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VOL. 5 · NO. 1, July 2017

Journal of Globerovers Productions · GR

GlobeRovers Feature Article

10 Morocco - Atlas to the Atlantic

Morocco is best known as an exotic location as portrayed in Hollywood movies filmed here at its authentic souks (markets), deserts, oases, mountains, beaches, and elaborate kasbahs. Many of Morocco’s highlights can be found between the High Atlas Mountains in the east, and the beaches along the Atlantic Coast in the west. Come with us as we explore the High Atlas, souks of Marrakech, kasbahs, Islamic architecture, and the coastline.

ARTICLES

ARTICLES

78 Lapland - Norway, Sweden, Finland

SPECIAL FEATURES 126 Sensible Travel Gear 140 Tasty Traveller’s Treats

Roaming reindeer, traditional Sámi people, the home of Santa Claus, the midnight sun, and the painted night skies of the Aurora Borealis. This is a vast arctic area known as Sápmi, which stretches across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The feeling is almost surreal when you are on top of the world!

128 Georgia of the Caucasus

Take a walk on the wild side of the Caucasus region. Tucked in between Russia and Turkey and including Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Black Sea as neighbours, Georgia is not quite European, and not quite Asian. The exotic mixture of influences is evident in its culture, architecture, and cuisines.

162 Vanuatu - Mystic South Pacific Islands

With a history of cannibalism and murdered missionaries, the South Pacific island of Vanuatu is a peaceful place nowadays, where one can enjoy unspoiled nature, diving, snorkelling, local tribes, active volcanoes, black sand beaches, dimly-lit kava bars, and friendly locals eager to make new Facebook buddies.

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CONTRIBUTIONS Village Life: Gansbaai, South Africa Long Road to Shwesandaw, Myanmar Bay of Fundy, Canada The Animal-Friendly Traveller Super Traveller Spotlight Traveller Spotlights Book Reviews

56 96 142 188

TOP LISTS 10 Experiences in Morocco 10 Excitements in Lapland 13 Travel Tweeps to Follow 7 Future Travel Destinations

189 IN THE NEXT ISSUE

Traveller Memorabilia to Envy

PHOTO ESSAYS 60 Portugal’s Remote Azores Islands 150 Picturesque Lake Bled, Slovenia 172 Thailand’s Monkey-Temple Buffet Old lighthouse in Cite Portugaise, El Jadida, Morocco

In the next issue of Globerovers Magazine, we talk with a married couple who has visited every country in the world. During their past 48 years of travel, they have compiled an incredible assembly of ethnographic items which would be the envy of the world’s most prestigious museums! 1


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Globerovers ¡ July 2017


Editor‛s Message “Not all those who wander are lost”. J.R.R. Tolkien

John Tolken (3 Jan 1892 – 2 Sep 1973), an English writer, poet, philologist, university professor, and author of ‘The Hobbit’, and ‘Lord of the Rings’.

Dear Readers, ON THE COVER:

Berber man, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco

Globerovers Magazine

is currently a biannual magazine, available in digital and printed formats. We focus on bringing exciting destinations and inspiring photography from around the globe to the intrepid traveller. Published in Hong Kong Printed in U.S.A. WHO WE ARE: Editor-in-Chief - Peter Steyn Editorial Consultant - Tsui Chi Ho Graphic Designer - Peter Steyn Photographer & Writer - Peter Steyn Proofreader - Janet-Lynn Vorster Advertising - Lizzy Chitlom FOLLOW US: www.globerovers-magazine.com www.globerovers.com facebook.com/GloberoversMag pinterest.com/globerovers twitter.com/globerovers instagram.com/globerovers CONTACT US: editor@globerovers.com

In this ninth issue of Globerovers Magazine, we are pleased to bring you a variety of exciting destinations and other reading enjoyment. The feature destination is Morocco, from the Atlas Mountains on the fringe of the Sahara Desert, to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. We start our journey in the remote mountainous region of Gorges du Todgha and Gorges du Dadès, which are connected by an endless rugged mountain road which passes through the village of Agoudal. We then travel through Aït Benhaddou, cross over the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech, and then descend to the cool coastal retreats of Essaouira, Safi, and El Jadida. We visit Lapland (northern Norway, Sweden and Finland), South Africa, Georgia in the Caucasus, and we also retrieve Vanuatu photos from the archives. We have Photo Essays of Portugal’s remote Azores Islands, Lake Bled in Slovenia, and Thailand’s Monkey-Temple Buffet. A special thank you to our sponsors and also to our contributors who we introduce on page 5. A very special word of thanks to Janet-Lynn Vorster, our chief contributor and proofreader, for her meticulous work. Please connect with us on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, and visit us at www.globerovers-magazine.com. For easy access, scan the QR Codes on page 7. Feedback: editor@globerovers.com. I travel so you can see the world!

Peter Steyn PhD

Editor-in-Chief and Publisher All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of this magazine is strictly prohibited without the prior written approval of the publisher. The publisher does not take responsibility for any potential inaccurate information herein.

THE FRONT COVER The Berber people of ksar (fortified village) Aït Benhaddou have been living in their adobe homes along the caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech for ages. Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, several families still live in the old kasbahs. 3


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Thanks to our Contributors

CONTRIBUTORS In this issue

A very special thank you to our awesome contributors to this issue. Without you, Globerovers Magazine just won’t be the same! Thanks!

Janet-Lynn Vorster, Cape Town, South Africa (page 100)

Janet is a numerologist by profession, and journalist, editor and photographer by hobby. She is the proud mother of three grown children and granny to three grandchildren. Janet is the Southern African editor as well as chief proofreader for Globerovers Magazine.

Beth Sharpe, Toronto, Canada (page 178)

Beth is the communications director for World Animal Protection in Canada. An avid traveller, she is always looking for animal-friendly ways to view wildlife. Top trips include whale watching on Canada’s coasts, snorkelling in Tahiti, Belize and the Caribbean, supporting a dog vaccination clinic in the Philippines, and bird watching in Costa Rica.

Jonathan MAister, Toronto, Canada (page 160)

Jonathan is a Canadian-based writer who has travelled extensively, particularly in Canada. His areas of interest are ecology and history, and he makes a point of including these elements in his writing. He is also immersed in the sports medicine world as a therapist, and has contributed extensively in that domain as a lecturer and author.

Nathan James Thomas, Auckland, New Zealand (page 144)

Nathan is originally from New Zealand, but has spent much of the last few years of his life travelling in Europe and Asia, and at the time of writing is based in Shanghai. He is the founder of IntrepidTimes.com, where he shares stories from his travels and interviews other writers.

Linda Ballou, Los Angeles, CA, USA (page 186)

Adventure travel writer, Linda has rafted, kayaked and horseback ridden through pristine wilderness areas around the globe. Her collection of travel essays, “Lost Angel Walkabout”, is filled with thrills, chills, and giggles, and lets you experience the great outdoors without getting altitude sickness or tipping your canoe. www.LindaBallouAuthor.com

Juan Gallardo, Yangon, Myanmar (Page 148)

Juan is a born adventurer from the Spanish city of Seville and has lived in the UK, the US and Europe. Juan first visited Myanmar in 2012 and has been living in Yangon since 2014. He is passionate about photography and Burmese cuisine, which he captures in his book: “Delicious Myanmar – Discover Myanmar through its people and food”.

Additional Contributors:

A very special thanks to our interviewees in the “Travellers in the Spotlight” section, Henrik Jeppesen (Denmark), Fabio Buonsanti (Italy), and Jasmin Kunz (Germany). Thanks also to our authors Janna Graber and Mat Dry for their book interviews.

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The Globerovers‛ World Globerovers Magazine was created by Peter Steyn, an avid explorer who is constantly in search of the edge of the world. He will always hike the extra mile or ten to get as far off the beaten track as he can. It is his mission to discover and present the most exciting destinations for intrepid travellers. He has visited 118 countries (including territories: Greenland, Hong Kong, and Macau) and is poised to explore Africa & North Korea in the coming months. Peter’s home is wherever he lays down his cameras.

Afghanistan Albania Andorra Argentina Armenia Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahrain Bangladesh Belarus Belgium Belize Bolivia Bosnia-Herzegovina Brazil Brunei Bulgaria Cambodia Canada Chile China Colombia Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Czech Rep. Denmark Ecuador Egypt 6

Globerovers · July 2017

El Salvador Estonia Finland France Georgia Germany Greece Greenland Guatemala Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg

Macau Malaysia Maldives Malta Mauritius Mexico Moldova Monaco Montenegro Morocco Myanmar / Burma Namibia Nepal Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Norway Oman Pakistan Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Romania Russia San Marino Serbia

Singapore Slovakia Slovenia South Africa South Korea Spain Sri Lanka Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Thailand Timor Leste (East Timor) Turkey Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vatican Vietnam Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe 118 and counting...


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AZORES, PORTUGAL Page 60

CANADA Page 160

MOROCCO Page 10

DESTINATIONS IN THIS ISSUE 8

Globerovers · July 2017


Use a QR reader on your phone to read these codes

LAPLAND Page 78

SLOVENIA Page 150

GEORGIA Page 128

THAILAND Page 172

MYANMAR Page 144

SOUTH AFRICA Page 100

VANUATU Page 162

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Morocco

High Atlas to Atlantic

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Atlas to Atlantic Feature Article

Morocco

Morocco from the Atlas Mountains on the fringe of the Sahara Desert, to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

Ride along from the High Atlas to the Atlantic Ocean

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orocco is famous for its food, souks, ancient fortified citadels and kasbahs, beaches, mountains, and its Berber people. We start this journey at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains and continue along the rugged terrains and valleys to the

ancient ksar of Aït Benhaddou. We follow the former caravan route through the Sahara Desert to the bustle of the old, colourful souks of Marrakech, and then head west to the cool winds of the Atlantic Ocean. From the wide beaches and whitewashed fortified walls of Essaouira,

we go past the fortress built by Vasco da Gama’s brother-in-law in the town of Safi, and then explore the ancient old city of El Jadida. We conclude with honourable mentions of several other exciting destinations in Morocco such as Fes, Chefchaouen, Tétouan, and Moulay Idriss. Feature

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KASBAHS

RUGGED MOUNTAINS

A kasbah is a place of living for the more affluent and famous residents, mainly of North Africa, and is reminiscent of a citadel, fortress and a medina. It is typically walled and often surrounded by maze-like streets. Normally with no, or only small windows, the inhabitants are fairly safe against any unwelcome guests.

The most prominent natural landscape in Morocco is the Atlas Mountains, roughly divided into the “High Atlas Mountains”, “Middle Atlas Mountains” and “Little Atlas Mountains”. The “High Atlas Mountains” have more than 400 summits approaching 3,000 m in elevation. Some peaks are over 4,000 m high such as Toubkal (4,165 m), Ouanoukrim (4,089 m) and M’Goun (4,071 m). The “Middle Atlas Mountains” lie north of the High Atlas range and south of the Rif Mountains, while the “Little Atlas Mountains” stretch down into southern Morocco, close to the Atlantic Coast and bordering the Sahara Desert.

While kasbahs can be found all over North Africa and are not uniquely Moroccan, it is as synonymous with Morocco as rugs, olives, leather tanneries, and souks (markets) stocked with incredible arts and crafts!

While the many kasbahs spread out around Morocco date back from the 18th and 19th centuries, new ones are constantly being built to serve as exotic accommodation to tourists. One of the most famous kasbahs is located at Aït Benhaddou, in Ouarzazate province, along a former caravan route between the Sahara and the city of Marrakech.  The oldest parts of this kasbah date back to the 17th century!

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communities across North Africa, including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mali, Niger, and Mauretania. While related to the ancient Egyptians, they belong to the Afro-Asiatic group and speak various Amazigh languages. Today’s Berber people in Morocco live mainly around the mountains, while Morocco’s Arabs and Moors are generally fonder of the larger towns and cities.

As you are driving along rural roads, you just may come across a sign showing: “Come stay overnight at our relaxing kasbah”. Don’t hesitate. Drive in, have a sumptuous Moroccan dinner, and enjoy the incredible architecture, and hospitality which often comes with a hammam (steam room) and massage!

Known for their superior craftsmanship and their knowledge of the rugged lands, the Berber people also have a rich history of which they are very proud. A history that is believed to date back over 4,000 years during which they, the Amazigh “proud raiders” people, fought against the French, Arabs, and Romans to prevent colonisation. The Berber language, which is hard to find these days, dates back about 2,500 years. 

THE BERBER PEOPLE

Different groups of Berbers nowadays live in different regions across Morocco. The Drawa Berbers can be found in the Draa Valley while the Dades Berbers live in the northeast. The Mesgita, Seddrat and the Zeri tribes are living in the northwest. The mountainous Rif region of northern Morocco is home to the Ghomara tribe.

The Berber people proudly refer to themselves as the amazigh (male), tamazight (female) or imazighen (plural) which mean ‘free’ or ‘noble people’. They live in

The Berber people are known for their hospitality and outreach to travellers, a custom they developed through generations of being nomadic traders.

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The Rif Mountain range runs along the Mediterranean Coast in the northernmost part of Morocco. Its highest peak, Tidirhine is 2,456 m. Hiking or driving around Morocco’s mountains you are bound to spend time with the friendly Berber people who are used to enduring hot summers and snowy winters.

OLD FORTIFIED CITIES Dictated by a violent history, most of Morocco’s cities have an “old fortified city”. As most of the historical threats approached by sea, cities and towns along the Atlantic Coast are known for their fortifications erected by the Portuguese between 1415 and 1515. While Morocco has well over two dozen fortified cities, some of the most interesting fortifications


along the coast can be seen at El Jadida, Essaouira, Safi, Rabat, and Tangier. Essaouira, located along the Atlantic Coast, a few hours’ drive from Marrakech, has white walls and buildings with blueish trimmings. This is in stark contrast to the more brownish coloured themes of other Moroccan fortified cities.  El Jadida, north along the coast from Essaouira, has a citadel built in 1514 by the Portuguese and is arguably the most authentic fortification along this coast. Its massive city walls are, on average, 8 m high. The patrolling peripheral walkway is 2 m wide and a great way to walk around the city to view the populous down below. The entrance gate closes around 6pm so make sure to arrive early enough to explore.

ENDLESS BEACHES

ANCIENT SOUKS

While Morocco isn’t famous for the most exotic and unspoiled beaches in the world, it has no shortage of long and wide beaches with its fair share of fans who flock in during the cold European months.

Think Morocco, think souks (markets). Its ancient Berber markets sell anything and everything. In Marrakech, look out

Some of the most notable beaches are Saidia, Essaouira, Legzira Plage, Asilah, Sidi Kaouki and Tamara Plage, although there are many more. Accommodation and food are generally good and very affordable!

for the Carpet Souk, Slipper Souk, Jewish Quarter Souk, Metalworking Souk and the Spice Souk. Move on to the city of Fes for another ancient souk most noted for its colourful and smelly leather tanneries and adjacent leather shop. Souks abound across Morocco.

HIGHLIGHTS of MOROCCO (Atlas to Atlantic) Gorges du Todgha and Gorges du Dadès

With the High Atlas Mountains to the north and the Little Atlas Mountains to the south, the stunning scenery along the rugged wadi (valley) gorges and canyons of Todgha and Dadès is nothing less than spectacular!

Tamtattouchte

Just 20 km north of Gorges Todgha, along a rugged and desolate terrain, lies the friendly Berber village of Tamtattouchte with its brown, mud-brick houses dotted along the sides of the small main road. A great place to take a rest before taking on the road north over the High Atlas Mountains.

The High Atlas Mountains

A rough road leads northwards from Tamtattouchte via Ait Hani to the remote Agoudal village. Make a hairpin turn southwards down to the picturesque winding mountain road at Gorges du Dadès. The mountain scenery is breathtaking and so is the small and dangerous road which should not be attempted in the rainy or snowy seasons.

Fint Oasis

Located just 10 km south of Ouarzazate, is the Fint Oasis. Surrounded by a dry semi-desert on the fringe of the Little Atlas Mountains, is the small but lush oasis village with its verdant palm grove. This is a great place to meet the locals over a glass of mint tea and attend a local primary school to the amazement of the kids.

Aït Benhaddou

Located along the former caravan route between the Sahara Desert and Marrakech city, Aït Benhaddou is known for its ksar (castle) with half a dozen of kasbahs. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and served as filming location for several movies including “The Mummy” and “Gladiator”.

Marrakech

The fourth largest city in the country, after Casablanca, Fez and Tangier, Marrakech has no shortage of action, in particular its souks and the Jemaa el-Fnaa square which showcases entertainers in medieval dress, snake charmers, acrobats, magicians, mystics, musicians, monkey trainers, herb sellers, story-tellers, pickpockets, and the local mafia who ensures that all viewers hand over their tips!

Atlantic Coast - Essaouira and El Jadida

Spend a few days in the sun along the Moroccan Atlantic Coast. Most notable are the whitewashed Essaouira, the quaint Safi, and the coastline up to the authentic fortified city of El Jadida. Feature

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Morocco

Gorges du Todgha

This is one of the roads you will never ever forget!

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ritten as Todgha Gorge earth! The gorge takes its most spectacular routes on 40 different sectors available to or Todra Gorge, and loform about 15 km north of Tinghir when choose from. Some of the popular routes cally known as Les gorges it is time to stop, look up, and get the cold are the Plage Mansour, Pilier de Couchant, du Todgha or Vallée du chills! Can Güllich, Les Jardins and the Satanicos Todgha, this incredible canyon is located Sector. If rock climbing isn’t your forté, in the southeastern part of the High Atlas Gorges du Todgha has spectacular carved then enjoy the hiking or merely walk a Mountains, about 5 km north of the out cliff-sided canyons which in some few kilometres along the road and the oasis town of Tinghir. Within a few minplaces are as little as 10 m wide with sheer, small river to appreciate the natural surutes’ drive north of Tinghir, roundings. past palm groves and Berber As you enter the gorge, it is as if mother earth swallows you villages, the landscape starts The variation of temperatures changing from a lush oasis to down a long, deep, brown throat. Stop and walk. Stop every few in the gorge can be quite exa parched canyon along the steps and look up. It’s a dizzying sight and it’s mesmerizing! treme. While blazing hot valley of Wadi Todgha. You during midday, the late afwill know you have arrived ternoons and nights can get when you see the massive walls of pink smooth rock walls over 160 m high on quite chilly with a fair amount of cold and grey rock closing in along the road each side.   weather and snow in winter.  The best time as if you are being sucked in by mother of the day to visit is early in the mornWhile turbulent waters of the Todgha Riv- ing when the sunshine briefly illuminates er carved out this canyon over centuries, parts of the gorge in a soft golden hue. Try what is left today is a tiny ice-cold meanto stay for the day because the gigantic dering stream which flows alongside the rock walls magically change colour as the small paved road. During rainstorms, the day progresses. The best time of the year is river engulfs this road, which makes the any time except winter, which means plan canyon impassable, so in the rainy season your trip from around April to the end call ahead to make sure the roads are safe. of October. The canyon is popular among rock climbers with more than 150 different climbing

Do the Hike! As you arrive at, or let’s say within, Gorges du Todgha, you will immediately feel the urge to leave your vehicle and walk along the road. As you walk, you will undoubtedly feel the calling to leave the road and hike up the rocky hills. Go ahead and just do it, but be careful. For longer tours, many local guides and tour operators offer hikes lasting from a few hours to a few days, which then include hikes to Gorges du Dadès and up into the High Atlas Mountains. You can even add camel trekking in the desert. 14

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A couple of entrepreneurial locals have put up a few make-shift shops next to the


road and river and are selling colourful cloths, which seen positively from a photographer’s point of view, create a lovely contrast to the pink, brown, and grey rock formations. They also bring a much-needed income to the locals, who in this part of the world don’t have many options to make ends meet.

The area is not well-served by public transport, so the best option is to come with a tour group, or better still to rent a car and drive yourself. Roads are generally good, except for some mountain roads north of Gorges du Todgha.

Unless the river has flooded and cleaning is not completed, the road is generally good and does not require a 4x4. While camping is popular along the entire canyon, a few auberges, riads and kasbahs are welcoming tourists to stay overnight in the area.  Public transportation in this part of Morocco is limited to collective “grand” taxis which normally take six cramped passengers - two in the front and four in the back. It only leaves when full. A much better choice is to rent a vehicle in Marrakech or Ouarzazate. Feature

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Along the road north of Gorges du Todgha towards Tamtattouchte is a small whitewashed marabout (pilgrimage chapel dedicated to a local saint).

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Morocco

Tamtattouchte

A sleepy Berber village below the High Atlas Mountains

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bout 20 km north of Gorges du Todgha, the winding wellmaintained asphalt road leads to the small Berber village of Tamtattouchte. En route, look out for the small whitewashed marabout (pilgrimage chapel dedicated to a local saint) on the right side of the road. 

and their customs starts with a mint tea on the veranda of Auberge Amazigh, which literally means “the home of the Berber people”. Pick one of the cosy rooms in this traditional home and head out to the veranda where your friendly host, Hamid, will serve you the customary mint tea in a glass, complete with condiments such

swatches of fertile plots where the locals, men and women, work tirelessly with their donkeys to plough the lands and control the weeds. 

As you walk through the village, you will quickly attract the attention of a few kids who are willing to show you around and perhaps score a short game of Tamtattouchte is a drab vilfootball with you. They may Take a look at some of the local carpet weavers of even introduce you to their lage located at the foot of Tamtattouchte, and you might just as makeshift see-saw, which is the High Atlas Mountains. merely a wooden log balanced Further north from here the well buy one to take home. in a fork of a tree. Go ahead road winds through spectacuas black and green olives, and fleshy dried and see-saw with the kids. They so love it!  lar mountain scenery. The older buildings dates. Hamid loves to talk about his people, in the village are adobe-made, while the and while his English language skills are At night, Hamid will serve up steaming newer places are mostly constructed from limited, he gets his message across. Know- lamb or vegetarian tajine stew with a very cement.  generous serving of couscous. Sitting in ing a little French will certainly help to front of the fireplace, Hamid will then Once you start meeting the locals at Tambetter communicate with him. grab his traditional “loutar” (three-string tattouchte, you will feel the warmth of the Berber guitar) and start playing while singBerber people. Foreign tourists are scarce After tea, hike higher up the village to and the locals are incredibly friendly survey the surroundings from the top, then ing traditional love songs. He may likely and inquisitive. head down below towards the old part of be joined by his friend with his “aloun” town to inspect some of the old derelict percussion instrument to play along. What A good introduction to the local people buildings. Near the small river are large a show!

Auberge Amazigh - Tamtattouchte Auberge Amazigh (“the home of the Berber people”) is a cosy, homey guesthouse in the higher section of Tamtattouchte village. Hamid, your host, will offer you a very authentically-decorated room, mint tea with olives and dates, and traditional Berber food which always includes tajine stews and couscous. Enjoy your meals and tea in the cosy dining room with its fireplace, or on the terrace overlooking the village. Stay for a few days and get to know the locals. Book via booking.com, agoda.com or contact Hamid: aubergeamazigh@gmail.com. 18

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Booking and enquiries to Hamid: aubergeamazigh@gmail.com


A loutar and an aloun The loutar is a plucked lute unique to Morocco’s Berber people. Also known as a gimbri which traces its origins to the Gnawa people from the ancient Ghana Empire of Ouagadougou of West Africa, the body is carved from a log and covered on the playing side with sheep or camel skin with three or four strings. A loutar player is normally accompanied by a traditional percussion instrument called an aloun. The loutar player usually doubles as the singer and can be accompanied by female dancers with beautiful traditional costumes. Feature

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The Tamtattouchte Salt Mines A short drive north of Tamtattouchte village, followed by a long hike, leads you past some interesting and barren mountain landscapes to the salt mines. The walk along a small path goes past a long aqueduct which channels water from the high mountains all the way down to the villages in the nearby valley. Walk past a waterfall and continue until you see some light salt deposits on the ground and on the rocks. In this area you will find several open salt mines and salt caves, some which are quite deep and dangerous. Be careful not to slip and fall into the abyss. Notice the scrape marks all over these caves where locals sporadically come to mine the salt. The large and heavy bags are then transported on donkeyback to the villages. Back-breaking work for both man and beast!

