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Archived Posts from “Africa”

South Africa-The Rainbow Nation

05

May

Ever since South Africa had its own democratic elections back in 1994, there has been more and more interest in seeing what all the fuss about. What visitors to South Africa will discover are lush forests, jungle Addington Beach - Durbanatmospheres, friendly natives welcoming all different people, cultural tapestries of diverse ethnicity, wildlife preserves and national parks, safekeeping the treasured wildlife that is so precious to the nation itself. Many people do not actually realize how much of South Africa remains unexplored, and untouched by the hands of man, while at the same time, the economy and social structure has been developing to compete with many different countries’ economies. There have been advances in industry as well as natural preservation in South Africa, and the natives to the country are growing stronger as a people because of it.
The various attractions in South Africa can be educational, fun, and awe inspiring for families, couples, and even individuals who came to relax and enjoy their vacation.

Take a tour the South Africa’s most recent national park, opened only recently in June 2007, Mokala Natural Park, and discover a kaleidoscope of flora and fauna.
Visit the various Natural Botanical Gardens of South Africa, where amongst tropical rare flora, you can find the giant legendary Baobab trees.
The Northern Cape in South Africa, is where the famous small town is located; famous for the enormous Southern Africa Large Telescope, which is expected to draw in many astronomy oriented tourists.

Several tourists also love interacting with the rich cultural history of South Africa. There are over 500 different museums in South Africa, dedicated to just that. Here are few of the best:

  • The National Cultural History Museum, Pretoria
  • Transvaal Museum of Natural History, Pretoria.
  • The South African National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg
  • The National Museum and the Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein.

The cuisine found in South Africa varies from the popular to the traditional. Most of South African traditional foods were at one time based on a wide variety of grains, wild game, Table Mountainfruits and vegetables, but when the country became more and more industrialised, the general dishes of South Africa fused together popular eats, and cultural cooking. Some of the popular traditional foods that tourists will most likely encounter while in South Africa are breads and porridges made from “mealie-meal” which is a type of maize, or corn flour, Ostrich meat, ground, or made into various steaks and stews, much like beef. There’s also Amasi, which is sour milk, chutney, a sweet sauce made from fruits and vegetables and served over meat, and Bunny Chow; which is hollowed out bread, stuffed with curry.

Transportation in South Africa has undergone some very sophisticated development; most visitors will be surprised at the ease in which they can travel freely. There are car rental agencies, where those so inclined can even rent off-road vehicles for trips through the bush. There are also regional and extended trips that many can take by bus, taxis, and a good number of airports for regional and international travel. Visitors can also take advantage of modern railway services as well. One of the most popular resorts in South Africa is Singita; finding anything to top their establishment is going to be a struggle. There are many different lodgings; such as five star resorts, rustic safari or game lodges, camping grounds, local hotels, and bed and breakfast establishments.


Seychelles-Life In The Archipelago

07

December

The Seychelles are located very near the equator, in the Indian Ocean off of the coast of Africa and is actually made up of 115 islands, both coral and granite. Forty-one of the islands are large enough to be called Cousine Island Seychellesthe Inner Islands, composed entirely of granite, as well as being the oldest oceanic granite islands in the world. The seventy-four Outer Islands are actually composed entirely of coral atolls, that have formed islets. One of the most famous natural and geographical attributes is also the world’s largest raised coral atoll, called Aldabra, and was first discovered thousands of years ago, by Arabian sailors. There are three main islands, Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, where the culture and economy of Seychelles are centred. The other islands in which can be found accommodation are Bird Island, Cerf, Chauve, Souris, Cousine, Denis Island, Frégate, North Island, Round Island (Praslin), Silhouette, Ste. Anne.

The islands in Seychelles are a great opportunity to share various activities with your family, relax, or go out and discover the islands on your own.

  • Visitors can enjoy snorkeling, swimming, lounging on the famously gorgeous, and uncrowded beaches of Seychelles.
  • Hop from one island to another by boat, with guided tours, or rent a boat, and take yourself and your family on an adventure.
  • Go bicycling, horseback riding, walking, or hiking on some of the natural trails found throughtout the lush forest in Seychelles.
  • Take a tour through the famous Vallee de Mai, where you’ll discover the rare, and legendary Coco-de-Mer, which can only be found in Seychelles, extinct in all other parts of the world.
  • Lounge in the laid back atmosphere of Seychelles casinos, bars, and nightclubs. Enjoy the local company, music, and cuisine.
  • Tour the cities in Seychelles, and discover authentic Creole homes, and lifestyles, street-side markets, the studios of local artists, and much more.

