Travelling through deepest darkest Africa may be a whimsical and exotic daydream for many people – men and women alike. These days Africa is safer, more accessible and more beautiful than ever, geared for travelers and ripe for the taking.
Part of what makes Africa so attractive to me is not just that you can travel through some of the most incredibly beautiful places in the world, sample some of the finest wines, stay in some of the most luxurious hotels, drive just a few hours and find yourself in the heart of the bush – all on the smallest budget, but that it is an area of the world that still remains one of the most untouched and unspoiled areas of the world.
Traveling through Africa is one of the most rewarding and soul awakening journeys I have ever had the privilege of making, but it also proved to be somewhat frustrating, with many areas having little to no modern tourist infrastructure. Here you will be able to find out first-hand the real meaning of TIA –This Is Africa. But, it is one place in the world where an abundance of patience and a smile will get you everywhere.
Here is one woman’s account from her true African adventure and journey from the city of Cape Town to the heart of Tanzania at the feet of the majestic legend, Mount Kilimanjaro.
1. Cape Town – My Introduction to Africa
Cape Town is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and sensational cities in the world to experience and there is nothing quite like it, which is why it makes it the best choice to start out on an African Adventure. And whatever perceptions you may have of Africa, South Africa or the African people – you can leave them all here, because it is everything you could never have thought it was, and more than your wildest dreams could have imagined and then some.
Landing at Cape Town International Airport is quite a mixed bag of events. Stepping into what appears to be first world country facilities, brings you to the harshest realities of African poverty lying in wait just around the corner. On the outskirts of the airport’s landing strips are never-ending strips of another kind – rows and rows and rows of shanti houses, ‘’shacks’’, cardboard abodes, running water, fences, washing lines, electrical lines, dusty streets, soccer games, and gaggles of wide-eyed children all peering back at you as a stark reminder of just how many people here still live below the bread line.
I chose to be collected by my hotel – they offered a complimentary shuttle service and let’s face it, nothing really beats a freebie whether you’re on a budget or not. It is quite safe to drive in Cape Town during the day and night, although it may be preferable if you are landing at stupid O’clock to be collected from the airport and get a hire car the following day– I for one, would not like to get lost in any foreign city in the world myself at any time of the day.
We went to many different corners of what felt like the entire earth on our journey, but it was here, at the foot of the glorious
Table Mountain where I fell hard and fast for a city that was not my own. Cape Town has a pulse, a dynamic complexity with so many shades and facets you had better not blink or you will miss out, and it’s hard to say what any particular favorite part was – other than I had lost my heart completely.
Everywhere you look there are slices of New York, New Zealand, France, Australia, Africa and more. Quaint cobbled streets leading up to the finest fashion boutiques, never-ending rows of sidewalk cafes, the smells of freshly brewed coffee, the chatter of people, the heavy traffic noise and the sounds of distant bongo drums from a nearby market are never far away. 10 minute’s drive anywhere will take you from the top of the mountain to the footpaths along the sandy beachfront and to the trendiest beachfront cocktail bars where you can mingle with the rich and famous.