As those that have experienced it will already know, Africa travel is addictive. There's something about the continent that gets under your skin - so that once you've been there, you'll find yourself dreaming about your return almost as soon as you leave. Fortunately, the internet allows us to indulge our love of Africa even when we're not there. With the tap of a finger, you can stay updated on the latest conservation news, follow recent developments in African industry or pore over other travelers' reviews in search of inspiration for your next trip. In this article, we look at eight of the best blogs and websites for Africa travel fanatics.
If you feel like indulging in a virtual safari, check out Ranger Diaries - a collection of blogs from wildlife rangers who guide safaris throughout Southern and East Africa. These are top wildlife guides, working for the best safari companies in Africa, and their enthusiasm and knowledge knows no bounds. Here, you can read about rare sightings of elusive birds like the Pel's fishing owl; or hear first-hand accounts of the battles between wild dogs and crocodiles. Rangers also report on their trips to other destinations throughout Africa, as well as their forays into safari camp management. Best of all, the blogs are often accompanied by incredible photos - making this the ultimate one-stop shop for those feeling homesick for the African bush.
Despite its global reputation for poverty and poor schooling, the African continent is actually a hotbed of creativity. There are many African companies at the forefront of technological innovation; and while they get little international coverage, you can read all about their efforts on industry blog Timbuktu Chronicles. Articles on the site are expertly written by Emeka Okafor, a New York-based entrepreneur and the curator of Maker Faire Africa. This blog offers a wonderful insight into what African designers, techno-geeks, entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors and social innovators are up to. Marvel at homes powered by solar electricity and constructed out of plastic bottles filled with sand, or learn about the latest African start-ups.
Afropop Worldwide is both a radio program and an online magazine focusing on the best music from Africa and the African diaspora. Hosted by Georges Collinet, the radio program features emerging stars from cities like Johannesburg, Dakar and Cairo; as well as international musicians with an African background. The magazine gives information about upcoming concerts and events (both in Africa and abroad) as well as musician interviews and reviews of albums and bands. Stumbled upon a great band during your most recent trip to Nairobi? Afropop Worldwide will probably have the lowdown and can tell you if they'll be performing in your home country any time soon. The website also releases weekly podcasts.
Like all continents Africa has its fair share of problems including poverty, disease and a lack of access to quality healthcare and education. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is working tirelessly to provide solutions to some of these issues, both in Africa and worldwide. On the Impatient Optimists blog, you can read updates from those at the front line - including the foundation's partners, grantees, leaders and staff. From the fight against AIDS to promoting newborn health, the topics listed here are vitally important. African countries covered include Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria. Use the filter at the top of the page to read articles about the location you're most interested in.
BBC News Africa
If you want to stay informed about the latest developments in Africa, bookmark the BBC Africa site. Here, you'll find up-to-date and unbiased reporting about political, scientific and environmental news; while the Features & Analysis section gives a more in-depth overview of the continent's current talking points. For sports enthusiasts, there's even a section dedicated to African soccer news. If you don't have time to read through the site's longer articles, download the podcasts and get your news on the go. Expats living abroad or those trying to learn a new language may also appreciate the foreign language versions of the site, available in Hausa, Somali and Swahili, among others.
For those with a particular interest in South Africa, the Daily Maverick is an online newspaper with well-written and insightful articles about the latest happenings at the bottom of the continent. Although political and business news are the main point of focus, the website also has lifestyle, sport, food and motoring sections - so you can keep abreast of the Springboks' latest triumph or make a note of which hot new restaurants to try next time you're in Jozi. Maverick fans particularly like the site's Opinionista articles, written by experts on the ground; and the witty political cartoons by artist Shapiro. Register for free to have daily news round-ups delivered to your inbox once or twice a day.
Thorn Tree Travel Forum
If you're in the process of planning a trip to Africa (and especially if you're headed off the beaten track), Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum is your new best friend. Want to know how long the bus will take from Addis Ababa to Lalibela? Care to find out if the iron ore train is still running in Mauritania? Or how many Egyptian pounds to budget for a camel ride around the pyramids? The forum is the best place to get advice from people who have been there, done that (or are still there, waiting for that bus to arrive). It's also a great place to find a travel companion or search for unbiased reviews of a travel agent or tour operator. Browse the threads for answers to your queries or start a new one asking for advice.
Of course, the ultimate destination for honest traveler reviews is TripAdvisor. It's an invaluable travel tool, especially when you're looking for reassurance before spending a considerable amount of money on a hotel, lodge or safari camp. The further off the beaten track you go in Africa, the harder it is to get current information about accommodation; yet TripAdvisor nearly always comes through with a recent user review. Whether you agree with the reviewer or not, being able to check out photos and knowing someone survived their overnight stay is often good enough! The site also offers helpful advice on local restaurants, long-term vacation rentals and activities, all clearly ranked from one to five.