Africa First

Blogging my journeys through this exotic continent!

Places to Visit When in Africa

vic-falls-bridge1[1]Having lived here in Africa for almost 5 years, I can safely say that I have been to some of the most beautiful places on Earth. Nothing compares to the experience of being up close with wild animals. I remember how beautiful yet frightening it was to see a gazelle being chased down by a lioness. How the poor gazelle tried to outrun its predator but failed.  I remember feeling grossed out seeing a wake of vultures feeding together at a carcass. I have learned later on that vultures are the only animals that can stomach eating rotten flesh and that they help prevent diseases spread by rotting corpses.   I have seen the smiles of locals and how accommodating they were. I have visited some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and believe it or not, they are in Africa.

Despite the negative picture the media paints us of Africa; we cannot deny that it is a beautiful country. It has been my home for the last 5 years. In the years that I have been here, I can safely say that I know some of the best places that travelers need to visit when they find themselves itching for a little African adventure. Check out the list I made below.

TABLE MOUNTAIN

Where: Cape Town

Table Mountain is named as such due to its appearance—it is a flat topped mountain that overlooks Cape Town. Just like any hiking trip, the climb can be very hard and taxing, but the view from up the mountain is just spectacular. You can see all of Cape Town from up there. If the idea of hiking up the mountain does not appeal to you, don’t worry; there’s a cable car service to the summit.

ROBBEN ISLAND

Where: Cape Town

Robben Island is famous for many things such as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also home to the prison where South Africa’s prisoners hid during the Apartheid era. Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned in Robben Island too.  According to Africa’s history, that Robben Island was once a leper colony, a place where mentally ill patients were sent and a defense training base.

Usually, the people leading the tours to Robben Island are former political prisoners who have a lot to share of Africa’s political history.

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

Where: Phalaborwa

If you think the view from the Table Mountain is spectacular, then wait till you visit Kruger National Park. This place is the very definition of breathtaking. It boasts of a diverse collection of flora and fauna—336 types of trees, 34 types of amphibians, 49 kinds of fish, 112 different kinds of reptiles, 147 kinds of mammals, and a whopping 507 different species of birds.

THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND

Where: Krugersdorp

Situated just 50 km away from Johannesburg, The Cradle of Humankind is made up of a complex of limestone caves where scientists have discovered fossils dated back to the birth of humankind. It is said that man’s earliest known ancestors evolved from the Cradle of Humankind.

I hope this list can help you guys if you ever decide to visit Africa. It is a place that will leave you with some amazing impressions and wonderful, unforgettable memories.

Gorilla Trekking Tips

One of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had while living in Africa would have to be the time when I saw mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Up close.

The first time I was invited to a Gorilla Trekking party, a few years ago, I did not hesitate to say yes. I wanted to go even though I was uncertain as to what I would see or how I would feel. I said yes, in the spirit of adventure.

When I first saw the gorillas, I felt as though I were meeting some old, distant relatives—albeit more hairy than me. I took a lot of photos of the gorillas, but then I had to put my camera away so that I could just observe them. Please note that I was just a few feet away from these animals. I watched them without bars, fence, glass or rumbling safari car. Nothing stood between us and the gorillas and they calmly let us watch them. Up close, we were able to get a glimpse of what it is to be part of their world.

If anyone of you decides to go on a safari adventure in East Africa, do consider visiting the mountain gorillas in Uganda, Congo or in Rwanda. Gorilla trekking is fun, but it is unlike traditional safaris as it requires more active participation. My advice is that you plan ahead so that you won’t come unprepared in case you face challenges along the way. If you do push through with Gorilla Trekking, here are some helpful tips to make your experience a memorable one.

WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHES

When picking out clothes for this activity, remember two things: muddy trails and changing weather. You might want to wear shirts made of synthetic materials that dry quickly. It can get quite warm and muggy in the forest, so be sure to wear comfortable clothing. If you and the group stop to rest after a few hours of hiking, it’s best to cool down with clothing made of fleece. It’s also necessary to bring a raincoat or a waterproof rain jacket as rainstorms normally happen in the forest. Always wear pants made of synthetic material. Avoid wearing shorts.

WEAR THE RIGHT FOOTWEAR

I’d suggest wearing above the ankle boots. You’ll likely walk through ankle-deep or even knee-deep mud and everyone knows this is no fun. Sometimes the mud could even suck the boots right off your feet so wear gators over your boots.

BRING ENOUGH FOOD AND WATER

There are no stores where you can buy food and water on national parks so, be sure to pack a liter of water and some snacks with you. I suggest packing energy bars as they don’t take up too much space in the bag and they can stave off hunger for a few hours.

These are just some of the things you need to know when getting ready for Gorilla Trekking. Once you’ve reached the destination, be sure to take a lot of photos to document the success of your Gorilla Trek.  Have fun!

 

Birthday Barbecue in Africa

Our son’s birthday is nearing in a few weeks and I’m getting pretty excited about throwing him a party. Planning a birthday is really exciting but it’s expensive and can be very tiring as well. Good thing I have my wife help me out with the party planning. Parties won’t be complete would good food and I ask our son what kind of food he’d like to have on his birthday and he said without any hesitation: “I want barbecue and ice cream!”

