I don’t know about you, but I’m desperate for a holiday. I am a self-diagnosed travelling addict. As I sit back to think about my next destination (once the pandemic does one), I started to question why I hadn’t travelled to Africa since I was a child. I’m planning a big blow out holiday for my 40th birthday and not once had I considered picking an African country as my potential destination.
In this healing journey, I’m coming to term with just how much systemic racism has conditioned me. Ask yourself this. Has Africa always been a desirable destination of travel for you? The majority will say no – the statistics tell me so.
In 2018, there were 1.401 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide – only 62.7m of those travellers branched to Africa which is a poor 4.5%. 4.5%!! I know many people who travel to Africa regularly, and I’d always tell myself I’d also get booking soon, but it’s a destination that has always taken second place to either Europe, the US or South America. I’m not going to beat myself up about this revelation (even though I want to).
I decided to do some research on Google to see what came up when I searched ‘Holidays to Africa’. I was inundated with the typical destinations – Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Cape Verde, South Africa, Seychelles and Gambia. But what about Ghana (my home country), Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Zambia? Even Kenya wasn’t massively promoted by the main tour operators. These are truer examples of the Africa I identify with. Was the lack of African promotion the reason I’d subconsciously put Africa to the side? Man! Conditioning is a bitch.
How can I, a proud African, and a prolific traveller, have fallen foul to Western anti-Africanness? Affordability is not an issue for me – I’m a second hand buyer, just so that I am able to travel where I please. I’ve marked my words, here and now. No more would I shun my beautiful Africa. I can see just how much I’m on my own journey to unlearning. The definition of conditioning is “the process of training or accustoming a person or animal to behave in a certain way or to accept certain circumstances.” Reversing this ‘training’ is not an overnight job. What I have absorbed as an orphan of Africa will take time and effort but I am committed.
Below I have featured three African countries that I intend to travel to over the next five years: Ghana, Kenya and Zambia.
Ghana “Warrior King” is situated in West Africa. Although relatively small in area and population, Ghana is one of the leading countries of Africa, partly because of its considerable natural wealth and partly because it was the first black African country south of the Sahara to achieve independence from colonial rule.
My highlighted attractions
Kakum National Park
This beautiful National Park of protected rainforest, is home to an assortment of wild residents, including forest elephants, giant hogs, flying squirrels, leopards and various species of monkey.
Elmina Castle is a white-washed Medieval Castle on the coast of Ghana. It was the first – and for many centuries – the largest, European building constructed in tropical Africa. Yet its grandeur, as well as its picturesque surroundings with blue skies, sandy beaches, and tropical palms, disguise a dark history. Elmina Castle was the last place that thousands of African slaves would ever see of their homeland. Many horrors transpired within the walls of the fortress, which have never been erased by time.
Wli Waterfalls also called Agumatsa Falls (meaning Allow me to flow”), is the highest water fall in West Africa and is a popular and dramatic tourist site near the village of Wli. The falls and its surrounding areas feature thousands of fruit bats nesting high up on the nearby cliffs, 200 bird species, 400 butterfly species as well as stunning pools.
Kenya is located in East Africa and is famed for its scenic landscapes and vast wildlife preserves.
Masai Mara National Reserve
This iconic reserve is home to wildebeest as they migrate during late summer months. Big cats such as lions and leopards also call the area their abode.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Famous for thousands upon thousands of flamingos that congregate in the shallow areas of the lake, Nakuru also has plenty of other bird species, as well as warthogs, baboons, giraffes, and re-introduced rhinos (both white and black).
Connect with local people
There are many opportunities to visit local communities and schools in Kenya. There are operators who can arrange trips to connect with Kenya’s beautiful nationals.
Zambia is located in southern Africa. The country boasts natural wonders, an abundance of wildlife, huge water bodies and vast open spaces.
The falls, known by the locals as Mosi Oa Tunya – The Smoke That Thunders, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and holds the title of the world’s largest waterfall. The falls is habitat for several unique species of plants and animals and is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
South Luangwa National Park
South Luangwa National Park in eastern Zambia, the southernmost of three national parks in the valley of the Luangwa River, is a world-renowned wildlife haven. Concentrations of game along the meandering Luangwa River and its lagoons are amongst the most intense in Africa. The river teems with hippo and crocodile and provides a lifeline for one of the greatest diversities of habitat and wildlife, supporting more than 60 species of mammals and over 400 species of birds.
Kabwata Cultural Village
This is the meaning of shopping local! This authentic village is a popular open-air market visited by tourists. It comprises thatch-roofed huts and stalls by local tradespeople selling carvings, baskets, masks, drums, fabrics and more.
Sending love and light always x