Archive | Wildlife

A Botswana safari in photos

Okavango Delta from the air

A trip through national parks and wilderness areas of northern Botswana in rainy season: gliding through a channel of the Okavango Delta in a mokoro; flying above the Delta in a small helicopter above rivers and islets, water lily-studded lagoons and marshes full of birds; falling asleep in a canvas tent while lions roared outside; fuschia dawn skies; going on game drives for hours and not seeing another car; the sound of elephants wading through a stream in the dark; getting our Land Cruiser stuck in the muddy roads of Moremi and having to dig it out; giraffes, elephants, foxes, jackals, buffaloes, mongoose, hippos, red lechwe, zebra, wildebeest, hyena; Rex, our guide and driver, spotting a leopard tortoise the size of a palm in the middle of the road, stopping in time to help it cross; spectacular afternoon thunderstorms; baobabs full of leaves; flocks of yellow and white butterflies; the cry of fish eagles; a baby baboon doing a handstand on a picnic bench; one pink and purple sunset over the Chobe River that seemed to last forever; seeing two leopard lazing in a tree in the last moments of our last game drive in Chobe National Park; monkeys throwing seed pods at us from the roof of the Zimbabwean border post; standing under the mist of the Smoke that Thunders (Victoria Falls) and looking into a white roaring abyss.

To read more about my safari to Botswana, read my blog here.

My 9-day Botswana safari was hosted by Jenman Safaris. Find out more about this overland trip and other African safari trips Jenman offers here.

Okavango Delta mokoro ride BotswanaPoling in fibreglass mokoros through a channel of the Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta mokoroFlying above the Okavango Delta in a four-seater helicopter, going up and down from 100 metres down to two metres above the groundOkavango Delta from the airOkavango Delta helicopter flightOkavango Delta from the airExploring the community-owned Khwai concession, which borders on Chobe National Park

Khwai River area BotswanaBotswana safari KhwaiKhwai concession BotswanaSafari in Botswana Chobe National ParkKhwai concession BotswanaExploring Moremi Game Reserve, seeing elephants, buffalo, hippos and red lechwe, and getting stuck three times on muddy roads with deep puddles filled with rain water from a huge thunderstorm the night beforeMoremi BotswanaMoremi Game Reserve BotswanaElephants Botswana safariDriving for nine hours under a huge sky of puffy white clouds through Chobe National Park to get from the southern end to the northern end, game viewing and rock art spotting along the way

Chobe National ParkWe reached northern Chobe National Park, which borders on Zambia, Nambia and Zimbabwe, exploring the park by land and by water, seeing two leopards lazing in a tree in the last moments of our last game drive and watching the best sunset of the trip on our river cruise
Chobe National ParkChobe National ParkChobe National ParkChobe National ParkMosi-oa-Tunya: the Smoke that Thunders

Victoria Falls



On safari in Botswana

Okavango Delta mokoro ride Botswana

Everything seemed to be in slow motion as we glided through the channel in a fibreglass mokoro like a knife through runny honey. The water lily-dotted water was as silvery, calm and flat as a mirror, reflecting a big sky full of rain clouds. Serenity reigned, and the stillness was punctuated by the cooing of doves and the occasional distant cry of a fish eagle, the sound of the breeze in the reeds and the chirruping of insects, the thwop of the pole going in the water and the piggy grunts from a pod of hippos.

This was just a tiny slice of the massive Okavango Delta, Africa’s last wetland wilderness, which stretches across 8000 square kilometres of north western Botswana. After the mokoro ride I had more of a glimpse of just how wild and vast the Delta is by flying above it in a small four-seater helicopter with Helicopter Horizons, taking off from a small village near the mokoro launching point. Pilot Andrew Baker took us up 400 feet to get a planet-curving view over a part of the Delta that can’t be accessed by road – channels, lagoons, ilala palms and marshes full of animals and birds. We skimmed down to a giraffe’s view point – just 2.5 metres above the ground and flew past treetop fish eagles, startled warthogs, nonchalant giraffes, zebras and wildebeest.

