Africa

Overland truck tours in Africa – not the ordinary tour experience

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Those of us used to travelling in Africa are likely to have seen trucks full of (usually) western tourists. That’s a fairly popular way of getting around Africa. Typical to overland truck tours is:

  • Trucks specifically fitted to sustain rough roads and carry passenger, equipment and luggage
  • Tours may last weeks, sometimes even months
  • Tours cover more than one country
  • Tours end at a different place (and country) than the starting point
  • Many tours are planned to minimise costs (e.g. camping)

Most overland tours take place in Southern Africa. East Africa is another hotspot. A few operators offer tours also in Northern or Western Africa. The most popular route is arguably from Cape Town via Namibia and Botswana to Victoria falls, this itinerary takes usually around 20 days. 

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Dakar Rally, will it ever return back?

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Each January starts with the famous endurance racing event Dakar Rally. Far from its roots, the event has been held in South America for several years now. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the event is in South America to stay.

Competed since 1979, the event was traditionally flagged off in Paris, France, and finished in Dakar, the Senegalese capital. Most competitive stages would be deep into Saharan deserts, though. In the 90’s the competition started  experimenting different routes, but in most cases the podium stayed in Dakar. Formerly known as Paris-Dakar rally, the name was later shortened to its current form “Dakar Rally”.

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Planning to visit the center point of Africa? Not an easy task, wherever it is

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Where is the center of Africa? Before the question can be answered, a method how to define the center has to be selected, and secondly, define what actually are the borders of the continent. Both issues may be widely debatable. This blog post provides examples of possible center points of Africa, using few simple methods. In this case only continental Africa has been selected as the borders of the continent, so islands are not counted in.

Africa_points
A map showing proposed central points Africa, as well as geographic extremes of the continent. Explanation to numbered center points:            1. Pole of inaccessibility;   2. intersection of lines connecting extremes of continental Africa;   3. center of a box enclosing continental Africa;   4. Central continental point along the equator

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Pope tours Africa, but Dalai Lama won’t be visiting anytime soon

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Pope Francis has been on African tour this week, getting an ecstatic welcome by Kenyans and Ugandans, as both countries have large Catholic population, as well as other Christian denominations.

An African visit by another notable religious leader, Dalai Lama, seems much less likely nowadays. That has nothing to with religion, nor the fact that few Buddhists live in Africa. It is all about politics, namely Chinese influence in Africa. China will strongly oppose any attempts by Dalai Lama to visits China’s partner states in Africa. These countries, largely dependent on China-relations, will most likely heed to the Chinese advise.

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Addis Ababa paves the way for Sub-Saharan urban rail

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Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, has now an operating light rail system. The first line commenced operations on September 20, 2015, while second line is still under construction. The significance of this rail system should not be undermined, given this is not Europe where every large city has effective public transport system.

Almost every large city in Africa suffers from heavy traffic, and transport systems are nothing short of chaotic. Addis Ababa has now shown that brand new rail infrastructure can be built within a densely built city. The next challenge is it to be an operational success.

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All Africa Games were held this year, but did you know it?

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All-Africa Games could be described as the “Olympics of Africa”, being a multi-sport event which (supposedly) draws all the best sportsmen and -women from all over the continent. The 12th edition of All-Africa Games were just concluded in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The same city hosted the first event back in 1965. Brazzaville is the second city to host the Games twice, after Algiers, which acted as the host in 1978 and 2007. All Africa Games has been in almost all cases is the biggest sporting event ever held in the hosting country.

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Western countries lead the World Economic Forum’s tourism ranking

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The World Economic Forum has published the 2015 edition of its  biennial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report. The ranking is dominated by western countries, the top three positions are taken by Spain, France and Germany. The best African country is South Africa, 48th, thus just making the top-50. Seychelles, Mauritius and Namibia are the only other African countries reaching the upper half of the table (TOP 70). Instead, the bottom 25 has 19 African countries, and that includes Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique that are actually fairly popular with tourists. The last place (141) is taken by Chad.

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