Archive | Africa

Kenya Travel Advice – US Warns of Imminent Terror Attack in Kenya

Posted on 23 June 2012 by onthegroundtravel

National flag - Kenya Travel Advice

Our Kenya travel advice today is based on a recent US government warning of an imminent terror attack in Kenya.

While our safari trip started in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, we want to highlight that US has issued a warning about an imminent terror attack in Kenya.  All US government personnel are required to leave Mombasa (~ 6 hrs drive away from Nairobi).  If you are planning a trip to Kenya, please take this warning into consideration in your planning.  Mombasa has beautiful beaches, but there have been reports of kidnappings of foreigners in the area by militants from neighboring Somalia.

Please stay safe!

 

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Picture of the Week: An Interesting Cultural Exchange with the Maasai

Posted on 22 June 2012 by Danica

maasai women colorful clothes

When you first meet the Maasai people, you can’t help but notice their distinctive clothing.  Men mostly wear red or blue textiles in plaid.  Women wrap themselves in clothes that come in a rainbow of different colors or African design, and are adnored with beautiful beaded homemade jewelry and headdress.

The Meeting

After meeting the Maasai women above, we sat down with a young Maasai man in his home (similar to the mud hut in the background.)  We politely asked about the living condition in his house, which is no larger than a 150 sq ft room that fits a kitchen, a bed for the entire family and a few basic supplies.

You Heard What About America?

We had expected to see this type of living arrangements before we went in, but what caught us by surprise was his curiosity for the American culture.  He has heard a lot of “strange” customs about Americans, he told us.  And he wanted to know whether the rumors were true or not.

  • Is it true that a woman can divorce a man in America?
  • What about the rumor I heard that American women raise children on their own without a husband?
  • Oh, and I heard that some women paid men to have babies by themselves?

It’s rare that we become the subject of interest and under the spotlight when we travel.  Usually, we ask all the questions!

Surely You Don’t Want to Know About That

And as we replied yes, yes, and yes to all his questions, you can see his eyes grew larger and wilder.  He simply could not understand why on earth would Americans do such a thing?  What could be the reasons behind these “crazy” ideas?

And in our heads, all we could think of was, “geez, better not tell him about all the other concepts such as it’s legal for same-sex couples to get married and raise children together in some parts of America, or what about test tube babies?”  The answers to those questions would surely blown his mind away!

The Unforgettable Exchange with the Maasai

It was an unforgettable cultural exchange with the Maasai.  At the end of that encounter, we learned a bit more about the Maasai, and they learned a bit more about us.  While we may not understand the motivations behind the other’s decisions, we tolerate and accept the others’ viewpoint.  And that’s the most satisfying part of traveling – being able to share our differences, and being accepted at the same time.

 

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Packing for Your Morocco Sahara Desert Tour

Posted on 18 June 2012 by David

Our Shadows - Morocco Sahara Desert Tour

People have been asking us what they should pack for their Morocco Sahara desert tour.

If you’re planning a trip out to the desert, you need to insure you pack as light as possible.  However since you’ll be miles away from civilization you need to make sure you’re prepared for any situation you may encounter.

So, to help you prepare for your trip, here’s our list plus some tips about the items you should take.  We had a great time seeing the sand dunes in the Sahara Desert, and with preparation, you can as well.

As a side note, we bought many of our items from REI (www.rei.com), mostly because if you are not satisfied with a product for any reason you can return it. (I returned a set of earmuffs that kept falling off my ears after three months and I got my refund for it.)   You may want to check them out as well.

Packing List – Morocco Sahara Desert Tour

 Erg Chebbi Sand Dunes - Sahara Desert Tour - Morocco Travel

Clothing

  • Windbreaker or light jacket
    • TIP: The sun can be unbearable during the day but at night it can get a bit chilly.  Take a windbreaker or light jacket just in case.
  • Comfortable jeans
    • TIP: Riding a camel will not be very enjoyable if you wear shorts!  The camel fur is rough and jeans will protect your legs.
  • Sneakers or hiking boots or sport sandals
    • TIP: Don’t take a new pair of shoes, you’ll get sand all on them and inside of them.
  • A hat, visor, or headscarf
    • TIP: A desert headscarf works wonders to block the sun and the dust.
  • Sunglasses
    • TIP: Don’t sit on them.