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High Atlas

Morocco

Get mesmerized in Africa’s highest mountains!

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orth Africa’s highest mountain range, the High Atlas, is referred to by the Berber people as ‘Idraren Draren’ (Mountains of Mountains) and it is a delight to the eyes and a hiker’s paradise from spring through to autumn.  The “High Atlas” mountains stretch diagonally across Morocco for almost 1,000 km from near the Atlantic Coast in the west, up to the northeast towards Algeria. To its immediate north lies the “Middle Atlas” mountains and to its south is the “Anti-Atlas”, also known as the “Little Atlas”, which runs diagonally along the fringes of the Sahara Desert, along the Algerian border.

The many saw-toothed peaks of the High Atlas, some over 4,000 m high, act as an efficient weather barrier between the mild Mediterranean climate to the north and the encroaching sweltering winds from the Sahara Desert in the south. Its many high peaks can be snow covered between September and May which allow for skiing. In spring the melting snow provides ample water which flows into the fertile valleys. Unless you are planning winter sports, the best time to visit is from June to the end of October. The road northwards from Tamtattouchte to Agoudal via the small village of Ait Hani is very scenic. From Agoudal the road goes north to Imilchil and its twin

lakes, or alternatively choose the tiny dirt road southwest towards Dadès Gorges. This road is not for the faint-hearted, especially if you don’t have a 4x4 or off-road vehicle. Go ahead and take this road, the next 100 km to Dadès Gorges is an experience you will never forget! The mountain scenery is stunning and the road is somewhat nerve-racking. All adds to an adrenalin rush which you can reset once you have successfully passed through the hairpin winding road of “Dadès Gorges Road” immediately north of Dadès Gorges village. A road referred to as one of the most dangerous in the world!

Faces of Remoteness Once you arrive in the village of Agoudal you will redefine your perception of remoteness. This village is windswept, lonely and remote. Just look at the faces of the kids and you will understand! These kids are hungry for anything a tourist can offer them. It is as if they have never ever seen a foreign tourist. They will hang on to your doors and run with your car as you drive out of the village, to the point where you feel you had better pick them up and drive them back to their village. They are small, lonely, deprived, and they have facial expressions depicting remoteness. Feature

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High Atlas Mountains

The southern flanks of the Eastern High Atlas Mountains look more like rolling hills than majestic mountains. However, they are high, and in winter they can be covered in snow. This part of the Atlas became famous as a paleontological site after the discovery of the bones of the rare Atlasaurus dinosaurs which roamed this part of the planet 180 million years ago. The scenery is stunning. A small, somewhat dangerous road (110 km long) traverses this scenery from Agoudal via M’semrir to the beautiful Gorges du Dadés. Feature

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Morocco

Gorges du Dadès

Known for its “dangerous road”, the scenery is overwhelming

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if you have strong nerves! At the top of the orges du Dadès offers stunning north and the arid semi-desert to the south. The savage grandeur of the gorge is scary winding road is the infamous Cafe scenery and is aptly referred somewhat reminiscent of America’s Grand Restaurant Hotel Timzzillite, which is not to as “the road of a thousand recommended other than for the views. kasbahs”. The spectacular drive Canyon. The small Dades River mewinds through peaceful desert landscapes, anders through the valley quenching a The best service, accommodation and long stretch of wheat paddies, fruit trees, quaint villages and palm groves along walnut trees, silver birch and almond prices are to be enjoyed down in the this stretch of the Dades Valley, located trees, all set against an extraordinary sce- valley. Contact the friendly and charmbetween the High Atlas Mountains to the ing Youssef Ijoud at Aunorth and the Small Atlas berge La Fibule Du Dades Mountains to the south. Visitors come from afar to drive on one of the world’s most (lafibuledudades@gmail. Tens of kasbahs line the road incredible roads. Described by some as “one of the more dangerous com) to book one of his alongside the palm trees. rooms. His auberge is Whether you prefer hiking, roads in the world”, its beautiful setting far outweighs its danger. cosy truly an experience and the rafting, rock climbing or just authentic Berber meals and sitting back staring over the canyon, you will find it all right here! Fur- nic backdrop of reddish rock formations. service are incredible! However, the greatest spectacle of Gorges ther south towards the Sahara Desert is As with the rest of this region, avoid du Dadès is the entry point when drivthe Jebel Sarhro lunar-scape in the Small midsummer and winter. The best time to ing from Agoudal in the north, or the Atlas, famous for its surreal landscapes visit the valley is between March and May, reminiscent of the “Red Rock Country” in point of exit when driving from Boumwhile the mountains are cooler, so the alne Dades in the south. This section of the American State of Utah. best time to visit the mountains is from the road is often listed among the scariest roads in the world. However, you may May to July. From September to the end of The Dades Valley has an untamed landagree that it is far more scenic than scary, October is also a good time. scape, with the possibility of snow to the

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The Road of a Thousand Kasbahs

The Gorges DadÊs mountain pass winds down to the gorge, carved by the Dades River. During good weather it’s a breeze to drive slowly up or down this pass, but it is nerve-racking during rain or in winter. The small barriers along the edge of the road offer little more than a token of protection so be careful.

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Gorges du Dades Morocco

Auberge La Fibule Du Dades Morocco’s most cosy, friendly, and heartwarming guesthouse

Contact Youssef Ijoud or book at a hotel booking site. Gorges du Dadès, Boumalne lafibuledudades@gmail.com +212 603-041339

Auberge La Fibule Du Dades is located in the heart of Morocco’s beautiful Gorges du Dades. Guests have been staying in our four beautifully decorated bedrooms since 2010. Enjoy Berber food at the onsite restaurant or on the sun terrace views over the stunning mountains. with vi

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Morocco

Fint Oasis

Served as the setting for several Hollywood films

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French, the conversations over a mint tea bout 130 km southwest of will be easier. Gorges du Dadès lies the town of Ouarzazate, which can aptly It is easy to do a day trip from Ouarzazate be described as the “Door of to Fint. However, stay overnight in one of the Desert”. Less than 20 km southwest the few guesthouses at Fint if you can and of Ouarzazate is the lush palm garden experience sunset and sunrise over the village of “Oasis de Fint”. The rough oasis. At night you may be entertained by unpaved road leading from Ouarzazate to the unique combination of Berber, Arab Fint Oasis is barren and desolate, typiand African cal terrain of the This date-palm oasis is home to a few unique rhythms. Ask Small Atlas Mountains. villages that still maintain a different mix of around as some local families From a distance, cultural life unique in the region. offer homestay the verdant date Part African, part Berber. at a very modpalm groves est fee, which includes dinner and breakaround the oasis are clearly visible. fast. Morocco’s rural people have a reputation for hospitality which is legendary. You If you have always wanted to visit an auwon’t be disappointed with the people at thentic oasis community, this is the place to be. Life here is very laid back. Pack don- Fint Oasis. keys still roam the streets and women wash A four-wheeler is not essential between the family’s clothes in the small stream. Ouarzazate and Fint, unless the road is People are reserved which is likely due washed out by the rains. to language barriers. If you speak a little

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Educating the kids As you walk through the village in the early morning, you may hear the kids reciting in one of the basic make-shift school rooms. Stop and pop in, and if you remembered to bring along some stationery, they will eagerly accept handouts. Pens, paper, anything. Best to hand it over to their teacher.


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Aït Benhaddou

Morocco

17th-century fortified village complete with kasbahs

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orth of Ouarzazate in the southern foothills of the High Atlas, lies one of Morocco’s nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Welcome to the 17th-century Ksar of AitBenhaddou which has served as the locale for many films including Indiana Jones, Babel, Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth (for which much of Aït Benhaddou was rebuilt), Jewel of the Nile, and Gladiator. A “ksar” is a small collection of adobe buildings normally surrounded by high walls as is typical of a traditional Saharan community. The surrounding defensive walls are reinforced by corner towers which rise high above the walls. Ait-Benhaddou is a striking example of such architecture and built entirely of local organic material, which is covered by a rich red mud plaster from the nearby Ounila River. Made up of six kasbahs and almost 50 smaller ksour

(plural for ksar), local belief is that the ksar was founded in 757 AD. by Ben-Haddou whose tomb is said to lie somewhere below the old city. However, the oldest structures of Ait-Benhaddou only date back to the early 17th century.  First constructed as an Almoravid caravanserai, it provided shelter to travellers along the trading routes which linked ancient Sudan to the souks of Morocco’s Marrakech. The traded goods must have included items such as gold, salt, and West African slaves that passed along this route since ancient times but reached a peak between the 8th century AD and the late 16th century AD. As these traders brought in such valuable items, the defensive walls were necessary to protect them and the kasbah residents from the bandits and raiding nomads. As the trans-Saharan trade declined by the late 17th century, Ait-Benhaddou remained important as it transformed itself to be the centre of local power. While many of the structures of Ait-Benhaddou are in a derelict state, some of the buildings remain occupied by resident families, who increasingly set up shop selling souvenirs to the tourists. Other than the living quarters, the ksar is home to a mosque, a public square, grain threshing areas outside

the ramparts, a fortification at the top of the village (the agadir), a caravanserai, and two cemeteries (Muslim and Jewish).  The views of the surrounding arid stony desert are mesmerising as seen from the large fortified granary, or agadir, on the hill above the ksar. Watch as the colours change throughout the day. In the relatively more modern part of town, around the ksar of Ait-Benhaddou, live the rest of the local residents. Many are involved in the tourist trade offering souvenirs, restaurants, guesthouses, and anything that can earn money from the tourists. Most of the souvenirs on offer are actually more than just tourist junk. Look out for some good quality argan oil, beautiful ceramics, leather products, paintings of AitBenhaddou and its inhabitants, hammered metalworks, rugs and carpets, and of course, spices and dried fruits such as dates, figs, olives, walnuts, and almonds. All prices are negotiable, and friendly bargaining is expected and fun if you do it with the right mindset.   Along the small unpaved road north of AitBenhaddou are the interesting villages of Assfalou and Tamedakhte, boasting ancient and more modern kasbahs complete with camel rides!

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The Ksar of Ait-Benhaddou

The 17th-century fortified village of Ait-Benhaddou has served as the locale for many Hollywood films. While many of the structures are in a derelict state, some of the buildings remain occupied by resident families. A fortified granary, or agadir, is perched on a hill above the ksar.

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Morocco

Marrakech

A city most famous for its souks and central square

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or most people the name MarMorocco’s medinas such as in Marrakech Before long you will want to escape the madness of the square, so head out to one rakech brings up memories of or Fes. You will be amazed with most evof the many rooftop cafes and restaurants popular movies. Think “The erything you will discover. from where you can safely survey the Mummy”, “Raiders of the Lost crazy scene from above.  Ark”, “Prince of Persia”, and many more. The attractions in Marrakech are numerThese movies have unquestionably made ous. For a culture shock, walk around the Once you have conquered and tamed your Marrakech famous for its bustling copfamous Djemaa El Fna central square. per and leather souks, its villains, snake Here you will come face-to-face with mu- fears about a night out on Djemaa El Fna square, head into Marrakecharmers, street performancch’s labyrinth medina. The es, mint-tea-sipping tourists, Marrakech is one of those places you will either love or hate. ancient narrow alleyways of and many more. Either way, you should explore everything this city has to the medina are a spectacular kaleidoscope of colours, It is hard to describe Maroffer and you could stay here for a few weeks! sounds, scents, and aromas rakech. In fact, once you which are enough to place all arrive in Marrakech you will your senses into overdrive! be so overwhelmed that you will not know sicians, storytellers, fortune-tellers and in which direction to go! But let’s go and snake charmers. In fact, in the late afterCheck out the Babouche (shoe) Souk, walk in any direction, as you will swiftly noon and early evening the entire specget lost and that is perfectly fine. Fear not, trum of Moroccan life will enfold right in the famous Chouari (carpenter’s) Souk, the El-Attarine (perfume and spice) Souk as you will find yourself, and hopefully front of your eyes. and make sure not to miss the Cherratine your hotel, by the end of the day.  Watch out for the local mafia who ensures (leather) Souk. The medina, the old walled part with its that all onlookers pay their dues of apTo the northeast of the square follow your countless narrow and maze-like streets, is preciation before leaving a performance, rather unnavigable. Try out your smartin particular those of the snake charmers, nose and you will find the Marrakech tanneries where animal skins are dyed the phone’s Google map as you get lost in the monkey handlers, and the African drum old-fashioned way. Around the tanneries medina. While not perfectly accurate, it beaters. Don’t resist making a small payare some very persistent leather salesmen will give you a sense of where you are. ment as these people are ferocious.  Better yet, put away your digital map and just let the medina suck you in. There is no better feeling than to get lost in one of

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Bahia Palace.


Dar Si Said Museum.

Tiskiwin Museum. disguised as tour guides, who will unfortunately become verbally abusive if you do not accept their “guiding services”. Don’t let their rude behaviour taint your impressions of the Moroccan people.  Other than the souks, the medina offers a wealth of interesting sights such as the Ben Youssef Madrasa built in 1565 by the Saadians. This Islamic college is named after the Almoravid sultan Ali ibn Yusuf who reigned between 1106 and 1142. The college closed down in 1960, but reopened to the public as a historical site in 1982. 

Bahia Palace. Other sites in and around Marrakech include the Koutoubia Mosque with its striking 70 m tall minaret towering over Djemaa El Fna central square, the 16th-century Saadian tombs and the 19th century Bahia Palace. Not to be missed is the small Maison Tiskiwin house-museum. Here you can travel to Mali’s Timbuktu and back again with the help of Dutch anthropologist and professor of art history Bert Flint’s art collection. Each separate room in this Hispano-Moorish former residence of Bert’s represents a different caravan stop along the long Sahara-to-Marrakech route, showcasing

Medersa Ben Youssef. Bert’s incredible collection of items which range from indigenous crafts of the Tuareg people, to carpets from the High Atlas. Accommodation in Marrakech ranges from luxury kasbahs and riads, to more affordable riads (houses with central gardens), dars (houses without central gardens), auberges, boutique hotels and guesthouses. Highly recommended is the Riad Le Bel Oranger located inside the medina. Contact them directly at riadlebeloranger@gmail.com to make a reservation, or book via your favourite hotel booking website. Feature

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Marrakech

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Bazaar / Souk Located in the heart of Marrakech

GUESTHOUSE RIAD LE BEL ORANGER

Stay cosy in the souk

MARRAKECH

riad-le-bel-oranger.com +212 6.59.74.23.48 riadlebeloranger@gmail.com

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Morocco

Essaouira

Typical late 18th-century North African fortified town

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ocated directly west of Marrakech, the town of Essaouira is easily reached by public bus. As you approach Essaouira you will feel the light cool coastal breeze, referred to as the alizee, or taros in the local Berber language. The alizee blows for much of the year so the wide and long beaches here are more suitable for sandblasting than for sun tanning. Known as the “Wind City of Africa”, the strong winds keep away the hordes of beach lovers from Europe but attract plenty of windsurfers and kitesurfers between April and November. The wide beach is ideal for ball games, horse or camel riding, or even biking. Essaouira gets its fair share of local and international tourists during spring and autumn when they come to wander through the palm-lined avenues and fortified medina’s spice-scented lanes, filled with beautiful Moroccan arts and crafts.  Formerly named “Mogador” which originates from the Phoenician word “Migdol” meaning a “small fortress”, the medina is an exceptional example of a late-18thcentury North African fortified town. Since the early 16th century it has been an important trading seaport, linking the trade routes from the Saharan Desert with the lucrative European markets. This rich and long history is evident as you wander through alleyways lined by tall whitewashed buildings. EsSaouira means “beautifully designed”, as the early French architects designed it so well that, unlike most other Moroccan medinas, this medina isn’t like entering a maze, so you are unlikely to get lost easily. In the medina, near the harbour, is the large Moulay El Hassan pedestrianised square, surrounded by many cosy bars and restaurants. Either sit outside at street level or at one of the rooftop cafes and you will be in an excellent position to do all-day people-watching.

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Take a leisurely walk along the old ramparts of the fortress of Scala del Mar to have great views over the city and the ocean. These defensive walls between the ocean and the medina, as well as the medina and kasbah area, were built in the 1760’s on command of Mohammed III who directed French engineer, Théodore Cornut, and several other European architects such as the English and Genoese engineers.  There are great views from the ramparts, especially at sunset when you can watch as the sun sinks down behind the sea. At sunset the photo opportunities are endless from the ramparts with the defensive cannons in the foreground and thousands of seagulls hovering around with the hope of scavenging fish morsels from the fishermen. A surreal scene! Essaouira is the heartland of Gnawa music which originated in West African states such as Senegal, Sudan and Ghana, and was brought to Morocco by the slaves. For about three days in May or June every year, Essaouira transforms into a music festival where the sounds of krakebs (iron castanets), loutar or gimbri (a three- or four- stringed lute), aloun (percussion instrument) and vocals are mixed with an atmosphere of spirituality, rhythm and rather wild dancing - escalating into a crescendo of hypnotic trance. During this festival, the streets become alive with bustling markets, street performances,

and food stalls in an explosion of vibrancy and colour.  The Essaouira Gnawa music festival is a carnival like no other and not to be missed! Essaouira also offers the Festival des Alizés in April for classical music and the Festival des Andalousies Atlantiques in October for Arab and Andalusian (southern Spain) music. For a cosy stay south of the medina, contact Nadia and Thierry at Riad Salmiya guesthouse (riadsalmiya@yahoo.com). A lovely guesthouse hosted by a very friendly French couple. 

The Essaouira Harbour A favourite pastime of visitors to Essaouira is to wander around the harbour and watch the fishing nets being mended and traditional boats being painted at the old atmospheric port. At the end of the day the fishermen auction off their catch. Watch the bargaining going back and forth while the seagulls and stray cats all try to get their piece of the pie! Buy some fresh seafood for yourself directly from the fishermen’s tables and take it back to your guesthouse for preparation. Look out for sardines as Morocco is the largest canned sardine exporter in the world. Mussels are also good and are regularly served up in tajines (stews).


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The Medina of Essaouira

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the well-preserved 18th-century medina of Essaouira was once a small fishing village known as “Mogador”. The Portuguese rulers called it by the name “Mogador”, which originates from the Phoenician word “Migdol”, meaning a “small fortress”. By day, the medina is a beehive of action while dimly-lit alleys take on a romantic atmosphere after sunset.

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El Jadida

Morocco

The old city has not changed much over centuries

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orth along the coast from Essaouira, past the interesting town of Safi, lies the coastal bastion of El Jadida. While it is free of all but a few tourists for most of the year, in July and August the town transforms into a bustling holiday haven popular with Moroccan families mainly from Casablanca and Rabat. Their most compelling reason to visit is the UNESCO-listed 16th-century Cité Portugaise at the Fortress of Mazagan, the Grand Mosque, Church of the Assumption, and the Portuguese Cistern.   About 16 km north of the old city, on a good stretch of beach, is the recently opened large Mazagan Beach & Golf

Resort, which offers a golf course designed by South African Gary Player, as well as a casino, nightclub, restaurants and spas, where a luxury room varies from US$300 to almost $8,000 per night. El Jadida’s 16th-century city, Cité Portugaise, previously known as Mazagan, is small and in a derelict state. It seems like time has been standing still here while mass tourism, or any tourism outside July and August, have largely overlooked this old city. Enjoy it now before the bulldozers and whitewash painters move in, followed by busloads of tourists. Today’s Cité Portugaise is very much a residential place, void of tourist shops and restaurants. In fact, there are hardly any restaurants

within the city walls, so best head out to the new town for drinking and dining. Walking around the Cité Portugaise is an interesting experience. Locals are friendly and kids are curious to see foreign faces. If you want to experience the old city, stay in one of the handful of riads and homestays. The harbour is colourful with its small red and green boats. For an interesting excursion, take the bus or drive south along the coast towards Essaouira. Just a few kilometres from El Jadida lies the invigorating beach of Sidi Bouzid. Continue further along the small road down to Qualidia with its long intercoastal lagoon. Life here is tranquil and beaches are void of tourists and are naturally beautiful. Water activities abound in Qualidia. Wavesurfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, canoes, kayaks and chartered fishing boats are all available to visitors. Spend a few days here, then move further south to Safi which is famous for its Portuguese-built fortress: Kechla and Dar Al Bahar, meaning “the castle by the sea”. Safi is also famous for its pottery, so stop off at the Collines des Potiers—the potters’ quarter. GR

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The Fortress of Mazagan

The UNESCO-listed 16th-century Portuguese fortified city of Mazagan contains the CitĂŠ Portugaise, the Grand Mosque, Church of the Assumption, the Portuguese Cistern and many more interesting attractions. The slightly inclined fortress walls are 8 m high on average and several metres wide, which offers a great walkway from where to look down on the action below.

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Chefchaouen, Morocco’s “blue city”.

Moulay Idriss, the sacred heart of Morocco.

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Elsewhere in Morocco

The famous leather tanneries of Fes.

Casablanca’s Hassan II Mosque (or Grande Mosquée Hassan II) is the largest mosque in Morocco and the 13th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s tallest at 210 m. It has a maximum capacity of 105,000 worshippers - 25,000 inside the mosque and 80,000 on the space around the mosque.

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Volubilis, the ruins of a Berber and Roman city built mainly between the 3rd century BC and 2nd century AD.

El Hedim Square in Meknes. The city of TĂŠtouan.

Bab el-Khemis Gate, Meknes. 54

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Royal Stables Meknes.


Graveyard of Rabat.

ESSENTIAL Getting There

Many airlines fly to Morocco from Europe and elsewhere. Budget airlines increasingly ply the route - Ryan Air, EasyJet, Vueling, and Air Berlin. Via the Middle East, Air Arabia will be a wise choice. Overland, the route is via Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar. Land borders with Algeria remain closed, while the border with Western Sahara is porous at best.

When to Go

Morocco is an all-year destination depending on the region. Summers are hot across the country except for the high mountains which can be snow-covered in winter. Best months are during spring and autumn, which means from March to October and excludes July and August.

Dining Out

Large towns and cities are known for their sumptuous Moroccan (and some European) food. Classic Moroccan dishes include the ever-present tajine stews, couscous and olive salads. In Berber areas try the local dishes which have a great reputation and are proudly served to foreigners!

INFORMATION

Getting Around

The Moroccan long-distance rail system is easy and convenient. It covers the Tangier to Agadir corridor which includes Marrakech, Casablanca and Rabat. A Rabat line links Meknes and Fes. Long distance buses are fairly good, while cramped taxis are an alternative. For added convenience and to reach the more remote areas, hire a car in a main city.

Where to Stay

The large towns and cities have a mindboggling array of accommodation which varies from super luxurious kasbahs to basic homestays. In the rural areas it’s mostly small riads and homestays. Spoil yourself and stay in some of the best kasbahs and cosy riads you can afford!

