Africa – Top 5

307116_10150941161160347_192133783_nAs per my usual countdowns of places I visit, this time I get the pleasure of sharing some amazing stories and pictures of Africa. Recently, I returned from another whirlwind tour which included seven countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa; and in the process fulfulling my dream of visiting 50 countries in the world.

My latest journey entailed crossing the continent from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. During that journey, I visited Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town and its pristine, colourful and white-sandy beaches; Zimbabwe’s 7th wonder of the world, the Victoria Falls; Botswana’s iconic Chobe National Park with its herds of wildlife; and South Africa’s scenic wonder, Cape Town.

I also roamed the streets of Nairobi, Dar-es-salam and Johannesburg, and visited one of the largest refugee camps at the border between Kenya and Somalia. The latter drove me to undertake perhaps my biggest life-changing experience – climbing Africa’s highest mountain, Kilmanjaro. For a cause. I climbed Kili to raise funds for the famine victims of Africa, because with the wonder and diverse beauty of this continent comes extreme poverty and hardship among its people.

Yet my greatest discovery was the resilience of those very people of Africa; from the perseverence of the local guides of Kili, to the hospitality of the humble yet grateful residents of Zimbabwe, to the priceless lessons learned from the visionaries of South Africa like Mandela and Tutu. Not only has Africa been a birthplace of the human civilization, it contintues to teach the world valuable lessons about hope, justice, and persistence that makes visiting and cherishing this continent a must for everyone!

When coming up with my usual ‘top 5 list’, I consider not only the beauty/experience of each destination, but also the smallest random things. For example, strolling through the beaches of Zanzibar I came across two young boys who were heading home from school. We started talking (in different languages but using common gestures) and soon the boys were teaching me Swahili. They painstakingly wrote down words and drew pictures on their school notebook, and had fun doing it! I brought back the pages and to this day still carry them with me. Or the time amid the crowds of Stone Town, when I ran into a friend I had met a week ago in the Kilimanjaro climb, completely unaware of our schedules. It turned out we were staying in the same hotel too! Needless to say, we hung out the rest of the trip. It’s stuff like this that makes travelling solo such a thrill.

Here’s my Top 5 list:

5. Victorial Falls, Zimbabwe

4. Chobe National Park, Botswana

3. Cape Town, South Africa

2. Zanzibar, Tanzania

1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

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