If there is one thing in the world that I would not tire of eating every day, it would be barbecue. I reckon my barbecue addiction must have rubbed off our son because he seems to love it just as much as I do. Now, I love barbecue but here in Africa, particularly Johannesburg, it seems to be a national obsession. In fact, men here seem to take pride in barbecuing. There’s even a reality show on South African TV called “The Ultimate Braai Master”. Braai is the Afrikaans equivalent for barbecue, I guess.

I’m pretty excited about barbecuing meat for my son’s birthday only I have a teeny problem with that—our barbecue grill broke a month ago. We could just buy barbecue from the nearest barbecue joints but our son wouldn’t want that—he’s always bragged about how his dad makes the best barbecued pork briskets.

Fortunately, my friend, Kade, volunteered to help us out. He owns an electric smoker, which he claims, is a lot better than traditional smokers. He said I could borrow it if I don’t have time to buy a new BBQ grill. I was a bit confused because, as far as I know, smokers are used for smoking meat. How would that help me with grilling barbecued meat?

We went over to Kade’s house and he showed me his electric smoker. Electric food smokers, he said are efficient and versatile. They can smoke, grill and barbecue meat, fish and vegetables. He showed me how the device works and I can say I’m pretty impressed. The fact that this smoker can be used indoors was impressive as well.

Learning how to operate the smoker was easy so I got the hang of it in just a few minutes. I thought the vertical electric smoker couldn’t impress me more until Kade showed me how to barbecue meat using it. He just set the timer and said we could leave it alone and the meat be done by then. He said I could just set the device and let it do its own thing. With this I could cook barbecue while watching TV, surfing the net or talking with my friends on the phone. Who invented this device? I want to give him/her a big thank you hug! Haha!

Because I got curious about electric smokers, I did some research and learnt a lot of useful things about it on the internet. It seems that Wikipedia has got everything you need from reviews to basic information about electric smokers. I’m definitely getting an electric smoker, but for the meantime I’ll be using Kade’s for my son’s birthday bbq party. I can’t wait to start using it!

Living Abroad is a Matter of Adaptation

I have lived a normal life, and enjoy it very much thank you. Most people would not even notice or know that for a while I lived outside of the country. Although it is gratifying, there are times when acquaintances ask me about my travels, and about living abroad. I want to tell them a lot about my experiences. Unfortunately, few can appreciate what I have seen, and how I lived in other countries. For instance, when living abroad, no matter if it’s just across the border in Canada, or in a different country where they don’t speak English, there is always the cultural barrier. There are some countries where the food is much like anywhere else, but in cases of sports, or inter-relationships, these things are always different.

In sports for instance, the game called soccer in the States is called football everywhere else. The popularity of this game is phenomenal. Compared to the rest of the world, the NFL is an island of isolated fanaticism. As for baseball, there are some countries which share the same passion, but not enough. There are the Central American countries, as well as the Caribbean countries, Japan and Taiwan, where baseball is played with more fun and passion than in the United States. Outside of those countries and it is barely mentioned. Basketball is more widely played and has a wide audience when compared to baseball and football.

For Americans who have not experienced going abroad before staying in a foreign country, this is where culture shock begins. It does not begin with the dwellings, not even with the language. The dwellings, you can live with. You can adjust to the language, and learn on your own. After a while, you would find out that those who work around you would much better learn English, than teach you their language. They know that they can use what they learn of English, even after you have left, whereas you would not have to use their language when you go back to your country.

In the same manner, the house or dwelling that you have to live in while abroad, will always be better than the rest of the population. In the States, you can login to http://www.albllc.biz and they would be able to help you in getting an apartment. In Africa, you start by asking around, and at some point, you would find that a relative of a friend would have a house or a room for rent. This is essentially true for most of the world.

If you have problems with your plumbing, you can go online to http://www.cmacplumbing.net and they would be able to help you. In most of the world, especially in Third World countries in Africa, Asia and South America, you are on your own, and would have to find out how to fix your own pipes. Considering everything, you’re one of the lucky few because you have indoor plumbing.
You learn to adapt, and this becomes transparent after a while. For an American living abroad, the first thing that he should understand is that he is not in Kansas anymore, and the rest of his stay in a foreign country is an adventure.

My African Sanctuary

I have been living in Africa for 5 years now but it wasn't until last month that I finally decided it was time to buy a house here so I have a place to call my own in this beautiful country. I was really lucky that I found the right property so fast. How fast you ask? Well, we're closing the deal next week! Yes, I am very excited to tell you all about my African sanctuary.

The property I bought is not new. The owners are selling it because they will be migrating to another country. They wanted to get the house sold right away so they were selling it really cheap. It was a good thing my friend Berko heard about it from his neighbors and told me right away.

It's a quaint little country house situated on a cliff side just a little south of the city. It has an amazing view of the mountains and plenty of fresh air. The house itself is unfortunately, a little dilapidated. It will take a bit of effort and money to fix up the place but I love it already! In fact, I have already started making plans on how to restore the house to its original glory.

