Africa

To the Top of Africa

It was six days (four days up and two down), 5895m, (19,500ft), about 50 hours of climbing, a few mental breakdowns, a massive sunburn, a gazillion blisters, one nosebleed and pain everywhere...but I made it. Of all the adventures I've been fortunate to have, I don’t think I’ve pushed myself as hard as I did when I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. There are three main routes for Kili, “Marangu” (nicknamed the Coca-Cola route because it’s the easiest) “Machame” (nicknamed the whisky route because it's harder...but with more amazing scenery and landscapes) and “Umbwe” (this one has no nickname cause it’s the savage one for insane mountaineers). I randomly chose Machame basically because I like whisky a lot more than Coca Cola; being called more difficult made no difference to me because I knew it would be damn hard no matter what. We had 19 people on our team for three climbers, just me and a [...]

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Morocco

Morocc-oh-my-gawd! First off, it feels a bit silly putting Morocco under the African umbrella because it is far from the Africa I know. It was clearly a trip to the Arab world, but I won't argue with geography, so here is where you will find it. Morocco was....interesting. I don’t really know how else to describe it because I still don’t know how I feel about it. It’s funny because so many of the things I loved about it, I also hated. It was beautiful and chaotic and strange and exotic and well, a bit of crazy mixed in. From the moment I got there it was like an assault on all of my senses. I should also add that I went during the hottest time of the year (43 degrees on my first day...at 9am) and in the midst of Ramadan, which made things even more...interesting. Thankfully, Morocco [...]

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Rwanda

Land of a Thousand Hills (...and reasons to visit) Having been to a number of countries in Africa and loving them all for different reasons, I actually think that Rwanda is by far, my favourite place on the continent. And yes, I know I’ve said that before but this time, I reeeeally mean it. I also acknowledge that there is a pretty good chance that I will say it again on my next trip there. What can I say? That's what Africa does to ya... If you're looking for adventure, it's not hard to find in Rwanda. You've got gorilla treks in Volcanoes National Park, safaris in Akagera National Park, and beaches along beautiful Lake Kivu.  For me, this trip was more to learn about the culture and history of the country, which I had wanted to do since...forever. And boy, I sure got it. The capital Kigali sits over a series of seven mountains at an altitude of 1,300 to 1,600 [...]

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Uganda

From Kampala to Fort Portal I spent almost a month volunteering in the tiny town of Fort Portal, which is one of the most western points of Uganda. My home stay was about 10 kms out of town, so it was even more out in the sticks than Fort Portal itself. It was so relaxing and peaceful there...nothing but fresh air, lush forests and a view of the Rwenzori mountains. Absolute paradise. I don’t think Fort Portal generally ends up on anyone’s travel itinerary for Uganda, but if you find yourself there, be sure to brave the food stalls on the street (and ask for a rolex....trust me it’s not a watch), visit The Gluepot for beers and pizza and make your way to Mountains of the Moon resort for a swim and hot shower especially when hot showers are otherwise in short supply. I think it poured rain every day that I [...]

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Kenya

Nairobi on the Run Upon arrival in Nairobi, Kenya, I was a bit disappointed in my ‘news-obsessed-yet-always-well-informed-and-unbiased’ self for buying into all of the media hype that worked to poison my opinion of Kenya. I was always told it was big and dirty and hostile and potentially dangerous. Consequently, I was skeptical about going, so I only booked for a quick few days in between Tanzania and Uganda - what a regret. And even though it has been in the media recently for tragic events, I still think the beauty and kindness and resilience of Kenya and its people trumps the senseless violence of a slim minority. On my visit, I was shocked at how modern and multifaceted Nairobi was, especially because most of my prior African adventures were in and around Arusha, Tanzania which is so much smaller on so many levels. I stayed at Kweza Bed & Breakfast, which was no Hilton; however, it [...]

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South Africa

Cape Town, the Mother City I’ve always been fascinated, dumbfounded, intrigued, and horrified by South Africa and its history.  However, I knew I always wanted to go there, so I chose Cape Town for my first go around. While most people understandably flock to the coastline for water activities, there are a ton of things to see and do in the city itself. The nightlife on Long Street is definitely a must see, at least for a few pints and people-watching. The waterfront is a tourist haven with buskers and a cappella musicians and amazing restaurants everywhere. You are also reminded of the country’s enthralment with Nelson Mandela at every turn. There are many things that adorn his name and the museums and nearby Robbin Island where he was imprisoned for almost 20 of his 27 years, are well-maintained and relatively cheap to visit. Through my exploration of the city, I kept thinking I would [...]

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