africa, where the colors don’t fade

You know how they say you leave your heart in Africa? How this wildly contrasting place gets to you and you keep revisiting your steps, toying with the idea of going back? How you find yourself looking around your home afterwards and wondering how people take so many things for granted, forgetting to enjoy the little things that make their day? Well, they were right.

It’s very hard to put in words what this place does to you (and I’m not the best of writers anyway), but you can’t just ease back effortlessly into your old life and habits. It changes you a bit, as cliche as it may sound, especially if you give into the experience and life instead of gliding on the surface. It’s enough to see the genuine smiles on the little kids’ faces who are eager to talk to you or the richness of colors and garments people wear; to walk on the pearly white beaches on the Indian Ocean coast; to witness the staggering wildebeest migration where thousands upon thousands of animals fill up the horizon as far as your eyes can see and beyond; to walk on the endless plains of Serengeti and come across diverse wildlife; to look at the incredible redness of the Rhotia valley soils or the vibrant green of the Ngorongoro crater; to stand at the top of Africa at nearly 6,000m or see a stunning sunset after a deafening storm in the heart of Tanzania… yes, I did leave my heart in Africa and I can’t wait to go back for it πŸ™‚

Below you will find some highlights from the trip, hope at least the photos can do it some justice.


Sunset over Kendwa, Zanzibar.


Passenger ferry in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest and richest (an interesting word in this case) city. Packed is a nice way of putting it. Also, being the only two white people on board didn’t help the stares we were getting when crossing over to the “slum” side of town πŸ˜‰


Albeit a little shy of the camera, this girl loved practicing her English and chatting.


Boats. And shacks.


Lake Manyara from a distant vantage point. One of the biggest pink flamingo gatherings can be observed there, but because of the low water levels in recent years you can’t get near them. If you look closely, you can see the Land Cruisers on the road.


The great wildebeest migration… as many as 1.5 million animals move around throughout the year in this spectacle of nature. It’s hard to express in words really, one needs to see it in person to really feel what that number means.


Best beer in town πŸ˜‰


Climbing Kili can be a cold experience (even in summer time) and the dark clouds and storms are never too far behind.


I wonder if it’s the same Mr. Bean πŸ™‚


The charming narrow streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar.


Baboons are special in so many ways πŸ™‚


Beautiful butterfly in one of the many wildlife parks.


One my absolute favorite shots of the trip, what a lucky capture πŸ™‚


The Eastern shores of Zanzibar are perfect for kitesurfers


A man walking through the red hills of the Rhotia valley…


Typical means of transportation πŸ˜‰


All hail to the King!


I call this the “Gateway to Kilimanjaro”, an interesting tree arrangement you go through during the first day of climbing.


Playing football (soccer to all my American friends πŸ˜‰ ) barefoot with the local kids was definitely one of the highlights of the trip πŸ™‚ Let me tell you, these guys are good! I don’t even know what they’d do to us if they had cleats on and were playing on grass instead of the semi-rocky sand…


You know, just a hyena darting across the road early in the morning… no biggie πŸ˜‰


Porters and trekkers near Kibo hut, close to 4,500m.


It might be hard to tell from the angle, but this fella was well over 4m high… majestic animals.


Kigamboni community centre’s pupils and Meto.


A luscious green valley near Ngorongoro crater with Masai huts in the foreground.


Football clubs and jerseys were really popular amongst men! So was eating with your fingers πŸ˜‰


Wherever you are in the world, you always need more cowbell πŸ˜‰


“Whatcha looking at?” πŸ˜€


Sunrise over Serengeti…


Just before the 6am dip in the Indian Ocean, with a storm approaching… it literally started raining two seconds later πŸ™‚


At 5,700m it was -15C and extremely windy with waist-deep snow at times, but at least the moon was so bright we didn’t need headlamps to climb Uhuru (Kilimanjaro’s highest peak, sitting at 5,895m in the distance)… no one said getting to the top of Africa would be easy πŸ˜‰


More photos and stories coming in the following weeks πŸ™‚


152 thoughts

  1. I love not only the pictures, but the story you are telling! I am studying abroad this summer in Brazil and I hope to have a similar experience. Originally I wanted to go to Africa, but being only 20 and still pretty attached to my parents, when my mother said absolutely not to Africa, the vision I had just shifted a bit. This makes me so ecstatic for my trip!