Electronics

  • Digital Camera
    • TIP: A strap will help make sure you don’t lose it while trying to take picture as you’re bouncing around on a camel.
  • Extra batteries
    • TIP: Fully charge all your batteries at your hotel before you embark.  There are no facilities to charge your batteries in the desert!
  • Lens and camera brush
    • TIP: Get one such as the Nikon 7072 Lens Pen Cleaning System for dusting off all the dust that will get on your camera.  Your camera will love you.  It worked wonders on ours!
  • Tripod
  • Alarm clock
    • TIP: You can use your phone, but take a little alarm clock just in case your phone runs out of battery!

Sunrise in the Sahara Sahara Morocco Travel

Supplies

  • Swiss army knife
  • Hand Sanitizer
    • TIP:  It’s true.  There is no running water inside the desert.
  • Face wipes
  • Napkins or tissue
  • Roll of toilet paper
  • Water bottle
    • TIP:  To save space in your luggage get a collapsible water bottle. We bought a Platypus PlusBottle, 1 Liter with Push-Pull Cap and loved how we could collapse it in our luggage when not needed.   In fact if you travel anywhere you need this bottle.
  • Flashlights
    • TIP: You’ll have candles but just try walking out with one in the middle of the night when you need to go.   A flashlight will at least stay on.
  • Non-salty snacks
    • TIP: Overly salty snacks will make you thirsty, stay away from those.

Medicines and Lotions

  • Pain medicine
    • TIP: Just remember, any medical facility is miles of camel rides away.  It will take a while to get there.
    • TIP:  For headaches use Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
    • TIP:  For bites, scratches, anything that’s swollen, use Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Band-aids
    • TIP: No need for a big box, just a few strips is good.
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Anti-Diarrhea medicine
  • Antacids
  • Antibiotics
  • Allergy medicine

Another article you may be interested in is our interview with a local guiding company on planning a Morocco Sahara desert tour.  Hope you enjoy it.

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Picture of the Week: Birth of a Baby Gazelle on Kenya Safari

Posted on 15 June 2012 by Danica

 

Birth of a Baby Gazalle on Kenya Safari from Trips Around the World

 

Our picture of the week was taken while we were on an a Kenya Safari.     Being out in the open with the animals in Mara was an amazing experience.  We saw the circle of life from the birth of the baby gazelle as shown in the picture above to the death of the wildebeest mentioned in our previous safari posts (highlighted below).

Although standing guard, the gazelle can not defend itself or its young from predators.   We were warned by our guide that getting too close to the pair would scare off the mother, permanently leaving her young to endure a very uncertain future.  We kept our distance, watched, and took photos of this amazing event.

 

If you are interested in reading more about our wildlife safari experience in Kenya, check out our seven-part series here:

  1. Introduction
  2. 10 Must-See Animals (including the Big 5)
  3. Five Tidbits about the Mara Crossing You Should Know
  4. Our Wildebeest Crossing Experience
  5. Choosing When and Where to Go
  6. Kicheche Camp Review
  7. Transportation to Maasai Mara

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Picture of the Week: Maasai Warriors Jumping Contest from Trips Around the World

Posted on 08 June 2012 by Danica

Masai Mara Tribesmen from Trips Around the World


On a sunny afternoon after our morning game drive, we followed our Maasai guide to visit one of the local villages in the Mara Conservancy.  What immediately caught our eyes was the bright color clothing they all wore that contrasted against the deep green African plains and blue sky.  In addition to interacting with the locals and visiting their dwellings, we were also treated to their famous traditional dance, the Adumu (or the “Jumping Contest” as Westerners call it).  As a show of strength and endurance, these Maasai warriors formed a circle, and took turns in competition jumping as high as possible while the others sung in high-pitched tones.

I was selected as the judge of the contest, and the warrior jumping in the picture won the competition.Then they challenged David to jump in.  He did well but the Maasai’s jumping skills could not be beaten.

It was a beautiful and unforgettable afternoon visiting the friendly and knowledgeable Maasai people.

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