The Moroccan desert

The desert near Marrakech is of course the Sahara Desert, the largest arid zone in the world. This desert is present in the following countries: Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, Chad, Egypt and Sudan.

The Sahara has a strong tourist attraction. Every year, millions of visitors come to visit it. Marrakech is the main point of departure to go to the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

The two most important areas of the Moroccan Sahara Desert are Zagora and Merzouga.

Desert of Zagora
The Desert of Zagora is the most arid and has less dunes than that of Merzouga. The main advantage of Zagora is that it is closer to Marrakech; it is therefore the most appropriate place to make short trips of two days and one night.

The journey from Marrakech to Zagora takes about 7 hours, since 360 ​​kilometers separate these two cities. Since many stops are made during the trip, the journey is interesting and is not as heavy as one could imagine.

Merzouga Desert
The Desert of Merzouga is the most impressive part of the desert of Morocco. We discover the typical image that we have of the desert in his imagination. Although the dunes of other countries such as Algeria and Libya are more popular, the dunes of Erg Chebbi, south of Merzouga are 150 meters high and have nothing to envy.

A distance of 550 kilometers separates Marrakesh from Merzouga and the travel time is a little over 10 hours, so it is normal to stop sleeping one night both in the outward and return.

Which desert to visit?
If time and budget are not a problem for you, the best is to make a 4 to 5 day excursion to the Merzouga desert. The place is much more beautiful and the trip, although it is longer, seems less heavy thanks to the many marked breaks. The landscapes traveled during the days of the trip are so beautiful that the trip is worth it. Places such as’Aït Ben Haddu, the Valley of Roses, the Gorges du Dades. The Drâa Valley and the Todra Gorges are surprising and very little known.

If you prefer to spend fewer days on this tour, visiting Zagora is the best option. we had a desert camp morocco  by Dar Azawad. Since the trip to Ouarzazate is the same as going to Merzouga, you will also visit important places such as Aït Ben Haddou, so the trip will be just as interesting.

TREKKING TOUBKAL: 5 PRACTICAL INFORMATION TO REACH THE SUMMIT OF MOROCCO

Are you ready for a trekking tour on the Toubkal? This walk will take you to the summit (4,167 m) of the highest mountain in Morocco. Find the impressions and practical advice for trekking in Morocco , reporter for travel VOX, who also wrote our travel guide to Morocco in 44 days.

ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CHALLENGE IN MOROCCO!This trek is simply unforgettable. Despite sometimes difficult conditions (cold and altitude), this trek will remain one of the best moments of this trip to Morocco! The landscapes were spectacular. Some days, you will not meet anyone during the 10 hours of hiking. This trekking in Morocco on the toubkal will give you the feeling of being alone in the world, out of time. If you go with a group of friends, this kind of walk is a great opportunity to share moments, to support each other during the adventure! This trek also offers the opportunity to excel physically and morally! Successful challenge!

 

 

Here are all my tips to succeed your Toubkal climb in Morocco:

Morocco :

INSPIRE YOUR OUR PROGRAM DAY TO DAY!
• Day 1: Taxi ride from Marrakech to Imlil, starting point of the trek. Count 1h30 taxi. Departure from Imlil towards the village of Azib Tamsoult. 5h30 of walking, 1,300 meters of elevation gain, night in a bèrgerie.

• Day 2: From Azib Tamsoult to the Neltner Hut: crossing the Tazaghart Plateau. 8h30 of walking, 530 meters of altitude to climb, 850 meters of vertical drop, night in the refuge.

• Day 3: Ascension Toubkal (4 167 meters altitude). 7:30 walk to go back and forth, 957 vertical meters, night at the shelter of Neltner.

• Day 4: Departure from the Toubkal refuge towards Lake Ifni, then overnight in the village of Amsouzaert. 10:00 walk, 454 meters of elevation gain, 1,884 meters of elevation gain.

If only the Toubkal elevation you are interested in or if you do not want to walk as much as you can, another alternative is possible. The first day of the trek you can leave Imlil and go directly to the refuge of Neltner, located at the foot of Toubkal. Day two, climb the Toubkal and at the end of the day or the next day return to Imlil.

HOW TO ORGANIZE THE ASCENSION IN PLACE, INDEPENDENT?

The organization of the trek was made from the guides office in Imlil. It offers guides, detailed maps of the area and mule services for multi-day hikes. This trek lasted 5 days / 5 nights. There were four of us. We left in autonomy, without guide.

From Imlil to the Neltner Shelter, you do not have any shops to stock up on food or restore points. Do shopping at Imlil and plan for at least 2 days of food: bread, canned goods, biscuits … Bring cereal bars, dried fruit … It’s cold and the hike is fairly steady, it takes energy. At the refuge, meals are served and you will find a food point to buy biscuits, water, sodas …

EQUIPMENT: PREDICT LIGHT AND WARM
Provide a warm sleeping bag, good walking shoes, trekking poles, hot business: jacket, fleeces, gloves, hats … micropur type tablets to purify the water, first aid kit. Also provide a backpack to put your picnic, bottle of water …

BUDGET FOR A TREK ON THE TOUBKAL: ABOUT 90 EUROS PER PERSON
For information, I euro is worth about 11 Moroccan dirhams. Here is a detailed overview of all the expenses to plan for trekking on the Toubkal:

• Rental crampons for 2 days: 150 dirhams

• Services of porters for 1 day: 150 dirhams

• Services of a muleteer for 1 day: 150 dirhams

• 1 night in a sheepfold: 30 dirhams

• 2 half-board at the Neltner refuge, located at the foot of Toubkal: 200 dirhams

• 2 nights half-board homestay in Amsouzaert: 120 dirhams.

• Food expenses for picnics: 100 dirhams.

=> Count about 900 dirhams (about 80 euros) per person for the trek

Don’t Shoot!

Attempted sexual assault, planted drugs, drunken police, bribes and arms drawn, this is the night we never wanted to talk about. This is night that I thought I might be shot, fleeing a Mozambique police station as things escalated out of control.

It’s paradise on a Wednesday night in a bar with people from all over the world, chilling under the stars on a desolate beach. That’s how the night started in Tofo, Mozambique and none of us could have ever imagined the events that would unfold.

Warning: This story is pretty heavy. This is my first hand account.

At 2.30am a friend of mine, a young Scottish lass Sarah ventured down to Tofo Beach for a cigarette. A few minutes later screams were heard from the beach where guys in the bar saw a man wrestling with her. Luckily, with a left jab, she fended off her attacker in the darkness and made it back to the bar. To give you a better idea of the situation, he was a local police officer and he was demanding sex. He threatened to kill her if she refused, after attempts to hold her down failed. Guests in a frenzy grabbed me to help out and bridge the language barrier.

In a weird sequence of events after making it back to Fatima’s lodge, both Sarah and the American crew who’d seen the incident were confronted by the officer who pleaded his innocence. Another plain clothes officer tried to calm the situation, and by calm I mean tell us there was no problem and that there was nothing to worry about. During the screams, tears and physical aggression 30mins elapsed in which time an onlooker had ventured to the local police station to raise alarm – summoning Tofo’s most senior sergent.

