December is a month highly associated with festivities, the main reason being because of Christmas and also the New Year. As Christmas Carols dictate, it is a season that comes with celebrations and joy.
When a potential traveler starts thinking about this festive season, the moment poses the question whether or not one had booked their Christmas getaways early enough to secure their dream holiday. A well organized traveler will do all the necessary travel plans early enough in order to avoid hearing this; "I am sorry sir/madam, all places are fully booked!” from their travel consultants.
With December every year, it does not only mean holidays, parties, gifts and all the fabulous treats, but it also means that next year is only four weeks away and life will once again get busy as soon as the new year is ushered in. With this in mind, budgeting, purchases and travel plans should be made putting into considerations; joy, celebration, adventure and not forgetting a pocket friendly budget while laying down plans. With this running through a traveler’s mind, it becomes easier to choose which places to visit in terms of location, attractions, and activities to participate in while at the destination and not forgetting accommodation which should be friendly to the age, budget, taste and preferences of the traveler.
During this month, hotels emerge with amazing offers which leaves one with a great variety of properties to accommodation to choose from; from high and sophisticated to unique and intimate to budget and affordable choices. Since many choose to travel with their families and loved ones at this time of the year, hotels also offer a variety of children friendly accommodation and activities for the young travelers. Transport service providers also come up with great offers for their clients. Though perceived to be expensive by many, traveling during this season is very affordable if all travel plans are made in advance.
All said, there are many properties and destinations that remain untapped and would serve as great adventure and treats for Christmas holidays for all types of travelers. Getting the right information about the destination of choice will help one to budget and plan in advance, that way making sure no straining the budget when the vacation time is finally here. This also gives an added advantage and a good reason to have laid-back holidays hence avoiding rush at the last minutes. A well planned tour eventually leads to joy filled holidays with no hustle or ruined moments and leaves a potential traveler with so many, new places that they are yet to enjoy and have a taste of.
Ask many Africans how far apart are two given towns, and the reply will generally be put in terms of hours rather than distance. It is an unofficial way of thinking, but one worth adopting in this continent where in many situations; road conditions can be really unpredictable mostly depending on the climate.
When planning a trip in any part of Africa, it is important to adopt a realistic time frame. Even on a well organized tour, it is common for the itinerary not to go as initially planned, for example, driving to a particular destination might end up occupying far more time than the time spent enjoying the sights at the destination. And you can not entirely blame tour operators for this, some natural factors combined with poor road infrastructure play a big role when it comes to time based delays. Potential clients often opt for an itinerary with more sights than a more leisurely one; this ensures that even if time dependent delays arise, they will end up enjoying most of the sights if not all.
With an organized tour, one can at least be confident that the itinerary, however rushed, will be realistic. For independent travelers, it is more difficult to determine whether an itinerary that looks possible on a travel map will be possible that way on the ground, henceforth, it is advisable that one is flexible while on the ground and as much as the map will give some guidance, flexibility will allow one to enjoy their trip when they choose to base their judgments on the situation on the ground other than following the map up to the last detail that it includes.
Poor road networks are not the only obstacles to covering distance quickly when one chooses to use public transport while on a trip. African public transport often works on a fill-up-and-go basis, and the process of accumulating passengers may well take longer than the physical journey. Before deciding to use public transport, a traveler should inquire about such things and then make a decision whether to use public transport or opt for private hired transport means which are easily available and varies from budget, luxury to VIP choices.
Getting around Africa is not a slow process though conditions are highly variable from one road to the next and also from one country to another. Prospective travelers should research local conditions before committing to an itinerary, and bear in mind that the more one crams in, the more likely it is that the trip will be dominated by the tedious logistics of getting around.
Want to see the Gorillas on the DRC (cheaper than Rwanda and Uganda)?
Emmanuel Munganga Rufubya is an excellent and economic local guide. I first met him across the border in Rwanda, Hi literally walked me across the border and helped me avoid being strip searched and/or having all my examined item by item by the DRC authorities. Other people were not that lucky. During my time in Goma, Emmanuel organised my transport to and from my hotel as well as my Gorilla permit. He also organised my transport to the Gorillas and back. The best part of Goma was when he organised 2 motorcycles for a full day out in all of Goma. Our drivers were awesome and we had a great time. Emmanuel even dealt with both times we were stopped by the Police and only one bribe of $11 was paid to one of these corrupt bastards. My great guide took me from the shores of Lake Kivu to the main market area of Goma. He always seem to know when to tell me to put away the camera. The first Policeman never even saw the camera - an instant 'fine'. I was even able to get photos of the airport and UN base.
Emmanuel took me to local markets and explained everything in great detail. I can only highly recommend his services. I was on a budget and did not pay him that much. You can contact him and agree a price. Unfortunately Goma is not ready for tourists. With roving Police, Militias and even insurgent Guerilla gangs, you need a good guide here.
I found Emmanuel and his drivers to be a real joy to go and explore the area with. I felt safe in their hands from driving to security. I also saw and experienced the full range of sights and aspects of daily Goma life. Play it safe and smart and hire Emmanuel.