Aside from changing the shingles and gutters on the roof, a lot of the wooden components of the house need to be removed because termites have pretty much taken over the place. What I plan to do is to make the walls concrete just in case the termites decide to take revenge sometime in the future. I don't really want to change the overall design of the house because I fell in love with it as it is. But I do want to be able to live in it without being afraid that the floorboards might give out any moment. There's a lot of work that needs to get done and I'm pretty sure I would end up spending more than I initially planned. However, my friends here are already working with me to ensure that everything will fit into my budget.

Painting the house is something I want to do all on my own because I really want to do some murals. I've been reading airless paint sprayer reviews and decided on the Graco Truecoat. Since I plan on using the sprayer around Africa, I've decided that a hand-held model would be my best option. I see this as an investment because I can use it when I volunteer in  building schools and homes in Africa.

As for the furniture, I plan on getting everything locally. I may also have some custom pieces made by woodworkers I met during my travels around Africa. I want my sanctuary to be full of everything I love about Africa – the culture, the local art, and little trinkets that will remind me of the amazing people I've met during my journey here.

If you're wondering if I plan to stay in Africa forever because I bought a home here, I don't really have an answer for you. I will tell you this though. Right now, I don't see myself living anywhere else but here. Somewhere along my 5 year journey, Africa has become my home and sanctuary is just another step in my amazing African adventure. 

My African Sanctuary

I have been living in Africa for 5 years now but it wasn't until last month that I finally decided it was time to buy a house here so I have a place to call my own in this beautiful country. I was really lucky that I found the right property so fast. How fast you ask? Well, we're closing the deal next week! Yes, I am very excited to tell you all about my African sanctuary.

The property I bought is not new. The owners are selling it because they will be migrating to another country. They wanted to get the house sold right away so they were selling it really cheap. It was a good thing my friend Berko heard about it from his neighbors and told me right away.

It's a quaint little country house situated on a cliff side just a little south of the city. It has an amazing view of the mountains and plenty of fresh air. The house itself is unfortunately, a little dilapidated. It will take a bit of effort and money to fix up the place but I love it already! In fact, I have already started making plans on how to restore the house to its original glory.

Aside from changing the shingles and gutters on the roof, a lot of the wooden components of the house need to be removed because termites have pretty much taken over the place. What I plan to do is to make the walls concrete just in case the termites decide to take revenge sometime in the future. I don't really want to change the overall design of the house because I fell in love with it as it is. But I do want to be able to live in it without being afraid that the floorboards might give out any moment. There's a lot of work that needs to get done and I'm pretty sure I would end up spending more than I initially planned. However, my friends here are already working with me to ensure that everything will fit into my budget.

Painting the house is something I want to do all on my own because I really want to do some murals. I've been reading airless paint sprayer reviews and decided on the Graco Truecoat. Since I plan on using the sprayer around Africa, I've decided that a hand-held model would be my best option. I see this as an investment because I can use it when I volunteer in  building schools and homes in Africa.

As for the furniture, I plan on getting everything locally. I may also have some custom pieces made by woodworkers I met during my travels around Africa. I want my sanctuary to be full of everything I love about Africa – the culture, the local art, and little trinkets that will remind me of the amazing people I've met during my journey here.

If you're wondering if I plan to stay in Africa forever because I bought a home here, I don't really have an answer for you. I will tell you this though. Right now, I don't see myself living anywhere else but here. Somewhere along my 5 year journey, Africa has become my home and sanctuary is just another step in my amazing African adventure. 

Shooting and Reloading to a New Hobby

When I was living in Africa I found no problems with keeping in shape and managing the stress in my life. I walked everywhere that I needed to go and I spent a lot of time outdoors. When my friends came to visit me we even trekked Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was a hard trip but the view from the top was spectacular and I have never felt as healthy and stress free as I did after that trip. I miss my active lifestyle.

Now that I am back in the US it is not as easy. My job is pretty sedentary and stressful. I find it hard to leave my work at the office and make time for exercise. My back and neck are constantly aching from sitting at my computer for long hours and I need to find something that I can do after work now that winter is approaching and the daylight hours are getting shorter. A friend of mine suggested target shooting and I have decided to take him up on the offer. Before we go to the shooting range he is going to teach me how to reload ammunition.

My friend is an avid hunter and spends most of the winter tracking big game and filling his freezer with animals such as moose, deer and elk. He made moose burgers at his last barbecue and they were fantastic. They had more flavor than the beef that you get from the store.

I arrived at his house and found him out in the garage with the door open. I walked in to find him surrounded by bright shiny empty casings, bullets, gun powder and an interesting looking reloading press.

He first showed me how to clean the spent casings to make sure that they are safe for reuse. I needed to check each casing for bulges or defects and if it was free of those I used a cloth and a lubricating agent to prepare them. After we had finished that task we moved on to the next one: to remove the spent primers. The press did most of the work for that. Then we inserted the new primers, again using the press. After that we loaded the powder by hand and then used the press again to put the bullets into the casings. Once we got into a rhythm it was a lot of fun. We reloaded all of the ammunition we would need for the range in two hours and then headed off to the range.