An amateur move and let’s just say that I was less than impressed after negative experiences with corrupt authorities in Africa. Nevertheless, we were assured that the officer was legit, the real deal and was here to help.

Whilst Mitch stayed back to restrain an understandably irate Scotsman willing to dish out some of his own justice, which was a miracle in itself – It was agreed that we would go to the police station in Tofo to record a statement.

These were the events as they unfolded and they defied belief.

Present were the British female assaulted, a German girl, an American family, a Mozambique translator, 3 local police and myself. I made it clear that we would each be contacting our national embassies as a matter of priority following the incident. Over and over with my poker face.

Upon entry to the station Sarah immediately raised concerns – the accused officer had returned to the station and was present, now sporting more official attire. Imagine that, trying to explain one of the most horrific events ever in your life whilst having the person who attempted to sexually assault you right there in your face berating you. In an heroic effort, still visibly shaken, she pointed him out and solidered on – I’ll never know how she did it.

I requested the names of each officer in the room – naturally no officer had any identification or name tags. This was refused. I attempted to record the interview via my telephone and transcribe the interview. Needless to say both requests were also refused. My phone can’t record sound anyway but it was all about the bluff.

After recording a few lines of the victims statement on what appeared to be a loose piece of scrap paper the witnesses were asked for statements. All clearly identified the attacker as the officer. The Sergeant didn’t record any of these statements and it was almost unbearable to watch as he tried to hide a smirk amongst the victims tears. Let’s face it, his notes may as well have been written in crayon by a 5 year old child – that’s about the extent of detail he recorded.

Naturally after cutting off the witnesses, the accused officer insisted on making his own statement. Permission granted, with of course, other officers chipping in here and there with extra information. In a statement which was incredibly difficult to sit through, he tried to explain it was all a misunderstanding and that he was looking for 2 males who were allegedly smoking marijuana with the female on the beach. A claim denied by all of the witnesses.

After a short absence the officer returned with what looked to be an old ‘joint’ which he pulled from his pocket and placed it on the table. He then with increasing volume stated it was Sarah’s. This was denied and we stated we where happy to have a DNA test and await the results. Declined. Let the framing begin.

After further debate and as the accused officer who was heavily intoxicated became increasingly paniced, we sought to have the matter resolved by returning the following day. At this point the officers took the situation out of the senior officers hands – a scuffle broke out as they attempted to arrest Sarah for drug possession. In what resembled a tug-o-war we things got physical as we intervened when another witness was assaulted and the officers attempted to drag Sarah into a small back room.

Staring corruption in the face – the shit had hit the fan. If things couldn’t deteriorate any further, after running into out back the accused officer returned armed with an AK-47.

Needless to say, at this point, both the young females were beyond hysterical and I could not begin to describe the look of total fear now instilled in them as tensions reached boiling point.

As the situation escalated rapidly out of control, remaining calm, I attempted to reason with the armed officer outside. While the senior officer defended his own inside, the now totally enraged officer in the shadows of the station was jamming his firearm inches from my face, screaming Portuguese with veins popping from his protruding eyes. In desperation the family took the sergeant aside to ‘work things out’, They were forced to pay an excessive fee.

Our lives were realistically at risk, 2 of the 3 officers had also been drinking at Fatima’s lodge and were heavily intoxicated, mumbling and stumbling on edge, paniced and armed. A combination that is less than ideal.

After the screaming turned into a scuffle with the officers and the translator, we were able to push the girls out into the darkness of the street to make an escape back to the lodge. We hid the two females in the corner of an empty dormitory. You could have heard a pin drop.

As last to leave standing under only street light – I felt for the first time in my life that I might be gunned down.

Amongst the screams between the police the translator, we made our getaway as the search continued into the early hours of the morning. They never found us. The family fled town on a bus as we sat it out until the morning.

The British Embassy was there the next day and at last check in the matter was being investigated and raised by the German, American and Australian embassies.

As for Sarah, she’s home in Scotland and she is my hero.

Mozam-to-the-bique

Mozambique struggled for nearly 20 years with a bloodly civil war, the scars of which are still evident in some parts. Today, though Mozambique is a growing destination for tourists particularly for its golden beaches, incredible coastline and water activities.

Mozambique
Capital: Maputo
Population: 23 Million
Currency: The Metical is the currency. The conversion rate is $USD1- 35M or $AUD 30.
Economy: GDP (PPP) $18 600 Billion- 121st; Per Capita (PPP) $934- 170th
Human Development Index: .402, 172nd
Sporting Trivia: Maria Mutola is was the gold medallist in the 800m women’s race at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. At the 2008 games she became only the 4th track & field athlete to appear at 6 games. She is the only person to win any medal for Mozambique, she also picked up bronze in 1996.

>>> Traveller Info
The traveller scene is booming after the World Cup, predominately in the south of the country. Venture north to navigate the sheer size of Mozambique and you’ll find it pretty difficult as the roads still require a lot of work. A few days travel here can easily turn into more than a week long adventure as we experienced first hand.

Visa Requirements: It may just be the largest visa in the World, you’ll need 2 full pages. Most nationalities can get this on entry and coming in from Swaziland this only took us about 20 minutes along with 1 passport picture and 380M ($13).

The Lingo: Speaking English will get you around about 50% of the time. It was colonised by the Portugese so a few lines of Portugese will go a long way when you are trying to buy some seafood or ask for some peri peri sauce around town. In Maputo you will be able to get away with English but elsewhere in the country it is definitely more than useful to read up on the basics. Swahili, and Makhuwa are the most spoken indigenous languages of Mozambique.

>>> @ Maputo
The beating heart of Mozambique has a cool vibe wherever you are. It is clearly the most ‘western’ city in Mozambique and you can live it up whilst in town. This metropolis offers much more than the normal city sights but also serves as gateway to a number of golden islands. It is a must do if you are in the east of Southern Africa to feel the difference between this former Portugese colony and the rest of the region.

How did we get there: Shared taxi from Manzini (Swaziland). The trip took about 5 hours and cost 70R ($10). You will be offering plenty of opportunities to get rid of any Swazi currency you have, this is the sort of currency you don’t want to be left with.

Where did we stay: Fatima’s Place on Mao-Tse Tung Avenue. This is a pretty well known backpackers in town and has a self catering kitchen. There are private rooms and a dorm room will set you back 400M ($14). Yep – it’s overpriced.

Getting a feed: We were ready to be knocked over with peri-peri chicken and seafood. The stuff is available but you will really struggle to find any street food. The best value we found was a small take away place selling ridiculously large beef burgers for 25M (70cents)

On the town: In a word – Coconuts. This place has to be one of the greatest nightclubs in Africa. That’s right this is where the rich and famous hang and you’ll see why. It is a massive complex which holds easily over 1,000 party goers, has 3 seperate dancefloors, a pool complete with swim up bars and blasts beats all night right on the beach. It’s open Friday and Saturday nights and it’s where you need to be.

