Tag archives for Africa

Monday I’ve never been so intrigued by the sex lives of animals as to gawk at the television when David Attenborough is narrating mammalian copulation, but TV is quite a different matter than sitting ten feet away from a grown male lion as he impregnates one of the lionesses in his pride, with a growl.…

Back in ZA

I thought I’d been selected for a secondary search. The man motioned at me from behind the table, lulling me away from the security line at Johannesburg’s Oliver Reginald Tambo International Airport—and so I grabbed my bags and dropped them on the table. But it was all just a ruse—as I stepped closer, his uniform…

Superlatives are the bane of travel publishing. Magazines tend to shout their hot pink sans serif headlines, boasting the highest, remotest, southernmost, fanciest, nicest, cheapest, most sophisticated, most beautiful, and most wonderful; in short—the best. But who decides these things, and what exactly constitutes the very best travel experience? Playing with pandas in China? Riding…

I never in a million years ever believed I would get to spend time with gorillas in the wild. The shock of living the pages of National Geographic magazine, over and over, is what makes this 125th Anniversary Expedition so spectacular. For me, Rwanda marked the final stop in what has been, truly, a life-changing…

More than the lions or the elephants or the hippos—it’s the smell of Africa that I find so intoxicating. Right now, in November, it’s the smell of the driest dust—grey Kalahari sand so fine you can taste it on your teeth at the end of the day—and the smell of the promise of rain. Scientifically-speaking,…

Transitions

I packed two separate suitcases for this trip. The green one is for Africa, the grey one is for Iceland. July means different things in different parts of the world. In Tanzania, July means winter, so I packed flip-flops and T-shirts, shorts and a wide-brimmed hat—then a tube of SPF 70 sunblock and a sweatshirt…

Breaking rocks is hard work. I wish I could speak from a lifetime experience, but in all my years, I only have these two half-days in Tanzania  during which time I personally smashed very hard rocks with iron tools. As activities go, breaking rocks can hurt something horrible. I still have blisters on both hands,…

I went running that morning. I took off outside the gate and launched up the chocolate-colored road, ankle-deep in dust. A minute later, my shoes and socks were black with dirt, and I tasted the earth on my teeth, like salty crushed graham crackers. Tanzania’s winter is so dry and the air so still, the…

I walk through the uphill dust of an ancient explosion. My boots crunch into the slope in rhythm, worn rubber upon stones and sand, and in my head, I imagine the mighty boom that formed this mountain before me. I have walked five days to get to this point—through leafy forests jumping with monkeys, then…

Beautiful Ruaha

Dear Maxine, Hodi! Hello there! How are you? I am still in Tanzania and will remain here for quite some time. I know that I have a habit of hopping from one country to another, but despite my continual hopping around, I still find myself deep inside the endless dry miles of central Tanzania. This…

Magical Mikumi

Dear @KenGreig, Jambo! How are you? Is Toronto absolutely freezing right now? I only ask because today in Mikumi, it’s a friendly 34˚ Celsius (94˚ Fahrenheit) and even with all the fans blowing on me, my tent/office feels a bit like a warm convection oven. As one of my most dedicated followers, I must congratulate…

Dear @6thGradersRule, Greetings from Mikumi National Park, where I continue my exploration of Tanzania’s natural wonders, one park at a time. I love it here because I am surrounded by animals all of the time, day and night. Every minute, a new creature reveals itself to me. Last night, after a day of wildlife-watching, I…

Thanksgiving Goat

Dear @NerdsEyeView, Habari soul sister! How is news in your part of the world? Nzuri—I am well and enjoying Tanzania, as you promised I would. Our travels seem to weave back and forth in remarkable ways. I know that you were just here last year, so perhaps there is very little I can tell you…

We speak of the blue planet, and praise the beauty of our living green Earth, but I am swiftly discovering that much of our world is simply brown. This is not a bad thing. Brown can be beautiful when it goes on forever, as it does on the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania. The…

This voyage feels like I’m flying through the pages of the National Geographic Atlas. I love it. Every other day we move many inches across the map, jetting away from one intricate landscape of the Earth, soaring high overhead, taking in the scenes of mountains and rivers and sea below and then coming back down…

The problem with traveling far across the globe to witness some famous destination icon is that it will never (ever) be just like the pictures you’ve seen. “It’s different than I thought.” Man, if I had a Swiss franc for every time I’ve heard that line—in front of the Taj Mahal, up on Table Mountain,…

Umlazi

Everyone kept telling me the townships were so dangerous, but I think that only applies to cows and goats. A lot of cows die in the townships—every time there’s a birth, or a wedding, or a funeral, a cow gets stabbed in the back and then cooked on a fire. Among the Zulu in Durban,…

New city, new language. That is the beauty of South Africa. Just drive a few miles and everything changes. Cape Town is lovely but now that I’ve arrived on the other side of the country, I must switch gears. Durban is the center of KwaZulu-Natal, the great Zulu kingdom and the western fringe of the…

Show me your graffiti and you’ve shown me your city. What people scrawl on the walls of the place they live says more about that place than any guidebook. That’s why I love good graffiti — I look for it almost everywhere I go and when I find it, I rejoice. In that vein, the…

I offer my sweat as a gift to the earth. Jethro tells me that my sweat is enough—the important thing is to always give back. If we take something, we must also give. We take water into our bodies and we give it back. He says this while pulling out the fuzzy black end of…

Sometimes I choose my destinations and sometimes they choose me. Malawi was a little bit of both: first and foremost, there were some wonderful children that I needed to meet. However, as a lifelong reader of National Geographic, I have always harbored a wish to see the great Lake Malawi for myself and if possible,…

The boy on the swing has tiny legs—much smaller than most. They are two spindly black sticks, dangling awkwardly as he hangs on the swing set, unmoving. I offer to push him, and he only smiles as I put a hand on the back of his tiny body and push forward, again and again, until…

Music might be global but every place in the world has its own unique melody. In Africa, there’s a very special way of singing with leading calls, an echoing chorus, and a kind of rich, soul-warming harmony that brightens any mood. Along with dancing and painting, singing is an important part of education at Save…

Read the full news report from Nat Geo Newswatch. Yesterday, the President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika died from a heart attack. I first heard the rumors about the president’s failing health outside a sugar ration line in central Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, where I was told that the he had collapsed and was…

In Africa, to dance is to live. Ever since I arrived in Malawi, it seems that I have been surrounded on all sides by impromptu dancing. Just clap your hands or bang a drum, and someone within earshot will start dancing. Dancing is also one of the principle education methods for  Save The Children’s HEART…