Category: Travel

My South African Bucket List

Lesotho
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 РOne 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.

 

My West Africa Bucket List

Dakar, Senegal
Photo by Jean-Karim Dangou on Unsplash

As I mentioned in my previous post, the region of Western Africa is a region that I am extremely curious to visit. The many, relatively small, countries that make up this part of the world seem so utterly far away from where I am and off-the-beaten-track that I believe that visiting these places would quite possibly be the essence of real ‘traveling’.

I don’t know when I would get the opportunity to visit this part of the world, but when I do, these are the places that I would love to explore:

Senegal – Possibly the best known globally of the countries that make up this region due to the success of its national football team on the global stage. In addition, I have always been fascinated by Dakar as the end-point of the Paris to Dakar rally. It did come as a surprise for me to read that the population of the country is over 16 million, much more than I would have expected. Another (pleasant) surprise for me was the diversity of bird-life. For a country that’s around 6-7% of India’s size, the number of bird species recorded stands at 50% of India’s number! So yes, bird-watching would be on the agenda as well, possibly around the region of Casamance.

The Gambia – A thin strip of land on both sides of the Gambia river make up the smallest country in mainland Africa. Beaches and bird-watching are the main draws here, at Janjanbureh, Abuko and Brufut.

Guinea-Bissau – More beaches and wildlife to see, in addition to the capital city of Bissau and towns such as Bafata in the interior.

Guinea – The biggest country (by size) in the region with a population of over 12 million, this place, I feel, is truly off the beaten track. Nature and wild-life seem to be the main draws here, with places of interests including Mount Nimba and Fouta Djallon Highlands.

Sierra Leone – Another small country but with a surprisingly high population density of over 1,000 per square kilometre. Beaches and wild-life would be the primary reasons to visit. Places of interest include Tokeh for beaches, Gola National Park for wild-life, the capital of Freetown and islands such as Bunce, Banana and Tiwai.

Liberia –¬† Africa’s first and oldest modern republic, this country with a population of 5 million is also famous for its footballing connections. Monrovia – the capital city and Sapo National Park would be a couple of places to explore.

My Saharan Africa Bucket List

Mauritania
Photo by Daniel Born on Unsplash

The Sudan region, along with the countries to the West and South of The Sudan, is possibly the one part of the World that I would most like to visit, at some point. Here are a few places in this region that intrigue me:

Mali – Who’s not heard of Timbuktu? For a long time, I wasn’t sure that such a place actually existed. And ever since I discovered that this is a real place, I have always wanted to visit it. Djenne, for its Grand Mosque and the capital city of Bamako are the other places that I would like to visit.

Mauritania – Definitely off the beaten track is this large West African nation with an Atlantic coastline. It has a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Ouadana, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata that would be great to visit, in addition to the Banc d’Arguin National Park and the capital city of Nouakchott.

NigerAgadez for its Grand Mosque and the intriguingly named W National Park would be the places I would like to visit in this country.

Burkina Faso – I have a friend whose family was associated with this country for a while, and that’s possibly one of the reasons that I would like to visit it. Bobo-Dioulasso and the ruins of Loropeni seem like interesting places to visit.