Train Journeys

The long-distance Moroccan trains are fairly comfortable, fast, affordable, and on time. While the coverage is limited to the Tangier to Agadir corridor and the Rabat to the (closed) Algeria border to the east, these train lines cover a large part of most traveller itineraries.

Photography

Morocco is blessed with so many photographic moments, but capturing portraits, or a photo with any locals within the frame, is among the most challenging in the world. You will often hear someone scream “No photo”, and people may even get verbally and physically abusive. One of the worst places to try and take photos is in the blue city of Chefchaouen.

Packing

Mountain and winter travel dictate warm clothing, while the rest of the year wear cool and conservative clothes. Should you plan to visit rural communities, bring educational gifts such as stationery for the kids. Pharmacies in the rural areas are scarce, so bring everything you need.

Cost of Travel

Morocco is an inexpensive country for international travellers. With a long history of tourism, the popular destinations have good tourist infrastructure and hence competitive prices. While fancy hotels and restaurants are expensive, dining with the locals is fun and very affordable. Feature

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traveller experiences Morocco Aït Benhaddou

Founded in 757 AD. by Ben Haddou who’s tomb is said to lie somewhere below the old city, the oldest structures of the “ksar” of Ait-Benhaddou date back to the early 17th century.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was constructed as an Almoravid caravanserai and provided shelter to travellers along the trading routes which linked ancient Sudan to the souks of Morocco’s Marrakech. As the importance of the trading declined, it became the centre of local power.  Today a few families still live here, but more and more it is becoming nothing but an interesting tourist attraction.

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Gorges du Dadès & Todgha

Located in south central Morocco, south of the High Atlas Mountains and north of the Small (or Anti) Atlas Mountains is the spectacular Gorges du Dadès, carved out over centuries by the Dadès Gorge River. Drive along “the road of a thousand kasbahs” and exit the gorge via the winding uphill road which is often listed among the scariest roads in the world. A few kilometres to the east lies the equally spectacular Gorges du Todgha with its steep carved out cliff-sided canyons which, in some places, are just 10 metres wide with sheer, smooth rock walls over 160 metres high on either side. The canyon is popular among rock climbers, with more than 150 different climbing routes on 40 different sectors available to choose from. Alternatively enjoy hiking along the road and the small river to appreciate the natural surroundings. 56

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High Atlas Mountains

The most prominent natural landscape in Morocco is the Atlas Mountains. The “High Atlas” mountains have more than 400 summits approaching 3,000 m in elevation. Some peaks are over 4,000 m high such as Toubkal (4,165 m), Ouanoukrim (4,089 m), and M’Goun (4,071 m) Whenever you find yourself in the High Atlas, you will be mesmerized by its rugged beauty. One of the most scenic sections of these mountains is the drive from Tamtattouchte to Gorges du Dadès via the remote village of Agoudal. Some parts of this road are not for the faint-hearted, especially if you don’t have a 4x4 or off-road vehicle. Just keep your eyes on the road, and on the spectacular scenery, and you should get to your destination alive!


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Chefchaouen

It’s the colour of powder-blue. A gorgeous, powdery blue that covers not only the houses of Chefchaouen but also government buildings, walkways, public squares and even lampposts and trash cans. The custom of painting everything in blue dates back to the 15th century when Jewish refugees fleeing the Spanish Inquisition settled here and continued their tradition of painting everything the colour of the heavenly skies. Other than the colour blue, there is plenty more to see, like the old kasbah, Grand Mosque, and the ancient city walls with its towers.

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Fes and Marrakech

Fes and Marrakech are strong contenders for the title of “City with Most Tourist Arrivals”. Marrakech is famous for its large and bustling Djemaa El Fna square with monkey handlers and snake charmers, as well as its labyrinth medina with endless souks, museums, mosques, and madrasa. Fes has all the above, excluding the large central square. In return, Fes has the largest, most colourful and most aromatic leather tanneries and stunning views over the bustling city from a nearby hill.

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Moulay Idriss

Known as the ‘Wind City of Africa’, Essaouira gets its fair share of local and international tourists during spring and autumn when they come to wander through the palm-lined avenues and fortified medina’s spice-scented lanes filled with beautiful Moroccan arts and crafts.

Moulay Idriss was the first Arab ruler and founder of the Idrisid dynasty, He arrived at the site in 789 and brought with him the religion of Islam.

The medina has a large pedestrianised square, surrounded by many cosy bars and restaurants from where to follow the action. Essaouira is the heartland of Gnawa music and hosts an annual Gnawa music festival.

The city’s holy status kept it closed to non-Muslims until 1912. Subsequently non-Muslims could visit but were not allowed to overnight until 2005. Even nowadays some of the areas are off limits to non-Muslims.

Over the centuries, the city where Moulay Idriss was buried, became Morocco’s version of Mecca.

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Volubilis

Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a 3rd century BC partly excavated Berber and Roman city which was abandoned in the 11th century AD. While is it located in the modern-day Morocco, it is commonly considered to be the ancient capital of the kingdom of Mauretania which stretched across this region. In the mid-18th century the city was devastated by an earthquake and then looted by Moroccan rulers to build the nearby city of Meknes. The triumphal arch has been well preserved.

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Tétouan

Tétouan is often described as the “jewel of the Rif Mountains”, yet it doesn’t get its fair share of tourists, which makes it an attractive alternative to other cities across Morocco. The ancient medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, looks like it has not changed in many centuries. Painted white, it has a labyrinth of walkways, tunnels, and arches; truly a maze where you will easily lose yourself. Building styles are HispanoMoorish, influenced by the Andalucia region in southern Spain. Feature

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Photo Essay PORTUGAL

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Portugal’s

Azores Islands Natural botanical gardens interrupted only by volcanic crater lakes

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omewhere in the middle of nowhere, about 1,643 km west of Lisbon, Portugal, some 1,500 km from the African coast and 1,925 km southeast of Canada’s Newfoundland, lie the nine islands of the Azores Archipelago, officially referred to as ‘Portugal’s Autonomous Region of the Azores’ (Região Autónoma dos Açores). Located in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Azores Archipelago is, very noticeably, of volcanic origin and lies scattered along a 600 km stretch of ocean. Geographically, the islands are divided into three groups, namely the Eastern Group (Santa Maria and São Miguel Islands), the

Central Group (Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial Islands), and the Western Group (Corvo and Flores Islands). The island of São Miguel is the largest and is pocked by several large craters surrounded by lush vegetation. São Miguel is also the most populated island with direct air links from Europe, mainly on SATA Air Azores, TAP Air Portugal, Ryan Air, and EasyJet. SATA Air Azores also flies to selected cities in the USA, Canada and North Africa. Let’s travel by car all around the botanically rich São Miguel island and visit the many ocean vistas, lush flora, massive craters with turquoise lakes, hissing steam vents, hot springs, remote villages, and so much more!

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Portugal São Miguel Island Western Region

The road along the northwest coast of São Miguel Island passes through a few small villages.

The village of Sete Cidades is located along the shores of Lagoa das Sete Cidades.

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São Miguel Island: Western Region

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he rugged western region of São Miguel island is best known for its twin green and blue crater lakes at Lagoa das Sete Cidades, inside the dormant volcano crater (Caldeira das Sete Cidades). The lush vegetation around the lakes and the massive crater are a true delight. View the craters and small village from high above the crater wall at Miradouro (viewpoint) da Vista do Rei. The village of Sete Cidades at the twin lakes has a special tranquil feeling to it. The beautiful little Neo-Gothic Church of Saint Nicholas was completed in 1857. Hiking is the best way to explore the area!

Church of Saint Nicholas (Igreja de Sao Nicolau), village of Sete Cidades.

Church of Saint Nicholas (Igreja de Sao Nicolau), village of Sete Cidades. Photo Essay

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Portugal São Miguel Island Western Region

Lagoa Azul is part of the larger Lagoa das Sete Cidades which lies inside the caldera of the Sete Cidades Massif.

Stay in the north central town of Ribeira Grande on São Miguel Island in the lovely guesthouse of Laura and Emanuel

VILA LAURA RIBEIRA GRANDE

FREE WIFI, A BARBECUE AND A TERRACE Bookings at booking.com and agoda.com

Avenida Joaquim Maria Cabral n19 - Ribeira Grande +351 918 536 395 / casaribeirinha@hotmail.com 64

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Caldeira do Alferes has an elevation of 431 m and lies inside the caldera of the Sete Cidades Massif.

Early morning tranquillity at Lagoa Azul.

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Portugal Rabo de Peixe town in the western part of central São Miguel Island.

São Miguel Island Central Region

View of Lagoa das Furnas from the south.

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São Miguel Island: Central Region

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agao do Fogo, a crater lake that lies within the Água de Pau Massif stratovolcano in the centre of São Miguel Island, is the highest lake of the Azores. At 580 m above sea level, the surrounding hills are often covered by clouds, which makes viewing of the lake down below the road impossible. Lagoa das Furnas is arguably the most idyllic lake of São Miguel Island. Located in one of the calderas of the thermal active Furnas volcano, it lies at an elevation of 359 m. At Furnas, the steam vents are hissing while locals cook their food in the fumaroles and tourists wallow in the thermal baths. The hot springs pool at the Terra Nostra Gardens is muddy brown, but waders believe the iron-rich water is good for the skin. The botanical garden is a feast to the eyes, where the trees are living fossils, and gives you an impression of what the planet’s forests must have looked like before the Ice Age!

Boiling waters at Caldeiras das Furnas.

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Portugal São Miguel Island Central Region

Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias (dedicated to Our Lady of the Victories), funerary chapel on the southwestern corner of Lagoa das Furnas.

The small town of Furnas.

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The hot springs pool at Terra Nostra Gardens, Furnas.

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Portugal SĂŁo Miguel Island Eastern Region

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São Miguel Island: Eastern Region

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he far east and the Nordeste Region of São Miguel is the most remote part of the island. Though not void of residents, the villages are small and far apart. The rugged terrain of the Nordeste ends in towering coastal cliffs. This creates ample opportunities to get onto the many hiking trails that lead down to the rocky shores. Here you will find some isolated and tiny fishermen’s houses perched along the steep hills, like those located below the Farol do Arnel Lighthouse, the first lighthouse erected in the Azores Islands in 1876. Caldeirões Park near Ribeira dos Caldeirões is a botanical marvel and should not be missed!

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Portugal São Miguel Island Eastern Region

The rugged terrain of the Nordeste ends in towering coastal cliffs.

Tiny fishermen’s huts perch precariously along the steep hills close to the Farol do Arnel Lighthouse at Ponta do Arnel, located in the most northeast part of São Miguel Island.

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Farol do Arnel Lighthouse was the first lighthouse erected in the Azores Islands and started operating on Nov. 26th 1876.

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Portugal SĂŁo Miguel Island Capital Region

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Constructed in 1547, the St. Sebastian’s Mother Church is Ponta Delgada’s most iconic example of Azorean whitewashed walls with a black basalt trimming.

São Miguel Island: Capital Region

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ith a population of about 70,000 souls, Ponta Delgada is the administrative capital, and by leaps and bounds the most populated town in the Azores. Populated since the 15th century, the city is rich in history with many marvellous buildings and cobbled stone alleys. The historical part of the city is a delight and consists of three civil parishes: São Pedro, São Sebastião, and São José. One of the many highlights of the historical part of town is the area around the city hall and the three arches gate (Portas da Cidade) in the Baixa (downtown area). Look out for the Convent of Our Lady of Hope, in Campo de São Francisco and the St. Sebastian’s Mother Church.

The three arches gate (Portas da Cidade) of the old city of Ponta Delgada.

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Article

LAPLAND

Dog sledding around Svalbard, north of continental Lapland. Watch out for the Arctic fox, the Svalbard reindeer, polar bears and the odd southern Machu Picchu of arctic rodent more common in Eastern Europe). vole (a species 78

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Lapland c i t c r A Norway ❄ Sweden ❄ Finland The land of the midnight sun, and the Aurora Borealis

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hinking about Lapland, the word itself may cast some images of colourful Laplanders, known as the Sámi peoples, roaming reindeer, the home of Santa Claus, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), and the midnight sun. But, there is a lot more to Lapland than you ever imagined.

largest settlement and administrative centre of the Svalbard Islands. Sadly, Lapland is not what it used to be. Nowadays, the traditional Sámi people constitute only a small minority of about 5% of the total Lapland population. Russians and Norwegians are the most dominant ethnic group.

Also known as Sápmi, Lapland includes the Nordic regions of Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Russia. It has traditionally been inhabited by the Sami people, known in English as “Lapps” or “Laplanders”.

Even though the Sámi people are in the minority, there are generally no political calls advocating secession. However, several groups desire an increase in territorial autonomy and even self-rule. The visionary “Kingdom of Lapland” has its own In the north, Lapland Lapland or Sápmi, is an ethno-cultural region flag, and describes itis bounded by the as a “gargantuan, which stretches over northern Fenno-Scandi- self Barents Sea, to the pleasant nation” with navia (northern regions of Sweden, Finland, “hard-nosed, hardwest by the Norwegian Sea and on the working Lapps” with Norway, and Russia) east by the White Sea. a strong economy The latter is a southern inlet of the Barents driven by the “trout farming industry, with Sea located on the far northwestern coast of major contributions from pizza delivery, and Russia. soda sales”. The Kingdom’s national animal is, unmistakably, the woolly polar bear. We can Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago in the only imagine what the national bird would Arctic Ocean, located midway between contibe! Unmistakably: the mosquito. Let this be nental Norway and the North Pole, is technia tip to bring along industrial-strength insect cally not part of Lapland, but it makes perfect repellent if you visit during late spring and sense to include Svalbard within the same early summer. travel itinerary. Once you are this far north in the world, you might just as well hop on a Let’s head up north, far north, to the incredplane in Tromsø, in northern Norway, for the ible Kingdom of Lapland! Norway, Sweden, ninety minute flight up to Longyearbyen, the Finland, and a bit of the Svalbard Islands. Article

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Lapland

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orwegian Lapland is better known as Finnmark, yet formerly known as Danish Lapland. All very confusing but it can be explained!

Located far above the Arctic Circle, the turbulent waters of the Norwegian Sea bring in a constant flow of nutrition to the marine life, which in turn feeds the birds. Fishing is popular, particularly cod, which is legendary Located in the extreme northeastern part of in the making of “stockfish”. Walk around the Norway, Finnmark borders Troms county to villages and notice the unsalted cod drying in the southwest, Finnish Lapland to the south, the cold air on wooden racks. Cold-adapted and the Russian Murmansk Oblast Lapland to bacteria matures the fish in a similar way to the east. In the northeast lies the Norwegian cheese making, and the fish is then used in Sea (Atlantic Ocean), and the Barents Sea many local dishes, or exported to Europe. (Arctic Ocean) lies to the north and northeast. Norwegian Lapland, however, generally also includes Troms county and the northern parts of Nordland, south of Finnmark, which makes this the most populated and largest region within the greater Lapland. Some of the most notable settlements in Norwegian Lapland are the towns of Bodø, Narvik, Harstad, Tromsø, Alta, Hammerfest, Kirkenes, and the most northern European settlement, Nordkapp.

The islands are also home to large colonies of puffins and many other birds. Northeast of Lofoten lies the picturesque town of Narvik, which is best reached on the Arctic Circle Train from the Swedish towns of Kiruna or Luleå. From Narvik, a 3½-hour scenic trip by bus goes all the way to the beautiful town of Tromsø. In winter take the gondola to Storsteinen (421 m above sea level) for stunning views over the winter wonderland below you!

Norwegian Lapland is known for its deep blue fjords, red-roofed villages, succulent seafood, and stunning winter wonderland! Narvik, an all-year-round travel destination, is popular for its beautiful mountain setting, coloured houses, alpine skiing at nearby Narvikfjellet, and as springboard for adventures among the fjords.

While the Norwegian language dominates across the region, the Sami speakers are mainly found inland and in Nordland county, Troms county, and mostly in the far northern Finnmark county which borders Finland. The region is also home to the Kvens people (Norwegian Finns) and the Russians who mostly live in Kirkenes along the Russian border. Why known as Danish Lapland? Because during the 16th century Norway was part of the multi-national state of Danmark–Norge. Geographically, Finnmark is larger than the entire country of Denmark. Add to that the rest of Norwegian Lapland, and we are talking about a very large area. What is a traveller to do with limited time and money when the area is so large, public transportation is limited, and the cost of travelling is among the highest in the world? You focus on a few places and spend your money and time wisely! One of the most beautiful parts of Norwegian Lapland is the Lofoten Islands in northern Nordland. Popularly described as “Norway’s untamed islands”, Lofoten is famous for its spectacular nature attractions such as the Northern Lights in winter, the midnight sun in summer, and many quaint off the beaten track red-roofed villages. 80

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Reine is a fishing village in the southern part of the Lofoten Islands. Located in an idyllic mountain setting far north of the arctic circle, the more picturesque village named Å lies about 10 km southwest of Reine.


Norwegian Lapland Views of Tromsø covered in snow. Take one of the two gondolas, known as “Seal” and “Polar bear”, built in 1961, up to the mountain ledge of Storsteinen (421 m above sea level) for spectacular panoramic views over the city, surrounding islands, mountains and fjords. Views from Narvikfjellet Mountain over the Ankenes municipality to the west of Narvik, on the southern side of Beis Fjord. Ankenes is connected with Narvik via the 375 m long Beisfjord Bridge.

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The Norwegian Town of Tromsø

Spectacular panoramic views of Tromsø from the mountain ledge of Storsteinen (421 m above sea level). Do you remember “Where’s Waldo...” Dr. Globerovers is on one of these roofs. Can you spot him?

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Swedish Lapland

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S

Lapland

wedish Lapland, written by the Swedes as “Lappland” and known as Sápmi by the local Sami people, comprises about a quarter of Sweden’s total land surface area. The Swedish Lapland used to extend much further east, until in 1809 when the Russian Empire, under Emperor Alexander I (a.k.a. Alexander the Blessed), annexed the eastern part of the Swedish dominion and created the Grand Duchy of Finland (today’s modern Finland). It was ruled by Russia until 1917 when, after the February Revolution and the October Revolution, Finland declared its independence.

something thrilling to experience.

town of Kiruna from where a short taxi ride goes to the village of Jukkasjärvi. The village is Other than the vast wilderness and the natural popular from December until April when its beauty of lakes, rivers, and snow covered annual ice hotel (branded as ICEHOTEL), a landscapes, the culture of the local Sámi hotel made entirely from ice, rises next to the people is colourful and intriguing. Look out Torne River. The ice hotel borrows hundreds for the fascinating Duodji, the Sami handiof tonnes of crystal-clear ice from the frozen craft, which originates from a time when river which is then carved and sculpted into these people were true nomads and men wore the most beautiful ice bedrooms, complete antler-handled with ice-made chanadorned Sami deliers and furniture. knives and items Enjoy a vodka in an made from ice-carved tumbler in wood and bone the ice-carved bar. in their daily The irresistible allure of the Swedish Lapland is lives. Attend a From Kiruna, continue its vast and sparsely populated wilderness with Sámi festival and on the Arctic Circle seemingly endless pine and spruce forests. you may hear their “yoiks” which is a chant Train past beautiful winter landscapes all the Travellers, both Swedish and foreign, come traditionally sung a cappella. The Jokkmokks way to Narvik in the Norwegian Lapland. here to experience remoteness at its best. marknad festival, held during February in the village of Jokkmokk, northwest of Luleå, is the In summers, enjoy the midnight sun from Whether you come here during the short largest indigenous Sámi festival in the world. May to mid-July, and in winter see the Northsummers, the cool spring and autumn, or ern Lights colour-painting the dark skies. the long cold winter months, there is always In winter, take the train from Luleå to the Swedish Lapland is truly beautiful!

Swedish Lapland’s rugged wilderness has endless forests of pine and spruce, thundering rivers, snow covered landscapes, and peaceful lakeside villages amongst the hills

George R.R. Martin in “A Game of Thrones” once proclaimed that ‘nothing burns like the cold.’ While the cold in Swedish Lapland can burn very intensely, it’s a thrilling bite that you will never forget!

The University town of Luleå is located along the shores of the Bay of Bothnia. Surrounded by bays and islands, the seawater around the town freezes in winter which creates ample opportunities for winter sports such a skating, cross-country skiing, ice hockey, ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowkiting, fat-wheel biking, dog-sledding, or just hiking on the ice. Article

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The ICEHOTEL in Sweden’s Lapland

In Swedish Lapland near the village of Jukkasjärvi, about 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, sleep in a hotel constructed entirely from ice. The room is made from snow while the bed and all decorations are pieces of art, carved from crystal clear solid ice taken from the nearby Torne River. Just a thick reindeer skin and a warm sleeping bag separate you from the ice. Staying at the world’s largest ice hotel is an unforgettable experience. Sleep softly, and stay warm as the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) paint their pastel colours against the bitterly cold and dark skies. 86

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Stay in the world’s coolest hotel

SWEDEN'S ICEHOTEL In the Swedish Lapland town of Jukkasjärvi, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, is the unique, world-famous ICEHOTEL. Sleep in a cosy ice-sculptured snow-built room, see the Northern Lights, enjoy ice fishing, dog sleighing, moose watching, or a snowmobile safari. At the end of an adventurous day, have a cool drink in the ABSOLUT ICEBAR.

Book NOW and follow us

www.icehotel.com www.instagram.com/icehotelsweden www.twitter.com/icehotel_sweden www.facebook.com/icehotel.sweden

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Sweden’s Frozen Lakes

Swedish Lapland is blessed with countless lakes, surrounded by pine and spruce forests. Remoteness… where the sound of silence is only interrupted by the bird-songs of the Lapland longspurs and the moose calls.

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Lapland

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innish Lapland, “Lappi” in the Finnish language, is the largest and northernmost region of Finland. Historically it was part of the Swedish Lapland until 1809 when the Russian Empire annexed the eastern part of the Swedish dominion and created the Grand Duchy of Finland which is known merely as Finland today.

is famous among Finns as the home of Santa Claus (Joulupukki in Finnish) where, according to local folklore, he has his secret toys and trinkets workshop.

- even if just to say that you have been to the official home of Santa Claus in Finnish Lapland! Here you will find the Santa Claus Post Office to mail a special postcard back home, and of course the A little further Finnish Lapland is home to national parks and official Santa Claus south lies the where you gorgeous lakes filled with fish. Spot the reindeer, Office Pyhä-Luosto Nacan meet the man tional Park where wolves, wolverines and brown bears while hiking himself. The Arctic deep gorges slice goes right and then relax in a traditional Finnish sauna Circle Finnish Lapland is dominated by no less than through rugged through the vileight national parks. Nature lovers can enjoy hills. Summer lage, so step back the scenery by land or by water at any time trails cover about 75 km and there are 120 and forth over the white painted line. Nearby of the year. Much of the area has free public km of skiing trails. is Santa Park, an underground amusement access where hikers can roam the great park, complete with elf shows, sleigh rides outdoors. The Pallas-Yllästunturi National Lapland is particularly renowned for its and a Christmas carousel. Park in the far northwest along the Swedish husky, reindeer, and snowmobile safaris. border has 350 km of marked summer trails There is nothing more beautiful than taking a Try to visit the Lainio Snow Village, 200 m and over 500 km of skiing trails. Overnight long reindeer safari or dogsled journey over above the Arctic Circle, or settle for the more stays are in historic Lappish villages where in tens of kilometres accompanied by a tradiaccessible castle made of snow (written as winter you can see the Northern Lights. tional lunch and hot beverages. SnowCastle) in Kemi. A real artwork made of ice and snow, the SnowCastle offers the The Urho Kekkonen National Park in the About 120 km north of the town of Kemi at SnowRestaurant, SnowChapel and Snownorthwest along the Russian border has 200 the top of the Bay of Bothnia, lies the town Hotel.  In winter you can enjoy the endless km of marked summer trails and extensive of Rovaniemi. Travel here by car, or even by temptations of hot saunas, the Northern ski trail networks. The remote fell (Old train. The Santa Claus Village is about 8 km Lights, and reindeer rides on traditional Norse word for mountain) of Korvatunturi north of this town and certainly worth a visit farms. Welcome to Finnish Lapland! GR

“I found myself utterly numbed by the intense cold in Lapland, but reminded myself that there is nothing as invigorating as scraping off ice crystals from my eyelashes”!