There is a great jazz/karoake bar Gil Vicente that draws a big crowd all through the week. Why? Because you can jump on stage and jam with the guys with a reggae jam session on Saturday and Tuesday night it’s home to Mozambique’s biggest Karaoke night.

Learn from us: In this part of Africa the currency of choice is the US Dollars. This is what you want need to use to pay at embassies. There are plenty of change officers around just make sure you get notes after the year 2000. Nobody wants anything to do with a any note that is pre ‘99. This applies it seems all across the east of Africa.

It is a requirement to carry your passport with you at all times. We do not encourage breaking the law, but if for some reason you forget, or don’t want to take your passport for security reasons then calling an interested police officers bluff and saying let’s go the station seemed to do the trick when we were stopped for money.

Traveller scene: Maputo was packed with travellers of all descriptions. A lot of people had come up to check out southern Mozambique after the World Cup. You can head out to the major spots and find travellers along with plenty of expats working in Maputo.

The highlight of a trip to Maputo is heading down to the pulsating fish markets. Their are a bunch of touts here and you will pay more than at a more local place, nonetheless it is a cool experience buying some prawns at the market and taking it to a restaurant to get cooked up in delicous local sauces.

>>> @Tofo
Boasts beautiful beaches, and chilled out beach vibe what more can you ask for. Unfortunately, this beachside paradise was spoilt by local police officers. Our most horrific story. Hence, we got out of the place as soon as we could bound for destinations further north. We hope this problems with local police corruption can be soon fixed to ensure this place gets the tourist attention it deserves to ensure people get to see Mozambique at its best not its worst.

How did we get there: Fatima’s runs a minibus for travellers at 5.30am to Tofo. The trip took us about 9 hours, including wasting about an hour on the edge of Tofo as the police decided to check every single bag. The cost was 600M ($20). You can do it cheaper by getting a mini-bus to Inhambana and on to Tofo but it might be a slightly more comfortable experience for a bit extra to do what we did.

Where did we stay: Fatima’s, yep we were lazy as we got dropped off there. There are other places that are more highly recommended just up the beach. A dorm will cost you 400M ($14).

Getting a feed: Walk into town and you’ll an amazing assortment of fresh foods at the markets. We tried to put together a few basic ingredients but as it turns out this doesn’t really work – it’s more expensive than iheading to a local take-away store. Africa doesn’t really encourage you to cook in when you can find such cheap and normally tastier options on the street. Fatima’s has a reasonably priced restaurant serving cheap sandwiches and salads.

Out on the town: Tofo is home to full moon parties that draw big crowds, although without the Thailand style craziness. We weren’t there for this so normally Dino’s is the bestside bar with the most to offer, unfortunately it was a Wednesday. Fatima’s bar has a bit of a dancefloor and nearly everybody from the surrounding area drops in. Security seems a major issue here and we were part of a major incident that went down this night.

Learn from us: Don’t get there on a Wednesday, for some reason it’s the only night ever that Dino’s is closed.

Traveller scene: Plenty of tourists make the trip up here from Maputo and it’s about as far north as most travel in Mozambique. There are also plenty of South Africans who were enjoying the longer winter break by the beaches.

>>> @Velenkulo
It’s another 8 hours north of Tofo. Velenkulo comes packed with fishing boats, golden beaches and friendly faces with a busy village vibe.

How did we get there: From Tofo we jumped on a shared taxi to Inhambane for 25M (75cents) for 20 minute ride. Then jumped across for a ferry across from the peninsula to Maxixe. We anticipated a ferry service but instead had the more genuine experience on board a small boat to get across the shallow inlet. This was 20M (66 cents) each including the baggage. In Maxixe you’ll find taxi’s bound for Velenkulo and for the most part roads for most of the journey are alright. In saying that, it took us about 7 hours to make it up there.

Where did we stay: Boabab Backpackers was our destination. The international staff here dominate. It’s on the bay where you can walk 20m to purchase the day’s catch and cook it at the in house kitchen. Boabab has privates, camping and some big dorms so take your pic. More impressively there is a good bar area, with pool, local cocktails and local cuisine. Best of all – it’s cheap.

Getting a feed: The markets are a pretty cool spot to get whatever fresh produce you’re after. You’ll find some real bargains if you venture off the main street and combine that with fresh seafood in the afternoons and you’re set.

Out on the town: Our two attempted to get north to Beira at 4am meant the boozing was reduced here. The backpackers had a good bar set up and it’s a good place to start before finding the infamous Afrobar. Make it there and out alive, well, it’s a wild night out.

Learn from us: Book your tickets the afternoon before if you want to head north. Get the information beforehand, as the buses don’t necessarily leave everyday to Beira. So save yourself a 3.30am wake up, get the info right and you’ll only be doing the death early morning walk once.

Traveller scene: Velenkulo, whilst not teeming with tourists draw a crowd. There are 3 or 4 backpacker style options here. When we were there massive groups of Dutch and South Africans making the most of the coast. It’s cheaper than it’s southern rivals and with the village backing onto the backpackers it’s pretty much ideal.

>>> @Beira
Mozambique’s second largest city isn’t exactly known as a tourist destination and nor should it be. It does have a lot of expats working at the city’s large port along with volunteer projects. It serves as a stop on the way to the northern extremities of this country, there isn’t a lot to do here but if you know some people here you’ll have a pleasant stay.

Where did we stay: At a local volunteer’s place who is working with a local school and involved in improving rural literacy on the outskirts of Beira. Accommodation is a problem in town but you’ll have no problems finding ex-pats or local families to put you up.

How did we get there: It was horrific. We took a mini bus. The drive shaft snapped after 2hours in the middle of the desert on the highway. There was a mechanic on board who said he’d never seen anything like it, needless to say nor had we. Not wanting to wait 3 days we hitchhiked on a bus decked out with beds. It was weird and expensive but after 7 hours we made it to the edge of town before getting into the back of a dump truck for the last 5km.

Getting a feed: Head into town, just next to the market and find the best bargain chicken in Mozambique. 50M ($1.70) for a 1/4 chicken and chips with of course peri-peri. We found the best and worst of service here. The next day we just wanted a plate of chips which ended up taking over an hour served icy cold.

Out on the town: Local bars. Cheap beers. Every street. Take your pick and enjoy the Portuguese banter.

Learn from us: Can’t go past 20M (66 cents) for a plate of chips? Neither can we, but be warned this could take over an hour. Luckily enough we had some outrageous Brazilian TV game shows on to make the time fly by. What do they watch in Mozam? Think trans-sexuals, beautiful women, football shoot outs and bad acting and you get the picture.

>>> @Tete
We never anticipated stopping here in our ambitious effort to reach Malawi in a day, however Tete was a pleasant surprise. Set on the banks of the Zambezi River, Tete stands out as a city with a lot of develpment and opportunities for future growth across the board.

