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Africa unusual
Denise Slabbert
Published: 01-JUN-06

Moroccan cooking tours
The Rhode School of Cuisine offers a number of cooking tours for foodies (and wannabe-foodies). One of their extra-special courses is the Dar Liqama cooking school in Marrakesh. Set against the backdrop of the Jbel Ette Mountains one can learn to cook delicious Moroccan speciality dishes (couscous, kebabs, eggplant salads, honey pastries) as well as popping into the local fresh produce market for your hand-picked ingredients. However, this holiday is not all about being in the kitchen � visits to souks, encounters with snake charmers, treks to historic Berber villages and evenings spent dining under the stars are all thrown in for good measure.

Mokoro trips in Okavango
Wild Frontiers is a local tour company dedicated to the traveller with an adventurous soul, whether you�re planning on hiking in Rwanda, assailing Kilimanjaro or running the Victoria Falls Marathon�. An excellent trip on offer is the Botswana Okavango Mokoro Trail. The mokoro�s (canoes hewn from massive trees) are commandeered by a local �poler� (the captain of your �ship�) who will guide you through the liquid channels of Okavango. This certainly is a novel way of experiencing the amazing wildlife, birdlife and silence of one of Africa�s most beautiful spaces.

Cycle Uganda
Another extraordinary Wild Frontiers journey is a cycling trip through Uganda. Travellers bike through dirt roads, stunning rainforests, rural landscapes and get to spend quality time with the local people en-route. Travail Lake Mburo National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park and enjoy trekking sojourns to see the gorillas and/or the chimpanzees. Travellers are warned that most of the roads are not superhighways (by any stretch of the imagination). An average of 90km will be covered on a daily basis � with lots of stopovers to enjoy the Ugandan countryside. This is not a bring-your-hairdryer type of holiday, but the memories will certainly make up for lack of air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms.

Hot air ballooning over the Serengeti
Being suspended over a stampede of migrating wildebeest as they thunder across the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania, must be right up there in terms of most memorable holiday experiences on offer. There truly is something special about viewing animals from above (hot air balloons are pretty quiet which means your position as an observer is not intrusive to the animals). Serengeti Balloon Safaris operate from Seronera Lodge along the Seronera River Valley. The wildebeest migration is very much dependent on Mother Nature, but early May and June are generally good times to travel to this part of the world.

The churches Of Lalibela, Ethiopia
When it comes to spirituality, Africa is often touted as one of the holiest places on earth. Lalibela is situated in Ethiopia, some 2�600m above sea level and contains eleven churches built out of granite. Each monolithic church was carved out of a solid piece of volcanic rock during the twelfth century. Historians note that the churches were the brainchild of King Lalibela, (who was said to have been instructed by God in a dream to build these architectural works of art). Lalibela was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996, and continues to attract spiritually-minded journeymen and women from around the world. It�s no wonder that author Evelyn Waugh once said, that Ethiopia is a country �crazy with enchantment�.

[A number of community accommodation camps have been set up in Ethiopia through TESFA (Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives) and are definitely worth a visit].

Desert journeys
Namibia�s Desert Express is a fantastic way to experience this caramel-coloured universe. Travelling between Swakopmund and Windhoek on a weekly basis, the Desert Express consists of nine coaches and all the usual pomp and ceremony associated with luxury train travel (a full bar service in the Spitzkoppe Lounge, an excellent restaurant and en-suite compartments). The real highlight of this journey is the incredible scenery from the desert to the coast � depending on which direction you are travelling. The Desert Express also periodically takes longer journeys to Etosha in the North and Luderitz in the South.

Turtle tours
The Elephant Coast stretching from St Lucia to Kosi Bay is �turtle country�, and turtle tourism is definitely on the rise in Maputaland. From the end of October through to January, the loggerhead and leatherback turtles crawl onto the beach to lay their eggs. During January and February the baby turtles break out of their eggs and head back to the sea. For nature-lovers, to actually catch sight of the baby turtles making this journey under a night sky is nothing short of miraculous. While turtle watching takes place all along the Elephant Coast, the epicentre of the nesting activity is at Bhanga Neck near Kosi Bay (not too far from the Mozambique border). Community guides take visitors on guided tours, and the turtles have done much to improve the quality of life for those humans living in the area.

Land of possibility:
Other off-the-wall options in South Africa include �frogging safaris� in Dullstroom, and gold panning competitions in the mining town of Pilgrim�s Rest. The West Coast Crayfish Route was also recently launched as a community initiative and is a soft-adventure hiking trail along one of South Africa�s most beautiful coastlines. Of course crayfish feasts are an added bonus.

For a bit more fun and feasting we also suggest the: Tonteldoos Peach Festival (also Dullstroom), the Riebeek Kasteel Olive Festival in the Swartland and the Ficksburg Cherry Festival in the Free State during November.

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