Recently a friend of mine asked me about the things I had managed to tick-off my to-do or bucket list since I’d moved to South Africa. That set me thinking – I have never had such a list! I know a lot of people whose lives revolve around lists – shopping lists, general chores list, things to do at work list, places to see in the world list, 100 things to do before I die list, and more recently – a bucket tasting list!
I can understand when people make lists of things-to-do in terms of important tasks, etc but I could never fathom why one would be willing to set personal targets of mundane things (e.g. 10 things to do before I am 50) and then feeling bad if they weren’t met with – as if targets at work weren’t enough already. I’ve spent a happy thirty odd years of my life without these threatening lists – not even a list of books to read or places to see – two things I am most passionate about.
Life was good..up until now. It all began with an innocuous grocery list -something I never needed to make in India as I just ordered stuff as and when they finished. Nothing as organised as weekly shopping for me! Most Indians living abroad will feel my pain – there is no walking down the street and buying what you need or picking up the phone and getting the stuff delivered at your doorstep in under an hour. Instead you have to do your own grocery shopping in a big super market and most likely you will need to go out of your way to get t it. So yes, I had to start making a list.
So far the list of my lists stops here. However, it now seems that I need to create an African Bucket List. It’s unlikely I will be able to get K to see much of Africa outside of South Africa if I don’t set targets now! Getting him to commit to a long holiday has become increasingly difficult since we moved to SA. Hope he is listening!
So here is my first official list of places to visit in the African continent (in no particular order):
When one thinks of Africa, the first thing that comes to mind is the wildlife; the opportunity to see hundreds of animals in their natural habitat. Masai Mara in south-west Kenya is known for its abundance of lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants and the great migration of thousands of wildebeests and zebras from Serengeti in Tanzania every year. A safari in Masai Mara is often referred to as the ‘real’ safari!
2) Pyramids of Giza and the Nile cruise, Egypt
Egypt has such a rich history and culture that it its no surprise that it features on most people’s list of places to visit, including mine. The Pyramids need no introduction. Built over 4000 years ago, its one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one that still stands. Even to this date, the sheer size and precision with which these pyramids were constructed baffles and amazes the human mind.
A cruise down the Nile may not take you back to the times of the Pharaohs but it will surely enable you to see most of the temples and historical sites dotting the Nile including the Luxor and Karnak Temples, Valley of Kings & Queens and several others.
3) Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe or Zambia
Also called Mosi-oa-Tunya or The Smoke that Thunders, Vic Falls is a spectacular sight. In the wet season, the spray is said to reach around 1000 feet in the sky and can be seen from 30 miles away.
4) Gorilla Trekking, Uganda/Rwanda
Nothing can match the adventure of being able to get a close encounter with gorillas after walking for hours through the rain forests and tracking them for days.
5) Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia
‘Vlei’ in Afrikaans means a shallow depression filled with water. However, in Sossusvlei, this depression may only sometimes be filled with water! These sand dunes in the Namib Desert were developed over millions of years and climbing atop them leads to breathtaking views of the desert.
6) Pristine beaches and sea food of Mozambique
Mozambique is a south-east African nation that shares a border with South Africa. As a result, one can drive from Joburg to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, in a matter of 5-7 hours. The entire east coast of the country is bordered by the Indian Ocean, making it a beach haven. Scuba diving, snorkeling and dolphin watching are some of the other popular attractions.
Just like Egypt, Morocco in north Africa, is rich in culture and heritage. From the old imperial towns of Fes and Meknes, Todra Gorge and the Draa Valley in the Atlas mountains, to the Erg Chebbi dunes in the Sahara – the country offers endless possibilities to the intrepid traveler.
Lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, beaches, desert, trekking, diving and so much more. But surprisingly, Madagascar does not seem to feature in the most of the popular travel lists. Not many people can imagine the real Madagascar beyond the animated movie of the same name. However, I recently did a lot of research on this island and I am actually dying to visit it. No doubt the place is very underdeveloped, with amenities very basic at best. But that’s where the whole charm lies – living with the locals, eating the local cuisine and seeing the place in its truest forms.
This is no an exhaustive list and I might be adding to it if I come across any other interesting destination. In the meanwhile, if any of you have further ideas, please do share!