After saying goodbye to beautiful Zanzibar Island, we were reminded immediately of what life on the truck was like with a hellaciously long drive day. When I say hellaciously long, again, I'm talking about getting up before dawn and arriving after sunset. This drive was (as most in Africa are) absolutely beautiful, with the first stretch taking us from the coast into the mountains of the Southern Rift Valley (you may remember the Rift Valley from one of our very first drive days in Kenya, it actually stretches from Ethiopia to Tanzania) and into the Valley of the Baobabs, which are centuries-old trees which were described as looking "upside down", but looked more to me like they had been pulled directly from a Salvador Dali painting. Most native legends describe some sort of a scenario where an ancient God became angry with the Baobabs (who gets angry at a tree?) and uprooting them and throwing them into the ground upside down, which is why they grow with their roots upward. Either way, there were THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of them in the valley, stretching their God-Angering roots craggily towards the sky, always begging for forgiveness.Read More
We spent the night in a beautiful beach campground on the outskirts of the Tanzanian capital city of Dar Es Salaam before leaving early the next morning in a fleet of Tuk Tuks (the cheapest and smallest taxis you've ever seen) for the ferry to Zanzibar, for an optional additional four nights in paradise. While the campground was beautiful and the staff was very nice, most of the group agreed that the bar couches were infested with fleas. GREAT START TO THE WEEKEND!
It seems crazy that anyone doing an overland trip through Africa would skip this trip, but for an extra $460, the two of us were able to book roundtrip ferry tickets, a night in Stone Town, and three nights in an absolutely spectacular beach resort on the north side of the island.
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, which means you may or may not get a Zanzibar stamp in your passport (we both got an entrance stamp but not an exit), and they have their own government and laws. Interestingly enough, Zanzibar was it's own entity before merging in 1964 with Tanganyika, and they changed the name to The United Republic of Tanzania that we know it as today. Basically it's like if when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got married, they changed both of their last names to Brad and Angelina Jolpittie.
After leaving Kigali, we crossed the border into Tanzania, and after a couple of extremely long driving days (when I say long driving days, I mean leaving at 6 AM and arriving at 6 PM for two straight days), we reached a beautiful camp on the shores of Lake Victoria in a town called Mwanza and had a spectacular dinner. These days were some of our least favorite on the entire trip, as we were literally leaving camp in the dark and arriving in the dark. They were long days filled with naps, podcasts, and conversations about what constitutes the difference between a sweeping brush and a broom. These were the days when you really cemented friendships (or rivalries) with others on the truck, and the reality is that when you want to do the amount of things we were able to do for the cost that we’d paid, the long travel days and early wakeup calls are the price you have to pay.
Being on a truck for twelve-thirteen hours for a few days and paying thousands of dollars less whilst having some of the best experiences of your lives that many people will never get to do and forging lifelong friendships > Paying thousands more and always being air conditioned and entertained all the god damn time. Free wifi on your truck is not worth double the price. Shots fired, GAdventures.Read More
Rwanda was a truly surprising place. Beautiful scenery, welcoming friendly faces, clean landscapes and modern infrastructure are not what you expect to find in a place that was torn apart by genocide less than twenty five years ago, but that is exactly what we found as soon as we crossed the border. The easiest metaphor is the border crossing itself. While past crossings had been filthy, crowded affairs (exactly what you picture when you think of an African border) with lines of trucks and people surrounded by clouds of dust and litter, the spot where Rwanda and Uganda meet is a clean office with a bank to change money, comfortable chairs, and a relatively (TIA, still) quick passport procedure. At first I believed it to be an aberration, but as soon as we crossed in, the roads became well maintained and clean, and what had previously been dusty shelters selling phone cards and bottled sodas became, well, nice buildings selling phone cards and bottled sodas.Read More
After leaving Jinja, we headed towards the Kalinzu forest on the western side of Uganda to chase some primates around the trees, as the area near here is famous for primate activity. To get here, we had a challenging drive day through Kampala, the capital city. There is so much traffic in even the secondary cities, when you take a drive through the middle of the capital, it is so congested it can take hours to go miles. Picture Los Angeles traffic with less rules, more breakdowns in the middle of the road, and more trash on the side. That’s what the traffic in Kampala is like.Read More
Welcome to our ongoing review of our Absolute Africa African Overland Tour, if you’ve missed the previous installments, you can get some links down at the bottom of the page, or if you’ve been following along the whole time, welcome back! I’ve just finished eating four delicious beef samosas procured on the side of the road for the equivalent of less than a US Dollar, so I am full of energy; if I have to pause writing this to vomit, I’ll be sure to let you know with a five hundred word tangent about the best places to throw up in Africa (That’s the kind of blog entry that goes viral! THAT IS SOME GREAT WORDPLAY I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK)
After a quick and easy border crossing between Kenya and Uganda (we left before 6AM in order to get there early, and even once we arrived, there was at least a mile’s worth of trucks and trailers lined up to be inspected. Luckily, we blew right by those and were across the border in about an hour. PRO TIP: Do not use the toilets at a border crossing. They are real gross. Just hold it), we had a fairly long drive into Jinja, which is considered the adrenaline capital of Uganda. It’s a must for adventure-seekers traveling through East Africa, and we stayed in a sweet campsite on the shores of the Nile River run by the Nile River Explorers.Read More
What else does Slovenia need to gain a foothold in the European itineraries of travelers? Why are the views of Lake Bled or the Skocjan Caves or the emerald green Soca River not on Buzzfeed's clickbait list of "27 Surreal Places You Should Visit Before You Die"? Why do people constantly ignore bloggers referring to Slovenia as their "favorite country they've visited"? How many times must it be referred to as "The Next Big Thing In Europe" before it finally breaks through and actually gets there? Why do travelers use Ljubljana as a one-day stopover on their way to Croatia when it should be the other way around? What else does Slovenia need? Does it need a cosmopolitan capital with plenty of activities and a bustling city center? Some of the most varied and beautiful natural areas in Europe? Kind and inviting citizens eager to have tourists learn about their nation and history? One of the most majestic and surreal small towns in the entire world? Great food in every restaurant? Great wine you've never even imagined?
