Month: May 2020

Wrapping my African (Virtual) Journey

Ethopia
Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

It’s been a fascinating exercise jotting down my Travel Bucket List for Africa. I have discovered so many fascinating places and learnt so much more about this vast continent. This is the last article in the Africa series.

Ethiopia – I did not know until now that Ethiopia, with a population of over a 100 million people, is the most populous landlocked country in the World and the second most populous country in Africa. I would start my visit at the ‘political capital of Africa’, Addis Ababa. It is so called because the African Union is headquartered here. The country also has the most number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Africa. These include the historic towns of Harar, Gondar and Aksum, Tiya and probably the most famous of them all, Lalibela. For natural beauty, there is the Simien National Park and the Danakil Depression, one of the lowest (and hottest) places on Earth.

Djibouti – This small country at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden seems like an interesting place to visit. In addition to the capital Djibouti City, I would visit Lake Assal, the second lowest place on Earth and the Goba’ad and Hanle Plains for bird-watching.

Eritrea – The UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, and the city of Keren are the places I might visit in this country.

Sudan – The country where I conclude my (virtual) travel around the continent. The capital city of Khartoum seems like an interesting city to visit, straddling as it does, the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers. I would then visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed region of Meroe. Other places to explore include Kerma and Naqa. I would wrap up my journey at the northern town of Wadi Halfa, close to the border with Egypt.

My East Africa Travel Bucket List

Giraffe, Serengeti, Tanzania
Photo by Justin Lane on Unsplash

The region of East Africa contains all the sights that one usually thinks of when one thinks of Africa. This is what my bucket list for the region looks like.

Tanzania – Another country that can justifiably claim to be a microcosm of the continent, from beaches to history to wildlife, this country has it all. I would probably start with the wildlife. Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Parks are undoubted bucket-list places when it comes to wild-life watching. But there are other interesting areas of natural beauty that I would like to explore, such as Gombe National Park, made famous by Jane Goodall’s work with Chimpanzees, Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa and Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest protected areas on the continent. I would then make my way to Zanzibar, and explore Stone Town. Finally, I would end my journey on the Indian Ocean beaches of Pemba Island and Mafia Island.

Rwanda – A country that’s unfortunately been in the news for the wrong reasons; I would probably start in the capital city of Kigali before making my way westwards to Volcanoes and Nyungwe National Parks before finishing my journey at Gisenyi on Lake Kivu.

Uganda – It came as a surprise to me that this relatively small country (82nd largest in the world) is the 31st most populous country in the world with a population of over 45 million. Kampala, the capital city, would be where I start my visit to this country. I would then make my way westwards to areas of natural beauty such as Murchison Falls and the wonderfully named Bwindi Impenetrable National Park! I would finish my journey with some rest on the Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria.

Kenya – I would start my exploration of Kenya country at its capital – Nairobi. Next up would be wild-life spotting at some of the most famous National Parks in the world – Masai Mara and Amboseli. I would probably also visit Tsavo East National Park and Lake Naivasha. I would then head off to the Indian Ocean coast, to visit places such as the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Lamu Old Town and Mombasa.

 

 

 

Monday Reads – 25/05

person holding white ceramic mug beside macbook pro
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

A few months into the lock-down triggered by the pandemic and we are starting to see more opinions on what the ‘new normal’ might look like and how we might have to adjust. Here are a few such articles that I found interesting.

Work From Home Is Here To Stay – So we might have all heard by now that many (tech) companies are making it optional for employees to return to their offices to work. This article has a very interesting take on this – “The post-pandemic workplace will have fewer lunches, happy hours, and conferences where schmoozers can make their mark… So if your main job skill is networking, you might want to learn the art of actually working.”

Mental Models For A Pandemic – In this Farnam Street Blog, the author poses some very thought-provoking questions. How can we improve our Antifragility? How can we grow stronger through change and challenge? Worth a detailed read.

What We Leave Behind – Another thought-provoking article, this one is by Professor Scott Galloway. As he puts it, “This is an opportunity to spend less on stuff, spend less time commuting, and reallocate that capital and time to our partners and children.”

These Are The World’s Happiest Places – This is admittedly an old article, written well before the pandemic hit us. I would be interested to see research on how the pandemic has affected these results, but my sense is that it might not have a significant impact. “…three-quarters of human happiness is driven by six factors: strong economic growth, healthy life expectancy, quality social relationships, generosity, trust, and freedom to live the life that’s right for you. These factors don’t materialize by chance; they are intimately related to a country’s government and its cultural values. In other words the happiest places incubate happiness for their people.”

South East Africa Bucket List

Madagascar - Avenue of the Baobabs
Photo by Theme Inn on Unsplash

My virtual journey across Africa now brings me to the South East part of the continent. India shares a common ocean with the countries on this part of Africa – the Indian Ocean – and this has led to centuries of trade between India and this part of the world.

Mozambique – This country of close to 30 million people has some interesting sights that I was, frankly, unaware of before I began to research them. I would begin at the extreme south of the long country with the capital city of Maputo with its colonial era architecture. Moving northwards, I would halt at Bazaruta Archipelago. The next halt would be at the UNESCO World Heritage listed Island of Mozambique. I would end my journey through this country at the city of Pemba and Quirimbas National Park.

Malawi – The city of Blantyre would be where I would start my exploration of this country. From Blantyre, I would head to Mulanje Mountain. I would then make my way north to Lake Malawi National Park and conclude my visit at the island of Likoma.

Madagascar – The name itself evokes images of the truly exotic. The fourth largest island in the world would rank very high in my list of places to visit for nature and wildlife (alongside Papua New Guinea and the Amazon). The capital city of Antananarivo with its French colonial heritage is most probably where I would start my visit. I would visit Ifaty and Nosy Be to get my beach fix. Among the numerous places to spot wildlife, I might pick Ranomafana and Isalo National Parks. Finally, I would try and visit the Avenue of the Baobabs.

 

Continuing my southern African (virtual) journey

Elephant - Zambia
Photo by Nicole Olwagen on Unsplash

I recently wrote about my bucket list destinations in Southern Africa. I now turn my attention to the three land-locked countries to the north of South Africa.

Botswana – One of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, this nation – roughly the size of France – has a population of about 2.3 million only. It has one of the highest GDP in PPP terms in the whole of Africa, largely due to gemstone mining and tourism. Speaking of tourism, one of the top highlights of the country is Okavango Delta – one of the world’s great wilderness destinations. Chobe National Park in the far north of the country is another wildlife destination that might be worth visiting.

Zimbabwe – This country of 14 million people is well known to Indians due to the fact that it’s one of the few test match playing cricketing nations in the world. There are some interesting sights to see in this southern African country, including the capital city of Harare, the second largest city of Bulawayo and the town of Mutare in the South East. The Great Zimbabwe National Monument is a UNESCO World Heritage monument and one of the most important stone ruins on the continent. Wildlife lovers can visit the National Parks of Hwange in the West and Mana Pools in the North.

Zambia – Another great destination for nature and wildlife lovers. Top of the list would be a visit to Victoria Falls. Kafue National Park is the oldest National Park in the country and one of the largest on the continent. Other interesting National Parks include Lower Zambezi National Park and South Luangwa National Park. I would also like to go bird-watching at the Blue Lagoon National Park.