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Retracing Slavery in Ghana

Retracing slavery in Ghana

Crumbling colonial buildings and half-built concrete blocks jostle for space alongside congested and pockmarked sidewalks. Corrugated-roofed slums and hundreds of fishing boats dot the rubbish-strewn beach. The choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean slam against the rocky coastline where centuries-old slave forts still stand today. Jamestown, the oldest and poorest area of Accra, is a […]

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Spirits and Spells: Voodoo Culture in Benin

Voodoo culture in Benin

Mention the word ‘voodoo’ and most people conjure images of dolls riddled with nails, and spooky witches casting spells on the innocent. So did I — until my recent trip to West Africa, the birthplace of voodoo. As I learned on this journey, voodoo isn’t some black magic or evil witchcraft as portrayed in Hollywood […]

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From Slavery to Voodoo: My Journey into the Heart of West Africa

West Africa

For a long time, travel to West Africa was restricted — due to civil wars, tribal conflicts, terrorism and the ebola outbreak. Today, this is the world’s poorest region, with many countries here occupying the lowest positions in the UN Human Development Index. A large percentage of people here survive on barely $20 a month. For travelers, […]

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40 Photos of Cape Verde that Will Make You Want to Go There Now

Photos of Cape Verde

Not many people have heard of Cape Verde.  Since reading about it in a magazine a few years ago, I’ve been absolutely intrigued by it. How did a small archipelago nation with so little natural resources become one of the most economically stable countries in Africa? And being so remote and isolated from other countries, […]

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Faces of Gambia

Friendly Gambian

When I think back about Gambia, my mind goes straight to the people. Their warm smiles. Their friendly greetings and their genuine hospitality. It may be cliché to say “it’s the people who make a place” but my experience in Gambia was truly shaped by the people I met along the way. Everywhere I went, I […]

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Video: The Sounds of Tamala Africa Percussion Troupe, The Gambia

Dancing with full focus

I hear the infectious beat of the drums before I see them. A raucous mix of polyphonic rhythms and dramatic melodies blasts through the iron gates. We enter the family compound and find an 18-member band erupting into a cacophony of roaring percussion beats: the rattling of the tambourine, the tinkle of the balaphone and the beat of the West African djembe drums. The players pulse […]

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Street Art in the Village of Kubuneh, Gambia

Street art in Kubuneh

During a river excursion in Makasutu Forest, I hopped on a pirogue (wooden dugout canoe) with my guide Amado and paddled on a tributary of River Gambia. Our boat ride brought us through patchworks of red mangroves and past little thatched huts to arrive at Kubuneh, a village just a few miles away from Mandina Lodges. […]

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Gambia’s Makasutu Forest: Baboons, Rural Villages and Street Art

Makasutu Forest from above

It is barely dawn in the Makasutu Forest. I’m awakened by the chirping of birds, the chattering of the crabs and the distant cries of baboons. The natural symphony echoes from within the forest and mangroves surrounding me and the water beneath my feet. I step outside of my floating bungalow and the musky, tropical air hits me. Electric pink rays splash across the […]

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Highlights of Gambia: from River Safaris to Fishing Villages

Mandina Lodge

I recently returned from a short jaunt to the Gambia with vivid memories of West Africa and very new perspectives of the region. The Gambia Experience gave me a taste of what West Africa has to offer — but it definitely left me with the urge and curiosity to explore more of the region. From the inland […]

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Photoblog: Flamingos and Rhinos at Lake Nakuru

Flamingos taking off

By the time we arrived at Lake Nakuru in Kenya, we had already seen many of the big animals of Africa in the Masai Mara including lions, elephants, buffalos, hippos and even cheetahs. But we’d yet to see all of the Big Five, with just the leopard and rhino missing from our list. Here on the shores of Lake […]

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Digging Deeper: Meeting Locals at Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

The lake from above

On my recent East Africa trip, the biggest surprise for me was Lake Bunyonyi, a stunning part of Africa that I never knew existed. Sprawling across the Rwandan border in southern Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi was a breathe of fresh air after the dry, dusty savannas of Kenya: Emerald hills rose vertically from the shores of the lake, with beautiful terraces cut […]

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Keeping Cultures Alive: the Masai People of Masai Mara

The Masai perform the jumping dance

“Welcome to our home,” announces Sam, our Masai guide for the day. We are here in a village tucked within the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The Masai (also spelled as Maasai) are a semi-nomadic people from East Africa who are known for their unique way of life as well as their cultural traditions and customs. Living across the arid lands […]

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On Safari in Kenya: Lions, Cheetahs and the Annual Migration at the Masai Mara Reserve

Wildebeest

Over thousands of wildebeests and zebras sprawl across the vast grasslands, peppering the landscape that runs for miles into the horizon. We’ve seen them before – but now to see them in such big numbers is just impressive. As we drive further along the rolling hills and surprisingly green fields, the sheer sight of the thousands of animals before us leaves us silent in awe. […]

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Gorilla Tracking in Uganda — Part II: Intense Encounters

The eyes of the silverback

A loud grunting sound suddenly echoes through the jungle. With the trackers in the lead, we move downhill, past moss-covered logs and over thick ferns, towards a clearing. There, an enormous silverback sits regally, as if on his throne, munching his way through leaves and branches, blithely ignoring our presence. Through the dangling vines and banana leaves, I can see […]

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Gorilla Tracking in Uganda — Part I: The First Sighting

Up close with a gorilla in Bwindi

The walkie-talkie crackles. Our guide Benjamin listens intently and whispers back in the local Rukiga language. “We’ve found the gorillas. A male and a female. They are just ahead,” he announces. “Are you ready?” We drop our bags and proceed in silence through the thick and wet jungle with nothing more than our cameras. Even our porters have left […]

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