Darren provides an important update on our itinerary changes in Africa.
Before we left home, we both promised our families that we would not go anywhere that was dangerous. As we built our journey itinerary in each continent, we purposefully selected countries that had a long history of peace. In Africa, our plans were to spend about three weeks in West Africa and three weeks in East Africa. Known as the one of the most politically stable governments in West Africa, we added Mali to our itinerary during the early stages of our planning. However, the events of the past few months have forced us to re-evaluate our itinerary.
Recently, we saw the collapse of state control over the north of Mali, followed by a military coup. The unrest is now so bad that tens of thousands of refugees have fled to neighboring countries, including Burkina Faso, another stop on our trip. Ghana was an additional country that we had included on our African itinerary. Just a few weeks ago, we learned that the president of Ghana had died suddenly, right before scheduled elections in a few months. Taking all of the events together, we decided to not travel to West Africa and, instead, look at other African options.
The second part of our African itinerary has us traveling to Ethiopia in late October. So, it was natural to start looking at other countries within the East Africa region to include before our trip there. We also needed another trek to replace the one we had planned in the Dogon region in Mali. Since we have never visited Kenya and, it happens to border Ethiopia, we added it to our candidate list. The next step was to see if we could arrange a trek there. After a thorough search, we found a walking safari just outside the Masai Mara National Reserve with Eyes on Africa. We will be spending four days walking with a native Masai guide, hoping to see many iconic African animals. We also plan to stay in a lodge north of Nairobi, which is located within the boundary of Mt. Kenya National Park.
The last portion of our time in Kenya will be spent in the Samburu region of the country. Before we left home, we had become acquainted with the great work that a group called the Samburu Project is doing in Kenya. To date, this organization has built 40 wells, providing clean, safe drinking water to over 40,000 people. To determine if there was an opportunity to visit some of the project sites, we reached out to Kristen Kosinski, Samburu Project’s Founder and Executive Director. During our Skype video conference, Kristen was very supportive of our mission to get kids excited about geography.
While we are in the Samburu region, we plan to spend our time better understanding the people and culture, as well as reporting on the awesome work that the Samburu Project is doing to provide clean water to those living there. You can learn more about the Samburu Project here.
As we mentioned, Ethiopia is already on our itinerary, so this part of the trip remains unchanged. We will be spending approximately two and a half weeks in the northern part of this diverse country, visiting historical and natural sites, as well as several days in the capital city of Addis Ababa. The highlight of our visit in Ethiopia is a planned trek in the Simien National Park. There are deep gorges throughout the park with great views. There, we are hoping to see the wild Ibex, once hunted close to extinction, foxes and groups of baboons.
While we are disappointed that we cannot visit West Africa at this time, we are excited about the new opportunities that we have planned in Kenya and our existing itinerary in Ethiopia. Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to this part of our journey!