This glowing arch around the bitterly cold Finnish winter sun is called a sundog. It is created by sunlight refracting off plate shaped ice crystals in the cirrus clouds.

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Finnish Lapland

The Saint Apostles Peter and Paul Orthodox Church of Tornio, Finland, was founded in 1825 by Russian Czar Alexander I. The current little church building dates back to 1884 and is part of the orthodox parish of Oulu. Tornio is located along the Finland-Sweden border to the north of the Bay of Bothnia. Article

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Finland’s SnowCastle

The restaurant at the SnowCastle of Kemi offers a truly unique experience of dining in a restaurant made completely out of snow. Menu items at the restaurant include local fish like salmon and perch served with vegetables. You will also find an array of soups such as the “cheesy reindeer soup with baguette” and main dishes such as “sliced reindeer, potatoes and root vegetables with game sauce and lingonberries”. The “cranberry mousse cake” as dessert is always popular. Don’t forget the warm mulled wine and homemade berry juice. A three-course dinner with soup, main, and a dessert (excluding drinks), costs €58 per person but includes the €15 entrance fee for the SnowCastle. Restaurant reservations must be made at least two working days in advance.

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A typical rural scenery in Finnish Lapland. Snowy day in Tromsø, Norwegian Lapland. Snow covered house near the border of Norway and Sweden.

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Lapland

Dog sledding on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.

ESSENTIAL Getting There

The main gateways to Lapland are Kemi and Rovaniemi in Finland, Luleå and Kiruna in Sweden, and Narvik and Tromsø in Norway. Fly in directly from capital cities Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oslo or fly direct from some European destinations. Trains cover the gateway cities from respective capitals, with the exception of Norway where buses reach the far north.

When to Go

Come during spring for the flowers, autumn for the change of colours, and winter for the beautiful snow and icy scenery. If you are lucky, you may even see how the Northern Lights play against the cold night sky. Winters are bitterly cold, so be well prepared.

Dining Out

Traditional Lapland flavours like fish and game, especially reindeer, play a central role in dining out. Dining out is not cheap, but try the Sami flat bread (gáhkko) together with red lingonberries, and the dishes made with bear meat, mountain trout, grouse, and fine whitefish roe.

INFORMATION

Getting Around

Trains are fast and efficient to and from selected towns in Finland and Sweden, except for Norway where the train network stops in Bodø, 300 km south of Narvik. The Arctic Circle Train connects Luleå and Kiruna with Narvik. Beyond the rail network, public buses are available but often with limited reach and schedules. Rent a vehicle for optimal flexibility.

Where to Stay

Lapland is well-prepared for tourists with many types of accommodation available. In small villages, you may have to rely on homestay, tents, or even stay in an ice hotel! Come in winter and stay in one of the ice hotels, ice castles, or in a glass igloo hotel. Summer camping is popular.

Train Journeys

Trains from Oslo, Stockholm, and Helsinki are pleasant and comfortable. The distances are vast, so an overnight sleeping train is the best option. Try the Finnish doubledecker night train, known as the Santa Claus Express and the Arctic Circle Train from Luleå (Sweden) to Narvik (Norway).

Photography

Lapland is a photographer’s wonderland all year round. During spring, some areas of Lapland are covered in flowers. The dramatic change of colour in autumn when the foliage changes to bright orange and red is a great time to visit. However, if you only plan a single visit, come during winter to photograph this winter wonderland complete with the Northern Lights.

Safety

Lapland is known to be safe from human attacks. The biggest concern is the weather, such as the severe cold, and accidents such as falls or crashing a snowmobile. A lesser concern are animals such a wolves, bears, and moose. Bring enough insect repellent in the warm months.

Cost of Travel

Scandinavia, (and Lapland even more so), is one of the most expensive regions in the world. Accommodation, food, transportation, and most everything else is likely more expensive than you are accustomed to. However, the quality of services is normally great, and it is all worth the money! Article

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Cool

Excitements in Lapland

Not e to b d e miss

Svalbard Islands Norway

Formerly known by the Dutch name Spitzbergen, the group of Svalbard islands (Spitzbergen being the largest), is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Situated about 1,000 km from the North Pole, and technically not part of Lapland, Svalbard was historically infamous for walrus and whale hunting, and lots of coal mining. Fortunately, nowadays it is best known for scientific research, polar bear spotting, North Pole expeditions, and a few tourists who want to be close to the top of the world. Because polar bears are a real danger all year round, your guide will take his shotgun with him when taking you dog sledding, snowmobiling, or on any outdoor adventure! Be careful in the -40°C winters!

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Lofoten Islands Norway

Draped across the turbulent deep blue waters of the Norwegian Sea, far above the Arctic Circle, the Lofoten Islands are a rare wilderness outpost with an untrammelled landscape of jagged mountains, majestic fjords, squawking seabird colonies and quaint red-roofed villages. No less than 2½ million nesting birds make Lofoten Islands a bird watcher’s and photographer’s paradise. Visit in summer for the midnight sun or in winter for the endless darkness! Most adventurers travel around by long distance bicycle! 96

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Ice hotel Sweden

Kiruna town, 145 km north of the Arctic Circle, is the gateway to Sweden’s famous ICEHOTEL. Made from ice and snow each year, the hotel is located in the beautiful village of Jukkasjärvi. Guests sleep in polar-tested sleeping bags on ice beds covered with reindeer furs. The hotel features a bar, chapel, main hall, restaurant, reception area, plus about 70 rooms and suites for over 100 guests. Enjoy the Absolute Vodka Ice Bar!

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Lulea > Narvik Sweden / Norway

The Arctic Circle Train from the university town of Luleå in northern Sweden takes about 7½ hours to the town of Narvik in northern Norway. This very pleasant train journey goes past rural Arctic terrain and a few tiny villages such as Kiruna, Abisko Östra, and Vassijaure before arriving in the beautiful town of Narvik on the shores of the Ofotfjorden. This train journey can be done all-year round, but winter creates a beautiful snowy winter wonderland.


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SnowCastle Finland

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Luleå Sweden

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Kemi > Rovaniemi Finland

Just about 500 km southeast of Sweden’s ICEHOTEL, the Finnish SnowCastle lies on the outskirts of Kemi, along the northern shores of the Gulf of Bothnia.

Located almost 100 km south of the Arctic Circle, the town of Luleå is the capital of Norrbotten County. It is home to Luleå University of Technology, the northernmost university in Sweden.

After you have enjoyed a meal at the SnowCastle at Kemi, get on the train, which takes a very scenic 1½ hour journey to the northern town of Rovaniemi.

The SnowCastle offers the SnowHotel with 21 rooms, the SnowRestaurant, and the SnowChapel.

Whether you visit during the warm summer months or the brutally cold winters, Luleå has plenty of adventures to keep you busy. The town has its fair share of churches and museums, but the adventures start outside of town, especially in winter when you can ski or skate on the frozen bay or enjoy dog sledding.

The journey hugs the banks of the Kemijoki, the longest (550 km) river in Finland, which flows through Rovaniemi before reaching the Gulf of Bothnia at Kemi some 120 km to the south. Be on the lookout for the Santa Claus Express train which travels 900 km from Helsinki to Kemijärvi via Rovaniemi (official home of Santa Claus).

Every year it is reconstructed entirely out of snow and ice made from the surrounding sea water. It is normally open from the end of January until the beginning of April.

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Tromsø Norway

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Rovaniemi Finland

At about 400 km north of the Arctic Circle, the town of Tromsø is Norway’s gateway to the Arctic. From here, fly further north to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard for your dog sledding and polar bear excursions.

Known as the official home of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi is also the capital of Finnish Lapland. The town has been aptly called “An urban oasis amidst the Arctic wilderness, where culture, adventure and fairy tales come together”.

Surrounded by chilly fjords and craggy snow-capped peaks, the town has a history of seal hunting, trapping and fishing. These days it is becoming more popular among adventurers as a base for Arctic expeditions and to spot the elusive Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), but come in winter!

Check out the Santa Claus Village, just 8 km north of the town. The Arktikum Science Museum doesn’t allow photography, so it does not deserve a visit! Visit in winter to experience the brutally cold weather and hopefully see a pair of sundogs!

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Gammelstad Sweden

Gammelstad Church Town, known in Swedish as Gammelstads Kyrkstad, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about 10 km northwest of the university town of Luleå. Described as a “Church Village”, this is one of the best-preserved examples of a church town which was once common across Lapland. Wooden houses with a 15th-century Nederluleå Lutheran Church at its centre, were used to accommodate worshipers from far away. This church is decorated with intricate frescos! Article

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d n o y e b d n Gansbaai a a of the

e r a g r e b r e v O ica r f A h t u o S , ce Cape Provin By Janet-Lynn Vorster Cape Town, South Africa.

G

All photos by Globerovers Magazine, unless where otherwise indicated.

ansbaai, meaning “Goose Bay”, is just over two hours from Cape Town, (162 km) via the N2 and R43. It is named after the Egyptian geese that inhabited the freshwater fountain on the farm “Strandfontein” where the present-day harbour is. Gansbaai is an unspoilt area, and it stretches along the coastline with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and fynbos-covered mountains on the other. It feels slightly remote, and yet is only a half hour drive from Hermanus. It has a relaxed, small-town feel. Across the bay, you can see Hermanus on the far shoreline. I spent the night at Whalesong Lodge, and a whale cow and her calf were wallowing in the ocean right below my window. I loved that room! A prime viewing spot in whale season! From there, I could see all the way to Cape Point in Cape Town! Gansbaai is home to the Marine Big 5. Bottlenose dolphins abound and can often be seen jumping across the bay, weaving in and out of the surf. Cape fur seals and African penguins live in colonies on the nearby islands. This is known as the great white shark capital of the world, home of White Shark Diving Company with its shark cage diving, marine conservation programs and international volunteers. Many Southern Right whales come here to mate and to calve, completing the Marine Big 5. Dyer Island is a nature reserve and is not accessible to the public. However, there are numerous boat trips that can be booked to view these islands and the marine life around

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In our series, Village LIFE, our Southern Africa correspondent, Janet-Lynn Vorster, takes us around the coastal areas of Gansbaai, Cape Agulhas, and Struisbaai in the Overberg area of South Africa’s Western Cape Province. This article continues in the next issue of Globerovers Magazine. them. Ivanhoe Sea Safaris is regarded as one of the leading boat-based whale watching companies in South Africa, and launches from the quaint fishing harbour of Gansbaai. Dyer Island is the largest of a group of islands, roughly 8 km offshore. In 1806, Samson Dyer harvested the guano (bird excrement) from the island which he sold as fertilizer. This is how the island got its name. Another nearby island, Geyser Rock, is home to the Cape fur seal. “Shark Alley” is the narrow channel of water between these two islands. This alley is patrolled by white sharks hoping to catch their next meal. Seals are a favourite source of food. This alley is approximately 230 m

wide at its narrowest point, and roughly 470 m long. You would be hard pressed to find a better opportunity elsewhere to study these mystical and feared creatures. Visit the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary. They feed the penguins at three in the afternoons. Driving down the main road through town, you will notice a few fishing shops. Fishing is a wonderful pastime on these shores, and the main reason people moved to Gansbaai in the first place. Accommodation ranges from camping sites, to self-catering options, to comfortable B&B’s, to top of the range private nature reserves. There is something for everyone,


Village LIFE

Gansbaai & beyond, SOUTH AFRICA

Gansbaai, Struisbaai & Cape Agulhas area

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whatever your preference and budget. No need to get supplies before you visit. There are enough places to buy supplies in Gansbaai, unless you are looking for something specific or exotic. Restaurants in and around Gansbaai are plentiful. My favourite place for excellent candlelight dining and atmosphere is Thyme at Rosemary’s Restaurant in the main road. By day you can sit outside in their beautiful garden. They serve delicious South African meals, such as oxtail, and lamb curry, both tried and tested by myself! For generous portions and a very affordable local meal, The Boathouse Restaurant and Bar at the Gansbaai Harbour is a good choice, although a little noisy. The shoreline in and around Gansbaai varies from endless white sandy beaches, to rockpools, caves and rocky cliffs. These caves along the shore at De Kelders, have a rich history linked to Middle- and Late Stone Age people known as the Khoikhoi. The most impressive of these caves is Klipgat Cave, which provided these Khoikhoi with both shelter and fresh spring water. The best beach for swimming and walking is Franskraal Beach, also known as Uilkraal Beach. Situated 4 km from central Gansbaai, this never-ending, uninterrupted sandy beach runs towards the Uilkraal estuary, and

is also popular for picnics and bird watching. Gansbaai boasts a wide variety of water sports, quad biking, off-road cycling, hiking and golf. Pop in to the local info centre and get all the info you need from Glenda. The Gansbaai Information Centre is at the Gateway Centre on Main Road. The closest wine farm is the Lomond Wine Estate, about 20 km from Gansbaai on the Baardskeerdersbos road. If studying or photographing the fynbos (local flora) excites you, you will find untold

delights here. The area around Gansbaai literally turns pink in winter and early spring. Why not try the Fynbos Trail? It is guided by an expert on fynbos, who points out many interesting facts on this floral kingdom. Over 800 fynbos species (proteas, ericas, reeds and bulbs) have been identified along this threeday, 26 km trail. There is always something in bloom, no matter what time of the year you choose to visit. Should you be young (or older!), and think you are going to die of boredom at night in Gansbaai, fear not. Johnny’s - The Party Pub usually has something exciting on the go, and

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if you are a night owl, you can get something to eat there until 1 o’clock in the morning! Meet the locals, play pool or watch sport on the big screen. The lighthouse at Danger Point is at the end of a scenic drive. It is not always open. From May to September it may be visited by reservation only. From October to April it is open to the public from 10h00 to 15h00. What a beautiful setting! Stories about shipwrecks and ghosts are plentiful in this town! This coastline has taken its toll on many ships and lives, especially in the days before echo sounders were developed to allow hydrographers to chart the oceans. So, what are you waiting for? Time to book your next trip! Fly to Cape Town and take a shuttle from there to Gansbaai. GR For more information about Gansbaai and area, visit the Gansbaai Information Centre: www.gansbaaiinfo.com facebook.com/GansbaaiTourism twitter.com/GansbaaiTourism

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GANSBAAI

Great White Shark

Y

Capital of the World!

Shark Cage Diving - Information and photos courtesy of White Shark Diving Company, Gansbaai, South Africa. ou have a greater chance of spotting a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) in Gansbaai than anywhere else in the world.

Dyer Island, just off the coast of Gansbaai, is home to some 50,000 Cape fur seals, which is the shark’s primary food source. Although known as apex predators, these sharks do have one natural predator - the orca. Sharks are surface feeders, so they are easy to view in hotspots. Contrary to popular belief, great whites are not interested in eating humans, and an attack is always a case of mistaken identity, or inquisitiveness.

Endangered species

There are 300 to 600 great whites left along the South African (SA) coastline. Of greater

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concern, though, is that the current SA great white population comes from only about 330 breeding pairs - or less - well below the necessary 500 cut-off mark, below which the quality of the gene pool deteriorates significantly. The genetics of the great whites are in an unhealthy condition, and in an extinction spiral. It is not known to what extent great whites will cross oceans to enhance the gene pool. Some reasons for declining numbers, are exploitation such as sports fishing, the curio trade, and the oriental shark-fin trade. Unintended fishery captures and shark nets and drum lines also cause huge losses. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, merely gives the status of the great white as “vulnerable”. On CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) the

great white is listed as an Appendix 2, which includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled. With only 2,000 to 3,000 great whites left on the entire planet, it is very worrying to see these classifications. They should be at least “endangered”, if not “critically endangered”, and thus be listed in Appendix 1.

Great White Research in South Africa Two main projects: 1. Dorsal Fin Identification and Genetic Research Dr. Sara Andreotti, in collaboration with Michael Rutzen, the University of Stellenbosch and Oceans and Coasts (a branch of the Department of Environmental Affairs of South Africa), started a great white identification and demographics project by collect-


Self Catering

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BAARDSKEERDERSBOS, GANSBAAI

RUSTHOF

ACCOMMODATION

We offer you a peaceful break away from your busy schedule, situated 5km from Baardskeerdersbos and 20km from Gansbaai, and only 10 minutes from Uilkraal Beach www.rusthofaccommodation.co.za langenhovenchrista@gmail.com ing daily photographs of white shark’s dorsal fins and where possible, genetic samples. Dr. Sara Andreotti’s PhD project was extended from Gansbaai to the whole coastline by sailing around South Africa with a catamaran, equipped as a research vessel. To include a genetic approach for the identification of individual white sharks, DNA samples were taken. Why? The lack of information on great whites and their population figures is the biggest obstacle to getting them categorized as endangered, affording them better protection. California, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand also have great white populations, but SA has done more research than the rest of the world, and now has the biggest, most comprehensive bank of DNA research. The results all point to a dire situation that needs drastic intervention. 2. SharkSafe barrier The SharkSafe barrier is an effective, affordable and environmentally friendly barrier, basically an artificial kelp forest, for separating sharks and beachgoers.

Four researchers and shark experts: Dr. Craig O’Connell, Michael Rutzen, Dr. Sara Andreotti, and Prof. Conrad Matthee are spearheading this project. Sharks have “Ampullae of Lorenzini” - little black dots positioned around the nose and eyes that contain a gel-like substance. These “dots” enable sharks to sense electrical impulses emanating from the muscles of their prey. Sharks don’t usually swim through openings narrower than their dorsal fins, like kelp forests. This SharkSafe barrier is made of a bollard at the bottom, pool noodles, chains, and magnets. It has been extensively tested, with 100% success rates. Hundreds of thousands of sharks, dolphins, turtles and other species die after becoming tangled in nets, or hooked on drum lines. Between 1978 and 2008 alone, over 1,000 white sharks were killed in this way along the Natal coastline. This is a HUGE blow in view of the current shark population figures. It takes many years to replace 1,000 white sharks!

Mating games

How they mate is a mystery. There are no recordings of matings, but huge gashes on

the backs and heads of females have been seen after mating. The sexual organs are clearly visible on males, and females have a slit, but otherwise their external features and behaviour are the same. A male takes between 20 to 25 years to become sexually mature, and a female takes 30 to 35 years. The gestation period, of which very little is known, is 14 to 18 months, and they only give birth to a few pups at a time, and only reproduce a few times in their lifetime. So, it is going to be a slow process to get populations up again.

Who goes shark cage diving and why?

International travellers generally do research on the sharks before they come to SA. They look for ethical, conservation-conscious companies. They are a combination of thrill seekers, marine biologists, photographers, film producers and people wanting to overcome the “fear factor” and challenge themselves to step out of their comfort zones. Some are ordinary people who want to tick it off their bucket list. Everyone should do it once. The adrenalin Village Life

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rush when seeing a shark in open waters for the first time will leave you on a high for quite a while! You will also find it very transformative in the way you perceive great whites after getting up close and personal. In winter, the water is usually clearer with good visibility for both underwater and upper deck viewing, filming and photos. In winter, the water is a lot warmer (strange but true!) than in summer, being around 12°C in summer, and 17°C in winter. For these reasons, many prefer diving in winter, so shark cage diving is not seasonal. However, due to winter rainfall and storms, there are fewer sea days in winter.

and accreditations, and is passionate about the business. The focus is on conservation and client service. Most clients get to go into the cage twice, and are encouraged to get as much eye to eye contact time with the sharks as possible. Facets of the business include: staff, training, the boat, skippers, maintenance, transport logistics, transport vehicles, everyday business, bookings, catering, safety briefings, volunteer groups, media and conservation. Nik smiles and proudly says they have the logistics down to a fine art!

Start with coffee and a light breakfast, complete your indemnity form, and spend 20 minutes in a safety briefing. Find a seat on the boat. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the dive site, which is near Dyer Island. On the trip you will be educated, and there are snacks and drinks on the boat. The bait line is thrown out to attract the sharks, but pulled away from the shark as it approaches. Sharks are not fed. There are procedures to release the bait line should the shark get hold of it, so the shark is not harmed. Sharks circling the boat are called players. Some just swim past. The shark does not associate with the people in the cage at all, but merely sees the outline of the cage and boat.

About White Shark Diving Company (WSDC) in Gansbaai

The Dive The entire dive experience takes about three hours.

WSDC employs 24 people, and 5 or 6 casuals. I must admit I never thought there was so much involved in the industry. Nor was I Clients are fetched from Cape Town and the aware of the great work they do for conserva- winelands near Somerset West and Stellention, research and in the community. bosch, and returned on the same day.

Get into a wetsuit, booties and a hoodie, climb over the side of the boat with snorkelling equipment, and lower yourself into the cage next to the boat. Wetsuits go up to size six XL and dry wetsuits are provided for every trip.

Captain Philip Colyn Snr. and his son are exceptional skippers and dive masters. Nik Walsh, MD, says WSDC has the most experienced team in SA. He has won many awards

Weather-, shark- and client dependent, there are two trips daily. The first trip is usually before 08h30, and the second trip just before midday.

Groups of maximum eight people are allowed in the cage at a time. Keep your head above water, wait for a shark, and the dive master will tell you when to go down and to

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look to either the left or the right.

animal is paramount; hence the laws and regulation of this industry. Nik has a GovShould you get cold feet or feel too constricted ernment permit to operate in Gansbaai, and in the wetsuit, the dive master is excellent is one of only about 13 people in SA with at calming people down, and the majority a permit. “Great White Shark Protection end up going into the cage. Feeling a little Foundation”, are the owners of the governnervous is normal, and whether you go into ment permits in South Africa, and Nik has the cage or not, it will still be an unforgethelped to formalise and regulate the industry table experience. Viewing from the upper since 2008. deck is sometimes better than from the cage, especially when visibility in the water is less Safety than 1 metre. In 20 years, WSDC has a 100% safety record. Phenomenal! Once back at the crew house, watch the video of the trip, have a shower, and leave on a high! Everyone is very highly qualified and experienced to do their job, and highly skilled Operators used to brag of a 99% success in safety and first aid. WSDC is the only rate of seeing sharks, but this is no longer company in the entire industry with a safety the case. Patterns are changing. The ocean is officer on board, qualified to administer changing. However, the successful sighting more advanced medical procedures. figures are still very high. If no sharks are seen, or if only a fin in the distance is seen, it Safety comes first. Always! It is always preferwill be called a mistrip and you will receive able to cancel a trip rather than put anyone free vouchers to come again. The voucher is at any risk. Kids under 10 are allowed on the valid for two years. boat, but not in the cage. The oldest person to go into the cage was 78 years old! Permits Protection of both the ocean and a protected Try on a wetsuit before coming, just to get

JOIN US FOR INTREPID FUN GlobeRovers Magazine

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used to the restrictive feeling. This can make the dive easier. You may get seasick if the sea is a little rough, but it will be well worth it!

ties, and Mary Rowlinson, marine biologist at WSDC, teaches marine science classes at Gansbaai Akademia.

