Places with photo galleries in Africa
In the eastern outskirts of Cairo, at the foot of Mokattam mountain (well, hill), lies a community which is almost made up entirely by garbage collectors, so-called Zabbaleen. The neighborhood is known as "Garbage City" and has almost 30,000 inhabitants. Here the streets are dusty and filthy, and sorted trash are pilled up everywhere. Inside the half-completed buildings the Zabbaleen sort the newly arrived garbage from all Cairo, which come in on overloaded trucks, cars, and horse carts, yes, even on the backs of men. The stench is overwhelming and foul throughout the neighborhood. However, the grim setting stands in stark contrast to the friendliness of the people, and as repulsive Garbage City might sound, as mind blowing will a visit be to this bizarre community.
Despite being the capital and the largest city in Eswatini, Mbabane has the atmosphere of a large village. The town is relaxed and the people are welcoming and friendly. Not many visitors drop by, so they are curious about the few who come. There is not much to see in Mbabane in terms of... well, anything. However, Mbabane does have an oversized Taiwanese embassy, probably due to the fact that Eswatini is one of the few nations that officially recognise Taiwan as an independent state. The centre of action is at the minibus station and the next door open air Swazi Plaza, but don't get fooled with the fancy name, it's very simple. Mbabane is best used as a base to get to nearby sights like Sibebe Rock and Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, but if you have your own mean of transportation, there is no reason to stay there.
This rather small private wildlife sanctuary is a great place for some low key safari. The reserve is quite pretty, although it lacks the usual spectacular wildlife like lions, rhinos, elephants, lions or buffalo. On the bright side, it means you are allowed to walk or bicycle around the park on your own, something that is rare in Africa. The game consists mostly of impalas, kudus, zebras, warthogs, monkeys and various antelope species, but there are hippos and crocodiles, so stay clear of the water’s edges. The Main Camp, built on the banks of a river, have a sun deck where you can observe these beasts in action mere meters away, with a cold beer in your hand - perfect.
If you are going to Kenya on safari, a couple of days at Lake Nakuru National Park is very recommendable! The National Park lies in the Great Rift Valley 140 kilometers northwest of Nairobi. The area is extremely rich in various animal species - and the concentration of animals per square kilometer is unusually high. There are giraffes, rhinos, water buffalos, monkeys and zebras in one big hotchpotch, and not least a very good chance of seeing the elusive leopard, (which is one of the Big Five). The large freshwater lake - Lake Nakuru is filled with thousands of pelicans, flamingos and storks, which are amazing to watch - especially on a morning game drive at sunrise.
Besides other game, you can find "The Big Five" (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) in Masai Mara. A part from dry savanna, there are also rivers with crocodiles and hippos. You may walk around here, but you need to be accompanied by an armed guide, if a crocodile or a lion should suddenly attack. So a walk along the rivers is not for the faint-hearted! However, it is amazing when you experience large animals close to you or get to see an animal hunt. The park covers approx. 1500 square km, so sometimes you need to drive around a bit longer to find wildlife. At the entrance to the park you are often "attacked" by eager Masai women, who want to sell homemade jewelry. They are persistent - but not aggressive or nasty. Furthermore, be aware that there is significantly less wildlife to see, when the annual animal migration into Serengeti National Park in Tanzania takes place.
Dinosaur footprints are scattered all over Lesotho and there are a few near the village of Roma. They are located at the top of the mountain and are difficult to find by yourself, but, luckily, the local kids are happy to act as guides for a few maloti/rand. It takes about 30 minutes on foot from the village to reach the few footprints. They lie unprotected on a slab of rock and are eroded by weather and tear from the locals, so their condition is thereof. But it's cool to 'explore' something in the real world instead of a museum setup with fences and explanatory texts. The panoramic views from the footprints are equally amazing and worth the walk up, even if you don't give a hoot about a few dinosaur footprints.
Lesotho has more prehistoric sites than just dinosaur footprints, namely rock paintings, also known as bushman paintings. As with the dinosaur footprints, the rock paintings are totally unprotected and difficult to find without help from a local. For the rock paintings at Ha Tjooeng, you first have to walk through the village down to the bottom of the gorge, cross the river, and up to the overhanging on the rock face. Among newer drawings and carvings, you will be able to make out the original rock paintings - some men, a cow and a lion(?) - which surprisingly have survived millenniums of tear, wear, and graffiti. As with most sights in Lesotho, the journey through the breathtaking scenery is half the reward.
For national parks in Madagascar, this one is a little bit different. Where in most parks people first come for watching typical Malagasy animals and endemic fauna, in Andringitra it is all about hiking and beautiful scenery. It takes a while to reach the national park because the road is rough and you need a 4x4 to get there. Whether you opt for a day hike or go on a longer trek with the ascent of Madagascar's highest climbable mountain: Pic d'Imarivolanitra (formerly known as Pic Bobby), you will be able to enjoy some beautiful and diverse landscapes. In the lower regions, where there are still villages, you have the red earth and rice fields, but in the higher regions, the scenery starts to look more like a moonscape.
If there is one national park you should not miss in Madagascar it's Ankarana. Since the North of the country doesn't get a lot of tourism (except for Nosy Be, that is) you won't encounter any large crowd here.
In Ankarana, you get a bit of everything. The national park is mainly known for its extensive caves and its tsingy. There are great and small caves, filled with bats and creepy creatures or with beautiful stalactites. By exploring the caves, you can end up in narrow canyons where the only way in is through the caves.
The tsingy is a kind of stony forest. The limestone rocks have been eroded into a vast area with spikes as sharp as needles. There are trails going over and through them. Just don't fall on them if you don't want to be a human strainer.
Then, as pretty much everywhere in Madagascar, there are plenty of typical plants and animals. Easiest seen are the crowned lemur and the Northern Sportive Lemur, a nocturnal species that your guide will easily spot in holes in tree trunks. Also lots of different kinds of geckos can easily be seen.
Antsirananna is more commonly known by its colonial name Diego Suarez. It is the largest town of Northern Madagascar and lays at the second largest bay of the world (after Rio de Janeiro). Diego feels a bit deserted when you look at the decayed and empty colonial buildings, but it is a friendly and chilled town and a good place to spend one or two days before heading to the nearby national parks. It is easy to see that it used to be quite a flourishing place but, due to some bad cyclones, several of the colonial buildings are pretty much destroyed and there seems to be a lack of money to fix them.
The area is very pretty with the bay, surrounding mountains and even a "sugar loaf" mountain in the bay. Also adding to the charm are the yellow Renault 4 taxis all over town.
Interesting to know is that his harbour town played a very important role in history and especially during WWII when several battles were fought here between France and Britain.