Slovenia has all of these things and more; and we're going to tell you how to spend the perfect week on the sunny side of the Alps.Read More
t took four days for Amsterdam to really work it's way into my system. When we were originally plotting our tour through Europe, The Venice Of The North was one of the places I was most excited about, but every time we tried to enjoy one of the hallmarks of Amsterdam, it left us wanting. Ready for some bullet points to elucidate that point? GET HYPE BECAUSE HERE THEY COME.
- When we arrived from Berlin on the overnight train to Amsterdam Central Station and needed to catch a connection to Lisse, where we were staying for the night so as to be closer to the Keukenhof in the morning, there had been a train derailment, delaying all trains. Our platform got switched multiple times and we ended up running across the train station three times before finally packing our way onto a train. Then once we finally caught our connection to Lisse, it cost us SIXTEEN Euros on the bus. Expensive public transportation is quickly becoming my pet peeve.
- The Generator Hostel Amsterdam (where we stayed for four nights) didn't allow outside food or alcohol. Pardon my Dutch, but Go Fuck Yourself, Generator Hostel. You're a hostel not a four star hotel. We drank beers AND ate muffins in our room. Suck it.
- We took a Sandeman's Free Walking Tour (If you've traveled in Europe in the past five years, I'm sure you've seen the flyers for these, basically they sell you other tours or fast pass tickets to museums during this "free" tour and then the tourguide asks for tips at the end. They're pretty much in every large city) It's a fine way to see the highlights of a city, but they are incredibly dependent on whether or not your guide is interesting. And ours was not. Sorry, Morgan. Your bad jokes reminded me of my ex-girlfriend. Free tour wasn't worth the price tag.
We didn't spend a lot of time in Paris. Truth be told, we don't love ridiculously large cities (Our favorite city thus far in Europe has been Ghent), but it didn't seem right to be traveling through Europe without seeing The Most Romantic City In The World. While we had a great time, and there will be more to come on Paris (Wait until you read about our Secret Food Tour we went on - SPOILER ALERT we ate almost a pound of cheese and lived to tell about it), we hit most of the tourist-y spots in the span of a morning and spent the rest of the time drinking wine and eating cheese. I also spent a VERY frustrating two hours trying to get a cell phone SIM card set up, but let's not dwell on that. We walked from Notre Dame, past the Louvre, through the Jardin Des Tulienes, past the Paris Eye and Concorde Square, down the Champs Elysses (whistling this song the whole time) to the Arc Du Triompf, followed the River Seine to The Eiffel Tower and as they say in France VOILA. Tourist tour finished, pictures taken, let's get some prix fixe lunch with wine.Read More
We're alive! Yes! Now that we've survived #snowmageddon2016 AKA "A Small Sprinkling Of Snow If You're An Icelander" we are ready to get across the north half of the country in order to see them Aurora Borealises! There's going to be another big hunk of driving today, so crank that 1989 and let's roll to our first stop, The Lake Myvatn Nature Baths.
A lot of people will tell you about The Blue Lagoon as the stop to make in Iceland, and The Blue Lagoon is great if you are only in Iceland for a few days, and anytime you can spend time in a pool heated by natural gas which comes from the liquid hot magma at the center of the Earth (all facts approximate) that is the vivid color of laundry detergent, you absolutely should. BUT. If you are doing the Ring Road, save yourself a little bit of cash (Hey, you're sleeping in your car for goodness sakes, obviously you care about fiduciary concerns) and hit the Lake Myvatn Nature Baths instead. The baths are about an hour east of Akureyri, the second largest city on the island, and they are just as spectacular, just as refreshing, and just as much of a treat to your senses and your aching bones as The Blue Lagoon.Read More