The majority of cuisines you’ll find when in Seychelles is Creole, or International; International basically means a little bit of this and that for the tourists. Creole cuisine has been made famous in the United States by where it is usually served in New Orleans, Louisiana. Creole cuisine is a fusion of different ethnicity, such as French, Spanish, French Caribbean, African, as well as some Italian influences. Many people are confused between Cajun and Creole, and usually conclude that they’re the same; this is inaccurate. Cajun is more an American development, whereas Creole leans more towards its European origins. Popular Creole dishes that you’ll find in Seychelles are Crabmeat Ravigote, Gumbo, Chicken Creole, Maque choux, Bread pudding, Grillades and Grits, as well as some exceptional Creole drinks, such as Hurricanes, and Sazerac cocktails.

Getting around in Seychelles in generally hassle-free, there are domestic flights for getting back and forth between the major islands, and ferries as well, which will take you to other islands as well. Visitors can also take advantage of buses, and taxis in Seychelles; public transportation is modern and clean. There is also the option of renting a vehicle; Seychelles isn’t especially over-populated and driving from place to place doesn’t involve a lot of waiting in traffic. Accommodation options in Seychelles are numerous depending on tastes; visitors can patronize five star luxury hotels and spa resorts, cozy beach-side cottages and bungalows, or stay in more rustic campgrounds or lodges.


Ivory Coast-The Paris of West Africa

06

December

The Côte d’Ivoire or Ivory Coast is located on the southern coast of the rounded northwestern area of Africa, with beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean. The Guinea Highlands to the east are the only actual geological rise, other than Ivory Coastthat, most of the Ivory Coast is a great plateau of land, that slightly dips down to the Atlantic Ocean. The three main regions of the Ivory Coast, are the savanna, the forest, and the coast. Climates in all three areas can differ either greatly or slightly, depending on the time of year. It’s always best to check with your travel agent on what the weather will be like where you plan to spend the duration of your visit. The coastal region does in fact get the most rain, but in the dry period, from December to April, the skies are clear, and further towards spring the climate is at a level of comfort most can enjoy without being too hot or cold.

Despite the popular opinion, Western Africa is not purely culture-oriented, while South Africa is of course, not purely wildlife-oriented either. The most popular attraction to the Ivory Coast, aside from her beautiful shoreline, terrain, and natural surroundings, is the wildlife preserve within, called the Tai National Park, which was originally criticised because it boasted a jungle atmosphere for wildlife, whereas most believe that real jungles can only be found in South America. The Tai area does contain jungle ecosystems, and actually covers almost half of the land in Western Africa. Going for a tour, or a taking a safari through the Tai National Park, is a jungle fantasy come true for many visitors.

The traditional and native tongue in the Ivory Coast region is French, so the cuisine in that area does have some French influence, but the flavours of course are mainly African. Grains and tube vegetables, –potatoes, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, etc., make up a large portion of the Ivorians’ diet. A popular dish served by street vendors and corner stores, is called “aloco” which is made from spiced banana, cooked with palm oil, with chili or served with fish. Other favourite dishes are chilled avocado soup, Sauce Claire and Fufu, Cucumber zucchini salad, halibut fresh from the Ivory Coast. The restaurants most commonly found on the Ivory Coast are called ‘maquis’ which are basically open air establishments, that combine indoor and outdoor for a pleasing dining experience.

As far as accommodations go in the Ivory Coast, the safest places to spend the duration of your stay is in hotels. Guest houses and other lodging is available, but more often than not are prone to crime, and theft. Getting around by car is the best possible way to travel throughout the Ivory Coast, and also the safest. It’s best to arrange a car rental before hand, rather than be in an urban area on foot. If necessary, be sure to get a cab to wherever you’re going, if in a heavily populated area. When traveling on highways, military checkpoints can slow things down quite a bit, however.


Visiting Egypt, Touching Legends

03

November

When it comes to one of the most legendary places on the globe, where mystery and adventure, scandal, and tragedy still stain and pervade the atmosphere, you simply cannot overlook Egypt. Donkey and mule-pulled carts will share the roads and streets with luxury vehicles, economically struggling families will beg for vacationers and tourists to stay in their homes. Even after hundreds of years, most of the civilisation in Egypt is centered entirely around the vast, ever-shifting and changing waters of the great Nile river. The population is most dense around the Mediterranean delta region, where you can find the cities of Alexandria, Cairo and Port Said.

Some of the most popular attractions for tourists, are of course the enormous pyramids of Giza, the tombs, statues and monuments, and various hundreds of ancient historical landmarks located up and down the Nile. Not only are the historical points of interest in Egypt beautiful, and a much sought after attraction for vacationers and tourists, but there are also snorkelers, and divers who travel from all over the globe to see the various assortment of exotic underwater life off of Sinai’s coast.

