Africa and the middle east have long been thought of as being the origin and cradle of human civilization respectively. Geographically it does make sense that if humans had arisen from ape-like ancestors in Africa, the most likely first stop on their way out (assuming they look for land bridges) should be the Arabian peninsula.
Thus far, we had only touched the “edges” of this large Continent of 30+million km². it takes up ~20% of the surface area of the planet, with 1.1 billion people so diverse in language, culture and religion.
Our touch points thus far had been Morocco, Egypt and Mauritius. Together with Dubai on the Arabian peninsula, that’s hardly touched at all.
Our first foray into the continent was Morocco in the year 2000, as a honeymooning couple. That journey took us through Tangiers, Fes, Marrakesh and Casa Blanca. This actually took 7 days out of the total of 15 days that we were on our trip. From flying carpet shows to having tea at Berber villages and avoiding the storekeepers in the souks, we have seen it all. All before it became a little less safe to travel. Not that it was (is) ever dangerous, but a little prudence will really go a long way.
The Egyptian experience was not only inspiring, but also educational. In 10 days we covered the length of the country from Cairo down to Abu Simbel. We spent a l0t of time at the old Antiquities museum and saw many of the mummies stacked upon each other before their eventual move to their new museum home. The pyramids were spectacular, but unfortunately we did not get much in the way of time to savor them slowly. Perhaps we were too busy trying to balance ourselves on the camel!
It was a great way to leisurely see the upstream wonders on cruise boat. Not having to change hotels every night is a boon for travelers. Now it is so much different. The crowds that we had been amongst is probably not as large as many now avoid the region altogether. It’s a pity and we hope to be back some day.
Mauritius on the other hand is a totally different world. An island just off Madagascar, it has all the trappings of a luxury getaway island. Beautiful coasts and pristine beaches. Our second experience with a helicopter flight tour took place here. Photos for keepsake are shared (read here) in our Mauritius page.
And while Suan was not there, Melvin enjoyed Dubai thoroughly (read more here). Driving the sand buggy at ‘break neck’ speed in the sand dunes and hot air ballooning at 5am in the morning were just some of the activities to promote team spirit at corporate retreats…