Eritrea is a small African country at the Red Sea opposite Saudi Arabia and Yemen. At the the crossroads of 3 continents the country has it own special atmosphere and cultural heritage.
I visited Asmara the capital, Massawa at the Red Sea Coast, Keren north of Asmara and the archaeological sites in the south.
Asmara, the capital in the Central Highlands at 2.500m, has an Italian flavour with lots of Art Deco architecture and Italian food. It is also worth to visit the local markets. From Asmara I made also a trip with the old steamtrain to Nefasit.
Massawa at the Red Sea Coast has arabic influences. Here you see still many destroyed buildings of the recent war with Ethiopia. The trip from Asmara to Massawa is breathtaking, descending from 2500m to sea level.
Keren at 1220m is an attractive town, especially at marketdays with its camelmarket.
In the south you can visit Qohaito and Metera with ruins from the Aksumite civilisation like in Ethiopia around Axum.
For more information look at my Eritrean pages
In 2009 the Loropeni Ruins became the first UNESCO World Heritage Site of Burkina Faso. There is a small entrance fee and an additional fee for a camera. A guide shows you around the complex.
The Loropeni Ruins are among the most impressive few surviving stone ruins in West Africa. The bricks are made of rock, stuck together by cement made from shea butter and honey. The walls, standing in an area with trees, are till 7m high, enclosinf a space of about 40x50m. You still can see that the complex has three compartments. There are still some discussions about the origin of the ruins. Artefacts have been found from the 11th century. The complex is deserted in the early 19th century.
Acoording to UNESCO: " The property with its imposing stone walls is the best preserved of ten fortresses in the Lobi area and is part of a larger group of 100 stone enclosures that bear testimony to the power of the trans-Saharan gold trade. the ruins have been shown to be at least 1,000 years old. The settlement was occupied by the Lohron or Koulango peoples, who controlled the extraction and transformation of gold in the region from the 14th to the 17th century."
In 2012 during my third trip to The Gambia we visited James Island, also known as Kunta Kinteh Island. James Island is a very small island in the Gambia River. The location of the island in the middle of the river was a strategic place to control the waterway.
James Island is an UNESCO World Heritage Site: "James Island and related sites present a testimony to the main periods and facets of the encounter between Africa and Europe along the River Gambia, a continuum stretching from pre-colonial and pre-slavery times to independence. The site is particularly significant for its relation to the beginning of the slave trade and its abolition......"
Meknes, the third imperial citie of Morocco, is an UNESCO world heritage site. The oldest part of the historical city is founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids as a military settlement. In the 17th century Moulay Ismail of the Alawite dynasty made Meknes his capital. He turned Meknes into a impressive city in Spanish-Moorish style, with impressive high walls around with great gates.
According to UNESCO: "Meknès is distinctive by the monumental and voluminous aspect of its ramparts reaching 15 metres in height. It is considered as an exemplary testimony of the fortified towns of the Maghreb. It is a property representing a remarkably complete urban and architectural structure of a North African capital of the 17th century, harmoniously combining Islamic and European conceptual and planning elements. Endowed with a princely urbanism, the Historic City of Meknes also illustrates the specificities of earthen architecture (cobwork) of sub-Saharan towns of the Maghreb. "
In 2011 I visited Meknes for the first time. The walls around the city with the monumental gates look very impressive. One of the most well-known gates is the Bab-el-Mansour.
The Marrakech Tourist Bus is an open-top, 'hop on, hop off' bus tour of the city. Tickets can be purchased (on board) for either 24 of 48 hours. They are owned by the massive Spanish owned ALSA transport group. They certify the safety and training of all their drivers. They have 2 routes you can choose to see (or both!) - The Oasis Circuit and the Historic Circuit. The highlights of the Historic Circuit include: Place Jemaa el Fina/Souks, Sâaddien Tombs, Bahia Palace and Menara - just to name a few. The Oasis Circuit takes in the Majorelle Gardens and the Dromadaire Oasis and several pleasant areas to the north of the city. The tours are conducted in 8 languages. Only Spanish, French, Arabic and English are listed on their website, but there are 4 more. You can email them with any questions you might have.
• Child 75dh ($8.89, €6.70)
• Adult 145dh ($17.19, €12.96)
• Chid 95dh ($11.26, €8.49)
• Adult 190dh ($22.52, €16.98)
They operate from morning until late at night in the summer and a fairly reasonable number of hours in the winter. If you are only here for 1-2 days – this is an excellent chance to see the area and make sense of the ancient city before you get lost for hours in the labyrinth that is Marrakech. Also you get a chance to see some sites I have never seen – and I have been here twice.
You can but tickets:
• On all the busses
• From one of the salesmen at bus stops number 1, 6, 15 and 17
• One of the salesmen at the Majorelle Gardens
• On the bus from the airport
The busses reach each stop at intervals between 20 minutes and 1hour and 10 minutes. Please see their multi-lingual website for exact details.
