The Tsingy of Madagascar

The Tsingy of Madagascar

The tsingy of Madagascar, the thin, needle-like rock formations in the country, have a soft, sweet sing-song name.

With one foot on a knife-edge, the other in the air, the word soft didn’t come into it. I gripped the tsingy and tried not to look down. A long, long way down.

In Malagasy, the word tsingy means “walking on tip toes” or “the place where one cannot walk barefoot.” It’s a translation I’d overlooked for reasons that didn’t come to mind right now.

My hand grazed another and I did my best to ignore the pace of my pulse. I had to focus, to cling, to move. To grip and not to slip.

And then she appeared.

Light of foot and dancing.

A lemur. Then another. And another. Hopping, bouncing, chatting and calling, they danced and danced while I clung on.

And despite my heavy, dizzy, legs, I felt my heart join in, fluttering like lemur tails to be here in the wild in Madagascar.

Read moreThe Tsingy of Madagascar

The Danakil Depression: The Most Hellish Place on Earth

The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is one of the lowest, hottest places on Earth. Geographically, it is part of the African Rift which extends from the African rift lakes of Malawi and Tanganyika, up through the Red Sea and into the Dead Sea of Jordan and Israel.

Politically, it is part of the Afar region, which has suffered from separatist violence in the past.

Ecologically, it is an extreme desert located below sea level, with temperatures which reach 50°C (122°F) on a regular basis.

To top it all off, it is also home to a volcano with one of the largest, open pits of exposed magma in the world.

Despite all of this, however, people live in the Danakil Depression and manage to eek out of living in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet Earth.

This is what I saw.

Read moreThe Danakil Depression: The Most Hellish Place on Earth

Aksum, Ethiopia

Aksum, Ethiopia World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription: Situated in the highlands of northern Ethiopia, Aksum symbolizes the wealth and importance of the civilization of the ancient Aksumite kingdom, which lasted from the 1st to the 8th centuries AD. The kingdom was at the crossroads of the three continents: Africa, Arabia, and the Greco-Roman World, and was the …

Read moreAksum, Ethiopia

West Africa Photo Essay

Click to view As you know, earlier this year I sailed from Cape Town to Morocco with G Adventures on the M/S Expedition. I’ve just published my photo essay from the trip and it is one of my best ever. Click to View my West Africa Photo Essay

Comparing Gary Arndt’s and Francis Tapon’s West African Experiences

My friend and author, Francis Tapon, has been traveling around Africa for the past year. While I was sailing up the west coast of Africa this year, he had been traveling across similar territory by land.

Given how different our trips were, I thought it would be interesting for Francis to compare his observations about Africa with mine. Although his experience in Africa has been much more extensive, we’ve come to similar conclusions about some things and very different conclusions about others.

He has also begun a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the pilot episode of the Unseen Africa TV show. All money raised will go directly to the production of the pilot.

Take it away, Francis….


Although Gary and I explored West Africa around the same time (he went through a few months after I did), our experiences were radically different. So it’s understandable that we sometimes reached different conclusions. It’s equally remarkable that we often agree with each other. What follows is a comparison of our two trips through West Africa, with a focus on three West African countries.

But first, a bit of background on how Gary and I met. Probably like you, I first bumped into Gary in cyberspace. Soon thereafter, I was on his “This Week in Travel” show to discuss the sexiest country ever: Moldova.

Read moreComparing Gary Arndt’s and Francis Tapon’s West African Experiences

Day 31, West Africa Cruise – Agadir to Marrakech, Morocco

Latitude: 30° 25.2′ N
Longitude: 9° 37.72′ W

Our arrival in Morocco marks the last day of our trip.

Most of the countries we visited on this tour had very low numbers of tourists. Morocco was one of the exceptions. Because of that, I assumed that going through customs and immigration for Morocco would be the easiest of the entire trip, especially considering we did it just 2 days earlier when we landed in Dakhla.

I was mistaken.

Read moreDay 31, West Africa Cruise – Agadir to Marrakech, Morocco

Day 29-30, West African Cruise – At Sea, Off the Coast of Morocco / Punta del Rosario, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

Latitude: 28° 29.64′ N
Longitude: 013° 51.49′ W

I’ve decided to merge these two days because our visit to Fuerteventura was the shortest of all our ports of call. We had limited time on the island because the ship had to get to Agadir, Morocco the next day at a set time.

I had previously visited the Canary Islands in 2011 and it was a great experience. I visited most of the islands, but never got to El Hiro and Fuerteventura, so our stop on the island was interesting to me in that it was one of the few islands in the Canaries which I hadn’t visited.

Read moreDay 29-30, West African Cruise – At Sea, Off the Coast of Morocco / Punta del Rosario, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands