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Archive | Africa

The Beauty of Botswana

If you would have asked me a few years ago if I expected to visit Botswana any time soon, I probably would have said no. It’s not that I didn’t want to go, it’s just that the country wasn’t even on my radar. I probably couldn’t have even picked it out on a map (African geography wasn’t my strong suit until I became obsessed with online quizzes a few years ago).

And then something changed.

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Flying Over the Okavango Delta

Nearly our entire group opted to take a scenic flight over the delta. We would be camping in the delta for two days, swimming in its shallow pools and navigating its twisting arteries by dug-out canoe, but as an introduction to the area, we could choose to fly over it first. At around £150 for an hour flight, it seemed like a good deal. In the little airport in Maun we handed over our credit cards and our passports, then were shuttled six at a time to tiny airplanes basking in the heat on the runway.

I could tell we were all a bit nervous; small planes have a tendency to do that to even the bravest souls. We took off, quickly leaving the the small city of Maun behind us. Within minutes, the delta appeared, verdant and alive, a contrast to the dusty ground we had spent the last few days learning. The water fanned out below, snaking its way through the lush landscapes. It seemed to go on forever, this vivid green against the blue of the sky.

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2014: A Year in Review

This time last year, I could have never predicted where I’d be at this exact moment: sitting on the patio of my family’s rented casa in Nicaragua, a spiced rum and coke beside me, the sun dipping low in the sky before it sinks past the ocean’s horizon and out of sight. I thought that 2013 wasn’t a very big year for me, but it was; it was one of transition, of finally moving to London. 2014 started off slow, with almost no plans – soon it grew into a year of travel, a year of accomplishments, and a year of maturing (both in numbers and in mindset). Here’s a little review of the past year.

Be warned: there are lots of photos!

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Around the World: Bicycles

I sometimes set strange goals for myself when I travel. One of them is to go on a boat in every country I visit; another is to ride a bicycle in every country I visit. It hasn’t always been the case, but there’s something about riding a bike through a new place that can’t be beat: the bumps in the road, the sights whizzing by, the wind in your hair.

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My Kind of Hostel: The Backpack, Cape Town

I have stayed in over 300 hostels in my life; the first one was over 17 years ago, in London. Since then, I’ve stayed in huge hostels and tiny hostels, one that are former prisons, ones that overlook beaches, ones with bedbugs, ones with the kind of atmosphere that encourages people to become best friends.

One of the very best hostels I’ve ever stayed in, however, is The Backpack in Cape Town, South Africa.

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When You Hand Over Your Camera to Kids in Botswana

We arrived at the makoro station around 8am, and had to wait for the big motorboat to pick us up and take us back to Maun. A village tour was suggested, so off we went. While we were being shown some of the local fruit, I noticed a little girl in pink clothing standing behind us, watching. I turned and walked over to her. She didn’t speak much English, but, crouching down with her, we soon struck up a game of pat-a-cake. We would count to ten and start again. One of the other tourists snapped a few photos of us, but then we were alone again.

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Independent Travel vs. Tours

By very definition the words traveller and tourist mean the same thing; it’s only the labels we’ve put upon these words that have the deeper meaning. As I’ve said before, however, I strongly maintain that I’m both. I’ve done the long, slow travel, hung out with the locals, lived places for a little while. I’ve also done my fair share of tours.

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Help a Girl, Period – Femme International

I am incredibly honoured to present the amazing organisation Femme International. Femme is a non-profit dedicated to advancing the rights and freedoms of women through education and personal health. We believe that by teaching feminine health education and essential hygiene, young women will be better able to attend school and work as well as participate in daily activities, thus systemically reducing the existing gender disparity. Femme has developed a Feminine Hygiene Management (FHM) program and is currently partnered with 6 schools and 2 community foundations in the Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya. In our inaugural year, we were able to reach over 200 young women, and plan to reach another 500 this year.

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The Morals of Travelling: Should I Go Shark Cage Diving?

There are a ton of amazing things I want to do in Cape Town, and many people have recommended restaurants and activities. I will be staying with The Backpack; I chose them because of their dedication to responsible tourism and their involvement in community projects. One thing a few people have asked me is this, however: will you be cage diving with great white sharks?

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The Desert Sky of Morocco

The man leaned in close, his face next to mine. I could smell his breath, a mixture of tobacco and a pungent, unidentifiable spice. His arms were stained slightly indigo from the traditional robes he wore. He was a Tuareg, a true “Blue Man” of the Sahara. Though he was only in his mid-fifties, his face bore the wrinkles of a lifetime spent in the unforgiving sun.

“C’est trés difficile,” he said to me, and I nodded. We were sitting by the fire under the desert sky of the Moroccan Sahara, and he was helping me to untangle the necklaces I wore around my neck. I had bought the strands of colourful glass beads in the souks of Marrakesh only days earlier, and he worked quickly and carefully to free me from their knots.

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