More Independence Days to Celebrate

August is another Independence Day bonanza. The shifts of power didn’t happen all at once, but 1960 was a big year. If you’re in any of these countries expect a holiday. Maybe there will be fireworks or a parade or a speech or two.

  • August 1 – Benin gained independence from France
  • August 3– Niger gained its independence from France
  • August 5 –Burkina Faso also gained independence from France.
  • August 11–Guess which country Chad gained independence from? That’s right, France.
  • August 13–Central African Republic also gained independence from–you guessed it–France.
  • August 14- Pakistan from the U.K. in 1947.
  • August 15- India from the U.K. in 1947.
  • August 17- Gabon. Can you guess the country and year? If you said France and 1960, ***ding ding ding ! [Did you hear the you win bells?]
  • August 19- Afganistan from the U.K. in 1919. Wow, that’s early.
  • August 24- Ukraine in 1991.
  • August 25- Uruguay from Brazil in 1825.
  • August 27- Moldova from U.S.S.R. in 1991
  • August 31- Kyrgystan from the U.S.S.R in 1991 and Trinidad and Tobago from the U.K. in 1962.

*The information is from the International Calendar published by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Madison, Wisconsin. They put this calendar together every year and other Peace Corps groups sell it as a fundraiser.

Mega, as in the Biggest Ever, African Adventure Trip

Suppose you have time-lots of it. Let’s say you have 44 weeks. Perhaps you’d like to go overland from Morocco to South Africa by way of Egypt. Here’s a travel adventure that will take you through 10 game parks, various cultural and historical landmarks, and enough thrills like rafting and tandem sky diving that you’ll have stories to tell for years. Countries not typical as tourist hot spots are included in the mix. Angola, for example, has only allowed tourists in since 2004.

In Angola you’ll see Portuguese influenced architecture and gorgeous beaches besides the 3rd largest statue of Jesus in the world. The other countries in this multi-stop, pack-in-variety approach are: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, DRCongo Zaire, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

The highlights of this tour calledTrans Africa. Europe–CapeTown-Nairobi-Istanbul read like a cross between an outdoor wilderness experience, a cultural bonanza and a journey through an African history book. Read the itinerary and you might find yourself chomping to take this trip on. I sure am. R&R opportunities and the chance to luxuriate are built in. Africa Travel Center also offers shorter version African adventures where only parts of this trip are included.

* photo taken in Benguela, Angola by zokete.

Inside Africa Vol. 1 & 2

Inside Africa Inside Africa
TASCHEN books are some of my favorite to collect. If I had hundreds of dollars to blow I could easily do so on their website, but for now I’ll have to place some of these titles on my Christmas wish list or refrain from doing so much running to and fro’ to buy a few more. Of the more recent releases I’d like to take a peek at the Inside Africa titles. The two volume set puts the diversity of African living in the reader’s face. I’ll be one of the first to admit (and this is very sad because I have so many African friends), but when I think of dwellings found in various African places I don’t think modern for the majority. I see mud, clay, and earthy homes with wells and without running hot water. SO WRONG. While a good portion of countries may have tribes and villages with housing of this nature there are tons of luxury lodges, artist studios, minimalist houses, and so-forth. These two sets claim to have a good mixture of both and more, but with the eye-popping ink and paper stock TASCHEN uses I’m sure anyone flipping through the book would want to stay in a clay hut. Deidi von Schaewen is the photographer and it took a period of four years and fifteen countries to make it these Inside Africa volumes happen.

Countries featured include Egypt, Kenya, Botswana, Morocco, Réunion, Seychelles, Tanzania, Tunisia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, Nigeria, and Senegal to list only a few.

Africa Travel: Benin

GanvieVillageInstead of trying to force feed every cool monument or savannah to see in every African country this month I’m going to point out one interesting thing to do, see, or experience in each. That should save some amount of hard-decision making when you’re finally ready to plan your trip to the continent at the end of the month. Starting with Benin, a west African country bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo known for delicious cuisine and stilted homes a trip to Ganvie village is a must-see. It is estimated that some 20,000 people live in 3,000 fragile stilt houses on the water. Boats are the best method of transportation and it is one of the most accessible attractions to Cotonou. their lifestyle and ability to reside on the water in such make-shift homes is beyond me. For additional travel and hotel information see Travel Notes and LP Worldguide. A short story and some photos from Benin can be found at Travel Adventures.