Thirty Travel Memories Part 2 – Africa

Has cabin fever set in yet? I know it has for me and I can’t wait for when I can be out again discovering new local spots and hidden gems. I think international travel is still far away so let’s rather get stuck into our second part of Maryam Bibi Rumaney’s “Thirty Travel Memories”. This time we head to Africa. Close to home yet so undiscovered. Post lockdown we really should all make an effort to travel within our continent and in so doing revive our suffering economy. Meanwhile, enjoy today’s armchairs travel.

Part 2 – Africa

13. Mauritius
We tied the knot in May 2015 and headed off two days later to magical Mauritius. I loved the island experience. The resort was stunning, resembling long beach in the States, and as we were newly married, we savoured the honeymoon package. We were given gifts (sarongs and matching t-shirts) and a lot of extra spoils like a candlelight dinner on the beach, a spa-type rose bath and one breakfast on the balcony in our room. We had a room that overlooked the ocean and enjoyed waking up to the sound of the sea. Breakfast is the highlight of my day, and this resort offered absolutely everything you could imagine from pancakes to a variety of frozen yoghurts. You are facing the ocean as you eat. Absolutely relaxing!

My husband loves his seaside activities and suggested that we go parasailing. Off we went. To begin, a speedboat takes you to the middle of the ocean, to a platform where you get strapped into your parachute. Next, the speedboat pulls you off the platform and you get lifted into the air. The views were magnificent. However, our speedboat stopped abruptly and we landed in the water (this was not supposed to happen). I reckoned this is abort mission, but my husband was determined to get his video, so off we went for another try. Whenever we watch this video, we still have a laugh and a half, as ours was the only speedboat to have dropped us into the ocean.

14. Nsanje, Malawi
My work has taken me all over, and what I value most is my trips off the beaten track. I used to support a project in Nsanje, a little village in the South of Malawi. This little village would become extremely hot in the summertime, where no warm water is required when taking a shower. It gets so warm, that the cold water feels lukewarm when it touches your body. Fond memories of Nsanje include coffee at dusk in a tiny café in the market and shopping for local fabric to bring home. Years later, I finally had this fabric sewn into a dress. To have experiences based on what the locals do is how I prefer to travel and gather my memories. Visiting Malawi during the mango season is a must! You can buy mangoes from local plantations that are the size of a papaya.

15. Thyolo, Malawi
Another gem, in the South of Malawi, can be found in a region called Thyolo. This region is known for its tea estates and plantations. You can book a high tea and marvel at the beauty of the lush plantations. On my numerous visits to Malawi, I have always asked the driver to stop so that I can snap a few pics. There are so many hidden jewels on our African continent, just waiting to be explored.

16. Noordhoek, South Africa
It was my husband’s birthday, and per our tradition, we each put in leave and spend the day together. I booked a two-night stay at a resort in Noordhoek. This resort had good reviews, each room was a log-cabin, boasting stunning views of the ocean and mountain. We thoroughly enjoyed the amenities on offer. However, I have this intense phobia of dogs and was unaware that the resort had two onsite canines. The first morning at breakfast I was greeted by one of the dogs and had a crazy moment where I ended up on the table screaming. My husband requested that they please hold the dog back, and all was well in my world. Now, this resort does not offer room service at all, but as a favour for my distress, they offered us a scrumptious breakfast in the comfort of our cabin, overlooking the ocean. All’s well, that ends well.

17. Livingston, Zambia
I was once invited to a meeting hosted on the Zambezi river. What struck we most was the beauty of the Victoria falls, each side (Zambia vs Zimbabwe) painting a different picture. Since delegates stayed at a hotel on the Zambezi River, we were afforded complimentary access to the Zambian side of the falls. On one free afternoon, I, along with a few other delegates, crossed over to the Zimbabwean side. It felt so momentous to be walking across the border, another first for me. I had never walked from one country, and into another.

18. Inhaca Island, Mozambique
A work escape took me to Maputo. I found myself there for 16 days and landed a public holiday somewhere in between. For the long weekend, I decided to head to Inhaca Island. From Maputo, you head to the docks and take a ferry to the Island. My accommodation consisted of a resort where all rooms where huts. This was my first experience of this sort. I only ate seafood, from huge prawns to lobster. Wonderful flavours, and fresh offerings straight from the sea. This island offered pristine beaches, no ATM machines and low tide at full moon. This meant that you could cross part of the ocean by foot to reach the centre of town. Interestingly, this island was safe and I thoroughly enjoyed the unique experience.

Sunset on Inhaca Island

19. Garden Route, South Africa
Our first road trip with our son took us up the Garden Route. We ventured from our home to Cape Agulhas, Mossel Bay, Arniston, Outshoorn and all the way to George. Our son was four months old and we were pleasantly surprised as to how well he adapted. Ending up in George, and staying at a Villa in Fancourt was the highlight of the trip. On the food side, along the road, most of the major take-out places were Halaal. In George, we managed to get Halaal offerings at the local Woolworths.

20. Durban, South Africa
Durban in July is a wonderful way to escape the Cape Winter and get some Vitamin D. It has a tropical climate, offering favourable temperatures when the rest of the country is cold. Our preference is booking accommodation within walking distance to the beach. We love waking up to the sound of the sea and being able to overlook the ocean at breakfast. In terms of Halaal dining options, Durban has loads on offer. Heading down to Gateway mall, there is a strip of eateries on the outside of the shopping complex. Whatever the craving, from Indian to Portuguese, you will not be disappointed. My memorable foodie experience was having soji at a Pakistani restaurant. Having tried the food and dessert selection, it comes as no surprise as to why this place is always packed.

21. Paternoster, South Africa
One year for my birthday we took a family of three escape to Paternoster. Interestingly, we found it quite difficult to book accommodation here, as most properties and hotels do not allow kids under 12. However, after a long search, we managed to book a place that was right opposite the beach and had sea views. Since May is an off-peak season, we were able to enjoy the serenity that this coastal town had to offer. There were hardly any bothersome dogs on the beach, and the weather was not too bad. We were able to enjoy fresh seafood and truly had a relaxing mid-week break. It reinforces the hidden gems that are closest to home.

22. Antananarivo, Madagascar
For many years I had volunteered as a student at a medical organisation that provides global relief to under-resourced communities. I was awarded the opportunity to attend a mission in Madagascar as a student educator. My role was to assist in educating the parents about the operations and to visit schools and orphanages, where we taught basic burn and wound care, and oral hygiene. In a country so poor, and a region so underdeveloped, I highly doubted that I would be able to find Halaal food. Interestingly, the team was able to find a Halaal Indian restaurant and other eateries were quite well-versed on their understanding of vegetarianism. In terms of food items, Madagascar is known for their vanilla, and needless to say, I brought home quite a bit of pure vanilla pods.

Seafood dish in Madagascar

Were you transported to Africa in your armchair? Leave a comment if you’re enjoying our travel posts. Look out next week for Maryam’s next set of travel memories from Europe & USA.

By Maryam Bibi Rumaney
Maryam is a molecular scientist by profession with a passion for writing. She currently works as a freelance consultant offering laboratory advisory, scientific editing, and English language services. She loves to travel and is always looking for the next adventure. Connect with her at http://www.mbrumaney.co/

Read Part 1 of this series here: Thirty Travel Memories Part 1 – The East

You may also enjoy our recent article: Armchair Travel to Morocco.


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