How did we get there: We jumped on a bus from Beira at 6am. This leaves every 2nd day so don’t just get up the morning before and think you can just show up. Head to the bus office the afternoon before to grab your ticket. It is a pretty nice bus, although a 2 hour breakdown stopped our progress. It cost about 350M (AUD$12) for the journey. Let’s be honest – transport is not Mozambique’s strong suite.

Where did we stay: Paradise a hotel under renovations adjacent to Sundowners on the highway into to town. A room here will set you back 1000M ($33) for a twin room.

Out on the town: After 10 hours travel where can you find a place to relax? Sundowners as the name suggests is the perfect place to relax with one of Mozam’s finest beers on the banks of the Zambezi as the sunsets. The staff here have relocated from Zimbabwe and jump at the chance to speak English so play your cards right and they’ll even share their dinner with you!

>>> The Amateur Low Down
Highlight: We wanted to like Mozambique, but the police corruption and transport difficulties made it hard. We have to admit we were very relieved to make it to Malawi and exit Mozambique.

In all fairness though, Coconuts nightclub has to be one of Africa’s best and the chance to try out some basic Portugese is something new for us in Africa.

Biggest surprise: To be honest it has to be how hard it was to find peri-peri chicken that is so famous from these parts. Apart from the outskirts of Maputo, street side peri-peri chicken was hard to come by. You can of course grab peri-peri anywhere.

One thing you can do to break down a barrier: We had direct experience with police corruption and crime in Mozambique so it is important we raise this as a key issue holding Mozambique and its citizens back at the moment.

Making tracks in Malawi

Nestled between East African giants, Malawi might be small on the map but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s one to miss. Situated on the one of the largest lakes in the World, Lake Malawi this place is big on heart and this place has plenty of things to keep you busy.

Malawi
Capital: Lilongwe
Population: 15 million
Currency: Malawian Kwacha. AUD$1- 130K
Economy: GDP (PPP)- $11 394 (137th); GDP (PPP) Per Capita- $885 (172nd)
Human Development Index: .493 (160th)
Sporting Trivia: We arrived in Malawi to the sound of football on the radio. It was an international match down the road in Lilongwe as part of the country’s Independence Day celebrations. The Malawian side kept the home fans happy with a 2-1 win over Lesotho on this occasion celebrated with the sounds of vuvuzelas filling the sky across the capital.

>>> Traveller Info
Malawi was a welcome break after the transport tribulations of Mozambique and you need to look no further than a spot by the Lake if you’re after a place where you can recapture the vibe after a tough week of overland travel on the road.

Visa Requirements: One of the easiest African Visas to get your hands on – Victory. Most western nations don’t require a visa to enter Malawi and getting into the country is a pain free process, you’ll be done within about 5 minutes and on your way.

Learn the Lingo: 75% English speaking – Malawi is pretty easy to get by in with English alone, however, you’ll learn a few of the basics in some of the local languages, which is something that is certainly appreciated by Malawians.

@ Lilongwe
Lilongwe beats in the heart of Malawi, a mix of all the good things that come with a big city and unfortunately the all too familiar downsides as well. If you head to Old Lilongwe, you’ll find the nicer areas in town, but across the town is where you’ll find all the action and the hustle and bustle of city living in East Africa.

How did we get there: From Tete in northern Mozambique we took a shared taxi to the small border crossing. If you want to head east first, there are far more taxis heading to the border crossing at Bilantyre, however you will need another van to the border from there. After clearing immigration, we boarded what we would consider an illegitimate wagon which took off in a cloud of smoke to escape the border post patrols. Immediate departure and an hour long trip to the capital set us back 400K ($3).

Where did we stay: Mufasa’s Backpackers Lodge. You can’t go past this place simply on the basis of its name. The place was actually full when we rocked up as it doubles as home to US Peacecorp volunteers in town. The hostel and the volunteers were good enough to let us throw down a few mattresses in one of the dorms for 1300K (AUD$10) a night. It’s a pretty nice place in Old Lilongwe which has a few bars around and a cool atmosphere and plenty of the basic facilities such as the Net café next door.

Getting a feed: Cheap meals proved difficult to find in Old Lilongwe amongst the expat scene, and for any local street food or produce you’ll need to get in early before the sun sets. Our advice is if you are over in the main side of town satisfy your hunger while you can and you’ll save a fortune. If like us you arrive late, you’ll find some value amongst local Indian flavours – naan and chapati which were by far the cheapest snacks we could find on any menu – 200K ($1.70).

Out on the town: A little place called Diplomat Bar is the main hangout in the area. Midweek you’ll find a crowd at the hostel which has a pretty chilled little bar with fair priced drinks at 160K ($1.40) for Carlsberg.

Traveller scene: We were smack bang in the middle of the expat part of the town, which continues to grow. Lilongwe is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa in terms of population and it is beginning to show with many new businesses opening and the local infrastructure coming under pressure to cope with increasing demands.

Learn from us: You need to be on your toes at the Lilongwe transport centre – we were picpocketed trying to salvage our bags amongst the confusion but thankfully recovered the sum. The area around the bus stop right in the heart of town is pretty hectic and can be fairly dodgy so rather than wander aimlessly just try grab a taxi to get wherever you need to go.

@ Nkhata Bay
One of the better known spots along the banks of Lake Malawi, Nkhata Bay is a great little stopover as you head north. If you want to get a feel for life in small village, go for a paddle in the lake and just relax, then this place is a must.

Getting there: Despite the recommendations (AXA or National Express) we opted for Restoration Express service from Lilongwe for 100K cheaper than the others. The 1200K ($9.20) trip took a while to get going and it’s a longer trip than anticipated – longer than you’ll get told. For spiritual folk you also have the joy of a bit of a biblical sing alongs and then the awkwardness when the hat gets passed around. This bus takes you as far as Mzuzu and from there amongst the darkness, despite what some overly eager taxi drivers might say, shared taxi’s do still run (the last around 7pm) and you can grab one to Nkhata Bay for 400K ($3) for an hour trip.

Where did we stay: Big Blue Star Backpackers. This is a pretty special place, the location itself is something else. Add to this professional staff who will do anything for you along with cable tv, free wireless and the extras of free canoeing and snorkelling and you’re set for a great stay. There is camping, privates and dorms available – dorms set you back 700K ($5.40).

Getting a feed: it’s not like going gong to a desert camp morocco but All accommodation offers some food options. Some of them expensive, others have reasonable value. One of the best things about Nkhata Bay is how close the town is so you can wander in and eat with the locals. Right across Malawi, you can’t look past the street food of choice – Chips/French fries with salad. A plate will set you back 100K (80cents) and we won’t lie – it‘s a real treat. It can be slightly hard to find a great deal of variety so if you want to knock up your own sandwiches you can buy massive avocados and fresh produce for almost nothing at the markets in town.

On the town: Follow the locals to the bars, although perhaps don’t follow them too closely as many of them are more than merry by 9pm. It still remains a bit of mystery as to how this happens as you don’t actually see much alcohol consumption. Part of the answer though lies in the ‘shake shake’, an alcoholic mix you’ll find packaged in a milk carton style box. It was described to us as warm lumpy milk which tastes like vomit – but something you have to try. Naturally we shaked and baked and we can safely say the vomit description is pretty apt. Nkhata Bay has a handful of good local spots, the biggest expat bars are those in the local hostels depending on the night. All the hostels have small bars and reasonably priced beers if you just want to chill.