I enjoyed the time at the gun range as well. My friend has a shot gun and a hand gun and we took turns firing at the targets. My first few shots were really horrible and I missed the target completely. But once I got used to looking through the site and holding my arms steady my aim got a lot better. It took a lot of concentration and I was able to relax and completely forget about the stresses of my day to day life.

I had a lot of fun today. I really enjoyed the definite start and finish to the task of reloading ammunition and I enjoyed my time spent at the gun range as well. My biceps seem a bit more defined after holding the gun for so long. It is not a great source of cardiovascular fitness but maybe I could take up hunting and get back to spending more time outdoors. I don’t like the idea of killing anything but the idea of trekking through the forest and learning how to track animals does sound like something that could be interesting.

African Fruit Juices

Africa is one of the largest producers of fruits, such as bananas, pineapples, citrus, and more, with a high number of these fruits being exported worldwide each week. With abundant year-round sunshine, the continent of Africa has the ability to offer the perfect climate for growing all types of delicious fruits. This means that during my travels, I was enjoying the tropical fruits of Africa year round, and I quickly became dependant on a juicing machine to get the most out the African fruit experience.

Some of the most popular fruits that grow and thrive in Africa include:

  • Pineapples – One of the most popular fruits in several regions of Africa includes the pineapple. This fruit is just behind the ever popular banana in related to size of harvest. Ivory Coast and Ghana are two of the countries that produce the highest volume of pineapple crops. Also, a high percentage of pineapples harvested are eaten in the local regions because it isn’t possible to store due to not having suitable storage facilities.
  • Mangoes – Mangoes are certain to thrive in the tropical regions of Africa. After the banana, the consumption of mangoes is the highest in the world. These fruits are appreciated for a variety of reasons, including the high count of vitamins, fibre, and minerals. This makes the mangoes highly nutritious for desserts, salads, sauces, and juices.
  • Bananas – The banana is the most harvested and consumer fruit in the world. In fact, the bananas are classified as the 4th most beneficial crop grown worldwide, after maize, wheat, and rice. Banana varieties include over 1000 worldwide, and are grown in nearly 125 different countries. The highest consumption rate is the Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda; with almost 45-kilograms eaten by each adult every year.
  • Citrus – Citrus fruits relate to popular group of fruits that consist of tangerines (or mandarins), lemons, grapefruits, limes, and oranges. Citrus that is needed for the production of juice is most common in the tropical regions because this region has the highest concentration of sugar.

The fruit and the fruit juice industry continue to grow with more and more people including fruits in well-planned diets. In addition to the vitamin, mineral, and nutrient content, they are also beneficial elsewhere, such as lowering the risk of digestive system and eye problems, reducing certain cancers, stoke, and heart disease, and lower blood pressure – all of which are huge problems around the communities of Africa.

A delightful fruit juice that is rich in protein and vitamins and able to combine the most popular fruits is the Orange Cloud. This is a simple to prepare fruit juice that includes orange, banana, pineapple, and mango. Ingredients to serve 2 or 3 adults include:

One and half cup of orange juice,
Three quarters of ripe banana,
One cup of frozen pineapple (sliced up)
One cup of frozen mango (slice up)

Add all ingredients to a high-performance blender and blend until liquefied and smooth. Serve immediately for a refreshing and nutritious drink at anytime of the day. To ensure you get the best quality juice, use a high quality juicing machine, Omega or Breville Juicers are highly rated (check our these juicer reviews of the top rated juicer at https://www.juicerfanatics.com in order to find the right one for you)

By 2017 the global market for vegetable and fruits juices is expected to reach almost 68 billion litres, which mostly relates to consumers wishing to consume the healthier drinks and less of the carbonated drinks (Pepsi and Coke). My vision is to eventually help export juicing machines to communities in need around Africa – such a simple machine will go a long way in aiding health problems of malnourished communities in my opinion!

Outdoor Sports & Activities to Try in Kenya

The East African country of Kenya is an excellent vacation spot with many activities for the sporty, outdoorsy, and the adventurous. With a striking biodiversity and rich diversity of wildlife, Kenya is home to great lakes, national parks, wildlife reserves, and gorgeous beaches along its coast. There are a wonderful range of recreational sports involving water and land available to participate in while you visit. After taking that adventure safari tour, try something new that Kenya has to offer.

When considering what to do in Kenya, trekking immediately comes to mind. Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest peak after Kilimanjaro and it has some of the best trail routes in all of Kenya. There are several trekking companies that give multi-day guided hikes up Mount Kenya. Overnight stays on the mountain can be as basic as a tent or as plush as a cabin with five star meals provided. Point Lenana is the highest peak that can be walked without climbing at 16,355 ft. It is recommended to view the peak at sunrise, when the light is reflected along the spectacular views of the Northern and Southern Naromoru valleys. For more experienced mountaineers, rock climbing and ice climbing is available on the two highest peaks, Nelion and Batian.

