South Sudan Tour of Dinka and Mundari Cattle Camps and Topossa (Kapoeta) Tribe – February 13th-23rd 2021

Rubbing in the ash

Our photo tours focus on taking you to places, which have a unique appeal to photographers. We seek the beauty of landscape and seascape, the heritage of cultural diversity and the bustle of street and marketplaces. Effectively, photography through geography.

Our tours will seek the best moments, light and opportunities to compose shots, which reflect upon those inimitable moments. We feel it is of value to immerse ourselves in local culture through, not only people and landscapes, but also, where feasible, through culinary experience and accommodation, which is culturally sympathetic.

Interaction and understanding and, where feasible, spending time with people, makes moments and images more meaningful.

South Sudan
We pride ourselves on a ‘hands on’ approach, which enables clients to avail of sessions in which there are photo critiques and a chance to reflect on images captured whilst on tour. It is recommended that all participants bring laptops or tablets so that we can benefit from interaction and discussion, and ways of editing our images to get a result reflecting your own unique style.
‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see’.
Henry David Thoreau
South Sudan Cattle Camps

South Sudan ITINERARY 2021

Proposed itinerary

Day 1, 13th February 2021: Arrival in Juba

You will provide us with your flight details so that we can take note of your arrival and departure dates and times. You will arrive at Juba International Airport, in the capital of the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan. One or more guides will meet you at the Airport and transfer you to Royal Palace Hotel where you will spend the night. Depending on your arrival time, we will take a short trek to South Sudan’s biggest market, Konyo Konyo. While in the market, you will have an overview of South Sudan’s diverse communities portrayed in their style of dressing and facial or body scarifications. Dinner at Da Vinci Lodge where you will have a spectacular view of the Juba Bridge majestically standing over the Nile River. Accommodation at Royal Palace Hotel. No cameras to be used, smartphones could be used with utmost caution.

Day 2 , 14th February 2021: Juba to Bor

Breakfast at Royal Palace Hotel. After breakfast we will depart for Bor, 4-6 hours’ drive from Juba (the roads are unsurfaced and challenging!). We take lunch at a local Restaurant en route. We then proceed to introduce ourselves to the local ‘Dinka’ authorities (although they will be informed in advance that we are coming, these things can take time). We then drive to the Dinka cattle camp, where we will camp for two days. Evenings and mornings will be ideal for photography especially when the cattle return from grazing. Dinner at Dinka cattle camp. Accommodation: tents close to the Nile.

Day 3, 15th February 2021: Dinka cattle camp and local village

Dawn photos/videos of the cattle camp and how the Dinka wake up with their Ankole Watusi cattle. Breakfast. Evening walk and photoshoot in the cattle camp.  The cattle camp, seldom visited by outsiders, is quite simply incredible. I saw Sebastiao Salgado’s photo of these camps years ago and there is no change that I could see. The Dinka are friendly and enjoy being photographed. The dust and smoke intermingle to create and inimitable atmosphere. We arrived in the late afternoon when the light was soft and warm with long shadows. The tribe have all their wealth in their cattle and there are thousands of them. When young men of the tribe get married the dowry may be as much as 40 cattle. They cover themselves in the ash from their fires to protect against insects.

 

At night they sleep with their cattle to protect them and they carry Kalashnikovs to do so. Cattle rustling is commonplace and is a cause of conflict. The Ankole Watusi cattle have the largest horns (perhaps a metre long in some cases) I have ever seen and the biggest of the cattle may be worth $500. During the day the cattle disperse from the banks of the Nile into the long grasses of the alluvial floodplain. They return at dusk instinctively.

Accommodation: tents close to the Nile and cattle camp

Day 4, 16th February 2021: Final moments with Dinka, Departure for Juba

Breakfast.  Morning photoshoot at dawn and then Leaving for Juba. Lunch en route Check-in at Royal Palace Hotel. Dinner at Royal Palace Hotel. (All food drinks at the hotels/restaurants are not included)

Day 5, 17th February 2021: Mundari cattle camp

Breakfast at Royal Palace Hotel. After breakfast we will depart for Terekeka, four hours’ drive from Juba. We take lunch at a local Restaurant called Naivasha. Naivasha is a name of a lake and town in Kenya but it has historical ties to South Sudan as it was the town where peace talks that culminated in the Comprehensive Peace agreement between the government of Sudan and rebels (SPLM/A). We then proceed to introduce ourselves to state government authorities (although they will be informed in advance that we will be coming, but again this can take time). We then drive to Mundari’s Khartoum cattle camp, where we will camp for two days. Evenings and mornings will be ideal for photography especially when the cattle return from grazing. Dinner at Khartoum cattle camp. Accommodation: tents close the Nile and cattle camp.

