What is the mysterious allure of AFRICA?

Deb with Boys500pxAny idea of the size of Africa? – We all know it’s big.  A quick check with Wikipedia let’s us know that the continent covers 30.3 million sq. kms (11.7 million sq. miles).  To put that into perspective it is larger than the combination of: China, the continental United States, all of Western Europe, Argentina, India, the British Isles and 3 Scandinavian countries.

Within that size are 53 independent countries.

A great part of Africa is covered by desert.  Africa is home to 3 deserts which together make up more than a quarter of the continent’s area.  The Sahara, covering much of Africa north of the equator, is the largest desert in the world.  The Namib in Namibia has been around for at least 80 million years, making it the oldest desert.  The Kalahari in southern Africa is relatively well vegetated thanks to occasional rainfall.

So much for Africa 101 – it is a project that could keep anyone occupied for a very long time.

As travellers who want to discover and learn for themselves, Africa has many specific countries and regions and is well worth making the journey.

In these times of realization of the earth’s fragility we are finding that our clients are making their travel plans with certain priorities in mind.  They want to learn, to experience, to interact with different cultures and therefore to appreciate what this beautiful and diverse world has to offer.

Many African countries have past and ongoing social scars that will only heal and fade as younger generations come along and begin researching for themselves the many opportunities of discovery that are waiting to be had on the ‘Dark Continent’. 

I was recently drawn to an article on Uganda.  More because I became familiar with making travel arrangements here for one of our clients who after one of our East Africa safaris, (Kenya and Tanzania)  made a point to visit their ‘World Vision’ child in Uganda.  They returned elated with the experience of meeting a child and visiting her village that they have been supporting for some time but also the hospitality shown to them and the lush beauty of the country itself.   Their main comment was that Uganda offered an undeveloped beauty and a welcoming atmosphere that they would be happy to return to and to promote to others thinking of trying Uganda.

I had a conversation with an African conservationist who explained that in general the nations of Africa contribute a negative carbon footprint.  Africa’s sustainability depends on Tourism as much as Agriculture to survive.  He made the point that Africa desperately needs Tourism to assist them to keep their commitment to preserve the wildlife habitat infrastructure that they have put in place and are prepared to trade that negative footprint to offset the carbon emissions created by travellers who visit Africa.

This comment really hits home as you travel through the vast countryside and through the villages as you move from lodge to lodge on safari.  Everyone plants their own crops around their homes making every inch on their property productive with organic produce.   It is not unusual to see a child tending the family’s small heard of 6 or 7 goats when they are not in school.  They walk everywhere and frequently with jugs of water or baskets of food on top of their heads.  If nothing else it makes one think about our own activities and definition of necessities at home.  

It is wonderfully easy to participate in a small way that really makes a difference.  Did you know that $5.00 buys a malaria net to give a child which will help them stay healthy?  

African weaving300px

Nanyuki spinners weavers300px

During one safari we were travelling between the Aberdares around Mt. Kenya toward Lake Nakuru and through Nanyuki.  The night before, our drivers mentioned that a joint effort between Canada and the US created a Women’s Co-op in Nanyuki.  They built a weaving factory in an abandoned building and asked if we would like to visit them.  We said yes and were delighted to see their operation consisting of 12 sheep grazing on the property.  At this Co-op, they shear the sheep themselves, card the wool, wash it and then dye it in colours obtained from the local vegetation and produce wonderful woven products - shawls, floor mats, tablecloths etc.  We all bought something and enjoyed the experience. 

Primary school near Nayuki spinners300px

Connected to the property was a gate. As we were leaving one of our group members couldn’t resist and opened the gate.  To our delight a rush of 5 year olds, all dressed in crisp blue uniforms came tearing at us calling and laughing and each one wanting a hug.  We just happened upon them at their play break
and the young teacher invited us in to have a look at their school room and their work.   It was great to see and meet so many smiling, happy, exuberant faces.  Such a special moment!

To learn more, check out our blog “What’s it like? The Ultimate Wildlife Experience: On Safari in East Africa” and also view the itinerary for our 2017 Classic East Africa Safari tour.