For the more water-minded, Kenya’s warm, turquoise water and fine sand beaches are perfect destinations. There are several surf spots that have been mapped and many more yet to be discovered. The most popular beach and surfing spot is Malindi Bay on the Swahili coast. This location is best for the beginner to the intermediate surfer. The best time of year to surf is from May to October, when the swells are consistent, and in July and August when the peaks are at their highest. What’s great is that you can surf without a wetsuit year round. If surfing is not your thing, but you love the ocean, then visit Kenya’s Coral Coast for amazing snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, and swimming.

Believe it or not, paintball has become a popular activity in Kenya. There are several companies located throughout Kenya with their own indoor and outdoor paintball fields. Paintball Fury, with three locations in Mombasa, Karen and Langata, offer packages to groups that are all inclusive including protective clothing, paintball guns (equipment guide), and meals. They offer tournaments and hourly rates to any sized group of friends, families or co-workers looking to let off some steam and have some fun.

If you’re looking for something to do with the kids, in the city, but still enjoy the outdoors, you can take them to the Village Market in Nairobi. It is a large recreational and entertainment center where you can play rounds of mini-golf or go swimming in their one of their enormous pools equipped with water slides.

These are only just a few ideas of what is available for you to try while in Kenya. There are still many more to be discovered and enjoyed from golf, fishing, and white water rafting. It’s up to you.

My Top Tips To Be A Better Runner

In this article I wanted to talk about keeping fit with a focus on improving your running, I have been running on a regular basis for just over 5 years and I run eight to ten miles every other day. The next step for many runners, once they’ve gotten comfortable with and started to enjoy running, is to try to become faster.

The question is, what kind of workout will make you a faster runner? Well, the bitter truth is that you won’t get faster from just running more miles. You need to be smart about what kind of miles you run. A great truth of running, which many beginning and intermediate runners have to learn the hard way, is that you usually have to focus on either speed or distance in your training. You can’t easily increase both, as this can overload your tendons and ligaments, making you more prone to injury.

So, what are the keys to becoming faster?

Improve your Form – One of the reasons beginning and intermediate runners struggle with increasing their speed is that they have form problems that reduce the efficiency of their stride. So as you run, focus on form. You should be upright and with your weight slightly forward from the ankle, arms swinging forward and back rather than across the body, and you should land lightly on the mid foot, not slamming down into the heels (heel striking), as this common form flaw kills your forward momentum.

Cross Training Shoes – Protecting your feet when running is important for a number of reasons but mainly to prevent injury, if you become injured you will not be able to train and this can set you back weeks and in some cases months! You can buy a pair of shoes designed just for running but I would suggest purchasing shoes that do cross training see www.dsstuff.com for the latest range online.
When I started running I made the mistake of wearing fashion sneakers and injured my left foot, the training shoes I use today are the Crossfit Nano Speed made by Reebok click here, these shoes are a good choice for running and other types of fitness training including spinning classes, yoga and Metcon

Incorporate Speed work – A great truism of running is that to get faster you have to go faster. You can incorporate speedwork such as Fartleks (Swedish for speed play) or 600-800 meter sprints or ladders into your shorter workouts. This can be a great way to teach your body to speed up foot turnover, and increase speed over longer distances. By keeping the workouts short but fast, you gain speed without overloading your body with speed and distance at the same time.

Fast Feet – Speaking of turnover, heel striking and slow turnover speed tends to go hand in hand. Solving these issues tends to help increase forward momentum, which translates into increased speed. So as part of your form work, focus on increasing your foot turnover. A great tip for doing this is to work on it during treadmill workouts with a metronome app that can be downloaded onto your smartphone. Set the metronome to 180 beats per minute, and keep time to the beat with your feet.

Stretching– Lack of flexibility, particularly in the ankles, hip flexors and hamstrings, are another culprit that tends to slow down beginning and intermediate runners. So it is critically important to ensure that you are working on flexibility, especially in these areas. Keep in mind, the best time to stretch is at the end of a workout when muscles are warm.

Core Strength – Core strength is very important to help runners maintain balance and forward momentum. So be sure to incorporate some good core strength training into your workout routine. Yoga and Pilates can be an excellent way to incorporate core strength and flexibility into your routine. And keep in mind, the core is a part of the body that can be worked every day, even if all you have time to do are a few minutes of planks.

Lose Weight – Another truth of running is that lighter runners do tend to be faster. So when looking at ways to become faster, we would be remiss not to also encourage you to take a look at whether you are at the ideal weight for your height. If you could stand to lose a few pounds, you may find that an added benefit of losing this weight may be an increase in speed. However, there are diminishing returns on weight loss. If you are already underweight or at the right weight for your height, losing more weight is unlikely to be helpful. It may even cause you to become slower due to loss of muscle and excessive fatigue from lack of proper nutrients.

There are many more things runners can do, including running hill workouts, strength training and cross training, to become faster. But focusing on the key areas in this article are some of the best ways to improve your speed as well as benefiting your overall fitness

Lesotho, “Kingdom in the Clouds”

Oh how do I describe you?

