Africa

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After 4 years Africa we could have travelled another 4 years in Africa and still not have visited all the places we would have liked to have visited. Africa is an amazing continent that is so different than any of the other 6 continents. Africa is so rich in culture, wildlife and history. Many overlanders will say once you have been to Africa you will return. Africa is the second largest continent in the world and covers just over 20% of the world surface. The major attraction for us were wildlife and the many different cultures and religions. We made it to the most southern Point of Africa Cape Agulhas but unfortunately never to the most Northern Point in Tunesia Ras Ben Sakka. From North to south it is around 8000KM and from East to West around 7500KM. Roughly half way runs the Equator. Africa has a diverse climate range from Tropical to Subarctic, the north mainly desert and arid, central mainly savanna, dense rainforest. Africa boast the largest range of free roaming animals in the world, including Lions-Cheetahs-Buffalo-Camels-Giraffes and Buffalo’s.

There are 54 countries in Africa each with numerous dialects, tribal groups, traditions, landscapes and wildlife species. Many people refer to Africa as if it is a country. It is a continent and includes 54 independent countries with South Sudan being the latest to join. Each has its own currency-national anthem-music-history-food-cultures currency and language.   In fact over 2000 languages are spoken in Africa and more than 1 billion people live in Africa. Africa is bigger than most of us think.

Along with its vast distances, unpredictable transport and quirky rules and regulations it can be a very daunting continent.

 

For years we have been watching National Geographic and now we have ourselves discovered the beauty of Southern Africa! We Explored Kruger National Park, the Okavango Delta, climb dunes in the Namib Desert. We visited Victoria Falls  on both the Zambia and Zimbabwe side. In Zimbabwe we visited  Mana Pools National Park, and Hwange National Park, hired a boat on Lake Kariba and visited the Zimbabwen Ruins. We camped at lake Malawi, visited the gorilla’s in Rwanda, saw the big five on many locations, beach bumbed in Mozambique, visited Zanzibar, Cape Agulhas the most southern point in Africa. We covered Ethiopia the second most populous country in Africa. We saw many tribes but the most interesting were the Mursi people in the Omo Valley.  We visited Lalibela with its magnificent rock hewn churches. We straddled the border with Somalia in the Afar region and we stayed in the medieval City of Harar. We visited Sudan, the largest, yet one of the least visited, countries in Africa. Much of the Middle East and Africa has a reputation for warmth and hospitality but Sudan is in a league of its own, it was a joy to travel in. It is common to be invited to stay at someone’s home and most rural Sudanese would never dream of eating in front of you without inviting you to join them. Talking the afternoon away over a glass or five of tea is a serious national ritual, which extends to dealings with officials. We left Africa via Port Sudan; in fact it was just south of Sudan and called Suakin. The ferry brought us overnight to the rich country of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is one of the most extraordinary and diverse destinations in the world. We only were able to get a 3 day transit visa but in those 3 days we experienced genuine Arabian hospitality, culture and tradition. This country we like to visit again. 2014 will be a possibility coming back from Oman.  Jordan, another middle east gem with images of the ancient Nabataean city of Petra, carved from the rock over a thousand years ago, has been one of most people’s first impression of Jordan. But the remote desert canyons, immense and still made a deep impression on us. We explored splendid desert castles, spend a few nights at the haunting wilderness of Wadi Rum, floated in the dead sea, spend a few days at the Red sea coast. Syria like Jordan is very interesting, and easy overland touring. Everywhere you go in Syria you will be amazed by some of the mosques and public bazaars (markets) with huge amounts of wonderful Roman and Byzantine ruins in addition to the Crusader castles and other monuments. Places such as Damascus, Palmyra, Bosra, Homs and Aleppo are just incredible

