Month: August 2015

Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope Discovery

The Cape of Good Hope, discovered by the explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, is an iconic symbol of exploration, Africa, and travel on the oceans. It also represents the demarcation between the Atlantic and Indian oceans.* If you ever have the opportunity, discover the Cape of Good Hope for yourself by making the short car trip from Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape of Good Hope Discovery

Atlantic Ocean on the left, Indian Ocean on the right

The Cape of Good Hope is wrapped in many layers of history and lore — great explorers like Dias and da Gama as well as the legend of The Flying Dutchman and the Cape of Storms all trace back here.

Cape of Good Hope Discovery

A memorial to the explorer who discovered the Cape of Good Hope sits in the background

As a result, markers and memorials can be found throughout the Cape Point [official site], the area encompassing the tip of the Cape. Many of these celebrate the various explorers who contributed to the history and discovery of the Cape of Good Hope.

Cape of Good Hope Discover

In addition to the history, there is great scenery and wildlife to be found in the area as well. The landscape is unlike any place I’ve been — it almost feels like an alien planet, especially if you’re lucky enough to be there in the low season with few tourists. We also encountered a wild ostrich making its way across the park, and saw evidence of other creatures as well.

To get to Cape Point, you simply set out on the main coastal road heading south from Cape Town. The trip is an excellent opportunity to discover the Cape of Good Hope region, as there are many sights to see along the way, including a penguin colony, and several great coast coastal towns.

Cape of Good Hope Discovery

And, if you’re in South Africa, you should absolutely head to the northeast of the country to see Kruger and find the Big Five animals: elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard, and lion.

*Okay, okay. If you really want to be technical about it, the official boundary between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans is Cape Agulhas, a few dozen miles to the east. But most people have never heard of Cape Agulhas and fewer have visited, so let’s just call it Cape Point and make everyone happy!

Yellowstone Winter By Car

Yellowstone Winter Car Buffalo

For today’s post, I’m going to bring it back a little closer to home for those of us in the US and talk about visiting Yellowstone by car in winter. One of my favorite things anywhere are national parks, so expect this to be the first of many.

My favorite things also include giant underground supervolcanos and pre-historic-looking creatures, so Yellowstone has my bases covered. Yellowstone is a fairly common destination, but few people know that you can visit Yellowstone by car in winter.

Yellowstone Winter Car

Indeed, the north and northeast entrances to the park are both open during the winter, as well as the road connecting them. Note that this area does not include Old Faithful. If you want to see it, you’ll need to go via snow coach. The park also allows a limited number of snow mobiles via other entrances, if you want to try your luck there.

Yellowstone Winter Car Geyser

Although Old Faithful is out, there are still plenty of thermal features to be seen when visiting Yellowstone by car in winter. Far better photographers have taken far better photos of Yellowstone, so I’ll try to include a few more unique views in here that you may not have seen before, including these up-close shots taken at Mammoth.

Yellowstone Winter Car Geyser

What many don’t know is that the thermal features are driven by an underground supervolcano that lies deep beneath the park and spans about 45 miles on its longest measurement.

Yellowstone Winter Car Buffalo Bison

Another iconic feature of Yellowstone is, of course, its bison. You’re virtually guaranteed to see at least a few during your time there, and watching them move gracefully through the snow just adds to the experience.

Yellowstone Winter Car Buffalo Bison

If you do decide to visit Yellowstone in winter by car, then be sure to plan your trip well. Call the park before you go or check their website on visiting Yellowstone in winter to ensure you have a full picture of what roads are open.

As the world’s first national park, this is place a must see for every outdoor enthusiast. Although summers are beautiful, visiting Yellowstone by car in winter is an experience unto itself.

Kilimanjaro’s Airports

Kilimanjaro Airport

Kilimanjaro’s airports are the gateway to Africa’s highest mountain, where thousands begin a journey that will take them to the Roof of Africa. In this post, we’ll discuss how to get there — Kilimanjaro’s airports, flights, and starting your adventure.

Many don’t realize there are actually two airports serving the region: Kilimanjaro Airport and Arusha Airport.

Kilimanjaro Airport

The peak of Kilimanjaro looms in the background on the Shira Plateau

For most, getting to Kilimanjaro likely necessitates traveling via Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is served by a number of international carriers, including KLM, Turkish, Qatar, and a few domestic and international African airlines (click here for the most up to date list). Although many will enter the country at this point, I arrived via South Africa, which routed me through Dar es Salaam then on a domestic flight to Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro Airport

Photo of my flight to Dar es Salaam before departing Johannesburg International Airport

If arriving from abroad to Kilimanjaro Airport, expect to have your Yellow Fever papers checked and your visa ready, if applicable. Some fellow travelers waived the Yellow Fever vaccination requirement due to a weakened immune system — if this applies to you, I suggest you work with your doctor and climbing operator.

Arusha Airport

Our flight to Zanzibar begins boarding at Arusha Airport near Kilimanjaro

For the more adventurous, flights also operate out of nearby Arusha Airport, but many of these are small regional carriers, mostly serving Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. I departed from this airport, and, at least then, the airport terminal was about the size of a gas station.

That’s it! You’ve officially started your climb to the Roof of Africa — the continent’s highest peak! Sign up for updates and stay tuned here in the future for more posts on the actual climb, as well as other activities to do in and around the mountain.