Whilst I am firmly in the science camp when it comes to interpreting the world around me there is one very precise and largely undisputed part of our world that makes me wonder about all the things we don’t understand concerning our universe. That thing is time. Why is it that the last 30-minutes of work on a Friday afternoon seem to last for two hours yet the first two hours unwinding at the pub after work on a Friday night seem to pass in 30-minutes? Why do Tuesday and Wednesday pass way more slowly than Saturday and Sunday? Why did 6-weeks in Africa on one hand feel like 6-months and on the other like two weeks? Continue reading “The Last Legs of an Adventure”
It seemed like a long dusty drive to Serengeti National Park from Ngorongoro Crater where we’d left the sunshine behind along with an incredible morning of game viewing. Our jeep was taking us through hills dotted with Maasai boys herding livestock that were striking in their bright clothing against the bleak landscape and occasionally caught us up in goat traffic jams. After many twists and turns we rounded a corner and found ourselves high above a massive plain that stretched before us as far as the eye could see. No wonder the Maasai named this area Siringet which roughly translates to ‘the place where the land runs forever’. This name eventually morphed into Serengeti and is now known quite rightly as ‘the endless plains’. Continue reading “Tanzania Part V: On Safari in Serengeti National Park”
I haven’t been able to find the right words to describe how I felt when I visited Ngorongoro Crater. I sized up things like ‘biblical’, ‘other worldly’ and ‘awestruck’ but none of them seemed to fit the bill. This was one of the most incredible experiences of my life yet I’m faced with the frustration of simply not having the right phrases or analogies to adequately describe it to other people.
By the time our truck slowly made its way through the Dar es Salaam traffic to take us out of the city I think it would be fair to say that I wasn’t particularly enjoying my time in Tanzania. Whilst there were a few highlights I didn’t always feel safe, I was growing tired of long days stuck in traffic or road construction, I was disgusted at the openly corrupt police that kept pulling us over to bribe our driver and along with some of my tripmates I hadn’t been in great health; not enough to leave me bedridden but enough to distract me from having a good time. All of that was about to change when the next few days in Northern Tanzania becoming one of the great highlights of my 6-week African journey and one of the best experiences of my entire traveling life. But it wasn’t all plain sailing.
Ever since I first heard that there was a place called Zanzibar I have wanted to go there simply because the very name conjures up an exotic and exciting far-flung land. Despite it being on my bucket list I never really learned much about it apart from how to find it on a map. Several years ago I quizzed a good friend about it after she spent her honeymoon there but all I really got from her was that it was very hot and that she loved it. In any case I was happy to see that it was an optional 3-night excursion included within my Africa Overland itinerary but I have to admit I still didn’t bother to do a whole heap of research until just before I got there when I found that it has a fascinating history. Continue reading “Zanzibar”
In most countries people use bumper stickers to express things about themselves from their cars. In Tanzania, particularly in the financial capital of Dar es Salaam, people sometimes like to decorate their entire car especially if it is a taxi. Whereas in the UK you might see a Manchester United sticker on the rear window in Dar you’ll see entire vans covered in Manchester United livery. In America I saw a lot of Obama/Biden stickers still present following the Obama campaigns but in Dar an entire vehicle will be decked out in the colors of their favorite party complete with a portrait of the leader. I found this endearing especially when I noticed a lot of Bob Marley and President Obama portraits on the backs of taxi vans. But I distinctly remember a sobering chill spreading through me when I noticed the first Osama bin Laden image shortly followed by one of Colonel Gaddafi. It suddenly seemed plausable that the Obama ones were a kind of protest at the presence of terrorist and terrorist dictator portraits.
The two-day drive to Dar es Salaam started with a predawn breakfast at our Chitimba campsite on the shores of Lake Malawi. A bright light illuminated our outdoor breakfast, tricking various large bugs that it was daylight so that us bleary-eyed travelers were periodically startled by dive bombing insects. Continue reading “Tanzania Part I: The Long Road to Dar es Salaam”
One thing you don’t want to happen on a 6-week overland trip through Africa is get sick. So I was feeling pretty nervous when I finally acknowledged there was something wrong at Kande Beach in Malawi. Continue reading “Malawi Part III: Heading North”
Our small group assembled with two local guides on one side of the large metal gates that separated our campsite from the village outside. They gave us a rundown about what to expect from the tour we were taking at Kande Beach that morning. We would visit their village, a medical clinic and a school. As they explained everything the noise from a crowd gathered on the other side of the gates got more frantic. People shouted at each other in a language we couldn’t understand but it was clear that we were going into this crowd that were excited to see us because they know that tourists like us provide a valuable income stream to their community. It was intimidating but not wholly unexpected.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa which of course makes it one of the poorest on Earth. It is also known for being one of the most welcoming and friendliest countries on the continent and thus has earned the nickname ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’. We were coming from Zambia which is also known for being very poor and very friendly. I didn’t detect any major difference in friendliness and hospitality from one side of the border to the other but the difference in standard of living was obvious.