Having spent a day in controversial Johannesburg, we decided to use the final 3 days of our journey for venturing into the unknown kingdom of Lesotho which is entirely surrounded by South Africa. Although located literally within such a popular destination, Lesotho remains a black spot on the tourist map of the world. And, for us, that was a good reason why we wanted to see it. From our experience, usually, the less visited and less popular the place is, the more excitement of discovering its authentic and unique culture awaits for the visitors - still unspoiled by cheap souvenir stands and hordes of tourists. It was the case with places like Kazakhstan, Turkemnistan or Albania. And after all, we hadn't been mistaken about Lesotho either - it turned out to be an amazing, beautiful and inspiring country.
Despite of the increasing popularity of the Sal island among European tourists, the other islands of the Cape Verde archipelago are pretty much unknown to an ordinary traveler. Although Sal is packed with resorts as well as fancy hotels and resembles a typical, ordinary beach destination, Fogo remains quiet, idyllic and perfect for those who love different, off the beaten path places. Not to mention its moon-like landscapes formed by the very recent eruption in 2014 of the volcanic peak overlooking the island. Fogo was by far my favorite island of Cape Verde.
Johannesburg, the biggest city in South Africa has its share of bad reputation and, comparing to the extremely famous and attractive Cape Town, receives relatively low numbers of tourists. We would have probably skipped it too if it hadn't been for the super cheap last-minute flights from Europe (500 EUR return!). Johannesburg is nothing like Cape Town (take a look at my post about it) - there's no beach, no mountains, no architecture that could stand out, it's a very new city (a bit over a century old) and only looks nice seen from afar. If you come closer, the filth, poverty and chaos prevail in the streets. On the other hand, Johannesburg is an interesting point in the turbulent, recent history. It's the city of gold and the birthday place of Nelson Mandela. And, what most of the visitors come here for - it's a great gateway to the beautiful wild game reserves, natural wonders and... Lesotho - the little, forgotten country completely surrounded by South Africa.
Green hills, olive and orange groves, Mediterranean atmosphere, fresh air, mountainous peaks covered with snow for half a year, cozy villages among enormous, red-rock formations - it's not the way Morocco is portrayed in the media. First thing that comes to mind about this exciting destination is endless dunes of Sahara, Bedouin houses and even entire villages made from mud. I had a similar image of Morocco before the trip to this North African country. Once again I got a proof on how traveling can change the stereotypes and the way you think about the world. One of the reasons why I love it so much!
Sal is one of the "islands of the sun" within the archipelago of Cape Verde, located off the Senegalese coast. It is the most touristic island where nearly 50 % of winter sun seekers who come from Europe to Cape Verde stay on vacation. Most probably, it is Sal that will be your first contact with this tiny African Country. The island boasts various types of white, sandy beaches suitable for swimming as well as surfing, kitesurfing and diving. Tourist infrastructure is very well developed with multiple hotels and resorts along the coast. If you love lazy beach holidays, you'll find it perfect. However, if you wish to experience some authentic African culture or local life, you won't get it in Sal. The whole island is solely dedicated to tourism and besides the western-style resorts, there's nothing much original there.
When you think about Morocco - most probably, one of the first things that come to mind are endless, golden sand dunes of Sahara Desert, oriental cities and picturesque Berber towns that consist of houses built with clay and mud. I'd had similar assumptions before traveling to this northern African country. In this article, however, I want to show that there's so much more to Morocco - how much this exciting country surprised me. Besides the barren, desert-like landscapes, you can admire red rock formations, lush green cedar forests, beautiful lakes, snowy peaks of Atlas Mountains and villages with temperate climate and European architecture. That's the beauty of travel - you always encounter something unexpected!
The island of Mauritius, full of resorts of all kinds, with miles of paradise coast, is best known as a perfect holiday destination for those who love the sea and sun. Beyond the segregated beaches just for hotel guests, there are also many beautiful ones easily accessible to the public (I've described them here) - if you wish to experience more local way of having fun. It's definitely better than staying at the hotel! Moreover, if you're bored with beaches, lying down, doing nothing and want some adventure - you can enjoy the nature, hiking trails, mountains and wilderness - Mauritius also offers amazing tropical National Parks filled with waterfalls, rivers, gorges and wildlife. Due to its size, it's very easy to travel in Mauritius - you can get from a beach to the mountains within a few hours!
The famous blue town of Chefchaoeun in Morocco is a place that should not be missed by anyone who loves original, magical, cozy little towns. For those who have done the Sahara trip, the surroundings here may seem completely different. The typical scenery you can associate with Morocco - golden sands of the endless desert, green oases rich in date palms, "biblical" villages made entirely out of mud and rugged peaks of Atlas Mountains move out of the way in order to bring a landscape you may find somewhere in Tuscany or Spain - lush fields, more gentle hills, olive groves and orange as well as lemon trees. Among all that natural charm, in a beautiful valley lies fascinating Chefchaoeun - the blue town which will make you feel as if you have entered an entirely different, wonderful fairy-tale like world.
The Sahara desert, although many might think so, is not the largest in the world. However, it's only beaten by the coldest places on Earth - The Antarctic and Arctic regions which are the greatest barren land areas on our planet. Having said that, the Saharan territory is shared among 11 countries and stretches over 9 million square kilometers (3,5 million square miles). Its magnificent, golden, perfectly smooth dunes attract many visitors from around the world and the easiest way to reach them is through Morocco - stopping by the fascinating Berber oases and villages on the way.
Mauritius - although known for its sensational natural landscapes and wonders (like, for example, the Seven Colored Earths) is, without a doubt, most famous because of the sun, crystal clear tropical see and the beaches. This is what attracts people from all over the world to this tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. There are countless beautiful beaches around the island, and, if you book a hotel - surely it will have one just in front. However, those might be secluded and packed with tourists and hotel guests. If you want to discover the best places, where also the locals go, keep reading on. I will try to show you what I discovered traveling with the Mauritian family.