Only 2 million people live in this mountain environment. On top of that, one third of them have been diagnosed with AIDS or HIV. Because of this, the land is poor and the full of orphaned children and horrible conditions. Despite this, Lesotho is one of the only countries in the world that is completely located 1000 meters above sea level.

This makes it very unique, because after your difficult and thrilling ride to the actual country, you are situated in a location that puts mountains as far as the eye can see. This leads to impossible views, beautiful landscapes, flora, and hidden waterfalls tucked under rocks, crevices, mountain ledges, and even down in ravines; teeming with life at such impossible altitudes. This place is for the very adventurous, unlike your typical tropical island paradise with perpetual sunshine and sun baked weather.

One of the things that is always so remarkable to me is the versatility of the wildlife to adjust to difficult terrain. Lesotho is home to some of the most brilliant wildlife in the world. Several fantastic species of bird live exclusively in Lesotho; including the bearded vulture, the bald headed iris, and malachite sun birds (who happen to be in the same species niche as the hummingbird). These small and brightly plumed twittering birds are attracted to the multitude of bright and exotic flora- the pineapple flowers or the beautiful red hot pokers with their blood- red color at their tip.

The road to the top of the Sani Top chalet leads to one of two of the highest bars in Africa; this one in particular offering a home-aid lager taking the name of the famous mountain range in the area- Makhotso. It also boasts an impossible view from outside that’s above the clouds; and I can honestly say that I have never drank a home-made beer 2,800 meters above sea level staring down at the tops of the clouds. Have you?

If you aren’t much of a drinker, there’s plenty more to keep your attention. If you were adventurous, the thrilling ride most take with a four wheeler could be an interesting trek. There are a multitude of chances to observe wildlife or hunt or fish- most of the ponds and lakes are mountain fed from snow and cold enough to support trout fishing.

There are a wide variety of different species that are vastly different that anywhere else in the world; as well as a unique weathering process that only happens in Lesotho- onion- type peeling of layers of dirt from the extreme wind and the cold, moist weather. This phenomenon is geographically stunning, and is to some called the wildest no- man’s land in the world.

As a country, despite the poverty and rampant AIDS, Lesotho is a beautiful country that offers a literal view from the roof of Africa. It offers perspectives and viewpoints unseen in the rest of the world and also chances to drink, fish, and hunt in ways that you never had before! All you need are your hiking boots, some trail mix, and an awesome tour guide, because the roads are dangerous. So stay safe!

Staying healthy and Nourished in Africa

Hello everybody!

With so much of the current news surfacing from Africa concerning Ebola I’ve decided to make a post about a much healthier and happier topic – maintaining proper nutrition and supplementation while abroad in Africa.

Whether you are constantly on the move or settled in one place for awhile, it can be easy to forget to keep close attention on your health.

I am always sure to keep some supplements on hand. since I personally avoid meat products when traveling in Africa (hold the bush meat, please.)

While the variety of supplements i carry will vary, there are a few staples that I always keep on hand. These include vitamin A, omega 3 (EPA & DHA) and vitamin b12. You’ll never catch me without them in my pack.

While I don’t slouch on getting enough calories in the day (trust me, this girl can eat!) the best and most abundant forms of some essential vitamins, like the ones listed above, happen to be found most prominently in meat.

B12, for example, is the most complex vitamin around and can only be found in animal products. This is because bacteria in an animal’s gut are what produce this vitamin.

Vitamin A and omega 3 are in the same category, as you can find small amounts of vitamin A and some forms of omega 3 in plants, you are likely not going to get enough of the vitamin or instead encounter hard to absorb forms.

And why do I pay so much attention to carrying around these supplements? I mean your average traveler or expat isn’t likely to have numerous bottles of vitamins littering their equipment bag while abroad.

For one, many people are just unaware that they need these nutrients and might not be getting enough. Or, maybe they do have an idea that they could become deficient but don’t seem to care enough to take action!

I personally do know quite well what might happen if we don’t keep our nutrient levels up. For example, here are a few symptoms that can result from deficiencies of vitamin B12 alone: anemia, bone marrow promegaloblastosis, gastrointestinal symptoms, pernicious anemia, GAVE syndrome, sensory or motor problems, diminished touch sensation, subacute degeneration of spinal cord, seizures, dementia.

Yikes!

I have a family history of dementia in my older relatives, and I am not taking a risk of enhancing my probability to develop it.

To summarize, while traveling in Africa can be beautifully distracting, it’s a really good idea to keep on top of your health.

While I am a staunch advocate for keeping your health in top shape now, I didn’t used to be. And it turned out to bite me in the butt! My first tour of Africa I came down with a severe illness. I still don’t know what it was, but I should have noticed the warning signs leading up to it. It was the first time I gave up meat since I was a young girl, and I wasn’t doing anything to make up for the sudden decrease in nutrition. On my third month I got incredibly sick, but the month leading up to it i could feel myself weakening. It’s in these times that you are the most vulnerable to infection.

So I recommend that you follow up reading this article by looking into your own diet while you’re abroad and see what vitamins or supplements might work best for you!