One of the places i visited in Africa is Zambia. To experience how the people live their way of life in this area is really a great experience for me. Although most of the people i encountered live in poverty but i saw in there faces the contentment and satisfaction of what God gave them in the moment. Maybe if there were chances to make a much better way of life they will also never reject it. There are lots of interesting things that i experienced with the people of Zambia. I was amused by their lifestyle. The people we met were very curious type of people. The love to ask questions about the other parts of the world like Europe. When we went there we brought with us some ballpens and candies. They were very happy and enjoyed these small gifts we gave them. These beautiful innocent smiles were the price paid back to us which cost more than anything.
If you want to visit such villages in the future, it is a big joy if they receive some useful materials for the school or old usable dresses. They will appreciate them and thankful. Please bring along with you your own water supply, medicines foods and other necessary supplies while away from the modern civilization. Toiletries for example are necessary.
There are some camping grounds in Zambia. So if that´s your intention then don´t forget to bring durable tent.
Maputo, the capital of Mozambique has a very evocative landmark - the Fort of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of Conception). This Portuguese fort (or Fortaleza) was built in the mid-18th century on top of earlier fortifications. Its striking architecture, battlements and cannons have a dominant position over the main harbour area.
Inside are several striking reliefs commemorating the defeat of Gungunhana (1850-1906), the king of Gaza (an area to the South of Maputo). He was aligned with the Portuguese King, but then rebelled against the colonial authorities. Loyal forces lead by Joaquim Mouzinho de Albuquerque put down the uprising and captured Gungunhana at Chaimite . The former King of Gaza later converted to Catholicism and lived in exile in the Azores until his death.
A commanding equestrian statue of Joaquim Mouzinho de Albuquerque lies in the small well kept gardens. The question is who is buried inside the gardens? I have read that it is Gungunhana, but he died in the Azores. Joaquim Mouzinho de Albuquerque failed as an Administrator and committed suicide in Lisbon. So who is buried with a Royal looking crest on their tombstone?
Standing in absolute contrast to the Communist Themed avenues and statues to great Mozambique leaders is the Louis Tregardt Trek memorial garden. A commemorative plaque in memory of the Voortrekker leader Louis Tregardt was unveiled on 12 October 1968 when South African Navy ships SAS Simon van der Stel, Kimberley and Mosselbaai visited Lourenço Marques (now Maputo).
Tregardt was a pioneer in the Boer ‘Great Trek’ movement. The Boers felt that the continued influx of British settlers and the emancipation of slaves in 1833 they need to leave for greener pastures. He formed a group of 9 families who set out for the Portuguese Colony of Delagoa Bay (Maputo) to establish trade links and find new lands. He is the acknowledged leader of the Voorste Mense (The Great Trek's `people in front'). He found Delagoa Bay in 1838, but he and many in his party died from Malaria.
More information can be found at:
Map of the treks of Louis Tregardt and J. Van Rensburg
Built in 1944 the tall white spire of Maputo’s Cathedral dominates Independence Square. It is dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Conception’ and was a very contemporary piece of architecture for its time. It is a working church and the seat of the Catholic Church for Mozambique. This iconic structure was designed by an engineer named Marcial Freitas e Costa in 1936. The tower reaches up to 66 meters (216 feet).
This interesting monument of a woman holding a dead snake was inaugurated on the 11th of November 1935. Created by sculptor Ruy Gameiro, it commemorates the loss of Portuguese and Mozambican soldiers during World War I. According to local legend the lady was carrying hot porridge when she came across the snake who tried to strike her. Instead it fell into the pot of hot porridge and was killed. Locally she is known as ‘Senhora da Cobra’ (the snake lady).
When we think about Egypt; camels, pyramids, and mummies often come to mind! That's not surprising since much of what we know about ancient Egypt comes from the tombs of Egyptians and the objects found buried with them. But Egypt is much more than this, and only by visiting can you truly understand the popularity of this wonderful country.
Egypt lies in the northern corner of Africa. It is bounded by the international frontiers of the Mediterranean Sea in the North, the Red Sea in the East, Libya in the west and Sudan in the south.
I long for the day when I can return.
See My Travel Page for more information.
Inside of Sun City, South Africa, is a fabled Hall of Treasures. Inside is untold wealth and an endless supply of money. Unfortunately it is the Casino that gets all this money. Statistically you will lose every game on offer. The main Gambling Hall is full of slot machines, video poker and other games designed to make the Casino richer. Las Vegas it’s not. Mostly you have to do everything yourself. They only have staff actually dealing with you if you go into the High Stakes area inside the Sun City Hotel. In the Entertainment Centre is a slots only ‘Jungle Casino’. Both are pictured. I found the staff bored and not overly helpful. Mostly bored. Tables players can play Blackjack, American Roulette, Poker, and Punto Banco. There is a Salon Prive with higher stakes the International Room, which is reserved for games with extremely high limits and is by invitation only.
Get into there and you can lose a vast Treasure very quickly.
You must go through a street barrack and through metal detectors just to get to the elevator and get...more
Stayed recently for three nights. It is absolutely wonderful. Rooms are very elegant with incredible...more
This riad is consider the oldest- may be the fiart- and best riad in Marrakech. Hoever. it is a bet...more
More Countries in Africa
see all Africa member meetings