    • It’s not all peaches and cream, Caitlyn, I hope you know that πŸ˜‰ Like any other place (or perhaps even more so in this case), there’s many issues in Tanzania/Kenya and Africa in general and what you see above is perhaps the more touristic and prettier side of things so take it with a grain of salt before you fly over. It’s always better to expect less (like I was) and then be rewarded with more rather than the other way around. Good luck in Brazil! πŸ˜‰

      • Yeah I’m definitely prepared to not be living as ideally as I am now! I know that there are going to be some rough patches, but I’m more than ready to tackle this adventure! Thanks πŸ™‚

  2. I have so many thoughts / comments. 1) the picture of the lion is my FAVORITE 2) how were you able to take pictures while climbing mt.kilimanjaro? I’ve heard it’s quite a tough climb on your body – not sure how you found the strength to whip out your camera and actually take good pictures 3) finale of thoughts – mother africa. i love animals. africa is so diverse from east to west to north to south – fascinating continent and tanzania is a great place to start! ok i’m done rambling.

    • Hi Aparna!
      1. I have better shots of lions, but was saving them for another post πŸ˜‰
      2. It’s not that difficult for the first couple of days, it’s just like any other climb. The actual day you summit it can be since you walk all night, but it’s not impossible. I did take quite a lot less photos of the actual peak than I was hoping, mostly because it was cloudy and you couldn’t see it from afar during the first days and also because on summit day above 5,500m it’s just super cold and my fingers almost literally froze (even with gloves on) when trying to get the couple of shots I do have, like that one here. Plus, my guide and I climbed a little too fast and got to the top before sunrise and couldn’t wait around for the sun so we had to head back down. I’ll have a separate post just on Kilimanjaro with more info in the coming weeks.
      3. Indeed πŸ™‚

  3. GORGEOUS photos! Africa was never a continent that originally caught my interest, but after seeing the beauty of the area makes me question why I would ever say no! Beautiful! Love that one of the locals was wearing a Real Madrid jersey! Hala Madrid! And such a beautiful portrait of the young girl!

  4. These pictures make me want to go there… NOW. What an interesting range of climate zones, regional differences, wildlife and people. I spent a summer doing volunteer work in Ghana and have been wanting to go back to the continent ever since. That was over 30 years ago! You are right about leaving your heart behind and wanting to go back to find it again….

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  5. good post…keep doing it…as I am new blogger I posted couple of blogs and not able to get that much popularity please visit my blog …please help me by reading by any blog (as I read yours) and try to find is there any writing issues or I’m expecting too early…your valuable comments will really boost my writing skills…

      • If I ever go I will let you know. Though I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen in the next fifteen years, but we’ll see. (Actually, hopefully it won’t. If it does it’s probably a bad sign, that I’m trying to get away from something; I hate traveling.)

        Although, it might be a good idea to put the idea in my brother’s head. πŸ˜€

  6. As a born & bread African, the colours do fade (& quickly due to our sun), we just celebrate them while they last. Glad you loved our continent a little as much as we do. I haven’t done 1/2 of what you did, but Africa isn’t just a place, its a communal person.

  7. The vivid descriptions and mesmerizing photographs made me wanna head to Africa this very instance! The drudgery of work and an festering emotional wound is so keeping me awake on freshly pressed blogs. Boy, am I glad to chanced upon such an encouraging post. Press on ! 😊

  8. Beautiful photos! I have always wanted to visit the a country in Africa, not sure which one yet but these photos definitely stir up my desire to go even more.

  9. Now just imagine living in Africa and never really seeing all that you left your heart to. We all get lost in our plenty or lack, in our colourful or drab.

    • I can agree to that — perhaps it’s my outsider perspective that allows me to experience things other take for granted. I imagine it would be the same for anyone from Africa who comes to Europe. Sometimes we just need that third point of view πŸ˜‰

      • Most of the places you traveled to are not accessible to the locals. It’s either too expensive to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or the time to appreciate its beauty is occupied with the hustle to work for food.