The Okavango Delta was a spectacular introduction to a nine-day trip through northern Botswana with Jenman Safaris. From this southern finger of the Delta, which was near the town of Maun, we headed north in our open-sided Land Cruiser up to a lodge in the bush in Mababe, a community-owned concession bordering on the southern end of Chobe National Park, where we stayed for three nights in canvas tents, falling asleep to a soundtrack of thunderstorms, grunting hippos and roaring lions.

It was my first time in the bush during the rainy season – I’d only ever gone on safari in southern Africa in the winter months when the vegetation is dry and sparse, and thirsty animals congregate around watering holes, making them easy to spot. The rainy season is an entirely different story. I travelled in March, which is right at the end of months of rain, when vegetation is at its most lush. The grass is thick, trees are full of leaves and water is plentiful, meaning animal spotting is far more challenging. On our three days that we stayed in the area, exploring the community-owned concessions and national parks – Khwai, Mababe, Chobe and Moremi – nearby on long drives on muddy and puddle-filled roads, we had to hunt for game, and when we found it there was much more of a thrill than in the dry season, when you don’t have to try at all.

Safari in Botswana Chobe National Park

We tracked a male lion’s paw prints and followed his sporadic grunts in the early pink-dusted morning, off roading through the concession to try and find him – to no avail, but we did spot a pair of bat-eared foxes instead. In the course of our drives, we also saw elephants, waterbuck, giraffe, lots of zebra and hippos, wildebeest, buffalo, a pair of red lechwe with horns locked, seemingly fighting to the death, a jackal, bands of mongooses, a tongue-flicking monitor lizard and lots and lots of birds. Green season is the best time for birding, and I’ve never seen as many species in one go as I did in those three days: tawny, bateleur, fish and brown snake eagles, African darters, cormorants, long-toed lapwings, eagle owls, kingfishers, coppery-tailed coucals African jacanas, open billed storks, herons, sacred ibis, egrets, and my favourite – lilac breasted rollers.

Other than prolific bird life, the rainy months do come with a lot of advantages – spectacular thunderstorms (which bring lovely cool temperatures and intense herby, earthy smells), beautiful landscapes (shooting animals against green is so much more photogenic than against a backdrop of the browns and greys of dry season) and low tourist numbers: on one seven-hour game drive we only saw three other safari vehicles.

From Mababe we made an epically long journey to Kasane and the northern end of Chobe National Park, travelling on sandy, muddy and wet tracks through the Savuti area of Chobe National Park and Chobe Forest Reserve, taking nine hours to travel 265 kilometres, spotting game all along the way and stopping off to see bushman rock paintings of an elephant, eland and an antelope, estimated to be 20 000 years old at Gobabis in Savuti – a reminder of just how long people have lived alongside the animals we now confine to the limits of parks and reserves.

Arriving at a lodge on the banks of the of the Chobe River just outside of the town of Kasane felt like re-entering civilisation again after days of wilderness. Our last day of game viewing was on land in Chobe National Park in the morning, where we had the lucky sighting of two lazy leopards up in a tree, sleeping in the early morning sunshine with their legs trailing over the branches, and on water in the afternoon, where we cruised slowly on the river, spotting kingfishers and fish eagles, crocs, munching hippos, giraffes drinking awkwardly on their spindly legs and a herd of elephant taking an afternoon mud bath.

It was a quick drive over the border to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, where we got a thorough rainy season soaking by Mosi-oa-Tunya – the Smoke that Thunders. The largest curtain of water in the world – and one of Africa’s greatest sights – was the perfect ending to a trip packed full of wildlife, wilderness and non-stop natural highs.

Here’s my photo blog with more images from my Botswana safari.

My 9-day Botswana safari was hosted by Jenman Safaris. Find out more about this overland trip and other African safari trips Jenman offers here.

Botswana safari Moremi


An Amazon journey: Bolivia’s Madidi National Park

Madidi National Park, Bolivia

“This is why it’s called a rainforest”, said our guide Orlando Queteguari Apana, as the dark clouds broke above us and rivers of rain were unleashed. We regretted not choosing to take wellington boots on the hike, as pathways through the trees quickly turned into knee-deep rivers on our two-hour walk back to the lodge.

Getting drenched in the Amazon was more fun than it sounds. Just before the rain started, hundreds of frogs started croaking in a discordant, chimey chorus, and it felt like the forest was coming alive. I loved the intensity of walking through the rain, and the colours of the leaves becoming more saturated as they dripped water, and feeling totally immersed in this wild, intense environment.

