About 100 years ago, Natasha’s grandfather, Dr. Bengt Berg, made an epic journey from Sweden to Africa, and up and down the White Nile to find the southern most point of the Eurasian (or common) crane’s migration. He wrote the best selling book “With the Cranes to Africa” and made a documentary film about his expedition.
As a small boy in Sweden, Bengt was fascinated by the elegant, tall, plumed birds that arrived from exotic southern destinations – filling the sky by the thousands; and the air with their unmistakable calls as they came to lay their eggs each spring and then left again to mysterious parts of the world in the autumn.
The migratory path of these “jet setter” birds became a life long obsession for Bengt; and he was one of the first people to make the dangerous trip through Africa, with all his cameras, to establish their southern migratory route from a boat on the Nile a century ago.
A lot has changed in the world since then, but the desire to follow the cranes south is just as compelling for his grandaughter Natasha as it ever was for Bengt when he found their southern most migratory point in Sudan. One of the biggest differences from a century ago, is that the cranes have changed countries. Today they are landing in Ethiopia.
Our expedition begins in Addis Ababa, as we hop down a series of Rift Valley Lakes – like pearls on a rope – to find where the cranes are now wintering. Our biggest fear is that we would not find them in healthy numbers. Natasha’s heart fills with joy on seeing them for the first time so far from Sweden. The same birds she waited for each spring growing up on Eriksberg in Sweden.
Landscapes filled with people, skies filled with birds. Four different lakes; each uniquely different than the other – each with its own story of cranes and migratory birds from all over the world.
As we reach the southern most point of the common crane’s migration – the modern day story of Natasha on the same quest as her grandfather – unfolds in Skypaths the film.