It’s Travel Tuesday and today our Curious Wanderer is Wolfgang Thome. He is the Chief Correspondent for Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean region at eTurboNews Inc. He also runs a blog on Aviation, Tourism & Conservation News from Eastern Africa & the Indian Ocean islands https://wolfganghthome.wordpress.com/. He is the ultimate curious wanderer although he calls Uganda home.
1. What is your favourite destination?
The first which came to mind was the island of La Digue which is part of Seychelles. It is a very laid-back island, with hardly any cars, where most people use bicycles. The rest of the archipelago can only be reached by ferry or boat which gives this island a special status … once the ‘daytrippers’ have left with the last ferry to Praslin, one can sit on the beach and just let the rest of the day slip by.
2. What places are on your travel bucket list?
New Zealand. I would very much like to visit the sites where the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films were shot.
3. What factors do you consider when choosing a destination for your holidays or mini breaks?
I have not been on a conventional holiday or mini break for at least 15 years. My constant travels, work-related of course as a travel writer, make my own hammock at the shores of Lake Victoria to be the best place to relax.
4. What are your travel essentials?
Cameras, binoculars, my laptop with peripherals, my tablet and my phones
A solar charger/lamp set
Hard and soft copies of travel documents to make replacement easier in case of loss (Soft copies on both computer and a separate flash drive / USB stick)
Plenty of clothes to match different weather patterns
And I still consider both my Leatherman and my Swiss Army knife as essentials though they must be in checked baggage to avoid confiscation at airport security
5. How do you save for your holidays?
As I said, I have not been on a vacation for ages but for saving per se, every month to put something smaller or bigger into the rainy day account.
6. Horror story from your travels. What went wrong?
I believe in good trip planning to avoid such horror stories. Therefore, not much goes wrong when I travel though at one time back in the 80s I was in Samburu on a safari with my young son and we just barely made it out of the park and onto the higher ground when the Ewaso Nyiro River flash flooded. No one came to harm in the lodges and camps but they were all underwater, more or less and we were lucky to have been able to get everything into the car and get away. Some things one cannot plan for but at least one can be mentally prepared for making the right choices and decisions to escape intact.
7. Where are you planning to go for your next mini trip or holiday?
Again, if I were to go on a holiday – some people of course suggest that my constant travels ARE a holiday which they are not – I might do a spot of hiking in Nyungwe Forest or else fulfil my dream to go to New Zealand. Well, perhaps a trip with a mobile home across America … but those are dreams and as long as I travel for work this may be a very long way off.
8. If you had to choose a country from your travels where you could settle down apart from your home country which country would that be and why?
Seychelles again rank high on that list and it would probably be one of the smaller islands like La Digue. That said, Rwanda holds a lot of appeal for me and I would probably settle for a place like Kibuye.
9. Do you prefer to travel alone or in a group?
I prefer to travel alone because then I can set my own times, activities, and places to visit without the need to wait for others, or compromise where to go and how long to stay.
10. How many countries have you been to?
My Tripadvisor map shows some 619 cities and places around the world in probably over 80 different countries.
11. What is the most interesting city to visit in your country?
That depends on one’s interest. Jinja is good for adventure activities like rafting, bungee jumping, quad biking and so forth. Kabale and Kisoro are, as my personal choice, probably outranking this due to the access to scenic lakes Bunyonyi and Mutanda.
12. What is the most interesting souvenir that you have ever bought on one of your holidays?
I never buy souvenirs, full stop. I have enough clutter in my house and do not need more. Memories are not made of souvenirs …
13. Would you rather visit another country or travel within your own country?
I have explored Uganda from border to border and while there are places I like to return to, visiting other countries is more fun for the new discoveries I make.
14. What are popular tourist destinations in your country? Have you been to any of them?
Of course, there are our 10 national parks in Uganda, the Source of the Nile in Jinja, Mt. Elgon and the Mountains of the Moon or the Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo outside Kampala, where Pope Francis will visit when he comes to Uganda in ten days time. And yes, I have been to all those places.
15. Which would you recommend if you could only recommend one?
For relaxation and pure leisure I would suggest One Minute South on Bulago Island, and for those who like hiking and biking, the Chameleon Hill Lodge on Lake Mutanda.
16. What advice would you give a newbie traveller travelling outside the country for the first time?
Read up on the destination, and get a Sim card and data bundle on arrival to stay not only connected but also allow for online instant research on places, locations, and services.
Make sure health, i.e. inoculation requirements are met, Visa secured and the flights not just booked but reconfirmed.
Pack as you feel, light or heavy (remember the weight limitations by airlines) and most importantly, travel with an open mind. Meeting new people, and seeing new places are best enjoyed with the right attitude and sporting a miserable mindset, looking for reasons to complain, wrecks the travel experience.
Make sure you go with chargers for your phones etc and perhaps a few spare memory cards for cameras because happily clicking away eats fast into the available storage capacity.
And then, ENJOY … remember, if life throws you lemons, make lemonade of them …