My top five AfriTravel moments by Elin Reitehaug (aka Taste of Slow)
To travel in Africa can be challenging at times, but when the people and culture get under your skin, you will be engaged in a lifelong love story to a continent. There is off course a big difference to travel in the various countries – people act different, food is different and the culture differs widely in many ways. There are also many similarities: the “African time”, the curiosity and hospitality of the people, the beauty of the varied landscapes and the access to fresh vegetables and fruits everywhere!
I fell in love with Africa during my first trip to Kenya in 2008, and since then I have been back to the continent several times to explore and soak up the sweet moments of life on the road. I have enjoyed my travels in Africa so much that I have now re-located to the continent for at least a year.
To give you a glimpse of my good experiences, I will share my top five memories from my travels in Africa. I hope they will inspire your wanderlust!
The ambience of the desert festival
In 2011 I attended the Festival au Desert in northern Mali, a traditional Tuareg festival which also is open to the rest of the world. The festival area was set among the sand dunes outside Timbuktu, and thousands of the nomadic Tuaregs gather during the festival to have family meetings, to do business, to arrange marriages, to update each other on the latest news, to play games and arrange competitions – and to sing and dance. The festival feature local and upcoming artists from the north of Mali, but also big artists from Mali and other African countries. They also invite artists from all over the world who makes music inspired from Africa.
Festival au Desert, Timbuktu, Mali
My new family in Kenya
Meeting the three brothers Norman, Ken and Amon in Malindi was my first Couchsurfing experience in Africa. The first meeting resulted in an invitation to celebrate New Year´s eve with them and all the families in their compound, and also after the celebration I spent so many wonderful moments with them. When I returned to Kenya the year after I went to stay with their family in their village in Taita, and after the children in the family had examined this white woman from head to toe I was accepted as “auntie mzungu” (auntie white). During the week I spent there, I realized that I now have a family in Kenya. Still five years later, these three guys are like brothers to me, and I´ve also become the proud “mom” schooling four of the children in the family.
Dancing under the trees to the rhythm of the drums
During my stay in Mali I spent three weeks taking classes in traditional dance and getting an introduction to playing the djembe. I joined the workshop of the famous percussionist Sidiki Camara, and the first week I joined them in his village Sanankoroba. It was amazing to get a chance to stay in their traditional huts and take part of their celebrations and dance rituals, and the women in the village were cooking the traditional meals for us. We had our dance classes in the shadow under the trees next to the village, and I had an amazing time learning dance moves and rhythms from the area, while getting a glimpse of the villagers´ everyday life.
Dance workshop, Sanankoroba, Mali
To start feeling comfortable and really enjoy Nairobi
Nairobi is known as dangerous city with the nick name “Nairobbery”, and you should take care and take your time to feel comfortable step by step. Nairobi was my very first meeting with Africa, and it was quite scary at first – especially since it has such a bad reputation. Nairobi has its charm and beauty though, and Uhuru Park is so idyllic during weekends when families come there to relax and have picnics. Once you cross Tom Mboya Street from the business district and enter the River road, or walk to the Wakulima market area – you see a totally different and more “real” side of Nairobi. It took me a while to get there, but after spending some time here I actually started enjoying the multiple faces of Nairobi. Being comfortable walking in town do not mean that you should walk alone in the streets at night though!
What is your best memory from travelling in Africa?
About the author
Elin Reitehaug (aka Taste of Slow) is a former scientist, now taking a gap year to study journalism, travel, blog and soak up sweet moments. She is from Norway, for the moment based in Ghana. She loves people, veggie food, travel, reggae, lazy days, culture shocks and dancing. Visit her Blog about travel and vegetarian food, and connect at Facebook and Twitter.