Shark cage and boats WSDC’s boat is licenced to take 22 people and 5 crew members. 27 people in total. It is not the biggest vessel in the industry by far, sort of middle of the range, to give a more personalized service. It is powered by ecofriendly 300HP outboard engines.

WSDC Research and Volunteer Institute Nik is very involved with research. He met with Prof. Matthee, the SharkSafe Team and the Evolutionary Genomics Group at Stellenbosch University, and has been raising awareness and funding for these projects. A percentage of the dive cost, and proceeds from the buffs (cool headgear) they sell, go to these projects at the Stellenbosch University. Mary is part of the team gathering information for the shark data base program using dorsal fin identification and genetics.

Safety officers of SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) survey the boats annually, and a structural engineer signs off and stamps each cage, which is an expertly designed piece of equipment assigned to a specific vessel. So, all boats and cages have permits. Lids were added to the cages about 10 years ago.

The company provides opportunities for research-focused young scientists and students to sign up as volunteers. They help with shark tagging (the smaller species, not the great whites), beach clean-ups, research projCorporate Social Responsibility Wetsuits are subject to wear and tear, so Nik ects, learn different research techniques, data collection and data management and have an donates 20 to 30 wetsuits annually to a surf opportunity to get involved with marine life school for underprivileged kids. and contribute to conservation. They always Huge work is done in the area for upliftment. need more volunteers, so find out more if you are interested. WSDC funds many initiatives and chari-

• Sharky facts

• A great white can have 3,000 teeth in their mouth at any one time. They are replaceable. • They don’t chew their food, but tear it and swallow it whole. • Their liver is a major organ, and they love livers from other animals. • They grow up to 6 m long, (some say 7 m), but in Gansbaai, although they see sharks of 4 or 5 m long, they usually see sharks of about 2 ½ m long. • You may not catch, touch, transport or trade any part of the great white. • They generally swim at around 3.2 km per hour, but can reach speeds of up to 24 km per hour. • Sharks can breach. It is a hunting mechanism. They swim under their prey, and propel themselves upwards and out of the water, reaching speeds of up to 65 km per hour. They only breach in the winter months. • Great whites can increase the temperature in their head to 14 ½°C higher than the water temperature. This helps them to improve the resolution of the images the

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eye picks up, helps them to keep muscles warm to swim faster, and speeds digestion. • Sharks have individual characters. They are thinking animals. • Shark pups are 1 to 1½ m long at birth, and they swim away from their mother immediately, as there is no maternal bond.

white is coming towards you, look it in the eyes, go towards it and it will back away. The trick is how to stay calm with a great white coming towards you!

Mary Rowlinson heads the research and data collection at WSDC Research and Volunteer Institute, collecting info on these sharks, and tagging smaller shark species. She always About Nik, Mary and Cindy wanted to be a marine biologist and was Nik Walsh, MD, has owned WSDC since 2005. a “Jaws” movie fan as a child, curious and He has always had a calling for the sea, and scared, yet fascinated with sharks. Mary met sharks by accident while diving when he came to SA from the UK ten years ago when was younger. He says stay calm when a great she started her undergraduate studies as

a volunteer, and moved here permanently to do her Masters at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Cindy Tilney, is PR and media manager, among many other things she does. Nik still remembers his first sightings! He describes it as an amazing feeling! Cindy says that her first cage dive changed her perception; that great whites are beautiful creatures, and seeing the graceful and powerful way in which they move dispelled all myths and fear, leaving a newfound respect and empathy. GR

How can you help? You can help to spread awareness and contribute to conservation by going on a dive, buying a buff, or donating to one of the initiatives. •

www.iucnredlist.org/details/3855/0

www.sharkcagediving.co.za

• • • •

Volunteers at work

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www.cites.org/eng/gallery/species/fish/great_white_shark.html www.environment.gov.za/branches/oceans_coast www.facebook.com/Sharksafebarrier www.gwspf.co.za


CHASING WAVES Inspired by an interview with Stefan Pheiffer Struisbaai beach is low-risk for sharks, and has gentler waves, especially for beginner surfers. The water is much warmer in Struisbaai than in Gansbaai, and surfing lessons Stefan started surfing as a child, and as a young adult would drive 300 km in the hope (Robbie’s Surfing Lessons) are available if you of getting a good wave; no money, sleeping in want to make your debut into stand-up surfhis car and surviving on bananas. These days ing and take some pics home with you. he is more discerning, and studies the shoreCape Agulhas, where two oceans converge, lines, the wind, the high- and low-pressure is not for the faint-hearted. Even seasoned systems, ground swell… surfers have been taken by the rip. Currents Gansbaai is shark territory, but this does not are strong here! deter surfers. Some people surf for precisely Tips for surfers: that reason - the adrenalin, the fear, nature in its rawest form, where you can completely • Never “drop-in” on a wave without having priority! Never! forget about everyday stuff… where for a split second it is just you and that wave, and • Never let the board get between you and if you don’t concentrate and clear your mind the waves. You may have your nose broyou are going to get really hurt; for the barrel ken or teeth knocked out. over your head that just goes on and on… • Never surf alone. • Winter has the best surfing conditions. Once Stefan decided to surf at De Kelders in • As an international visitor, you have a Gansbaai; great waves, perfect conditions. small chance of a local taking you to a Halfway into his wet suit, he noticed some “secret spot”! So, ask! If you are a local grey spots patrolling the back line - great – don’t bother asking! Secret spots are whites! Fear struck and he decided not to go secret spots for a reason! in. A scary moment, realising he had almost was seriously wrong when he felt water running down his throat.

In South Africa, surfing is gaining popularity, no longer the sole domain of anticulturists, anarchists and free spirits. Most people start surfing by bodyboarding (boogieboarding). Stand-up surfing takes far longer to master. A fierce rivalry exists between surfers and bodyboarders. Stefan is a “hard core” bodyboarder. He tackles waves that a stand-up surfer would never attempt – big, hollow shore breakers. “Cool, raw, hard core and crazy” are words he uses to describe these gigantic 6 to 8 foot waves he surfs, relating stories of rolling over sharp reefs at 60 km per hour, doing a back flip resulting in chiropractor visits, coming down with his shoulder onto a sandbank, and bursting an eardrum from hitting a rock. He heard the eardrum explode, but just went out to sea again, only realising something

gone out there!

Actually, sharks don’t usually attack humans, especially not when they are in large groups, and apparently they don’t even like the taste.

Check out the images by Stefan thepicta.com/user/stefan5fer/1645559918 CHASING WAVES continues in the next issue of Globerovers Magazine. 113


GANSBAAI

African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary I was amazed to discover that penguins are actually birds!

Although there are 17 species of penguins, the African penguin, 68 cm tall, only breeds in Africa. In South Africa, Dyer Island, 8 km from the Kleinbaai Harbour of Gansbaai, is one of the main penguin colonies.

African penguins have two breeding seasons annually in May and at the end of the year. While there were about 70,000 penguins around 40 years ago, they have dwindled to roughly 700 to 1,000 breeding pairs on Dyer Island.

Why are their numbers diminishing?

Penguin guano is good fertilizer so it was being harvested, destroying breeding nests in the process. This has been stopped.

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Seals prey on penguins when fish is scarce, (and penguin eggs were a delicacy – not allowed to collect anymore, also stopped many years ago – but both guano collection and egg harvesting contributed to the initial dramatic fall in numbers). Over-fishing results in a shortage of food for the penguins. In land colonies, penguins are endangered by leopards, cats and ticks from dogs and other mammals that have access to the beaches and surrounding areas.

Who and what is the Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary?

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust was founded by Wilfred Chivell, who dreamt of establishing a centre in Gansbaai to immediately be of help to penguins in need, alleviating having to transport them elsewhere. The sanctuary is run by Theanette Staal, a passionate, qualified veterinarian nurse with

a BA-degree in political sciences and law as well as a certificate in field guiding. She is assisted by Xolani Lawo, senior bird rehabilitator, and Mervin Visagie, a bird rehabilitator, who both have extensive experience. They all work together with Cape Nature. Theanette showed me around the sanctuary, telling me, with a twinkle in her eye, that in 2007 she volunteered her help in the Eastern Cape and that it was love at first sight with the penguins. On 1 November 2016, her dream materialised when she took a transfer from her other love, a donkey sanctuary, and embarked on her new “sink or swim” career.

The facility

The sanctuary opened in February 2015. It is the only one in South Africa that is custombuilt. It has been cleverly designed for flow,


to efficiently deal with and accommodate large numbers of penguins. Air flow has been planned to eliminate the need for air conditioners. The penguin pools have a “current”, so the current will push any weak or struggling penguins out onto the step. Floor surfaces have been selected to allow for high-pressure hosing and easy cleaning, while being nonslip. Drainage at the facility is very good, with underground channels which drain into tanks. The water from the tanks is used in the garden. It is easy to maintain hygienically and it lacks nothing. The area that the public sees is the conditioning pen, which looks like Dyer Island - bleak, white, and rocky with little vegetation. From here they are released. The public can see into this area through one-way windows. Theanette explained that penguins have very individual characters, rather like cats, but they live in groups as there’s safety in numbers! However, they can be very amusing! The rehabilitation- and hospital sections are

at the back, out of the public eye. The young chicks, or penguins from oil spills, or sick or wounded birds go to the rehab side first. Here they can handle 400 penguins at a time. Each bird has a number and a hospital form. They are each weighed, and record is kept of weight, food, treatment given, blood tests (which are done and analysed on site), medications, and vitamin supplements. Thiamine is supplemented as this is destroyed when fish is frozen. They are also dewormed. All that enter this facility are “transponded” (micro-chipped) into the left leg. The planning and running of this facility is superb. The facilities are designed to be both wheelchair friendly and eco-friendly. They are hoping to go completely off the grid in the near future. There are cameras everywhere in the facility, and every section of the sanctuary can be shown on the big screen in their auditorium, without stressing the birds. Human interaction is limited and discouraged. The cafeteria serves coffee, tea, cakes, juice and milkshakes. Entrance is free for visitors

and feeding time is daily at 15h00.

How do the birds get here?

The rangers patrol Dyer Island. Sick penguins and abandoned chicks are brought to the sanctuary. The public also brings in sick and wounded birds.

Abandoned chicks

Towards the end of each year the adult birds moult. This compromises their waterproofing and thus ability to regulate temperature which leads them to become hypothermic should they swim. They need to fatten up for their moult to be able to survive from 3 to 6 weeks on land to moult. As they don’t moult one feather at a time, but literally push all the old feathers out in one go, they cannot enter the water during this time and are unable to catch fish. Sometimes these birds have chicks that hatch late in the season, so if nature kicks in and the adults need to start fattening up for their annual moult before the chicks are waterproof and can fish for themselves, those chicks are abandoned. While parents are still fishing, the babies are left in a “creche”. If an adult pair is still looking after their chicks and the chicks are taken away, they may believe they are not a successful breeding pair. Because Village Life

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penguins mate for life, this would end the breeding of this pair for good. So, the rangers can’t simply remove and transfer all the chicks to the sanctuary. It is better not to cause a divorce! No breeding pair can afford to be lost. The abandoned chicks are usually alone and bedraggled and often sitting amongst the adults instead of in a nest or creche, but they still need to be observed for a while to confirm this before collecting them and transporting them to the sanctuary. It is usually at the beginning of November that these abandoned chicks arrive en-masse at the sanctuary, causing total chaos for two days as staff and babies settle into a new routine! So, December, January and February are very busy months here! The sanctuary keeps the whole procedure as close as possible to nature’s way. Chicks are only fed twice a day as the parents would have fed them. They do not use formulae. They are tube-fed an electrolyte solution to hydrate them, and then given fish. In nature, adult penguins can regulate their digestive

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systems as chicks grow, gradually slowing the with them and teaches them these skills and how to look for fish. digestion down until they are regurgitating whole fish. To emulate this, the chicks are fed increasingly larger pieces of fish as they grow. Once the chicks are old enough to sleep outside, they are moved into the conditioning pen, and then their wild natural habits In the mornings they are fed 10% of their return. They don’t habituate them to people body weight plus an additional 10 grams, and captivity at all. They are still hand fed, and in the afternoons just 10% of their body but free fed, for which feeding ramps have weight. To eliminate stress, the same person been built. They bite, as humans are a natural handles each bird minimally every day. The enemy. The feeders are aware of this, and chicks sleep most of the day. know this is ultimately good, as seeing huOnce the chicks can start swimming, the area mans as “enemies” helps ensure the survival of these penguins. between the rehab and conditioning pen is opened, so that the adult birds in the sanctuary can take the little ones and teach them to Sick, wounded, and oiled birds swim. In nature, once the young chicks have Oiled birds are stabilized. As the cleansing fledged, the bond is broken between parents process removes their ‘waterproofing’, they and chicks, and swimming lessons are taken remain in the sanctuary for about two to care of by the collective adult group and not three weeks, or perhaps a month to regain by each specific parent. it. More dangerous than the oil spills, are the diesel spills. The penguins become shinier, Two adult birds at this sanctuary, who are but it is not obvious to see, so they can go semi-blind and cannot be released, take on undetected and die. Diesel in the harbours this role. Bob in particular, is a wonderful makes them very sick. teacher. He pecks the chicks until they go and swim, and then, once in the water, he Seal bite wounds are worse for the penguins pecks them until they dive, then he dives than shark bite wounds. Sharks will taste and


let go, as penguin fat content is not right, so they don’t eat the penguins. However, the seals have learnt that they can rip out the stomach and get the fishy contents. This is a learnt and not an inherent behaviour, so when they teach the young ones, this creates problems, leading to further losses of penguins. Penguins have an amazing way of healing. Theanette suggests that research should be done to ascertain what is in their skin and fat layer that makes them heal so fast. She says everything you learn in veterinary school is different with a penguin, and “less is more”. They are only kept away from the water for two or three days while wounds are being cleaned. Thereafter they swim with those horrific wounds which heal as they swim. Occasionally they are given antibiotics. The wounds form a thin yellow layer that smells fishy. After a few days when that can be peeled off, there is fresh pink tissue underneath. This is disinfected, forms another yellow layer which peels off about seven days later, when the wound is easily two thirds smaller, and then just miraculously heals. A bad shark bite can completely heal in about 3

weeks. Once they are fully waterproof again they are ready to go.

flat, wet surfaces.

They do not suture wounds, as it causes pus to build up inside, the wound takes longer to heal, and the stitching destroys the waterproofing on the “line”. If they must stitch, they do not remove the feathers, but fold the skin outwards so that they stitch on the inside of the skin with dissolvable stitches, leaving the top flaps to close on their own.

Adult penguins can be released from anywhere off the coast, but chicks need to be released on Dyer Island where they are going to live so that they can reset their GPS systems. (continues on p118)

Releasing penguins back into nature

How can the public help?

They have only had to stitch once though, as a seal ripped the penguin open so that the air sacks were exposed, and they would have popped. Penguins have lungs as well as air sacks. The lungs do the job of normal lungs as far as oxygen supply is concerned, but the lungs are connected to a series of air sacks. This allows them to dive and hold their breaths for up to five minutes. They have fewer air sacks than flying birds, so that they are not too buoyant to be able to dive. Penguins don’t fly…

The sanctuary makes use of local and international volunteers to cut fish and wash towels etc, so read up or enquire about these programs if you are interested.

Sick birds come in with tick bite fever (their own strain which is easily treated), avian malaria, aspergillus (or aspergillosis) which is a lung fungus, and penguins are prone to bumblefoot in captivity, from standing on

www.facebook.com/apssZA www.kickstarter.com/projects/aza/ invest-in-the-nest-save-penguins-fromextinction

Please be an ambassador, and educate others regarding cleaning up fishing lines, not using plastic, and not overfishing. Donate on a website or Facebook page. www.dict.org.za

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Whenever juveniles are released, they always swim west, take their gap year and return.

the adult birds, controlling the habitat, and rehabilitating sick and injured penguins.

Adult penguins return to the same successful nest for breeding every year.

In 15 years from now, penguins could be extinct if they continue declining at the present rate.

Hatching eggs

Hatching eggs is one way of increasing the population, but chicks bred in captivity need four years to become successful breeding pairs, so this is not a quick fix either. Gansbaai does not hatch eggs. To replace 4,000 adult birds, you need to release 28,000 chicks, due to their survival rate being low. This is a lot of eggs to hatch and too many chicks to take care of! Therefore, Gansbaai focuses on looking after

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Nesting project

Dyer Island Trust has initiated a nesting project managed by Trudi Malan, who has over 25 years of experience. This is done in conjunction with Kevin Graham, from the American Zoo Association,. He is at the Dallas Zoo. Trudi is the SA Coordinator. Kevin runs the entire project. AZA SAFE – Saving Animals from Extinction – is a new commitment by 230 accred-

ited zoos and aquariums to harness collective resources, focus on specific endangered species, and save them from extinction by restoring healthy populations in the wild. They work with Cape Nature and National Parks and all the other rehab centres and colony managers too. Nests are needed to prevent predation, and to replace the nests which have been destroyed through the removal of the guano. Guano builds up over time and penguins burrow down into the guano, which is perfectly insulated and waterproof. They have been experimenting with different nests. Fibreglass nests proved disastrous, as they were too hot for the eggs, so last year


they started experimenting with different nesting shapes and materials to see what would be successful. Penguins like to have a small entrance, dipping to enter their nests rather than walking straight in, as this makes it easier for them to protect their nests. The project had two phases:

the Kick Start Funding project to raise funds to manufacture the artificial nests. The two types of new nests will now be manufactured and deployed in South Africa at Boulders, Stoney Point, Dyer Island and Bird Island. Placed between existing nests with monitors built in, they will all be monitored while in use by the penguins. Results will go to San Phase 1: Artificial testing. They put light bulbs Diego Zoo to an independent 3rd party for in the designs, emitting the same heat as adult analysis. penguins would. Sensors monitored each nest, taking a reading of both temperature and Researchers want to install cameras on Dyer humidity every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, for Island to monitor how the penguins go about three months. Fly sheets were put over some selecting their nests, to ascertain whether of the nests for added insulation, and these they like these new nests or prefer to rather nests worked best as the fly sheets also helped surface breed. with waterproofing. One of the designs tested was made from actual dimensions taken from These nests, built using special materials that guano nests on Dassen Island. ensure the optimal temperature for penguin egg gestation inside, must hold up to predators from the outside. Each nest is made by Phase 2: The 2 top designs that did not exceed 35°C have been identified. Nests have hand. One of the most important criteria for been deployed at zoos in the States as part of materials used in artificial nests, is that they

must be environmentally friendly. The nests, which can be re-used at the end of their life cycle, are expected have a lifespan of at least 15 years.

Other programs

This sanctuary focuses on fixing what is necessary in nature so that penguins don’t require human intervention. Together with Cape Nature NP, they have programs where they are working to fix the natural habitat, like preventing people from using plastic and leaving fishing lines on rocks and beaches and preventing over-fishing. Marine protected areas are very helpful. Fishing quotas increase the price of fish, which also affects the cost of feeding the penguins at the sanctuary. Nevertheless, in the interest of the larger picture, they pay the higher prices. GR

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AFRICA’S SOUTHERN TIP

Struisbaai and Cape Agulhas S truisbaai and Cape Agulhas - the two southernmost towns in Africa.

Cape Agulhas

Cape Agulhas is where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet, at this furthest southern point of Africa, at 34.8163° S, 20.0152° E. Many people mistakenly believe Cape Point to be the furthest southern point of Africa, but with coordinates 34.3567° S, 18.4968° E, it falls short of this feat. Cape Agulhas is about 223 kilometres southeast of Cape

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Town, via the N2, R316 and R319. About 6 km before reaching Cape Agulhas, you must pass through Struisbaai. The two towns merge almost seamlessly. What is difficult to wrap your head around, is that these two towns, lying side by side, are each bordered by a completely different ocean, with a measurable difference in ocean temperature and with very different temperaments. Cape Agulhas has a wild, rocky shoreline, which is shaped by the cold, Atlantic ocean;

graveyard to countless ships. This treacherous coastline is safeguarded by a lighthouse which sends light beams deep into the night to warn passing ships to steer clear of danger.

In 1488, Bartholomew Dias named this southernmost point of Africa after St Agulhas. The Portuguese christened it Cabo dos Agulhas (Cape of Needles), due to both the needlesharp rocks and the fact that the needle of a compass does not vary between true north and magnetic north in this area. The French


later renamed it L ’Agulhas. It is more commonly referred to today as Cape Agulhas. Cape Agulhas has a small beach, Agulhas Beach, and 7.6 km west into the Agulhas National Park, is Suiderstrand Beach. Here the rock pools are great for swimming.

Struisbaai

hid here out of sight from ships coming up the coast, ready to attack. Just a stone’s throw away in Cape Agulhas, troops watched for approaching ships, ready to alert the boats in the harbour. They built a tidal pool to amuse themselves, both to swim in and to serve as a fish trap.

Struisbaai began as a fisherman’s town, named from either the word “straw”, referring to the thatched grass roofs of the fishermen’s cottages, or from the ostriches in the area (“struis” in Dutch). Some say from a Dutch word meaning “huge”, due to it having the longest beach in the Southern Hemisphere…

This harbour is home to Parrie, a stingray. He’s the town’s much-loved mascot. Monique Goosen, my guide for the day, introduced me to Parrie, who happily swam alongside us as we walked along the jetty. It was quite profound, this creature under the water, interacting with the outside world.

In stark contrast to Cape Agulhas, this southernmost beach on the warm, Indian ocean, Struisbaai, appears almost tropical. With its gently sloping sea bed, it is one of the safest swimming beaches. It is a beautiful beach with pure, clean sand; a favourite for both young and old.

Parrie can be hand fed, loves having his picture taken, and has his own Facebook page where you can visit him at: www.facebook.com/ParrieTheStingray.

The Struisbaai harbour is a quaint one, with colourful wooden “chuckies” lying at anchor in the protected waters. In war times, boats

Conservation

National parks in the area, like the Agulhas National Park, De Mond Nature Reserve and Heuningberg Nature Reserve are very conservation-focussed. The world’s rarest ericas and proteas occur here, as well as some of the

scarcest bird species, such as the African black oystercatcher. Forward-thinking private locals have bought up large areas of land in the area, specifically in the interest of conserving the biodiversity of this unique area. The area is home to many tortoises, so be careful when you are driving in the summertime, as they walk across roads at a very leisurely pace. Pull over to the side of the road if you are worried and move them safely across to the other side, but don’t try and take them home. It is illegal. Sea turtles such as the leatherback, loggerhead, green, hawksbill and Olive Ridley occasionally wash up on the beach at Struisbaai from December to around May annually. If the hatchlings “beach”, they cannot be put back into the sea; they washed up because they were not strong enough to withstand the currents. They are taken to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town for a year or two to strengthen before being released again in Struisbaai, where their natural inbuilt GPS system just “recalculates” and they get right back on track!

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Outdoor activities

There are not many great white sharks here - great for water sports! Surfers, sailors, kitesurfers, windsurfers, and diving. Every December, the Trans Agulhas, the world’s toughest 5-day inflatable boat challenge goes via Struisbaai.

Bring your own bike, or rent one in town. The annual Foot of Africa marathon and half marathon is well supported, and starts in the nearby town of Bredasdorp.