It was one highlight of a four-day trip to the Bolivian Amazon – to Madidi National Park, one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. Most people opt for Peru, Brazil or Ecuador for a trip into the Amazon, while Madidi remains undervisited and undeveloped (and much more affordable) – there are only a handful of lodges to stay at in the park.

We chose Madidi Jungle Ecolodge, reached by a boat ride up the Beni River from the small town of Rurrenabaque (reached by a bumpy but spectacular short flight on a tiny plane from La Paz). Our room had a bed draped in a mosquito net, mosquito nets covering the windows and a hammock outside on the veranda. There are only a few other rooms, and a dining area, where you have communal meals of catfish steamed in leaves, rice, salads,  fresh juices, and fruit. There’s no wi-fi, swimming pool or electricity in the rooms – at night you use candles. It was blissfully simple.

For our four-day stay, we hiked through the jungle for hours – virgin rainforest of giant trees, vines, creepers, flowers, mushrooms and moss – with Orlando teaching us about trees, birds, animals and insects. He’s always lived in the rainforest, so his knowledge is astounding – not to mention his amazing imitative monkey and bird calls. It’s hard to spot wildlife in the Amazon – the idea is not to come here with a checklist of all the famous animals you’d like to see (cats such like jaguars are present here but hardly ever seen), but we did manage to spot capuchin, spider and howler monkeys, a capybara, columns of leaf cutter ants, tiny poison dart frogs and successfully tracked peccaries – bush pigs – by following their distinctive sour smell and the sound of their teeth cracking open palm fruit. We saw parakeets, toucans and screeching macaws, and about twenty other species of birds I’d never even heard of, and ate some yellow fruit we collected off the forest floor. We also went on boat cruises, fished for piranhas with chunks of bloody beef, floated down the chocolate-brown river in tubes and went on a night walk, shining our headlamps at thousands of diamond glittering spider eyes and the yellowish orbs of a caiman in the river.

In the afternoons we’d lie on the hammock, spotting birds flitting in and out of the heliconia flowers planted on the edge of the forest, and at night we’d fall asleep to the most beautiful soundtrack I’ve ever heard – frogs croaking, insects chirrupping and rain falling on a thousand leaves.

Almost 20 000 square kilometres large, Madidi, which is part of the Amazon basin and home to 20 000 plant species, more than a thousand bird species, hundreds of mammals and over 120 000 species of insects, only became a national park in 1995, after decades of tireless campaigning by conservationists, who were trying to prevent the logging companies coming into the area. Part of the conservationists’ campaign had to do with the indigenous communities who live within the park getting rights to their ancestral land.

One of these communities is the village of San José de Uchupiamonas. Before 1995, the villagers had previously made their livelihoods from growing coffee and hunting animals – ocelots, peccaries and jaguars – for their pelts, but now ecotourism has replaced hunting. The community owns five lodges in Madidi, one of which is Madidi Jungle Ecolodge, which was started in 2010. All the staff at the lodge are from San José de Uchupiamonas, and the guides, such as Orlando, now use their skills in hunting animals to track them down on hikes with tourists. At a time when the term “ecotourism” gets applied to lodges and tour companies that are anything but eco-friendly, it’s hard to find places that are doing it right. I was thrilled to be in the Amazon, a place I’d always dreamed about visiting, but the best thing about travelling to Madidi, for me, was knowing that by being there I was helping to contribute in a small way to the conservation of this incredibly beautiful rainforest.

Birdwatching in Madidi National Park

Boat cruise Madidi National Park, Bolivia

Our guide at Madidi Jungle Ecolodge, Orlando

Column of leaf cutter ants in Madidi National Park, Bolivia


10 things I loved about Kenya

Cheetah in the Masai Mara

Kenya’s been on my African travel wish list for a long time. I’ve dreamed of visiting the country that’s home to vast plains teeming with game home to the greatest wildlife migration on earth, the continent’s most famous tribe, the Maasai and tropical islands laced with hundreds of years of history.

My first trip to Kenya was short and sweet: a whirlwind of the Masai Mara, a brief stop in Nairobi (staying in the lush and lovely suburb of Karen) and a few languorous days on magical Lamu Island. It didn’t take much to convince me that this is a country I want to come back to again and again.