Learn from us: Our canoeing skills were terrible, either take the proper wooden canoes or make sure the canoe is fully blown up. We were spinning around in more circles on the lake than a washing machine cycle.

>>> The Amateur Low Down
Highlight: The tranquillity of Lake Malawi gave us a chance to relax before the final stretch in Africa. It provides a perfect backdrop if you just want to relax on its shores or alternatively get out there on the water for a spot of fishing with locals or dive under for some snorkelling. The varieties of tropical fish found in freshwater are truly incredible and something not to be missed.

Biggest surprise: Malawi is a great place for a few beers and even better you’ll be joined by locals. Be prepared though the locals will have gotten a head start and will be pretty jolly by 9pm. A mixture of beer and shake shake seems to do the trick quite nicely. It’s a great atmosphere here, so head out for a few beers, you’ll be surprised and have a great chance to talk with the locals.

One thing you can do to break down a barrier: Malawi faces many significant issues and it’s people are on the whole desperately poor. It is a country though that you get the feeling that things are heading in the right direction in terms of development and social projects.

One issue that continues to be ignored is on the front of human rights. Homosexuality remains illegal in Malawi, and many are still jailed for their sexual orientation. Recently as a result of a large public campaign for their freedom, the Malawian President pardoned two people from life imprisonment due to their sexual orientation. However, the spectre of harassment remains for this couple and many other Malawians are still forced to hide their personal lives for fear of imprisonment.

East Africa’s Heartland – Kenya.

It stands out as one of the symbols of Africa, it’s Kenya and it’s not only the economic engine room of East Africa but it’s lined with some incredible beaches, delightful foods, incredible people and inspiring wildlife. Kenya is a must for any African adventure.

Kenya
Capital: Nairobi
Population: 40 million
Currency: Kenyan Shilling – $1 – 60Ks
Economy: GDP (PPP) – 60 410 (81st); GDP Per Capita $1570 (145th)
Human Development Index: .541 (147th)
Sporting Trivia: For Kenya, it’s all about the running events. We were there when Nairobi was gearing up to host the African athletics championships. In this place, athletics news and track and field stars replace the football champions on the billboards and in the local newspapers which is something refreshing.

>>> Traveller Info
Entry Requirements: The visa cost has been reduced since the political turbulance of 2007. The visa will cost US $25 and is available at the land border with Tanzania. You can also travel to other countries that are part of the East African Community without needing a multiple entry visa. Keep a close eye on developments here as the East African Union is working towards developing a one Visa fits all program, which will be sensational for travellers.

Learn the lingo: 85% – Kenyans speak great English and in big centres like Nairobi you’ll hear it spoken alongside the local tongues like Swahili.

@ Nairobi
Getting there: We stumbled across the shuttle service we ended up taking when we were inquiring about the price of safaris. We got a shuttle from Arusha, Tanzania and the 6 hour trip set us back 22500 Tanzanian shillings ($20). Even the public buses were costly and the road to reach the border doesn’t have a great deal going for it aside from the excessive dust. It is however a pretty cool trip though as you do get to see a lot of Masai herding their cattle across the plains and of course Mt Kilimanjaro as a side setting.

Where did we stay: Nairobi International Youth Hostel. It’s just outside of town up the hill past the park. This place is pretty busy, it comes with the normal ‘generic’ hostel feel which is a bit of a downer, but they have everything you might want – internet (albeit overpriced), food and even a hairdresser if you are in need of a trim. A room in a dorm will set you back 600Ks. It is a pretty good place but the walk up the hill breathing in the toxic fumes of traffic congestion will give your lungs a work out, that is of course is you don’t pass out.

Getting a feed: Central Nairobi delivers on the food front. There is an abundance of restaurants serving chicken, burgers and chips. You can get a pretty massive feed for around 100-120 Ks ($2). The only downer to these places is that they have watered down the sauces to the extent that they are barely sauces anymore and are more like flavoured water. Nairobi also has some stylish places near Westlands if you want to live it up. You will also find a lot of Tusker supermarkets around to stock up on anything you might need.

On the town: It’s pretty great to be honest. Nairobi boasts perhaps the most developed and enjoyable nightlife scene we came across outside of South Africa. Head to the Westlands and you’ll be impressed by it’s lounge bars like Havana where locals rub shoulder to shoulder with expats. After warming up there the only option is to duck around the corner to Black Diamond which is one of the best nightclubs we have come across in Africa. This is also a favourite place for prostitutes, but from our experience, they’ll be all drinking Heineken so it doesn’t take much to work out who they are (we’re pretty sure they are supplied free by the bar). Either way they are nice enough and naturally are up for a chat. This place is a must when in Nairobi as you can dance and down quality Kenyan beers until your hearts content.

Traveller scene: There were plenty of people coming through Nairobi whilst we were in town. You can easily tee up any sort of organised African Safari you’d like. There were also a number of conferences on whilst we were there, including the scouts, and also a number of Africans from other parts of the continent in town looking for work in this economic hub. If you happen to meet any expats, make sure you ask for some local knowledge, the guys we met pointed us in the right direction and a few free beers never goes astray when you’re on the road.

Highlight: Have we mentioned we had fun in Nairobi? It was less about the sightseeing here for us and more about getting amongst the nightlife after a long couple of weeks on the road and in more remote places – Black Diamond for it’s total diversity is something that we’d say is a must.

@ Kisumu/Kodiaga
Getting there: It was an early morning bus from Nairobi for us to Kisumu. This was about a 6 hour journey and cost 1000Ks ($14). A pretty smooth ride through the Ruhr Valley and then up through the tea field lined hills.

Where did we stay: We stayed in an incredibly cheap hotel on the back end of town. It was so cheap we’re not even sure if it had a name to tell you about. You can get a double room for under 1000Ks here and it’s in the quieter part of town, walking distance to the shared taxi rank.

Getting a feed: Is this part of the world, can you go past 5Ks samousas? Fried crisp thin pastry loaded with anything ranging from beans to beef – So good.

On the town: Kisumu has a few good places to have a bit of fun and get on the beers. There is a great rooftop bar run by a couple of Dutchies where you can relax for a few and watch the sun come down over Lake Victoria. It’s slightly overpriced but that’s because it’s where you’ll find any tourists in town.

Traveller scene: Pretty quiet. Kisumu acts more as a gateway between Kenya & Uganda than anything else. There are a few people around in transit but most foreigners you’ll come across have been working around here and are involved in volunteer projects, which means if you want to get involved – here’s a great place to start asking questions.

@ Mombasa
The jewel in Kenya’s crown, fastly becoming one of the most sought after tourist destinations on the East African circut.

