Author: eliasc64

Coastal Ghana

Less than a month after returning from Congo, I went to Ghana for business and had the chance to travel along the central and west coast. In three short days I dove deeper into the Ghanaian way of life and visited some lovely places. Ghana is not a popular destination for tourists and thus offers an authentic travel experience for visitors that want to understand how Africa lives and is transforming socially and economically. Cape Coast Cape Coast is a coastal town with a population of 170 thousand people, better known for the its castle, one of about forty “slave...

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Tchegera Island

The return journey from Bukavu to Goma had no surprises. Our final destination was Tchegera island, a secluded piece of land, just 20 minutes away from busy Goma. It is tiny,  only 400m in circumference and shaped like a croissant. It hosts a tented camp that consists of eleven tents, eight for lodging and three utility tents that serve as kitchen, restaurant and leisure area. It can can host up to sixteen guests, but on that day we were the only guests aboard! Tsegera Island The small Tsegera resort island in lake Kivu, near Goma. Tchegera is part of the Virunga National Park and run by its staff....

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The Lowland Gorillas

The speedboat service from Goma to Bukavu covers the distance in 3 hours and costs $50 for non-nationals, a better alternative to the 6-hour trip with the normal boat. The port was very busy but not noisy. We had to check in with our passports, quite odd as we did not cross any borders, but then again the situation in this part of the country is quite turbulent and sometimes violent. Except ourselves, Michael – who seemed to be following our itinerary – and three Germans, the rest of the people on the boat were locals. The service included...

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Nyiragongo

Finally the day that we would climb the mighty mount Nyiragongo arrived. I love the gorillas, but the reason we came here was primarily to see the largest active lava lake in the world. Mount Nyiragongo peaks at 3470m and the lava lake is located about 500 meters lower, at the bottom 2km wide crater. It has erupted at least 34 times since 1882, with the most hazardous being in 1977 and 2002. In 1977, the walls of the crater fractures and the lava lake drained in less than one hour, flowing down the slopes at speeds of up...

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Mountain Gorillas in Virunga

We left Goma behind us, driving under the rain through the lava scattered roads. After two hours on very bumpy road and my back was already killing me. The story goes that Mobutu Sesse Seko had signed a contract to build this road but after inspection, it turned out that the contractor had delivered a seriously flawed project. Mobutu’s rage was such that he ordered to destroy the road and thus punish the local communities! I am not sure whether this story is true, but it certainly draws a picture of Congo.. School Girls Three girls in their school...

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Goma

We arrived in Kigali international late in the evening and went straight to bed for to get some rest. Kigali is a pleasant surprise, unlike other African capitals. Hilly, beautiful and clean. There are pedestrian sidewalks everywhere and tarmac on almost all roads. It seems like Rwanda is the way for Africa to move forward. We left early the next day, destination Goma, a three hour drive along beautiful, hilly countryside. Green is the dominant color in Rwanda. The road is narrow and curves among the hills, but there are no trucks and the tarmac is in very good...

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Congo (DRC)

I had Nyiragongo in my bucket list for quite some time but I was hesitant because of the security situation in the Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nyiragongo is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and hosts the largest active lava lake, a unique spectacle for nature lovers. The situation has improved considerably since 2012 and after some serious thinking we decided to go. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the poorest nations in the world, practically a failed state, possessing almost $24 trillion in mineral reserves. It is the epitome of the...

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Yerevan

Last May, I had the chance to visit Yerevan for business. Armenia is not a usual destination for business, but the invitation from Aram was tempting. Aram and I go back a long time, from our Austin years, in the early 90s.I was not sure what to expect out of Yerevan. Armenia’s history, culture and geographical position, right on the dividing line between Europe and Asia and the fact that Armenia has been an integral part of the Soviet empire – unlike Bulgaria or the other east European countries – puts Yerevan on a league of its own. The Armenian culture is...

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Route 66 and Los Angeles

Heading south again, through the desert and along the California-Nevada border, we entered the Mojave desert. The road follows hill tops and valleys, among barren fields, presenting a exhilarating driving experience and some of the best photo opportunities of a road trip. At Baker, we entered the Kelbaker road, crossing through the heart of the Mojave desert National Park. The temperature went down a bit, now around 110°F. Unlike the Death Valley, there is some vegetation here, mainly brittle bushes, creosote bushes and Joshua trees. In June, the brittle bushes bloom with yellow flowers, painting the desert yellow. We stopped at the...

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California: the East

Just before noon, we crossed the Oakland bridge and took Highway 580 and then Route 120 to the Yosemite National Park. The feeling was more like driving in mid-western America than in California. Things got more interesting after we started climbing the Sierra Nevada. We were now turning the curves of state Route 120, along creeks, inside the dense forest, with the temperature surprisingly rising together with the elevation, as the imminent heat wave was kicking in. We checked in at the Yosemite Cedar lodge with the option to hit the pool or watch the seventh and last NBA...

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California: the Coast

Santa Barbara is a nice little town, with low rise buildings with red tiled rooftops, reflecting the Spanish colonial heritage. There is a pleasant and easygoing ambience, all in accord with what the traveller expects to find after viewing so many Hollywood movies. We woke up early, the boys a bit jet-lagged and visited Stearns Wharf, arguably the town’s landmark. The wooden pier was completed in 1872 and at the time was the longest deep water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco.     Santa Barbara Beach The beach in Santa Barbara. My Guys My two guys in Santa Barbara....

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California

Being on a road trip with my two sons has only been one of my dreams. The opportunity came up when Nikitas graduated this year from high school. Chris, the young one, is already fourteen, old enough to follow and maybe appreciate a road trip. We set out to California. I was on business in LA, my little men boarded the plane on their own and landed on late afternoon in LAX. We jumped in a rental Nissan SUV and there we are, heading to Santa Monica, about two hours north on the Californian coast.   Santa Barbara Beach Santa...

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