Do the USA-China-India-Europe and Japan  all fit into Africa? The USA alone will fit more than 3 times into Africa.  With the media honing in on wars and revolutions it is no wonder that the myth about Africa being very dangerous is common. If Sydney, Amsterdam, Chicago, Berlin, Rome, Madrid or Moscow were judged by its news papers, you would not visit those places either. Obviously you do avoid certain countries and a Beach Holiday in Somalia or Libya at present is not the thing to do. But given the size of this continent there are many perfectly safe places to visit. Violent crimes against tourists are very rare and we felt safe in Africa camping out bush in fact I would prefer to be in the middle of Africa then in the middle of Amsterdam at night. Did you know that South Africa is an incredible wealthy country? Its GDP is higher than Belgium and Sweden! Did you know that Egypt-Nigeria and Algeria are all richer on paper than Denmark and Norway?  Like the rest of the world, in Africa middle class people also commute to work every day and are not happy with paying tax. Did you know that millions watch their kids play soccer every weekend? We all know that millions of lives are lost in Africa not because the continent is infested with scary illnesses but due to lack of access to childhood immunization programs and basic health care.  Africa has  enormous history; Egypt with it’s monuments, Timbuktu (Mali), San Bushman in the Kalahari Desert, Lalibela and the rock hewn churches, unknown pyramids in Sudan,  Leptus Magna in Libya, Cyrene in Libya, Stone Town ( Zanzibar) Slave tours-Robben Island and the Battle fields in South Africa for some recent history, Djenne in Mali, Dogong area in Mali, Fez and Marrakesh in Morocco, Aksum Steele in Ethiopia, Tobruk in Libya and the Zimbabwe Ruins in Zimbabwe just to name a few. Africa’s wild life is known the world over. Did you know you can see Rhino’s within 5 kilometers from the centre of Nairobi? However seeing wild life roaming in towns or streets is a bit of a myth.  National parks allow you to see them roam freely and there are plenty of them. South Africa being my favorite not just from a scenery point of view but more importantly from a cost point of view. Kenya and Tanzania have become so commercialized and so busy that the feeling of driving around in a big zoo has taken over.  Mobile phones have really taken Africa by storm and you see tribe’s texting one another about issues and gatherings. Did you know that it snows in Africa? We have had snow in South Africa and Lesotho.  West Africa is mostly hot, but southern and Northern Africa experience cold weather-frost as well as hot summers. Eastern Africa has a tropical climate with warm oceans, rainy and dry seasons.

For us Africa was a travel destination influenced by the chance of viewing wildlife. And there is no doubt that Africa is the ultimate continent for spotting game. But since we have now spend 4 years in Africa will now say it is the people of Africa that are the center of our travel stories. More importantly after 4 years we know we will return to Africa spending money with the locals ensuring the moneys stays where it belongs.

 

Find below some facts about Africa

  1. It is home to over 1 billion people
  2. Victoria Falls is one of the 7 natural wonders in the world
  3. Second largest continent in the world
  4. World civilization started in Africa
  5. Largest country in Africa is Sudan 2.5 million sq km, smallest is The Seychelles just 453 sq KM
  6. Nigeria is the largest country with around 165 million people or just over 20 % of Africa’s total population
  7. South Africa consumes more electricity than any other African Country while Ethiopia does the least with less than 5% of the consumption of South Africa
  8. African continent is just 14 km of the nearest point in Europe
  9. Islam is the major religion in Africa
  10. The nile river is the world longest river at 6650KM and flowing across 11 countries
  11. Madagascar is the world 4th largest island in the world
  12. In Africa nearly 2000 languages are spoken.
  13. Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater lake in the world.
  14. The Sahara desert is the world 3rd largest desert in the world covering 9.1 million sq KM. Antartica is first and the arctic is second
  15. The tribe called Kalenjin has produced most of the worlds fastest long distance runners.
  16. The Congo war 1998 to 2006 claimed 5.4 million lives only second after the second world war. 8 African countries were involved.
  17. In Rwanda over 1 million people where killed in just 100 days!!!
  18. Over 17.5 million people have died from AIDS and it is estimated that 25 million people are HIV positive. In Swaziland alone we are told one in every 4 adults were HIV positive in 2010?
  19. Tanzania and Malawi have the highest Albinos, Albino are hunted by witchdoctors to use organs for healing rituals? (officially this is no longer allowed.
  20. More people speak French in Africa than in France
  21. Africans walk on average 5KM per day to get water
  22. The flag of Mozambique has the image of a AK 47 included?
  23. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa (Tanzania) 5895 meters above sea level.
  24. Cairo is Africa’s largest city
  25. The Mursi Tribe in Ethiopia pierce their lips and wear plates up to 5 inches in diameter inside the lips?
  26. Up to 40% of children to 12 years in Africa are involved in child labor
  27. The tallest and largest land animals Giraffe and Elephant come from Africa. The giraffe is now extinct in more than 6 African countries.
  28. 39% of the children under 5 years are underweight in Burundi
  29. 90% of all Malaria cases come from Africa and more than 3000 children die from the desease.
  30. The pub on top of Sani Pass is the highest pub in Africa