1. Masai Mara

Masai Mara, Kenya

At the top of the list had to be Kenya’s flagship park and one of the continent’s best safari destinations: the Masai Mara. The park is in its prime between July and October, when a million wildbeest migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the plains of the Mara, but even being there in March was amazing. Within a few minutes of landing at the dusty air strip, we saw giraffe, a herd of elephant, and hordes of zebra and wildebeest and on game drives for the next three days we saw lion, hyena, jackal – and a first for me – a beautiful cheetah.

We stayed in a stylish but low-key tented camp called Ol Seki Hemingways Mara in a private conservancy, where we sat by the fire each night drinking wine and watching the floodlit waterhole where animals came to drink and fell asleep to the sound of jackals barking and hyenas laughing.

2. Masaai culture

Masaai dancing, Kenya

Our guide in the Masai Mara was the wonderful Suruni Mpoe, a Masaai whose genuine passion for wildlife and conservation was infectious and inspiring. He made us fall in love with Masaai culture, explaining things like how Masaai don’t know how old they are (they don’t celebrate birthdays or know exactly when they were born) so they do things like get married when they feel like it, and how when men marry they must pay 10 cows as dowry for any woman (“What about more beautiful women” I asked “All women are beautiful” he replied), and how Masaai respect nature – they don’t eat anything wild – and try to live in harmony with wildlife. We visited as Masaai village where we watched Suruni jump metres in the air along with other Masaai men in the traditional dance they do, covered in their beautiful red shukas and jangling beads and necklaces.

3. Tiny planes

Flying in tiny planes in Kenya - from Nairobi to Lamu Island

When you have less than a week to explore Kenya, you’re going to end up flying a lot on tiny planes. I would have thought that as a nervous flier I would have a nervy wreck but the plane flights were so spectacular and I was so focused on the scenery that I forgot all about the chances of the plane crashing.

4. Lamu Town

Lamu Town's main square, Lamu Island, Kenya

Lamu Island, on Kenya’s north coast, is home to the country’s oldest town. The history and culture here have influences from Portugal, India, Oman and Persia (people on the east coast of Africa have been trading with the Middle East and Asia for over a thousand years). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu Town is the best-preserved example of a traditional Swahili settlement: it’s all Arab-influenced architecture, old thick wooden doors from India, splashes of turquoise on walls, cool palm-tree shaded courtyards and tiny alleyways that smell of masala tea. There are no cars on the island, so everything’s transported on sweet grey donkeys. I loved exploring the town, eating newspaper-wrapped deep-fried cassava sprinkled with chilli, popping in at the fresh vegetable, herb and fruit market, browsing interesting shops full of African antiques and locally-made jewellery, visiting the interesting museum and taking endless photos – everything here is photogenic.

5. Swahili curry

Swahili curry, Kenya

The best meal of my trip was a Swahili vegetable curry on at Peponi Hotel on Lamu: a steaming huge bowl of curry with chunky veggies was accompanied by freshly grated coconut, coriander, tomato, onion, yoghurt, sour pickles, sweet chutney, rice, poppadums and buttery naan bread.

6. Shela Beach

Shela Beach, Lamu Island, Kenya

A short boat ride from Lamu Town is Shela Beach, which is where most tourists to the island stay. It’s easy to see why: there’s a 12-kilometre stretch of beautiful beach that never gets busy, a tiny, sleepy village of narrow streets cushioned by bright pink bougainvillea that’s home to an assortment of kaftan-wearing tanned expats (and where Princess Caroline of Hanover has a holiday house), shops selling beautiful kikoys, handmade jewellery and bags made from recycled dhow sails, a few laidback cafes and restaurants, some lovely guesthouses and a yoga centre.  I could see why there were so many expats who’ve made this island home: it was easy to slip into a gentle rhythm of life here and feel like you would never want to return to the real world.

7. Peponi Hotel

Peponi Hotel, Shela Beach, Lamu Island, Kenya

In Shela Beach, we stayed at the fabulously eccentric and charming Peponi Hotel, a family-owned hotel of Swahili buildings and romantic rooms right on the beach.  Days were spent floating in the baobab-shaded pool, drinking the house speciality (vodka cocktails made with fresh lime juice), eating samoosas and Swahili curry and fresh mango, snorkelling on the offshore reef, watching dhows glide silently past the hotel and falling asleep on swinging hammock beds to the sound of lapping waves.