Climate

Struisbaai has better weather than Cape Agulhas. The region boasts a mild MediterThe convergence of two very different ocean ranean climate without temperature excurrents with their respective nutrients, con- tremes, with winter rainfall. Be prepared for tributes to the successful yellowtail, tuna, red sudden weather changes. The wind can reach steenbras, marlin and mako fishing in the gale force. The best months to visit are April area. Go ahead and book a fishing charter if and September. you love this sport! Hiking trails abound, such as the Agulhas Walking Trail, Sterna Hiking Trail and the 5-day (54 km) Whale Trail. These hikes range from 2-hour walks to 5-day walks. Try the Ghost Trail which is suitable for all fitness levels and takes about two hours. You may just see a restless, unearthly soul from one of the shipwrecks eerily “ghosting” about... This region has many mountain biking trails.

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Accommodation

I overnighted at Agulhas Country Lodge, and highly recommend their accommodation. Breakfasts and scrumptious, classy 3-course dinners at this country lodge are prepared by their fabulous chef. Good accommodation is easily found in these towns if you are travelling out of season. Try Seashack for an on-the-beach seafood experience. GR


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Here is a place

where you will

feel welcome and experience a home away from home. Photos: Hermanus Boutique Guest House

I know I did”.

South Africa’s favourite guest house in Hermanus along the Cape Whale Coast

For reservations, visit: hermanusguesthouse.co.za Tel local: 028 313 1433 Tel Intl: +27 28 313 1433

reservations@hermanusguesthouse.co.za

Follow us: @HermanusGH HermanusGuesthouse

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Hermanus @ South Africa’s Cape Whale Coast

Follow Burgundy:

www.burgundyrestaurant.co.za

@BurgundyHer burgundyhermanusrestaurant

NATIONAL MONUMENT

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$ensible Travel Gear Globerovers recommends to get your Sensible Travel Gear at Amazon.com

UE Roll 2 Travel Speaker

TSA Lock with SearchAlert

You have great earphones but there are times when you want to share your music with others, such as an impromptu beach or hotel party. The UE Roll 2 portable Bluetooth speaker is indispensable and gets good reviews. It’s even waterproof and comes with an inflatable donut to let you use it in the pool.

Made by Tarriss, this TSA compliant lock is light, strong, and very secure. It even has a light indicator (green turns to red) to show if the TSA rummaged through your bags! Large dials with easily visible numbers.

Pacsafe Mesh and Heys USA Scale

Smartwool Men’s NTS Micro Underwear

Get at www.amazon.com

The Pacsafe SS steel net (25L-55L) is great to protect your valuables inside your bag. Lock the bag and mesh to a secure fixture and you can leave the room without worries. Make sure to weigh your bag before leaving your home or hotel as it’s easier to re-pack it there than at the airport. Overweight charges levied by airlines can be very costly and rather embarrassing. Get at www.amazon.com

Vumos Leak Proof Travel Bottles You know the feeling of opening your bag and you find shampoo all over your clothes. Get some of these leak-proof squeezable silicone bottles for your liquids. TSA-approved size, they come in a clear quart bag to make them a convenient carry-on. Get at www.amazon.com

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Get at www.amazon.com

You know the feeling between your thighs when you walked around all day. It hurts. Get longer underwear to eliminate chafing. Flatlock seam with fully functional fly. Made in Vietnam with 100% wool. Get at www.amazon.com

Salomon Hiking Shoes There are so many brands of hiking shoes to choose from so it can be a daunting task to choose the right brand. Salomon shoes are light weight yet super strong, sturdy and comfortable. I used to have great difficulty finding comfortable hiking shoes until I discovered Salomon shoes. I’m now so hooked on them that it is hard to think of ever changing to another brand. While they are not cheap, look out for discounts offered by stores such as onlineshoes.com. Get at www.amazon.com


www.onlineshoes.com

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Article

Caucasus Jvari Church, Mtskheta The Holy Cross Monastery of Jvari is perched on the rocky mountaintop outside the small town of Mtskheta. Inside the monastery, the 6th-century “Great Church of Jvari” remains the most sacred place in Georgia. The building clearly shows its turbulent history of surviving wars and several forms of erosion.

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Georgia Caucasus of the

Tbilisi ♦ Mtskheta ♦ Georgian Military Highway ♦ Kazbegi

C

aucasus as a region is not exactly familiar to many people. The region is generally defined to include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and nearby areas within Iran, Russia, and Turkey. It has a foothold in both Eastern Europe and Western Asia, but is generally viewed as part of Europe. Blessed with some of the world’s most stunning landscapes, the Caucasus is home to Mount Elbrus (5,642 m), the highest mountain in Russia and in Europe, including the Caucasus region.

We start our journey in the capital city of Tbilisi. This sprawling city, located on the banks of the Kura River, has a population of about 1½ million people. You can easily spend several days here, and if you are into photography, you will find heaven in Tbilisi. The old city, called Altstadt, is a labyrinth of narrow streets where wooden balconies look down from old brick-built homes. From Tbilisi, we head north along the infamous 210 km long Georgian Military Highway which runs between Tbilisi up north to Vladikavkaz, the capital of the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania, in Russia. This was the traditional route used by both invaders and traders throughout the early ages.

Georgia, the “land of dagger dancing”, is etched between northeastern Turkey and southwestern When you look on the map you will understand Shortly before Russia, bordering Armenia Russian why the Caucasus is described as “Where East the and Azerbaijan border, on the to the south. It south side of meets West”. Georgia is right in the centre! has a distinctive the mighty culture and a long and rich history that can Caucasus Mountains, lies the Kazbegi Nabe traced back to the classical era (7th BC to tional Park and the village of Kazbegi. At an 5th BC) and beyond. altitude of 2,170 m, high above Kazbegi, and with Mouth Kazbek rising behind it, you With a compelling blend of both European will see the 14th-century church of Tsminda and Asian cultures and heritage, Georgia Sameba. Also known as the Gergeti Trinity offers a mix of Euro-Asian architecture and Church, this is a photo opportunity not to culture, rivalled only by the natural beauty be missed! Hike up to the church for stunof its mountain landscapes. ning views! Article

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Georgia

F

ounded in the 5th century AD, Tbilisi has a history rich in romances with the early Kingdom of Iberia, the Russian Empire, the Imperial Viceroy, and of course, many friends and foes passing through its doors on the lucrative east-west trade routes. Walk around the old city of Tbilisi (Altstadt) and see evidence of its very diverse history. Notice the mix of Medieval, Classical, Middle Eastern, Art Nouveau, Stalinist and even Modernist structures. The Altstadt, at the heart of the city, has an eclectic mix of modern and rather ancient buildings. Set against the looming 4th-century Narikala Fortress, which was destroyed in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 7th and 17th centuries, the old city is a labyrinth of narrow streets. Colourful, arched wooden balconies, protruding from old brick-built homes, look down on the action below. BUILT AROUND HOT SPRINGS The city’s sulphur baths in Abanotubani, in the midst of the old town, are still in operation and are famed to be the source of the city’s existence. Legend has it that visiting traders on their visit to the

The imposing 20 m high Kartlis Deda, better known as “Mother of a Kartli” or “Mother of a Georgian” has stood proudly on the top of Sololaki Hill since 1958, the year when Tbilisi celebrated its 1,500th anniversary. With a bowl of wine in her left hand, and a sword in her right hand, she is a classic metaphor for the Georgian character - both welcoming and defensive!

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city along the spice route were ordered to bath in one of the many baths before they could enter the city. During the time of the legendary Roman bathers who settled here, the city had many baths of which only a few are left now. Where you see brick domes rising out of the ground, you will know there is a thermal bath beneath. Go in and soak in the sulphurous springs. CITY ATTRACTIONS Built on the banks of the Kura River, the city seems to sprawl over the edges of the river. A good start to exploring the city

tekhi Church, the Kashveti Church, Sioni Cathedral, and the city’s oldest surviving Anchiskhati Basilica. The city is home to several museums and galleries, fortresses, palaces, parks, and a lovely botanical garden. Take a ride up Mt. Mtatsminda on the funicular for spectacular views. Another of Tbilisi’s exhilarating rides is the cable car which swings over the Mtkvari River and the old town on its way up to the Narikala Fortress.

The old city of Tbilisi is reminiscent of a movie set, complete with old

brick-built homes sporting colourful doorways and wooden balconies.

would be the Narikala Fortress which somewhat dominates the skyline. Dating back to the 4th century when it was a Persian Citadel, the fortress has a more colourful history than its dilapidated condition can offer today.

Georgian Culinary Delights

Tbilisi also offers the 13th-century MeWhen you look at the popularity of traditional Georgian restaurants in Tbilisi among foreigners, you will realise that many travellers come here with food on their mind. When we talk Georgian cuisine, we talk “khachapuri” - Cheese-oozing khachapuri, which is gooey cheese-stuffed pizza bread that drips with heart-stopping goodness. Some are plain cheese, while others are egg-topped (adjarian khachapuri). Don’t miss the khinkali, a dumpling made of twisted knobs of dough, stuffed with meat and spices. The most popular filling is a pork and beef mix. In the mountains, lamb filling is preferred. Love meat? Then go for the Mtsvadi, fire-roasted chunks of pork, mutton or veal. Elsewhere it is known as shashlik and skewers. The qababi (kebabs) are made of minced meat, grilled, and sprinkled with sumac and onion slices. Simply delicious!


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Mtskheta

Sveti-Tskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta.

Ten of the Georgian kings who were coronated at the Sveti-Tskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, are also buried in front of the altar.

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Georgia

T

wenty-six kilometres north of Tbilisi, at the confluence of the Mtkvari (Kura) and Aragvi Rivers, lies the town of Mtskheta. Its historical buildings are of extraordinary importance in Georgian culture as it has been Georgia’s spiritual heart since Christianity was established here in the 4th century. Mtskheta was the capital of the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from the 3rd century BC, and remained so until the 5th century AD when the capital moved to Tbilisi.

JVARI MONASTERY This 6th-century monastery stands on the site where an early 4th-century wooden cross was erected on a rocky mountaintop overlooking Mtskehta. Recently it was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger, due to its deterioration from the natural elements as well as inadequate maintenance, etc. The views from the monastery are spectacular.

Take a marshrutka (minibus) from Tbilisi and walk around this interesting town with the Sveti-Tskhoveli Cathedral at its heart. Take a pleasant 5 km stroll up the hill to the Jvari Monastery. SVETI-TSKHOVELI CATHEDRAL Rebuilt during the 11th century, the current cathedral is home to important ceremonies within the Georgian Orthodox Church. Starting in the 4th century, the church and its original buildings have a rich history, filled with invasions and destructions by the Arabs, Persians, and Russians. Even earthquakes could not totally destroy the building. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral is a masterpiece. Set aside enough time to explore it. Ten of the Georgian kings who were coronated here, are also buried in front of the altar.

Monks and Kids Chatting While walking around town, and in particular at the Sveti-Tskhoveli Cathedral, you are likely to encounter very talkative kids, monks and even old ladies. Some of the monks speak English very well and their views of the world are interesting discussion points. Don’t be surprised when they hand out e-mail addresses and social media details to ensure they stay in touch with their new friends. Most are keen to pose for a few photos.

Sveti-Tskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta. Article

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Georgia

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ith the Tsminda Sameba Church near Kazbegi on your agenda, head up north from Tbilisi along the famous Georgian Military Highway. The road currently links Tbilisi and Vladikavkaz, the capital of the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania, in southern Russia. First used by the Russian military in 1769, the road has been upgraded over the centuries and stayed mostly under Russian control. While the road was paramount in the economic development of the Caucasus region in the 19th century, its importance has significantly diminished during the late 20th century. In 2006 Russia closed the border for seven years and eventually reopened it on specific demand from Ar-

This is the traditional route used by both traders and invaders throughout the ages.

menia. The border crossing remains open, but long border delays can be expected due to the time required to process and inspect vehicles, mainly on the Russian side. The road on the Georgian side is not short of spectacular scenery. Rolling hills and snow-covered peaks decorate the scenery for most of the way. The road passes by the 13th-century Ananuri Castle on the shores of the turquoise Zhinvali Reservoir. Further north lies the Gudauri ski resort in the Gudauri Recreational Area. At about

125 km north of Tbilisi, on the right-hand side of the road, is the Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument constructed in 1983 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Treaty of Georgievsk and ongoing friendship between Georgia and the then Soviet Russia. The inside paintings depict scenes from Georgian and Russian history. Along the road are a few abandoned buildings, including monasteries. The road follows the flow of the Aragvi River, all the way to the Kazbegi National Park on the slopes of the Caucasus Mountain Range which forms the RussiaGeorgia border. The villages of Kazbegi and Gergeti are just 10 km south of the border. This is why you came here. To see the beautiful Gergeti Trinity Church (Tsminda Sameba) perched on a hill surrounded by the mountains.

Parts of the road are covered to protect against landslides and avalanches.

Pick Up a Georgian Hat Along the Georgian Military Highway are a few places where the local ladies have set up small stalls to sell their arts and crafts. Look out for several varieties of traditional Georgian hats, such as the papakha, as well as knitted clothes, thick woolly socks, dried fruits, and cold drinks. 134

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Georgian Military Highway

The Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument was built in 1983 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Treaty of Georgievsk (July 24, 1783) and ongoing friendship between Georgia and the then Soviet Russia. Notice the inside paintings which depict scenes from Georgian and Russian historical events. One of the many abandoned buildings along the Georgian Military Highway.

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Below the Gergeti Trinity Church lie the villages of Gergeti (nearby) and Kazbegi (further away). 136

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The Gergeti Trinity Church near Kazbegi

Standing high on a hill, in the shadows of the (cloud-covered) majestic Mount Kazbek (2,170 m) in the Caucasus Mountains, the Gergeti Trinity Church (Tsminda Sameba) is the highlight of the area. The long ride from Tbilisi along the Georgian Military Highway goes through beautiful mountain landscapes dotted with a castle, monasteries, churches and quaint villages. Stay for a few nights and hike to waterfalls, glaciers, and take long mountain hikes.

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Kazbegi

Gergeti village below the Gergeti Trinity Church.

The Gergeti Trinity Church is perched on a high hill overlooking the villages of Gergeti and Kazbegi. Lots of flowers in spring and summer but covered in snow during winter.

Remnants of an old fortress near the Gergeti Trinity Church.

Bring Along Champagne After a tough hike from either Kazbegi or Gergeti village you will be happy to find this fountain next to the church building. While the water is cool and fresh, and most likely crystal clear, some visitors have better ideas. Bring along your own champaign and after cooling down your bottle under the fountain, you can find a good spot to just sit, relax, look out over the mountains, valleys, and villages, while sipping on a cold bubbly. Can’t be a sin! 138

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Georgia

J

ust 10 km south of the RussiaGeorgia border in the shadows of Mount Kazbek (5,047 m) in the Caucasus Mountain Range, are the villages of Kazbegi and Gergeti. Kazbegi, also known as Stepantsminda, is right next to the Georgian Military Highway. The village is a great base for hiking around the area. Several guesthouses and homestays are available for those who want to hang around in this beautiful and tranquil area. If you want to splurge, stay at the Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, where the cheapest room is about US$200. The rustic village of Gergeti lies a short walk to the west of Kazbegi. From the village, it takes about eight hours to and from the lower tongue of the 7 km long

Gergeti glacier on the southeastern slope of Mt. Kazbek. The path goes 1,600 m up to the glacier, and then back down.

The villages of Kazbegi and Gergeti are photogenic, though the gem of the valley is the Gergeti Trinity Church in the shadow of Mount Kazbek While both villages are interesting to explore and photograph, the reason why most travellers come here is to photograph the 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church. Though the church is beautiful, what is most special is its stunning location, being surrounded by green hills and the tower-

ESSENTIAL Getting There

The easiest way to Tbilisi is by plane. Several airlines fly into the Tbilisi International Airport. Some more exciting journeys to the capital include the train from Yerevan (Armenia) or from Baku in Azerbaijan. Buses, minibuses and grand taxis (marshrutkas) ply the roads between Tbilisi and Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey. Boats sail to Romania and Ukraine.

When to Go

Located between the Black Sea and Caucasus Mountains, Georgia can be visited anytime of the year. There is no real peak season or off-peak season. Summers are hot and humid, while winters are mildly cold with snow on the northern mountains. Every season warrants a visit.

Dining Out

Georgia is known for its cuisine! You certainly will come across the ever-popular khachapuri (cheese-filled bread like a pizza), khinkali (dumplings), and mtsvadi (shish kebab). Tbilisi has some great restaurants, but in the small villages you need to rely on excellent home cooking.

ing Mt. Kazbek in the background. In winter, the area is covered in snow, while during spring and summer it’s covered in green grass and yellow flowers. Situated on the high banks of the Chkheri River, at an elevation of 2,170 m, it is a tough hike up from the village to the church. A small road goes the long way up to reach the church, but it’s a lot more adventurous to hike along the footpath. The small bell tower stands separate from the church and was built around the same time. After years of closure during Soviet rule, the church is now open for worshipping as part of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church. GR

INFORMATION

Getting Around

The Tbilisi Metro opened in 1966 and, in typical Soviet fashion, the rather derelict stations are very deep and vividly decorated. It has limited coverage but is efficient. Most people rely on the yellow city buses and ample marshrutkas to provide an above-ground complement to the metro. Outside Tbilisi, travel by train, bus, marshrutka, or by car.

Where to Stay

Tbilisi offers a range of hostels, guesthouses, hotels, apartments and homestays. Guesthouses or homestays are a great way to get to know the local way of life. An apartment rental will also allow you to try your own version of local cooking. Rural areas offer mostly home stays.

Train Journeys

The Georgian Railway covers large parts of Georgia and has international links with Azerbaijan (Baku), Armenia (Yerevan), and a new connection with Turkey (Kars). Most trains are Soviet made, slow, cheap but comfortable. Commuter trains (elektrichki) connect shorter destinations.

Photography

Tbilisi can keep a photographer busy for life! The city is old (established in about 479 AD) with many buildings in a derelict state which have great character. The old part of the city is a photographer’s delight. People generally don’t mind being photographed. Old churches, monasteries, villages, and the beautiful mountain landscapes are all great subjects.

Safety

Some governments advise against all travel to the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia bordering Georgia. Also note that firearms are readily available in Georgia. Take the usual precautions and be streetwise. Many travellers have explored Georgia without any hassles.

Cost of Travel

On cost of living, Georgia ranks 470th out of 508 cities in the world which indicates that it is one of the cheapest countries. Travelling around the country is not expensive. Backpackers on a tight budget can get around on $20 a day. Hostel beds are as low as $3. Home stays are under $20. Article

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Tasty Traveller’s Treats Authentic, affordable, clean food is every traveller’s dream. Enjoy these tasty morsels from far away places.

MOROCCO

MOROCCO

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MOROCCO

MOROCCO


KYRGYZSTAN

TIMOR-LESTE

TAJIKISTAN

MOROCCO

THAILAND SOUTH AFRICA INDONESIA

INDONESIA

HONG KONG

ITALY

CAMBODIA PORTUGAL

INDONESIA

SOUTH AFRICA

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13 Travel Tweeps to Follow [a person who uses the Twitter message service to send and receive tweets]

We are listing 13 of the more interesting travel tweeps we have come across, selected subjectively from thousands of incredible travel Twitter accounts. Yes we do avoid those tweeps who only care about a high following with many fake followers such as the eggheads. We also avoid tweeps who don’t care to follow back fellow travellers, and those who tweet and retweet tons of useless boring tweets about themselves. If we did not list your awesome account here, please forgive us. Maybe next time.

Melvin is Founder and CEO of Traveldudes, onlineROIcalculator, COO of iambassador and creator of an award winning marketing campaign: Blog Ville. Melvin is a keen follower of those travellers who follow him. FB: traveldudes

Margherita & Nick describe themselves as “a writer and photographer from Italy and Australia, long-term travellers and lovers of nature, wildlife and the outdoors”. Visit their website at: www.thecrowdedplanet.com.

Randi & Michael left New York City in 2014 and have been exploring our beautiful world non-stop ever since. They have travelled all over the planet. Find their interesting website at www. justapack.com. FB: justapack.

Founded in 2012 in Montreal, Canada by Nader Diab and Imad Berro, Globe Jumpers is a humanitarian and adventure travel movement. Great action shots at intrepid destinations in their tweets and www.theglobejumpers.org.

Sean and Jen is a couple from the US currently travelling the world full-time since 2013. Follow their adventures as they eat their way around the globe. Lovely website at www.venturists.net. FB at 2venturists.

Singaporean by birth, Nellie Huang is a true adventure travel blogger. Nowadays she lives in Spain when she is not travelling and maintains a very lively social media schedule. Her website is at www.wildjunket.com.

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d e r u t a e p F e e w T l e Trav

Paul Steele The BaldHiker @paul_steele

Paul Steele is founder and editor of BaldHiker.com and a hiker from northern England, UK, an area of mountains, lakes, valleys and fields of green. He combines his passion for travelling, photography and storytelling into his blog, BaldHiker.com. Paul is also a freelance writer for many esteemed sites and publications.

Julia Dimon is an adventuress, a travel journalist, and TV travel personality. Among the many things she has done, count in that she trained as a gladiator in Rome and camel trekked the Egyptian pyramids. traveljunkiejulia.com.

Andreas Susana was born in Graz (Austria) and it is still his home base while he travels around the region and around the world. Check out his website at www.travelwriticus.com and his FB at travelwriticus.

Wayne & Pat Dunlap have travelled to over 100 countries and 45 of the American states. Self described as “experienced, award-winning travel photojournalists, bloggers and top travel influencers”. unhooknow.blogspot.com.

J.D. Andrews has been a video producer for more than 20 years and explores the globe (96 countries across all seven continents). Check out his great photos at www.earthxplorer.com. His social media is mostly earthXplorer.

Stefan Holm is a great photographer. His photos are incredibly beautiful. No wonder he has so many twitter followers. You can also order his photos online. Find his photos at: www.stefanholm.photography.

Eric Stoen has been to 80+ countries and all seven continents. He likes to blog about travelling with kids so check out his website at travelbabbo.com. He describes himself as “an ambassador for Travelocity and AFAR”. Top Lists

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Article

Myanmar Shwesandaw Pagoda, Bagan.

Over 2,000 temples still adorn the landscape of Bagan.

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The Long Road to

Shwesandaw Bagan, Myanmar Words by Nathan James Thomas

T

Photos by Globerovers Magazine

he Shwesandaw Pagoda was built almost 1,000 years ago, by order of King Anawrahta, the founder of the Pagan Empire. It’s one of over 2,000 temples that still stand in the ancient city of Bagan, in the centre of Myanmar. This particular pagoda is distinguished by its five terraces leading up to a cylindrical stupa, and is said to contain sacred hairs of the Gautama Buddha. More pertinently for the tourist however, it’s also tall, stable, and easily climbed.

ending fields which stretch along the road, punctuated only by busy villages and townships full of small, one storey wooden houses. Each village is home to its own pub, an enormous warehouse-like structure seemingly made of scrap metal, adorned with loud advertisements for Myanmar Beer and local whiskey. Every now and then the bus would slow down and the driver’s assistant would lean out of the door and hand a fistful of crumpled notes to a casually dressed local standing in the street, indistinguishable to my eyes from any other villagers.