Getting there: It was all aboard what is known as one of Africa’s best train rides. We splashed the cash and went for a 2 person sleeper ($51) to make this overnight journey. The real draw of the train was the fact that it goes through a National Park where you can hope to catch some wildlife as the sun comes up. We didn’t but we did see the smiles of locals along the way. If you take this train – please don’t do what some others did on the trip and just throw lollies at the children. It is one of the more disappointing things you come across, as it is unsustainable for local communities and dis-empowers these communities by undermining social structures.

Where did we stay: We spent one night beachside just north of Mombasa where you can go fishing amongst the picturesque mangroves of the area. The Beach (Mtwapa Beach) is a nice relaxed place but is a bit far from everything. Although the guys will get you on a moto to the main road for 50Ks (80cents). Our second night we moved into Mombasa itself and came across Mombasa Backpackers. Now this is a cool backpackers in a massive building and run by a great bunch of guys (It’s not a pub joke – a Swede, a South African and a Peruvian). We paid 600Ks a night here ($9) and its definitely worth it, these guys will go the extra mile for you and it really fosters a great relaxed atmosphere amongst the guests.

Getting a feed: Cheap Samoosa came up trumps for us again here in Mombasa. At The Beach Lodge we also tried some traditional masala chips and challenged the locals to spice them up – they failed. We’d mention Palm wine here as well, yes we know it’s a liquid, but sheer volume of bugs and body parts constitutes at least for us, a mention in the food category.

On the town: We were hanging with some Dutch girls who had managed to woo a local, who was obviously a big spender and enjoyed a bit of a party. It may have been midweek but a few of the places we came across here were absolutely massive and you could tell draw a crowd every time the weekend rolled in. Mombasa Backpackers also sold beers so you wouldn’t go without.

Traveller scene: It’s Kenya’s busiest tourist city. Mombasa’s city life and its accessibility to nearby beach are the big draw cards here. There were a lot of people around, again many who had been doing volunteer work in the vicinity and were putting their feet up for a while and would could blame them – the water is crystal clear and the weather is amazing.

>>> The Amateur Low Down
Highlight: For a genuine experience it has to be our time spent out with one of our good friends in western Kenya in a small village. Spending just a few days in this small village was a great chance to get an insight into life in a small African community and also see first hand some of the work that NGOs do in conjunction with locals. Out here we saw the start of a school building happen, watched a local soccer tournament, found a pub with no beer, ate seven thousand samoosas and hung out with our African brothers enjoying every moment on the local taxis down the local laneways.

Biggest Surprise: Kenya has a reputation for being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa, and for good reason. The majority of these though still come through on organized tours. So Kenya, despite it’s place as one of the most visited destinations is still a surprisingly big challenge for independent travelers wanting to travel on a budget. So be prepared, it won’t be easier than other places in Africa as you might expect, but that of course for us is part of it’s charm and we invite you to do the same and take up the real challenge.

One thing you can do to break down a barrier: Our visit out to Kisumu and beyond was all about seeing the great work an old mate was doing with the local community near the Ugandan border. We’re in the process of putting together a video to show what a difference you can make to the lives of some of the most impoverished communities filled with the most amazing people. There’s no greater reward you can ask for then the smiles that accompany you on a daily basis wherever you go. We also met the crew from World Youth International who had organised a football day to bring communities together whilst also beginning a discussion about the risks of HIV/AIDs.

Tanzanian Trekking

One of East Africa’s most established tourist destinations, Tanzania is the country that brings you the postcard pictures of Africa that you’ve always imagined. Whether it’s getting up close and person with the animal kingdom on a safari, the charm of the Masai, the allure of Zanzibar or Mount Kilimajaro it becomes apparent pretty quickly Tanzania more than lives up to it’s reputation.

Tanzania
Capital: Dodoma
Population: 44 million
Economy: GDP (PPP) – $53 716 (84th); Per Capita $1416 (156th)
Human Development Index: .531 (151st)
Exchange Rate: USD$1 = 1500 Tanzanian Shillings
Sporting Trivia: Tanzania’s only two silver coloured Olympic medals were won in the 1980 Moscow Olympic games on the track. Their football side hosted Brazil in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup, going down 5-1 in a friendly.

>>> Traveller Information: You’ll find an abundance of travellers in Arusha, all ready to head off into the Lion King style Africa that we all imagine. Tanzania is pretty tourist friendly, cheap prices, low value currency and incredibly friendly local people. Another great thing is that there are plenty of opportunities to socialise (drink) with locals and other travellers, which is a great opportunity to find out more about Tanzania and get some inside secrets. Zanzibar has all sorts of tourists and all of the ferries are packed daily as Zanzibar is incredible and is set up to cater for the regular influx of tourists with beautiful resorts and also small lodges in the heart of old town.

Visa Requirements: We didn’t want to travel thousands of kilometres to Tanzania without a Visa so we headed to their embassy in Maputo, Mozambique. The original visa we required cost $50 but after issues changing money, as the embassy didn’t like old US notes, we short changed it for a much cheaper transit visa. We rolled the dice on the Tanzanian visa in the end but we managed to enter the country twice on this visa and didn’t have to pay anything on top of the $30 visa we got, despite a thorough inspection on the second entrance. Win.

Learn the Lingo: English is the european language that is spoken here. One of the greatest things about Tanzania is that locals challenge you to speak their largest local language, Swahili. Spoken by 50 million people and it’s probably our favourite language we came across. It’s the language of ‘The Lion King’ and you’ll become accustomed to phrases like “Mumbo Jumbo” and talking to your friends ‘Rafiki’. Our advice here is to get out there and greet as many people as you can and you’ll share many a smile with Tanzanians.

@ Mbeya
The transport hub of Southern Tanzania, Mbeya is packed with two things – trucks and bars. We arrived pretty late, watched some football and took off first thing in the morning so we didn’t really get much of an insight into this city.

How did we get there: A long day coming up from Nkhata Bay changing mini buses a couple of times. We had some major dramas at this border crossing with money changers ripping you off. We got across the border hot and frustrated with the bus up to Mbeya taking about 2 hours – standing room only. We arrived pretty late to a hectic bus station where you’ll find plenty of touts who will help you find accommodation and we reckon it’s probably best just to choose one dude and get a hand, especially if like us you are wrecked after a long day of travel. Afterall, bus stations and transit points are not the nicest places to be loitering around in after dark.

Where did we stay: We followed the lead of a rasta tout to a place directly across the road from the bus station as we were taking off super early the next morning for Arusha. The three of us grabbed a two bed room for incredibly cheap, about $10 total a night.

Getting a feed: For not much more than $1 we were able to grab some local rice and meat off the main strip.

On the town: This was our location for the World Cup Final. We found a good local bar and for some reason the owner loved us and shouted us copious amounts of beers.

Learn from us: When crossing the border into Tanzania from Malawi do not swap any currency on or around the bridge. It’s no man’s land and there is an elaborate system of hawkers working together to systematically offer tourists varying rates of exchange before eventually stealing your hard earned cash never to be seen again. Yep, we got stung and we’d like to think of ourselves as some pretty hardcore hagglers.