8. The best of bush and beach

Lamu Island, Kenya

The Masai Mara and Lamu Island couldn’t be more different from each other: the isolation of the bush with nothing around for miles, and a tiny island on the Indian Ocean home to a fantastically rich culture and history. Combining both on one trip was great – the contrast was perfect.

9. Sunsets

Masai Mara sunset, Kenya

Africa’s never short on spectacular sunsets and Kenya is no exception. We drank G&Ts watching the sun sink behind a horizon dotted with wildebeest and zebras in the Masai Mara and sipped beers on a dhow watching the sky turn dusky purple over the Indian Ocean in Lamu.

10. Beer

Tusker beer, Lamu Island, Kenya

Last but not least, is Tusker beer. I can’t get enough of this great Kenyan brew – I even drank it when I was in Uganda.


Getting to Kenya

South African Airways flies to Nairobi from Johannesburg (a four-hour flight) daily.

My trip to Kenya was sponsored by Kenya Tourism


A Costa Rican adventure

Costa Rica

I’m pretty excited about my next assignment: a 10-day trip to Costa Rica with Contiki Cares!

I’m joining 11 other people from around the world – the three winners of the recent #contikistorytellers competition, as well as photographers, filmmakers, bloggers and Celine Cousteau, a celebrated documentary filmmaker.

The itinerary, based on a Contiki’s Costa Rica unplugged trip sounds epic – we’re going to be ziplining through the treetops, going white water rafting, canyoneering through a rainforest canyon, tasting our way through chocolate tours, visiting coffee plantations and learning how to make Costa Rican coffee, hiking in cloud forests, surfing on the Caribbean coast, diving with dolphins and working with the Sea Turtle Conservancy in Tortuguero National Park, tracking turtles and tagging nests.

The trip starts on Saturday 29 March 2014: follow our adventure around Costa Rica with the hashtag #contikistorytellers on Twitter and Instagram.

If you have any Costa Rica travel tips please share them in the comments!

Photo courtesy of Arturo Sotillo.


Overlanding Uganda: gorillas, chimps and a lot of bananas

Mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a pretty apt name for a Central African jungle that is at times so dense you can only see the head of the person a few steps in front of you. The first part of the hike was fairly easy going – a well-worn gently sloping path under giant trees took us into the forest but we soon veered off track and then it was bundu bashing time: a machete-hacking, slippery, steep, vine-scrambling adventure that had our band of eight camera-clad trekkers full of mud, sweating like cold beers and gasping for breath.

We felt the gorillas before we saw them. A piece of bark dropped on my head and I looked up to see a black blob in the tree above us – the source of the rainfall of bark, leaves and twigs showering down on us. Before I’d had a chance to get my camera out the blob lowered itself down the nearest tree trunk like a firefighter going down a pole and disappeared into the forest. The big mountain gorilla spotting moment was over in a few seconds.

Flying halfway across the African continent to equatorial Uganda, driving for 10 hours on potholed roads and battling through thickets of stinging nettles was luckily not going to amount to just a few seconds of gorilla sighting. Just ahead of us, up another bum-clenchingly steep ravine, we panted up to where the rest of the Bitukura gorilla group sat – the huge silverback, munching away nonchalantly like a serene giant Buddha, a mother and her tiny teddy-bear-like 10-month old baby with shiny button eyes, an adult female who walked through our group to get to her eating spot, thrillingly brushing past my leg as she passed and some other adults and juveniles clambering around in trees and rustling through the bushes all around us.

Mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

This is what we’d come all this way for – to spend an hour with these creatures who share 98% of their genes with us – a group of gentle vegetarian giants whose mannerisms and features are sometimes so human like you can’t believe they’re animals. With less than a thousand mountain gorillas left on the planet, which are only found in three places (Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo), the chance to come a few metres from the apes while they go about their daily business is pretty unbeatable as far as wildlife experiences go. We clicked away, taking thousands of photos and shooting breathless videos as silverbacks walked within touching distance and the baby took a few waddling steps, transfixed, in awe and losing all sense of time before our guides almost had to physically remove us after an hour.