We thought it would be an ideal spot to catch the famous Bagan sunrise, away from the gawping masses At one such ‘toll The 11th-century Shwesandaw Pagoda is booth’ the mystery who crowd the more iconic temples. But one of over 2,000 temples that still stand man hopped on first, we had to get the bus and started in Myanmar’s ancient city of Bagan. there. talking animatedly with the driver. Money changed hands, and Bagan is fewer than 200 kilometres away the visitor gave the driver a small, black from Mandalay, and yet the bus journey object that looked like a USB drive. The man somehow manages to take an excruciating hopped off, and the driver plugged the stick six hours. Fortunately, this provides ample into the bus. opportunity for the traveller’s favourite pastime of staring out of the window, and Immediately ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ beholding the country ‘with its pants down,’ by Britney Spears erupted from the speakgoing about daily life without bothering to ers, and for the rest of the journey we were impress or deceive the foreign visitor. treated to a playlist of raunchy American Buffalo lazily chew the grass in the never90’s hits that seemed eerily incongruous in Article

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www.pronititravel.com Contact our awesome team at

ProNiti Travel

to create your adventure trip to

Myanmar

Phone / Fax: +95-1-394952 Mobile: +95-9-420065267 or +95-9-420231540 sales@pronititravel.com

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Myanmar the rustic landscape. And then, finally, we arrived. The next day the alarms ripped us out of our sleep at the cruel hour of 4.30 am. We were tired and groggy, and a news alert on my phone said that Hillary Clinton - at that time in the midst of her campaign for president - had been diagnosed with pneumonia. No matter. Nothing was going to stop us from reaching Shwesandaw at dawn. The mission was to find transport. We’d glimpsed a ‘Scooters for Rent’ sign the night before, and were astounded to find its owner patiently standing beside his bikes even at this early hour, as if he’d been waiting for us all night. We rented electric bikes for about US$5, clipped on our helmets, and sped off into the dark.

distance. Weeds and brambles ripped at our clothes, but finally we reached the foot of what really was the Shwesandaw Pagoda. We were going to make it. A dizzyingly steep staircase stretched up to the top, already busy with about a dozen tourists, but not as oppressively crowded as we had feared. It was early September, and the sky, now visible, was grey and clouded. We began to climb. By the time we reached the top it was well and truly daylight, and a soft rain was beginning to fall. But it didn’t matter.

earthquakes and war. The rain picked up, and gradually drove away the other visitors, until there was just a handful of us left standing there, gradually getting soaked but oblivious to the rain, shortly after dawn at the top of the Shwesandaw Pagoda. About the author Nathan James Thomas is originally from New Zealand, but has spent much of the last few years of his life travelling in Europe and Asia, and at the time of writing is based in Shang-

For 360 degrees, we could see pagodas emerg- hai. He is the founder of IntrepidTimes.com, ing from the grassy landscape and hills, standwhere he shares stories from his travels and ing exactly where they had stood 1,000 years before, having endured dynasties and decline, interviews other writers.

The main road led us into Old Bagan, where the majority of pagodas lie scattered. In the darkness we saw little, but later in the day we’d see pagodas everywhere we looked, at the top of hills, and between the trees. Some were small and frail, crumbling into the grassy surrounds, others immaculately restored, visible from every bend in the road, towering out of the distance. Our map led us onto a small dirt road that finished abruptly in a paddock. The sun wasn’t yet visible, but the light of dawn was even now beginning to add distinction to the landscape. Time was running out. Two scooters, identical to ours, were already parked beside the road. We dismounted and, helmets under our arms, scurried out to find something to climb. Behind us sat an enormous pagoda, looking dark and menacing in the gloom. We assumed that this was Shwesandaw, and set out to find a point of attack. Locals sat on the ground in front of the door at the foot of a two metre high statue of Buddha. A police car was parked nearby, and an officer was watching us warily as we tried to find a way to scale the towering pagoda. We soon had to give it up as impossible. It was light now and across the field we saw another, mightier pagoda. Smaller pagodas were also scattered about, and from the tops of them we heard the merry voices of tourists, cameras at the ready. We strode across the grass, sights set on the big pagoda in the

Shwesandaw Pagoda, Bagan. Article

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In Conversation...

We are talking with Spanish-born Juan Gallardo who lives in Yangon, Myanmar. Juan has travelled Myanmar extensively and shares with us his love for this country and its Burmese cuisine which he meticulously showcases in his cookbook available on Amazon.com: Delicious Myanmar - Discover Myanmar Through Its People and Food.

Globerovers (GR): Juan, you were born in the beautiful Spanish city of Seville; you lived in other parts of Europe and the USA; and now you seem to be happily stuck in Myanmar. Please tell us when did you move to Myanmar and what most attracted you? Juan Gallardo (JG): I first came to Myanmar in 2012 with the idea of travelling around the country for one month and then spending three months travelling around India. Guess what… India never happened. I liked Myanmar so much that I spent all four months slowly getting to know the country. What attracted me were the people, the food and the culture. It’s located in the heart of Asia and there is a beautiful and rich mix of these three aspects. But it is mainly the people who make the real difference.  GR: What are your favourite regions of Myanmar for travel and why? JG: Shan State is one of my favourite States in Myanmar. It offers so many different things like the Taunggyi Hot-air Balloon Festival, Inle Lake with its amazing floating gardens, the fishermen’s village and the unique way of one-leg paddling. For adventurers, Hsipaw and Kalaw are two great places to be in touch with nature and do trekking, while Kakku Pagodas is the must-see religious site. Besides all these, Shan food is delicious. GR: Globerovers Magazine focuses on offthe-beaten-track destinations around the world for the intrepid traveller. Myanmar is known to have many areas with no, or hardly any, foreign travellers. Which truly off-thebeaten places can you recommend to our readers? JG: I always say that wherever you go in Myanmar, tourist destination or not, it’s always really easy to go off the beaten track. You just need to be ready for the adventure. Rent a bicycle or scooter and get out of the village in 148

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any direction. Within 15 minutes you will be in a rural area without any tourists. Next step is to talk to locals and make friends. I also recommend in this regard to travel the local way. For example, I went from Chaungtha to Ngwesaung Beach and the journey was an amazing experience. It involved crossing two rivers in a small wooden boat (scooters included). Half of the trip was spent driving along narrow paths and surrounded by palm trees and countryside; the last part of the journey was along the beach with amazing views. GR: Many travellers give very positive reviews of the people of Myanmar. Please share your thoughts. Is there any specific group of people, such as a region or tribal group, which you find most fascinating?

JG: Myanmar has an ethnically diverse population of 135 different recognised groups and many different religions. Myanmar people are honest, friendly and their warmth will touch your heart. They are very curious about other cultures and countries, so my recommendation is that you learn a few words in the local language and interact with them wherever you are… temple, teashop, street. You will learn a lot about the country and share some priceless moments.  GR: You have published a lovely book about Myanmar cuisines entitled “Delicious Myanmar” which is available on Amazon.com (www.amazon.com/Delicious-Myanmar-Discover-Through-People/ dp/1941142338). Which Myanmar cuisines are your favourites and why?


Interview

Myanmar ist zoo” with foreigners behaving badly and irresponsible tourism?

JG: Myanmar borders Laos, Thailand, China, Bangladesh and India, and all these countries have influenced its cuisine. ‘Delicious Myanmar’ is a photobook to discover Myanmar through its people and food. I have travelled all over the country and asked locals to cook their favourite dish for me in their own kitchen in the traditional way. I share pictures and write about the people, the dishes and the culture. If I have to choose one favourite area, I will pick Shan State, with my favourite dishes like Shan Noodles, Shan Yellow Rice Cake with Tomato Sauce, and Black Sesame Seed and Sticky Rice Cake (Khor Poat). GR: Let’s talk about adventure travel in Myanmar. What adventures would you recommend in Myanmar? JG: Myanmar is amazing for trekking. You can choose from Putao in Kachin State, to Kalaw and Hsipaw in Shan State, Pha An in Kayin State, and the hills in Chin State. There are organised treks where you get to sleep in local villages and the experience is just unforgettable. GR: There are many places in Myanmar where I personally wish I could just spend time relaxing for several weeks. Which places are your favourites to just chill out for a few

weeks and take in the local culture? JG: I would suggest Ngapali Beach, Inle Lake and Pyin Oo Lwin. Although they may sound like tourist places, you can really relax and enjoy them. 

JG: I have written an article about Responsible Photography (www.myanmartravelessentials.com/responsible-photography-in-myanmar). In Myanmar, there are many things that will catch your attention, like women with thanaka make-up, men wearing a longyi (traditional skirt), and queues of monks dressed in red and orange passing through the streets early in the morning. Responsible photography involves taking into consideration and respecting how a person would feel about your taking a picture of them. How you ask and interact with them will make a big difference to their reaction. When you see someone that you want to take a picture of, smile, say hello, ask permission. Please don’t just get close to someone, take a picture, and leave. I have seen this happen a lot in Myanmar and it really bothers me. Please keep in mind you are not in a zoo taking pictures of monkeys! Learn a few simple phrases in Burmese such as “Mingala ba” (Hello), “Nei kaun ye la” (How are you?), “Kyei zu tin ba de” (Thank you) … so that you can at least greet and thank your subjects.

GR: Do you have an interesting travel tale to share with us? Some unforgettable moments?

GR: When you meet travellers who have never been to Myanmar, what are the first things you tell them to persuade them to visit this incredible country?

JG:  I have memories of many special moments while travelling in Myanmar. One of them is the time I spent with the students from NEED, an eco-agriculture school in North Yangon. I cooked many dishes with them including Mohinga, which is on the front cover of my book. I stayed on the farm for a few days, and it was amazing to get up very early in the morning and have a “coffee mix” next to an open fire in the outdoors with them. Cooking and sharing meals with these students was an experience I will never forget.

JG: Myanmar is different to any other country. Still unspoilt by tourism, it is now the best time to visit. As I said before, it borders Laos, Thailand, China, Bangladesh and India and the mix in culture, art, religion and food is just spectacular.

GR: Globerovers Magazine aims to promote responsible and sustainable tourism everywhere. As Myanmar has so much beauty to share with the world and is at the cusp of exploding into a major tourist destination, what would you recommend the Myanmar tourist industry and travellers do to protect Myanmar from becoming just another “tour-

GR: Can you kindly give details about your website and social media where our readers can follow your interesting stories and beautiful photos about life in Myanmar? JG: My blog is Myanmar Travel Essentials (www.myanmartravelessentials.com) and you can find me on the main social media platforms. Facebook: myanmartravelessentials Twitter: @MyanmarTE

Instagram: @myanmartravelessentials Interview

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Photo Essay SLOVENIA

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Slovenia’s

Turquoise Jewel of Slovenia Situated in the Julian Alps of the Upper Carniolan region of northwestern Slovenia, just about 55 km northwest of the capital, Ljubljana, you will find Slovenia’s turquoise jewel. The glacial lake, with tectonic origins, is over two kilometres long and almost 1.4 km wide with a maximum depth of almost 30 m. Surrounded by mountains and forests, the lake is located in a very picturesque setting. To the north of the lake lies the Julian Alps and the impressive Triglavski Narodni Park, famous for Mount Triglav (2,863 m), the highest peak of the Julian Alps, and the stunning Vintgar Gorge. However, the pearl of the jewel of Slovenia is located almost in the middle of the lake. Bled Island (Blejski otok) is a small, oval-shaped island most famous for its pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and built near the end of the 17th century. Its Gothic frescos date back to around the 15th century. It is popular for weddings, and legend has it that it is good luck for the groom to carry his new bride up the steps before ringing the bell and making a special wish. To reach the island, take a traditional “pletna” (wooden boat), the way it’s been done for centuries. Once you arrive, climb the 99 steps to the church door, ring the bell, and make your wish. Photo Essay

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Lake Bled, with Bled Island (Blejski otok) and its 17th-century pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, is located in a very picturesque part of Slovenia, northwest of its capital, Ljubljana. The nearby Julian Alps which are part of the Southern Limestone Alps, tower over the lake. Quaint villages surround the lake. From here it is an invigorating hike to the streams and green fern trees of the Vintgar Gorge, located in the Triglavski Narodni Park. Photo Essay

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To the left, located on Bled Island, is the 17th-century pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary with its 99 steps clearly visible. To the right, perched 130 m above the northeastern shores of Lake Bled, is the medieval Bled Castle, the oldest castle in Slovenia. First mentioned in the history books of the 11th century, the Romanesque tower is the oldest part. During the 16th-century the chapel was added, as well as the courtyards, drawbridge, and more towers. Nowadays the castle houses a museum with a large collection of armour, weapons, and jewellery found at the early Slav burial pits at Pristava. Photo Essay

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Just 4 km to the northwest of Bled Lake lies the Vintgar Gorge inside Triglavski Narodni Park, known for its 1,600 m wooden walkway built in 1893. The walkway crosses the Radovna River a few times, and goes past waterfalls and crystal-clear pools all the way to the 13 m-high Ĺ um Waterfall. The waterfall is the largest river waterfall in Slovenia. At times, the canyon walls are 50 to 100 m high. A truly spectacular area. Photo Essay

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The scenery to the north and northwest of Lake Bled towards Vintgar Gorge inside Triglavski Narodni Park is lush, and dotted with villages and farming communities. Look out for several small churches in the area, including the ancient pilgrimage Church of St Catherine (signed ‘Katarina Bled’) just north of Zasip.

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BAY

OF

FUNDY

New Brunswick, Canada

F

Words by Jonathan Maister, a Markham (Canada) based writer and adventurer. Photos courtesy of Tourism New Brunswick.

ew doubt that among the earth’s visual bounty, some of the finest vistas are offered by the ocean. The tidal pulse riding the continental coasts and shimmering up the shores has, as long as history has been recorded, held a place in our hearts and often in our livelihood. Across generations and geography it has seduced the imagination of travellers and guided the invasions of admirals. Surely in the Bay of Fundy nestled between the southern shores of Canada’s eastern provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the tide must be deemed its most dramatic. For the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world! The earth’s average tidal change is 1 metre. The Bay of Fundy’s tide, depending on where you are, varies from 3½ metres to an astounding 16 metres! The coastline undergoes metamorphosis-like change. To uninformed disembarking visitors, they would scarcely believe that they were indeed at the same point of departure after a day’s boat-ride. Gangplanks, steep at embarkation are now virtually horizontal, and where there was beach is now blue ocean. Homes nestled high above the ocean are now at water’s edge. If you chance upon a river mouth, you will view the phenomenon of a tidal bore – the river’s waters are shunted upstream by the mighty power of the incoming tide.

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Behold the Bay of Fundy! The mind-boggling surge of 100 billion watery tons that spill into the bay during a typical tidal flow, causes an upsurge of fertile fodder for fish of all sizes and types. The plankton-rich waters make the Bay of Fundy a veritable Mecca for marine mammals. In fact, the Bay of Fundy is one of the world’s finest areas to view the Great Whales, including the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. Virtually anywhere along the coast is ideal

to view this dramatic change. Saint John, in New Brunswick, is a town with many a scenic shoreline. While enjoying Canadian Maritime hospitality at its finest, you can view how the shore’s gentle slope makes for a huge horizontal shift in the water’s edge, some 50 metres as the tide creeps in. Dry-shod fishing boats tethered to the towering dock above, rise up from the sandy bottom to ride the gentle current as the mooring area transforms from dry, to damp to deep in the 6 hour cycle; then slowly they drop down again to meet the ocean floor.


Saint John, in New Brunswick, is one of Canada’s lesser known towns, but it is a coastal gem well worth the stay. For the incredible sites offered up by the ocean, it is reason enough to visit. In addition, you will enjoy the food, the favourite Maritime brew, and the friendliest folks around. This unique seaside town makes for an unforgettable visit. It is also a perfect launch point for the finest in whale watching as a number of excellent whale watching outfits leave from nearby communities. Venture north along the coast and you will access Fundy National Park. With over 100 km of trails within 206 square kilometres, you will see forests, waterfalls, river valleys and freshwater lakes. Whether it’s a scenic drive, camping, kayaking, hiking, or biking, this is a perfect accessible family destination. Shoreline activities share the tapestry of Fundy’s tides.

of ocean fauna and other sea-life may be visible. Rest assured, on either end of the beach, Hopewell Rocks staff monitor the tourist traffic. As the waters beckon ever closer narrowing the beachhead, you are politely ushered back to the access stairs before the ocean covers your tracks. Expect no rolling waves for there are none; nothing but the persistent lapping of the waters edging forever forward, then eventually back. Their gentle motion belies the power that relentlessly urges them on, sculpting the topography yet etching themselves into the visitor’s memory. Be sure to wear your “wellies” or another set of puddle-friendly shoe ware. Bring your camera and be certain to check with the tourist resources to time your visit perfectly. In the Hopewell Rocks complex above, there’s an outstanding museum with an information centre near the access stairs. As you bide your time waiting for

Action Report

Canada the tide to rise or fall, it’s a great place to learn about the region and how nature has forged the topography. The water may be too cold for all but the hardiest swimmers, but the drama that unfolds as land is layered by liquid blue, cannot be disputed. Whether it’s the incredible shifts back and forth of the water’s edge along the beach’s gentle slope, or the dramatic drop and rise of the water surface hoisting and lowering boats of all descriptions, the Fundy tides are nature’s gem of awesome power and breathtaking beauty.

Some 150 km north of Saint John is the town of Moncton. Moncton itself, boasting a number of great attractions, is the gateway to the famous Hopewell Rocks which lie some 30 minutes’ easy drive south. These “flowerpot formations”, as they are known, are towers of rock, sculpted by the churning artistry of Fundy’s waters. Hewn from the rock-face by the surging tide, they tower above the ocean floor at low tide affording visitors a chance to do just that – walk the ocean floor. Return seven hours later, and you will need kayaks to round those same towers, now transformed into islands by the 12 metre change in height. Without a doubt unrecognizable, yet also unforgettable. Dramatic though the change may be, time it well and you will have ample opportunity to explore the ocean bottom. Evidence

Tourism New Brunswick

www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca www.tourismenouveaubrunswick.ca Action Report

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archives e

th m o r F

Vanua tu 1998

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Vanuatu The Mystic South Pacific Island

Religious sects revering a dead American soldier and Englandʼs Prince Philip, active volcanoes, land-diving, cava bars, and a history of cannibalism...

T

he archipelago of Vanuatu is located in the

Vanuatu’s approximately 82 small islands of volcanic

surrounded by the islands of New Caledonia,

islands are inhabited, some with just a couple of families

South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia, and

Solomon Islands, and Fiji. Vanuatu is known

for its superb diving and snorkelling, tropical islands, volcanoes, beaches, deep-sea fishing, dimly-lit kava bars, and friendly locals.

origin are shaped in a Y-formation. Well over half of these living in very basic huts. Tanna Island, one of the most

southern islands and a 45-minute flight south of the capital, Port Vila, is known for its religious sects, black volca-

nic beaches, wild horses, and active Mount Yasur volcano.

However, dig deeper and you will find interesting rituals

These photos from the archives date back to 1997, taken

tecost Island, a religious cult revering the dead US soldier

from the authentic Yakel tribal village on Tanna Island,

such as the bizarre annual land-diving ceremony on Pen-

John Frum, as well as another cult who follows England’s Prince Philip. The islands also have a rather dark history of cannibalism and murders of missionaries.

on the islands of Efate and Tanna. The first photos are followed by photos captured at the interesting Ekasup Cultural Village close to Port Vila on Efate Island. We

end off with examples of the national language, Bislama.

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From the Archives

VANUATU

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From the Archives

VANUATU

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VANUATU

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Follow Globerovers on Pinterest www.pinterest.com/globerovers

Scan with QR Reader

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Photo Essay THAILAND

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Thailand’s

annual

Monkey Buffet Phra Prang Sam Yod Temple, Lopburi, Thailand

O

nce a year, on the last Sun-

here, many of which are still standing

the Monkey Buffet in Lopburi,

is Phra Prang Sam Yot. Over the years,

day of November, it’s time for Thailand. Located about 150

km north of the national capital, Bangkok, the history of Lopburi dates back almost 1,000 years.

While under control of the Khmer Empire

from Angkor (Cambodia), around the 13th century, many temples were constructed

today. One of them, built as a Hindu shrine, hundreds of crab-eating macaques moved in, hence the temple is commonly known

as the “Monkey Temple”. These monkeys are cared for by the local people all-year

round. However, the annual Monkey Buffet is a special day for the monkeys, locals, and the many visitors from around the country and from abroad.

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The Buffet Preparation

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After the buffet, relax and...

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Top tips from World Animal Protection to keep you safe and protect animals when you travel

It’s up to you to be an

animal-friendly traveller to people riding and interacting with them, they are taken from their mothers when babies and forced through a horrific trainBeth is the Communications Director for World Animal Proing process known as ‘the crush’. It involves tection Canada. An avid traveller, she is always looking for physical restraints, inflicting severe pain and animal-friendly ways to see wildlife. Top trips include whale withholding food and water. By the time tourists come to ride an elephant, it may watching on two of Canada’s coasts, snorkeling in Tahiti, look at peace, but this is because it’s spirit has Belize and the Caribbean, supporting a dog vaccination been broken. clinic in the Philippines, and bird watching in Costa Rica. Tiger cubs are separated from their mothers at an early age so they can be used as photo props. They are handled and hugged For more information and tips on how to be an animal-friendly by tourists and typically kept chained up, or traveller, visit us at worldanimalprotection.ca in small barren cages. Lion cubs are bred and taken from eeing animals when you travel in the wild being used in live shows or being their mothers typically within a month of can be an amazing experience. offered up for rides. You may be approached birth to supply the growing lion tourism Feeling the salt spray in your to pose with animals for photos, or be offered industry, mostly located in Southern Africa. face as your whale watching animal souvenirs. Often, the worst cruelty is Tourists handle the cubs for hours and pose boat takes off towards a spout of water on the hidden from view. with them for photos. They are also often horizon, or spotting through the pre-dawn Sadly, many tourists who love animals told to hit the cubs if they display aggressive light the many iconic animals of Africa while may contribute to animal suffering simply or unwelcome behaviour. on safari are “bucket list” adventures for because they’re unaware of the hidden cruWhen the cubs grow too big for tourmany of us. elty. World Animal Protection helps people, ists to pick up and hug – but are still young Responsibly managed tours can give like you, protect animals. Being animal enough to control – they are used for the you a great experience, provide income to friendly when you travel means you always relatively new “walking with lions” tourist local tour operators and protect wildlife – the show respect – for the people, the culture, experience. The lions are trained to ‘safely’ trick is figuring out which tours are good and the environment and the animals, in every which are not. country you visit. It only takes a few simple Unfortunately, many wild animals are steps to protect wildlife while you travel: A few simple steps to protect taken from their natural environments to be wildlife while you travel: 1) Don’t ride, hug or take a selfie with exploited for entertainment and profit. When a wild animal. To make elephants submit 1. Don’t ride, hug or take a selfie with you travel, you may see animals that belong a wild animal.