@ Arusha
Arusha, is the gateway to the safari sights of Tanzania. Situated close to Serengeti, it’s home to many Masai and as a transit point for tourists, Arusha is a great place to find your feet in this incredible part of the world. You’ll be greeted with open arms by people all over town in Swahili, so make sure you brush up on the basics.

How did we get there: A lazy 20 hour bus trip from Mbeya on a big coach was the option we went for. This bus did cost a bit more than a few other options but was reliable and considering the distance of the journey it is probably worth the 45000 Shillings ($30) as it’s the most direct and fast option.

Where did we stay: A late night arrival left us at the mercy of the touts at 11pm. We jumped in a taxi who took us to the hostel but it was a bit too pricey. We then got dropped off at Michel’s Place which got us a 3 bed room for 15000 ($10) a night. This was a pretty basic place amongst the back streets but did the trick for the three of us. We had a bit of a heated disagreement over prices with the taxi driver but it was all sorted in the end – always keep your cool.

Getting a feed: There are plenty of samosa stands throughout town and most of the bars around town will also sell good meat and pap dishes to suit your taste buds for not more than $3.

Out on the town: There is a distinguishably up market area of town where you’ll find most of the tourist offices and a few nice hotels. This isn’t where we went out, instead, we chose to hang out with locals in bars along the bumpy backroads. Picnic Bar might look seedy but at least it doesn’t disappoint in delivering on its seedy charm and a night out here wouldn’t be complete without a few beers in Shivers just across the street which is a mix of live music, beats and all sorts of dancers.

Difficulties: Getting rid of old US notes was hard here. It seems to be the case across East Africa, any US notes before 2000 are pretty hard to get changed into local currency. So have a good look at any notes you exchange to make sure you don’t get stuck with anything prior to the year 2000.

@ Dar Es Salaam
Dar, as it’s often known is the largest city in Tanzania and despite no longer being it’s capital is home to much of the nation’s administrative infrastructure. It’s the place to fly into from most international destinations and is your gateway to Zanzibar.

How did we get there: A 9 hour bus ride from Mombasa got us here. We then jumped across town and onto a ferry to get us to the place we were staying 5 minutes across the bay.

Where did we stay: We took the ferry from Dar which costs about 30 cents to get across the bay to the strip of beach resorts and tranquil camping places. The Mikadi Beach campsite we ended up at came highly recommended with BYO tent and other accommodation options . It was also a place that numerous safari vans stop at with their groups. The driveway is rather long and dark so be aware of your own security and just jump on a moto or taxi right at the gate just to be on the safe side.

Getting a feed: As soon as we got off our bus from Mombasa we were on the hunt for food and we stumbled across some cheap chicken and chips for 4000 Shillings ($3.30). We’re not going to lie, the street food here is pretty special to be honest combined with the charm of the outdoor setting friendly faces running the stalls.

Unfortunately, we tried to recapture the magic on our final night but most stalls was closed for some reason on a Tuesday. There are plenty of street side restaurants that will give you the normal Tanzanian specials at an unbelievable price.

Out on the town: Our night here was spent at the beach backpackers across the bay and then our final night in Africa back on the mainland was spent getting a haircut, grabbing a feed, a few final Kili’s (the nickname for Kilimanjaro – a local Tanzanian Beer and yes it’s good) and then a night stay at the airport.

@ Stone Town (Zanzibar)
This is definitely one of the gems of Africa. Zanzibar is a much heralded idyllic island and it’s reputation as an island getaway is much deserved. This is an island paradise you must get to, the mix of African and Arabic cultures is something to behold. The tranquillity of Arabic cobbled streets and the groove of African culture meet here to give you an amazing experience.

How did we get there: There are reasonably cheap flights but the best way to get a feel for Zanzibar is to cross the beautiful waters by ferry from the mainland. There are about 4 each way daily, the trip will set you back USD$35-40 for the 2 and half hr trip. There’s not really any point trying to negotiate the prices, you’ll see they are unfair but we got nowhere after numerous attempts and countless hours.

Where did we stay: We rocked up without accommodation. Don’t panic, although year round accommodation is close to fully booked here, the touts will find you with a room. We followed one though the charming alleys of Stone Town to a pretty good place for the 3 of us where we scored a 3 bed room for about USD$12.50 each after a bit of negotiation. Zanzibar is known for high priced rooms so we were happy with this and came with breakfast.

Getting a feed: Where do we start? This place was an island paradise for our taste buds. The daily staple has to be the ‘Zanzibar mix’ which is a spicy soup with some vegetables, spices and meat thrown in. As night falls comes the real challenge at the seafood markets, which are designed for the tourist market. It has a great energy and is a lot of fun with all sorts of seafood available and sales techniques on display. The prices vary a lot and is a whole lot more than what you’d pay at most other local spots. Sample a few treats and take some great photos, but if you are up for a bit more movement on prices head back late at night to try pick off a few bargains as they close up. Across town is a great local market, with sting rays getting cut up on the ground, spices and whatever clothes you might need or just get for the sake of it.

Out on the town: Zanzibar’s drinking spots come in all shapes in sizes from luxurious bars stocked with patrons sipping champagne watching the sunset over the water, to the to local bars stocked with Kili beer, bottles of spirits and patrons still watching the sunset over the crystal clear water. You’ll find some interesting characters around town, but it is definitely a good night out here and the island lifestyle gives life to a pretty relaxed atmosphere to drinking at least at these establishments.

Difficulties: No, you can’t negotiate the ferry price. Despite a thorough search it is pretty hard to do. The tickets are divided into local and foreign classes.

>>> The Amateur Low Down
Highlight: We can’t go past Zanzibar and everything that goes with it. What a way to finish our African experience. We begun in the Arab north in Agadir so it was fitting to finish up in the Arabic influenced Zanzibar. Zanzibar comes with breathtaking beaches, a unique culture and charming cobbled stone streets. Zanzibar posses a culture that is quite different to many on mainland Africa, it’s a place where Arab traders never left, and it was pretty hard for us to take off as well.

Around every corner is a postcard worthy photograph and if you’re like us and love the challenge of getting a bargain price, you’ll find plenty of chances to hone your bargaining skills here.

Biggest Surprise: How much safaris cost. Well it wasn’t a total shock, but it’s the sort of thing you hope you can get for much cheaper when you get there and get locally sourced in the formation. To Tanzania’s credit they have an organised tourism board that ensures environmental and social standards are kept up and give a decent living to locals.

The cost to go on ‘safari’ at Ngoro Ngoro, Serengeti, Masai or any other parts will generally start at USD $160, the disappointing thing is that the daily cost doesn’t seem to drop on longer tours. We didn’t make it out on safari in this part of the world, we had seen the wildlife in other parts of Africa, and along the road, our dodgy cameras didn’t justify another trip out there. If it’s the thing you want to do there are plenty of reputable places to get on a safari when you arrive, just do a bit of shopping around and ask some questions.