Tracking mountain gorillas was the highlight of a week-long overlanding camping tour with Nomad Adventure Tours through Uganda. Along with a bunch of South African travel bloggers, I bounced around in a huge truck called Marilyn for 1500 kilometres with a bunch of Poles, a few Swedes, a German and two Zimbabweans – our indefatigable driver, Servius Mahara and a master of comedic timing guide, Norman Lova.

Marilyn, our Nomad truck and trusty steed

The trip wasn’t only about gorillas, though. Uganda is a spectacularly beautiful country of wonderfully friendly people, and even though we only had a few days, we managed to squeeze a lot in. After a night in Kampala, which is safe and easy to get around, although traffic choked and dusty, we drove for a day heading south west and stayed at one of the best campsites I’ve ever been to: Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort, on the shores of serene Lake Bunyonyi, where our tents were pitched a few metres from the water. Sunsets on the lake were those perfect African ones, where you have a cold beer in hand (the Kenyan Tusker was my choice), sit on the deck and watch the sky turn from apricot to pink to bruised purple. When we weren’t gorilla tracking in Bwindi, a two-hour drive away, we were swimming in the lake, getting felt up by an 87-year old woman in the village for suitability as African wives and visiting a local orphanage called Little Angels (where I taught a maths class to a group of the cutest kids, and had my hair braided into an extremely painful hairstyle by dozens of little hands).

Beautiful Lake Bunyonyi

From Lake Bunyonyi we had the most scenic drive of the trip, past banana plantations (I’ve never been to a country with more bananas), coffee trees and rolling hills of sparkling green tea plantations in Bushenyi, till we came to the top of a plateau and looked down at a flat savanna peppered with acacia trees: Queen Elizabeth National Park. Our two days here were spent game driving (spotting buffalo, elephants, olive baboons and Ugandan kob, which look just like impala) and tracking chimpanzees in Karinzu Forest Reserve, a short drive out of the park.

Game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Chimp tracking in Karinzu Forest Reserve

While you have about a 95% chance of finding mountain gorillas when you go tracking in Bwindi, you have an 80% chance of seeing chimps in Karinzu, which means there’s a chance that you could hike for hours and not see anything. The chimpanzee permit is much lower than the mountain gorilla one ($75 as opposed to $600) so it was a gamble worth taking. The Karinzu reserve starts right next to the road, so we got dropped off by a minibus, took a few steps down the verge and were suddenly plunged into forest. No sooner had we gone a few steps before we heard the unmistakable ear-piercing shrieks of chimpanzees. They were tantalisingly close, but because they were hunting a colobus monkey, they were moving fast through the trees, and we had to trot to keep up – getting swatted by thorny vines and branches as we went bundu bashing for the second time in Central Africa. By the time we’d caught up with them, we were covered in bloody scratches and sweat patches – a real Rambo-in-the-jungle look. Chimpanzees are rather large – larger than you might think – and even more human like than mountain gorillas and our first glimpse of one, about 20 metres away from us in the dimness of the forest, looked disconcertingly human, standing on his hind legs and using a stick for scraping ants out of a nest. Unlike gorillas, chimps don’t really sit around much like perfect wildlife models – they spend most of their time up in the trees, so we did a lot of neck craning and zoom lensing. Even though you don’t get the surreal closeness that you do with the gorillas, chimp tracking was incredibly exhilarating.

A week in Uganda wasn’t long enough to see all of this amazing country, but it gave me a taste of the landscape of mist-shrouded crater lakes and 50-shades-of-green jungles. I will be back.

To give you more of a sense of the trip, check out this video made by Joseph C Lawrence.



Overlanding in Uganda to track mountain gorillas

Nomad Adventure Tours offers a six-night, seven-day camping overlanding tour of Uganda, which costs from R9450, excluding the mountain gorilla permit, which costs around $600. You can travel to Uganda independently and hire a car (or take public transport) and organise the permit yourself but it’s much easier to do an overlanding trip where all you have to do is set up your tent, bring lots of music and books for the long drives and make new friends in the truck.

Thanks to Hi-Tec and Cape Union Mart for the sponsorship of these hiking shoes and very snazzy K-Way backpacks.