Mount Kilimanjaro Defeats Jordanian Princess

Mount Kilimanjaro
It looks like money and privilege can’t buy everything.

Princess Sarah Princess Sara bint Al Faisal of Jordan, niece of King Abdullah II, failed to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the Tanzania Daily News reports.

The 18-year-old princess tried to scale the famous mountain last weekend with a large entourage of assistants and Jordanian international students. She reached the Kibo point at 4,700 meters (15,420 feet) but developed altitude sickness. Doctors climbing with her advised her to descend instead of attempting to reach the mountain’s highest summit, Uhuru point at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet).

Symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, rapid pulse and more. For full coverage see this PDF document. To prevent altitude sickness, it’s best to ascend in stages, staying overnight at an intermediate altitude to give the body time to adapt. The only cure of altitude sickness is to descend to a lower altitude, which should be done immediately.

It’s difficult to predict who will get altitude sickness. When I climbed to similar elevations in the Himalayas the only symptom I noticed was a need for more breaks. On the other hand, a couple of other trekkers who looked far more fit than I was got very sick and had to descend.

The princess hoped to get a certificate of achievement for scaling the mountain. Only three of her party made it to Uhuru Point and got the certificate. She said that she enjoyed her trip to Tanzania and would try to climb the mountain again.

[Photo courtesy Muhammad Mahdi Karim]

Tourists Amazed By Serengeti Wildebeest Calving

wildebeest, Serengeti
February is a special time on the Serengeti. Right now its population of some 1.5 million wildebeests are giving birth to an estimated 8,000 calves a day, the Tanzania Daily News reports.

The East African nation has seen some 16,500 tourists come to watch the event in Serengeti National Park, including 5,800 domestic visitors who are part of a growing African middle class that’s boosting tourism across the continent.

This mass calving happens every year. All the pregnant wildebeests give birth within the same period of a few weeks, a process called “synchronized calving.” The animals give birth while standing up or even moving around, and wildebeest calves are walking within a couple of minutes. Once all the pregnant wildebeest have calved, the whole herd heads out.

These adaptations help protect the calves from predators. You can bet that hyenas, lions and other sharp-toothed critters are flocking to the area along with the tourists. Wildebeests are also hunted by humans to make a kind of jerky called biltong. This is legal in some parts of Africa although, of course, not in the park. One Tanzanian scientist estimated that half the calves will get eaten or die from other causes during the wildebeest’s 600-mile migration.

[Photo courtesy user zheem via Flickr]

Rooting For Ethiopia In The Africa Cup Of Nations

Africa Cup of Nations, logoOne of the byproducts of travel is that you become more aware of events that don’t get much coverage back home. The sports pages here in Spain, for example, aren’t exactly full of stories about the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

This continent-wide football championship, starting today in South Africa, is sure to be watched by millions of Africans. I’m especially curious as to the public reaction in Ethiopia. I’ve traveled a lot in that fascinating East African nation and I know they’re crazy about football – European football.

You see Real Madrid and Manchester United jerseys everywhere, and every village has a beat up old Foosball table painted in the colors of popular European teams. Yet Ethiopians seem singularly blind to their own football teams. I spent hours trying to hunt down an Ethiopian National Team shirt for my son, only to be told that they aren’t made in children’s sizes.

The kids don’t want them.

Hopefully that’s all about to change. Ethiopia has qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations finals for the first time since 1982. They haven’t won since 1962. With that kind of record, you can understand why the fans have been less than enthusiastic. Their first game is against Zambia on January 21. Zambia has a FIFA ranking of 34; Ethiopia’s is 102. It’s going to be a tough match.

My son and I are going to be rooting for Ethiopia. We’ll be sitting at home here in Spain watching it on the computer, urging on the Ethiopian team as crowds in cafes and bars across Ethiopia will be going crazy. It’s going to be a nice way to reconnect with my favorite country to travel in.

Hey, if a guy from Addis Ababa can be an Arsenal fan without ever having been to England, I can be an Ethiopia fan, right?

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Photo Of The Day: Flamingos At Lake Nakuru

Today’s magnificent shot comes to us from Flickr user John Overmeyer, who captured this elegant image of flamingos feeding at Kenya’s Lake Nakuru. The lake’s high concentration of algae attracts huge flocks of the birds and other wildlife to the area, bringing with them plenty of nature photographers. I love the washed out colors, the various poses of the different birds and their hazy reflections in the water below.

Taken any great photos during your own travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user John Overmeyer]

Kenya Festival A Showcase Of Culture, Old School

Kenya

The annual Lamu Cultural Festival in Kenya is a showcase of tradition featuring much of what earned the island off Africa’s northern coast its World Heritage Site designation in 2001. Coming up November 15-18, 2012, the three-day festival offers a unique opportunity to explore the history, people, sights and sounds of Africa.

Lamu Island is home to Lamu Town, Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited town and one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa. The town’s history dates back to 1441 and can be explored via a number of museums.

A full schedule of traditional dances, handicraft displays, competitions on water and land, Swahili poetry, donkey races, dhow races, henna paintings, Swahili bridal ceremonies and music. Since its inception as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, the festival has been a celebration of the island’s unique Swahili heritage.Getting there is tricky but, like so many other travel experiences, getting there is a great deal of the fun.

Scheduled flights daily from Nairobi, Mombasa, Diani Beach and Malindi land at close-by Manda Island airport (MAU). From there, dhow ferries bring visitors to Lamu where there are no vehicles. None. No tour busses, taxicabs, rental cars or even public transportation. This is about as close to the Africa of hundreds of years ago as we can get.

It is possible to hire donkeys to ride around the island though.

Check out the Lamu Cultural Festival and other Kenya information at www.magicalkenya.com.



[Photo Credit: Flickr user hktang]