Article written by Beth Sharpe, Toronto, Canada

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2. Experience the joy and wonder of seeing animals in the wild. 3. Support sanctuaries but do your research. 4. Speak up for mules, donkeys, camels and horses. 5. Be kind but don’t feed stray cats and dogs. 6. Don’t buy souvenirs made from animals, especially endangered ones. 178

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walk with tourists, sometimes on leads. These lions face a lifetime in captivity as they cannot be released into the wild. 2) Experience the joy and wonder of seeing animals in the wild. It’s as simple as that. Choose animal encounters that don’t exploit wild animals. Investigate your options. There are many travel companies that specialize in these types of tours. Visit worldanimalprotection.ca for more. 3) Support sanctuaries but do your research. Any facility can call itself a “sanctuary”, but that doesn’t mean it is. Here are some tips to tell the good ones from the ones you should avoid. Check their websites and

ask these simple questions: • Where did the animals come from? A good sanctuary doesn’t take animals from the wild unless they are injured and cannot survive on their own. Good sanctuaries also don’t breed animals for a life in captivity or sell animals (or their parts). • What is its purpose? A good sanctuary doesn’t use wild animals for entertainment, where animals are forced to give rides, do shows, or perform tricks. • Does the facility release rehabilitated animals into the wild? Some sanctuaries may release rescued and rehabilitated animals as part of an official and properly managed program. These types should restrict public viewing as this can habituate animals to people and threaten the success of the animal’s reintroduction to the wild. • Are they accredited? A good sanctuary must comply with strong animal welfare standards to ensure the physical and psychological welfare of all animals under its care. We recommend the standards developed by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. • How close can you get? A good sanctuary conducts public tours carefully to minimize the impact on the animals, does not cause them stress, and gives animals the ability to seek undisturbed quiet privacy areas. 4) Speak up for mules, donkeys, camels and horses. Some trips and treks will use working animals to carry loads or people. Working animals must be treated with consideration and must be given adequate shelter, care, food and water. Watch out for these animals being overworked, overloaded

or forced to work through ill treatment and speak up to your guide, the tour operators, travel companies and your hotel concierge. There are also many local animal protection groups that may be able to help you. It’s also important to recognize people who put the wellbeing of their animals as a priority. If you see well looked after donkeys and horses, a compliment can have just as much positive impact as a complaint. Let the tour operators know that you are choosing to be their customer because of their animal welfare policy and how well their service providers are treating their animals. 5) Be kind but don’t feed stray cats and dogs. In almost every part of the world, humans keep dogs and cats. In many countries like Canada, there is consistent vet care and licensed ownership. However, dog and cat ownership can vary in different countries. Dogs and cats that you encounter on vacation may be genuine strays, or they may be free-roaming animals that are community owned and fed. Rather than just offering them scraps, which could take them away from a more dependable longer-term food source, see if there is a local animal protection group working on a sustainable solution that you can support. Dogs and cats can transmit zoonotic diseases, such as rabies, so, for your own safety, take great care during any encounters, and seek immediate medical advice if you are bitten or scratched by an animal with an unknown medical background. 6) Don’t buy souvenirs made from animals, especially endangered ones. You may have the opportunity to buy food, traditional medicine and souvenirs made from animals. When deciding on a souvenir to bring home to remind you of your latest adventure, choose an item that doesn’t endanger the survival of an animal species.

Follow us: WorldAnimalProtectionCanada @MoveTheWorldCA

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SUPER

TRAVELLERS in the SPOTLIGHT A Globerovers Q&A with a world traveller from Denmark

Henrik Jeppesen DENMARK

Henrik has visited every country in the world and lives in North Jutland, Denmark, when he is not travelling. Globerovers Magazine talks with him about his incredible achievements. Globerovers (GR): What is the main focus of your travels? Henrik Jeppesen (HJ): My focus for many years was to visit every country in the world. Since I have achieved that goal, I now focus on visiting every territory and the European countryside. GR: How many countries have you visited? HJ: All 193 member states in the United Nations. GR: It is quite an achievement for a young man like you to have visited every country in the world. We can’t help wondering how you finance all your travels. Can you please tell us? HJ: I look carefully at every single item of my spending. I keep my spending low by staying with locals, eating cheap food from supermarkets rather than at restaurants, and hitchhiking (more than 1,000 times) or taking local buses rather than taxis whenever possible. Redeeming hotel points and air miles also help to keep costs low. On many days, I spend less than US$5. It’s much cheaper to visit every country in the world than people think, but you must be willing to live like a local on a tight budget, rather than like a tourist. GR: What are your top six most preferred countries for leisure travel? HJ:   Here’s my list: 1. South Africa: Diversity, people, food, cities, countryside, nature, animals, and very affordable. 2. New Zealand: An incredibly safe country with stunning nature and amazing food. 3. Italy: The best European country in my opinion. Fantastic food, culture and countryside. I spent months in Italy and expect to keep returning again and again. 4. Maldives: Very relaxing, calming, private island resorts with fantastic villas and incredible turquoise waters that create amazing experiences. 5. Australia: Wonderful climate, safe, good food. The downside is the high cost of travel. 6. Denmark: I love my home country for its excellent food, safety, and stunning countryside, among many reasons. 182

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Henrik Jeppesen, born in Thisted, Denmark, currently living in North Jutland, has visited every country in the world. He is hoping to visit every territory as well. Currently he has 34 territories left to visit. He grew up in the Danish countryside where there wasn’t much to do, so he decided at an early age that travel should be a priority. GR: Which is your one most preferred country for travel and tell us why? HJ: South Africa, for its diversity, friendly people, great food, city life, countryside, nature, wild animals, and best of all, it is a very affordable country for travel. However, nowadays I tend to prefer European travel more and I must admit that it is always great to return and explore my home country of Denmark.  GR: Which countries were the most challenging during your travels and why? HJ: Syria and Libya, because of the current political turmoil. Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea are very difficult as well. In Saudi Arabia, there is no tourist visa as such, and you need to “do business” to get in unless you are lucky to get a transit visa that allows you to spend a few hours in the country. I managed to get Radisson Blu to host my visit and had a very nice experience in one of the most difficult countries to visit. Equatorial Guinea is a fantastic travel destination, but it is a nightmare to get a visa. I wasted a lot of time at their embassies in Pretoria (South Africa) and Libreville (Gabon) before I finally got the visa in Lagos (Nigeria) by explaining my project in greater details. GR: Please tell us about the most memorable mishap you have ever had while travelling. HJ: My passport was stolen in The Gambia the only time something was stolen from me during my 6+ years South Georgia Island as a full-time traveller. Due to extremely bad infrastructure from Dakar to The Gambia, I arrived after dark at the ferry station in Barra to take the ferry into Banjul. As I lined up, someone took my passport from my front pocket. I’m sure they were hoping for a wallet, but losing my passport was a lot worse than losing a wallet. It contained all my important stamps and visas for which I worked very hard. I was devastated. I screamed and cried and got the attention of hundreds of people. Around 10 minutes


later, a policeman came and handed me my passport. It was perhaps the single best moment of my travels. I was obviously very relieved to get it back. GR: Which people by nationality or subgroup would you say have been the most hospitable during your travels? HJ: Probably Iran. I arMeeting Khalifa al-Ghawi, Prime Minister of rived in Tehran for the Libya’s new General National Congress first time and expected to find a bus to take me into the city, but unfortunately, taxis were the only option. Paying twenty euros would be way above my daily budget, so I decided to hitchhike as I’ve done many times before. The first car that stopped expected money, but the second was a friendly English teacher that took me to my hotel after showing me a bit of the city. Due to heavy traffic, we talked for almost two hours. In the streets of Tehran people are also extremely friendly. GR: Let’s talk about food. Which one country that you visited has the best food in the world and why do you like it?  HJ: Italy. Passion for food and great ingredients. France is second.  GR: Where was the best meal you have ever had during your travels?  HJ: Probably at “&samhoud | places” in Amsterdam with two Michelin stars. GR: And where was the worst food during your travels?  HJ: It wasn’t the worst taste, but I got food poisoning in the Andaman Islands. In a destination without luxury hotels, Ixzire (with a TripAdvisor rating of 5) was one of the best options in the Andaman Islands, located between the Indian mainland and Thailand. While the property was fine, the dinner on the first evening was the beginning of the worst six months of my life. A fish curry made me seriously sick and I couldn’t breathe properly. After three days, I tried to fly back to the Indian mainland, but it was the worst flight of Namibia my life. The cabin crew gave me oxygen and asked for a doctor. I had to lie down for the entire flight. I couldn’t even sit up for the landing. I arrived in Chennai, and it took me a week before I was able to fly again. The problems with my breathing came back multiple times over the following months. Lesson learned. Be very careful what you eat. GR:  What is the strangest or weirdest place you have ever spent a night? 

HJ: I couldn’t sleep there, but during an overland trip in Africa we stopped to rest at a bus station in Niger. I have also slept in airports, including on a toilet inside Brisbane Airport. GR: Where do you wish you were right now and why? HJ: I am happy where I am currently. In Denmark. GR: If you could spend the rest of your life somewhere other than your home country, which country would that be and why?  HJ: Probably New Zealand. It’s probably the only country outside Europe I could definitely live in. GR: Do you have any strange, weird, or even bizarre travel rituals that you can share with us?  HJ: No. My only ritual is probably to pray every night. GR: Do you have any “must take” items which you travel with? HJ: My laptop to do my work. GR: What are your favourite travel resources on the internet?  HJ: I use many different sites for different reasons: Hotels25.com, Relais & Châteaux, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and many others.

Sierra Leone - Guinea border crossing

GR: What is the single best lesson you have learned about the world during your travels around the world? HJ: That I must do whatever makes me happy, and not do things I don’t like.  GR: Based on all your travel experiences, what is the best tip you can offer to new travellers?  HJ: Sign up for newsletters of low-cost airlines and buses and book lots of tickets when they have promotions. For accommodation, you can stay with local people booked via Couchsurfing.com GR: You have done it all, so will you soon stop travelling or do you have any remaining travel challenges? HJ: Visiting every territory and then focusing on exploring a lot in the European countryside.

Henrik’s Travel Statistics • 3,000+ Days of Travel • Sponsored by 100+ Airlines • Hosted by 1,000+ Hotels • Hitchhiked 1,000+ Times • 900+ Flights. • 10 Passports. 183


TRAVELLERS in the SPOTLIGHT A Globerovers Q&A with an adventure traveller

Fabio Buonsanti Matera, Italy

Globerovers (GR): How many countries have you been to? Fabio Buonsanti (FB): 99 and counting! GR: What are your top 5 most preferred countries for leisure travel? FB: Difficult question to answer, but if I have to choose, the following five countries are the ones that have had the biggest impact on me: Haiti, Iceland, Myanmar, Svalbard (Norway) and Mexico. Following these, I would say Iran, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Portugal and the beautiful Philippines. GR: Which is your most preferred country for travel and why? FB: Italy, apart from being my country of birth, it is truly the most incredible of all countries I have visited so far. History, art, music, food, wine, fashion, spectacular mountains and pristine beaches, volcanoes, earthquakes, sociable people, corruption and mafia, all with the same level of excellence… How does one get bored back home? GR: Where do you wish you were right now and why? FB: I wish I could be back in Tromsø, Norway, experiencing once again what I did in January 2012, during an important conference I was attending as a climate change scientist. Because of on-going exceptional solar activity, the gathering was suddenly suspended for a few hours. Over 400 people were invited to leave the forum to experience first-hand the strongest Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) that have occurred in the last two centuries. What an unforgettable sight! GR: Among those countries you have not yet visited, which ones are at the top of your “must do” list? FB: Argentina, Namibia, New Zealand, Japan, Nepal, Belize, Turk184

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menistan and Papua New Guinea. GR: Please tell us about the most incredible and memorable experience you have ever had while travelling? FB: Snorkelling with sea lions in Mexico; fighting against an impressive rainstorm while trying to settle a tent in wild Iceland; flying with the worst, black-listed air company in Asia; spending a day with some of the over 10,000 people getting born and living their entire lives within the walls of the Manila North Cemetery, Philippines; being interrogated and searched for hours in my intimate parts by shiny golden-toothed, overweight policemen at the Uzbek-Tajik border crossing; having a big knife pointed at my stomach by a taxi driver in Trinidad & Tobago; getting hospitalised for a few days in Laos; and being adrift on an unstable raft surrounded by crocodiles in rural Cambodia are some of my dearest scary-memorable experiences. Yet, if I were to choose but one, it would be when I sponsored the first trip abroad to a newly-married Iranian couple I met on the road. In order to pay back their genuine hospitality, I offered them the chance to follow me over the Caucasus through Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia. It is difficult to describe their joy along the trip. I will never forget when the bride threw away her hijab right after having crossed the Iranian border into Armenia. Freedom at its best! GR: Based on your travel experiences, if you were to recommend the one most amazing destination for intrepid travellers, which place would that be, and why? FB: Transnistria/PMR [Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic], a ghost country in-between Moldova and Ukraine. You get a 5-hour visa to experience what feels like living under the former USSR Communist regime. Very inspiring! GR: What will be the next country you will tick off your list? FB: I am a lucky guy! North Korea will be my 100th country visited, and what a milestone! Guess who I am going there with? Peter from Globerovers Magazine!


TRAVELLERS in the SPOTLIGHT A Globerovers Q&A with an adventure traveller

Jasmin Kunz

Bensheim, Germany

Globerovers (GR): How many countries have you been to? Jasmin Kunz (JK): So far, I have travelled to 42 countries around the world. As a child I explored Europe by caravan with my parents, and later spent a few months every year in different countries and on different continents. GR: What are your top 5 most preferred countries for leisure travel? JK: Every country has its own personality. The most enjoyable memories I have are from Namibia, Bolivia, Myanmar, New Zealand, and Portugal, but every country I have been to was worth the visit. GR: Which is your most preferred country for travel and why? JK: Myanmar is my absolute favourite, but cannot be described in a few words. You must experience the exotic spirit in this country where modernity meets antiquity for yourself. The people there are very open and friendly and the landscape is just amazing. GR: Where do you wish you were right now and why? JK: I wish I were in Namibia to enjoy the vastness and diversity of this country. It is just wonderful to explore the world of animals, watch unbelievable sunsets and let your mind go with a good glass of wine and friendly people around you.

JK: I have enjoyed every single moment in my travel history. The most important things in life are being healthy and happy and enjoying it, wherever you are in the world. One of my unforgettable memories was in Bagan (Myanmar) while sitting among 3,000 pagodas and temples. After cycling around on a long hot day, I was sitting at the temples waiting for sunset and I started crying because of all the beauty around me. Another memory was in Bolivia. Our car broke down on the way to Salar de Uyuni to watch the sunrise. We got stuck for hours and missed the sunrise, but finally made it for a late breakfast in the salt desert that was flooded up to our ankles. I was standing bare feet in the cold water, feeling the salt under my feet, holding a cup of tea, and running up and down like a crazy child. This was better than any sunrise I could ever see anywhere. GR: Based on your travel experiences, if you were to recommend the one most amazing destination for intrepid travellers, which place would that be, and why? JK: Enjoy a few weeks travelling through Africa from Kenya to South Africa’s southern Cape. Drive thousands of kilometres, experience different cultures, meet friendly people, and see the “Big 5” animals. Make this trip the best of your life. Let your hair blow in the wind and just enjoy the amazing landscapes and nature! GR: What will be the next country you will tick off your list? JK: My next trip is hopefully going to explore all the Scandinavian countries.

GR: Among the countries you have not yet visited, which ones are at the top of your “must do” list? JK: The world is big and my “what’s next” list probably does not fit on this page. But certainly, I would like to go to Cuba, Russia (by Trans-Siberian Train), the Balkans, Canada, and so many more. GR: Please tell us about the most incredible and memorable experience you have ever had while travelling? 185


BOOK REVIEW

A Pink Suitcase

22 Tales of Women’s Travel

www.lindaballouauthor.com Travel writer, Linda Ballou, talks to Janna Graber about her book “A Pink Suitcase: 22 Tales of Women’s Travel”.

A Pink Suitcase: 22 Tales of Womenʼs Travel”

by Janna Graber is available at Amazon.com

This collection of travel stories from well-travelled women with impressive credentials provides a unique perspective on the travel experience. Each author shares aspects of travel that has changed them. The focus is not so much on the places they visited, but on how being there made them see things in a different way. The journey with these ladies is worth the price of admission.

1. Janna, what inspired you to become a travel writer? A college roommate convinced me to travel with her to Europe when I was 19, and I’ve been hooked on travelling ever since. After college, I worked as a general freelance journalist for several newspapers. But after receiving my first travel assignment to write about the Australian capital city of Canberra, I knew I had found my calling. I’ve been covering travel ever since.

2. How are the stories in your book different from articles on your website? GoWorldTravel.com is a digital travel publication for those who love world travel. Our writers come from all over the globe, and we cover travel in more than 90 countries. While we do carry first-person stories on GoWorldTravel.com, the 22 stories in A Pink Suitcase are travel essays with personal insight and reflection. A Pink Suitcase features the talents of 22 talented female writers.

3. What is your favourite story in the book? It’s hard to pick a favourite from the 22 stories in the book. When reviewing submissions for the book, these were the ones I selected because they touched me in some way. In “The Human 186

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by Janna Graber Race”, Bernadette Murphy finds healing from a painful divorce in French Polynesia, and Gabriella Brand tells of her solo travels around the world in “Tumbleweed”. Each writer displays her own strength while forging a path of her own. The stories are inspiring and well-written.

4. What travel writers have influenced your writing? In the introduction for A Pink Suitcase, I write about Isabella Bird, an Englishwoman who explored and wrote about her travels in 1873 Colorado Territory. She was an intrepid traveller who captured her experiences in vivid details. I admire her as a traveller, as well as a writer. Reading her work in “A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains” is like traveling to the Colorado of the past.

5. When will your next book come out? A Pink Suitcase is the third in the World Travel Press anthology series. (The other two are Chance Encounters: Travel Tales from Around the World and Adventures of a Lifetime: Travel Tales from Around the World.) I hope to start working on a fourth sometime next year.


BOOK REVIEW

This is Africa

True Tales of a Safari Guide www.lindaballouauthor.com Travel writer, Linda Ballou, talks to Mat Dry about his book “This is Africa: True Tales of a Safari Guide”.

by Mat Dry who both have done a brilliant job in capturing all things African.

5. When will your next book come out? This is Africa: True Tales of a Safari Guide

by Mat Dry

is available at Amazon.com

If you are thinking about taking a safari, read this book. It will give you first-hand information from a sensitive, and often times amusing, safari guide who takes his job seriously. Mat Dry doesn’t pull any punches when describing local situations that can be trying. But, he loves Africa and the animals, and takes good care of his guests. The good news is you can even join him in real life on a great African adventure.

I have just finished my second book, THIS is Africa 2: More True Tales of a Safari Guide, so do not yet have plans for a third.

6. Please tell us more about yourself...

After careers in tennis and screen-writing, I was searching for a new one. In the summer of 2006, at 35, I took a month-long trip around South Africa and a 21 day overland trip from Cape Town to Livingstone, and learned there was such a thing as being a “Safari Guide”. On that trip I fell in love with Africa and realized I could take the fast track to becoming what I had wanted to be as a nineyear old, a “zoologist”, albeit in safari-guide form. I sold my house, gave away my paraphernalia to charity and moved to Africa. I worked as a safari guide for Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, then at Leeuwenbosch, a five-star lodge. I also worked as a guide in both East and Southern Africa and then I then published THIS is Africa: True Tales of a Safari Guide. I’m also doing lectures and presentations.

1. Mat, what inspired you to become a travel writer? I decided to record/write my experiences in Africa because I love sharing Africa with people in every form possible. I know there are some people who will never be able to make it to Africa and by putting my experiences in written form they get a chance to live it a little too.

2. How are the stories in your book different from articles on your website? Articles on my website are factual descriptions of places, animals, and people that clients will experience if they come to Africa. Their main purpose is to inform rather than to entertain and inspire.

3. What is your favourite story in the book? My favourite story is called “Lariam Days” and is about my experience of having to save a client from himself when he suffered a Lariam-induced, psychotic breakdown while on safari with me. It was one of those experiences that is almost impossible to comprehend until you live it.

4. What travel writers have influenced your writing? Ernest Hemingway and Paul Theroux, two African travellers 187


In a future issue... Indonesia

We explore the mystic 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple of Borobudur and other temples of central Java Island in Indonesia. Decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues, and a central dome surrounded by another 72 Buddha statues, Borobudur is one of the greatest temples on earth! We will arrive before sunrise for an incredible experience and then go further north to Dieng Plateau with its smaller temples and active volcanic activity surrounded by veggie terraces.

Timor-Leste

Also known as East Timor, or officially called the Democratic Republic of TimorLeste, it comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, as well as a few nearby islands, such as the beautiful Atauro Island. Under Portuguese rule from the 16th century, it was then occupied by Indonesia since 1975. After years of suffering, Timor-Leste gained self-determination following a violent struggle in which hundreds of locals were killed. Come along as we explore this remote new country!

Sapa Vietnam

The region around Sapa in northern Vietnam is known for its fine, rugged scenery rich in cultural diversity. Many colourful hill tribes and ethnic minorities live in the area such as the H’mong, Dao, Tay, and the Giay people. Put on your hiking boots as we head into the mountains to meet these tribes and spend some quality time with them. From the fog-enshrouded village of Sapa we hike past rice paddies and waterfalls as we disappear into the unknown!

Europe’s smallest countries

Europe’s smallest independent nations are most likely the least touristy destinations in Europe. Nevertheless, they certainly have no shortage of excitement for the intrepid traveller. We will visit the seven smallest European nations: Luxembourg, Andorra, Malta, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, and the smallest of them all, The Vatican City. In a future issue of Globerovers Magazine we trust to round out the Top 10 by adding Montenegro, Kosovo, and Cyprus. Stay tuned!

Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been described by U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, as “Europe’s last dictator”. Walking around the capital, Minsk, you can understand the impact his rule is having on this country. While travel can be restricted and eyes could be focussed on a lone travelling foreigner, this is no North Korea. Get on the train and travel far west to Grodno, or to the incredible Mir Castle to the southwest of Minsk. Do attend a real old-school circus.

Laos

One of the few single party communist countries left on this planet, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has a politburo dominated by military generals. Forget the politics and head up to the little village of Vang Vieng for some caving and cycling among the endless rice paddies separated by massive limestone rocks. Don’t miss out on the town of Luang Prabang known for its many monasteries and saffron-clad monks, as well as the hill tribes living in the surrounding hills.

Alaska

Probably one of the most beautiful places on this planet, Alaska! The Kenai Peninsula extends approximately 240 km southwest of Anchorage, and is famous for the glacier-covered Kenai Mountains, small villages, rugged coastline fringed with massive glacier-tongues, and quaint villages on remote islands. The waters are known for their halibut, killer whales (orcas), and the many sea otters. Bald eagles are plentiful and so are moose, puffins, and the black and brown (grizzly) bears.

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IN THE NEXT ISSUE December 2017

SUPER

TRAVELLERS in the SPOTLIGHT A Globerovers Q&A with two ultimate travellers from Germany

Globerovers Magazine visits Rudolf Nägele and Jean Jasper-

sen-Naegele who reside in Germany when they are not travelling. Rudolf has visited all 193 United Nations (UN) countries plus the

Vatican, Taiwan and Palestine, while Jean is still short of Cuba, and

the elusive Libya (Interviewed in Globerovers Magazine, July 2015). Rudi and Jean met on a blind date in Newton, Kansas in 1969.

Since 1971, their home base has been southern Germany, first

Munich, then Ulm and now Thalfingen in the county of Neu Ulm,

state of Bavaria. From these locations they have explored the world together for the past 48 years. During their travels they have built

up an incredible collection of ethnographic items which they proudly display throughout their home. Their collection would be the envy of the world’s most prestigious museums!

Their most prized items are from Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya!

Make sure not to miss the December 2017 issue!

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Globerovers Magazine July 2017  

In this 9th issue of Globerovers Magazine, the feature destination is Morocco, from the Atlas Mountains on the fringe of the Sahara Desert,...

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