6 Things I Never Thought I’d Do on Kilimanjaro

I knew it’s going to be tough as sh!t.

I also knew it will be one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. First time ever climbing a mountain, and I had to pick Kili..

And I was aware that the trek will take us through the most beautiful and diverse scenery, like trekking through a nature documentary:

a 6000-meter snow-capped volcano on the equator, and when you finally reach the roof of Africa you might just think you can do anything.
What I didn’t expect though, was that I’d have so much fun, and feel so much pain, and never want to trade it for anything different.

And I also didn’t expect this: … More 6 Things I Never Thought I’d Do on Kilimanjaro

10 Kiwi Gems You Need to Know About

Nature lovers, beware! You’re about to get your mind blown!

One month before my quickie to New Zealand, I put together some highlights I included in my 5-day itinerary, plus some others which didn’t make the final cut – because well… five days only, people!

You probably know about New Zealand’s stunning beaches, the Hobbiton or the Waitomo glowworm caves. But did you know about these hidden gems?

Come on, let’s quiz! How many will you check? … More 10 Kiwi Gems You Need to Know About

How To #SouthAfrica In Style: The Wine Route!

Like most people who enjoy a glass of red for good value, I knew of course that South Africa has a good rap for wines. I did not, however, expect it to be so incredibly exquisite in its offer!

I mean, I see now there’s a solid reason behind the fact that South Africa has the longest wine route in the world. 850km long, to be more precise!

While we merely scratched the surface (see blue dots area above) and the experience left us wanting more, our two wine tasting trips should give you a fairly good idea of the amazing things waiting for you down in South Africa!

.. … More How To #SouthAfrica In Style: The Wine Route!

Readathon-ing towards South Africa: Tales of the Metric System

Like I said before. The rules of choosing books for my readathon are pretty fluid – mainly it’s :

Author is from said country &/or
Action is set in said country
Other than that, the sky is the limit ;). So when I came across Imraan Coovadia’s book in a Goodreads thread I chose it because of the title, really.

Well, of course, I read the details and got an idea what it’s about, and I did see that the book was featured in the nota bene of the WorldLiteratureToday magazine. But I didn’t imagine it will be so skillfully written. … More Readathon-ing towards South Africa: Tales of the Metric System

When Organized Tours Go Well – A South African Safari

As you’ve seen in a previous post, I’m not one advocating for organized tours all that much. And so, for a long while planning our SA getaway, I was actually looking at booking accommodation myself and organize transport on the spot. Eventually, after a few questions thrown on TripAdvisor / Twitter, I decided to go the paved way in.

Of course, it didn’t help that neither I nor my travel partner in crime owns a driver’s license (laugh all you want, I’m just not all that interested. There.)

So I had an extensive back and forth with two local tour companies, narrowed it down to one, and eventually settled on a package which seemed fair. That company that made my happy travels real, was GoSAfari.

Most of you must know how rare it is that you come across a travel agent who is professional & dedicated, looking to provide as much value as possible and helping tailor make the best package without overcharging you for it. For us, that rare bird was Glen @GoSAfari. … More When Organized Tours Go Well – A South African Safari

Prisoners of Geography – Maps that Matter (Part 2)

The Middle of What? East of Where?

The Middle East had few country borders, after the first world war.

The area was subdivided and governed according to ethnicity and religion, but there were no real attempts to create nation states.

Then the Europeans came.

Because they had done such a “great” job in Africa, and they were used to draw lines on maps: again, these were lines that did not exist in reality, and their sudden existence created some of the most artificial borders in the world.
An attempt is unfortunately now made to redraw them in blood..

The so called Middle East is home to the largest continuous sand desert in the world , an area the size of France.

I learned a bit about how Islam has been separated in Sunni and Shia since year 633, which created huge doctrinal disputes that continue to this day.. and hit all the more close to home.

The radicals from IS which murdered people and captured territory, also seized on an area important in the internet age: psychological space

They became generation jackass jihadi….. … More Prisoners of Geography – Maps that Matter (Part 2)

Fact Checking South Africa & What I Didn’t Know

Fact Checking South Africa & What I Didn’t Know

On our way to see the eluding whales (we only got to see a tail, far into the sea, and through binoculars), our very friendly guide shared a wealth of information about the country – both things he was proud of, and sadder realities – something I personally very much appreciated. 

Some of the things he was saying sounded a bit stretched, though, so I decided to fact check him when I got back home.

Fact Checked

It’s how I learned, for example, that South Africa:

Has the longest Wine Route in the World. Spanning a distance of 850 km, Route 62 is said to be the longest wine route in the world, stretching from Cape Town, Constantia, to Port Elizabeth

More Fact Checking South Africa & What I Didn’t Know

Open Mic – Organized Tours: Do or Don’t?

Organised Tours?

Let me first say: there are tours and there are tours.

And then there are more tours.

This is not an attempt to bulk all tours under one same big umbrella.

That being said: I always had mixed feelings towards traveling in organized tours. They can be a great way to see the world, or they can lead to utter failure. And I’ve experienced both.

Part of my love hate relationship with tours is that the definition of what’s an organized tour can be very broad. Organized tours can be anything from a zip-line day trip in the jungle to being stuck in a multi-day coach with 60 other people.

They can be niche & off the beaten experiences, or best of.. tours, good for checking things off a bucket list – but not merely able to scratch the surface of your destination.

Which is why I’ve decided this will be my first Open Mic topic:

Organized tours: Do or Don’t?

Andrea, Ingrid, Madalina and Izabella will join the conversation to share their personal experience, address some biases and probably create some others in the process 😛
More Open Mic – Organized Tours: Do or Don’t?

Readathon-ing towards South Africa

With only one week to go until we’re up & away to South Africa, plans are in motion to build my Kindle and Paper Fortress for my in-flight readathon.

After all, we’re talking about 15 hours of flight time – and that’s just to get there!

However, and learning from past mistakes, I’m only packing 2 South African books on this readathon. (I’ve always got extra up my sleeve, anyway..)

Drum-rolls.. Here they are: … More Readathon-ing towards South Africa