One thing you can do to break down a barrier: Ok, so we couldn’t go through this whole time without mentioning one of the biggest shocks in Africa. Albinos in Africa. It was something we never expected and you’re probably reading this thinking we are having a joke. Albinos face discrimination on a number of fronts, some traditional beliefs still mean that Albinos are killed for their body parts. This practice is now outlawed but it remains a major issue for the hundreds of thousands of Albinos in this part of the world. There are an estimated 200,000 Albinos in Tanzania who still suffer from discrimination, although promisingly we also during our time in Africa saw a few on TV as members of Parliament.

10 Reasons your Daughter shouldn’t date us!

We’ve been out of Africa for a while now and as two not particularly eligible bachelors a few things have remained pretty clear – we really wouldn’t be good boyfriend material.

Why? Well, we picked up a few habits from our experiences travelling around Africa.

10 Reasons your Daughter shouldn’t Date Us.

1. If she thinks it’s cute, we’ve probably eaten it. Pets are a no go.

2. Taking her out for dinner will involve choosing something from the roadside. Like these.

3. She’ll never see 5 stars unless she’s outside sleeping under them.

4. We wear the same pair of pants for well over a week without a wash. Easily and often.

5. When faced with a serious situation we might break into laughter. We’ve been arrested in Africa.

6. We’ve handled a range of African toilets. Most with no paper.

7. At the dinner table we may eat with our fingers. It’s better.

8. We’ll often be late for things as we will haggle with as many cab drivers as necessary until we find a price we’re willing to pay.

9. She’ll have to get used to local men offering us other women like their daughters, sisters, strangers and sometimes even wives.

10. We may use sounds such as ‘Hsssssst’ to get her attention instead of saying excuse me.

11. We might try to call her once a month but it’ll be short and we’ll blame a bad connection.

Ok – so we lied. There’s more than 10 reasons your daughter shouldn’t date us but is anyone surprised?

The Top 5 Nightclubs in Africa

Africa’s famous for many things and it’s fair to say that it’s nightlife is not one of them.

We can tell you underestimate Africa’s club scene at your own peril. We’ve covered the continent in and out of bars and here are the top five Nightclubs we came across.

1. Coconuts – Maputo, Mozambique
Coconuts has to be one of the greatest nightclubs in Africa. It has to be one of the greatest nightclubs on the planet. That’s right it’s a big call. But we made it. This is where the rich and famous hang and you’ll see why. It is a massive complex which holds easily over 1,000 party goers, has 3 seperate dancefloors, a pool complete with swim up bars and blasts beats all night right on the beach. It’s open Friday and Saturday nights and it’s where you need to be. If you’re lucky they’ll even have a dancefloor pontoon over the water. Yeah, it’s expensive for this part of the world but if you want to get down – there’s no other place like it.

You’ll find it right on the beach in Maputo here.

2. Black Diamond – Nairobi, Kenya
This place is well, pretty great to be honest. Nairobi boasts perhaps the most developed and enjoyable nightlife scene we came across outside of South Africa and when if you head to the Westlands you’ll be impressed. There are a load of niche like themed lounge bars such as Havana where locals rub shoulder to shoulder with expats. After warming up there the only option you need to consider is right around the corner. It’s name – Black Diamond. It’s one of the best nightclubs we have come across in Africa which combines a nice mix of culture, events and an international crowd.

This is also a favourite place for prostitutes, (no – it’s not our cup of tea but it’s something we thought we should tell you), but from our experience, they’ll be all drinking Heineken so it doesn’t take much to work out who they are. We’re 96% sure they are supplied free by the bar if that helps. Either way they and everyone else there are nice enough and naturally are up for a chat and a booty shake. This place is a must when in Nairobi as you can dance and down quality Kenyan beers until your hearts content.

You’ll find it downtown in Westlands in the city and to help you find it even easier click here.

3. Le Villa – Lome, Togo
Let me guess you’ve never even heard of Togo? You might be surprised to see Lome on the list but this coastal gem has much to offer in terms of nightlife. There are dozens of vibrant street bars, there’s the African cultural centre for live music almost every night and there are a host of swanky bars littered in between. For a big night out that is certain to surprise you – don’t miss Le Villa. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a exclusive location in any western city with it’s ritzy cocktail bar vibe but it’s one of the best places we’ve found in West Africa. It has genuine electronic beats and modern music. You can barely find anything written about it anywhere either which adds to its exclusivity.

We’ll also admit, there’s something a little bit special about sinking shots with UN officials and dancing with members of an EU delegation to the best electro we were able to find but that’s a story for another day…

You’ll find it a few blocks down from ‘Al Donalds’ and we’ll give you the heads up – you’ll need to wear shoes to get it. Yep, that’s right, this was the first place in Africa after 3 months that wouldn’t allow us entry in our thongs (flip flops).

4. House on Fire – Swaziland.
Superior for Southern Africa. You’ll need to ask around but there is a pretty special tiered nightclub somewhere between Lombamba Valley and Mbanbane. Yes – it was so good we rejoiced in mass celebrations and can’t remember where it is or how to get there. Luckily for you, Swaziland is a small place and this club has a big reputation. If you’re even luckier, there’ll be some live entertainment to precede an evening of hectic dance and your hostel will provide a shuttle service. That’s how we rolled as far as we can remember.

5. Lombadi Beach, Accra – Ghana. 
It’s not every day that you can join a beach rave let alone join a reggae beach rave. That’s exactly what you’ll find every Wednesday night down on Lombadi Beach. It’s at the eastern end of town but it’s here where you kick back and feel the reggae rhythm from the comfort of a deck chair while up-an-coming rap star wannabes battle it out live on stage.

Accra is loaded with bars and nightlife and we spent most of our time in the district of Osu, where you can find plenty of ‘ spots’ (the local term for bar), including Ryan’s and Duplex, both well known amongst international students.

We can’t not mention Ghana’s Holy Grail though – the street side bars in Accra offer value like nowhere else. We’re talking about Lissie’s to be precise on Oxford Street. Here you can grab local gin in a 50ml satchel for 30 pesewas which is about 15 Euro cents along with whatever mixers take your fancy. It may just be the cheapest alcohol we’ve ever come across. Jackpot.

What just missed the cut?
The capital of Mali, Bamako is unlucky to miss out as it is jam packed with great places to get your groove on such as Bla Bla Bar, Le Byblos and if you want to get hands on with the Malian music scene check out Djemba Djemba for karaoke jam sessions that you can join in on. We’ll give you a tip though – don’t upstage the old guitar hero, he may just unplug you.

We’ll also give The Gambia’s Senegambia Strip a mention. Just because it’s like a different World. Bars, Clubs, Prostitutes and European ladies with young local guys to go with the local reggae scene and trading beer for drugs if you’re that way inclinded. It’s always happy hour on the Senegambia strip, it’s full of touts and you’ll soon become a pro at working out how best to fend them off. Wednesday night is ladies night at Wow nightclub (Afrika Queen) and it brings in a pretty diverse crowd which makes for a fun night out. If you’re pale guys who can’t dance like us – don’t embarass yourself on the dancefloor. These guys here can and will dance you right back to your seat.