        • Ok, I see what you mean now. It certainly wasn’t easy seeing the big disparity between some of the wonderful places we were seeing and the sometimes harsh reality of the locals’ lives a mere 50m away…

          • Yes that is the hardest reality to comprehend in Kenya and East Africa especially for one such as I, who has been on both sides of the ‘track’..poverty and wealthy.

  10. Your pictures are amazing! I went to Kenya over the summer and saw the wildebeest migration, too! Masai Mara is the name of the place, right? I loved seeing the animals over there. They have such a diverse ecosystem, and I loved seeing the animals in action. They are so spontaneous and fearless. I have also been to South Africa before, and everything about that country is breathtaking! Cape Town was so beautiful and the Cape of Good Hope was too good to be true, surreal. πŸ˜€ I absolutely agree that Africa is a continent of colors and originality. I hope you enjoy your other travels as well!

    • Yes, it is Masai Mara. To the south in Tanzania this reserve is called Serengeti, but the wildebeest don’t care for borders that much πŸ˜‰ Glad you loved your trips, I’m looking to do more as well!

  11. For all the commentators and blogger; he went to Tanzania, not “Africa”.

    I pray for the day people learn to not sum up the whole continent as one homogenized culture and people. This ignorance can get annoying for Africans.

    Apart from that, I enjoyed the pictures πŸ™‚

    • It was actually Kenya as well, but you’re right — though this was a conscious decision on my part, not ignorance. I am fully aware it’s a wildly diverse continent (I’ve also been to the very different northern parts) and no two countries and places are alike so I didn’t mean disrespect. I was merely trying to draw the attention of the WordPress community to how incredible it is and spark the interest of exploring it; and in that sense I chose to name the post Africa, not “Tanzania & Kenya and oh by the way check my older photos from Morocco and the like”. Hope that makes sense and thanks for your comment.

  12. Beautiful pictures!

    I have heard of the Africa experience and I have personally witnessed it in someone close to me.

    I think we Americans could learn a lot from Africa. The people there have so much joy, and yet they live with so little. It makes you wonder why those around us live with so much and have so little joy.

    It really is the little things in life that matter…
    Such as having your touched in the reading of this blog or
    Spreading a little kindness around the world.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve often found during my travels that in places like Peru, Cambodia, India and now around some countries in Africa people are happy with the little that they have, yet we keep complaining. I suppose it’s human nature to quickly get used to things — but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to appreciate the little things. It is the radiant smiles of people in these countries that always surprise me and teach me a lesson.

  13. its a beautiful place though often we fail to notice until we look calmly enough for its various aspects of adoration.

  14. Truly fell in love with the first photo…free and stretching forever, and was not disappointed with the great tune and more stunning shots that followed. Beautiful post…such a great time reading/viewing it. Cheers.

  15. Beautiful Pictures. Africa indeed is beautiful. I am surprised other people “leave their heart here”, because many find our part of the world scary. BTW the details in your pictures are mind blowing…LOVE IT!

    • I think that when you step outside of your comfort zone and really explore, you find out there’s so much more to any place in the world that you’re bound to leave a part of you with it. It’s been the same for me for many counties I’ve been to. Thanks for the compliment, I have a good camera πŸ˜‰

  16. Asante sana! (Thanks a lot) for these beautiful pictures of Tanzania – love the country and loved that you managed to capture the people and their land’s beauty.

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  19. Oh my gosh!! That was just fantastic. My 8-yr-old daughter (who says that the girl in the photo is a brown version of her…I agree) now wants to go see the elephants an giraffes. I guess I should starting funneling the kids’ college funds into air fare for six. Zanzibar is already an island I’d love to go. Why not climb Kili while we’re there? (Dreaming. One day…).

    Cheers. I enjoy the virtual travel. I have similar posts (here’s a fav because of the bats but nowhere as, well, exotic.

    PS — I love anywhere I can eat with my fingers! The classroom shot with you in it made me smile big.

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  24. Africa is a beautiful continent.. i lost my heart there too, even if i only saw south africa… there are still a few countries on my to-do-list.. specially zanzibar & the serengeti

    • Ha, didn’t know it was — perhaps it was a fluke if it did happen at all πŸ™‚ I’ve never aimed to be mentioned there and don’t have any suggestions I’m afraid. Perhaps just try to provide as best content as possible and things will happen for you.

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