Shooting at dawn and dusk is perfect as all the cattle are in place. The more you see, the more you realise that there is an inextricable bond between the tribe and their cattle. The way they lead them, rub ash into their skins, attend to their needs, use their milk, dung and urine. It is a symbiotic relationship where there is an understanding of the cattle which goes beyond normal animal husbandry. They take pride in their animals and the whole community of man and beast is interconnected. I have never seen anything like it. On the previous evening the air was filled with smoke from the dung and kindle wood fires to keep insects at bay. The dust is used to help dry the dung which is laboriously collected and piled in the mornings. It is then dried as fuel. As the sun sets in African style the light, smoke and dust create an ethereal atmosphere which makes it appear that the Mundari and their cattle fade into a mist. An ancient mist, trapped in time, where tribal traits and traditions are perpetuated in the twenty first century.

Accommodation: tents (full board)

Image

Day 6, 18th February 2021: Mundari Khartoum cattle camp

Dawn photos/videos of the cattle camp and how the Mundari wake up with their cattle. Breakfast. The smoke, fires and dust create a scene which is almost biblical. The symbiotic bond between man and the cattle is a scene to behold. They massage their Ankole Watusi cattle with ash and do it with care and affection. I watched the young men bathing their heads in urine, this acts as an antiseptic and their hair turns orange in the sun. The dust applied to man and beast mitigates against insect bites. I also saw them holding down cattle and cutting their ears as a form of branding to identify their cattle.

 

In the morning we returned to the camp and soaked up the atmosphere of the early morning preparations before the cattle move out, without herders, to graze the fresh pasture. When covered with ash they appear as apparitions or ghosts especially when there is dust and smoke in the air. They gather the dung in the morning, dry it by spreading it out and then use it as fuel for their fires. And so this cyclical use of ash continues. These people have a very sustainable existence and their connection with nature should be a message to us all. These ancient practices ensure harmony with the environment and have a small ecological footprint which is local and ensures cultural longevity.

 

The Mundari are very receptive to travellers and are sociable, kind and welcoming.

Evening photos/videos. Dinner. Accommodation: tents.

Day 7, 19th February 2021: Departure for Juba

Morning photos and videos. Breakfast. Departure by road to Juba and continue on to check-in at Royal Palace Hotel. Dinner at Affex camp. Accommodation: Royal Palace Hotel. (All food drinks at the hotels/restaurants are not included)

Day 8,9, 20/21 February 2021: Flight to Kapoeta where we spend two nights at a very simple tourist hotel (Mango camp) Full board. Here we visit the Topossa tribe who are closely related to the Nyangatom of Omo valley in Ethiopia (which is very close!). The Topossa are renowned for their scarification and the woman wear many strands of colourful beads and have interesting piercings. We will visit villages and the local market, all of which are photogenic.

Day 10 22nd February 2021: Return flight to Juba. Accommodation at the Royal Palace Hotel, Dinner at Da Vinci Lodge where you will have a spectacular view of the Juba Bridge majestically standing over the Nile River.  (All food drinks at the hotels/restaurants are not included)

Day 11 23th February 2021: Returning home

Breakfast. Morning sightseeing tour of Juba (depending on your flight times):- Presidential Palace, Dr. John Garang Mausoleum, Jubek tomb, craft market. (Cameras prohibited,  smartphones to be used smartly). Lunch at Da Vinci Lodge. Transfer to the airport. Bidding each other goodbye.

End of photo tour

Services included

  • Meals – breakfast, some lunches and dinners are not included (those at hotels and restaurants in Juba)
  • Transfer to and from Juba International Airport at the start of the tour at the end of the tour.
  • Internal flights to Kapoeta
  • Photo tour leader
  • All transport using 4x4 vehicles
  • The cost of the tour is $5500pp. To confirm the booking a deposit of $1000 is required.

Services not included/additional costs

Alcohol and occasional stops for coffee/tea/snacks

Meals in Juba at hotel and restaurants

Tips for guides and drivers ([email protected]$20 per guide/driver per day – divided amongst the group)

We have to make a contribution to the villages and camps for medicines – please bring about $200/$300 per person for this.

The visa on arrival is $100 (we arrange to apply for your visa in advance with a copy of your passport and a proper digital passport photo.

You will need your yellow fever certificate