Staying healthy and Nourished in Africa

Hello everybody!

With so much of the current news surfacing from Africa concerning Ebola I’ve decided to make a post about a much healthier and happier topic – maintaining proper nutrition and supplementation while abroad in Africa.

Whether you are constantly on the move or settled in one place for awhile, it can be easy to forget to keep close attention on your health.

I am always sure to keep some supplements on hand. since I personally avoid meat products when traveling in Africa (hold the bush meat, please.)

While the variety of supplements i carry will vary, there are a few staples that I always keep on hand. These include vitamin A, omega 3 (EPA & DHA) and vitamin b12. You’ll never catch me without them in my pack.

While I don’t slouch on getting enough calories in the day (trust me, this girl can eat!) the best and most abundant forms of some essential vitamins, like the ones listed above, happen to be found most prominently in meat.

B12, for example, is the most complex vitamin around and can only be found in animal products. This is because bacteria in an animal’s gut are what produce this vitamin.

Vitamin A and omega 3 are in the same category, as you can find small amounts of vitamin A and some forms of omega 3 in plants, you are likely not going to get enough of the vitamin or instead encounter hard to absorb forms.

And why do I pay so much attention to carrying around these supplements? I mean your average traveler or expat isn’t likely to have numerous bottles of vitamins littering their equipment bag while abroad.

For one, many people are just unaware that they need these nutrients and might not be getting enough. Or, maybe they do have an idea that they could become deficient but don’t seem to care enough to take action!

I personally do know quite well what might happen if we don’t keep our nutrient levels up. For example, here are a few symptoms that can result from deficiencies of vitamin B12 alone: anemia, bone marrow promegaloblastosis, gastrointestinal symptoms, pernicious anemia, GAVE syndrome, sensory or motor problems, diminished touch sensation, subacute degeneration of spinal cord, seizures, dementia.

Yikes!

I have a family history of dementia in my older relatives, and I am not taking a risk of enhancing my probability to develop it.

To summarize, while traveling in Africa can be beautifully distracting, it’s a really good idea to keep on top of your health.

While I am a staunch advocate for keeping your health in top shape now, I didn’t used to be. And it turned out to bite me in the butt! My first tour of Africa I came down with a severe illness. I still don’t know what it was, but I should have noticed the warning signs leading up to it. It was the first time I gave up meat since I was a young girl, and I wasn’t doing anything to make up for the sudden decrease in nutrition. On my third month I got incredibly sick, but the month leading up to it i could feel myself weakening. It’s in these times that you are the most vulnerable to infection.

So I recommend that you follow up reading this article by looking into your own diet while you’re abroad and see what vitamins or supplements might work best for you!

Why I needed to visit a Dermatologist in Durban

Traveling through Africa has both positive and negative experiences.

During the years spent in Africa, I was able to visit many different countries and had the time to experience the local culture and meet with real people. The advantage of spending a lot of time in one area, is that you can totally immerse yourself into the local community and really get to know the people around you.

One time I remember, was working in an orphanage in the township of Kwamashu, which is about 20 miles north of Durban, South Africa. This township is know for its high levels of crime and poverty and due to the ravages of the AIDS epidemic there are many households that do not have parents. What that means is that both the mother and father died and that the grandparents are left to take care of the grandchildren.

Which in South Africa is not an easy thing to do as the social grants provided by the government of South Africa, only amounts to maybe $100 per month. That is hardly enough to feed one person, not even to speak about an extended family. In many cases the children then end up living in orphanages as there were no other options. Normally when a child ends up in an orphanage in Soth Africa, there is very little chance of the child being adopted.

Anyway, myself and Laura, a women from Wales came to this orphanage for a 6 month period and we actually lived on the premises as it was considered too unsafe for two white women to travel into the township every day. The living conditions were not ideal and we had no running water. All ablutions had to be done with buckets and we used sponges to bath ourselves.

After about 2 months of being there, my skin started to itch and a rash appeared on the area around my wrist. I thought that maybe it was only dirt accumulation and thought nothing off it. I got one of the local girls who lived in Kwamashu to go to the pharmacy and get me some salve which I could put on it. Instead the girl went to the local Sangoma (witchdoctor) and brought me back some foul smelling ointment which I had to put on my arm and keep covered with bandages.

After a week of this natural treatment, I realized that the rash was not getting better, but worse. When i took the bandages off, the foulness assaulted my sense of smell and I realized that I would need professional treatment. We phoned around trying to find a Dermatologist in Durban and made an appointment to go in a soon as possible. That afternoon the head matron of the orphanage and myself took a communal taxi to the city of Durban and in the suburb of Umhlanga, we went to visit a Dermatologist.

The dermatologist took one look at my forearm and diagnosed that I had scabies. Scabies is caused by a tiny insect and I probably got it by being in direct skin contact with another person that was infected. The Dermatologist reassured me that it was nothing seroius and he prescribed a lotion which I had to put on my body from the neck downwards before I went to sleep and then wash it off the next morning. This was to be repeated again after one week.

