Tuesday, February 03, 2009

the blue list of africa...

Solitaire, Namibia
Heading north from Sesriem to Swakopmund on the coast, the land was pretty bleak. There weren't many places to stop for gas except for an aptly named place called Solitaire.

The gas station here is famous for it's delish apple strudel. Mmmmm...fresh-out-of-the-oven 10 cm by 25 cm chunk of apple strudel. I looked for strudel in Frankfurt, Germany (waiting for the connecting flight to Jo'burg, SA) only to find out that it originated in Austria. It was ironic that I found it in Namibia (out in the middle of nowhere), a former German colony back in WWI. Anyway, I'm glad I got my studel when I did because shortly after this pic was shot, the "Rollen Hotel", a massive overland truck, rolled into the station. At least 30 German tourists piled out and they went straight for the apple strudel.

The Ultimate African Itinerary.

Recently I received an email from Aubrey (whose thinking of a prolonged 8 month trip through Africa) asking for a top ten list of must see/do's on the "dark" continent. That was a daunting task to say the least. After reviewing my responding list, I don't think I did Africa justice. Here is what I came up with:

  1. Egypt. all the big sites in Cairo and along the Nile. if you want to get off the beaten path, i'd get out to siwa oasis in the west. Dahab's ok.
  2. Sudan. see as much of this as possible. particularly along the Nile in the north.
  3. Ethiopia. If there's only place you want to see that is Ethiopia: Simiens for walking, Lalibela, Gonder, Axum (maybe), Danikil depression (if you can afford it), Harar, Omo Valley, Gambella. you can easily kill a couple of months here. such a beautiful place. Test you mettle as a traveler though. The roads and people will challenge u.
  4. Kenya. Definitely head out to Lamu on the coast. Nairobbery is not so bad. Couple of days to re-charge there. Didn't make it to lake turkana. My bad. definitely next time for me. if you make it there, please post the pix.
  5. Uganda. Rafting the Nile is a must (here, Zambezi river in Zimbabwe or both). Lake Bunyonyi in the south. Kampala is pretty lively (ie. chaotic), definitely worth a visit. I was going to the north but got side tracked.
  6. Rwanda. See the gorillas here. You'll be able to get permits on the spot. Pricey but worth it. Kigali is nice. Lots of genocidal memorials to visit.
  7. Tanzania. I climbed Kilimanjaro a long time ago. Don't know if it's worth it anymore. it's nice up there though. Zanzibar is pretty interesting. Good source of photos. Ngorongoro crater is like a zoo (animals and tourists). I really recommend getting out to Kigoma and riding the SS Liemba down Lake Tanganyika.
  8. Malawi. Another hangout spot. I'd recommend Senga Bay and Point Maclear if you want to hang out by the Lake. Livingstonia's not bad.
  9. Zambia. I wish I spent more time here. Livingstone is a big tourist hangout. I believe that's your base for seeing Victoria Falls. They're pretty nice. But you can't go there without rafting the Zambezi, another must do.
  10. Botswana. Expensive place but you must get to Maun and into the Okavango Delta.
  11. Namibia. Etosha National Park, Swakopmund/Walvis Bay, and Sossusvlei are the must sees. in fact, if you only go on safari once, i recommend etosha.
  12. South Africa. I wish I could spend more time here. Capetown and Johannesburg are nice. Kagaligadi National Park was just brilliant, really wild. The Garden Route is a bit overrated. I'd certainly check out the Otter Route next time. It's a hiking trail along the south coast.
  13. Mozambique. Poor poor poor place. Maputo is a must. Pretty vibrant city. Go up to tofo if you're into snorkeling with whale sharks. You don't want to miss Ilha do Mozambique either.
Ok, I tried my best (I couldn't keep it to ten items). Just too many variables to crunch.

Tell me what you think of the list, 'cause I haven't been everywhere in Africa...

Not wanting to sound corny, I should have wrote, "go and meet the people and feel fortunate everyday that you're in Africa." Well, at least that's how I felt when I was there...

Aubrey is based in Dharamsala, India, right now, hanging out H.H. the Dalai Lama. Check out his blog Ketchup with Aubs for swell pix and stories of his travels.

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