For the fashionable shoppers, and tourists, there is the city of Alexandria, which is directly across the river from Europe, and is also known as the sister city of Cairo. For travelers and visitors seeking a variety of cultures, languages, fashion and cuisine, Alexandria is highly recommended. In norther Egypt tourists will find both the Valley of the Kings, and the Valley of the Queens, where the world’s oldest tombs can be found, which also includes the tomb of the recently discovered King Tut.

Tourists are advised to visit Egypt through winter months, when temperatures are the most pleasant, although it can be chilly at night, and the coastal areas tend to get fairly rainy. Egyptian natives will also respect those visitors who acquaint themselves with local customs; for example, women who wear shorts or short sleeves are frowned upon, but tolerated, however, under no circumstances should a woman wear such clothes inside a mosque. It would be seen as highly insulting and inappropriate. Female tourists should also bring a scarf for their head if they plan to visit mosques.

When using taxis to get around in Cairo, or other large cities, — driving is not recommended, — it is important for travelers to remember that taxis who park alongside hotels are more expensive than those that are called in from the street, and the rates during the day are much cheaper than those at night. Taxis are available at any time, day or night, but night prices are higher, and taximeters are seldom accurate, so travelers also must be careful to pay attention to their own rates as they travel. For travelers and tourists who are not in a hurry to get from place to place, buses are recommended instead; it’s slow going usually, but buses are air-conditioned, and fairly reliable. Not to mention, they also charge a flat rate. However, for the most reliable, clean and cheap transportation, most recommend the metro systems, in the inner-city areas of Cairo.


Kenya-Wild Paradise

22

October

Perhaps no one country in Africa offers travelers the truest sense of the continent as a whole as does Kenya. When one’s mind pictures the typical African bush scenes—herds of wildebeests charging through the savannas, lions, zebras, and elephants doing their thing, all set against the backdrop of Africa’s immense and beautiful landscape—one surely must be imagining Kenya.

Ernest Hemingway didn’t discover Kenya, but he likely is as responsible as any Westerner for rekindling the modern world’s imagination of it by penning numerous stories and novels during his long stays there. In fact, on more than one occasion, the writer nearly lost his life there. Suffice to say, such titles as “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and The Green Hills of Africa renewed the public’s interest in this strange land. However the imagination can’t compare to the real thing!

Like all of Africa, Kenya has a checkered past, owing to its time as a colonial holding by several different powers from roughly 1500 to 1963, when Kenya held its first free elections. Today, Kenya is one of Africa’s most modern countries, boasting protected parks, concern for its environment, and two modern and functional cities in Mombassa and Nairobi. Nairobi, in particular, is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city, which features the country’s financial infrastructure, and is the third largest city in Africa. Nairobi is, however a fairly dangerous city, and crime is a concern in certain areas.

For nature lovers, or anyone interested in anthropology, natural history, photography or just witnessing such sheer diversity in wildlife and fauna which the Discovery Channel can’t begin to do justice, then Kenya is the place of dreams. For this, one must visit the Masai Mara National Reserve. This reserve, belonging to the well-known Masai people, features over 1500 km of grasslands, gorgeous blue skies, and depending on the time of year, either hundreds of thousands or millions of the main animals that Africa is known for: lions, rinos, elephants, gazelle, giraffe, impala, leopards, gazelle, and many more. Although just glimpsing any of these animals is worth the trip, planning for a July-August visit is recommended. Although the park can be overrun with minibuses and tourists during this period, it is for good reason—this is the time of the year for the wildebeest migration, when almost endless numbers of these strange creatures enter the park.

Certainly visitors should spend some time meeting the keepers of this reserve, the Masai themselves. These semi-nomadic people are known for their beautiful, bright clothes, and their colorful jewelry, but are a troubled people. Struggling to remain true to their heritage the government, for years, has been trying to assimilate them into modern Kenya. So far, they have managed to remain firm against the encroachment of the modern world, but their way of life is continually under threat.

Another much smaller, yet uniquely intimate park, is Hell’s Gate National Park. Located just 90 km from Nairobi, this 68 sq km park offers tourists and those with a need to feel the earth beneath their feet, a chance to do just that. With a 22 km trail that is perfect for hiking or biking, visitors to Hell’s Gate will have the chance to come face to face with zebras, giraffes, antelopes, and more. Don’t let the tough name fool you, the park is a beautiful and idyllic place, featuring plenty of adventure activities.

Kenya is one of Africa’s most developed countries, and certainly one of its most tourist-friendly. From safaris to shopping in Nairobi, travelers will fulfill their dreams, and take the memories of the sights, sounds, and people with them for the rest of their lives.