africa in review…

all in all I ended up spending about one and a half months in Africa. initially I had planned on seeing Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, but in the end I never got to Uganda, although I did add Ethiopia in there. I had great expectations for Africa. for me, in so many ways, it seemed like it would be the final frontier. I though it would be the most hardcore part of the journey and that I would see things there like I had never seen before. in some ways that is true, the safaris I went on were absolutely incredible and I saw an unbelievable amount of animals etc. this was definitely the highlight of east Africa.

I’ll have to admit though, that other than the safaris that I went on, I was a bit disappointed in Africa. I mean, yeah, I still had a good time of course, it did have a lot to offer, but I cant say that I felt as excited or passionate about it as I had Asia, India, or the middle east. it definitely wasn’t as crazy of an adventure as I hoped it would be. Africa was good… but it wasn’t spectacular. for one thing, I think maybe part of the problem was that it was expensive. it wasn’t nearly as expensive as Europe or Japan, but it was much more expensive than Asia, and I don’t really think that this high cost was warranted. honestly, the hotels, restaurants, etc were not any better than Asia (if not actually worse) yet they were often 4 or 5 times the cost. because of this high expense, I wasn’t able to do quite as much stuff here as I hoped. safaris were crazy expensive, climbing Kilimanjaro was crazy expensive, diving was crazy expensive. in the end, I had to avoid all these activities because of the price tag, whereas in Asia I did as much as I pleased. plus, in Asia I often felt like I could get a lot out of it without even doing any activities, whereas here I felt like unless I was on safari or whatnot, I wasn’t sure what to do.

I don’t know why this is so. how can Africa get away with charging so much for everything? Africa is less developed than say Thailand, yet they charge way more. I think maybe part of the problem is that Africa is far. it’s far to travel to, and flights to get there are expensive. this keeps a lot of budget travelers away. most of the people that come here are probably rather well off if they can afford the expensive tickets and can afford the expensive safaris, so the hotels feel like they can easily charge huge prices since their customers can afford it.

and in other ways… often I got the feeling like these places just didn’t care about business. I’m not sure why. waiters at restaurants would do a crappy job, or mess up your order w/ no apology. hotels would screw you over, and when you tell them you’re leaving and wouldn’t give them business, they just shrug. it really seemed like they didn’t care whether you came or went. the prices would be huge, the hotel would be empty, but they would still rather you just walk away than give you a discount. it’s very bizarre.

plus, the food there was not very good. in some ways, food might not be the most important part of visiting a place, but still, I love good food and I love trying new kinds of food as I travel. when you spend day after day of eating stuff that’s boring, it gets to you after a while.

the exception to my Africa experience was Ethiopia. Ethiopia was like it’s own world, and completely different than east Africa. I had decided to add Ethiopia in at the last minute, and I’m so glad I did. out of the 3 African countries, this is where I felt like I was really living an adventure. here I was really traveling off the beaten path and seeing things that were really uncommon. seeing all the different tribes and how they lived was incredibly fascinating.

through my trip, I’ve seen a lot of villages. most countries have tours where they take you to a village to see “village life”, but unfortunately often you kind of feel like this little village was practically set up just to be shown to tourists. it was hard to see if this was how the people really lived. not in Ethiopia. there I *really* felt like I was out in the middle of nowhere. people out there really lived a completely different life, and it was hardly influenced or even touched by the outside world. these people still followed traditions that have been handed down for centuries, still lived in their tribal ways, and were still often surprised to see foreigners.

the people of Ethiopia were really friendly and interesting, and I really enjoyed interacting with them. all the children that would come running out while screaming “you!you!you!” were so cute and funny. yeah, almost everyone we met asked us for money… but I really never got the feeling like this was all they wanted. I think they just figured they may as well ask since lots of foreigners might give them a handout. but once they asked, and we said no, they would still continue to talk with us and were genuinely interested in interacting.

Ethiopia was definitely difficult travel. the hardest so far I’d say. horrible roads, dirty hotels, no running water, etc etc… but all these adversities actually made it all that more interesting. I don’t like taking the easy route. it´s always the difficult path that is most rewarding.

so that’s it for Africa. too bad I only saw 3 countries. I still really want to go to Uganda, and see the gorillas. I would love to go to Zimbabwe and Sudan, two countries that, the more I hear about them, the more interesting they sound. I guess there’s always a next time.

now let’s see what South America has in store for me…


7 thoughts on “africa in review…”

  1. I wonder if Ethiopia seems the most authentic and still has tribes living tribal lives because Ethiopia was never colonized. Actually, now that I write that, it seems like a no-brainer… The damned West ruined Africa…

  2. Vlad, interesting to read your comments on Africa. I suspect many of my impressions and feelings would have been similar, esp. about the cost after coming from Asia and India. The ppl not caring about business sounds a lot like Laos–one guy shrugged and sat down to watch TV when I told him I was leaving his hotel because there was no water! Sounds like you had a great time in Ethiopia, and found some of the more authentic villages and interactions I searched for for months. Ah, next time…

  3. yeah, the lackadaisical attitude towards business really is shocking to me. especially when there are so many people out of work and it erally seems like a lot of the businesses are hurting for money… yet, they really dont care about customer service to the point where even if the customer leaves, they still cant be bothered. people have an appaling attitude towards customers, and then wonder why toursim is down or why the economy isn´t doing too well.

  4. You forget Fascist Italia was there. Everyone says Ciao for hello and goodbye in Addis Ababa.

  5. It’s impossible to know whether you’re really going to love a place, y’know? It’s so unpredictable. I mean, I was *so* psyched on going to France; hell, I’d wanted to go to France for days. But when I got there, I was so completely disappointed. It left such a bad taste in my mouth – so bad, in fact, that I dunno if I’ll ever go back. And it wasn’t the scenery, the food, the expense, or the activities – it was the experience as a whole, which was totally tainted by my repeated *negative* experiences with the locals. It’s interesting what an impact those kinds of interactions can have, huh?

    And then there’s Laos. Honestly, I wasn’t totally enthused about going. It’s not that I was disinterested in going, so much as I didn’t know enough to have an opinion on the matter… or enough to educate myself about the country. And it turned out to totally rock! And I’m not just talking about the good company either. I just found the people so positively enchanting – they were soooo nice, and it really made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Heh. 🙂

  6. dude, i think you should totally give france another chance. i´vge really enjoyed it every time i´ve gone, and especially liked it the last time i was there. most of the people i interacted w/ were pretty nice too. i guess a lot of it might come down to luck and to who you meet. i didnt have too good of a time in budapest, because i felt like everyone there was unfriendly.. yet i´ve talked to others who said that hungarians are really nice, which totally surprised me.

    i think people will disagree on the friendliness of people pretty much anywhere… well, maybe anywhere other than russia.. seems like everyone agrees that it´s difficult to have friendly interactions there!

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