Central African Republic (CAR) is a country with staggering rare natural beauty and some wonderful wildlife. Not so long ago it was one of the best places in Africa for encounters with huge forest elephants and western lowland gorillas, and the best place in the world, some say, to see butterflies.
However, since 2012 political problems and religious-fuelled civil war have made the country completely off limits to travellers for safety reasons, with all Western governments warning against any visits here.
One of the most impoverished and least developed countries on the continent, CAR endured centuries of rapacity from colonisers and then from its own leaders.
Yet the people of this plundered nation remain incredibly open and friendly; and their conversations are more full of hope than despair.