AFRICA: June-October 2005
One must come out of one's house to begin learning (African proverb)
KENYA & TANZANIA (3 weeks) A ten-day safari in two countries - KENYA: Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara Reserve, Maasai villages; TANZANIA: Olduvai Gorge (where archaeologists found skulls and footprints of early humans); wildlife at Lake Manyara, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater; Lou went baboon hunting with Bushmen; we flew to the island of Zanzibar for R&R
ZAMBIA & BOTSWANA (3+ weeks) ZAMBIA: Immigration snafu on two-day train ride from Tanzania; rescued by young African woman and later visited her home in Lusaka; canoe-camping on Lower Zambezi River; white-water rafting below Victoria Falls; BOTSWANA: Sunset cruise among elephants on Chobe River; three-day camping safari in the Moremi Reserve; flew to a five-star safari lodge in Okavango Delta; hitchhiked across Kalahari Desert
NAMIBIA & SOUTH AFRICA (2 weeks) NAMIBIA: Hired a guide in Windhoek for three-day camping trip in world's highest sand dunes in the Namib Desert; SOUTH AFRICA: Stayed with friends in beautiful Cape Town; toured Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned; hiked Table Mountain; picnicked at Cape of Good Hope; drove around Garden Route; Joan went inside cheetahs' cage; toured Wine Country
ETHIOPIA (2 weeks) Northern route: ancient monuments of Gonder and Axum, rock-hewn churches of Lalibela; Southern route: jeep safari through Lower Omo Valley to see lip-plugged Mursi women, Hamer bull-jumping ceremony
BENIN & BURKINA FASO (2 weeks, including Togo & Ghana) GHANA was a disappointment; drove through TOGO to BENIN: saw vestiges of horrific slave trade in Ouidah, visited shrines and fetish market in Abomey with high priest of Voodoo; BURKINA FASO: shopped for tribal artifacts in Ouagadougou, Joan suffered from heat exhaustion, Lou made arduous trip to Gorom-Gorom
MALI & SENEGAL (4 weeks) MALI: Six days of trekking in Dogon Country where we slept on top of mud huts, Joan fell off tree-ladder in middle of night, we ate "bicycle chicken", watched mask dance; SENEGAL: collapsed in funky beachside resort - woozy from heat and humidity, with bad cases of flu and Lou limping on broken big toe. Wobbled back to U.S. in mid-October
BUMBLING AROUND AFRICA By Western standards, we traveled third class; by African standards, we traveled like royalty; by most standards, we traveled like "rookies" - making lots of mistakes and getting into ridiculous (and sometimes dangerous) situations
"REAL" AFRICA We discuss non-tourist Africa's many problems; why outside aid often fails; what kind of aid does work; a few bright spots; ways we can make a difference; plus some funny shop signs spotted in Ghana (example: Our Redeemer Bra Fitting Shop)
AFRICA BOOK LIST A group of books we found particularly interesting and/or enjoyable
Soon after we returned from Africa, Lou swabbed the inside of his cheek and sent the samples off to National Geographic*. No, he wasnít trying to determine if heíd acquired some dread disease; he did it to trace the DNA paths of his ancestors out of Africa. On his fatherís side the path goes from Africa through the Middle East, Europe and across the Atlantic to North America. On his motherís side there are Pottawatomie Indians; that path goes from Africa through the Middle East, across Siberia and over a Bering Straits ice age bridge to North America.
DNA research in isolated settlements around the world now confirms the findings of the Leakeys and other archaeologists that all humans came out of Africa.*
How could we resist a return to our Motherland?
We couldnít. So we made a four-month journey through 13 sub-Sahara African countries. We arrived in East Africa in mid-June to watch the first part of the massive wildebeest migration, then headed into Southern Africa for more safaris before flying to Ethiopia in August. To avoid most of the rainy season, we visited West Africa in September and October. Traveling in East and Southern Africa was relatively easy - partly because the most interesting locations are at elevations with comfortable temperatures, and partly because we took five wildlife safaris there (from three to ten days each) and the tour companies took care of all logistics.
This four-month trip was very challenging at times. Are we glad we went? Absolutely. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.... literally!
*National Geographic Genographic Project: https://www9.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/
Joan and Lou Rose email@example.com