I was relieved and went back to the orphanage with the lotion in hand, but what the matron and I did as soon as we returned to the orphanage, was to look at everybody and to see if we could find similar symptoms with other. We did find 3 children that also had the same problem and immediately phoned the Dermatologist in Durban to make an appointment for the children to go and see him.

Shooting Guns and Cameras in Africa

No trip to Africa is complete without a trip to Kruger National park to see the big five. The park was established in 1898 by the government of the South African Republic and it became the first national park in South Africa in 1928. It is almost 8000 square miles of savannah with areas for the people that live there and the accommodations for tourists. It is about a five hour drive from Johannesburg. “The big five” is a term that big game hunters came up for the hardest animals to catch on foot in Africa. The hardest animals to catch are the Rhinoceros, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Lion and the Leopard. All five are known for their savagery when cornered by hunters.

I am a hunter. I have been one all of my life. I have several guns and I reload my own ammunition as well (I even have a portable reloading press I take with me everywhere!). I spend more of my time shooting at targets than anything else but every couple of years I shoot a deer or a wild turkey for meat. I only hunt animals that I can eat. Hunting for trophies is just not my thing. I am looking forward to my trip to Kruger National Park but the only thing that I will be shooting is my Canon Rebel.

I flew to Johannesburg and stayed overnight in a hotel before continuing my journey onto the park. I rented a car and it took me about five hours with light traffic to get there. I arrived there about noon the first day and there was still plenty of time to head out on safari.

We headed out in a jeep and I noticed that our guide carried a very large rifle. He saw me looking at it and explained that it had tranquilizer darts in it just in case any of the animals got aggressive.

“You can never be too careful here. You don’t want to become dinner!” he said winking at me.

The first day out I saw a, a herd of gazelles, a tower of giraffes, one elephant, and several crocodiles basking in the sun. I got some great close-ups with my zoom lens on my Rebel. But the big cats were elusive on the first day.

The second day out I took a helicopter ride over the park. We went up for about two hours and I got some great shots of waterfalls, hippopotamuses basking in the sprawling river, lush vegetation, as well as desert. It was quite fascinating to see the vegetation close to the water space dissipate into desert or grasslands. On the way back we saw a herd of wildebeest being chased by two lionesses.

My bird’s eye view was the only chance I got to see any of the big cats. They were quite elusive in my one week visit. I had a great time though despite not seeing the cats and I would highly recommend that everyone should travel to Africa for safari at some point in their lives. Seeing the animals in person is so much better than watching it on your television, and shooting them with digital images instead of real bullets is even better!

Crossbow Hunting the “Big Five”

As I have lived in Africa for the past five years, I have grown accustomed to the traditions, the sounds and the beauty which Africa provides on a daily basis. I had no idea my time in Africa would result in such amazing adventures and that I would gain such valuable life lessons, skills and experiences which I will be able to carry with me to the remainder of my days. I also had no idea at how absolutely marvelous the bow hunting in Africa truly was and that I would be living in a hunter’s paradise.

The African “Big Five” is the term locals, and avid hunters, use when referring to African Elephants, Lions, White Rhinos, African Buffalo and the African Leopard. When I first moved to Africa it was my goal to closely encounter each of the “Big Five” and to be able to hunt an African Buffalo. The African Buffalo has always been on my bucket list, and it is arguably one of the most esteemed hunting adversaries in all of the animal kingdom. The African Buffalo is not only extraordinarily intelligent, but also moves to various parts of water and land as the temperature of the day changes, so can be very difficult to accurately track.

After countless years of hunting more common game like deer and elk, I was ready, or so I believed, to begin my hunt for an African Buffalo. I had undergone months and months of strength training so I would be in great shape and able to endure long periods out in the bush and felt I was ready for this next hunting adventure and challenge. I also was equipped with an extremely powerful, accurate and well built bow – the PSE Excalibur (I’ve read a lot positive reviews on this site). The PSE Excalibur weighs in at 90 pounds, is built of heavy carbon shafts and also special German made broad heads. I knew I had put in the necessary work and was properly prepared and that I was also going to battle armed with a state of the art crossbow. It was now my time to begin my greatest hunt, and adventure, and see if I could capture the illusive African Buffalo.

I do not have a trophy room at home; in fact, I do not have many tokens or evidence of my past hunting experiences beyond my memories. I do have countless photos of my hunting adventures, but most of them include pictures of me and my father together making memories which would carry me through the years since my father passed away. My father and I always dreamt of visiting the great nation of Africa together, exploring the safari, taking in the sights, eating the local cuisine, and of hunting an African Buffalo together. As I embark upon my latest hunting trip and finalized all preparations, this trip is about far more than bagging one of the most sought after game; this trip symbolizes the years my father and I spent together high above the ground in a tree blind, all the years he spent teaching what makes a good crossbow, how to handle myself in the woods, and how to respect the creature being hunted. Today symbolizes a historical day and is a day I will tearfully spend with my father, even if he is no longer with me. As I embark upon this great journey, I may or may not capture an African Buffalo, but I already have won and thank Africa for all it has given to me….and to my father.

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