- A Sense of Place – Engaged people may save the planet
- A word on lions and a trio of treats
- A Sense of Place – India’s most holy city
- A wealth of wilderness walks in Namibia
- Travel snippets from Miles
- A trio of treats on the green island of Pemba in the Zanzibar archipelago
- A Sense of Place – THE INSIDE TRACK on Cape Town guiding
- A Sense of Place – Migrations of people and beasts: East Africa
- A Sense of Place – An era of revolution and global alliances
- A Sense of Place – A walk on the wild side
- A Sense of Place – The ghost ingredient is back
- A Sense of Place – Liuwa Plains and Kafue National Parks – Zambia
- A Sense of Place – Literati in the Pink City, the Capital of Rajasthan
- A Sense of Place – A Tamil town still connected to Europe, Art Deco architecture, and temple antiquity in Southern India.
- A Sense of Place – Dreamy aquamarine sea and stunning safari with the Makuleke people
- A Sense of Place – A trio of lovely ladies in Hyderabad
- A Sense of Place – Entamanu, the wishing tree and walking with the Hadza tribe.
- We get you to places that others don’t… St Helena, Gt Zimbabwe ruins and Papua new Guinea
- A Sense of Place – Walking in the hippie hills of the Himalayas
- A Sense of Place – The Okavango: the river that never finds the sea
- A Sense of Place – The Great Rift Valley, Laikipia, Samburu warriors and Maasai Olympics.
- A Sense of Place – Escape the world in the Namib Desert
- Africa is a massive continent: a collection of 55 countries
- A Sense of Place – Zambezi Watery Wilderness
- A Sense of Place – Burma: the road beyond Mandalay
- Lake Malawi – Would you rather pay for the advertising or the experience?
- From shoe-shine boy to tourist guide in Ethiopia
- A Sense of Place – Ladakh, the Himalayas
- Dhow sailing, Lions are back in Malawi, Self-drive in Namibia
- Sacred rivers and forts, India
- Piranhas, sting rays, caimans – and still people go into the River Negro!
- Kerala, Southern India – God’s own country
- South Africa: Crucible of the rainbow nation
- Madagascar: croissants and lemurs
- Argentina vs Africa on wildlife drama
- Uganda – Gorillas and Gardens
- Mozambique & Kenya: immigration official on holiday
- Mozambique: Gorongosa and reconciliation in the bush
- Zimbabwe is ready for Tourists again
- Serengeti ecosystem and unbeatable savannah
- Lamu: crab complaining
- Kenya: circumcision
- Zambia: Ellie rescue
- Africans: always smiling
- French sketch
- Kenya: the best hosts
- First visit to Africa 1986
- Namibia, Namib Rand, Skeleton Coast and the ultimate flying safari
- A few gems off the beaten track: Fanjove Island, Tanzania; The Singular Hotel, Patagonia and Isla Palenque, Panama.
- Elephant relocation, quad bike expedition and new Sossusvlei reserve
- Templed out in Tamil Nadu and elephant refuge in Jaipur
- Kenyan sanctuary and family run camp in Zambia
- Australia: Arkaba, Tasmania and Lord Howe Island
- Australia: in the outback and off the beaten track
- India: heavenly Himalayan hideaways, Botswana: fun safari for children and Argentina: hidden homestay in a mountain desert
- Limpopo retreat, Serengeti spectacle and adventure on the Zambezi
- Value for money in Kenya and the trail less travelled in Peru
- Lions in danger, free nights and a new coastal gem
- G and T on demand, hidden beach, micro-light and sleeping on a dam
- Off the beaten track