Month: May 2020

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.

Monday Reads – 18/05

people on a video call
Photo by Anna Shvets on

As businesses are slowly trying to get back to ‘normal’, here are some very interesting and thought-provoking articles on the potential impact of the pandemic on our lives:

How Coronavirus Will Disrupt Future Colleges & Universities – Some very thought-provoking views from Professor Scott Galloway on what the future of higher education might look a few years into the ‘Post Coronavirus’ era.

12 Ways the World Will Change When Everyone Works Remotely – This is not a very recent article (about 6 months old), but looking back, it was quite prescient in describing a state of work that is already upon us.

5 Changes To Expect In The Workplace After COVID-19 – This article mentions a few changes that we can expect in our workplaces as more and more businesses and people get comfortable with the concept of regular remote working.

How Business Leaders Can Plan For The Next Normal – Some insights from McKinsey on how Business Leaders can plan for the significant changes to be expected in the ‘Post Coronavirus’ age.

Consumer Sentiment Evolves As The Next “Normal” Approaches – Finally, some very interesting data on consumer sentiment in the ‘Post Coronavirus’ scenario, across multiple countries. Some interesting insights were surprise to see that consumers in large Asian countries seem to be the more optimistic, while more South American countries have consumers more likely to increase spending. Very interestingly, Germany and France are the only two countries where consumers plan to increase their domestic travel.

My South African Bucket List

Photo by Tatenda Mapigoti on Unsplash

The southern part of the great continent of Africa is another incredibly diverse place, with many places to explore.

Namibia – Home to the oldest desert on Earth and one of the least densely populated countries in the world, this country is not short of stunning sights. I would start my visit in the capital of Windhoek and head to the fantastic parts of Etosha, Skeleton Coast and Namib-Naukluft.

South Africa – One of the most diverse countries on Earth with a population of over 58 million, I would love to enjoy a slow journey through the southernmost part of the continent, taking in cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth. Cape Town must rank as one of the cities with the most beautiful of settings (along with other Southern Hemisphere cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sydney). While in Cape Town, I would, of course, visit Robben Island. I would also like to visit  Bloemfontein, the birthplace of JRR Tolkien. Finally, of course, no visit would be complete without taking in Kruger National Park.

Lesotho – The small country of Lesotho has many interesting geographical firsts to its name. It’s the only country in the Southern Hemisphere (and one of only three in the world) that’s entirely surrounded by another country. It’s the only country in the world where no place is below 1,000 metres above sea level. The lowest point in the country is 1,400 metres which makes it the country with the highest lowest point in the world! Places to visit would include the capital city of Maseru and Tsehlanyane National Park.

Eswatini – Another small, land-locked country in southern Africa, but this nation shares its boundaries with both South Africa and Mozambique. The capital city of Mbabane and the town of Lobamba would be interesting urban areas to visit, while for wildlife, I would head to Hlane Royal National Park.

Continuing my West African (Virtual) Journey

Mount Cameroon
Image by rem734 from Pixabay

The next phase of my West African travels would take me to some fascinating countries, including the most populous nation on the continent and two of its richest.

Nigeria – The economic powerhouse of the continent, Nigeria is home to over 200 million inhabitants, making it the seventh most populous nation on Earth. Lagos, one of the, if not the, biggest city on the continent might make a good starting point. Other towns to visit would include Ilesa and Erin Ijesa, Uyo and Ibeno Beach. For wildlife spotting, I would head to Okomu National Park and Cross River National Park.

Cameroon – This country first made an impression on me during the FIFA World Cup of 1990 when they reached the quarter-finals. Reading more about the country, I was surprised that the population is only around 25 million (compared to its far more populous neighbour to the west). Another fact that I was unaware of was the highest peak in the country, Mount Cameroon is over 4,000 metres in height. The diversity of habitats in the country makes it a microcosm of the continent. The capital city of Yaounde would be a good place to start exploring the country. The city of Foumban would be another interesting urban area to visit, while for nature and wildlife, I would head to Kribi for the beaches and Waza National Park in the far North and Campo Reserve in the far South.

Equatorial Guinea – Growing up, I knew of Equatorial Guinea as a country with extremely colourful stamps. A more recent fact that I was unaware of is that this small country is the richest in Africa on a per capita basis. The country has two distinct parts – an island part and a mainland part. Places to visit on the island part would include Malabo, Bioko and San Antonio de Ureca. On the mainland, I would like to visit the city of Bata and try and spot some wildlife at Monte Allen National Park.

Gabon – This country is familiar to me as the country of Arsenal striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. What I did not know was that this country has the second-highest per capita income in mainland Africa and is considered as one of the last ‘Edens’ on Earth for its nature and wildlife. I would start my journey in this country at the capital city of Libreville. I would then ride the Trans-Gabon railway to the towns of Lastoursville and Franceville. I would then explore the National Parks of Loango, Ivindo and Reserve de la Lope.

Sao Tome and Principe – One of the smallest country in the African continent, this seems like a veritable tropical paradise. In addition to the main islands that make up its name, it would be fascinating to visit the tiny Rolas Island through which the Equator passes.

My West Africa (Virtual) Journey

Kakum National Park, Ghana
Photo by Hello Lightbulb on Unsplash

West Africa is a part of the world that particularly fascinates me. The geography, people and culture, wildlife – they all seem so fascinating and unique. As I have been reading more about this region, I am also struck by the similarities in weather with India. Many of these countries experience the rainy season between May and September, followed by another smaller rainy season from December to February. And this seems to influence the vegetation as well, as much as I could make out from some of the pictures that I have seen online.

If, or rather when, I do visit this region, these are some places that I would love to explore:

Cote d’Ivoire – One of the larger countries in the region with a population of over 25 million. A visit here would cover the erstwhile capital cities of Grand-Bassam, Abidjan and Yamoussoukrou. I would then continue to Tai National Park for wildlife and end with a relaxing beach-side stay at Jacqueville.

Ghana – Moving east, I would reach the Republic of Ghana. With a population of over 30 million, this is considered as a great introduction to the continent itself. Accra, the capital, would be a great place to start, followed by Cape Coast, Kakum and Mole National Parks and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Elmina Castle.

Togo – Continuing eastwards, I would enter one of the narrowest countries in the world and one of the smallest in Africa, Togo. The UNESCO World Heritage listed site of Koutammakou in the far north of the country would be an interesting place to explore. The waterside towns of Togoville and Agbodrafo also seem like interesting places to visit.

Benin – Another narrow country lies to the east – Benin. Considered as the birth-place of Voodoo, places to visit in this country would include Ouidah, Grand Popo, Cotonou, Abomey and Porto Novo.